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Saka Becomes England’s Heartbeat Of Euro 2024

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As Bukayo Saka stepped up for the penalty against Switzerland, a lot of the England staff were conscious of the weight on his shoulders. Some tried not to mention it, but it did hang there. He had taken many for Arsenal in response to that Euro 2020 miss, but it was nothing like this.
“I know there’s a lot of nervous people watching, like my family…” Saka himself said afterwards. That’s enough of a thought to flash through your mind in itself.
He was not thinking of any of it in the moment, though. It was also why Gareth Southgate and the England staff were fully confident in him. They’d gone through so many preparation processes as a group. There was also Saka’s individual character, and quality. They didn’t need to mention it, because they knew he was ready.
“It is something I embrace,” Saka said. “You fail once, but I’m the sort of guy who wants to put myself in that position again.” He learned from experience, and excelled. “I kept my cool and scored my penalty.”
The joyous smile of his celebration showed a lot of other emotions, all of them wholesome and uplifting. Saka of course did more than keep cool in that moment. He’d scored the goal that got England that far, saving the team with inspired individual brilliance. In moments like this, it is inevitable that wider narratives are constructed around the decisive player, but Saka’s performance is reflective of something deeper with England. It may yet take them all the way.
He’s a personification of their resolve. That is over the three years since Euro 2020, and also the resilience in just getting through games like this, and getting through the tournament.
There is still so much to fault in this team, after all. None of the formations have yet worked, including the imbalanced one at the start of this game. England still retreat so needlessly in matches, and it still looks like a proper team of stature could punish them. Even in the quarter-final, Switzerland created so many openings in the final 10 minutes of extra time. That flurry alone felt like more than England have produced in almost this entire tournament. That can be witnessed in those stats about three successive shots on target, resulting in three goals over four hours of football.
There is so much for opposition sides to scrutinise. What you can’t fault, however, is this new resilience. That’s why it’s so important to have a player like Saka, who displays it when required.
The goal was a genuine moment of tournament genius. England needed something to stay in the competition as the match ticked into the final 10 minutes, and he didn’t just do what was necessary. He did something special. It was all the best of Saka, from the smart running, the link-up, the run and then the arrowed finish. We have seen that a lot for Arsenal, but usually from much further in. This was the long shot required. Saka duly went even bigger for the big moment.
And all this, of course, from playing what was notionally an unfamiliar position at wing-back.
“He’s a dream to work with,” Southgate beamed. “He’s a fabulous boy. Such a good professional, so much fun to be around. He does an amazing job for the team with and without the ball.”

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NNL Confirms Relegation Of 12 Clubs  To NLO

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Ahead of the 2024/2025 season, the board of the Nigeria National League (NNL) has confirmed the relegation of 12 clubs  across  the four groups that played in last season’s league to the third tier National League One (NLO).
Similarly, the promotion of four clubs from the NNL  to  the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) was also  confirmed.
The  NNL had recently concluded the season with its super eight championship at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium in Enugu, where the quartet of  Nasarawa United, El-Kanemi Warriors, Beyond Limits and Ikorodu City FC gained promotion to the elite league.
The NNL in a letter dated July 13, 2024 to the NFF, confirmed the relegation of Stormers FC, Abeokuta, Ekiti United FC of Ado Ekiti and 1472 FC of Lagos from conference A. Also confirmed  were FC One Rocket of Uyo, Giant Brillars FC of Enugu and Trade Safe FC of Lagos from conference B  while NAF FC of Abuja, ABS FC of Ilorin and EFCC FC of Abuja dropped to the NLO from conference C.
Similarly, Mailantarki Care FC of Abuja, Jigawa Golden Stars of Dutse and City FC of Abuja completed the dropped clubs from Conference D.
Confirming the promotion and relegation of the clubs, chairman of the NNL, George Aluo, said the board has formally notified the NFF ,its parent body  about the final outcome of the 2023/2024 season.
The veteran journalist added that the board is currently preparing for its Annual General Meeting (AGM), where it will formally receive all the clubs that would participate in the new season.
“To the glory of God,  the 2023/2024 NNL season ended with giant strides recorded by the board. We have formally notified the NFF of the promotion and relegation of the various clubs that gallantly participated in the league last season,” Aluo said. “Our next program is the Annual General Meeting of the board and clubs, where we will receive the four clubs that dropped from the NPFL and the eight that got promotion from the NLO.”
He added: “We are set and have promised Nigerians that we will improve on our last season’s performance. We have raised the standards at NNL and the new season will no doubt be competitive as our performance has propelled many of the clubs that participated in last season to become giant killers in Nigerian football,” Aluo stated.

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Super Falcons To Land In Bordeaux

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2004 quarter-finalists Nigeria were scheduled to arrive in the French city of Bordeaux yesterday night as the countdown begins for their first outing at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in 16 years.
The nine-time African champions, who must negotiate an interesting group that also includes Brazil, Spain and Japan, will depart Spain aboard an Air France flight and arrive in Bordeaux minutes before 11pm.
The delegation of 18 players, four alternate players and officials is scheduled to arrive at the team’s Hotel Mercure abode minutes before midnight.
Quarter-finalists at the Athens 2004 Olympics, the Super Falcons last featured at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in China in 2008, when they lost 0-1 to Korea Democratic People’s Republic, 0-1 to Germany and 1-3 to eventual silver medallists Brazil.
Women’s football began as a demonstration sport at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. The Super Falcons made their entry in 2000 in Australia, where they lost 1-3 each to China, eventual winners Norway and eventual silver medallists USA.

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Nwokolo Donates Kits To Lagos Community

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Nigeria-born boxer, Emeka Nwokolo, has expressed his desire to fight in Nigeria in 2025 while donating boxing kits to young pugilists in Lagos during a press briefing at the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control office in the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos State.
The United States-based fighter, who recently won his fourth and fifth professional titles in June, is on a visit to his homeland where he was born before migrating with his father, legendary boxer Charles Nwokolo.
“I think by next year, by the grace of God, I’ll have a fight coming up in Nigeria. I am going to fight in Lagos or in my hometown, where my dad comes from, in Anambra,” Nwokolo said.
The 31-year-old, who currently holds the WBA North American Boxing Association super welterweight and Universal Boxing Organisation world super welterweight belts, donated gloves and other boxing equipment to aspiring boxers in Lagos.
Secretary General of the NBBofC, Remi Aboderin, praised Nwokolo’s gesture, stating, “This guy is an inspiration to other young ones in Nigeria. More Nigerian boxers are looking up to him to be like him and even maybe want to surpass him.
“He has come in and given back to the society, he came with gloves and other kits and he has shared them among the young ones. On behalf of the NBBofC, we want to thank the Nwokolos for their impact in Nigerian boxing.”

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