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Super Eagles Beat Bafana Bafana On Penalties To Advance To AFCON Final

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Following a pulsating 120 minutes of play and penalties, Nigeria’s Super Eagles advanced to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final in Ivory Coast.

Nigeria defeated South Africa on penalties in the semi-finals at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake on Wednesday night (1).

Both teams drew 1-1 in regulation and overtime before the Eagles won 4-2 in the penalty shootout.

The Super Eagles made their record 15th AFCON semi-final appearance, and it was a nerve-racking match that tested them to the limit.

Victor Osimhen was only declared fit on the eve of the match after experiencing abdominal discomfort. However, another injury forced Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro to make a change to his usual starting lineup. Bright Osayi-Samuel replaced the injured Zaidu Sanusi at the back.

Nigeria began with a 3-4-3 formation, which was replicated by Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos, and the Eagles struggled in the early stages of the match.

The backline of William Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi, and Calvin Bassey initially struggled to contain Percy Tau and Evidence Makgopa’s speed and positional awareness.

Stanley Nwabali was forced to make an outstanding save after Makgopa spun on the edge of the box and fired a curler into the top corner.

Nigeria did, however, score the game’s first goal. Mothobi Mvala brought down Osimhen in South Africa’s goal area in the 65th minute. Troost-Ekong made no mistakes with the subsequent penalty.

A brief moment of madness swung the game in Bafana Bafana’s favour late in the second half. Osimhen was wheeling away in celebration of a goal he thought he had scored when a VAR review revealed a foul by Alhassan Yusuf on Percy Tau in the Nigerian box before the goal. South Africa was awarded a penalty, sending Nigerians from joy to despair.

Teboho Mokoena’s spot-kick sent Nwabali in the wrong direction. The game eventually went into overtime and a penalty shootout.

SPORTS

Conor Bradley Savours ‘Special’ Carabao Cup Victory, Pays Tribute To Jürgen Klopp

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Conor Bradley struggled to articulate his emotions after helping Liverpool to win the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday night.

The full-back put in another impressive performance after starting Sunday’s match against Chelsea, which was won 1-0 in remarkably dramatic fashion when Virgil van Dijk headed home with just two minutes of extra-time remaining.

And, speaking to Sky Sports post-match, Bradley said: “I don’t think I can actually put it into words. It’s an incredible feeling and obviously I’ve supported this club since I was about five years old so to now win a trophy with them at Wembley, it’s special and I’m just buzzing.

“Thankfully I wasn’t on at the end because I don’t know if I could have kept my composure! The boys did brilliant and especially the young ones that came on, they showed real heart and they always wanted the ball and they always wanted to make something happen. So, full credit to the boys.”

Bradley was replaced by fellow Academy graduate Bobby Clark in the latter stages of normal time, while three more youngsters – Jayden Danns, James McConnell and Jarell Quansah – were also later introduced from the bench by Jürgen Klopp.

He added: “Obviously we were all looking forward to it. It’s a massive game for us, especially the young ones. But obviously it wasn’t easy with the amount of injuries we did have but we’re just so thankful to get over the line and get the win, and get the win for the manager.

“I think it all comes from the gaffer, to be honest, the confidence that he puts in us youngsters. He just tells us to go out there and enjoy it and that’s what we try to do and we’re so happy to get the win today.

“It makes it much easier coming into the first team whenever the U21s and the U18s all play the same way, so you know what you are doing whenever you do get thrown in and it obviously makes it a lot easier. The work that goes in at the Academy is brilliant.”

Bradley went on to elaborate on his admiration for, and gratitude to, Klopp.

“He’s such a special manager to work under and I just need to cherish every moment I have left with him because obviously he is going in the summer,” the 20-year-old stated.

“I just want to enjoy every moment with him now and then try to win everything we can for him.

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It’s Easily The Most Special Trophy I Ever Won, Klopp Says About Winning Carabao Cup’

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Klopp

Jürgen Klopp declared Liverpool’s lifting of the Carabao Cup after defeating Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley as the ‘most special trophy I ever won’.

Virgil van Dijk headed in the only goal of Sunday’s final towards the end of extra-time to secure the Reds their record-extending 10th triumph in the competition.

The captain scored with a glancing header from Kostas Tsimikas’ corner with 118 minutes on the clock to decide the end-to-end showpiece, which ended with a youthful Liverpool side on the pitch.

That would be cool if I could see goals coming, I would relax [in] a lot of moments of my life. No, I loved it. I think that was the moment where everything just felt, ‘Come on.’ What we see here today is so exceptional, that we might never see it again and not because I am on the sideline, because these things don’t happen in football. I got told outside that there’s an English phrase, ‘You don’t win trophies with kids’ – I didn’t know that. Yeah! There are longer careers than mine but in more than 20 years, [it’s] easily the most special trophy I ever won. It’s exceptional. Sometimes I get asked if I’m proud of this, proud of that, proud of that, and it’s really tricky. I wish I could feel pride more often, I just don’t do. Tonight there’s an overwhelming feeling, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on here?’ I was proud of everybody involved in everything here.

I was proud of our people for the way they pushed us. I was proud of the staff for creating this kind of atmosphere sure these boys can just do what they are best at. I was proud of our Academy.
“I was proud of my coaches. I was proud of so many things. It was really overwhelming. It had nothing to do with maybe my last game at Wembley – I checked that, nothing to do with that. It was really because of how everybody contributed, seeing the faces after the game of the kids – Jayden Danns. Can you create in football stories which definitely nobody will ever forget? It’s so difficult because this happened before, this happened before, they won it then, there. This tonight, if you find the same story with Academy players coming on against a top, top, top side and still winning it, I never heard.

I couldn’t care less about my legacy. I’m not here to create one. As a manager of a football club, you are there to do the job actually. Nothing what we did in the last eight-and-a-half years would have happened… it’s not replaceable, you couldn’t have done the same in another club or whatever. It was exactly made for this combination and it’s fantastic. But we learlearnedmuch in that time, I learned so much, the people learned so much. It’s not a problem if the manager leaves or whatever, if these people would leave – our supporters – that would be a problem. But as long as they are the way they are, Liverpool Football Club will be fine and that’s the most important thing. But for these kind of things from time to time you need something to really celebrate.

Come on, this was so special. You saw the game, you saw the circumstances. We had problems before the game, they became bigger during the game… And then getting through all of this, you see tired players. I have no clue who can play on Wednesday because we had players on the pitch until the end of the game who had problems. We asked Harvey [Elliott] to stay, we asked Lucho [Luis Diaz] to stay up front, don’t go back anymore. So, I have no idea who can play on Wednesday but for tonight it is a night I will never forget. If nobody else sees it like that, no problem. For me, it’s a really nice memory forever.

On whether he just sees a ‘talent’ rather than a ‘teenager’ when making substitutions…

Obviously age is not at all in our thought process in that moment. We knew who we [would] take, we knew that we have to build a squad. It was clear that yesterday in training, it was so clear that these are the boys we will take. We needed fresh legs. We needed [that]. It was clear. You can always think [about] who you take off. In the end it’s always the wrong one because do we take off Cody [Gakpo] or do we take off Lucho? Do we take off Harvey or do we take off Macca [Alexis Mac Allister]? Do we take off [Wataru] Endo or Macca? Stuff like this. It’s clear we have to make changes. In the end, you follow us obviously pretty closely and the development of Bobby Clark… that’s really crazy I have to say. The development of James McConnell is absolutely insane, and Jayden Danns has only recently joined us in first-team training. I loved him from the first second; really special. And he comes on today, OK he played in the last game, but he can score two goals in a Carabao Cup final. It’s absolutely insane.

And the other kids out there which we could obviously have brought on as well. [Lewis] Koumas and Trey [Nyoni] and stuff like this. Some we left at home, Kaide [Gordon], so it’s just nice to partner these boys in these moments. To be the first one, not the last one obviously, but the first one who wants it. The way that the experienced group involves them is pretty special, pretty special. It was wonderful. So many players, some were not allowed to come here today from our squad, but so many players; celebrations. OK, Darwin [Nunez] and Dom [Szoboszlai] are obviously not fit in the moment, that’s why they didn’t play. But the celebration looked at 100 per cent, let me say it like that! I have to talk about that with the medical department! It is, for this group and for the club, a super-special night.

On Wataru Endo’s performance and development throughout the season…

A good development, huh? Yeah, I said it a couple of times we were lucky. We bring him in and obviously Wataru, I’m pretty sure in three [or] four years Wataru will sign another long-term contract at Liverpool just because he might be 30 or 31 on his passport but he’s not. He’s a machine. He is footballing-wise exceptional. His defensive brain is outstanding. He gives us a lot of freedom for a lot of things. Yeah, top development. Very helpful, very helpful.

On Van Dijk’s leadership…

I love talking about my players. I really love it. Virgil van Dijk from the first day since he stepped into Liverpool FC is absolutely outstanding. But you anyway in his lesser-good moments go for him like he didn’t want to perform. ‘Why is he like that?’ Sorry, they’re human beings, it happens from time to time. That we are not spot on probably happens to you as well. Yes, thank God, he’s absolutely spot on, top shape, we need him; we need them all. I think he learned an important lesson tonight for himself. Not that he needed to learn it, but we gave him the opportunity to learn it. Whatever happens, you always can win the game whatever.

Because we couldn’t explain to the players what the plan was. We explain to the players on the outside [that] we want them to do this and that. The majority of other guys standing on the pitch just adapt to it. Kids come on. Harvey outside, Harvey inside. Joey [Gomez] inside. Stuff like this. I was a player myself and you think, ‘What’s the idea behind that?’ But nobody, I saw it in their faces, nobody thought [that]. Just, ‘OK, come on.’ Then we do it like that. Yeah, he will not forget, not because it was the first trophy as Liverpool captain, [but] just because [of] the circumstances.

 

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Police Commend Makinde, As 14th Biennial Police Games Kicks Off

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The Nigeria Police have hailed Oyo State Governor ‘Seyi Makinde for providing the required resources and logistics assistance as the 14th Biennial Police Games, called Oluyole 2024, commence in Ibadan on Saturday.

The historic sporting event will kick off with an opening ceremony attended by the Presidency, the Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, PhD, and the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, among others.

According to Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Public Relations Officer for the Nigeria Police Force, 4,000 police officers and women would participate in various sporting events.

He stated this during a news conference held at the Lekan Salami Sports Complex in Adamasingba, Ibadan, stressing that the 14th Biennial Police Games will provide an opportunity for the Police to continue its age-old history of discovering sporting talent.

He added that in line with the theme of the event, “competing for peace, unity, stability and development of Nigeria,” the event is also to send a strong signal to Nigerians on the need for unity and stability.

Adejobi, who commended the Oyo State governor, Makinde, for being a wonderful host and for providing necessary resources and support to ensure the success of the Oluyole 2024, maintained that the Police are also sending warning signals to criminals in the state that the headquarters of the Police is in the state for the next one week.

At the press conference, which had in attendance the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Miss Wasilat Adegoke and the Special Adviser on Media to the governor, Mr Sulaimon Olanrewaju, the Force PRO revealed that the opening ceremony of the event will take place on Saturday, while the games will run till 2nd of March, 2024.

He said: “We know that the Nigerian Police Force has a good history when it comes to sports development in Nigeria.”

“For many years, we have been at the forefront of producing and projecting talents in a sports arena in Nigeria and beyond.

“The BIPOGA also goes beyond mere competition; it will send a signal to Nigerians to maintain the sovereignty of the country and to send out a message that we need peace in the country.

“Sport is one of the things we can use to strengthen the unity of the country. To develop the state economically and socially.”

The state’s Commissioner for Youth and Sports also said the state is looking forward to the economic benefits of the event, saying “I see Oyo State as a lucky state and, as Pacesetter, we are setting the pace all the time. I see this as an opportunity to boost our economy.”

 

 

 

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