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I have always admired Okocha, confesses Barcelona great Ronaldinho

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The two veterans are widely considered among the greatest midfielders the game has ever seen, and they crossed path in Bahrain

Brazil and Barcelona legend Ronaldinho has never hidden his admiration for former Nigeria captain Austin Okocha.

The 2005 Fifa World Player of the Year winner confirmed it again, when he met the Bolton Wanderers’ great in Bahrain venue of the 67th Fifa Congress.

Ronaldinho was Okocha’s protégé at Paris Saint Germain before the latter’s departure for the English Premier League. Aside the Nigerian, he also revealed his respect for former Colombia skipper Carlos Valderrama.

 

”Só camisa 10 que sempre admirei. @iamokocha e @PibeValderramaP,” he tweeted posing with the iconic No.10s. In English it means: ”Only 10 shirt I’ve always admired. Okocha and Valderrama”

Diego Maradona, Carli Lloyd, Alex Scott , Karina LeBlanc, Said Olawairan, Cafu, David Trezeguet and Alexey Smertin are other legends in Asian country for the congress billed for Thursday at the International Exhibition & Convention Centre in Manama.

There, the Fifa council will discuss a number of key topics related to the future of the world governing body’s competitions, particularly the Fifa World Cup.

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Super Eagles’ Coach, Rohr invites three new home-based players to Super Eagles

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The Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, has called up three new home-based players for the planned camping programme in France and the international friendly match against the Corsica Senior National Team later this month.

The three new invitees are Alhassan Ibrahim of Akwa United as well as the MFM FC duo of Stephen Odey and Sikiru Olatubosun.

Ikechukwu Ezenwa who also plays in the Nigeria League with FC Ifeanyi Ubah is also in the 25-man list released by Rohr on Monday, but he is not new to the national team set-up having been invited over in a couple of occasions.

The Super Eagles will open camp in Corsica on May 24 and then play against the Corsica senior team two days later, before moving camp to Paris, capital of France for the second phase of the camping programme ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.

Nigeria, unbeaten in a competitive game at senior level by South Africa since the Rainbow Nation returned to international football 25 years ago, go up against the familiar foes at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo on June 10.

Injury has ruled out first –choice goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, of Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Championship, leaving home-based Ikechukwu Ezenwa to fight it out with fellow former junior international, Dele Alampasu, for the slot between the sticks.

England–based duo, Ola Aina (Chelsea FC) and Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC), have been granted permission to feature for their respective clubs in the English FA Cup final on May 27 before joining the squad in Paris.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah); Dele Alampasu (Cesarense FC, Portugal)

Defenders: Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); William Ekong (KAA Gent, Belgium); Uche Agbo (CF Granada, Spain); Abdullahi Shehu (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Tyronne Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands); Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Gijon, Spain); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal)

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense, Portugal); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal); Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa United FC)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Stephen Odey (MFM FC); Olanrewaju Kayode (FC Austria Wien, Austria); Isaac Success (Watford FC, England); Noah Serenren-Bazee (Hannover 96, Germany); Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg FC, Germany); Sikiru Olatubosun (MFM FC)

To join team in Paris after English FA Cup final are Ola Aina (Chelsea FC, England) and Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England).

Source: PremiumTime

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FIFA to commence the use of video assistant referee

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World football governing body, FIFA, has revealed its plan to commence the use of Video Assistant Referee, VAR at the 2018 World Cup.

The new method was tried last December in Japan during the Fifa Club World Cup.

The president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino made the revelation on Wednesday stating that the VAR will be used at next year’s World Cup in Russia for the first time.

According to reports, Infantino revealed this at a congress of the South American Football Confederation in Santiago, Chile.

He said, “We will use video refereeing at the 2018 World Cup because we’ve had nothing but positive feedback so far.”

Video assistance was introduced to support referees with “game-changing” decisions.

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Wenger vows never to sell Alexis Sanchez to Premier League rival

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Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, has said he would rather allow Alexis Sanchez walk away for free next year, than sell him to a Premier League rival.

Alexis, whose current deal expires in 2018, has been linked with Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

The Chile international is currently locked in a contract stalemate, after the Gunners offered him a new contract worth in excess of £250,000-a-week.

Wenger has made it clear he will not sell the 28-year-old like he did and explained that it is a different situation to when Arsenal sold Robin van Persie to United in 2012.

“I don’t think that you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. The question is more, Why would you sell him to another [Premier League] club? You want to be as strong as you can be, and not strengthen the other teams.

“I let Van Persie go in the last year of his contract because Van Persie was 29, going on 30 and he was signing a long-term contract. That is not the case with Alexis. I personally think he will sign and stay here.

“Even if he doesn’t sign a new deal, I will make him stay? Yes. Would I rather keep him than sell to a Premier League rival? Yes.

“But first of all, he is happy here. His desire is to stay. That is what I deeply believe.

“The disagreements are more contractual, not on the desire. Both parties have the desire to find an agreement, so I think it will happen,” Wenger said.

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Eden HAZARD Rejects Chelsea Captaincy

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Chelsea midfielder, Eden Hazard, has ruled himself out of the running to replace John Terry, as the new captain of the team.

Terry has confirmed that he will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of this season.

Gary Cahill has worn the armband in Terry’s absence this season and appears to be the leading candidate to be named skipper ahead of the 2017/2018 campaign.

“I think we have some players who can be more than a captain in this team,” Hazard told Sky Sports.

“When I talk to you at the national team, I do not know if I am a good captain, but I am a captain on the pitch.

“Off the pitch I do not like to talk a lot. In England, I think the captain has to talk and make people ready for the games. I am not this kind of guy, I can talk with my feet but it is not my job to talk to everyone.

“I think JT does this, Gary [Cahill], [Cesar] Azpilicueta and even Cesc. They deserve to be captain.”

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Ronaldo ‘went mad’ at his teammates in the dressing room after Messi’s late goal during El Classico

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During the game, Real Madrid came back from behind to equalise with 10 men, and even wanted to win the match but let Barca through Lionel Messi find a last minute winning goal-


With the loss, Madrid now needs to win their game in hand to top Barcelona in the La liga table.

Ronaldo reportedly fumed at his teammates for letting Messi have so much freedom. According to Marca, Ronaldo while pacing around in the dressing room, shouted at Marcelo and Luka Modric for not committing an initial foul on Sergi Roberto, which would have halted Barcelona’s momentum going forward.

And now in a new interview, Marcelo has taken some blame for his role in Messi’s goal.

“In the end, if I make the foul, a technical foul, on Sergi, maybe they do not score the goal, although it is impossible to know,” the Brazilian said, as quoted by ESPN. “Many things happen in seconds – it is very difficult. Maybe I take the blame, there is no problem with that. If I make a foul, they don’t score the goal.”

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Super Eagles Will Qualify For 2018 World Cup, AFCON 2019 – NFF

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has said that everything has been put in place, for the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Gernot Rohr’s men will take on South Africa in a 2019 AFCON qualifier next month, as the former African champions seek a return to the tournament, having missed the last two editions.

In August, Nigeria will play Cameroon. The Eagles are top of Group B of the Africa zone of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier, with maximum points from two games.

“We are on course, everything has been put in place for the two games against South Africa and Cameroon.

“The Federation is doing everything possible to make sure we qualify for the Nations Cup and the World Cup,” NFF spokesman Ademola Olajire said.

“As you are already aware, we took a tour of the Godswill Akpabio Stadium and it has been approved for the game.

“We have also written to the Akwa Ibom State Government as regards what needs to be done to get the stadium ready.

“The Technical and Development Committee is also working hand in hand with Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr to get the team ready.

“The committee is constantly in touch with Rohr and they are expecting him to give a list of players he wants to use to prosecute the matches. He has a free hand to pick whoever he wants.

“Once this is done, the committee, alongside the coach will sit down and fine tune the squad so that everything is in place. We are leaving nothing at ensuring the best legs prosecute these games.

“It is the NFF’s utmost desire to see that Nigeria is back at the Nations Cup as well as qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. We are well on course and we implore Nigerians to support us and the team,” he added.

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I should have fouled Sergi Roberto before winner – Marcelo

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Real Madrid vice-captain Marcelo has said he regrets not fouling Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto at the start of the move that resulted in Lionel Messi’s last-gasp winner.

Messi’s second goal of the game, steered home in the dying seconds, secured a 3-2 win for Barca in a thriller at the Bernabeu.

The move began when Sergi Roberto surged from his own half, running 50 yards before the ball was worked to Messi, who curled it home to put Barca top of the table on their head-to-head record over Madrid.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Brazil international Marcelo said: “In the end if I make the foul, a technical foul, on Sergi, maybe they do not score the goal, although it is impossible to know.

“Many things happen in seconds — it is very difficult. Maybe I take the blame, there is no problem with that. If I make a foul, they don’t score the goal.

“It is not just about Marcelo, it could be any player — although the further the ball is from our goal the better.”

Madrid were angry with the decision to show a straight red card to Sergio Ramos for a lunge on Messi with the game in the balance, and Marcelo said it had been a major factor in the result.

“In the end, some mistakes and small details have made the difference, not just the counter-attack,” he said.

“I don’t give my opinion on referees, although a sending off affects a team.”

But he stressed that Madrid remained in a good position to win both the Liga title — they have a game in hand on Barcelona — and the Champions League.

“We don’t get carried away when we win and we won’t get down after a defeat,” he added.

“We did a great job and we go away with our heads held high. We’re well placed in two competitions and we’ll keep working as we were before.”

Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo missed a clear chance from close range with the game deadlocked at 1-1 midway through the second half.

TV images also showed that a frustrated Ronaldo felt Marcelo or another Madrid player should have done whatever was necessary to stop Barca from mounting a counter-attack so late in the game.

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Serena Williams pens note to her unborn baby

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The professional tennis player broke the internet last week after she revealed she was 20 weeks pregnant with a photo she posted on her Snapchat. The US tennis star who returned to the world number one spot in the latest WTA rankings released today shared a new photo showing off her bump and attached an open letter to her unborn baby.

Read after the cut..

“My Dearest Baby,
You gave me the strength I didn’t know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to join the players box next year. But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you…. once again today. On @alexisohanian bday. ? from the world’s oldest number one to the world’s youngest number one. -Your Mommy”

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Sergio Ramos deserved Clasico red card – Pique

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Gerard Pique says there is no question Sergio Ramos deserved to be sent off as Barcelona beat Real Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico, with Barca sporting director Robert Fernandez calling for Ramos to face an investigation for the way he reacted to his 77th-minute red card.

Referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez took the decision to dismiss Ramos after he lunged in two-footed on eventual match-winner Lionel Messi by the halfway line.

Ramos didn’t go quietly, though, and left the Santiago Bernabeu pitch gesturing, applauding and directing comments at someone.

“I am sure when he gets home he will realise it was a red card,” Pique told reporters after Barca’s 3-2 win took them to the top of La Liga.

“It was clear: he went in with both feet off the ground, nowhere near the ball. There’s no argument. What happens is that [Madrid] are used to having very permissive referees here and when there isn’t one, that’s how they react.”

Pique added that he thought Ramos’ complaints after the red card were directed at him, but he didn’t hear what was said.

“I didn’t hear him, I saw that he was pointing at me, I suppose he was referring to the red card,” the Barca defender said.

“When he gets home and sees the replay he will regret [his reaction], because it’s a clear dismissal. It’s a straight red card.”

Speaking to reporters in the mixed zone after Pique’s comments, Ramos said that he did not regret what had happened and insisted that he felt his challenge only merited a yellow card.

On his reaction to the dismissal, he said: “I wasn’t recriminating the referee for anything, no. I was talking to Pique, not to the referee. Sometimes referees get things right, other times they don’t. It was a key moment. But my reaction was to Pique, not the referee.

“[Barcelona] have a way of understanding football and they always talk about the referees and maybe that ends up bearing results.

“We’re not going to talk about the referees, though, that’s not our style. It’s not our sport. I wasn’t directing [gestures] at the referee, but at Pique, who is the one who always likes to talk about referees.”

Questioned on Pique’s comments that referees often favour Madrid, Ramos added: “Permissive [refereeing] was their game against PSG.

“Pique likes to talk about referees. I said to him [when leaving the pitch] that with so much pressure and complaining in every tweet, it’s going to end up having an effect.”

However, Ramos said that he doesn’t have a bad relationship with Pique — who he partners in the middle of Spain’s defence — although said he can’t be expected to embrace him after such a highly charged Clasico.

Fernandez, meanwhile, said the situation was remarkably similar to the one that sees Neymar currently serving a three-game ban

“Ramos’ dismissal was completely fair and if I’m being honest Casemiro shouldn’t have still been on the pitch after the first half,” Fernandez told Movistar.

“Then Ramos applauded [as he left the pitch]. I suppose the [RFEF’s Competition Committee] will take note … it’s a very similar situation to Neymar’s. I don’t know who he was directing the applause at, but they should take note.”

Ramos’ reaction to his red card was not included in the referee’s post-game report, with only a reason for the dismissal given.

In contrast, after Neymar was sent off against Malaga, the official from that game, Jesus Gil Manzano, did mention the Brazil star’s reaction in his report.

However, the difference in this case is that Ramos maintains his gesturing and applauding was directed at Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, not Hernandez Hernandez.

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