Stephen Keshi, the former Nigeria captain and manager, was buried on Friday in his country house at Ilah, in Nigeria’s Delta State. Keshi won the Africa Cup of Nations as both captain (in 1994) and manager of the Super Eagles (in 2013). The man affectionately known as ‘Big Boss’ was twice voted as Africa’s top coach, by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), in 2005 and 2013. He died of sudden medical complications in his home in Benin City in June. A huge personality in the continental game, playing in five Africa Cup of Nations finals (1982, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1994), the former Anderlecht, Strasbourg and RWD Molenbeek central defender, had also managed Togo – earning them a 2006 World Cup place – and Mali, before taking up the Nigeria job in 2011. A large group of Keshi’s former Super Eagles teammates, including Okechukwu, Mutiu Adepoju, Augustine Eguavoen, Victor Ikpeba and Peter Rufai, attended the memorial service at St. John’s Catholic Church in Ilah, which took place before the burial, in Keshi’s home. Kate, to whom Keshi was married, for over 30 years, died in December last year, after losing a three-year battle with cancer. He is survived by four children.
Diego Simeone has revealed that he would like to coach in the Premier League. The much-vaunted Atletico Madrid manager is currently in Australia where his side take on Tottenham Hotspur on Friday night at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. And the 46-year-old, who has enjoyed stunning success with the Spanish capital’ s underdogs, would like to face English opposition on a more regular basis. ‘I consider myself a young coach,’ he said. ‘So I feel that it is possible. There are many of the leagues provide some great challenges. Certainly, the English league, the Italian league are attractive for me.’
British-Nigerian Chuba Akpom played in Arsenal’s match against MLS All Stars and got the winner for Arsenal. Akpom twitted a picture of himself celebrating with team mate and Nigerian international Alex Iwobi and wrote “Nice to get some minutes against the MLS All-Stars and get on the scoresheet”.
Arsenal must have been pleased when former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba moved more than 3,000 miles to the US after a decade of scoring against them. Well, Drogba was at it again last night, scoring for an MLS All-Stars side against the Gunners during a pre-season match in San Jose. It wasn’t enough though, as a Joel Campbell penalty and a last-minute winner from Chuba Akpom sealed a win for the Gunners.
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has announced his retirement from international football. The 31-year-old Manchester United midfielder was part of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He retires as Germany’s fourth most-capped player of all time on 120 – behind Lothar Matthaus (150), Miroslav Klose (137) and Lukas Podolski (129). “I had the opportunity to experience moments that have been indescribably beautiful and successful,” he said. Schweinsteiger made his international debut in 2004 and holds the German record for European Championship appearances, having played 18 times at the tournament. The record was broken when he was brought on as a substitute in Germany’s 1-0 group-stage win over Northern Ireland, surpassing Philipp Lahm’s total of 14, before Joachim Low’s side went out in the semi-finals to France. “I desperately wanted to win that title that we haven’t been able to bring to Germany since 1996,” said the former Bayern Munich player, who could leave Manchester United this summer. “It was not to be, and I have to accept it. “With the victory of the World Cup in 2014, we achieved something historically and emotionally that I will not be able to repeat in my career. “Therefore it is right and sensible to stop and to wish the team all the best for qualification and the World Cup in 2018.”
Gonzalo Higuain became the third most expensive footballer in history on Tuesday when he signed for Juventus from Napoli for £75.3m. Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have cost more. The 28-year-old scored a league record-equalling 36 goals in Serie A last season. Juventus have built a formidable strike force with Higuain lining up next to compatriot Paulo Dybala who scored 19 Serie A goals last term.
Stoke City have signed Wales midfielder Joe Allen from Liverpool for £13m. The 26-year-old, who had a year left on his contract, was also a target for the Potters’ Premier League rivals Swansea, whom he left to join Liverpool in 2012. “It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for me but I am delighted to have finally been able to put pen to paper,” said Allen, who has signed a five-year contract. “I was really excited as soon as I heard of the club’s interest and it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.” Allen was Stoke’s second signing of the day after Egyptian winger Ramadan Sobhi joined the club from Al Ahly for a fee that could rise to £5m. Despite starting only eight league games for Liverpool last season, Allen was named in the Euro 2016 team of the tournament after helping Wales reach the semi-finals.
Africa will get an additional two World Cup finals places should the tournament be expanded to 40 teams from 2026, says FIFA president Gianni Infantino as he visited Nigeria yesterday. Infantino proposed the expansion from 32 teams before he was elected by world football’s governing body in February. Africa is currently allocated five places at World Cups. “My proposal has been 40 teams and if that happens then my proposal has been to have at least two extra places for African teams,” said Infantino. The move would not come into effect until 2026 with the format of 32 teams already confirmed for Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
UEFA has announced a fine of €16,000 for Liverpool relating to crowd disturbances and the setting off of fireworks during the Europa League final against Sevilla. UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body announced the sanction which related specifically to crowd disturbances, the setting off of fireworks, and an illicit banner. Sevilla, who won the match 3-1, were fined €17,000 for their part in the disturbances, which involved crowd disturbances and the throwing of objects. A small numbers of supporters clashed behind one of the goals shortly before kick-off, with many fans blaming poor segregation for the problems. There was also criticism of UEFA’s choice of the St Jakob-Park stadium, which with its capacity of just 35,000 was the smallest chosen to host a major European final.
Stoke City have announced the signing of Ramadan Sobhi from Al Ahly for a fee that could rise to €6 million. Sobhi, 19, has been granted a work permit to become Stoke’s first signing ahead of the 2016-17 season. The Egypt international, who has six caps to his name, plays as winger and had been linked with Arsenal and Roma. Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes said on the club’s official website: “We are absolutely delighted to have signed a player of Ramadan’s undoubted quality and potential. “He’s a special young talent who is excited about the prospect of making an impact in the Premier League and we’re looking forward to giving him that platform.”
Celtic have completed the signing of former Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool defender Kolo Toure. Toure, 35, has signed a one-year deal and reunites with former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers at Celtic Park. The centre-back, who played in Liverpool’s Europa League final defeat to Sevilla in May, was a free agent after the expiry of his contract at Anfield. Toure becomes Rodgers’ second signing following the arrival of Moussa Dembele from Fulham. He told Celtic TV: “I feel really excited because it’s going to be a new challenge for me. I’ve come to one of the biggest clubs in the world and it’s a privilege for me to be here. “I know a few friends who play football here and I know what the club has been achieving, winning a lot of trophies and playing Champions League a lot so that’s something I’m looking at. “I played with Brendan when he was at Liverpool and when we spoke about the chance for me to come here I was really happy because we know each other for a long time now. We’ve worked together and he’s a top manager. For me it’s a privilege to come and work with him again.” He added: “I have been playing for top clubs and I’m used to the challenge and I’m here to give everything I’ve got to win my place. You can only win your place on the pitch and that’s through hard work, dedication and determination and I’m ready for that.”
Cameroon midfielder Alex Song is hoping to “make a great impact” in Russia after joining top-flight club Rubin Kazan on a season-long loan from Spanish giants Barcelona. The 28-year-old spent the past two seasons on loan at Premier League side West Ham United and made 46 appearances for the Hammers. Song joined Barcelona in 2012 from Arsenal for around £15m with an 80m euros (£63m) release clause, but has struggled to break into the star-studded squad. “I’m very happy to come here and be a part of the project being built in Kazan,” Song told the club’s official TV channel. “The club hopes to establish itself as the biggest team in Russian football in the next four years and I hope to make a great impact towards that. “I’ve played for big teams like Arsenal and Barcelona, these clubs always set high goals so I understand the targets here. “I like the atmosphere in the squad and hopefully we can achieve something positive together,” the midfielder added.
The pre-season game in China between Manchester United and Manchester City has been called off because heavy rain has left the pitch unplayable. The surface at the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing was described as “bad” by United boss Jose Mourinho on Sunday. And before the game was called off, City boss Pep Guardiola said his main hope was for players to avoid injury. Both City and United said “tournament organisers and clubs” decided to cancel the match at the 2008 Olympic Stadium. Rain had fallen overnight and there were forecasts of more heavy rain on Monday. The clubs’ planned training sessions were switched away from the stadium on Sunday to the Olympic Sports Centre, about a mile away. The fixture cancellation capped a chaotic 24 hours for the Red Devils. Manager Mourinho’s planned news conference had to be scrapped as too many people tried to get into a room which was deemed too small and too hot. And a plane carrying some of the players had to make an unscheduled stop in Tianjin, around 160km from Beijing, as storms hit the Chinese capital. United will leave Beijing to return to Manchester later on Monday as planned, while City are due to fly to Shenzhen on Tuesday for Thursday’s game against Borussia Dortmund.
Cristiano Ronaldo is to have an airport named after him on his native island of Madeira after Portugal’s Euro 2016 success. The Real Madrid star already has a bronze statue, a museum and a hotel bearing his name in the island’s capital city of Funchal, but will soon see the main airport rechristened the Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo airport. Local governor Miguel Albuquerque confirmed the decision, according to Mundo Deportivo, with the 31-year-old superstar currently back on the island after holidaying in Ibiza. Ronaldo was recently reported as desperate to play in the Super Cup in early August but Madrid sources say their number 7 is extremely unlikely to feature. The forward was stretchered off in tears during Portugal’s Euro 2016 final win over France, but recovered enough to prowl the touch line for the final few minutes and then lift the Henri Delaunay trophy.
Nigeria, the World Under-17 champions, failed to reach next year’s Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Zambia, falling to a shock 3-4 home defeat to Sudan who sealed a famous qualification. Nigeria hosted Sudan in Lagos leading 2-1 from the first leg, but Sudan – who had a man sent off – came from behind to level the tie 5-5 overall and progress on away goals. Senegal qualified on Friday after eliminating Ghana, and South Africa went through with a win over Lesotho. Nigeria, who have enjoyed much success in youth competitions both in Africa and globally, went into the return leg of their qualifier against Sudan as favourites to win. Not only did they hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg, they also had 15 members of Nigeria’s triumphant Under-17 World Cup winning side from Chile 2015 in their squad – including the top scorer from that tournament, Victor Osimhen.
David Moyes has been appointed Sunderland manager on a four-year deal. The former Everton and Manchester United boss, 53, takes charge at the Stadium of Light after Sam Allardyce left to become England manager. “I have taken over a big British club, with a great support, and I’m looking forward to working in the Premier League again,” said Moyes. The Scot has been out of work since being sacked by Spanish club Real Sociedad in November. Allardyce was confirmed as Roy Hodgson’s successor with the national team on Friday.
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez thinks club-mate Lionel Messi will reconsider his decision to quit international football. Messi, 29, retired from Argentina duty after missing a penalty in the Copa America final shootout defeat by Chile. He has never won a major international trophy, losing four finals (one World Cup and three Copas). Suarez, who plays for Argentina’s rivals Uruguay, said: “As a friend and an admirer of football I’d like to see him stay with Argentina’s national team. “His love for country is not up for discussion, but you also have to understand him after losing the final. I think he’ll reconsider.”
England have finally confirmed Sam Allardyce as their new manager on a two-year deal. The 61-year-old Sunderland boss replaces Roy Hodgson, who left after their Euro 2016 last-16 exit to Iceland. The Football Association have issued a statement on Sam Allardyce being named England boss. “Allardyce arrives with a proven track record of getting the best results out of the teams he has managed and a strong reputation as a forward-thinker with progressive ideas. “Alongside his primary target of qualification for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, Allardyce has a mandate to shape a strong, purposeful team identity and maximise the performance potential of a young, talented England squad at a major tournament. “Allardyce is also charged with helping [technical director Dan] Ashworth integrate and strengthen the FA’s elite performance and coaching programme across the England senior and development teams at St. George’s Park.”
Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone are among the managers Argentina want to talk to about the national team coach vacancy following last month’s shock resignation of Gerardo Martino. Armando Perez, head of an Argentine FA (AFA) Regularisation Committee, also plans to talk to Lionel Messi with a view to asking the team’s former captain to reverse his decision to quit international soccer. Perez plans to fly to Europe next month because he wants to hear personally from Atletico Madrid’s Simeone and former Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli, now at Sevilla, their views on the national team. Both have said their ambition is to coach Argentina and would be popular choices.
Marseille defender Brice Dja Djedje says he has joined Watford. The 25-year-old Ivory Coast international has signed a four-year deal and will move for about £3m. “I had other proposals, yes, even a German club, but I preferred to sign for Watford because this is a good club,” he told the French newspaper. “I will find some former players of Ligue 1 and because it allows me to set foot in the Premier League.”