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Messi Magic Lifts Inter Miami to Leagues Cup Title

Inter Miami beat Nashville SC in a thrilling Leagues Cup final on Saturday after a 1-1 tie was settled by a marathon 10-9 penalty shootout.

This was as Lionel Messi extended his winning streak since joining the MLS side to seven games.

Messi opened the scoring in the 23th minute, notching his 10th goal of the inaugural tournament with a blistering shot from distance past multiple defenders and into the top left corner of the net.

Nashville’s Fafa Picault leveled for the home team in the 57th minute and both teams came agonisingly close to taking the lead in the rollercoaster second half.

In the shootout, Nashville goalkeeper, Elliot Panicco, missed the final kick of the night to deliver Inter Miami, who joined the league in 2020, their first trophy.

Messi’s overjoyed teammates tossed the Argentine in the air as ecstatic Miami co-owner David Beckham shook his fists above his head in triumph.

“It’s a huge honour to play a role in our first win in a final,” said Miami goalkeeper, Drake Callender.

Callender was adjudged as the man-of-the-match after he saved two goals in the shootout and converted his own penalty.

“It’s pretty surreal and very emotional. This team works so hard day in and day out, and to have it come down to the very end… it’s amazing to see the grit and the belief.

“It’s something special and I’m blessed to be part of it,” said Callender.

Miami have the worst record in MLS this season, but Messi’s arrival has ignited an offensive explosion with the squad scoring 22 goals in their last seven games.

The trophy is Messi’s 44th, the most by any player. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was named player of the tournament, which includes teams from MLS and Liga MX.

“It was a tight game for both teams, either could have won it.

“It ended in a tie and I thought a tie was fair. And obviously it ended in penalties, which takes a lot of calmness, great capacity from the goalkeeper, and we won the game,” Miami head coach, Gerardo “Tata” Martino said.

The Miami club, who appointed Martino as coach last month and signed Messi’s former Barcelona team mates Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, have also secured a CONCACAF Champions League berth with their Leagues Cup run.

“We weren’t doing well before and we had to incorporate a lot of new players.

“I’m very impressed with the way we came together,” said Martino. (Reuters/NAN) 

SPORTS

NFF Seeks Increased Corporate Organisations  Funding of Nigerian Football

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has called on corporate organisations to increase support to the federation to help develop football in the country.

The NFF President, Ibrahim Gusau made the call when MTN Nigeria hosted the Super Eagles on Tuesday in Abuja.

Reports says that Super Eagles finished as runner up to the host country, Ivory Coast at the just concluded 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d`Ivoire.

Gusau said without finance the team would not have achieved what it achieved in the tournament.

“All of us today would have loved to be celebrating here with the trophy but unfortunately God knows why.

“We thank God at least as we heard from the captain this is the beginning of the new dawn as far as Nigerian football is concerned.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank MTN for their support and I hope that other corporate organisations will come up to see how they can support us the most.

“Without finances we cannot achieve what we have been able to achieve, so we need more corporate organisations to support us to build on what we have so far built,” he said.

The Chairman MTN Board of Directors, Prof. Ernest Ndukwe, said that  MTN’s support for  the Eagles was  its own way of giving back to the society.

“This is because MTN is a sport loving organisation. Over the years, we have always wanted to support the Super Eagles in various ways. MTN is fully committed to continuing the Super Eagles.

“We are building a nation where sports have a great role to play as a unifying force. So if we support sports, we are actually promoting unity among Nigerians,” he said.

The MTN’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Karl Toriola on his part appreciated the emotional commitment of the players to succeed.

“What I liked about this team which we haven’t seen in other teams of other nations was the visible emotional commitment to succeed.

“Unfortunately we didn’t bring the cup home but that is always going to be difficult when you are playing against your host country.

“You guys have shown your complete commitment through your leadership, and we are extremely proud of you supporting the Nigerian football federation and the super eagles,” he said

Head Coach of the Super Eagles, Jose Peseiro, thanked everyone that supported the team all through their preparations and the tournament proper.

“To the NFF I thank you, MTN I thank you, Nigerians I thank you for all the support,”he said

The Assistant Captain of the Super Eagles, Troost Ekong who spoke on behalf of the team, said this was the beginning of a new era.

“Thank you NFF, thank you MTN, thank you Nigerians, thank you our fans. We have given everything we have and have made everyone proud.

“We will be better in the future. Because this is not the end but the beginning of something new and we are hoping for the best,”he said.

Mrs Ifueko Okauru, Board Member, MTN Nigeria and former Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), said MTN supported all gender, age brackets, abled and disabled persons in the society.

“MTN supports all genders and all of us able and disabled, young and old. Whatever is needed to support MTN is here to support.

“Sports development is more than just what corporate organisations do; it needs significant funding and it also needs passion to ensure that this is done and done excellently.

“I must say though we all love sports, the fans are a major part of sports development.

“The economic condition of the fans is very important to ensure that as a corporate organization, we drive sports development by encouraging fans development and developing businesses around sports to grow sports,” he said. (NAN)

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Côte d’Ivoire wins African Cup of Nations after Defeating Nigeria.

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THE host, Elephants Of Ivory Coast beat Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 to win the Africa Cup of Nations 2023.

It’s was all Ivory Coast but they weren’t able to make their possession count and Nigeria strike with their first serious attempt in the 38th minute.

A corner is only half cleared to William Troost-Ekong who powers a header into the net.

The centre-back and captain Troost-Ekong has scored three goals at this year’s Afcon.

That’s one more than he managed during his whole 68 appearances in three seasons at Watford.

Ivory Coast got a deserved equaliser in the 62nd minute, as poor marking allows Franck Kessie to head his country back with a fine corner from Gradel.

Kessie was about eight yards out but he was totally unmarked.

The host took the lead in the 81st-Minute, the roof came off as Sebastien Haller sticks out a leg to turn Simon Adingra’s cross past Super Eagles keeper, Nwabali.

The Super Eagles have lost more Afcon finals than they have won.

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SPORTS

About 2 Billion People Watching 2023 AFCON—- CAF President

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 The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, on Friday in Abidjan said about two billion people globally are watching the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire.

Motsepe disclosed this at a news conference, ahead of the AFCON final on Saturday.

He described the feat as an achievement that Africans should be proud of.

“We have had close to two billion people watching AFCON globally.

We should be proud as Africans and the next one will be even better.

“The success of Africa depends upon Africa working together, trading together, and in football, countries competing and playing together,” he said.

Reports says that the organisation of the tournament has so far been top notch, with six beautiful stadia across five cities hosting the continental showpiece.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will lock horns with hosts Cote d’Ivoire in a block burster final on Sunday at the 60, 000 capacity Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Ebimpé in the outskirts of Abidjan.

While the third-place match on Saturday between South Africa and DR Congo is slated for the iconic Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny also in Abidjan.(NAN)

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