Zlatan Ibrahimovic has predicted that the Champions League quarter-final tie between Manchester United and Barcelona tonight will be decided by either Paul Pogba or Lionel Messi.
The two clubs will meet at Old Trafford in the first leg of their last-eight clash, with the return fixture scheduled to take place next week.
Barcelona is favourites to progress to the semi-finals as they chase a treble come June, while the competition represents United’s last hope of silverware this term.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men knocked Paris Saint-Germain out in the round of 16 after a stunning comeback at the Parc des Princes, while Barca thrashed Lyon at Camp Nou to progress.
Messi has spearheaded the Spanish champions’ trophy assault once again, scoring over 40 goals across all competitions this season.
Pogba, meanwhile, has been a fixture in the Red Devils’ starting line-up and, despite a recent loss of form, his overall record for the campaign so far reads 14 goals and 10 assists from 39 appearances.
Ibrahimovic, who spent two years on Barcelona’s books between 2009 and 2011, while also enjoying a two-year spell at United from 2016 to 2018, has highlighted the influence of the mercurial pair ahead of kick-off in Manchester.
“Two big teams, two big clubs playing against each other,” the Swedish striker told Barca’s official website. “Two clubs with great history and it will be exciting to see.
“Obviously, Messi makes the difference in each game he plays, it’s no secret.
“I think for United, you have Pogba making the difference there. It will be more of a battle between Messi and Pogba, even if it’s a collective sport.”
Solskjaer’s men head into the match off the back of three defeats in their last four outings, having most recently suffered a 2-1 loss in the Premier League at Wolves on April 2.
NDDC U-17 Peace Cup To Resume In Uyo
The long awaited finale of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) U-17 Peace Cup would expectedly resume next week as two qualified teams from the nine states converge in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
Technical Director of the tournament Etim Esin in a statement on behalf of the Local Organising Committee Chairman John Ekpeyong and Secretary Ada Gwegwe yesterday said the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, will declare the tournament open.
It added that the Special Assistant to the President Muhammad Buhari, on Sports Development, Coach Daniel Amokachi, NFF Technical Director Coach Augustine Eguavoen along with football legend Taribo West and other notable Niger Delta-based and foreign scouts will be on ground.
The LOC appreciated the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, for his support towards the conclusion of the tournament, adding that it is better late than never, as the competition will still be among his numerous legacies.
According to the statement, the arrival date for participating teams is 11th of December, while screening of teams and official kick off, will take place the following day.
The statement further called on the Coordinators of the states not to forget the rules of engagement, especially on the age bracket of the players, as the screening will be strict, for the aim of the competition to be achieved.
FIBA World Cup: Kida Lauds D’Tigers’ Strong Qualifiers Start
Top basketball administrator and immediate past Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) president, Engr Musa Kida, has congratulated the D’Tigers for starting their 2022 FIBA World Cup on a strong note after picking two victories in three matches.
With five points from a possible six and a superior point difference, the team sits comfortably atop group A ahead of the next round of games coming up by the 27th of June, 2022.
Kida described the team’s performance as inspiring despite peculiar circumstances surrounding the federation’s election as well as FIBA’s stance over Nigeria’s participation at the qualifiers.
“It is really nice to start such important qualifiers on a winning note which is very good for our chances of qualifying for the World Cup. We had to put our administrative differences aside for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
“We feel elated and justified that our decision to give FIBA the go ahead to register the team which enabled them participate paid off in the long run as we join hands with all stakeholders to continue growing the game in Nigeria”.
16 teams are vying for the available five spots at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Nigeria grouped alongside Mali, Cape Verde and Uganda.
“The top three teams from each group will advance to the Second Round of the African Qualifiers and will join three other teams to create two six-team groups with results from the preliminary rounds carried over,” Musa added.
AWCON Qualifiers: Ebi Targets Revenge Against Ivory Coast
Super Falcons defender, Onome Ebi, says the team will go all out for revenge when they clash against Ivory Coast in their final 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers next year.
The qualifying game which will be played on a home and away basis is scheduled for February 13 and 17 with the winners qualifying for the AWCON in Morocco.
The Falcons who will be hoping to defend the title they won at the 2018 in Ghana are eyeing their 10th trophy Morocco but to qualify for the event, they’ll have to go past the Ivorians who knocked them out of contention for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Ebi, who is Nigeria’s current longest-serving player says her aim is to avenge the loss that saw them miss out on the 2020 Olympics at the hands of the Ivorians.
“I can tell you that we still nurse the pain of missing out of the Tokyo Olympics as a result of the loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series,” Ebi said.
“This time, we will repay them in their own coins. Personally, I want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup, and I know it is the same for my teammates.”
The Falcons are the most successful African women’s team in the world and have won the AWCON a record nine times and will be hoping to get their 10th next year after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Politics3 days ago
Shehu Explains Buhari’s Controversial Tweet On Biafra
Business1 day ago
Consumers Fault Prepaid Meter, Seek Return To Analogue System
Business3 days ago
SON Tasks Technocrats On Success Of AfCFTA Implementation
Business3 days ago
Nigeria, 12 Others To Drive Global Trade By 2030 – Report
Politics3 days ago
I’m Not Against Araraume’s Appointment – OBJ
Sports3 days ago
Why Budweiser Brought Terry, Carlos To Nigeria – Adedeji
Nation3 days ago
Banditry Displaces 151, 380 People In Two Years In Niger
Politics3 days ago
Abaribe Wants More Women In Governance