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Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan To Miss Europa League Final

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Arsenal’s midfielder, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not play in the Europa League final against Chelsea on 29 May.
It is understood the Armenian, 30, feared for his safety on the pitch in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“Having considered all current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League final,” said Mkhitaryan.
“It’s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often and I admit, it hurts a lot to miss it.”
As a result of political tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Mkhitaryan has missed club matches played in Azerbaijan in the past.
“We have written to Uefa expressing our deep concerns about this situation,” read an Arsenal statement.
“We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party.
“Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.
“We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.”
Arsenal, who finished fifth in the Premier League, will qualify for next season’s Champions League if they beat Chelsea.
It would be their first European trophy since they won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994.

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SWAN Congratulates New Sports Minister …Reels Out Expectatios

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The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has congratulated the newly appointed Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, describing his appointment as well-deserved.
“His appointment as Minister for Youth and Sports represents a new frontier in the administration of sports in Nigeria and one that is expected to usher in dynamism, resourcefulness and focused leadership.
“As the umbrella body of all sports journalists in Nigeria, affiliated to the Association Internationale de la Presse sportive (AIPS) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), SWAN calls on the new Minister to give every Sport adequate attention, unlike some of his predecessors that focused mainly on football to the detriment of others.
A statement issued by the National Secretariat of SWAN and signed by the Deputy Secretary General, Babafemi Raji, noted that over the years, the fortune of Nigeria in international championships had continued to dwindle due largely to lack of concerted effort to discover budding talents that abound in the length and breadth of the country.
“SWAN believes that Nigeria deserves more than what the country is getting from sports in view of the abundance of natural talents in practically every field; hence our hope that you will give priority to grassroots sports.
“Equally of importance to SWAN is the regrettable state of  federal government-owned sports facilities; we make bold to say that they are mostly in dire need of rehabilitation, especially the pitch of the now Moshood Abiola National Stadium, where it is evident that anthills are freely springing up due to lack of maintenance.
“The recent embarrassment the country faced after the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) allegedly diverted about $135,000 the world Athletics body mistakenly paid to it, is yet to abate, just as athletes representing the country at international championships were thrown out of their hotel accommodation; amidst cases of unpaid allowances and corruption in the sector.
“SWAN equally expects that the yearly allocation to the sports sector from the federation account will significantly improve, because sports is a huge industry, that if well programmed has the potential to meaningfully engage a lot of the teeming youths.
“SWAN will be ready to support you push for an increase in the allocation that comes to the ministry, by engaging relevant government agencies both at the executive and legislative arms,’’it added.

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Enyimba Sure To Thrash Rahimo FC, Sunday

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Enyimba FC’s midfielder, Austin Oladapo, has expressed confidence in the ability of the team to overturn the loss into a landslide victory against Rahimo FC of Burkina Faso come Sunday,  despite Enyimba’s 0- 1 loss about a fortnight ago in the first leg of the CAF Champions League in Ouagadougou.
Oladapo stated that the team was in form as preparations for the reverse fixture have been impressive, having thrashed Destiny FC 6-1 on Tuesday and secured wins against Diamond Stars, Wilbros FC and NPFL side Delta Force in preceding friendlies.
“I know we can come out as winners on Sunday and make everyone proud come Sunday and we are going to qualify to the next round”, Oladapo said.
It should be noted that the two-time CAF Champions League winners, Enyimba will host the Burkinabes on Sunday in a closed-door match in Aba even though Coach Usman Abdallah said they have not received a formal letter from CAF.
The People’s Elephants must gain a 2-0 win to qualify for the next stage of the competition.

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KTF Free Tennis Clinic Ends,’Morrow

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This year’s edition of  Kodian Tennis Foundation ( KTF) free holiday catch them young tennis clinic will round off tomorrow, at Port Harcourt Club, Old GRA.
The one-month programme which over 160 children attended was designed and aimed to train children on how to play tennis from age five.
Speaking to Tidesports in an exclusive interview, the coordinator of KTF, Stella Epegu, during a training session, Wednesday, at Port Harcourt Club, said this year’s programme was a huge success following the attendance and children committed to learn.
According to her, the significant difference between this edition and the previous ones was that, this year 30 professional tennis coaches were also in attendance to train the children.
“I can say that am happy because the attendance of this year’s programme surpasses the previous year’s. 160 children against 125 previous year’s is quite encouraging”, Epegu said.
She noted that learning any sports at tender age had made so many people become masters in particular sports.
The coordinator thanked parents who registered their children, which gave them the opportunity to discover their talent at a tender age.

 

Tonye Orabere

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