Simeone vows to stay on at Atletico Madrid

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Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, a month on from a second Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in three years, has made it clear that his immediate future is with the Spanish club.

The Argentine, who has been at Atletico since 2011 and is under contract for another four years, said after the loss on penalties to Real that he wanted to explore his options. But now he says he is only concentrating on making the team better.

“I spoke in the heat of the moment,” Simeone told reporters on Wednesday in Buenos Aires. “We Argentinians are like that. Others are not at fault for beating you, I learned that a long time ago. Naijabet.com

“To remember the pain and the suffering is necessary to better yourself.”

Simeone has won the Europa League, King’s Cup and La Liga in his four-and-a-half seasons at the Spanish club.

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My next destination is Manchester United – Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic said on Thursday that he is joining Manchester United, ending intense speculation about where the 34-year-old Swedish superstar forward will be playing next season.

“Time to let the world know. My next destination is Manchester United,” he wrote on Instagram and Facebook, complete with a picture of the United badge.

Ibrahimovic, who was a free agent after ending a hugely successful stay at Paris Saint-Germain, becomes the second signing of new United boss Jose Mourinho after that of highly rated Ivory Coast centre-back Eric Bailly from the Spanish outfit Villarreal. Naijabet.com

Ibrahimovic reunites with Mourinho, after they enjoyed a good relationship while together at Italians Inter Milan.

The Swede had toyed with questioners for weeks about where he would be going and it will be his first time playing in the Premier League.

Neymar close to sign new three year deal with Barca

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Neymar is close to signing a three-year contract extension with Barcelona that will tie the Brazil captain to the La Liga champions until June 2021, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu announced on Thursday.

The 24-year-old forward is a reported target of top European clubs and his current deal expires in June 2018. El Mundo Deportivoreported on Thursday that Manchester United were launching a “total offensive” to acquire Neymar.

The Catalan-based newspaper had stated earlier this month that Paris Saint-Germain had offered the South American a wage package of 30 million euros ($33.40 million) net per season, which is double what he receives at Barca. Naijabet.com

But Bartomeu told a news conference on Thursday: “Neymar does not want to leave Barca and we don’t want him to go.

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Giggs ‘set to part way’ with Man United

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Ryan Giggs has rejected an offer to stay at Manchester United and is ready to end his association with the club after 29 years, a British newspaper reported on Thursday.

Giggs, who played 963 times for United after joining the club as a 14-year-old, worked as a coach under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

But the Daily Mail said he has decided against taking up an offer of a reduced role from new manager Jose Mourinho.

“Giggs’ representatives are now in negotiations with United over a pay-off for the final year of his contract,” the Mail said. Naijabet.com

It was reported that Giggs has not spoken directly to Mourinho, who starts work at United on Monday.

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CAF Champions League : Sundowns nails Enyimba

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Wayne Arendse’s deflected strike late in the second half proved to be the decisive moment as Mamelodi Sundowns got their Caf Champions League campaign off to a positive start with a 2-1 win over Enyimba on Wednesday.

Enyimba’s head coach Paul Aigbogun made a rather surprising decision to drop goalkeeper, Theophilus Joel Afelokhai to the bench with Moses Ocheje preferred in his stead.

Chinedu Udoji, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Chima Akas and Dare Ojo all started in a four-man defence while Kester, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, Nzube Anaezemba and Etor Daniel all started in midfield for the People’s Elephant. Naijabet.com

Christian Pyagbara and Ifeanyi Onuigbo started up front for the seven-time Nigerian champions who were looking to get their campaign back on track after a 0-1 loss at home to Zamalek on match day one.

Leonard Castro struck three minutes before the break to give Sundowns the lead in Pretoria.

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England could struggle to find a top manager

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The Football Association (FA) might struggle to convince top managers to take the England job, chairman Greg Dyke has said.

Former manager Roy Hodgson resigned following the team’s ignominious Euro 2016 exit to Iceland on Monday and a three-man panel of FA staff has begun the job of finding his successor.

England under-21 coach Gareth Southgate has been linked by British media with the job, among a list that includes Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, Hull City’s Steve Bruce and former England manager Glenn Hoddle. Naija and Bet

“It’s got to be somebody who really knows English football,” Dyke, whose term ends in July, told British media.

“But there’s loads of them now, more of them than there are English. The harder question is why anybody would want it.

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Morrison extends his stay at West Brom

Long-serving midfielder James Morrison has signed a new two-year deal with West Bromwich Albion, the Premier League side announced on Thursday.

Morrison’s contract has an option of a further one year in the club’s favour and will run until at least 2018, the club said in a statement.

The 30-year-old Scotland international scored 33 goals in 278 appearances during his nine years at the club and also generated interest from rivals for his signature.

“I was aware of the speculation and some of the stories were true. I had a good sit down and think about it – did I need a new challenge? What more could I do with the Club?,” said Morrison, who missed large parts of last season with injury. Naijabet.com

“I spoke with my family, the Chairman, Richard Garlick and they told me their vision about where we go from here… Now I hope that we can push the club on again because we all have to accept that since finishing eighth we haven’t done as well as we wanted to.”

Silva hails his teammate Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is a perfect team man, who is giving his all for Portugal at the ongoing Euro 2016, teammate Adrien Silva has said.

After a slow start to the tournament, Real Madrid striker Ronaldo scored twice in Portugal’s 3-3 draw against Hungary to prevent a shock group stage exit and has played a part in two of his country’s other three goals in the tournament.

Midfielder Silva, who plays for Sporting Lisbon, said Portugal would need Ronaldo to fire in Thursday’s last-eight clash against Poland in Marseille if they are to make the semifinals in France.

“It is true that Ronaldo is very important for us,” Silva told reporters in France. Naija and Bet

“It is no use beating about the bush. He scored but he also plays for the team, works for the team. He is our captain and he plays like that. He is an amazing player. We should focus on that.”

Poland, who finished second in Group C behind Germany, have scored three goals from their four matches and conceded one in the tournament.

Higuain rejects Napoli contract extension offer

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Striker Gonzalo Higuain will not renew his contract with Napoli unless the Italian club remove a buyout clause in it, according to his brother and agent Nicolas Higuain.

The Argentina international, who is contracted to Napoli until 2018, has a buyout clause of about €95 million in his contract, according to media reports.

“We will not renew the contract with Napoli under any circumstances with this clause,” Nicolas Higuain told Argentina’s Radio Continental.

“The president of the club always insists on the buyout clause in case of a possible transfer of Gonzalo and we have our right not to renew the contract,” he added.

Argentina international Higuain has been linked with a move to Spain’s Atletico Madrid and several Premier League clubs. Naijabet.com

The 28-year-old was Serie A’s top scorer last season with 36 goals in 35 league games.

Italy’s De Rossi set to miss Germany clash due to injury

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Injury-hit midfielder Daniele De Rossi has been virtually ruled out of Italy’s Euro 2016 quarterfinal clash with world champions Germany on Saturday, according to the Azzurri’s medical staff.

De Rossi has been rock solid for Antonio Conte’s side as they upset pre-tournament predictions to top Group E then sweep defending champions Spain aside on Monday to set up a last eight clash in Bordeaux.

But as he continues to suffer from a “serious right thigh injury” picked up in the 2-0 win over ‘La Roja’ at the Stade de France, Azzurri team doctor Enrico Castellacci admitted the Roma midfielder is unlikely to return in time. Naijabet.com

“It’s a very serious situation,” said Castellacci. “We’re trying everything to get him back in time. But we can’t give any prognosis.”

The loss of De Rossi is a significant blow for Italy as they look to secure their first Euros semifinal spot since 2000 when they lost out in the final to David Trezeguet’s golden goal for France.

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Bayern will kick off Bundesliga campaign against Bremen

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German champions Bayern Munich will open the Bundesliga season with a home game against Werder Bremen, after the fixtures for the 2016-17 campaign were released on Wednesday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s first task in the league since taking over from Pep Guardiola as head coach sees the visit of a Bremen side that finished 13th last term, on Friday, August 26.

Former Barcelona boss Guardiola left Bavaria for Manchester City, who Bayern will play in a friendly on July 20, at the end of last season.

Guardiola racked up seven major trophies at Bayern, but failed to take the five-time European champions past the Champions League semifinals.

Ancelotti, 56, has won Europe’s premier competition three times, twice with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007, and once with Real Madrid in 2014.

Elsewhere on the first weekend in Germany, RB Leipzig kick off their maiden top-flight campaign only seven years since being formed against Hoffenheim. Naijabet.com

Last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund take on Mainz, while the pick of the games sees Bayer Leverkusen, who finished third last term, play Borussia Moenchengladbach, who came fourth.

 

Iceland dream of Euro fairy-tale ending

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Surprise Euro 2016 quarter finalists Iceland want a fairy-tale ending to their run, like the one that Leicester City enjoyed when they stunned the soccer world by clinching the Premier League title this season, team coaches said on Wednesday.

Leicester, with no big names in the squad, finished ahead of far more illustrious English clubs in what was one of the biggest upsets in club football.

Iceland, in their first major tournament, have already taken the competition by storm, advancing past the group stage and then beating England 2-1 on Monday to set up a quarterfinal clash with hosts France.

“I think I would like it to end like it ended with Leicester City,” Iceland joint coach Heimir Hallgrimsson told reporters. “They played on their strengths and we are trying to play on our strengths. Naijabet.com

“There is the same team spirit in both teams. We are willing to work for each other.”

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Pogba yet to shine as expected in Euro 2016

The day Euro 2016 kicked off, Paul Pogba’s youthful face featured on the front page of L’Equipe, flanked by pictures of France’s all-time greats Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.

It was the French sports daily’s way of illustrating just how much the host nation was expecting from the 23-year-old midfielder — maybe too much. Naijabet.com

A couple of weeks later and Pogba has shown only glimpses of his talent on the pitches of France, with some people starting to wonder whether he was worth all the hype.

“Is Pogba the world’s most over-rated player?”, former England captain turned pundit Gary Lineker tweeted after Pogba again looked ordinary in France’s laboured 2-1 win over Ireland for a place in the quarterfinals.

It was a different story at the start of the year when Pogba humbly took his mother, Yeo, to a glitzy Fifa gala. Wearing a flashy, gold-flowered jacket, the Juventus player looked proud to feature in the governing body’s World XI alongside players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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CAF Champions League : Sundowns v Enyimba

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South African champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, will play hosts to two-time Caf Champions League winners, Enyimba, at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria on Wednesday (6.30pm CAT).

The Brazilians are starting the group stage from the scratch after they had their 2-0 win at ES Setif cancelled due to the disqualification of the Algerian club by Caf. So this becomes Sundowns’ first group game of Africa’s premier club competition this year. Naijabet.com

As for Enyimba, they are up against a team which have now found enough self-belief after coming into the group stage of the Champions League on the back of AS Vita’s disqualification for fielding an ineligible player

The Peoples Elephant began their campaign with a 0-1 home loss to Zamalek SC. Bassem Morsy scored the winner for Zamalek in Port Harcourt in a contest in which Enyimba dominated for longer spells.

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Ronaldo biggest threat for Poland defenders

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Poland have an impressive defensive record at Euro 2016 but standing in their way to a semi-final spot is arguably one of sport’s greatest-ever athletes, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The monstrous Polish centre back pairing of Michal Pazdan and Kamil Glik face their toughest challenge yet when they come up against Portugal in the last-eight clash in Marseille on Thursday, though their previous matches have not provided much by way of preparation for facing the Real Madrid star. Naijabet

Describing 29-year-old Ronaldo as the “perfect athlete”, US lifestyle magazine Men’s Health says he hits speeds of more than 32 kph, jumps nearly a metre in the air off one leg, runs an average of 16 km per match and hits more winners in the last 20 minutes than anyone else.

He is the only player to have scored a goal in four Euros going back to 2004 and, while he struggled to find his feet early in this year’s tournament, there are signs that he is back to his sublime best.

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Milan name Montella as the club new coach

Sampdoria coach Vincenzo Montella was on Tuesday appointed as the new coach of AC Milan on a two year contract, the Serie A side announced.

The 42-year-old Italian succeeds Cristian Brocchi, who has fulfilled the role as caretaker boss since Sinisa Mihajlovic was sacked in April.

Milan finished last season in seventh, missing out on a place in Europe.

“The club is convinced that the brilliant system of play of the new rossoneri coach will be the basis of a fruitful and positive partnership,” the club declared in a statement.

After a 1-0 Italian Cup final loss to Juventus in May Brocchi had conceded his job was on the line. Naija and Bet

Since the departure of Massimiliano Allegri in January 2014 a series of managers – Filippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Mihajlovic and Brocchi – have come and gone at the San Siro without success.

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England defeat still a shock to me – Roy Hodgson

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England’s now ex-coach Roy Hodgson cut a bewildered figure as he appeared before the press on Tuesday following his team’s humiliating Euro 2016 elimination by Iceland, a defeat he said he hadn’t seen coming.

“My emotions are obvious ones. I am really disappointed. I didn’t see the defeat coming,” said Hodgson of the 2-1 loss in Nice in the last 16.

“Nothing in the first three games here gave me any indication that we would play as poorly as we did.” Naijabet.com

Facing reporters at England’s media centre in Chantilly, north of Paris, Hodgson had begun by admitting: “I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I thought my statement last night was sufficient.”

Hodgson, 68, resigned minutes after Monday’s game and he said that he did not understand why he had been summoned to appear alongside Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn.

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Unai Emery appointed as new PSG coach

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Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday named Spaniard Unai Emery as their new coach on a two-year contract.

Emery, 44, takes over from Laurent Blanc, who left his role with the Qatari-backed French giants on Monday, and his contract includes an option for an additional season.

Emery had terminated his contract with Sevilla earlier this month, having guided the Spanish side to three successive Europa League titles.

“It is with great pride that I agreed to become the Paris Saint-Germain coach,” said Emery.

“The club has become one of the biggest in Europe over the past few seasons and I am both happy and honoured to be able to help realise its great ambitions. I am eager to meet up with my new players as well as the people who work tirelessly every day to help the club grow. Naijabet

“I know that an immense fervour exists around the Paris Saint-Germain and I will be giving my best to ensure its millions of fans have a great deal to cheer about.”

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Alves eyes Champions League glory with Juventus

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Brazil international Dani Alves said Tuesday that his ultimate goal was to win the Champions League with his new Serie A club Juventus.

“Juventus have a dream which is to win the Champions League, and I want to help them achieve this,” Alves told a press conference after signing a two-year deal with the Italian champions.

The 33-year-old full-back left Barcelona in June at the end of his contract, after eight seasons with the Catalan giants produced 23 trophies.

“The history of the club strikes me. And then to live a new experience, in a new country, that interests me,” explained Alves. Naijabet.com

After leaving Sevilla for the Camp Nou in 2008, the Brazilian claimed six La Liga titles and three Champions League winners’ medals.

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Germans have no fear for the Italian – Loew

Germany coach Joachim Loew insists the world champions have no Italian complex as die Mannschaft attempt to break their Azzurri curse in Saturday’s Euro 2016 quarterfinal.

In eight previous attempts, Germany has never beaten Italy in the finals of a major tournament and will need to make history Bordeaux to reach the semifinals.

German fans will at least take heart from a 4-1 rout of a lacklustre Italy in their most recent meeting in a friendly in March.

But Loew knows Saturday’s clash with a place in the last four at stake will be an utterly different proposition. Naija and Bet

“We have no Italian trauma,” Loew told reporters at the German’s training base in Evian.

“We don’t have any fear of them, just trust in our own skills.

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Liverpool sign new striker from Saints

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Senegal striker Sadio Mane has joined Liverpool from Premier League rivals Southampton on a “long-term contract” for an undisclosed fee, the Anfield club announced Tuesday.

British media reports suggested Mane had signed a five-year contract in a deal worth some £30 million ($40 million, 36 million euros).

That would make Mane, who scored 25 goals in 75 appearances for the Saints, Liverpool’s third-most expensive signing behind fellow strikers Andy Carroll (£35 million) and Christian Benteke (£32.5 million).

“Today is a big day and I am very happy to sign for one of the biggest clubs in Europe,” Mane told Liverpool’s website. “It’s a club that has won a lot of trophies and has a big history. Naijabet

“Now I am looking forward to meeting all the staff and my teammates and starting the season.”

Podolski criticized expanded Euro format

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Germany forward Lukas Podolski has criticized the new 24-team format for the European Championship, labelling it ‘stupid’ as it created a great deal of confusion among the players.

European soccer’s governing body Uefa have added eight places to the finals tournament since it was last hosted in 2012, when only the top-two sides from the four groups advanced straight into the quarterfinals.

The expansion means four of the best third-placed teams joined the top-two from each of the six groups in the Round of 16 and Podolski believes sides have been forced to wait too long to discover who their opponents were in the knockouts stages. Naijabet.com

“The group stage was a little bit strange, because Uefa did some stupid things with the system. It’s not about the smaller teams, it’s about the decisions. Some teams waited three days in the camp for a decision,” Podolski told reporters in France.

“You lose the first two games and you still have a chance to get through to the next round. So it is a bit confused but for us, it doesn’t matter.”

World champions Germany, who cruised past Slovakia 3-0 on Sunday, face Italy in a mouth-watering quarterfinal showdown in Bordeaux on Saturday.

Wales wary of Hazard’s danger threat

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Wales boss Chris Coleman warned on Monday that Eden Hazard has the inventiveness to destroy any plan to shackle the Belgian playmaker in their quarterfinal meeting at Euro 2016.

Coleman and his players are well-versed in the challenges posed by Belgium, having faced them during the qualification stage of this tournament and the 2014 World Cup. Naijabet.com

Wales are unbeaten in the last three meetings, and emerged victorious in the most recent of those in Cardiff last year.

The Belgians were impressed in crushing Hungary 4-0 on Sunday, with Hazard capping a superb midfield performance with a goal.

Coleman said stopping the Chelsea man on Friday would be no easy task.

“With Eden Hazard you can spend a month in defensive situations with your team to try to stop a player like that and in a split second he can (destroy) your plans,” he said.

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Maradona urges Messi to stay with Argentina

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Argentine football legend Diego Maradona on Monday urged Lionel Messi not to follow through on his vow to quit the national team after its defeat in the Copa America Centenario.

“Messi has to stay in the national team. He has to stay because he still has playing days ahead of him,” Maradona was quoted as saying by La Nacion newspaper online.

“He will go to Russia in form to be world champion” at the 2018 World Cup, he added.

Messi, 29, told reporters in the United States he had decided to quit after Argentina’s defeat on penalties to Chile there on Sunday. Naija and Bet

Messi is widely rated as the best player in the world, but that was his fourth defeat in an international final for Argentina.

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Hodgson quits, as Iceland knock England out of Euro

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Roy Hodgson resigned as England manager following his side’s humiliating 2-1 defeat by tiny Iceland in the Euro 2016 last 16 on Monday.

Hodgson’s contract was due to expire after the tournament and following the match in Nice, he read a pre-prepared statement at his post-game press conference in which he said that he would not be seeking to continue. Naijabet.com

“I would have loved to stay on for another two years. However, I am pragmatic and I know we are in the results business,” said the 68-year-old, who succeeded Fabio Capello as manager in 2012.

“My contract was always up after the Euros, so now is the time for someone else to oversee the progress of this young, hungry and extremely talented group of players.”

Hodgson left the press conference room immediately after reading out his statement and a Football Association press officer said that he would not be performing any other media interviews.

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