Archive | April 23, 2015

Nike and NFF strike partnership deal….

SIGNING: NFF President, Amaju Pinnick (l) signs the dotted lines with a Nike representative in London Thursday.

Leading sportswear manufacturer, Nike is the new technical sponsor to the Nigeria Football Federation, supporting all national team levels and grassroots development, Vanguard reports. Nike and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have announced a new partnership in which Nike, the world’s leading football brand, is designing and developing football kits for the men’s and women’s national football teams of Nigeria from April 1, 2015, until at least 2018.

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Henry hits out at Hernandez….

Javier Hernandez should have celebrated with Cristiano Ronaldo after his vital goal against Atletico Madrid, says Thierry Henry. Hernandez struck an 88th-minute winner as Real Madrid beat their Madrid rivals 1-0 to secure their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Hernandez missed several chances in the match before his goal, but Sky Sports pundit Henry was more disappointed that he chose not to thank Ronaldo for the assist and ran off to celebrate by himself. “That’s Ronaldo’s goal,” he said. “At that particular moment he couldn’t shoot, so he didn’t take the risk of doing something stupid and silly with it. “He saw a guy in a better position, which Chicharito was, and he gave him the ball. “What I don’t like is Chicharito seems like he’s won the World Cup with that.” The other pundits in the studio questioned whether Henry was being too harsh on Hernandez, who has not enjoyed the best time on loan at Real from Manchester United. “It’s a tap-in,” he added. “Turn around and celebrate with Ronaldo. Even the camera knew – the camera is on Ronaldo for a reason.” “I think the pressure went through him. He knew he had to perform today and he had a couple of chances to do it. “If Ronaldo had done that I would have said the same thing. You have to pass the ball, but it’s still a tap-in and you have to turn around and say thank you.” After receiving criticism for his comments on Twitter, Henry added: “Football is a team game. Yes CH14_ scored the all-important goal but the work of Cristiano made it possible. It cannot be underestimated. “I love it when players celebrate and acknowledge the player that made the assist. The pass can be just as important as the goal.”

Ivanovic says Hazard is the most important player….

Eden Hazard

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic says team-mate Eden Hazard has “made a difference in very game” as the Blues close in on the Premier League title. Ivanovic, Hazard and skipper John Terry have started all Premier League games this season and the Serb, 31, believes the Belgian has had “the best season of his career”. He added: “All season he has got a lot of kickings but he never complains. He’s a hard worker on the pitch. He’s improved massively from last season and for us he has been the most important player. “He’s the guy who when you pass him the ball you just have to leave him alone. He will do everything. He’s something different.”

Nadal beaten in Barcelona….

Rafael Nadal

A shock at the Barcelona Open as eight-time champion Rafael Nadal is knocked out by Fabio Fognini 6-4 7-6 (8-6). The Spaniard converted only three of 18 break points in the two-hour match, while Italian Fognini took four of eight. It has not been a great start to the clay-court season for Nadal, who lost in the semi-finals of Monte Carlo last week to world number one Novak Djokovic. The 28-year-old is seeking his 10th French Open title at Roland Garros when the second Grand Slam of the season starts in Paris next month.

Dossena treated like a terrorist….

Andrea Dossena

Former Liverpool and Sunderland defender Andrea Dossena has claimed he was treated “like a terrorist” after he was arrested for shoplifting in Harrods. Italian Dossena, 33, was detained with his wife, Deborah, and young son, Romeo, at the Knightsbridge department store, but all charges were later dropped. Dossena, who is now at Leyton Orient, told Corriere dello Sport they were handcuffed, “as you would do with a terrorist”, adding: “I was obviously in disbelief, not only because of that gesture but because I didn’t know what was going on – I hadn’t realised the mistake we’d made. “They asked to see our documents that prove our status as residents of London, and obviously I didn’t have them with me – I’d left them at home. So then they took us to the police station, where they held us until 22:30, despite the needs of a two-and-a-half-year-old child. It’s absurd to treat a child this way.”

Adam Johnson charged….

England and Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson has been charged with three counts of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl. The 27-year-old, from Castle Eden, County Durham, was initially arrested on 2 March. He was also charged with one offence of grooming when he answered bail at a police station earlier, Durham Police said. He will appear before Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on 20 May. Sunderland AFC initially suspended the winger pending the outcome of the investigation, but this was lifted on 18 March. The club are yet to comment on the charges. Gerry Wareham, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said he had authorised police to charge Johnson under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. He said the offences are alleged to have been committed on a single victim between 30 December 2014 to 26 February this year. “May I remind all concerned that the defendant has a right to a fair trial,” he said. “It is very important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings. “I would also remind people that the complainant in this case is entitled to lifelong anonymity under the law. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.” Born in Sunderland, Johnson began his career at Middlesbrough FC before moving to Manchester City and then Sunderland for £10m in 2012.

Henderson signs new Liverpool contract….

Jordan Henderson

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson has signed a new five-year contract, the club have announced. The 24-year-old England international joined the Reds from Sunderland in 2011 for around £20m. With Steven Gerrard leaving at the end of the season for Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy, Henderson is among the favourites for the captaincy. Vice-captain Henderson, whose current contract expires at the end of next season, has scored seven times in 55 games for club and country this campaign. Jordan Henderson says he is “over the moon” to sign a new contract with Liverpool, which will take him up until the end of the 2019-20 season. “It’s brilliant news for me to commit my future to this football club – I really feel that it’s a good time for us to look forward to the future, with the squad we’ve got, the manager, the size of the club and the fans we’ve got,” he said. “I really think, over the next few years, we can challenge and start winning trophies.” Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is delighted that “brilliant professional” Jordan Henderson is staying at Liverpool after signing a new contract. “He has faced adversity in his time at Liverpool, but his improvement, growth and development is entirely down to his own hunger, commitment and willingness to learn and be better,” said Rodgers. “The fact he has made such a long-term commitment to Liverpool is a sign of his belief in what we are looking to do here. He will have a crucial role to play as we look to take this side forward. “I am very excited about our future and what this group can achieve together; today’s announcement is another important positive step forward.”

Mayweather v Pacquiao tickets….

A customer checks boxing gloves signed by Manny Pacquiao on sale at a store in Manila

After much concern, debate and speculation, the official word is that tickets for the highly-anticipated world championship showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on 2 May will be on sale from 20:00 BST tonight. Tickets are available for both in-arena and closed circuit viewing and are priced at $7,500 (£5,000), $5,000 (£3,333), $3,500 (£2,333), $2,500 (£1,666) and $1,500 (£1,000). The tickets are limited to four per household, so if you’ve got a spare 20k lying around you can take the whole family.

Torres says Gerrard advised him to leave Anfield….

Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard

Former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has claimed he left Anfield on the advice of club captain Steven Gerrard. Torres scored 81 goals in three and a half seasons on Merseyside before joining Chelsea in January 2011 in a £50m move. The Spaniard said: “He talked with me a lot and even when it was said I was leaving he said: ‘Think about yourself and do what’s best for you because you’ve seen how people are leaving and it’s time. You have nothing to prove’. “He changed my way of seeing things and showed me that I could get much higher than what I had always thought. I’ll never find a team mate like him, I’m sure.”

NBA to play first game in Africa….

Luol Deng

Britain’s Luol Deng will captain Team Africa against Team World in the NBA’s first game in Africa. The match will take place on 1 August at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers will captain Team World. “I am truly honoured to be part of this historic event,” said Miami Heat’s Deng, 30, who was born in South Sudan and represented Team GB at London 2012. Team Africa will include players from Africa and second generation African players, while Team World will be represented by players from the rest of the world. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said: “The NBA has worked hard to grow the game of basketball in Africa, and I am excited to take this next step of playing our first game on the continent.” The game will support Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa, S.O.S Children’s Villages South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Greece faces international ban….

Violence marred a recent league match between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos

UEFA and FIFA have warned the Greek Football Federation that it faces suspension from international matches because of government interference, BBC reports. The Greek government wants to pass laws on violence following a series of incidents at matches. The Greek Super League has already been suspended three times this season due to serious outbreaks of violence. Any new legislation would breach FIFA and UEFA rules on third-party influence on a national football federation. On Wednesday, the European and world football governing bodies sent a letter to the Greek government reiterating their stance. UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino hopes the threat “will make them reconsider their actions, so we can still work together to resolve the issues affecting Greek football”. However, Greece’s deputy sports minister Stavros Kontonis rejected the ultimatum in a television interview on Wednesday evening. “We are not going to change the philosophy of the sports bill. The supervision exercised in Greek football by FIFA and UEFA has failed,” Kontonis said. Kontonis stressed that he will meet with FIFA and UEFA officials at the end of this month in order to find a solution but made it clear that he “does not accept ultimatums”. Under the planned legislation, the Greek government would have the right to impose fines ranging from £7,000 (10,000 euros) to £17m (25m euros) for violent incidents, to order the postponement or cancellation of sporting events and even to prohibit teams from playing in European competition. FIFA and UEFA warned that “should the bill be adopted as proposed, we will have no option but to refer the case to the relevant FIFA and UEFA bodies for immediate sanctions, including the suspension of the Greek football federation”. Any suspension would bar Greek national teams and club sides from taking part in FIFA and UEFA competitions. The Greek federation was also briefly suspended on the same grounds in 2006 while reigning European champions.

Champions League Semifinalists….

Here are the semifinalists for this this season’s Champions League:

  • Barcelona (2006, 2009 and 2011 champions)
  • Bayern Munich (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001 and 2013 champions)
  • Juventus (1985 and 1996 champions)
  • Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2014 champions)

A total of 22 clubs have won the Champions League/European Cup. Real Madrid hold the record for the most victories, having won the competition ten times, including the inaugural competition. They have also won the competition the most times in a row, winning it five times from 1956 to 1960. Prior to 2009, if a team won the UEFA Champions League three times in a row, or five times overall, they were allowed to keep the European Champion Clubs’ Cup and a new one was commissioned. Five teams earned this privilege; Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Milan and Liverpool.

It doesn’t get any better. Stay tuned for the semifinal draw tomorrow.