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Go Green! Osimhen Grabs Hat-Trick As Dream Team Crush Libya 4-0 To Revive Olympic Qualification Dreams

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Former Golden Eaglets star, Victor Osimhen, grabbed a hat-trick on Monday as Nigeria ‘s under-23 male national football team defeated their Libyan counterparts 4-0 on Monday in Asaba, to reach the third qualifying round of the 2020 Olympic Games football tournament.

The match, which was played at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, was also the second leg of a qualification round for the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The Nigerian side had lost 0-2 in the first leg played on Wednesday in Tunisia, Libya’s home ground for now, and have now advanced to the qualifiers’ next round 4-2 aggregate.

The second leg game, which was watched by a handful of spectators, saw the Libyan team putting up a defensive play right from the first blast of the whistle.

However, the Nigerian team took total control of the midfield, as they mounted sustained attacks on the Libyan defence.

The Nigerian team’s efforts finally paid off in the 33rd minute of play, when Osimhen grabbed his first goal of the game from a rebound after a free-kick hit the upright.

On resumption of the second half, the Nigerian team went on the offensive in their search for more goals, forcing the Libyan defence to commit blunders.

Osimhen, on loan to Charleroi from Bundesliga outfit VfL Wolfsburg, again rose to the occasion, as he slotted in the second goal of the game in the 64th minute after the Libyan goalkeeper, Aymar Altihar, mistakenly parried a cross onto his path.

He later grabbed his hat-trick in the 75th minute following a goalmouth scrabble, after the Libyan defence failed to clear a Nigeria cross inside the penalty box.

Before the ovation which trailed the goal could die down, Nigeria’s Chidozie Okereke grabbed the fourth goal on the dot of 90 minutes for Nigeria.

The Nigerian squad finished the match four million naira ($11,100) richer as senior team captain Ahmed Musa promised a million naira for every goal his compatriots scored.

Nigeria are the most successful African country in Olympics football, winning the 1996 Atlanta tournament and finishing runners-up to Argentina in Beijing 12 years later.

At the post-match media conference, Nigeria’s coach Imama Amapakabo expressed joy and satisfaction with the win.

He said the Nigerian team played according to the game plan and deserved the victory.

“After the first leg in Tunisia which we lost, we learnt a lot because we saw their pattern of play.

“So, we came home and decided to work on how to break down their style of play.

“Today, we played according to our game plan, to get an early goal, and then follow it up with as many goals as possible,” he said.

Also speaking, Nigeria’s team captain, Azubuike Okechukwu, said the victory was well deserved.

“We came down here to win and we have achieved that. I must say we played our game, we were not under pressure.

“More so, the fans here today are so marvellous. They gave us so much support and we really appreciate it,” Okechukwu said.

In Abidjan, the Ivory Coast hammered Niger 6-1 to equal the biggest winning margin set by Kenya in a 2020 qualifier in Africa, AFP reported.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg, the Ivorians scored three goals in each half at home with Italy-based Willy Braciano bagging a brace.

Ivory Coast are likely to face tougher opposition in the third round when they come up against Guinea, who surprisingly eliminated Senegal.

A further seven qualifiers are scheduled for Tuesday with Ghana and South Africa poised to advance after building impressive first leg leads.

Olympics qualifiers are restricted to under-23 footballers with three over-age stars permitted at the finals. (NAN)

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We Will Build Traditional Wrestling ‘Dambe’ Into A National Sport —- Minister

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The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare, on Tuesday, received members of the Dambe (traditional wrestling) association in Abuja.

The Minister promised to restructure Dambe in order for it to compete favourably with other sports while commending the founders of the Dambe association for taking the sport to other parts of the country.

The Minister who had addressed the fighters in the Hausa language before speaking collectively to the delegation, said, “I grew up in the northern part of the country and Dambe was predominantly a northern sport for fun. I commend you for making something out of nothing. You have taken the sport to other parts of the country and that is highly commendable”.

The Minister who expressed delight that the founders of the association are young people, said, “this is what we want to see. To see youth who use their brains, hands and innovative minds to do something for themselves and the country as a whole. What you have done is very encouraging and we are going to leverage on what you have done as co-founders”.

“You need to create a domestic league of Dambe fighters and make it more competitive in nature”, he urged.

“Dambe gives us another opportunity to keep the youth busy and take them off crime because it engages their mind and makes them productive”.

He also assured that Dambe would be brought into the fold of traditional sports so as to create structure and bring added benefits to it. He said, “Now we have an opportunity to invest in our youth through Dambe fight. We will bring Dambe into the fold of traditional sports. 25million views mean there is a global recognition and following. We also need to create localized competition and state-level competition. We need to bring that back into the country. We need to put an institution behind it. What is needed is government support”.

“From today, I have become an advocate of Dambe” he assured.

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BREAKING: Arsenal Sacks Unai Emery After 18 Months

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Arsenal has sacked head coach Unai Emery.

The 48-year-old has left the club following Arsenal’s worst run of form since 1992 with the Gunners winless in seven games and eight points off the top four in the Premier League.

Freddie Ljungberg will lead Arsenal for Sunday’s game away to Norwich City.

A 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League proved to be the final straw for the Arsenal hierarchy, who had hoped to be able to wait until the end of the season before making a decision on Emery’s future.

The Spaniard faced mounting criticism for fans not just for results but for a style of play at Arsenal that was viewed by many as too conservative.

Speaking on behalf of the Arsenal board and owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Josh Kroenke said: “Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand. We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.”

In his only full season in charge, Emery led Arsenal to fifth place in the Premier League, a run of two wins in their final seven games seeing them throw away a top-four finish and a Europa League final where defeat to Chelsea cost them Champions League qualification.

Returning to Europe’s top competition is a major priority for Arsenal both in terms of finances and prestige. It was felt that the club’s chances of qualifying were greater without Emery than with him.

Arsenal will be appointing just their third manager in 23 years with the likes of Mikel Arteta and Massimiliano Allegri expected to be under consideration for the role.

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Mourinho Meets Arsenal Chief, Set To Replace Embattled Gunners Manager Emery

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Arsenal is reportedly close to making their move to replace manager Unai Emery with former Chelsea boss, Mourinho.

Arsenal head of football, Raul Sanllehi dined with Jose Mourinho this week as the club considers pulling the trigger with a managerial change, according to The Times.

The Gunners have struggled to make progress under Unai Emery and growing concerns over fractures in his relationships with senior players have led to contingency plans being put in place.

According to the newspaper, Mourinho and Sanllehi had dinner together, with the former Manchester United boss said to have impressed with his plans for their squad.

It is claimed Emery has just one or two games remaining to save his job as club bosses seriously consider a move ahead of the November international break.

Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw at the Emirate by Wolves on Saturday, with pressure mounting on Emery.

Mourinho has been holding out for a return to the Premier League as he eyes his first job since being sacked at Old Trafford almost a year ago.

The former Real Madrid boss have also retained a home in north London.

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