’21 titles in seven years isn’t bad’ – Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says his 21st title as a coach is not a bad way to sign off at Bayern Munich after his tearful farewell in the German Cup final.

Bayern won Guardiola’s final game in charge on Saturday night at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium by beating Borussia Dortmund 4-3 on penalties after neither side could score in 120 minutes.

Dortmund missed two penalties in the shootout before Douglas Costa nailed the final spot kick to seal Bayern’s league and cup double and give Guardiola his 21st title.

“21 titles in seven years, three titles per year, that’s not bad,” said Guardiola who won 14 titles in four years with Barcelona.

“But I had some luck in being able to coach Barcelona and Bayern Munich, both clubs are exceptional.

“They have players who help you do your best, but my time here in Germany hasn’t just been about titles: it was also my life here, the Bundesliga and the stadiums which were always full.” Naija and Bet

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Kane, Vardy inspire England friendly win over Turkey

England’s Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy secured a 2-1 friendly win over fellow Euro 2016 finalists Turkey on Sunday as the hosts warmed up for the tournament with a performance that highlighted their potency in attack and defensive limitations.

Kane put England ahead after two minutes when he pounced on a neat pass from Tottenham Hotspur club mate Dele Alli to record his 32nd goal of a prolific season. Although Kane missed a late penalty, Vardy was on hand to score the winner in the 83rd.

Ten minutes after Kane’s opener Turkey had equalised through Hakan Calhanoglu after Vakan Sen got behind full back Danny Rose and, as goalkeeper Joe Hart came hurtling out, crossed for the visitors to net their first goal against England in 11 meetings. Naijabet

With England struggling to capitalise on their positive start at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, Hodgson switched his formation in the second half by partnering Leicester City’s Vardy, who had begun wide on the left, with Kane up front.

The switch worked and Vardy soon won a penalty when he drew a foul from defender Mehmet Topal but Kane spurned the chance by by firing his spot kick against the outside edge of the post.

Vardy continued to relish his new position, though, and grabbed the winner – his third goal in three games for England – from close range after a header from Gary Cahill had been parried by substitute Ismail Koybasi on the Turkish line.

The month-long Euros kick off in France on June 10.

Totti staying at Roma – club director

Iconic Roma captain Francesco Totti will stay at the capital outfit for a 24th season, the club’s general manager Mauro Baldissoni said in a television interview on Friday.

A one-club player with 600 league appearances, the veteran playmaker has had a tense relationship with coach Luciano Spalletti in recent times and speculation had been rife the player would be forced out. Naijabet.com

“Francesco will continue to play at Roma and as you all know we want to keep him as part of the Roma family for a long time,” he said on the club’s in-house TV channel.

Totti’s hopes of earning a final year’s deal were boosted late in the season when he came off the bench to score late, crucial goals for Roma as they finished third in Serie A.

With some believing this could have been the 39-year-old’s final season in Italy’s top flight, for his 600th league game in early May fans flocked to the Stadio Olimpico with banners, t-shirts and flags all paying tribute to the longevity and loyalty of ‘Il Re de Roma’ (the King of Rome) and some declared they had grown up on ‘Bread and Totti’, as opposed to bread and water.

Argentina call on Messi, Aguero for Copa America

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino named his 23-man squad for the Copa America on Friday, pinning his hopes on Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero but ignoring Carlos Tevez.

Idolised by his Boca Juniors club and popular throughout Argentina, Tevez was overlooked in favour of Gonzalo Higuain who smashed a record 36 goals in Serie A this season with Napoli.

Argentina are looking for a first major international title in 23 years having lost two recent finals – to Germany at the 2014 World Cup and against Chile in last year’s Copa America.

This year’s Copa America Centenario, marking the 100th anniversary of the South American confederation Conmebol, will be played in the United States from June 3-26. Naijabet

It will feature four teams from the Concacaf region including the United States and Mexico.

Argentina are in Group D at the tournament and face Chile (June 6), Panama (June 10) and Bolivia (June 14).

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Shakhtar manager to quit the club after 12 years

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.

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Chinese buyers want to make deal with ‘super’ agent in Europe

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

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Italian president bestows honour on Ranieri

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.

Germany coach advises Gotze to exit Bayern

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.”

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Real Madrid should to be patient with Zidane – Becks

David Beckham believes Real Madrid should give his former teammate at the club, Zinedine Zidane, time to succeed even if the French great fails to inspire them to victory in the Champions League final later this month. 

Zidane fell just short of steering the club to La Liga glory, with Real finishing one point behind Barcelona, but can claim his first title since replacing Rafa Benitez earlier this year in the May 28 Champions League final against city rivals Atletico in Milan.

“Madrid needs stability and continuity,” Beckham said in an interview with Spanish magazine Semanal XL.

“It would be good if Zizou (Zidane) continues for some time and that they maintain the players they have today.

“Even if they don’t win the Champions League, it would be good to let Zizou work. Naijabet.com

“Stability is key, not just in every aspect of life but in business.”

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Football League plans add ‘fifth division’

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’”

Benteke wants talks with Klopp over Liverpool future

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.”

FA Cup for Manchester United it is a big title – Louis van Gaal

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.

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Borussia Dortmund aim to ruin Pep’s final Bayern game

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.

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Ogu named best foreign player in Israel

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

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Ibrahimovic hoping to sign off with French Cup

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.

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Aston Villa new owner promises EPL return

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.

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Tiago signs one-year contract extension with Atletico

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”

Cabaye happy with first-team chances

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

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Conte says is fully focus on Italy job

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.

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Mail coach names squad for Super Eagles friendly

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

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Coppa final offers AC Milan faint glimmer of hope

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.

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Pep hopes to win German Cup as parting gift to Bayern Munich

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.

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Petr Cech, Rosicky to lead Czech Republic at Euro

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

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Adil Remi will be fit Copa del Rey final

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 set new date to vote for new president

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.

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