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Luka Modric Beats CR7 And Mo Salah To Win FIFA Best Gong

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Finally, the era of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi snapping up every individual football honour is over, and the man who broke the jinx is Real Madrid’s Luka Modric.

Fresh from winning UEFA men’s player of the year award in August, the diminutive Croatian playmaker known for his long-range strikes and accurate passes added the FIFA Best men’s award on Monday.

The 33-year-old former Dinamo Zagreb youngster has excelled where midfield greats, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, failed. The latter duo tried but failed to win individual awards at the expense of Messi and Ronaldo.

Modric is a worthy winner for his stellar 2018 which surpassed the achievements of the likes of Mohammed Salah and Ronaldo himself. Both these players scored goals in abundance but are just the finishing article in their teams’ styles of play. This is moreso evident in Ronaldo’s case, who might not have scored his 15 Champions League goals without the playmaking genius of Modric, neither would Real Madrid have won three UCL crowns on the bounce.

Modric began showing signs of dislodging Ronaldo at the beginning of last season by winning the best player award in Real’s World Club Cup triumph in December. Although he had just one goal and assist in the UCL, Modric was the chief instigator of most Madrid attacking plays with pin-point long-range passes which sliced the midfield and defence of most teams before the likes of Ronaldo and Bale would finish them off.

His vision bailed out Real Madrid in tight encounters, one particular highlight was against Bayern Munich in the semi-final where the Germans had Madrid on the ropes for long periods and without Modric, who played 14 of 15 UCL games last season, Real would not be in the final. The peak of his stellar performances in club colours was in the UCL final where he took the game away from Liverpool, bossing the midfield with his many short and long passes, calming the storm after Liverpool equalised before knitting the team together for the kill, to the admiration of the media and pundits.

It was at the 2018 World Cup in Russia that Modric would get his due recognition as the captain and leader of a talented Croatia team. He began the mundial with a goal against Nigeria in the opener, but it was against Argentina that Modric’s qualities shone, even in the presence of Lionel Messi, whom he made look ordinary. He bossed the entire game, dictating play throughout while chipping in a trademark long-range strike and another assist in the 3-0 humbling of the Albiceleste.

He continued his impressive performance in the knockout phases where Croatia had to come from behind in the round of 16, quarter and semi-finals to make the final where they were defeated 4-2 by France. His calm demeanour settled his fellow comrades’ nerves to record comeback wins against Denmark, Russia and England.

Rakitic described him as the leader they looked unto for inspiration in difficult periods, and the mundial was testament to that statement.

This led to him being named the best player of the tournament, ahead of an impressive Eden Hazard who took Belgium all the way before getting stifled by France, an opponent that stopped Croatia but could not stop Modric from his midfield duties.  All this he did despite some Croatia fans questioning his loyalty before the tournament due to a long-drawn case of perjury back home where he won the 2018 Football Oscar for Best Croatian Player- an award he has monopolised since 2013.

He was also named the best midfielder in Europe for 2018, named in the UCL team of the season, and has been a constant feature in the FIFA FIFPro World XI team since 2015.

A final- and most recent- testament that Real Madrid looks ordinary without his artistry was evident in August when the UCL holders were made to look like an average team by Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in a 4-2 loss. Their midfield was bypassed and Real’s defence has always been a particularly shaky one when their midfield misses the artistry of Modric, despite the presence of pass master, Toni Kroos.

Real Madrid almost shipped Modric off to Inter Milan in the summer following the World Cup with his age coming to mind, however, new manager Julen Lopetegui has recognised the Croat’s importance to the team which struggled in the absence of Modric who was given an extended rest following his World Cup exertions.

It is no secret that the 10-year duopoly of Messi and Ronaldo snapping all individual awards had become tiresome, but nothing should be taken away from Modric’s latest triumph as the midfield genius for both club and country deserves the best award and continues to knit his teams together.

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Dangote, Otedola promises Super Eagles $75k (N27m) for each goal in remaining AFCON matches

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria have gotten a major boost in their 2019 African Cup of Nations campaign, as Nigerian billionaires, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola have pledged $75,000 for every goal scored in their remaining games. 

The Super Eagles team had earlier gotten $75,000 from Aiteo Group, for the three goals scored in their 3-2 victory over Cameroon in the Round of 16. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu gave each player $5,000, while Hosea Wells Okunbo, a businessman, promised $20,000 per player. 

As they take on Algeria on Sunday in the Semi-Final Match of the 2019 AFCON, Dangote has promised $50,000 per goal, while Otedola pledged the sum of $25,000 for each goal scored. 

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‘I’m calling the shots’ – Andy Ruiz says he will refuse a rematch with Anthony Joshua in the UK

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The rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua may not be happening in the UK, as the Mexican-American heavyweight is pushing for the fight to take place in either of his two home countries. 

Andy Ruiz had claimed the WBA, IBF and WBO titles, after he defeated Anthony Joshua in a fight which took place in Madison Square, New York, United States. Speaking to TMZ Sports on plans about the rematch, he said; 

“I haven’t talked to him, but I’m pretty sure he’s training hard for the rematch and so am I. I want the rematch to be in Mexico or New York City again, Vegas, or here [in LA].”

When asked if the Nigerian-born British boxer will agree to this, he said; 

 “It doesn’t matter because I’m the champion… I’m calling the shots… We’re the A-side.”

This contradicts fight promoter, Eddie Hearn’s claim that Anthony Joshua will have the final say over where the rematch takes place.

The Nigerian-born British boxer is in Nigeria at the moment.

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NFL player, Carl Granderson sentenced to six months in jail for sexual assault

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New Orleans Saints defender, Carl Granderson was taken into custody during a court appearance on Thursday and ordered to serve six months in jail by the presiding judge, who refused to accept a plea deal entered in his sexual assault case.

Granderson pleaded not guilty in April to one count of third-degree sexual assault and another count of sexual battery. He agreed to a plea deal that would have reduced the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor count of unlawful contact and canceled a jury trial that was scheduled to start Monday.  

Nevertheless, Judge Tori Kricken of the Albany County (Wyo.) District Court called off the deal and remanded him to jail immediately. The judge also assigned a one-year jail sentence on the sexual battery charge, which will be suspended upon completion of the six-month jail term. It will be converted to one year of supervised probation.  

The Saints were abundantly aware of the charges against Granderson, but gave him a team-high $85,000 to sign as an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming in April. During minicamp in June, Saints coach Sean Payton said, “We felt real comfortable with everything we knew, and so far he’s done a good job here.”  

The alleged assault occurred Nov. 25, after the Wyoming season had ended, and off campus, according to the school.  Granderson graduated Dec. 15, but the football program did not offer an immediate defense of Granderson.  “The sexual assault charges recently filed against Carl Granderson are serious, and the allegations are troubling,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said in a statement. “I want to assure the people of Wyoming that we hold our young men to the highest of standards, and this alleged behavior is unacceptable.”

In four seasons with the Cowboys, Granderson had 96 tackles,16.5 sacks and three interceptions. He also played in the Senior Bowl. Granderson became the third Wyoming athlete, and second football player, to face criminal charges during the 2018-19 school year.

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