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Napoli into Italian Cup semi-finals after beating Spezia



Napoli into Italian Cup semi-finals after beating Spezia

… As Champions Liverpool return to EPL top four after whacking Tottenham 3-1***

Title-holders Napoli beat visiting Spezia 4-2 Thursday to advance in the Italian Cup as they wrapped up the event’s quarter-final round.

Kalidou Koulibaly, Hirving Lozano, Matteo Politano and Eljif Elmas struck for the Naples hosts before half-time.

But the dynamic Serie A newcomers kept the game alive through goals from Emmanuel Gyasi and Gennaro Acampora.

Spezia won 2-1 in Naples earlier this month in league action.

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The Neapolitans are to meet Atalanta in the first-leg of the semi-finals next week as the Bergamo side eliminated Lazio 3-2 on Wednesday.

Juventus beat second-division SPAL 4-0 and will meet Inter Milan, who edged AC Milan 2-1 on Tuesday.

In another development, Liverpool returned to winning ways on Thursday with a 3-1 triumph at Tottenham Hotspur to see the English Premier League (EPL) champions move back into the top four.

It was Liverpool’s first victory in their last five league games after playing four of those fixtures without scoring a goal.

Son Heung-Min looked like he had given Spurs the lead with an early goal but the video assistant referee (VAR) took it away for a marginal offside.

However, on the stroke of half-time, Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 1-0 ahead with an unmissable tap in.

Spurs lost striker Harry Kane to injury before the second half, with Trent Alexander-Arnold doubling the visitors’ lead after he followed up the rebound from a Hugo Lloris save.

“What I saw today it’s not about shape or form it’s about who we are,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said, praising his side.

Also read:  Ibrahimovic sent off as Inter Milan beat AC Milan in Italian Cup derby

“That was us. Second half especially it was us, it was a massive fight. We scored the goals in the right moments, the right people scored the goals. So, all good apart from their goal.”

Denmark’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg instantly reduced the deficit as he fired in his first goal for Spurs with a free hit from the edge of the box.

“The second half we had to make changes, we lost Harry, had to change the structure of the team,” explained Mourinho, who revealed Kane had injured both ankles.

“First minute, same mistake, second goal. Good reaction, another mistake and goal. It was a team fighting against its own mistakes.”

Another goal was disallowed by VAR for handball in the build-up to Mohamed Salah’s strike.

But Sadio Mane ensured the third Liverpool goal when he ruthlessly finished off Alexander-Arnold’s cross for a confidence-boosting three points.

Liverpool’s first league win of 2021 sits them fourth on 37 points, four behind leaders Manchester City, while Tottenham remain sixth on 33 points.

Both Liverpool and Spurs were the top two sides in the Premier League when they last met at Anfield in December with Firmino scoring the decider in a 2-1 win.

But six weeks later, they were two teams struggling with form and injuries, scrambling for a top-four position.

There was a lively start to the game as Mane missed a great opportunity to open the scoring and Spurs immediately retaliated to grab what they thought was an early breakthrough.

Kane sent Son on his way to slot a low shot past goalkeeper Alisson but after a check by the VAR, it was ruled that the South Korean was offside by the heel of his boot.

Mane was thwarted three times by Tottenham’s captain goalkeeper Lloris before the Senegal striker switched to provider for Firmino’s opener.

Firmino sprinted through to catch Mane’s low cross to easily convert a goal that ended the Reds’ unusual run of seven-and-a-half hours without scoring.

With Spurs deflated with the loss of Kane to injury in the second half, Liverpool surged forward and were instantly rewarded.

Alexander-Arnold reacted first as Lloris pushed away Mane’s angled drive and the Frenchman could do nothing when the England international full-back pounced on the opportunity.

The two-goal advantage disappeared in a flash.

Steve Bergwijn picked out Hojbjerg lingering around the perimeter before the Norwegian unleashed a mighty strike that gave Alisson no chance of saving.

There was more VAR controversy when a third goal from Salah was disallowed because of a handball by Firmino as he tussled for the ball with Tottenham’s Eric Dier.

That would not matter in the 64th minute when Alexander-Arnold delivered an inviting pass to the far post where Mane was waiting to punch in the final blow.

Liverpool’s schedule will get tougher in the next month as they will play four of the top seven teams by the end of February.






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Ikoyi Club Hosts Asiodu At 90 Golf Tournament



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



…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



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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