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Ivory Coast Neutralises Ronald’s Portugal

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Ivory Coast drew 0-0 with Portugal in the teams’ opening match of the World Cup on Tuesday, largely outplaying its higher-ranked opponent despite Didier Drogba only coming on as a late substitute.

Portugal captain, Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post early, but Ivory Coast otherwise created the better openings in the Group G match.

“It was a tight game not many occasions to score,” Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. “I thought if any team was going to win, it was we. We created some more chances than they did. I am very, very happy with the performance.

“If you think about discipline and organization, I think we were organized for all 90 minutes,” Eriksson added. “They have a very good team and a lot of very good footballers, but I think we handled it very well.”

Drogba came on as a 66th-minute substitute for Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou after FIFA cleared him to play with a cast on the arm he broke in a warm up match against Japan on June 4.

He was only passed fit shortly before kickoff at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and his entrance was greeted by huge cheers, with vuvuzelas drowning out drumming by Ivorian fans for the first time in the match.

But Drogba had little impact on a defense that struggled to contain Lille striker Gervinho and Aruna Dindane, Ivory Coast’s leading scorer when it was knocked out of the first round at the 2006 World Cup.

Still, Eriksson watched his striker move freely, largely untroubled by an injury that had threatened to prevent him from taking any part in the monthlong World Cup.

“I spoke to him after training yesterday evening and he said he preferred to be on the bench,” Eriksson said. “He said ‘Boss, if you need me, I am there.’ I hoped we would not need him but we wanted to win the game so we did what we did.

“We did not put any pressure on him.”

Ivory Coast picked up another injury problem late on when Kolo Toure went down clutching his leg and signaled to the bench for help.

The central defender had treatment behind the goal line for a couple of minutes and hobbled back into action but needed repeated treatment to his left knee with just minutes left.

Gervinho tormented right back Paulo Ferreira until his 82nd-minute replacement by Abdul Keita.

Ronaldo’s best chance came in the 11th minute with a swerving 30-meter (yard) shot that evaded goalkeeper Boubacar Barry but bounced off the left post.

Drogba, sitting among the substitutes, reacted to the near miss by blowing out his cheeks and drawing the sign of the cross across his shoulders.

Ronaldo had already shown the less attractive side of his game three minutes earlier when he won a free kick, pushing the ball past Didier Zokora and tumbling theatrically to the ground even though replays appeared to show there was no contact.

Zokora received the first of the three yellow cards and, although Ronaldo blasted the 35-meter (yard) kick into the wall, the chance relieved the pressure Ivory Coast’s three-man attack had been putting on Portugal’s defense.

Guy-Roland Demel then brought down Ronaldo with a sliding foul in the 21st and referee Jorge Larrionda booked both for squaring up to each other. Demel turned away without complaint but Ronaldo argued with the official, asking what he had done wrong.

Ronaldo also tapped in from close range in the 72nd minute but the referee had already blown his whistle for offside.

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‘Super Eagles Coach Lacks Class’

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Former Nigeria international, Victor Ezeji, has slammed Gernot Rohr, describing the German as a coach who has not improved the Super Eagles, with reference to their style of play and talent management.
Rohr recently helped the three-time African champions qualify for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon after their third-place finish at the 2019 tournament in Egypt.
Despite the team’s success, the former Enyimba striker said the tactician, who has been at the helm since 2016, has not impacted the Super Eagles with a particular style of football and he lacks the class to co-ordinate the players.
Ezeji expressed his frustration after Rohr’s men failed to score a goal in their twin friendlies against Cameroon. They suffered a 1-0 loss against the Indomitable Lions last Friday before playing out a goalless draw on Tuesday.
“I have never been a fan of Gernot Rohr but the truth is, sometimes it is not even about the result and sometimes, your team can play very well and lose, people could say they lost and there is prospect for the team,” Ezeji told news men.
“But in the case of this Gernot Rohr’s team, they are not playing very well and they are not winning; so, people will definitely complain. We have known our Super Eagles to have flair when playing, but that has not happened under him, whichever way he wins his game.
“There is no flair in their game, I think he is done with the team if you ask me because he is not showing anything, no class. We’ve got the players but I think what we lack is who co-ordinates them.”
Last year May, Rohr agreed on a two-and-half-year contract extension to remain as Super Eagles coach with the target of guiding the country to the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar and also win the 2022 Afcon.
Ezeji argued that the former Bordeaux manager has not been a success in Nigeria and he recalled how indigenous coaches Christian Chukwu also led the country to a third-place at 2004 Afcon before Stephen Keshi’s side triumphed at the 2013 edition in South Africa.
“I don’t know what his contract with the NFF looks like but personally, I don’t think he has achieved anything because even our indigenous coaches got to third at Afcon and we became the continent’s champions,” he continued.
“In his own case, third-place is not enough at all with the kind of personnel and abundant of talents we have in Nigeria presently, he should do better. As I stated earlier, it is not about winning the cup but it is about playing good football and there are ways you do that.
“Remember Imama’s [Amapakabo] U23 boys’ game against Libya in Asaba [U23 Afcon qualifier in March 2019], we needed three goals to go through but after the first-half, everybody was like even if they did not get through we are satisfied with their performance but the boys got the result and advanced.
“We need to start seeing that kind of performance in our Super Eagles, nobody has any confidence now that even if we play market women they will win. We need to have that confidence in our team and be rest assured of good football against any opponent.”

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350 Golfers Set For IBB Golf Captain’s Tourney

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No fewer than 350 golfers and 50 tennis players will be competing in the inaugural IBB Golf and Country Captain’s Tourney in Abuja.
The tourney which is expected to tee-off from Friday, June 10, to Saturday 11, 2021 at the IBB Golf and Country club which will see professional golfers battle in the Handicap 19 to 36 event while the amateur will clash in the Nest event.
According to the Chairman Organising Committee of the 2021 Inaugural IBB golf Captain’s club, Olabanjo Obaleye said preparations are in top gear to host a successful tournament.
He also noted that the golfers and officials would be in adherence to all the COVID-19 protocol towards ensuring the safety of all Stakeholders.
“This tournament is to usher in the new Executive Members of the IBB golf and Country, which is done after every new executive Member is elected.
“We have gotten some sponsors for the tournament and I can tell you that they would be mouthwatering prizes for the winner and consolation prizes for best loser.
We will also have a dinner on Saturday where the prizes will be presented to the winners.
“Also we have put some modalities in place to ensure the safety of all players and Officials for the tournament.” Olabanjo said.

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HiFL: UNIBEN Royals Tackle UNICAL Malabites

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Pace Sports and Entertainment Marketing Limited, the organisers of the Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL), has released the draws for the round of 16 games at an event held in Lagos. The games are scheduled to be held between June and September 2021.
In Week 1, AAUA Luminaries will play OAU Giants in Ondo, FUTA Tigers will tackle UNILAG Marines in Akure, LAUTECH Hunters will attempt to hunt down the FUTMINNA Transformers in Ogbomoso while KSU Steelers engages UNILORIN Warriors.
For the week 2 games, Uniben Royals will play defending champion UNICAL Malabites, IAUE Minders will tackle UNN Lions in Port Harcourt, ABU Nobles will confront UAM Tillers in Zaria while BUK Stallions slugs it out with UNIMAID Desert Warriors in Kano.
Speaking at the draws, Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing Limited, Sola Fijabi acknowledged the efforts of all participating schools and encouraged them to maintain their sportsmanlike conduct as the games go on. “We are now at a very exciting stage of the league. What was witnessed during the qualifiers was the tip of the iceberg. The schools are ready and what we assure lovers of collegiate sports is double excitement. We appreciate the support of NUGA and our sponsors Nivea Men and Minimie for their trust in HiFL and as we deliver value to all our stakeholders,” Fijabi said.

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