Luis Enrique has erased any doubts over his future as Barcelona coach by renewing his contract until 2017. He led the club to the treble of La Liga, Cop del Rey and Champions League glory this season but was unsure if he was staying in his role following success in the latter. Enrique played was in the Spanish team that the Super Eagles of Nigeria defeated 3 – 2 at France’98 World Cup.
George Weah’s oldest son has been included in Liberia’s squad for Sunday’s 2017 African Nations Cup qualifier in Togo. George junior, 27, was in the youth ranks at AC Milan while his father was at the club and his last club was Paris St-Germain’s amateur team, for whom he made two substitute appearances in 2014. Liberia’s new coach, James Debbah, is a relative of Weah’s.
Newcastle manager John Carver has been relieved of his duties and will not be permitted to return to his previous role as assistant after winning only three games in his five months in charge. First-team coach Steve Stone has suffered the same fate ahead of the expected appointment of Steve McClaren as manager.
Barcelona have confirmed that Dani Alves has signed a new two-year contract at the Nou Camp. The Brazilian right-back, whose existing deal was about to expire, had been linked with a move to AC Milan or Manchester United. But the 32-year-old will stay until June 2017 with the option of extending it by another year.
Slaven Bilichas been confirmed as the new manager of West Ham. The Croat spent 18 months with the club as a player and last month left his role as Besiktas coach after they finished third in the Turkish top flight. The 46-year-old has also coached Hajduk Split, Croatia and Lokomotiv Moscow. Bilicwill become the 15th full-time manager in the West Ham’s 120-year history, subject to a work permit being granted. “He becomes the second Croatian to manage in the Barclays Premier League, and has an outstanding career win percentage of 55.16%,” read a club statement. “A law graduate and multilinguist who takes a meticulous approach to management, the new boss will arrive in London later this month following a family holiday, but has already begun preparations for West Ham’s maiden UEFA Europa League campaign.” “I’m really glad to be back with West Ham United,” said Bilic, who succeeds Sam Allardyce. “It’s a big challenge and you are competing with the best and what better club to do it with than West Ham. “I remember West Ham as a special club. I love these kinds of special clubs. It’s not about the size – West Ham is big club – there is something special about them – they are a cult club.” “It is a great place to play and I felt like I was at home. It is a big privilege and a big responsibility to now be manager and I hope that I will prove it to the board, players and fans.”
Thomas Vermaelen has been asked to give back his Champions League winners’ medal, according to reports in Belgium. The Belgian defender was signed from Arsenal last summer but made just one appearance for the Catalan club this season due to injury. Voetbalkrant say Uefa rules state players can not keep the medal if they have not played during the competition. But then, former Chelsea keeper Ross Turnbull won a Champions League medal with the Blues, despite not making an appearance in the competition. What do we believe?
Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has opted to join Juventus on a free transfer. The 28-year-old has signed a four-year contract with the beaten Champions League finalists after leaving Real Madrid.
The Gambia return to competitive action this weekend with a new coach as they travel to face South Africa in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. Swiss Raoul Savoy is charged with reviving the Scorpions’ fortunes as they comeback from a ban that saw them miss the 2015 Nations Cup campaign. “We can write a new history now, we are starting from zero,” he told BBC Sport. “We have a lot of new players who are just starting out and it is also a young squad with a lot of talent.” The Gambia were initially banned in May 2014 for two years from all Confederation of African Football competitions for deliberately falsifying player’s ages in an under-20 match. The ban was lifted just 5 months later after a new Gambia Football Association executive was voted in. The 42-year-old Savoy returns to Africa after previously working in Cameroon, Morocco, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Algeria and the Central African Republic. As well as South Africa his side will play World Cup finalists Cameroon and Mauritania in Group M of the 2017 qualifiers and he is aware of the challenge ahead. “Of course, South Africa and Cameroon are more experienced and bigger teams than us but in football you never know,” he said. “If they give us a chance to challenge them and become the surprise of the group, we’ll do it of course. “We are not saying we are victims, we know we have the potential but we are new. “That’s why we must learn match after match and we’ll see – maybe we’ll create some surprises. Why not?” Savoy is confident that he has the raw materials to work with in The Gambia. “There is a lot of talent here; it’s a talented country,” he insisted. “It’s a small country but they also have a lot of talent based out of the country – in the United States, in Europe, in England, everywhere. “Some of them have already played for the national team, others are new now, they will get their first cap in the next week. “I think I will have a lot of work to do to go and watch all of them (across the world) and chose a better team in the coming months.” And he hopes that his latest post can be a stepping stone to bigger things and follow the likes of Philippe Troussier and Herve Renard. “Renard was the Troussier of Zambia, I can be the Herve Renard of Gambia!”
Nigeria captain Vincent Enyeama hopes to bow out on a high after confirming that the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon will be his last. The 32-year-old goalkeeper, who plays his club football for French side Lille, made his debut against Kenya in May 2002 and has gone on to win 100 caps. Enyeama played a major role when the Super Eagles won the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa and he wants a repeat in 2017. “It’s impossible to play football forever and the next tournament in Gabon will be my last one,” Enyeama told BBC Sport. “I’ve played in two finals, lost in 2004, won in 2013 and to win in 2017 is how I hope to be remembered. “But more significantly we must not get ahead of ourselves because we need to qualify first.” As reigning champions Nigeria could not defend their title in Equatorial Guinea early this year after failing to qualify for the tournament. The Super Eagles have been drawn in one of the toughest-looking groups for the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers, alongside seven-time champions Egypt, Chad and Tanzania. But as the Super Eagles host Chad in Kaduna on Saturday, Enyeama insists they must prevent another troubled campaign. “You can never underestimate any opponent in African football and we must treat Chad like other top oppositions in world football,” he said. “Some of our fans are still upset and the only way to earn back their respect is to give them a reason to believe again. “We are all determined to qualify for the Nations Cup, and after the tournament I can say a proper goodbye. “It crossed my mind to leave after the World Cup in Brazil but crucially now I want to leave on a high by going all the way with my country on a successful ride.” Enyeama has played in five Nations Cup tournaments for three-time African champions Nigeria in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2013. He was part of the Nigeria squad at the 2002, 2010 and 2014 World Cup tournaments.
Sweden gave up a 2-0 lead to Nigeria only for substitute Linda Sembrant to put the Europeans back in the lead, which Francisca Ordega cancelled out with three minutes remaining for a dramatic 3-3 draw in the first game of Group D at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015. The Super Falcons, having never beaten Sweden on their three previous meetings, came out flying in the first few minutes and had the Swedes on the back foot for much of the first quarter of an hour. But an unfortunate own goal from Desire Oparanozie gave the Swedes the lead 20 minutes into the match. Emma Berglund’s flicked header from a corner kick was redirected into Nigeria’s net by the number 9’s chest. A poor clearance off another Swedish corner made it 2-0, Nilla Fischer able to tap in to an empty net after the ball made its way through the crowd. Nigeria’s front line refused to go quiet, however, and just after the break two goals in quick succession levelled matters. Ngozi Okobi’s brilliant first touch afforded her plenty of room and space before coolly firing past Hedvig Lindahl. Three minutes later, Asisat Oshoala, the golden shoe winner at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 opened her account for this tournament with a fine individual effort after a well-played long ball from Onome Ebi. Sembrant handed the lead back to Sweden after good build-up play on the left side resulted in Lina Nilsson’s cross that the substitute managed to direct past Precious Dede with her thigh. However, Francisca Ordega salvaged a point for the Super Falcons three minutes from time with a shot that managed to slip through the legs of Lindahl, leaving the two sides tied at 3-3. Nigeria’s number 13, Ngozi Okobi won the Live Your Goal (LYG) – Player of the Match award.