Capital One Cup Semi-Final Fixtures

Capital One Cup Semi-Final Fixtures

Date Matchup Venue
Week of Jan. 6, 2014 Sunderland vs. Manchester United Stadium of Light
Week of Jan. 6, 2014 Manchester City vs. West Ham United Etihad Stadium
Week of Jan. 20, 2014 Manchester United vs. Sunderland Old Trafford
Week of Jan. 20, 2014 West Ham United vs. Manchester City Boleyn Ground

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Eagles Will Soar In CHAN-Galadima …Wants NFF Closer Monitoring Of Eaglets

Eagles Will Soar In CHAN-Galadima…Wants NFF Closer Monitoring Of Eaglets

Former NFA Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, says he foresee a successful outing for the Super Eagles at the forthcoming African Nations Championship, even as he said he has been in touch with the leadership of the NFF on how best to groom the Golden Eaglets for the future.

Galadima, who spoke from his base in Kano, said with the pedigree of the technical crew headed by Stephen Keshi and the quality of players invited for the tournament he sees Nigeria doing very well at the championship. “Yes, there is the time factor problem but I know what Keshi and his team can do and now some of the best players in the local league have been invited to fight for shirts hence my optimism.

On the recent departure from the Super Eagles camp of Eaglets’ Kelechi Iheanacho, Galadima opined that while the player has a future career to pursue, the NFF which also helped in his development must keep a close eye on him and other members of the team. “Europe is good for them because they can help groom them well both in football and education but I have told the NFF to keep an eye on all the players because they are future champions of the world. I also told them so when they paid me a visit here in Kano and I’m saying it again, they must be closely monitored to avoid exploitation and being misled by football profiteers”, he said.

In doing so, Galadima said the NFF will not only be helping Nigeria but the players themselves. “We have cases in the past when some players made so much money but could not even manage it, let alone asking them to come and be part of Nigerian football and sports management. That is what we must guide against and education is key to this”, he said.

Eagles Trounce Tornadoes, Tackle Plateau Saturday

The Super Eagles continued their buildup for next month’s CHAN tourney in South Africa with a 2-0 trouncing of hard-fighting Niger Tornadoes of Minna on Wednesday evening. The team will next tackle Plateau United at the same venue on Saturday morning. The match was played at the mainbowl of the Abuja National Stadium.

The cagey encounter was watched by a sparse crowd that included NFF’s Director of Technical, Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme as the Minna side gave the Eagles a run for their money. The side now managed by former Flying Eagles and Dream Team Coach, Godwin Koko Uwa, was up to the task forcing the Eagles to their end of the pitch in the first ten minutes of the encounter.

Head Coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi started with a very strong squad with captain, Chigozie Agbim in goal Azubuike Egwueke, Yinka Adedeji, Solomon Kwambe and Ogonna Osuchukw holding sway in the defence. Christian Pyagbara, Rabiu Ali held sway in the midfield while Gbolahan Salami, Barnabas Imenger and hard-working Abubakar Aliyu were the preferred strikers. Imenger got the Eagles on the score sheet 14minutes into the encounter after Abubakar was brought down for a free kick. Ali flicked it in and after Abubakar and Pyagbara shots were blocked, Imenger coolly slotted in for the opener.

Thereafter, it was Eagles all the way with Imenger, Ali, Abubakar and Egwuekwe all coming close but the half ended 1-0. But not without incidence as Agbim, was made to pull off a fantastic save with a tip of his fingers in the 44thminute of the highly robust encounter.

In the second half, the Eagles introduced Sunday Mba, Taiwo Awoniyi, Ejike Uzoenyi, newcomers Obannor Erhune and Ikeleji Bello who surprisingly acquitted themselves well and Eaglets goalie, Sunday Alampasu who was a commanding presence in goal with his control of the defence line.

But the crunchy play of Tornadoes and misses from Mba, Ejike and Rangers’ Christian Obiozor kept the scoreline at the same until in the82minute when Ejike was brought down in the vital area and dimunitive Ikechukwu ‘Small’ Azubuike stepped forward to dispatch the penalty.

Tornadoes Coach, Uwa, said he was impressed with the Eagles display against his side despite the many changes made by the technical crew.” They showed why they are the reigning African champions”, he said. Why Keshi simply said he was impressed by the physical play of the opposition, as that will be the focal point of most teams that will take part at the CHAN tourney.

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Yobo, Osaze Remain Important…Brazil 2014: Keshi Thinks USA Camp

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Yobo, Osaze Remain Important….Brazil 2014: Keshi Thinks USA Camp, Japan Friendly…No CHAN Trophy Promise

Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, has revealed that the team might be camped in the United States ahead of the Brazil 2014 World Cup. Preferably in a city that has the same climatic condition as Sao Paulo, which the Eagles have picked as their permanent nest during the Mundial.

Speaking at the weekly media interaction at the Bolton White Apartment camp of the team on Wednesday morning in Abuja, Keshi named two cities, Miami, Florida and Houston, Texas as possible destination but added that the final decision will be taken by the NFF.

He said the NFF have so far been very supportive of the national team and declared that contrary to widely held views all teams in the Super Eagles World Cup group are very dangerous. “Why are we talking of only Argentina, we can defeat Argentina but Iran qualified long before us and Bosnia Herzegovina also did their qualification in style with plenty goals and we must not underrate any of these teams”, he said. On suggestions that the Eagles are expected to qualify from its group before its last group game against Argentina, Keshi simply said “Amen”, to a bemused media audience.

He again declared that Eagles skipper, Joseph Yobo, Osaze Odemwengie, Haruna Lukman and Chinedu Obasi Ogbuke and others who have not featured in his plans are still part of the team but warned against being sentimental in the judgment of the public. “We don’t want to play names but any player who can bring success to the team is what we are after and if these players we have mentioned have it then they can go with us to the World Cup. We have players as old as 39years old playing at top level for their countries and some have been very successful at that, I want to see that happen in Nigeria”.

Keshi also spoke extensively on the forthcoming African Nations Championship in South Africa dubbed CHAN 2014, declaring that he will make no promises of winning the trophy but hopes that team goes far and does the nation proud. “It’s because we’ve got little or no time and we are working with new boys on this project but I hope we do the nation proud in CHAN but I cannot promise the trophy”.

Barcelona grant Neymar 10 days off

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Barcelona grant Neymar 10 days off

Neymar, has been granted time to fly back to Brazil after a very busy schedule

The Brazilian since signing for Barcelona hasn’t had any time off after travelling with Brazil and playing with his new club 23 times this season.

He is suspended for this weekend’s clash against Getafe, so the coach of the catalan side has given his Brazilian youngster to visit his family in Brazil.

Neymar has scored 11 goals since moving from Santos to Barcelona in the summer.

NFF sheds light on 2014 World Cup financial matters

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NFF sheds light on 2014 World Cup financial matters

The Nigeria Football Federation has come out to explain in detail all
financial matters around the country’s participation in the 2014 FIFA
World Cup finals.

Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, NFF’s Director of Competitions, Dr.
Mohammed Sanusi stated clearly that all postulations and assumptions
by some uninformed football analysts were terribly wide off the mark.

“We have been reading and listening to a lot of ‘expert views and
analyses’ on the financial details of Nigeria’s participation in next
year’s FIFA World Cup finals and most of these conclusions carry bold
marks of ignorance.

“For the avoidance of doubt, FIFA will pay each participating member
association the sum of $1.5million (about N240million) as preparation
money, and this is verifiable from all quarters, including FIFA
headquarters.

“The amount guaranteed for each team’s participation in the
championship is the sum of $8million, and no team will get this exact
sum because the money will be subject to with-holding tax, deductions
on accommodation and all extras, and some other deductions. More
importantly, this money will not be paid until after the World Cup
finals, and when what is left is eventually paid, certain percentage
of it goes to the players.”

Sanusi, a doctorate degree holder in sports administration and who is
also president of the Nigeria Association of Colleges of Education
Games, lambasted those who had gone on air and to the press to talk
about the NFF not needing any money to prepare the Super Eagles for
participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“A number of these commentators are simply misleading the public. It
is unfortunate that those who should know are the ones who have been
at the forefront of the negative campaign. To prepare the Super Eagles
adequately for a big impact at the World Cup will gulp a lot of money,
in camping programmes, friendly matches and general logistics.

“The NFF has nothing to hide. All monies received from our
participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be duly accounted for.”

Sanusi also described as laughable insinuations in some quarters that
the present NFF administration has much to prove.

“The present NFF administration headed by Alhaji Aminu Maigari has
achieved much more than any before it, ever since the NFF came into
being as NFA, and this is a fact. Records don’t lie. In three-and-half
years, the administration has won 10 trophies, qualified Nigeria for
the FIFA World Cup finals with ease and fostered better relationships
with other agencies and Nigeria Missions abroad, as well as breaking
new grounds in human capacity development and empowerment programmes.

“Those challenging the present NFF should first challenge themselves
to make impact in their own areas of endeavour.”

Williams and Djokovic named 2013 ITF World Champions

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Williams and Djokovic named 2013 ITF World Champions

The ITF announced today that Serena Williams of the United States and Novak Djokovic of Serbia are the 2013 ITF World Champions. Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the fourth time, while this is the third successive year that Djokovic has received the honour.

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the tenth time in 11 years, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy become Women’s Doubles World Champions for the second successive year

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Alexander Zverev of Germany are named ITF Junior World Champions, while the ITF Wheelchair World Champions are Aniek van Koot of Netherlands and Japan’s Shingo Kunieda, who becomes men’s champion for the fifth time.

The ITF’s selection of its senior World Champions is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives special weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, and two ITF international team competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 3 June, in Paris, during Roland Garros.

Serena Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the second straight year after reclaiming the year-end world No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2009. The 32-year-old was almost invincible in 2013, winning 78 of 82 singles matches played, and a career-best 11 titles. She captured two Grand Slam titles, at Roland Garros and the US Open, to stand at 17 career majors, and went on to win the year-end WTA Championships.

Novak Djokovic narrowly edges out Rafael Nadal to become Men’s World Champion thanks to his consistency at the Grand Slam tournaments and year-end performances. The 26-year-old won his third successive Australian Open title, and was a finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open and a semifinalist at Roland Garros. He won seven titles during the year, including the ATP World Tour Finals, and was unbeaten in seven singles rubbers as Serbia reached the Davis Cup Final.

Djokovic said: “It is an honour to be named ITF World Champion for the third year running. I’ve had a great 2013 season, and managed to end the year on a high. This will definitely serve as a good platform for 2014.”

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “Serena Williams demonstrated once again why she is one of the greatest athletes of all time, and is a worthy winner of the women’s award. The men’s award was more closely contested, but our criteria rewards players for their performances at the Grand Slam tournaments and in our team competitions. Rafael Nadal made a remarkable comeback from injury with two Grand Slam wins, but it is Novak Djokovic’s consistent results across all four Slams, Davis Cup and the ATP World Tour Finals that see him named World Champion.”

Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the tenth time after a spectacular year in which they narrowly failed to complete the Grand Slam. Victories at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon saw the brothers hold all four majors at the same time, before they lost in the semifinals in New York. They won 11 events during 2013, to improve their all-time records to 15 Grand Slam titles and 93 titles in total.

Mike Bryan said: “We are very excited to be named ITF World Champions again. It’s hard to believe we’ve won this award ten times given the strength of the competition the past decade. This may have been the best year of our careers and we look forward to another memorable awards dinner.”

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are the first pair since 2008 to be named Women’s Doubles World Champions in consecutive years. The Italians’ year was highlighted by three titles together, including the Australian Open, and they went on to lead their country to victory in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. They were also finalists at Roland Garros, and ended the year co-ranked No. 1 on the WTA Doubles Rankings.

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci said: “We are both very happy to be Women’s Doubles World Champions for the second consecutive year. It is a great pleasure and honour to have finished this year as No. 1 in the doubles rankings. Our goal for 2014 is to continue these results.”

Belinda Bencic is only the third Swiss player, after Roger Federer and Martina Hingis, to be named ITF World Champion in any category after securing the year-end No. 1 girls ranking. The 16-year-old was unbeaten until late July, winning 39 straight matches and two Grand Slam titles, at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. She was also a quarterfinalist at the US Open and ended the year with six titles and an overall 42-2 singles win loss record.

Bencic said: “To be World Champion is very special and a great feeling. Without my team and without my sponsors I would have never reached this goal. Thanks a lot to all those who supported me during the last few years.”

Alexander Zverev is also only the third player from his country, after Boris Becker and Steffi Graf, to be named ITF World Champion after becoming the youngest year-end boys’ No. 1 since 2005. The 16-year-old was the most consistent performer on the ITF Junior Circuit, winning two singles titles and reaching three other finals including Roland Garros. He is the brother of tennis professional Mischa.

Zverev said: “Seeing the list of past winners of this award, it is an honour to be named the ITF Boys World Champion for 2013 in this 100th year of the ITF. Hopefully the experience at these international junior events will lead to more experience at the professional level.”

Shingo Kunieda becomes Men’s Wheelchair World Champion for the fifth time after regaining the year-end world No. 1 ranking. The 29-year-old reached the finals of all three Grand Slam singles events in 2013, winning his 14th major title at the Australian Open. He also won the season-ending NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters to finish the year with a total of seven titles and a 41-7 win-loss record.

Kunieda said: “I am proud that this marks my fifth time as ITF World Champion, which gives me great confidence for the next season. It is always one of my goals to be world champion, and I will try my best to retain the title next year.”

Aniek van Koot follows her compatriot Esther Vergeer as Women’s Wheelchair World Champion, having come out on top in a year-long battle with Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock for the No. 1 ranking. The 23-year-old captured two of the three Grand Slam singles titles, at the Australian Open and US Open, and also achieved the doubles Grand Slam with another Dutchwoman Jiske Griffioen. She also led Netherlands to victory in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

Van Koot said: “Never could I have imagined to be the best of the world in something. Therefore it gives me great pleasure that it’s in wheelchair tennis, my biggest passion.”

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “It has been another outstanding year for our sport, and I would like to pay tribute to all the 2013 ITF World Champions for their contribution.”

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Aguero could be out for longer…,

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Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero could be sidelined for up to eight weeks with his calf injury, boss Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed.
Aguero, who has scored 19 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions for City this season, sustained the problem in his side’s 6-3 Premier League victory over Arsenal on Saturday.
Initially, it was hoped that the Argentina international would miss around a month, but Pellegrini has revealed this timeframe could now be doubled.

Formula1: FIA sanctioned Bahrain Pirelli tyre test flagged off on the 17 Dec 2013

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Formula1: FIA sanctioned Bahrain Pirelli tyre test flagged off on the 17 Dec 2013

A three-day tyre test began on Tuesday at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC). The special session was approved by the FIA last week in order to give official suppliers Pirelli more track time to help develop their 2014-specification rubber.

The four teams taking part are Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Toro Rosso (all 11 were invited, with McLaren and Force India also initially accepting), and drivers due in action include Nico Rosberg, Jules Bianchi and BIC lap record holder, Pedro de la Rosa. All will be at the wheel of 2013-spec cars, driving to a programme dictated by Pirelli.

The dramatic changes to the Formula One regulations for 2014, in particular reduced downforce and the move to more torquey, 1.6-litre V6 engines, means the demands placed on tyres will be very different. This week’s tyre test will be followed by three official pre-season F1 tests, starting at Jerez in Spain at the end of January.

Running for world champions Red Bull in Sakhir will be Swiss racer Sebastien Buemi, recently reconfirmed as the team’s test and reserve driver. Mercedes, meanwhile, will use Nico Rosberg. Team mate Lewis Hamilton will not attend as expected, choosing instead to focus on his winter training programme.

Ferrari will field veteran tester De la Rosa for the first two days, before Marussia racer and Ferrari Driver Academy member Bianchi gets a day in the F138 cockpit on Thursday. Finally, Toro Rosso will run their 2014 race line-up of Jean-Eric Vergne and Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat.

FIFPro announces legal challenge to transfer system

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FIFPro announces legal challenge to transfer system

“FIFPro will not stand by and watch from the sidelines as football players’ rights around the world are systemically disrespected and the football industry dismantles itself,” said FIFPro President Phillipe Piat.

FIFPro, the World Players’ Union, has launched a legal challenge aimed squarely at the transfer system and the current economic make-up of professional football.

It follows recommendations from FIFPro’s expert group on transfer matters delivered to the FIFPro board, which approved a strategic plan to address the freedom of movement of workers within the EU, competition law and human rights. FIFPro is preparing all necessary means, including legal action, to reinstall the world’s professional football players’ rights as workers.

FIFPro President, Philippe Piat, said: “The transfer system has always and continues by definition to be built on the back of our members’ rights as workers and human beings.”

The FIFA transfer regulations and their practical application continue to impede the players’ freedom to move. Training compensation is calculated against the European Court of Justice’s Bernard ruling at much higher levels than actual cost incurred and increase the price-tag for contracting a player on the transfer market. Exorbitant compensation for breaches of contract is imposed on players, unimaginable in any other industry. More so, the threat of sporting sanctions for breaches of contract during the protected period is constantly maintained through the renewal of contracts. This was never envisaged in 2001, when FIFA, UEFA and the European Commission reached an informal agreement on the principles of the transfer system.

These legal and monetary shackles binding footballers (the employees) to their current clubs (the employers) can no longer be accepted and upheld.

“The transfer system fails 99% of players around the world, it fails football as an industry and it fails the world’s most beloved game. Football’s governing bodies, clubs and leagues claim the transfer system is necessary to ensure competitive balance, whereby in fact it creates a spiral of economic and sporting imbalance, which only benefits the richest 1% of clubs and player agents.”

“Football players are workers and only when they are able to enjoy the rights enshrined in law and enjoyed by all other workers, will FIFPro be satisfied”, added Piat who announced the transfer system as his “top priority” when elected FIFPro President in October.

Europe historically has played a leading role in the fight for football players’ rights (as with the landmark Bosman ruling) and FIFPro identifies Europe as the stage where this transforming battle will play out. FIFPro will take its recommendations and complaints to the European Commission, the European Court of Justice and human rights courts.

FIFPro Division Europe President, Bobby Barnes, said, “Despite football enjoying record amounts of revenue, football’s regulatory and economic system fails miserably on numerous fronts and drives the professional game towards self-destruction. Destruction through a systemic disrespect for those on the pitch. Destruction through a failure to achieve competitive balance and financial stability. Destruction through an absence of responsible governance, which invites criminals to abuse our game.”

“Thousands of players worldwide are not paid on time, or not at all, while 28% of the global transfer market (an estimated 750 million USD annually) is paid to agents and lost to the game. Something is not right with this picture.”

“Unpaid players are vulnerable targets of crime syndicates, who instigate match-fixing and threaten the very existence of credible football competitions. The current industrial model of football in general fails to ensure a professional management and compliance culture that is capable of safeguarding our game against internal and external abuse. In contrast, in the absence of competitive balance it encourages speculative, unsustainable, immoral and illegal investment models like Third Party Ownership of players.”

FIFPro expects FIFA and other key stakeholders to respond in a timely manner that recognises the players and FIFPro for who we are: one powerful collective voice.

Theo van Seggelen, General Secretary of FIFPro: “FIFPro sits at the same table as FIFA, whose regulations govern the current transfer system, UEFA, the European Clubs Association (ECA), the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), and we will remain at that table.”

“We are firmly committed to dialogue, provided that all stakeholders possess an honest will to critically question the status quo and a will to implement fundamental changes, now. But, FIFPro will not be limited in its means to bring about change.”

FIFPro

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