Speaking on BT Sport, RafaelBenitez said: “It’s a pity because we qualified [for the knockout stages of the Champions League] without losing any games and scoring a lot of goals. “It’s difficult to explain. You could see Camacho, Del Bosque, Pellegrini, Mourinho, Ancelotti so it’s not easy to be there manager there. He added: “My assistant Fabio Pecchia said there is a permanent presence of the chairman. He’s around, he’s talking with players, he’s talking with the Press. “He’s always around, it’s not easy for a manager, especially coming from England, to see the chairman talking with players or talking with the Press every single day.”
FIFA’s Ethics Committee has recommended life bans from football for former Conmebol vice-presidents Luis Bedoya and Sergio Jadue. The pair each pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy in December, having been indicted as part of the long-running criminal investigation into corruption with FIFA.
The former Nigeria Women captain, Florence Omagbemi has been named the interim head coach of the Super Falcons by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The choice of the former Super Falcons captain and defender was approved by the NFF executive board on Tuesday following the recommendation of its Technical and Development Committee. The Falcons have been without a substantive coach since the team failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics last year. Erstwhile acting coach Christopher Danjuma was sacked after he failed to win a medal at the All African Games in Brazaville in September 2015. Omagbemi will be in charge of the reigning African champions until the appointment of a yet to be named foreign coach.
Remember him? Former Real Madrid and Spain striker Fernando Morientes’ first managerial role has not ended well after being sacked as Fuenlabrada boss, report AS. Having been handed a two-year contract in June, the club were expecting promotion but Morientes leaves them in 11th place in the Spanish third tier.
Lionel Messi’s second goal against Sporting Gijon on Wednesday was his 439th for Barcelona in all competitions and the 10,000th Barcelona have scored in their history. That means the little Argentine has scored just under five percent of all the goals the Spanish champions have registered since 1899. Remember that Messi’s first goal in this game was his 300th La Liga goal making him the first player to score as much goals in the Spanish elite division.
Kenya international Michael Olunga, who asked Arsenal to sign him last year, has moved to Swedish side Djurgardens from Kenya’s Gor Mahia. The 21-year-old published a video last August asking Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to sign him. Instead he has signed a four-year deal with Djurgardens after a month’s trial. “He’s very ambitious and purposeful, he trains hard and always wants to learn and take the next step,” the club’s sporting director Bosse Andersson said. “The development potential is huge so with the peace and quiet of our Djurgården environment he can develop into a striker able to play in the biggest leagues in Europe. “That’s Michael’s own ambitions and he has the characteristics required for it.” Olunga, whose nickname is The Engineer due to his university studies as well as his football talents, admits he can be a slow starter. “In the beginning I have to get going, but once I get started I tend to get on a roll with my scoring,” he told the club’s website. “So far I have only played friendlies but it feels like a good level. “Everything is very well organized and the quality of the training camp has been very good. It feels like it’s a good springboard to the big European leagues.”
Nike has terminated its relationship with Manny Pacquiao after the six-weight world champion described homosexuals as “worse than animals”. The 37-year-old, who is running for a senate seat in his native Phillipines, later apologised for his comments. “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” said a Nike statement. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.” The sportswear company added: “We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.” Pacquiao’s original remark was made in a television interview and he initially appeared unrepentant, writing on Instagram that he was “just telling the truth of what the Bible says”. However, he later wrote on Facebook he was “not condemning LGBT”, while still voicing his opposition for gay marriage. Pacquiao, whose last fight was a defeat by Floyd Mayweather in May, is due to fight American Timothy Bradley Jr in Las Vegas in April.