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Ancelotti Puts Trust In Mikel

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Things are getting better and better for Nigeria international midfielder John Mikel Obi.

Just days after signing a new five-year contract with Chelsea, new coach Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear Mikel will not only be an integral part of his plans for the new campaign, but will, in fact, be the heartbeat in his new tactical deployment.

“I have a lot of trust in Mikel. I think he can be the playmaker of this team. He is a young player, but has great quality, both technical and tactical.

“For the present and for the future he is a very important player for us. We are very happy he has signed a new contract and I hope that he stays at Chelsea for a lot of years. I would like that he puts in his great quality for the team,” Ancelotti said.

It is the kind of praise that pushes a player to give more than his all, especially for a coach who has won the top prizes in club football. Mikel is no exception and says he is honoured to be the recipient of such high praise.

“He was a great player himself and it is a great honour that he sees something in me. He says I am a player with great qualities, but thinks I can be even better. It is going to take a bit of time, but I am going to work very close with him to make it happen.”

Ancelotti says the Nigerian still needs to add a few more qualities to his game. It is something the Nigerian star is looking forward to with some relish.

“He likes the fact I am strong and can play with the ball, but says that I still need to add more things to my game – if I do that then he thinks I’m going to be fantastic. Hopefully things are going to go well and he will bring out the best in me.

“I have worked with him for two weeks and we are trying to get to know the formation he wants to play. Before the season starts we are all going to be mentally focused and we’re going to get the system right. The team wants to win titles and this is why he is here.”

Mikel has picked up two FA Cup winners’ medals and one in the League Cup in his time with Chelsea, but the Champions League continues to be a burning ambition.

“The manager has won it twice as a player and as a manager and I really envy him for that. We have come close so many times and I think that is why the club has brought him here, to take us to that final step.

“I haven’t talked to him yet about what it’s like to win the Champions League, but I hope he will have a big impact on my career. The way he has come in and the ideas he has as to how to set the team up, I think we can win everything.”

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Nigeria U16 To Battle Belgium, Others In UEFA Tourney

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Nigeria U16 national team, nicknamed Future Eagles will trade tackles with Belgium, Italy and England in UEFA U16 Development Tournament.
All games are to be played at the Pinatar Arena Football Center in San Pedro del Pinatar.
The Future Eagles are presently at Remo Stars Stadium Ikenne preparing for an U16 tournament before they leave for Spain today.
Meanwhile, the Future Eagles continued their preparations for their tournament in Spain with a 2-0 win over Beyond Limits’ U-15 side in Ikenne.

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Tennis: 72 Players To Feature In TPPA UTR Tourney

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Seventy-two Nigerian youth tennis players will feature at the maiden edition of the Tennis Players’ Parents Association UTR Nationals.
The TPPA UTR Nationals are the culmination of the regional events held across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
The tournament takes place from April 8–13 at the tennis section of the Lagos Country Club, Ikeja.
The five-day event will have over 72 players from across the country in the boys and girls categories for the U-12, U-14, and U-16, respectively.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, the Tennis Players Association President, Segun Aluko, said winners of this year’s edition will receive educational support and equipment.
He also stated that the tournament aims to groom and nurture young tennis players in the country to stardom and help them bridge the gap between tennis at the youth and senior levels.
“As you all know, we have been doing great at the junior levels, but we need to ensure we groom more players who will also move up to the senior level and dominate the world scene, just like Novak Djokovic.
“TPPA UTR Nationals is a tournament organised to give opportunities to young tennis players to realise their dreams.
Meanwhile, our correspondent learned that the reigning champion of the J30 Abuja ITF World Junior Tour, Khadijat Mohammed, tops the list of players who got a wild card to play at the tournament.
In the boys U-12, Ahenjir Tertema, Mohammed Okandeji, Samuel Adegbite, and Korede Ogunkolade were listed, while Success Godwin, Barakat Ganiyu, and Grace Oritingbeni made the cut in the girls category.
In the boys’ U-14, Folaranmi Fafowora, Nathaniel Aluko, and Gabriel Igbinovia will battle for honours just as Bisola Ogunkolade and Lorelay Holzendorff will in the girls’ U-14.
For the U-16 girls, Jasmine Osho, Ndidi Osaji, and Adesewa Olaniyan received wild cards just as Kushimo Quzeem and Precious Aliya did for the U-16 boys.

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AAG:Nigeria Boxing Coach Decries Non-Payment Of Allowances

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Team Nigeria boxing head coach, Tony Konyegwachie, has expressed his displeasure over non-payment of allowances to some of the boxers who won laurels for the country at the 13th African Games in Ghana, Tidesports source reports.
Team Nigeria topped the boxing medals table at the Games with eight gold and two silver medals , but they have yet to be paid almost two weeks after the Games ended in Ghana, with three gold medallists Adam Olaore, Patricia Mbata and Cynthia Ogunsemilore, as well as Konyegwachie featuring prominently on the list despite promises made by the Sports Minister, John Enoh that athletes will not encounter any delay in getting their allowances.
A day before the end of the Games, the Ministry of Sports Development stated that it had begun payments of athletes and officials’ camp allowances and bonuses for winning medals.
“Today the 22nd of March, the athletes started receiving their camp allowances,” sports minister’s aide Diana-Mary Nsan said in the statement.
“A lot of athletes had doubts and fears but the trust and confidence has been restored. Athletes who won medals will also get their bonuses.”
“It’s unfortunate that some of our colleagues have been paid while we’re yet to receive any alert. We’re appealing to the Honourable Minister to wade into the matter and make sure we’re paid because our families are hungry and we need the money to settle some debts,” coach Konyegwachie said.
“I am very angry and it is making me bitter. I want it to be investigated as I feel some boxers are being robbed, three of my boxers and I have not been paid bonuses for the African Games while others have gotten theirs.”
Aside from the allowances, payments promised gold medallists are also being withheld. One of the boxer, Omole Dolapo, who has received his allowance told our correspondent that he was yet to get his bonus for his gold medals.
“I have gotten the allowance, but I know some of my colleagues are yet to get theirs. For the medal bonus, I have not received that, and we are still waiting for the payment,” he said.

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