Newcastle United have announced John Carver will remain as head coach until the end of the season, BBC reports. Alan Pardew’s former assistant, 50, will take charge of the team for the final 16 Premier League games. The Newcastle board will seek a permanent successor in the summer. “Having explored at some length the options available to us, the decision has been taken to defer the appointment of a permanent head coach until the end of the season,” read a club statement. Pardew left to take charge of Crystal Palace earlier this month, with Newcastle since drawing one and losing three games under Carver. “The head coach will be a long-term appointment that will play a major role in shaping the future on-field progression of Newcastle United,” the statement added. “It is vitally important that we get the right individual.” Carver said: “This is a proud day for me. I have worked with, and learnt from, the best manager that this football club has had in Sir Bobby Robson. I know what this club means to this city and its people.”
Venus Williams overcame sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final since 2010. The 34-year-old American, who suffers from Sjogren’s syndrome, a disease that can cause fatigue, won 6-3 2-6 6-1. The seven-time Grand Slam champion will face teenager and fellow American Madison Keys in the last eight. Venus will play sister Serena, who beat Garbine Muguruza 2-6 6-3 6-2, in the semi-finals, if they both win again. Top seed Serena, who has not advanced past the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park since winning her last Australian Open title in 2010, had trouble breathing at times and coughed throughout her match against Muguruza. She also struggled for form early on, but fought back to avenge her defeat by the Spaniard at last year’s French Open. “I had to play the best match of the tournament or else I was going to be out,” said Serena, who next faces Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova. “She was just hitting winners like left and right. Every shot I hit, she basically hit a winner on. So I had to change my approach.” Venus was pushed hard, too, losing the second set as her level dropped before regrouping and upping the power to clinch the decider. Asked what had inspired her successful run in Melbourne, Venus said: “Definitely my sister Serena, she’s just the ultimate champion. “And definitely a lot of inspiration from all my fans who have stayed behind me through thick and thin.” Venus, whose best performance at the Australian Open is a runner-up finish in 2003, last reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam at the US Open in 2010.
This is sad period for Nigeria’s football community as a former Flying Eagles Coach, Musa Abdullahi, died on Sunday in Lokoja, Kogi State, after being down with stroke for over seven years. He has been buried according to Islamic rites. Known to be an easy going individual, Abdullahi’s travails started on the eve of U-20 World Cup in 2007 when he suffered stroke and subsequently became partially paralyzed; he was relieved of the coaching job after he took ill. His assistant at the time, Ladan Bosso, replaced him and took the team to the World Cup in Canada. Already the NFF has sent out condolences over the painful death even as the Federation paid glowing tribute to the Late Coach. A statement from the NFF Media Officer, Ademola Olajire, described the death of Coach Abudulahi as painful even as the NFF President Amaju Pinnick prayed for the repose of the soul of the dead. “This is terrible news,” said NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, who spoke on telephone from Equatorial Guinea where he is on official duty for the Confederation of African Football at the 30th Africa Cup of Nations finals. “Coach Musa Abdullahi was known by all who came across him as a gentleman to the core, a very humble, highly dedicated and tireless professional who had real passion for the job. He was just a likeable person in every respect. “We feel very, very sad to lose him but God loves him more and he has gone to rest. Our prayer is for Almighty God to grant him peaceful rest and also grant the family he has left behind the fortitude to bear the huge loss,” Pinnick stated. The ever-smiling Musa Abdullahi assisted Coach Fanny Amun to lead the U-17 National Team to a second FIFA U-17 World Cup title in Japan in 1993, before leading the team, several years later, to win the African title in Seychelles in 2001 and win silver at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago the same year. He also served at different times as Assistant Coach of the Senior National Team, Super Eagles.
African Female Player of the Year and Super Falcons star, Asisat Oshola is delighted to start her career at Liverpool Ladies with a goal as she scored in a 4-1 win over Aston Villa Ladies on Sunday in a friendly. Oshoala scored ‘The Reds’ second goal in the 12th minute, when she excellently finished a good team play. The ex-Rivers Angels forward thanked God through her Twitter page. “Great win and team work today. 4-1 victory over Aston Villa Ladies. I thank Allah for giving me a Goal,” Oshola tweeted. The other goals were scored by England international Natasha Dowie, who netted a brace, and Satara Murray.
Ex Flying Eagles star, Odion Ighalo scored four times as Watford produced a remarkable second-half performance to move within four points of the top of the Championship following a 7-2 victory over Blackpool. The Hornets found themselves two goals down at the break, but they dug themselves out of that hole in sensational style with a devastating seven-goal showing after the break as Troy Deeny, Matej Vydra and Gabriele Angella also joined in the home side’s free-scoring run following last week’s 5-0 win over Charlton Athletic. Blackpool came into the game still searching for a first away win of the season, but they started the brighter and were rewarded with the opening goal in the eighth minute, although it came about largely due to their opponents’ defensive shortcomings. Juan Carlos Paredes, who was under pressure from Ishmael Miller, got involved in a mix-up with Heurelho Gomes, with the ball ricocheting off the goalkeeper’s body and back to Andrea Orlandi, who kept his composure to fire home. The Hornets, who had already gone close through an Angella header, missed a good chance to equalise soon after when Vydra put the ball wide from close range after good link-up play with fellow strikers Ighalo and Deeney. Thereafter, Watford controlled possession and territory for the most part as they probed to get back on terms. Goalkeeper Elliot Parish was extended a couple of times by strikes from Ikechi Anya and Ighalo, but the visitors were defending resolutely, remaining organised and three minutes before the break they went 2-0 up. The Hornets failed to react as David Ferguson attacked the right side of the penalty area before cutting inside and hitting a low cross-shot which wasn’t dealt with, Steve Davies made a real hash of his first effort but he still had the time to recompose himself and fire the ball into the back of the net. It is fair to assume Hornets head coach Slavisa Jokanovic had some harsh words for his side at the interval but it is also reasonable to suggest he did not expect the reaction he got. Within seven second-half minutes, the home side were back on terms as Ighalo tapped home a Miguel Layun centre from close range in the 47th minute before Deeney equalised five minutes later when he glanced home a Daniel Tozser corner. And before the hour was up, Watford were incredibly 4-2 as Ighalo put his side ahead for the first time after a Layun cross was knocked down by Deeney and then Vydra made it 4-2, firing home an Anya cross was knocked down into his path. Blackpool were utterly shell-shocked and in the 66th minute they conceded a fifth, Angella applying the finish after a Deeney header from a corner rebounded off a post. Again an assist from the woodwork following a Deeney strike allowed Ighalo to complete his hat-trick in the 77th minute as the ball cannoned into the net off his chest. And four minutes later the Nigerian had his fourth, with Watford’s latest close-range finish following more good work by strike partner Deeney.
World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off for kicking out at an opponent but Real Madrid still beat Cordoba 2-1 away while Barcelona kept on their heels with a 6-0 demolition at Elche. Ronaldo kicked out at defender Edimar with seven minutes to go as Real struggled to create chances but they were gifted the win when a Gareth Bale free kick was handled by Fede Cartabia in the area. Cartabia was also sent off for a second bookable offence and, with Ronaldo off the pitch, Bale fired home the winning penalty with two minutes left. Real have been unable to maintain the form that saw them string together 22 consecutive victories in all competitions before the mid-season break but they remain in top with 48 points, one more than Barca and also with a game in hand. Reports say that with a lenient referee’s report that was submitted, Ronaldo who have since apologized could end up serving only one match ban. This is Ronaldo’s fourth red card in his Spanish La Liga career.
Super Eagles striker Victor Anichebe found the back of the net twice in West Bromwich Albion’s 2-1 win at Birmingham City to send them to the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon. The game played at the St. Andrew’s saw Anichebe hit target in the 25th and 35th of the encounter which killed the dreams of their hosts of moving to the next round of the oldest football competition in the world. Albion took a 25th-minute lead when Anichebe latched onto Saido Berahino’s threaded pass before drilling a pinpoint strike in off Darren Randolph’s near post. Ten minutes later Anichebe had his second, once again receiving a Berahino pass before outmuscling ex-Baggies defender Paul Robinson and driving a shot beyond Randolph with the aid of an unfortunate ricochet off the Birmingham captain. The Nigerian with this feat has taken goal tally to three in his last four matches under new boss, Tony Pulis.
Legendary Argentina and Boca Juniors playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme has retired from football. Speaking Sunday in an interview with ESPN Argentina, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist made it official: “I’ve made the decision to not play football anymore,” said the 36-year-old Riquelme. “I have been clear since after [earning] promotion with Argentinos. I was clear that to continue playing it had to be something that interested me. I thought it best to take it calmly and communicate that I am not going to play anymore.” Riquelme, who is considered one of the greatest players of his generation, won three Copa Libertadores titles (South America’s equivalent of the Champions League) and an Intercontinental Cup for Argentine giants Boca Juniors in his career, while being named South American Player of the Year once, and Argentine Player of the Year four times. After the second of his Libertadores triumphs, in 2002 Riquelme transferred to Spanish giants Barcelona, where he struggled to make an impact before making way for Brazilian star Ronaldinho. However in the 2005-06 season, while playing with Spanish side Villarreal, he made his biggest splash on the European stage, leading the club to its only Champions League semifinals appearance before eventually falling to Arsenal over two legs. Riquelme represented his country in the 2006 World Cup, and was capped 51 times overall, scoring 17 goals. He last played for Argentinos Juniors, where he helped earn the club promotion into Argentina’s top division for the upcoming season.