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Europa League: Benfica, Chelsea Go For Continental Glory

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Benfica and Chelsea go head-to-head for UEFA Europa League glory when the sides meet at the Amsterdam Arena today.

Rafael Benitez’s men go into the final as favourites and could become the first team to win Europe’s second-tier competition having lifted the UEFA Champions League the season before.

Benfica, meanwhile, will need to recover from their demoralising last-gasp defeat to title rivals Porto last Saturday if they are to stand any chance of victory.

Jorge Jesus’ men were minutes away from sealing a 1-1 draw at the Estadio do Drago which would have maintained their two-point lead at the top of the Portuguese standings with just one game remaining.

But 19-year-old striker Kelvin’s 91st-minute goal swung the momentum in the favour of Porto and left Jesus – who dropped to his knees in anguish as the strike hit the back of the net – needing to rally his troops urgently.

His team have lost just four fixtures all season, with three of those coming in European competition, as they bid to win the UEFA Europa League for the first time in their history.

Chelsea have also never won this tournament before, but were in a similar position ahead of their historic victory over Bayern Munich last May.

The London club have no domestic commitments to worry about for the remainder of the season, after they all but sealed their place in the top four with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa last time out.

And Benitez need not start Frank Lampard as his brace against Paul Lambert’s men ensured he surpassed Bobby Tambling as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.

The Spaniard may not get the luxury of choice with centre-back John Terry, however, after he was stretchered off against Villa with an ankle injury.

“It is my ankle. I’m going to get it scanned. I don’t know if I’ll be fit for Wednesday at the moment,” the former England captain told the Daily Mirror.

Demba Ba will be unable to feature due to his participation in the competition with Newcastle earlier in the season, but Chelsea have an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from.

Benfica also have no new injury worries, though the scars from their defeat to Porto may be more mental than physical.

The two teams last met in the quarter-finals of last season’s UEFA Champions League, with Chelsea winning 1-0 in Portugal and 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on their way to overall victory.

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NPFL : Eguma Urges Rivers People To Keep Faith

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The Technical Manager of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Stanley Eguma, has called on Rivers State people to be faithful and support the team, saying that they would not let them down this Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) season.
He said that, all the players in the team are hungry for success this season, adding that, he is planning with the players that have winning mentality.
Eguma said this on Sunday in his post match interview with sports journalists shortly after they saw off Kwara United with 3-0 in the match day six of the NPFL, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
He appreciated his players for the victory, adding that initially the game was a bit difficult.
According to him, his players were more technical on the ball, pointing out that he had to change the tactics of the game.
“Rivers people should still have faith and support the team because we will not let them down this season.
The league is a marathon one; it is not yet time to sing songs.
It is still work in progress.
We started well but we still have hope that the team will improve more on their performance because every club in the league is very strong,” Eguma stated.
He noted that his team last season did not change but the approach and mentality of the players have changed the game.
He disclosed that the team is highly motivated and taking care of, saying, most of the players want to deliver and make name for themselves.

By: Kiadum Edookor

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Chukwu Blames Rohr For Not Developing NPFL Players

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Former Nigeria Super Eagles Captain Christian Chukwu, has blamed former National Coach Gernot Rohr for not developing the Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) players.
He disclosed that Rohr was employed to build the NPFL players for them to get opportunity to play in European clubs rather than concentrating on foreign- based players.
Chukwu said this on Monday in a television programme monitored by Tidesports in Port Harcourt, adding that Rohr was supposed to base in Nigeria to enable him get in touch with the home base players.
According to him, Rohr failed for the development of the home-based- players, adding that, before now, all other coaches gave the home-based players the opportunity to showcase themselves in the national team.
Chukwu who had also coached the Super Eagles team, explained that Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) did not believe in Nigerian coaches, adding that, he is happy with what the interim coach, Austin Eguavoen is doing with the Super Eagles within the short period of time.
” Rohr was employed to develop our national players but he concentrated on foreign- based players.
We have players in the NPFL who are very good but they were not giving opportunity under Rohr to play in the national team.
All the players we have before now were home- based players”, Chukwu stated.

By: Kiadum Edookor

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Eguavoen To Effect Changes Against Guinea-Bissau

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Super Eagles interim coach, Augustine Eguavoen has revealed that he would be making some changes in the final group match against the Wild Dogs of Guinea-Bissau tomorrow so as to give players who have not tested action some game time.
Tidesports source reports that Nigeria currently tops Group D with six points from their opening two games, after beating Egypt and Sudan and are guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages of the competition.
“Obviously, we will make changes for the last group game against Guinea-Bissau.
“We have depth in the team and it’s a good opportunity for the other players to play, we will play to win the game and I trust the players to do a great job,” he said.
Eguavoen also warned his players against complacency and taking their chances in front of goal in subsequent matches.
“No game comes easy. We knew it was going to be tough and tried as much as possible to be ready for any opponent that comes our way.
“So it’s a little bit difficult to say whether we were complacent in the Sudan game or not but we will discuss this with the boys going forward,” he added.

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