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Messi fires nervous FC Barcelona to victory over Levante

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Messi fires nervous FC Barcelona to victory over Levante

…As Aubameyang scores own goal, forcing struggling Arsenal lose to Burnley***

Lionel Messi dragged a nervous FC Barcelona to a 1-0 win at home to Levante in La Liga on Sunday to cool tensions after a chaotic week at the Catalan club.

FC Barcelona dominated the game but failed to keep their composure in front of goal until Messi latched on to a through ball from Frenkie de Jong and thumped it in off the far post in the 76th minute.

The Argentine punched the air more in relief than celebration, having fired blanks in Barca’s recent painful defeats by Cadiz and Juventus.

FC Barcelona were still made to sweat to gain all three points, surviving a late VAR review for a possible handball against Samuel Umtiti plus a last-gasp volley from Levante player Son which landed in the hands of keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The win lifted FC Barcelona up to eighth place in the standings on 17 points after 11 games, closing the gap with leaders Real Sociedad and second-placed Atletico Madrid to nine points.

“We always find it hard against Levante as they work so hard, they have a deep squad but we played well, we were better defensively than in recent weeks and we created many chances,” said FC Barcelona left back Jordi Alba.

“Luckily, we were able to take one of them and got the three points. You have to give credit to the team as every player stood tall today.”

Levante often prove a handful to FC Barcelona when playing at home in Valencia but they have never taken a point off the Catalans at the Camp Nou.

They came mightily close to doing so, however, as FC Barcelona struggled to cope with their opponents’ defensive tactics, repeatedly interrupting the home side’s play with their compact banks of four defenders and midfielders.

When FC Barcelona did manage to come up against Levante keeper Aitor Fernandez they tended to shoot straight at him or miss the target, such as when Clement Lenglet somehow squandered an open goal in the first half.

Messi also looked to be lacking sharpness, slicing a shot hopelessly wide in the opening period and needing 12 shots to find the net once and win the match.

In another development, Arsenal’s Premier League troubles intensified as they fell 1-0 at home by lowly Burnley on Sunday with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring an own goal after Granit Xhaka was sent off.

The Gunners, who have now lost four straight home games, are in 15th place in the standings with 13 points, while Burnley climbed out of the bottom three, moving up to 17th place on nine points after their first away win of the season.

Mikel Arteta’s side were enjoying a spell of strong pressure after the interval, testing Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, when Xhaka was sent off after a VAR review spotted him grabbing Burnley’s Ashley Westwood by the throat.

Westwood created the decisive goal when his dangerous in-swinging corner was headed into his own goal by Aubameyang as he rose to challenge Josh Brownhill at the near post.

– Reuters

 

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Ikoyi Club Hosts Asiodu At 90 Golf Tournament

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The Chairman of the famous Ikoyi Club 1938 Alhaji Tafa Zibiri-Aliu, is set to lead other dignitaries to a golf tournament at the Club to celebrate the former Permanent Secretary and Secretary of Petroleum Chief Philip Asiodu (CON, CFR), who turned 90 years recently.

The Golf Kitty which is invitational, and comes up on Thursday 14th March 2024, at the Golf Section of the Club, will have in attendance the Captain Mr. Tade Adekunle, and other distinguished members playing, according to Dr. Austin Irabor a member of the Club who spoke on behalf of the organizers.

He pointed out that it promises to be a true celebration of excellence at the Ikoyi Club 1938 golf course, as members, veterans, captains of industries, and leaders in government and business amongst others gather at the club’s golf course for the 90th birthday celebration golf kitty in honour of Chief Philip Asiodu, who was also a Chief Economic Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Golf Kitty is scheduled to hold on the 14th of March 2024 as part of the activities for the celebration of Chief Asiodu’s 90th birthday.

Chief Asiodu  is the Patriarch of the Asiodu family of  Nnikwu village, Umuaji, Asaba, Delta State, and a distinguished senior member, a veteran of the Ikoyi Club, and the Golf section for many decades

Also, speaking on behalf of the family, Ogbueshi Peter Osamgbi noted that “Chief Asiodu’s landmark age attainment comes as a thing of great joy to us, family and friends of the Retired Federal Permanent Secretary, Former Secretary of Petroleum of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and  Chief Economic Adviser to the President, who is also the Izoma of Asaba”

Pointing out that the sporting engagement through golf is a testament to his blessed life and a celebration of one of Nigeria’s revered economists and dedicated public servants.

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Super Eagles Loss To Ivory Coast Not A Disgrace- Ahmed Toro

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…As Bauchi fans hail referee Beida for good officiating 

Sani  Ahmed Toro, former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) and ex-member House of Representatives, has commended the Super Eagles’ resilience at the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Ahmed Toro in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the aftermath of the Super Eagles 1-2 loss to the Elephants, said that the outcome of the match was not a disgrace.

The Super Eagles on Sunday failed to fly past the Elephants at the finals of the AFCON 2023, played at the 34th edition of the game, at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan.

Ivorian combative Sebastien Haller, scored the tap in a winning goal to help the hosts 2-1 win over Nigeria.

On-field captain, and Most Valuable Player of the tournament, William Troost-Ekong, with a thumping header as he rose to meet Samuel Chukwueze’s flick-on from a corner, but Franck Kessie equalized just after the hour mark after being left unmarked at the back post from a set piece with another header.

The Ivorians then repeated their comeback strategy as Borussia Dortmund player, Haller, tapped in from Simon Adingra’s cross into the goal.

Ahmed Toro

Ahmed Toro, however,  commended the team for their bravery even though most football pundits did not give them a chance.

“The Super Eagles of Nigeria did their best having gone far till the final match. We were not disgraced at the AFCON.

“Some of us expected them to win, but the game did not go our way. The Federal Government of Nigeria has done its part, so also the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to motivate the team.

“In all, it was a good fight from the Super Eagles,  because this was against all odds or expectations. For every sports-loving Nigerian, we wanted a victory.

“The Super Eagles deserve our commendation, so I congratulate them,” he said.

Ahmed Toro also said it was time for the Eagles to start thinking about the World Cup qualifications.

“We now have to go back to the drawing board and make sure that we qualify for the World Cup, we should focus on that.

“Going forward, we must make sure that we qualify for the World Cup because AFCON is over now, this is the right time for us to put our house in order,” he said.

In another development, the football fans in Bauchi State have praised referee Dahane Beida, of Mauritania, for good officiating during the Cote d’Ivoire finals win over Nigeria, at the 34th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire beat Nigeria’s Super Eagles to capture the African crown, they came from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1, to win the AFCON 2023  title on Sunday, Feb. 11. 

Some football fans in an interview with the News Agency of  Nigeria (NAN) at midnight on Monday in Bauchi, lauded the officiating referee for unbiased officiating.

Mr Adamu Imam, a football fan, said the referee was composed and focused while officiating the match.

“The Mauritanian referee has put in his best to see that the game was perfectly coordinated, without much argument and fewer yellow cards issued. 

“So, I must commend his professionalism at the 2023 AFCON finals.”

Nasiru Ibrahim,  a sports commentator,  said the match was neat and was well-officiated by the referee.

“The referee has done well,” he said. 

Ibrahim, however, said that the Super Eagles coach made some mistakes.

“It was unexpected, and I am devastated. I am hoping to be able to bear the pain of the loss,” he added.

A sports writer, Jennifer Emmanuel, said the referee knew his job, “as a referee, he was impartial to the two teams”. 

“There was no sentiment nor bias in officiating the finals, he deserves commendation,” she said.

According to her, I feel bad but we accept everything in good fate, that’s football for you, Congratulations to Côte d’Ivoire .

“They played like patriots. no matter what happened tonight maximum respect to the super eagles,” Jennifer said with a salute.

Another Sports Enthusiast, Abubakar Waziri, however, noted that while officiating the match, the Mauritanian referee made some mistakes, adding that “it is the beauty of the game”. 

“The Super Eagles played more of a defensive game,  instead of attacking at the beginning of the match.

“There was much pressure on the defence because our midfield was not well coordinated, this put pressure on the defense,” he said. 

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Super Eagles Soar Past S/Africa, Berth In 2023 AFCON final

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Enugu State Football league begins May 24 – Official

The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Wednesday in Bouake qualified for the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), after defeating South Africa in a pulsating semi-final clash.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the match played at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake,  was decided on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes of tension-soaked encounter.

The match started on a fast pace, with the South Africans dominating play but was pegged back by the resilient Nigerian defence,  Marshalled by Captain William Troost-Ekong.

The cagey first half ended goalless, despite the forays by both teams.

But in the second half, Nigeria took the lead after Victor Osimhen was fouled inside the 18-yard box.

Ekong stepped up to put the Eagles one goal up.

However, late in the game, substitute Alhassan Yusuf gave away a penalty, which Teboho Mokoena tucked away.

The match was eventually decided on penalties, with Nigeria winning 4-2 after a nervy shoot-out.

Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning penalty as Nigeria booked their place in the final, sparking a wild celebration in the stadium.

Nigeria will now face the winners of the Cote d’Ivoire vs DR Congo match in Sunday’s final.

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