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BREAKING: Senegal powers into Round of 16 in Qatar

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Senegal has become the first African side to qualify for the next stage of the World Cup presently going in on Qatar after beating Ecuador 2-1 in an action-packed final match at the group stage, the first time they African champions would be doing so since the 2002 edition.

Senegal, current holder of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), which they won in Egypt in February, had opened scoring through a penalty, but Ecuador was later to equalise, only for the African champions to power home again, two minutes later and sustained the lead till the 96 minutes the encounter lasted.

They will join The Netherlands, which won 2-0 against the host nation, Qatar, which neither won a match nor scored a goal, but lost their three matches.

Details later…

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Osimhen set for Chelsea move, agrees personal terms, as Napoli lowers terms

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The constant tete-a-tete inside the Super Eagles dressing rooms and elsewhere during the recently concluded African Cup of Nations tournament between Chelsea star, Diddie Drogba, and Nigerian international and Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen, may see the latter moving to Stanford Bridge, any moment from the next transfer season.

Chelsea, are said to be hot on the list of clubs asking for the signature of the Nigerian star, who not only helped Napoli win the Serie A for the first time in 33 years, but  finished as the league’s top scorer with 26 goals, a record-high for an African player, won the league’s Best Striker award, as well as being named Serie A Footballer of the Year a few months later.

Outside Chelsea, Arsenal and Paris Saint Germane (PSG) are also said to be in the race to poach the Nigerian prodigy, who helped the Super Eagles lift the Silver at AFCON, which took place in Cote D’Ivoire between January 13 and February 11.

The trio are said to cough out a staggering €90m (about N138,974,356,080.00) for the Napoli star striker, some fractions lower than the £113 million ($143m) Napoli President, Aurelio De Laurentiis, is said to be asking, with report indicating that the club owner is actually ready to lower the stakes, especially in the wake of speculations that Osihmen’s heart and mind are elsewhere from the Serie A football at the moment.

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In fact, Il Mattino newspaper, Football Italia, which reports that the Nigerian international is ‘fed up’ with Serie A and is looking forward to leaving the Stadio Maradona reported that Napoli are prepared to part company with Osimhen at the end of the season, with Roberto Calenda, said to be collaborating with other interests to find a new club for the ex-Lille striker, who has scored 72 goals in 125 appearances with the Partenopei since 2020.

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The 25-year-old, who recently signed a contract extension until June 2026 and a new deal, which includes a release clause of €120-130million, is however said to have agreed to personal terms with Chelsea, and is set to lace-up for the London club after the deal is sealed in the next transfer season.

Rudy Galetti, an Italian journalist, who quoted as saying on X that Chelsea are prepared to activate Osimhen’s release clause once the 2023/24 season ends, wrote: ”Victor Osimhen is always a main target for Chelsea to strengthen their attack,” Galetti said.

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Finidi leads squad to Morocco after appointment as S’Eagles stand-in coach

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Finidi George, one of Nigeria’s foremost right wingers, was on Monday named the interim coach of the Super Eagles by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), with the first task of leading the silver medalists at this year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in an international friendly game against West African rivals, Ghana in Marrakech, Morocco, on Friday.

The 52-year-old former winger for Ajax Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Real Betis (Spain), who broke into the national team from Calabar Rovers and Sharks FC in Nigeria before moving to Europe, in 1991, is known for his precision crossings from the right wing flank.

Apart from scoring one goal at his debut and providing four assists for the legendary Rashidi Yekini and giving the same assist to the same goal poacher to score Nigeria’s first-ever FIFA World Cup goal against Bulgaria in Dallas, USA, on June 19, 1994, would stand in as a stop-gap while the NFF searches for a substantive manager for the three-time African champions.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 12 out of the 22 expected players had arrived in Marrakech. Unfortunately, defenders Gabriel Osho, Tyronne Ebuehi, and forwards Victor Osimhen and Taiwo Awoniyi are sidelined due to injury.

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Players already present at the team’s Adam Park Hotel include goalkeepers Stanley Nwabali and Olorunleke Ojo, defenders Calvin Bassey, Semi Ajayi, Jamilu Collins, Bruno Onyemaechi, and Benjamin Tanimo, midfielders Alex Iwobi, Raphael Onyedika, and Alhassan Yusuf, and forwards Moses Simon, Nathan Tella, Cyriel Dessers, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Sadiq Umar, and Ademola Lookman.

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Expected to join the team in Marrakech are goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, defender Chidozie Awaziem, midfielders Frank Onyeka and Wilfred Ndidi, and forward Kelechi Iheanacho, with their arrival anticipated yesterday.

Only Bright Osayi-Samuel, based in Turkey, is scheduled to arrive today.

The Super Eagles will play against Les Aigles of Mali at the Grand Stade de Marrakech on Tuesday, March 26.

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BREAKING: Paul Pogba slammed with four-year ban *Heads on appeal

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With a four-year ban handed down to him, following a failed drug test, and inability to convince the authorities about his innocence, Juventus midfielder, Paul Pogba may be ending his illustrious, but later troubled football career in shame.

Trouble began for Pogba, 30, who left Manchester United, to return to Juventus, his original club, in August, 2023, when he tested positive for testosterone after Juventus‘s first game of the season against Udinese, sparking off investigations.

He was first handed down a suspension and fines an anti-doping prosecutor’s office in Italy, but after the pleas by his lawyers were rejected and a sample B test also proved positive, the body came down with the final blow on Thursday with the full four-year hammer.

Reports in La Repubblica as well as a post in the X account of e Fabrizio Romano, confirmed the sentence, piling up the troubles of the prodigy, who helped his country, France to win the 2018 World Cup, which would make him unable to return for official football duties till about 35 years, believed to the retirement age for footballers.

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Reports say, Pogba’s lawyers, who had insisted on another test of sample B, had equally rejected a plea deal in the hope of securing a sentence after claiming that he had accidentally ingested the substance that caused the positive test, which was not enough to convince the officials.

The ace footballer, said to have actually tested positive to DHEA, which can naturally boost levels of testosterone, is said to have however, moved to appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, as his last hope of getting out of the hook and resume his career, which had substantially ebbed even before his ordeal.

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