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Mixed Reactions Trail Messi’s Emergence As World Best

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Soccer fans in Nigeria have expressed mixed reactions to the emergence of Lionel Messi as the Best Player of the World for the second consecutive year.

 The Barcelona striker was voted the FIFA Ballon d’Or on Monday in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Argetine beat his Spanish club team mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez to clinch the crown.

While Barcelona fans are happy that Messi won the award, others are questioning his emergence, particularly as he failed to sparkle at the World Cup and ouster of Argentina in the quarter-finals in June in South Africa.

Former Rangers International player, Arthur Nwankwo, in Awka wondered why Messi should win the award when he failed to score at the World Cup following the early exit of his country in the competition.

 “Since it is a World Cup year, I just do not know why Messi should be chosen ahead of those that performed well at both club and World Cup in South Africa.

“What do you say of the accuracy of Xavi Henandez and his consistent passes  that earned him a double. His team, FC Barcelona won the league, FA Cup and Spain his country also won the World Cup,” said Nwankwo.

 From Aba, two members of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Mike Umeh and Felix Anyasi, said Messi deserved to win the award.

Anyansi, who is the Chairman of Enyimba FC, said.

“It’s an award well deserved,” and noted that his consistency for club and country earned him the award.

“He has become a role model to many who watched him play at the club and the Argentina national team.”

He, however, expressed regrets that no African player had won award after Liberia’s George Weah clinched the award in 1995.

He noted that many African players, including Samuel Etoo of Cameroon and Didier Drogba of Cote d’Ivoire, had performed creditably for their respective countries and clubs to deserve the award.

Umeh said that Messi’s scintillating skill gave him the award.

“The young man improves with each game, which helped Barca to be among the best teams in the world,’’ he said.

The Chairman of the Ebonyi FA, Obinna Ogba, told our source that Messi took soccer entertainment to an art form in 2010, especially with Barcelona “as his contributions ensured that the club excelled in club competitions.

“Though Argentina flopped at the World Cup in South Africa, he was the only bright spot in the  team which showed his immense talent,” he said.

A governorship aspirant on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Adol Awam,  described the award as a gain of youth development in football.

“At 23, Messi had shown with his exploits that if adequately nurtured, the future of football in the world lies with the youths,” said.

Vincent Okpalaka, former Enugu Rangers International FC defender, said the award was previously won by players who excelled during the World Cup year and expressed surprise Monday’s award did follow the criteria.

“Players who held the world spell bound at the World Cup in South Africa, such as Diego Forlan  of Uruguay, Wesley Sneidger of Holland among others, were not even nominated for the award,” Okpalaka said.

A female youth activist, said it was a wake-up call to soccer authorities in Africa to develop football to ensure players from the continent were short-listed for future awards.

Football fans were seen arguing among themselves at newspaper stands in Onitsha.

They said FIFA should be consistent in giving the award to players whose national teams won the World Cup.

John Obosi, a football analyst, with Contact Sports newspaper, said that there was no need in arguing over whether Messi deserved the award or not.

“It was done by national team coaches selected around the World which clearly shows that FIFA had no hand in the decision,” Obosi said.

Osita Unachukwu, Anambra Pillar FC Secretary, said that he least expected somebody such as Messi  to be given the World Footballer of 2010.

“There is sometime amiss; if not, the tradition should have continued. I can see some politics in the whole show,” Unachukwu said.

Ike Okeke, an ardent fan of Barcelona FC, said that Messi had made an indelible mark in all the matches he played for his club in 2010.

“For me, Messi has no rival, he deserves the award; and his outstanding performance had improved  the game in 2010.

“He has dwarfed other efforts made by the other players at the World Cup in South Africa,” said Okeke.

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Adesanya Beats Vettori To Retain UFC Middleweight Title

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UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya cruised to victory over Marvin Vettori as he retained his undisputed 185-pound title in the main event of UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona.
The pair had previously met, when Adesanya claimed a split-decision victory over Vettori in April 2018 in the Nigerian-born Kiwi’s second UFC bout.
But in Saturday night’s rematch Adesanya, 31, showed his class with a virtuoso performance as he picked apart the Italian over the full five-round championship duration at the Gila River Arena.
Vettori started the bout in aggressive fashion and landed an early takedown, but Adesanya soon settled into his work and dominated the striking exchanges, using repeated kicks to Vettori’s lead leg to punish the challenger from range.
Adesanya’s control of the bout caused plenty of consternation in Vettori’s corner between rounds, as coach Rafael Cordeiro implored his man to be more aggressive in his pursuit of the takedown.
But Vettori simply had no answer for the champion, who looked in complete control as he cruised to a shutout decision victory with all three judges scoring the bout 50-45 in Adesanya’s favour.
After the result was officially announced, Adesanya dedicated his victory to his teammate Fau Vake, a promising up-and-coming fighter who died in May from injuries sustained in an alleged attack in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I just want to say Fau Vake, Fau Vake, Fau Vake, I love you, man… This fight I dedicate to you, Fau,” he said.
Adesanya then said he wanted his next title defence to come against Australia’s former champion Robert Whittaker, but on the condition that the fight takes place in Adesanya’s hometown of Auckland after Adesanya dethroned Whit-taker in Melbourne in their first meeting at UFC 243.
“We need to run that back in my territory this time,” he said.
In the night’s co-main event, Brandon Moreno completed a remarkable career turnaround as he captured the undisputed UFC flyweight title.
Moreno, 27, submitted reigning champion Deiveson Figueiredo via third-round rear-naked choke to capture the title.

But ‘The Assassin Baby’ battled his way back to the UFC in mid-2019 and climbed to the top of the flyweight division. His first shot at the gold came last December when he and Figueiredo, 33, produced one of the fights of the year in a bout that ended in a majority draw.
It demanded an immediate rematch, and Moreno produced the best performance of his UFC career to defeat Figueiredo and claim the undisputed 125-pound title.

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Sports Minister Charges Usman To Develop Martial Art

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Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has charged Kamar Usman to use his clout to develop Martial Arts in Nigeria.
Kamarudeen “Kamaru” Usman (born May 11, 1987) is a Nigerian-American professional mixed martial artist, former freestyle wrestler, and graduated folkstyle wrestler. He currently competes in the welterweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman was also The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner. As of March 23, 2021, he is #2 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
As a wrestler, Usman primarily competed at 84 kilograms and was the 2010 US University World Team Member.[8] Collegiately, he competed at 174 pounds and was the 2010 NCAA Division II National Champion, a three-time NCAA DII All-American, and a NAIA National qualifier
The Minister made this appeal on Friday when he hosted the champion in his office in Abuja.
“Today we just hit another notch of excitement as a ministry and as a country having Usman Kamaru, who is nicknamed “Nightmare” for his opponents in the octagon in the country.
Kamar, who has a staggering 19 wins out of 20 fights has established himself as a legend in the Welterweight category. Kamaru embodies two cultures; a Nigerian by birth and an American by immigration, moved to the USA at the age of 8 and is returning to the country for the first time as an adult.
The Minister said “it is commendable for you to have identified fully with your country and also the Ministry that has the mandate for Sports Development. The Ministry is concerned with a large number of Youth who are engaged in sports and are interested in your kind of sports because it has become a rave because it falls under the radar of the Mixed Martial Art and we are concerned about growing it. Having you here, as the champion, it will be great to have you headline that and start to see how at a national level and as a country we can work together to see your success remain and to see you get other youths interested in this sport.”
“Your story is well told, you signify the Nigerian Spirit; that of being dogged and rising to the top the feats you have achieved is no mean feat. For me I can’t say it enough; countries must leverage on their strength, not dwell and emphasise their weaknesses and you have signpost the good from Nigeria. As the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, we celebrate you and thank you for being a true Nigerian and remaining patriotic not just to share your success but to identify with the country. The greatest beneficiaries of this visit will be the youth of the country, who are interested in the Mixed Martial Art.”
Kamaru expressed excitement to be in the country. “I’m delighted to be here and above all during my visit to the country I aim at creating a long-lasting relationship. I represent martial art now and I want to work on making it easily accessible to everyone interested. I understand the responsibilities that I have with my platform and I want to put that to good use I want to be able to effect changes and part of being able to effect change is creating that foundation so people can actually see a future, different from what they are now, because I understand the restrictions. With my space, I want to be able to create something that will pull interested people out.”

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AFN Election: Committee To Hold Election, Today

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All is set for the 2021 Elective Congress of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in Kebbi State.
The Electoral Committee Chairman, Prince Jambright  Sumanu told Tidesports source in Kebbi on Saturday that last minute preparations were in top gear.
Sumanu said that the election is significant in so many ways, hence the committee cannot afford to let millions of Nigerians home and abroad down.
The Elective Congress is set to hold today,  for many, will not just unite the athletics family once again but will herald the dawn of a new era in the internal workings of the federation where the constitution trumps individuals or sentiments.
“All eyes are now on the AFN elections. Everybody is looking up to us for justice. With these reputable members of this committee, we are ready to do our best.”
Speaking on the guidelines expected to be met by intending contestants,  Sumanu said that the committee expects a full compliance in line with international standards.
“We expect that interested candidates must come with nomination forms from their zones while also meeting up with World Athletics guidelines, as well spelt out in the constitution of the AFN.”
The Chairman affirmed that interested candidates with documented history of drug abuse, doping or convictions should do themselves the honour of staying off their radar.
Sumanu assured that a level-playing ground will be provided for all candidates with an option of an appeal for any contestant who is aggrieved or not satisfied with the outcome of the screening, election conduct or result.
“There is an electoral body in charge of appeal cases and we have Legal Officers who are on ground to handle their grievances. 
“Due to the peculiarity of this electoral congress, the election will be safer and authentic than what we have had in the past because we are expecting people to submit their forms of intent to contest till midnight (Saturday, 12th, June)”, the committee chairman stated.
“After that, we will download forms that were submitted online and collate with those who  have submitted hard copies.
“We will not likely go to sleep from that 12th. We will go into the production of the ballot papers. That, is even a secret document. I need to say that we will not print the ballot papers until about 2 hours to the elections. This is to ensure that the ballot papers are not exposed until voting time” he said.

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