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Int’l Friendly: Super Eagles Hand Mali First Win in 49 Years

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The Super Eagles were given a reality check by Mali’s Les Aigles as they succumbed to a 0-2 defeat in a friendly game in Marrakech, Morocco on Tuesday.

Reports says that the rare win by the Malians against Nigeria was their first in 49 years.

Goals by El Bilal Toure and Kamory Doumbia sealed the win for Mali.

The last time Mali defeated the Super Eagles was on Sept.

5, 1975, also in a friendly which ended 4-1.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Eagles were unbeaten in eight straight fixtures against the Malians, recording five wins and three draws.

Interim coach, Finidi George, gave starting shirts to Jamilu Collins, Raphael Onyedika, and Kenneth Omeruo.

The trio replaced Bruno Onyemaechi, Frank Onyeka and Benjamin Tanimu, who all featured in the 2-1 win against Ghana on Friday.

The Malians dominated the early stages of the game and almost took the lead less than five minutes into the game, but were denied by goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

The breakthrough for Mali eventually came in the 14th minute as El Bilal Toure capitalised on a defensive error by Nigeria to score.

The Eagles were forced into a first half change as Moses Simon went off injured in 34th minute and was replaced by Cyriel Dessers.

The early part of the second half saw the Super Eagles start brightly but the Malian defence held firm.

Despite starting the half on a positive note, it was Mali who almost doubled their lead but the Eagles defence intercepted a dangerous cross from the left.

Dessers was presented an opportunity in the 65th minute as he was sent through on goal but blasted his shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat.

Iheanacho had a chance of his own barely a minute later, but took a low shot which was parried away for a corner.

With 12 minutes left, the Eagles won a freekick in a decent position but Iheanacho’s floated attempt was again cleared away by the keeper.

Mali then doubled their lead in the 87th minute thanks to Kamory Doumbia who raced into the Eagles’ 18 yard box and fired past Nwabali to earn his side a well deserved win.

Up next for the Super Eagles is the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June against South Africa who held Algeria to a 3-3 draw at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Tuesday. (NAN)

SPORTS

Mbappe says Winning Champions League Matter of Pride

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Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe has said that helping his hometown club to finally win their first Champions League title is a matter of pride for him.

This was after he scored twice to help guide his side to a 4-1 comeback win at FC Barcelona and into the semi-finals with a 6-4 aggregate victory on Tuesday.

Mbappe, who is set to leave PSG in the summer with Real Madrid as the biggest favourite to sign him, told reporters that his future is not in his mind and that his focus is totally on bringing glory to the French capital.

“I have the dream of winning the Champions League for Paris,” Mbappe told reporters at Barcelona Olympic stadium on Tuesday.

“I’m proud to be at PSG since the first day.

It’s not because there are good times and bad times that my pride takes a hit.

“The pride of playing for this club, of representing the club of the capital of my country, it’s something special for me who grew up there.

“To experience an evening like this one as a Parisian, it’s great. We have one more step to go before we reach the final in Wembley, so we need to stay calm.”

After loosing 3-2 in the first leg in Paris, PSG fought-back down 1-0 at FC Barcelona after the locals went down to 10 men just before the half-hour.

This was when last man Ronald Araujo was red-carded for fouling Bradley Barcola.

Former FC Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele equalised for the visitors just before the break while Vitinha and Mbappe finished the job in the second half.

The result meant PSG would face Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals after the Germans beat Atletico Madrid also on Tuesday.

PSG achieved success having failed to get past the round of 16 in the last two seasons and being pinned against the ropes by a FC Barcelona side who were in the ascendancy.

The Parisian put on a gritty performance to make the most of the home side’s mistakes and turn the tie around.

“We beat a great team this evening, but even if we had lost, I would be proud to be Parisian. Now it’s certain that during evenings like this, the pride is even greater,” Mbappe said.

“We are very happy, we beat a team that we wanted to beat and to be closer to the final.

“This one is for the fans that came here to support us and those back home. It’s a night to be proud.”(Reuters/NAN)

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Sports Ministry to Ensure Early Release of Funds for 2024 Olympics – Enoh 

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The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Enoh, has said that the ministry would ensure the timely release of funds to prepare Nigerian athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The games will take place from July 26  to Aug. 11 in Paris .

The minister gave the assurance on Thursday in Abuja in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Diana-Mary Nsan.

Enoh stressed the importance of securing funding in a timely manner to facilitate comprehensive preparations for the Olympic Games.

He added that the ministry will actively pursue partnerships with private individuals and the corporate sector to bolster financial support and ensure that athletes are set up for success.

Drawing from the successful model implemented during the African Games in Ghana, where all athletes were insured, the minister pledge to build on that success.

“Plans are underway to provide insurance coverage for Team Nigeria athletes to mitigate risks associated with injuries and unforeseen circumstances, reflecting a proactive approach to athlete welfare,” he said.

Enoh also announced plans to implement salaries for grade A athletes, noting that the initiative aims to provide ongoing support and motivation to athletes as they prepare for the Games, enabling them to focus on their training and performance without financial constraints.

The minister expressed confidence in Nigeria’s athletes and their potential to achieve success at the Paris Olympic Games.

Reports says that the Paris 2024 will feature the debut of breaking (also known as breakdancing) as an Olympic event.

The Games will be the first to feature identical number of athletes between men and women. (NAN

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SPORTS

PSG can Recover to Win Tie Against FC Barcelona – Enrique

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Paris St Germain Manager, Luis Enrique, said he is still confident his team can overcome a 2-3 home loss to FC Barcelona in their Champions League quarter-final.

Enrique hopes PSG can shine against the Spanish side next week to progress.

Still looking for a first Champions League crown, PSG gave up a 2-1 lead late in the second half on Wednesday against an FC Barcelona side who made the most of the chances they had.

The result meant FC Barcelona earned a narrow advantage for the return leg in Spain.

“It is clear that all defeats hurt and annoy, but I believe we played a good game against a very strong team,” Luis Enrique told a press conference.

“We are only going to change the things that didn’t work, we always have to appreciate what a match of this magnitude means.

“We’re going to Barcelona with a lot of desire. It’s a positive point of view to think that we can win there. It’s going to be a final for us. I’m confident in my team.”

Luis Enrique refused to comment on Kylian Mbappe’s performance, as the France captain was shackled by Barcelona’s defence and had little impact on the game.

The Spanish manager, who won the treble with Barcelona in 2015, said his side deserved to win and that Barca were not necessarily favourites even with a win in hand and the home field advantage.

“We are going to go to Barcelona to fight a war,” he said.

“I never see the opposition as favourites, whoever they are. In top-level competition, that’s how I see it. And I will continue to believe that we will go to Barcelona to win the game.

“I repeat. We could have won this game. (Football) is about small details and let’s hope that the small details go our way in the second leg.” (Reuters/NAN)

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