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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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[BREAKING] Coronavirus: Arsenal Players Quarantined, EPL Game Postponed

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Arsenal’s game at Manchester City was postponed on Wednesday after players from the London club were put into quarantine, making it the first Premier League fixture to be called off because of the new coronavirus.

Arsenal said players and four staff had been isolated at their homes after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact,” an Arsenal statement said.

“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s (Wednesday’s) match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.”

The first postponement in the Premier League, which has a worldwide following of billions of TV viewers, follows widespread disruption to football and other sports across the globe.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiakos in late February. Vangelis Marinakis, the owner of the Greek club and England’s Nottingham Forest, announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Arsenal said the players and staff, who met Marinakis after the game at the Emirates Stadium, will return to work on Friday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” it added.

The Premier League called the move a “precautionary measure” and said there were no plans to postpone any other games.

Football’s Serie A and all other sports have been put on hold in Italy, while the top two divisions in Spain and France will be played in empty stadiums for at least the next two weeks.

UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League have also been both forced to arrange matches behind closed doors as the epidemic spreads.

Olympiakos host Wolverhampton Wanderers in Athens this week in the Europa League, in one of the last-16 games that will be played in front of an empty stadium.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has joined a number of managers, including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, in voicing disquiet at being asked to play without fans.

“If we have to go we will. But we don’t agree — we’re not happy to go,” he told Sky Sports.

“Behind closed doors doesn’t make sense,” he added. “We’re pretending to live a normal life when things aren’t normal.”

Wednesday’s postponement could also frustrate Premier League leaders Liverpool, as a Manchester City defeat would have taken them to the brink of their first top-flight title in 30 years.

 

AFP

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GTBank Masters Cup Season 9 Reaches Semi Final Stage

Peter Okunoren

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After a thrilling round of football in the quarter-finals, eight teams in the male and female categories have advanced to the semi-final stages of the 2020 GTBank Masters Cup. All four games will be played at the Campos Stadium, Lagos Island, on Wednesday 5th February 2020, where the Semi-Finalists will compete for a coveted spot in the grand finale.

Last season’s winners in the male and female category, Kings College and Lead-Forte Gate College, will hope to defend their title when they take on Eko Boys High School, Mushin and Queens College, Yaba respectively.

Coming off their five-goal rout of International School Lagos in the quarterfinals, Greensprings School, Lekki will be looking to keep up the momentum against last year’s male finalists, Anwar-Ul-Islam Model College, Agege who also completed a seven-goal rout of C.M.S Grammar School, Yaba. In the female category, Ansar-Ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire and Greensprings School, Lekki will battle it out for one of two spots in the final of the GTBank Masters Cup.

Since its commencement in 2012, the GTBank Masters Cup has become one of the most anticipated secondary school football competitions renowned for discovering and developing indigenous talents, some of whom have secured scholarships and trials with football academies around the world. Now in its 9th season, the competition hosts 50 teams from over 40 schools who come together to showcase their football talent, whilst promoting the values of sportsmanship, passion, and fair play.

The full schedule of the semi-finals is as follows:

Wednesday 5th February 2020

Female Category

Ansar-Ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire vs Greensprings School, Lekki

Lead-Forte Gate College, Lekki vs Queens College, Yaba

Male Category

Anwar-Ul-Islam Model College, Agege vs Greensprings School, Lekki

Eko Boys High School, Mushin vs Kings College, Lagos Island

 

 

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GTBank Sponsors 2020 Lagos International Polo Tournament

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From February 4th to 16th, 2020, Lagos will play host to some of the most prestigious teams for Africa’s premier polo competition – the 2020 Lagos International Polo Tournament.

Sponsored by leading African Financial Institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, the competition will feature 39 teams; the highest number till date. The teams will compete in four major cups; the Silver Cup, Open Cup, Low Cup, and Majekodunmi Cup. The finals of the Silver Cup and Open Cup will hold on Sunday 9th February 2020, while the finals of the Low Cup and Majekodunmi Cup holds on Sunday 16th February 2020.

This year, the Lagos International Polo Tournament, themed “Lagos Develops Polo”, aims to encourage the participation of young and indigenous talented players while featuring top-class action from some of the most experienced and acclaimed polo players in and out of the country, including South Africa’s Chris Mackenzie +7, Argentina’s Andres Crespo +5, Raul Laplacette +7 and Santiago de Estrada +6, as well as Nigeria’s Neku Atawodi-Edun +5, the first black female polo player and the highest-handicapped female player at the tournament.

Over the years, GTBank has been at the forefront of supporting Polo; widely revered as the Sport of Kings, and promoting the Lagos International Polo Tournament, which has hosted reputable personalities such as His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Played on the grounds of the Lagos Polo Club, Ikoyi, the premier polo club in the country, the tournament has featured polo greats like Alphonso Pieres, Gonzalo Pieres, and Alan Kent.

Commenting on GTBank’s sponsorship of the 2020 Lagos International Polo Tournament, Segun Agbaje, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “We love the game of polo, not only because it is one of the most anticipated events in the social calendar of the country, but also because its values such as discipline, rigour, and fair play strongly resonates with our brand.

He further stated; “Our sponsorship of the 2020 NPA Lagos International Polo Tournament also reflects our strong belief in the role of sports as a major vehicle of social development and our commitment to championing activities and events that bring people together.”

Guaranty Trust Bank is a leading advocate of Sports Education as a major way of promoting the values of excellence and fair play whilst laying a solid foundation for the emergence of sporting talent. The Bank maintains a defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy focused on championing causes and fostering initiatives that transform lives and uplift communities.

Alongside the GTBank Lagos International Polo Tournament, the Bank organizes and sponsors several other sports competitions, one of which is the GTBank Masters Cup; a football competition amongst secondary schools in Lagos State.

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