Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, who has transformed Shakhtar Donetsk into a force to be reckoned with on the national and international stage, is expected to announce his resignation from the club after the Ukraine Cup final on Saturday.
Local media said Lucescu had thanked employees of Shakhtar for their work over 12 years during training on Thursday.
“Sorry, I am not ready to talk right now. I will answer your questions after the final game. The reason? I do not want to be crying,” Lucescu said
Lucescu quits Shakhtar, having turned the club into a rival to the previously undisputed home giants Dynamo Kiev. Naija and Bet
Since joining Shakhtar in May of 2004, he has led the club to eight champions titles in Ukraine, five national cups and most significantly claimed the Europa league title in 2009 to become the most successful coach in the history of the club.
Continue reading “Shakhtar manager to quit the club after 12 years”
Four Chinese investor groups are locked in a more than $140 million bidding war for one of the world’s most powerful soccer agencies, UK-based Stellar Group, a source said, a sign that China’s appetite for sport is outgrowing trophy club investments.
According to documents reviewed by Reuters and a source with direct knowledge of the talks, bidders include model car maker Rastar Group, which last year bought a majority stake in Spanish soccer club Espanyol.
A deal for Stellar Group, founded by British agent Jonathan Barnett, would be a major addition to China’s fast-expanding roster of global football assets, which includes stakes in England’s Manchester City, Spain’s Atletico Madrid and a growing domestic league.
Earlier this week, Chinese entrepreneur Xia Jiantong bought struggling English club Aston Villa. Naijabet
Continue reading “Chinese buyers want to make deal with ‘super’ agent in Europe”
Claudio Ranieri has received an honour from the Italian president after the soccer manager led rank outsiders Leicester City to the top of the English Premier League.
Ranieri, a native of Rome, was made a “Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic”, a spokeswoman for the presidency said on Friday.
Leicester, 5 000-1 outsiders at the start of the season, beat the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal to a win that stunned fans of the sport around the world. Naijabet.com
When the English club sealed their victory, fans in Rome displayed a banner in Ranieri’s honour in the neighbourhood where his parents once ran a butcher’s shop.
The 64 year-old has also managed Italian teams Fiorentina, Napoli and Roma, Spain’s Atletico Madrid and Chelsea in England.
Other Grand Officers named on the same honours list include “Cinema Paradiso” director Giuseppe Tornatore, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and businessman Alessandro Benetton.
Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze could benefit from a potential move, with the talented attacking midfielder in need of a coach who trusts him, Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Friday.
Goetze, who moved to Bayern in 2013 from rivals Borussia Dortmund, has failed to establish himself in three seasons under coach Pep Guardiola, who moves after Saturday’s German Cup final to join Manchester City.
The 23-year-old, who scored Germany’s World Cup winning goal in 2014, however, enjoys the full trust of Loew, who never stopped selecting him, including for the upcoming Euro 2016. Naija and Bet
He has scored 17 goals in 50 internationals but managed just three goals for Bayern in the league this season, two of them on the final matchday.
“Generally speaking a change –a new environment, new stimuli, new challenges – can sometimes release new powers,” Loew told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
“You only have to look at the development of Toni Kroos. He was great at Bayern but he went to Real Madrid and took the next step.”
Continue reading “Germany coach advises Gotze to exit Bayern”
English football could be set for its biggest revamp in decades after the Football League proposed a plan to introduce a fifth division into the professional game.
Football League chiefs want to have four divisions of 20 teams below the Premier League by the 2019-20 campaign as they seek a solution to fixture congestion.
With 24 teams currently in each Football League division, the plan raises the prospect of seven teams being relegated from the Championship in 2018-19 to allow for three to be promoted, while no clubs would drop out of League Two in that campaign.
Two teams would be promoted from the current fifth tier National League and six other sides would be added to the newly-formed League Three, taking the total number of professional clubs to 100.Naijabet
The proposals will reopen the debate on Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic playing in England, but Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said that move would be difficult. Continue reading “Football League plans add ‘fifth division’”
Christian Benteke is set to have talks with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp about his future at Anfield.
Benteke was signed from Aston Villa for £32.5m last summer by former boss Brendan Rodgers but since Klopp’s arrival in October he has been a peripheral figure, used mainly off the bench.
He started just three Premier League games this season, despite fellow strikers Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge being injured for much of the campaign. Naijabet.com
West Ham have been linked with a summer move for Benteke but the Belgium striker is hoping to speak to Klopp before he heads off to Euro 2016, to establish if he is part of the German’s plans for next season.
Asked if he is happy to stay at Anfield and fight for his place, he said: “Of course, I signed for five years. I didn’t sign for one year.
“But now I must speak with the manager and see his plan for next season.
“My first season wasn’t easy but I keep going. I never doubt myself. I am going now to focus on the Euros and we will see next season.”
Manchester United will attempt to salvage something from their tumultuous season — and potentially keep manager Louis van Gaal in a job — in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Crystal Palace.
After failing to qualify for the Champions League for the second time in three years, the Wembley showpiece represents United’s last chance to make good on a campaign of stagnant football and simmering fan dissent.
Van Gaal was booed as he addressed supporters following Tuesday’s 3-1 home win over Bournemouth and although victory against Palace would give United their first significant piece of silverware since Alex Ferguson left in 2013, reports suggest that his days at Old Trafford are numbered regardless.
“I think the interests of the club are much more important than the manager,” Van Gaal said on Thursday when asked how the outcome of Saturday’s game might impact on his future.
“Of course, you have put your own aims. (Winning the FA Cup) is one I have always had. But close is not enough. You have to win it.
Continue reading “FA Cup for Manchester United it is a big title – Louis van Gaal”
Borussia Dortmund aim to ruin Bayern Munich’s plans to farewell Pep Guardiola with a seventh title in three years when Germany’s top teams meet in Saturday’s crunch German Cup final.
Victory over their main rivals at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium would give Bayern the league and cup double before Guardiola leaves for Manchester City next season.
After Bayern lifted the Bundesliga title last weekend, for a record fourth season in succession, Dortmund now want the cup to compensate.
“We will do everything to win,” promised Guardiola, who admits it will be tough against “the best Borussia (team) in history”.Naijabet
Borussia finished 10 points behind Bayern in the league and want to avoid losing their third straight German Cup final.
Dortmund controversially lost the 2014 final 2-0 to Bayern, after extra time, and were beaten 3-1 by Wolfsburg in last year’s final.
Continue reading “Borussia Dortmund aim to ruin Pep’s final Bayern game”
Influential Israeli website, ynet.co.il, has named Nigeria and Hapoel Beer Sheva midfielder, John Ogu, as the best foreigner in the Ligat HaAl for the 2015/16.
Ogu has been in impressive form for Beer Sheva this term and has led them to the verge of winning the Israeli title for the first time in 40 years.
The powerful midfielder was described by the website as the main ingredient in Beer Sheva’s impressive performance this season highlighting his strengths.
He was nicknamed a ‘Wall’ because of his ability to shield the defence and he was also praised for breaking up plays and setting up his team’s attacks.
The former Uniao Lleria midfielder has played in 28 games in all competitions for Hapoel Beer Sheva this season notching up four goals and three assists.
Ogu told supersport.com that his sterling performances this season is due to the fact that he is being played in his natural position and has also had the confidence of the coach. Naijabet.com
Continue reading “Ogu named best foreign player in Israel”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will aim to lift one final trophy as the curtain comes down on his record-shattering Paris Saint-Germain career in Saturday’s French Cup final against bitter rivals Marseille.
Ibrahimovic, who obliterated Pauleta’s club goals record earlier this season and now stands on 154 from 179 games, announced he will leave Paris when his contract expires at the end of June after a trophy-laden four years in France.
The Swede will look to fire Laurent Blanc’s side to a second straight domestic treble which would send PSG level with Marseille as 10-time winners of the French Cup.
Ibrahimovic notched his 37th and 38th league goals in Saturday’s 4-0 thumping of Nantes in his final appearance at the Parc des Princes to surpass Argentine striker Carlos Bianchi’s 37-goal mark set during the 1977-78 season. Naija and Bet
Having been crowned France’s player of the year for a record third time, before modestly declaring “I came like a king, left like a legend,” Ibrahimovic will look to bow out with his reputation enhanced yet further.
Continue reading “Ibrahimovic hoping to sign off with French Cup”
Aston Villa’s Chinese owner Tony Xia has pledged to restore the relegated Premier League club to their former glory as soon as possible.
Xia, whose Chinese name is Xia Jiantong, purchased Villa on Wednesday for a reported $87 million and is looking to hire a new manager quickly before bringing in a host of players in a bid to transform the troubled club’s fortunes.
Villa were relegated for the first time in 29 years this season amid acrimonious fan protests against their underperforming players and previous owner Randy Lerner.
Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde were both sacked after disappointing spells as Villa’s manager this season and former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson and ex-Chelsea chief Roberto di Matteo are reportedly the leading contenders to take charge. Naijabet
Xia knows getting the managerial appointment right is essential if Villa are to fulfil his ambition of winning promotion from the Championship next term and eventually becoming one of the world’s major clubs.
“My ambition is to bring Villa to the top six in less than five years and I hope it can be one of the top three in the world – even the best well known in the world — in less than 10 years,” Xia told the Guardian.
“The most critical thing now is to get the right manager.
Continue reading “Aston Villa new owner promises EPL return”
Portuguese midfielder Tiago has signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him at Atletico Madrid until June 2017, the Spanish club said on Thursday.
The 35-year-old has made 163 appearances since arriving at the Vicente Calderon stadium from Juventus in 2010.
“The truth is that I’m very pleased to be able to stay another year at this great club, be with this family, these great players,” Tiago said on the club’s official website.
Tiago fractured a fibula in November and only returned to action last Saturday to help Atletico to a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo in the final La Liga match of the season.
“I was looking forward to returning before the end of the league,” he said.
“The recovery was complicated and lengthy, but the truth is that I’ve always felt supported.”
Continue reading “Tiago signs one-year contract extension with Atletico”
Yohan Cabaye is enjoying life at Crystal Palace and the midfielder believes he made the right decision when he opted for more first-team opportunities, rather than warming the bench in a big club such as Paris St Germain.
Cabaye, who managed 22 Ligue 1 starts during his 18-month spell at the Parc des Princes before moving to Palace last year, netted six goals in 39 games in all competitions for the south London club this campaign.
“For me the most important thing is the pitch. My target was to enjoy my football and to be happy,” Cabaye said.
“I was at a big club but just to be on the bench for me is frustrating. Yeah, it was easy for me maybe to stay and win some trophies. It is not the same when you don’t play.” naijabet
Continue reading “Cabaye happy with first-team chances”
Outgoing Italy manager Antonio Conte insisted his focus was fully on the national team’s Euro 2016 campaign in France ahead of his move to Chelsea after the conclusion of the 24-team tournament in July.
The 46-year-old, who took over from Cesare Prandelli in August 2014, will replace interim manager Guus Hiddink at the English Premier League side, who finished 10th this season.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I work on things one at a time, and I try to deal with them in the best way,” Conte said.
“The Euros is the end of a two-year journey. I want to tackle this tournament in the best way, knowing the difficulties which we didn’t expect to face.” Naijabet
Conte will be hoping to guide the 2012 runners-up to their second European Championship triumph, having triumphed in 1968.
Continue reading “Conte says is fully focus on Italy job”
Mali coach Alain Giresse has named a 23 man strong team to face Nigeria in an international friendly in Rouen, France on May 27th.
Les Aiglons will face the Super Eagles at the Stade Richon in a game both sides will use to tune up their squads for upcoming engagements.
Mali have a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with South Sudan on June 3-5 and will welcome a stern test from a Nigeria team who have lost out in the running for a ticket to Gabon 2017.
Giresse has included Crystal Palace winger Bakary Sako. KAA Gent’s rising start Kalifa Coulibaly and Cheick Diabate of Bordeaux.
He has however dropped Birama Toure, Molla Wague, Youssouf Kone and Tongo Doumbia while Weder Bremen’s’ Sambou Yatabare misses out due to injury. Naija and Bet
Continue reading “Mail coach names squad for Super Eagles friendly”
The Coppa Italia final offers AC Milan a faint chance of redemption after another dismal season of failure, and the prospect of claiming their first piece of silverware since 2011.
But they will have to beat an almost impregnable Juventus side, who are aiming to complete their second league-and-cup-double in a row, to do it.
Milan, who will miss out on European competition for a third season in a row unless they win on Saturday, have performed so badly on the pitch that their president has threatened to stop paying the players’s wages.
Juventus, on the other hand, have just won their fifth successive league title, thanks to a run of 26 wins in 27 matches. Naijabet
Having promised to invest in young Italian players, Milan’s transfer policy has instead left them with a motley assortment of ageing journeymen.
Continue reading “Coppa final offers AC Milan faint glimmer of hope”
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola will be hoping his players deliver on their promise of a parting gift when they take on Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final on Saturday as he looks to leave Germany on a high note.
The Spaniard, who takes over Manchester City next season, could win his second domestic double in three seasons after Bayern eased to a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title last week.
However, a failure to win the Champions League, which had been his mandate from the very start, has certainly taken the sheen off Guardiola’s three-year stint at Bayern despite an utter dominance over his home rivals during that spell.
Atletico Madrid proved to strong for Bayern in the semifinals of this season’s tournament, making it three years in a row that Guardiola’s side had fallen to Spanish opposition at the same stage. Naijabet
Many Bayern fans never really warmed to the Spaniard as they had done to his predecessor Jupp Heynckes, who won the treble in 2013, or even Louis van Gaal in his first season in 2009-10.
Continue reading “Pep hopes to win German Cup as parting gift to Bayern Munich”
Czech Republic coach Pavel Vrba on Thursday announced a 28-man provisional squad for the Euro 2016 finals, led by Arsenal duo Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky.
The 35-year-old Rosicky, the team captain, played only 19 minutes for Arsenal last season because of injuries but he has recently managed three games for the reserve team.
“I went to London three weeks ago to make sure he’s OK and I came back happy,” the 52-year-old Vrba told reporters in Prague.
“He has been 100 percent these last few days that we’ve spent together,” he said about the midfielder who is due to leave Arsenal in the summer as his contract has expired.
Missing only injured Sparta Prague midfielder Martin Frydek, Vrba has called up one newcomer, 20-year-old striker Patrik Schick of Bohemians Prague. Naijabet
Continue reading “Petr Cech, Rosicky to lead Czech Republic at Euro”
Adil Rami has reassured Sevilla fans he will be fit for the Copa del Rey showdown against Barcelona after a “muscle spasm” forced his withdrawal from the Europa League final victory over Liverpool in Switzerland on Wednesday.
The France international defender left the contest in Basle with 13 minutes remaining but expects to start against double-chasing Barcelona on Sunday.
“It was just a muscle spasm and it was impossible to move,” Rami told Spanish sports newspaper. Naijabet.com
“It was better for me to come off but I don’t have a serious injury. I will be able to play in the final… We want more.”
Sevilla rallied from a halftime deficit to clinch their third straight Europa League title with a 3-1 win over the Premier League side at St Jakob-Park.
Rami, who joined Sevilla on a four-year deal last summer from AC Milan, was thrilled to have won his first continental trophy, which also earned Sevilla a place in next season’s Champions League group stage.
“It was a very difficult game against a historic side,” the 30-year-old defender said. “I’m delighted we have the trophy and now we are in the Champions League, which is very important.”
Sevilla last lifted the Copa del Rey in 2010 and take on La Liga winners Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid on Sunday.
Uefa will hold an election for a new president on September 14 in Athens after Michel Platini quit over an ethics scandal with the world body.
Dutch FA president Michel van Praag became the first official candidate but others could follow.
Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Uefa’s senior vice president who will present the European Championship trophy on July 10, and Slovenian football chief Aleksander Ceferin are also considered probable contenders.
Uefa’s executive decided at a meeting in Basle on Wednesday to hold the election in Athens in September rather than rush into a vote before the European Championship finals.
Platini is banned from any official capacity at Euro 2016 because of the four-year ban imposed over a suspect $2 million payment he received from Fifa in 2011. Naijabet
The Frenchman announced he would quit on May 9 after losing an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Platini said in a statement released Wednesday that he wanted to “formally resign” before Uefa’s 55 national associations at the Athens congress in September when his successor is chosen.
Continue reading “Uefa set new date to vote for new president”
German sportswear firm Puma has seen sales of Leicester City soccer jerseys rise fifteen-fold as a result of its winning the English Premier League title, chief executive Bjoern Gulden told a German paper.
Puma has provided the kits for Leicester, who were 5 000-1 outsiders at the start of the season, since 2012.
“The fans love such stories – the underdog coming from behind and pulling off something unlikely,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted Gulden as saying in its Thursday edition.
“The demand for jerseys has risen by fifteen-fold,” he said.
Gulden did not say, however, whether Puma would pay more money to Leicester as a result of the title win.
“Our contract runs for another two years. Of course we’re talking to them about how we can be more successful together.” Naijabet.com
Continue reading “Puma sees Leicester jersey demand rise”
English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday confirmed the departure of super eagle’s striker Victor Anichebe from the club.
Anichebe arrived at The Hawthorns in 2013 from boyhood club Everton and has played 63 times for the club, scoring nine goals.
He played a peripheral role in West Brom’s campaign this season and the club have now confirmed his departure.
The 28-year-old was released alongside Benin international Stephane Sessegnon with manager Tony Pulis thanking the duo for their contributions to the club.
“The two lads worked really hard for me and were as good as gold,” Pulis told the club’s official website. Naija and Bet
“Everybody at the club wishes them all the best in their future careers.”
Anichebe has played 11 times for Nigeria, scoring one goal.
Sevilla survived a first-half battering before hitting back with three second-half goals, two from Coke, to beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Europa League final in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday and win the trophy for the third season in a row.
Liverpool dominated the early stages and went ahead through an exquisite goal by England striker Daniel Sturridge, who nonchalantly curled an inswinging shot inside the far post with the outside of his left foot.
Sevilla clung on until halftime and hit back dramatically when Kevin Gameiro turned in Mariano Perreira’s cross less than one minute after the re-start.
Coke fired Sevilla ahead and added a controversial third after the linesman initially raised his flag for offside, only for referee Jonas Eriksson to award the goal following a lengthy consultation.
“This is our competition. We did an amazing second half. I am so proud of our teammates, the supporters. It was an amazing night,” Sevilla defender Daniel Carrico said after his team secured a place in next season’s Champions League. Naijabet
“Liverpool were really good in the first half. The manager said we had to change our game, to believe. We did what he said. In the second half Liverpool didn’t have any chances,” he added.
Continue reading “Sevilla fight back to win third Europa League title”
A senior Uefa executive on Wednesday raised concerns about the quality of the Champions League final pitch just 10 days ahead of Europe’s biggest club match of the season.
Keith Dalton, senior match operations manager with Uefa, said organisers face “a lot of challenges” in getting the surface ready at Milan’s San Siro stadium for the game on May 28 between Spanish rivals Real and Atletico Madrid.
“We are facing a lot of challenges to get this pitch up to the level it needs to be for the Champions League final,” Dalton said in a speech at the World Stadium Congress conference being held in Doha.
“The grounds keeper, with all due respect to him, is very junior and he is the only one with the technical expertise operating that stadium.
“The rest of the guys can just hold a fork.”
Afterwards, Dalton, whose speech outlined Uefa’s requirements for Champions League matches and also European Championship games, added that he was sure the pitch would be ready but Uefa wanted it to be perfect for the final. Naijabet
Continue reading “Uefa concerns over Champioms League final pitch”