Africa to have more World Cup slots by 2026 – Infantino

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Fifa president Gianni Infantino said on Monday he hopes Africa gets two more spots at the World Cup if his proposal for the tournament to be expanded to 40 teams goes through.

There are presently 32 finalists for the World Cup with Africa represented by five teams. Naijabet.com

Infantino, elected in February this year, arrived in Abuja on Sunday on a two-day visit to Nigeria.

He is accompanied by new secretary-general Fatma Samoura, who until her appointment in May headed the UN Development Programme in the West African country.

“I believe for the 2026 World Cup, we should have 40 teams and out of the additional eight teams we should have at least two more African teams,” Infantino told reporters in Abuja.

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Stoke City sign Allen from Liverpool

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Stoke City have signed Wales international midfielder Joe Allen from Liverpool on a five-year deal, the two Premier League clubs announced on Monday.

Stoke paid £13 million to make Allen the club’s second signing of the pre-season after tying up a deal for Egyptian teenager Ramadan Sobhi earlier in the day.

Allen was named in Uefa’s team of the tournament as Wales reached the semifinals of Euro 2016, but the 26-year-old struggled for playing time under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield last season.

“It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for me but I am delighted to have finally been able to put pen to paper,” Allen said. Naijabet.com

“I was really excited as soon as I heard of the club’s interest and it wasn’t a difficult decision for me to make.

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Rooney still Important in England plans

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New England manager Sam Allardyce admitted Wayne Rooney has a significant part to play in his plans but refused to give assurances about the player’s future as captain.

Rooney recently expressed a desire to continue as skipper, despite criticism following England’s disastrous campaign at the 2016 European Championship in France.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho last week promised the 30-year-old that he would keep the armband at club level.

But Allardyce, speaking at his first press conference since taking over from Roy Hodgson, did not follow suit.

Instead England’s record goalscorer will have a nervous wait until September when Allardyce will meet his players for the first time ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Slovakia.

“I don’t want to put myself out in the open just yet. It’s a decision that I’ll make once I’ve got my feet under the table,” Allardyce said, when asked if Rooney would retain the captaincy. Naijabet.com

“I have got to leave that until we reach all the players and get the coaching staff together and plan for the internationals in September.

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Watson sign contract extension deal with Southampton

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Southampton have extended the contract of their goalkeeping coach, Dave Watson and will also become the head of goalkeeping at the club.

The English Premier League club announced on Monday that Watson will continue in his role at the club and will also “oversee the work (of goalkeeping) carried out at all levels.”

Watson, who also doubles as England’s goalkeeping coach, is “delighted” to be offered a new deal by the Saints. Naija and Bet

The Saints goalkeeping coach is keen to continue improving on churning out goalkeeping talent that will come through the ranks, in conjunction with other coaches at the club, to challenge for first-team football.

“I’m delighted that the club have wanted to offer me a new contract. I had no hesitation in signing that.

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Ribery delights with Ancelotti at Bayern

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Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery claimed on Monday that he has finally felt trusted again since Carlo Ancelotti took over as head coach from Pep Guardiola.

With Guardiola now coaching Manchester City after three years in Munich, Italian Ancelotti has taken charge of Bayern, who have won the Bundesliga title in each of the last four seasons.

Bayern flew to the US on Monday to play a friendly against AC Milan on Thursday, before further games against Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Ribery had a professional, but cool relationship with Guardiola, which was not helped by the Frenchman’s injury-ravaged final season under the Spaniard.

The 33-year-old said he needs to feel the confidence of his coach “to play to my best”.

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Sam Allardyce ‘very proud’ to be England boss

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Sam Allardyce said on Monday that he was “very proud” to be named the new England manager, but refused to confirm that star striker Wayne Rooney would remain as captain.

The 61-year-old succeeds Roy Hodgson, who quit after England humiliatingly lost to minnows Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016, triggering another bout of soul-searching in English football.

The fate of Rooney – both as a starter in the team and as skipper – is among the weighty issues Allardyce will need to confront. Naijabet.com

“It is far too early to make any predictions and I will not make any decisions until I meet the players and coaching staff,” said Allardyce, who revealed that Sammy Lee, an assistant to him at Bolton and who has previous England experience under Sven-Goran Eriksson, would be part of his backroom staff.

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Pochettino is happy at Tottenham,dismisses Argentina speculation

Mauricio Pochettino has quashed speculation he could become Argentina’s next coach by insisting he remains happy at Tottenham.

The White Hart Lane manager has been linked with the role in his home country along with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone after previous incumbent Gerardo Martino resigned last month.

Pochettino has reacted to that, however, by indicating a preference to remain in London after he led Tottenham to a third-place Premier League finish last season.

The 44-year-old – speaking during the club’s summer tour of Australia – told reporters: “I think the speculation is normal because I am an Argentinian coach at a top club in England. Naijabet.com

 “There are a lot of rumours that appear in the media but I am happy at Tottenham and for that reason, this is not the right moment.”Martino stepped down in the aftermath of his team’s defeat to Chile in the Copa America final, a match which prompted Lionel Messi to retire from international football.

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Nolito reject Barca’s offer to sign for Man City

The move means Nolito will once again work with Guardiola – the man who handed him his Barcelona debut in the 2010-11 season.

 Nolito explained: “The truth is I enjoyed working with him (Pep Guardiola) in Barcelona even though it wasn’t much time. It’s a reason for me to come here but not the only one.

 

But it was also about City, they have a great team, it’s a great project, they got to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season and the truth is I will try to help this club achieve great things.

“I thought it was the best decision for me and my career. I have come to the Premier League to play with City and under Pep Guardiola, who will play me in the first team, and I am very happy with the decision I took. It took me just two days to make the decision.” Naijabet.com

Nolito was largely used by Barcelona’s ‘B’ team during his spell with reigning La Liga champions before moving on to Benfica and then returning to Spain to join Celta in 2013.

Nolito added: “I wish Barcelona all the best. I am very proud of Barcelona’s interest, but now I am here and I think I made the best decision to come here.

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Celtic sign Kolo Toure on one-year deal

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Celtic have completed the signing of former Liverpool defender Kolo Toure on a one-year deal.

The 35-year-old worked under manager Brendan Rodgers at Anfield and comes in to provide much needed defensive cover.

“I’ve come to one of the biggest clubs in the world and it’s a privilege for me to be here,” he said.

However, the Ivory Coast international Toure is unlikely to be involved in Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier against FC Astana.

“He’s a wonderful professional,” said Celtic boss Rodgers of Toure after Saturday’s friendly with Leicester. Naijabet.com

“I brought him into Liverpool to add that bit of experience and help two of the centre-halves there at the time.

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Sunderland appoint David Moyes has new manager

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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.

Sunderland chairman Ellis Short said Moyes was “by far and away first choice” to take control of the Black Cats and that he had tried to recruit him several times before.

“He is a man whose football pedigree speaks for itself and is someone I have long admired,” said Short.

“I have spoken with him on many occasions and I have always been hugely impressed. Naijabet.com

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Juventus are ready to smash record for Higuain

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Juventus are set to smash Italy’s transfer record by snatching striker Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli after triggering his release clause of €94.7 million, Italian media said on Sunday.

All that remains is the Argentine poacher’s signature, which is regarded as a formality, local press said.

“It’s all true. Gonzalo Higuain will live in Turin,” declared the Turin daily La Stampa, considered the voice of the Agnelli family – which runs Juventus. Naijabet.com

He will be “the lethal weapon” that the Italian champions have been crying out for, it added, calling the move the “coup of the summer”.

Higuain, 28, who has been linked with a number of top clubs around Europe, is expected to sign for four years with a salary of 7.5 million euros a year.

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England appoint Allardyce as their new manager

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Sam Allardyce is the new England manager after the Football Association officially appointed him on Friday, 10 years after he failed to convince them he was the right man for the job.

The 61-year-old Englishman – who lost out to Steve McClaren 10 years ago after Sven-Goran Eriksson left – signed a two-year contract with his task to guide England to the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

Allardyce – who gained credit for keeping Sunderland in the Premier League last season – replaces Roy Hodgson, who stepped down after England lost to minnows Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016 last month.

Allardyce, whose only piece of silverware came at the beginning of his managerial career with an Irish League title at Limerick City, couldn’t hide his joy after at last getting the job he had coveted all his long managerial career. Naijabet.com

“I am extremely honoured to be appointed England manager especially as it is no secret that this is the role I have always wanted,” said Allardyce in a statement issued by the FA.

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Liverpool sign contract with veteran goalkeeper

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Liverpool have signed veteran goalkeeper Alex Manninger on a short-term contract, the Premier League club said on Friday.

The 39-year-old Austrian, who spent five years with Arsenal from 1997-2002, signed on a free transfer after leaving German side Augsburg at the end of last season.

Manninger is likely to be Liverpool’s third-choice keeper behind Simon Mignolet and new arrival Loris Karius. Naijabet

“When Liverpool was on the phone, it was a great pleasure for me to take it on because it gives me what I was looking for,” Manninger told the club’s website.

“This is the moment I was waiting for until the end.”

Manninger, a former Austrian international, is Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s sixth signing of the close season, following the additions of Karius, central defenders Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan, forward Sadio Mane and midfielder Marko Grujic.

Arsenal confirm signing of new defender form Bolton

Arsenal have completed the signing of defender Rob Holding on a long-term contract from third tier Bolton Wanderers, the Premier League club said on Friday.

The 20-year-old made 30 appearances last season as Bolton were relegated from the championship.

“It’s something you dream of as a kid – I can’t wait to get started,” Holding told the Arsenal website (www.arsenal.com).

Arsenal paid two million pounds for Holding, who can play as a central defender or fullback. Naijabet.com

He is manager Arsene Wenger’s third signing of the close season, following midfielder Granit Xhaka and striker Takuma Asano to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal, who finished second last season, begin their new campaign on August 14 against Liverpool.

Siasia names squad for Olympic Rio 2016

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Nigeria Under-23 head coach Samson Siasia has released his 18-man football squad for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The squad will look to replicate the heroics of the 1996 Olympic side who won gold in Atlanta.

Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel is the most experienced of the lot and goes in as one of the over-aged players alongside goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi. Naijabet

Team captain Azubuike Okechukwu made the cut and so did Usman Mohammed, Sincere Seth and Junior Ajayi.

AS Roma’s Sadiq Umar, William Troost-Ekong and Kingsley Madu are the newbies in the team, while there is a shock omission for Taiwo Awoniyi, who was only named as an alternative player alongside goalkeeper Mohammed Yusuf, Stanley Dimgba and Godwin Saviour.

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Argentina pick Pochettino, Simeone as manager

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Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone are among men 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.

The four-person committee, put in place by world body Fifa to get the AFA’s house in order, was due to begin work on Friday after being sworn in on Thursday.

“It will take charge of administrating (the AFA) which includes choosing a national team coach,” Fifa representative Primo Corvaro, who picked the committee members, told reporters. Naijabet

Naming a new coach is a matter of urgency with 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela scheduled in early September.

The cash-strapped AFA has been in crisis since the death of former strongman Julio Grondona in July 2014 and reached a nadir last year when an election for a new president ended in farce with 76 votes cast by 75 delegates and a 38-38 result.

Corvaro said the committee would call an AFA presidential election by July 30, 2017 at the latest.

The crisis at competitive international level was exacerbated last month when Argentina lost the Copa America final on penalties to Chile, Messi said he was quitting the team and Martino resigned a week later, ostensibly over problems in naming a side for next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The committee was set to begin interviewing candidates for the head coach’s position on Friday.

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.

Perez, president of first division club Belgrano, will not be visiting Tottenham Hotspur manager Pochettino, another former Argentina player widely regarded as a future national coach, in London but plans to talk to him from Spain about his availability, AFA sources daily told La Nacion.

His last stop will be Barcelona for talks with Messi and Argentina vice-captain Javier Mascherano.

“It would be gratifying for everyone to persuade Messi to desist from his decision (to quit),” Perez told reporters.

Ba surgeon sure he will play on the pitch again

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French orthopaedic surgeon Olivier Bringer touched down in the Chinese megacity late on Thursday and immediately went to Putuo District People’s Hospital where the Senegalese striker has been treated since suffering a horror left leg fracture playing for Shenhua in the Shanghai derby against SIPG last Sunday.

“I’m sure he will be able to recover and play football again,” Bringer was quoted on Friday as saying by the Shanghai Daily newspaper.

“In a few months, he will have the possibility of making a comeback. He is a tough guy and I’m sure he will be able to get over this.” Naijabet.com

Ba is due to go under the scalpel on Saturday morning when Bringer’s team of French doctors will be bolstered by medical staff from Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital.

“We are used to such surgeries,” Bringer said. “My team’s done it many times in France.”

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Barcelona agree deal to sign Gomes

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Barcelona have swooped for Portugal international Andre Gomes of Valencia, the Catalan club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder had been linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United after impressing in his two seasons at Valencia having joined them from Benfica.

“Agreement with Valencia for Andre Gomes. The player will both sign and be presented as a new Barcelona player next week,” Barca tweeted.

Barcelona have not revealed any more details about the transfer but Marca reported that Gomes will sign a five-year deal and join the Spanish champions for €50 million. Naija and Bet

Gomes, under contract with Valencia until June 2020, started 27 league games for the club in the 2015-16 campaign.

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Goetze return back to Borussia Dortmund

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Germany’s World Cup winning goalscorer Mario Goetze has returned to Borussia Dortmund after a frustrating three seasons with Bayern Munich, the clubs announced on Thursday.

The 24-year-old has never established himself with the German champions. The clubs did not give a transfer fee but Bild newspaper said Dortmund paid between 22 and 25 million euros ($24-27.5 million).

That would mean Bayern have booked a loss of about 13 million euros on the price they paid for Goetze. Naijabet

Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called the deal “a good solution for all sides”.

Goetze scored the winning goal in Germany’s World Cup final triumph over Argentina in 2014. But under Pep Guardiola, he was often on the Bayern substitutes’ bench.

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Mata will have to work hard for first-team spot at United

There is space for Juan Mata at Manchester United but the midfielder must fight to break into the first team, manager Jose Mourinho has said.

Mourinho was in charge at Chelsea when Mata left Stamford Bridge to join United in January 2014, having won back-to-back Player of the Year awards in his two previous seasons there.

“He’s here and he works hard. He knows that I know he is a good player and he has space in the squad. Until August 31 the market is open for every one of my players that is not happy, but to be fair I think he is (happy),” Mourinho said. Naijabet.com

“I think he is happy and I am not expecting him to ask to leave. I am expecting him to do what he is doing now, which is to fight for a place.”

“We have 38 matches in the Premier League, we expect to play a lot of them in the Europa League and domestic cups so in a squad of, let’s say, 22 players, there will be a space for everyone. So, yes, there is a space for Juan,” Mourinho added.

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Morgan urges Mahrez to stay at Leicester City

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Leicester City captain Wes Morgan has urged teammate Riyad Mahrez and other “key players” to reject offers from bigger clubs and stay with the Premier League champions next season.

Morgan signed a new contract on Wednesday that will keep him at the club until June 2019, but according to the British media, winger Mahrez has attracted interest from several clubs in Europe while midfielder N’Golo Kante has already moved to Chelsea.

Leicester have boosted the squad by signing striker Ahmed Musa, midfielder Nampalys Mendy, goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler and defender Luis Hernandez. Naijabet

“I know there’s a lot of talking going off but hopefully everybody can follow in my footsteps,” Morgan told British media.

“We want to maintain our key players and build on that with the new players because we have got a lot to play for this season. Let the people talk the talk and do what we can do on the pitch.”

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Ruben has all the attributes to become a striker – Conte

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is toying with the idea of asking Ruben Loftus-Cheek to make the positional switch to a striker as the midfielder has all the attributes to succeed up front.

The 20-year-old player, who scored two goals in 17 appearances last campaign, impressed in Chelsea’s pre-season win over Austrian side Wolfsberger as he created several chances for teammates and capped off the fine display with a headed goal.

“Every manager has their own idea about a system of play. In this system, with two midfielders, Ruben can play close to the other forward but become a forward when we have the ball,” Conte said. Naija and Bet

“He has the right characteristics to play in this position.”

“Ruben is young with great potential. I like him a lot in the position of striker. He can improve a lot because he has great potential, good technique, good personality and he is good one v one.”

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Allardyce set to be named as new England manager

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Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce is expected to be named the new England manager inside the next 24 hours, British press reports said on Wednesday, tasked with guiding the under-performing national side to the 2018 World Cup.

The 61-year-old former Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham manager will take over from Roy Hodgson, who stepped down after England’s humiliating last-16 exit to Iceland at the European championships in June.

The Press Association said that Allardyce, the long-time frontrunner for the job, will be officially named as the new manager at a Football Association board meeting on Thursday. Naijabet.com

Allardyce was in line for the job a decade ago when Sven-Goran Eriksson departed after the 2006 World Cup, but lost out to Steve McClaren.

He will become England’s 15th permanent manager with Allardyce’s appointment coming on the 50th anniversary of the country’s 1966 World Cup triumph.

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Man Utd step up chase record swoop for Pogba

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Manchester United have stepped up their world record chase for Paul Pogba by reportedly thrashing out a huge financial package with his agent while the Juventus midfielder eagerly awaits developments in sun-kissed Miami.

United manager Jose Mourinho has made Pogba his top transfer target as he bids to make a big impact in his first season at Old Trafford and a record-breaking £100 million deal looks to have moved closer on Wednesday.

British media reported United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward pulled out of the club’s pre-season tour to China to meet Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola on Wednesday, when the pair negotiated a prospective five-year contract worth £220 000-per-week after tax. Naijabet

Although United are believed to have had an opening bid of £86 million rejected by Juventus, they are certain to test the Italian champions’ resolve with an improved offer that would easily shatter the previous world record fee of £85 million paid by Real Madrid for Gareth Bale in 2013.

While Pogba’s future is debated by some of football’s leading powerbrokers, the man himself appeared completely unflustered by the hype while on holiday with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, who is another of Raiola’s clients.

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NFF appoint Yusuf as Super Eagle head coach

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has named Salisu Yusuf as the Super Eagles’ chief coach and will continue to look for a technical advisor.

This comes after an embarrassing three days during which the federation named Paul Le Guen despite not agreeing to terms first.

It is unclear how the two roles are to be defined (but one must remember that both former Nigeria coaches Clemens Westerhof and Jo Bonfrere, among Nigeria’s most successful coaches, had the official title of technical adviser) and what the chain of command will look like between the TA and Yusuf .

The federation’s executive committee met yesterday and approved both appointments. A later statement from the NFF said it had “no issue with Le Guen saying he is not coming; as several highly-qualified persons would be happy to coach Nigeria.” Naija and Bet

Sunday Oliseh was the Super Eagles’ last permanent coach before he quit in February in a nasty row over his contract and relationship breakdown between him and the federation.

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