ZURICH, Switzerland (Reuters) – FIFA is considering postponing the Asian World Cup qualifiers due to be played this month because of the coronavirus outbreak, the global soccer body said yesterday.China’s matches against Maldives at home and Guam away have already been moved to Buriram, Thailand, and will be played behind closed doors.However, more than two dozen other matches are scheduled to be played around the continent over two match days on March 26 and 31.“A formal proposal to postpone upcoming matches in the Asian FIFA World Cup 2022 and the Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers will now be shared with the relevant member associations,” said FIFA in a statement.“For both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the well-being and health of all individuals involved in football matches remains the highest priority,” it added.FIFA said it would provide an update following consultations with the national associations and would continue to monitor the situation in cooperation with the World Health Organisation. (WHO)
The All England Club says a decision regarding this year’s Wimbledon will be made next week.In a statement on Wednesday, the club said postponement and cancellation of the event, scheduled between 29 June-12 July, because of the impact of coronavirus were possible outcomes.Playing behind closed doors has been formally ruled out.Earlier this month, the French Open, due to have begun in May, was rescheduled to 20 September-4 October.The ATP and WTA Tours were already off until 27 April and 2 May respectively and last week that suspension was extended until 7 June.The club’s sites at the All England Club, Wimbledon Park Golf Club and Raynes Park are currently closed with physical operations reduced to a minimum to maintain the grass courts and the security of the sites.Postponing the only Grand Slam grass court event until later in the year “is not without significant risk and difficulty” the statement added.Chief executive Richard Lewis said: “The unprecedented challenge presented by the Covid-19 crisis continues to affect our way of life in ways that we could not have imagined, and our thoughts are with all those affected in the UK and around the world.“The single most important consideration is one of public health, and we are determined to act responsibly through the decisions we make.“We are working hard to bring certainty to our plans for 2020 and have convened an emergency meeting of the main board for next week, at which a decision will be made.”(BBC Sport.
(REUTERS) – THE Premier League said on Tuesday that six people from three different clubs had tested positive for COVID-19 out of a sample of 748 individuals.The novel coronavirus tests were taken on Sunday and Monday, ahead of the return to small group training.“Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days,” the league said in a statement.“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency.“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public in this way after each round of testing.”Watford later announced that three people, including one player had tested positive for the virus and all three would self-isolate for seven days in line with Premier League guidelines.Burnley said that their assistant coach Ian Woan was among those to give a positive result after being tested on Sunday.“In line with strict Premier League requirements and following a positive test, Ian will now self-isolate for a period of seven days, with a view to being tested again week commencing Monday, May 25,” said Burnley’s statement.“Ian is asymptomatic and is currently safe and well at home. He will remain in close communication with club personnel regarding his re-engagement in training once he is clear of the virus.”On Monday, the Premier League voted to allow clubs to begin small group, non-contact training with some clubs returning on Tuesday.The league will decide early next week when to allow contact training as it looks for a June restart to the season which was halted on March 13.On Saturday, Germany’s top-flight became the first major European league to return to action.The Bundesliga returned 10 positives out of 1 700 tests, on May 4, ahead of its return to training.
CMC – Assistant coach Roddy Estwick believes West Indies are better poised now than three years ago to carve out a positive series result on their proposed tour of England.On their last tour of the United Kingdom in 2017, the Caribbean side pulled off an astonishing victory in the second Test at Leeds, but suffered heavy defeats in the two other Tests to go down 2-1 in the three-Test series.However, Estwick said players had gained significant experience since then and with several other players coming through to give the Test squad greater depth, the Windies could prove a serious threat for their higher-ranked opponents.“For me, I think we might be a better team when we go to England this time,” Estwick said while overseeing training sessions at Kensington Oval for the Barbadian group selected in the 30-man provisional squad.“Three years ago in 2017, it was a very, very young unit. Now we’ve got seasoned Test players, we’ve got players with 50 Test matches so I think once we can hit the ground running and get the preparation in, get some match practice under our belts … we can be a lot better.”.“We’ve got youngsters coming through. We’ve got Rahkeem Cornwall who could be a big threat in England especially if the weather stays the way it is. We’ve got Chemar Holder who just had an outstanding first class season and we’ve got Alzarri Joseph who’s improving all the time.“So we’ve got backup for the first time in a long while – we’ve got Keemo Paul another exciting all-rounder so we’re quite solid bowling wise.”He added: “If we can get scores on the board we can really challenge England because I know the bowling will be good, and the three big men (Jason Holder, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel) are all in the top  in the world and that tells you our bowling unit is really improving.”West Indies will travel with 25 players to the UK for the proposed three-Test series in July, which will mark cricket’s first ever tour played in a “bio-secure” environment due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.The squad is expected to depart the Caribbean on June 8 and will be placed in a two-week quarantine following their arrival in England, before moving to “bio-secure” stadia for the duration of the series where they will be isolated from the public.Replacement players will be chosen from among the travelling contingent, which will also form the opposition for any tour matches.“You can understand why they’ve done it because once you’re in a secure system you can’t leave so if players get injured, you can’t come into the secure area. [So] we had to do it that way,” Estwick explained.“But it’s going to be a challenge because keeping 15 players who are not going to be involved happy is going to be a challenge but it’s something you’ve got to do.“As coaches we’ve got to put our heads together, we’ve got to come up with plans, we’ve got to make sure they stay sharp, make sure they stay ready if they get an opportunity to come in to replace whoever.”Estwick said intense planning for the tour was already underway and noted he had been in “constant contact” with head coach Phil Simmons who is currently based in the UK.“He’s been having Zoom meetings with all the management team. He’s trying to keep everybody upbeat – that’s the first thing he’s trying to do,” he said.“We’re having Zoom meetings sometimes two, three times per week … we had a meeting [last week] Saturday just to sit down and plan how we’re going to prepare what is needed to be done – the workload for the bowlers, the workload for the batters.“We’ve sorted that out now; it’s up to people to go and prepare, prepare properly, adhere to the protocols that are in place and try and stay as safe as possible.”West Indies are holders of the coveted Wisden Trophy after upsetting England 2-1 in a three-Test series in the Caribbean last year.
Just when many were thinking that Obagol-as his admirers loved to call him, might be part of Super Eagles party to Russia to help solve the teamâ€™s inability to hit the target, injury came knocking.In spite of Nigeria booking a place to the 2018 World Cup with a game to spare, Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr is not blind to the fact that there are still grey areas as far as the teamâ€™s goalscoring capability is concerned and was quick to state that Martins, who has been out of the national team still stood a chance of getting on the plane to Russia in 2018.The Franco-German tactician expressed his willingness to increase his striking options as the team continues to build up for the World Cup.Rohr maintains that Martins and other Nigerian strikers who are hoping to be part of the World Cup party would have to be playing and scoring consistently to earn a call up and Martins, who plays for Shanghai Shenhua fits into that category, having helped his club to win the Chinese FA Cup last November, beating rival Shanghai SIPG, with the 33-year-old scoring in both matches of the two-legged final.He scored the only goal in his team’s 1-0 first leg victory and also scored their second goal in the return leg which finished 3-2 in favour of SIPG. Although the tie finished 3-3 on aggregate, Martins’ club won based on away goals rule.â€œYes, the door is open to all our best players, including Martins.He is scoring a lot of goals and we need to get competition for all the positions, especially centre-forward. For now, we have Kelechi Iheanacho who is playing not all the time. But we played with Kelechi against Argentina and he did well. We have a lot of opportunities for the strikers, and so Martins, if he is scoring goals, will be welcome,â€ Rohr had said.Super Eagles Captain to the last World Cup in Brazil, Joseph Yobo also lends his voice for Martinâ€™s recall, believing he would be of help for the Super Eagles in Russia. Last month, Martins scored three goals for his Chinese League club Shanghai and Yobo urged Rohr to consider him for a return to Super Eagles.â€œI am not imposing players on Rohr, but I think the likes of Obafemi Martins and Austin Ejide can help strengthen the defective areas. They are experienced players and they know the in and out of Nigeria football,â€ Yobo said.Unfortunately however, Martinsâ€™ dream of a second World Cup hit the rocks after he ruptured his hamstring playing for his Chinese club. A statement released by the club last Wednesday, confirmed that Martins will be out of action for six to seven months.The Nigerian striker was forced out of their Asian Champions League game against Kashima Antlers of Japan which ended 2-2, due to an injury picked up in the 17th minute of the game.Martinsâ€™ season has effectively come to an end, same as his dream of representing Nigeria at the World Cup following several calls for his inclusion by Nigerians.Martins indeed had a successful surgery in England on his hamstring injury.Shanghai Shenhua posted a picture of Martins in the hospital on their official Instagram and Twitter accounts to confirm that his surgery was successful.Martins contributed a total of four goals for Shanghai Shenhua since the start of the new season in the Chinese Super League (CSL).â€œThanks for the love, see you guys soon. One love. Keep the fighting spirit @shanghaishenhua,â€ Martins wrote beneath a video he posted on his Instagram page.The late Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, in the twilight of his reign as the national team coach invited the former Newcastle of England striker but he was not convincing after two matches and that rested the clamour for Martinsâ€™ recall.Martins was a part of the Nigerian team that finished third at the 2006 African Cup of Nations scoring two goals in the competition, both coming against Senegal in the first round.On several occasions, controversy had placed doubt on his future at Super Eagles. In August 2006, the then countryâ€™s football governing body, Nigeria Football Association (NFA) website had his date of birth down as May 1 1978, which would have made him 28 years of age rather than 21. The NFA soon confirmed that it had been an administrative error and apologised for the confusion it had caused. However Martins threatened to quit playing for the national team after the blunder had initially put his move to Newcastle in doubt.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Injury Jeopardises Martins’Â Russia DreamAfter Super Eaglesâ€™ last two friendly games, preparatory to the World Cup, it was obvious that scoring was one area the team was having issues and the searchlight was being turned on Obafemi Martins. However, just as the voice for the recall of the former Inter Milanâ€™s marksman was becoming stronger injury knocked him out of what would have been his second Mundial for Nigeria, writes Kunle AdewaleObafemi Martins is arguably one of the most travelled African players â€“having played in Italy for Reggiana and Inter Milan, in England for Newcastle and Birmingham City, in Germany for Wolfsburg, in Russia for FC Rubin Kazan and in Spain for Levante. In 2013, he move to the United States to play in the Major League and then to China to join the legion of Nigeria players.For a player who had played for top European clubs, itâ€™s still a shame that his only World Cup appearance for his country was a cameo outing at the 2010 African edition in South Africa as injury did not help his course.
The veteran Russian defender, who turns 39 later this month, put through his own net as he tried to stop Sergio Ramos reaching Marco Asensio’s free-kick at the far post.But Spain failed to turn their overwhelming dominance of possession into further chances and paid the price before half-time, when Artem Dzyuba’s header from a corner hit Gerard Pique’s outstretched arm.Dzyuba stepped up himself to send De Gea the wrong way from the spot and the stadium went wild, not for the last time on a tumultuous evening.The pattern of play did not change after the break, with Spain trying to pass their way through the ranks of Russia’s packed defence, but lacking the imagination to fashion a serious shooting chance.Only Andres Iniesta threatened to break the deadlock for Spain when he was belatedly summoned from the bench and the volume inside the Luzhniki increased as the Russian fans sensed their side could cling on.When Spain did manage a sight of goal, at the start of the second period of extra-time, Akinfeev denied Rodrigo to ensure the game would go to penalties, where he would have the final say.Russia were seen as no-hopers by most observers when this tournament began, when even getting out of their group for the first time since the end of the Soviet era had been seen as beyond them.Many of their supporters outside the stadium were still writing them off before this game started, but instead they saw the hosts become the first Russian side to reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup since Mexico 1970.That was the era of the legendaryÂ Lev Yashin,Â so it was fitting that another goalkeeper, Akinfeev, should play the biggest part here in this memorable triumph.Russia’s captain is 32 and was winning his 111th cap but this was his greatest performance of all, and on the biggest stage.His side’s determined defending meant he was tested by few of Spain’s 24 shots but he showed brilliant reactions to keep out Jordi Alba’s effort, got down smartly to save Iniesta’s first-time shot and then blocked Rodrigo when he danced through.In the shootout too, he produced saves when it mattered – first by plunging to his right to push away Koke’s tame effort, then sealing victory with his trailing leg when Aspas fired his penalty straight down the middle.Spain simply ran out of ideas, joining as other giants to make ignominious early exits, and leaving England, Colombia, Sweden and Switzerland as other potential benefactors in what appears a wide open half of the draw.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Their unlikely progress is a reward for their resolute defending for most of the 120 minutes of play and should reflect the part played by their thousands of fans who roared them on throughout their defensive masterclass.Admittedly there were few signs of the Spanish struggles to come when Sergey Ignashevich inadvertently gave Fernando Hierro’s side a a 12th-minute lead.
There are strong concerns on the successful hosting of 2018 edition of Lagos Open Tennis formerly known as the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis over paucity of funds expected weeks back from several sponsors including the major sponsor, the Lagos State Government headed by Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.This may cause major setback for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved tournament, the 18th edition which is scheduled to hold from 29 September through 13 October, 2018 at the Lagos Tennis Club (LLTC), TBS, Onikan.A check at the venue revealed that the preparations and face-lifting of the club are currently ongoing, these are being slowly carried out due to the inability of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) to mobilise the management of the club to finish the works few days to the commencement of the championships.“Renovations ongoing at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, but being delayed due to lack of funds now,” it was gathered.Other areas such as advance payment to the Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos for the players’ accommodation, allowances of technical officials – referees, umpires and ball boys as well as dollars prize money of the foreign players have not been attended to due to lack of funds. Indications are that if adequate funding is not provided, the LOC may be constrained to announce the cancellation of the Lagos Open this year. This may potent danger to the future organisation of the international tournaments in Lagos as this may bring severe sanctions to the LOC and Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) and more importantly a disgrace to Lagos.The ITF has announced that over 130 emerging tennis players from 47 nations of the world will take part in this year’s Lagos Open Tennis with most of them already sent their arrival dates to the organisers.The Lagos Open Tennis is being organised annually to celebrate the sitting Governor of Lagos State since the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, inherited by the erstwhile government of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola and has also been held in the last three years of Ambode’s regime.The LOC informed at the world press conference held recently to unveiled the repackaged Lagos Open Tennis that the Lagos State Government has been the major supporter of the competition, which has set a transition target of becoming an ITF Challenger Series in the next three years with the target capacity to attract its own brand and sponsors while attracting super stars in the world of tennis to Lagos.The championship has been adding positive values to the tourism heritage of Lagos since inception as it has always attracted emerging tennis players from nothing less than 47 countries of the world annually to Lagos.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
Ezenwa Demands 700,000 Naira Monthly“Ezenwa won’t be joining Katsina United,” a top official tacitly told SCORENigeriaIt is believed that ‘The Changi Boys’ cannot afford the goalkeeper’s demand for N700,000 Naira monthly salaryThe highest paid players at Katsina United is on 350,000 Naira monthly.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Katsina United officials have told SCORENigeria they have closed the door on Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa after transfer talks broke down.Katsina United have signed a third goalkeeper Abdullahi Boje, who was to have been released for Ezenwa after he failed to establish himself at the NPFL club last season following his move from ABS FC.They are also close to completing the international transfer of Niger international Kassaly Daouda.
Nigeria won 12 gold and 10 silver medals at the last 2017 Winter Special Olympic Games in Austria, where the country was represented by 22 athletes.The country will now hope to do better in Abu Dhabi, where Nigeria will participate in eight sporting events including: athletics, badminton, basketball, football, table-tennis, volleyball, swimming and cycling.The competition is expected to bring together about 7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches, 1,500 officials, 20,000 volunteers, 3,000 invited guests, 6,000 family members and over 500,000 spectators from over 170 countries.It will be the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of Special Olympics, and the beginning of the next 50 years of the inclusion movement.An official promo for Abu Dhabi 2019 read: “The Games will serve to expand worldwide commitment for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in all areas of life and create a platform for a public education campaign to increase understanding, respect, and tolerance around the world.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Team Nigeria’s contingent to the 2019 Special Olympics’ World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arabs Emirates is bracing up for the start of the sports fiesta on March 14.To ensure good outing at the games next month, Special Olympics Nigeria is preparing a 86-person delegation for the trip to Abu Dhabi.The delegation with have 60 athletes and 26 officials, who will grace the Games from March 14th to 21st, with high hopes of returning home with laurels from the competition, which holds every two years.
Femi Solaja with reportsAhead of the African Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer, Super Eagles strongman in defense, Leon Balogun has said that he is more than determined to regain his starting position at Brighton & Hove Albion.Balogun, who has formed the famous Oyinbo wall defense for Super Eagles alongside Troost Ekong has only made seven starts for his English Premiership side since he arrived as a free agent just before the last World Cup finals in Russia was not even listed in his club’s 0-1 home loss to Southampton last Saturday are just three legs above relegation zone. But now he has vowed to help improve the fortune of the club so as to be in good form for Nigeria this June during the AFCON tournament in Egypt.“It’s been difficult but that’s the manager’s call, I’ve just got to get on with it and hope for a chance,” says Balogun, who scored his only goal for the club in 3-1 win against Crystal Palace in December.“I really hope to play a significant role in my first Nations Cup for Nigeria, but firstly I want to keep working hard to make a strong case for regular games at Brighton,” Balogun told BBC Sport yesterday.Since scoring his first goal for Brighton four months ago, Balogun has made only four more appearances for Chris Hughton’s side in the league.He also played twice in the club’s impressive run to the FA Cup semi-finals including the tricky fourth round win against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in February.Although his position in the Super Eagles setting is still guaranteed and he is one of the fans favorites anytime he wears the Nigerian colour, he however admitted that it has been tough for him and he is waiting for his opportunity.“It’s very frustrating not to be involved but you can only keep your head up by focusing on helping the club when called upon,” the former Mainz man explained.He said further that “what is important is to always put myself in the right place as usual. If I am needed anytime to start a game or come in, I’ll be ready for that, it’s all I can do.”Only last December, Balogun became the first African player in the English Premiership to join the Common Goal campaign by pledging one percent of his wages to the charity.In a related development, former Super Eagles defender, Taribo West, has backed the decision of coach Gernot Rohr to still believe in the player despite not having a regular shirt for his club in England.” I really think he is the best defender we have at the moment because he adds something extra when he plays. Even the game against Egypt he was way impressive and didn’t play like someone who has not played football in over a month.” Rohr can’t drop him now but after the Africa Cup of Nations if his club form stays same then the coach will have to make a decision for the good and future of the team and I think he is the best we have,” Taribo West explained.Balogun, in Germany, Balogun, who has previously played for Hannover, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Darmstadt 98, has made 27 appearances for Nigeria.He played all three matches at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram