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Nigeria is the first team to book 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup ticket

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Five-time world champions Nigeria became the first African team to book a 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup ticket after 1-0 defeat of Angola in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.

Olakunle Olusegun earned the ticket to the tournament semifinals and to Brazil 2019 when he hooked a 21st-minute penalty to the roof of the net with Angola’s goalkeeper Geovani stranded.

But the Golden Eaglets were guilty of profligacy and the technical crew certainly has much to do still.

As happened against host nation Tanzania on Sunday, the Eaglets proved to be masters of the use of space and close control, but they mostly lacked the right ideas and punch in the final third, just as some passes went astray at critical moments.

Two-goal hero against Tanzania, Wisdom Ubani could have been on the scoresheet in the 11th minute but his fierce effort from a 22 –yard free kick went narrowly off target.

Angola were not to be brow-beaten, as Zito latched onto the ball a few metres from the centre and unleashed a rocket that goalkeeper Sunday Stephen, in for the jittery Suleman Shaibu, did well to punch away.

Three minutes later, Stephen had to be alert to push away another fierce Angolan shot, but two minutes later, at the other end, Ubani’s swift turn and shot came quite close with Geovani beaten.

An Angolan defender handled the ball in the box under pressure in the 21st minute, and Olusegun made no mistake from the spot to put Nigeria in front.

They could have had many more, but Shedrack Tanko bundled against the upright in the 42nd minute when it appeared easier to score, and Olusegun’s effort to chip Goevani from a swift counter was well –read by the goalkeeper.

In the second period, the Eaglets’ profligacy continued, even after the Angolans were reduced to 10 men in the 51st minute as Jose Cabincano earned a second yellow card.

In the 53rd minute, Ubani’s stinging shot from 25 yards went narrowly over, and on the hour, when it appeared easier to score, Ubani passed the ball to onrushing Olusegun who missed from close range.

Substitutes Ibraheem Jabaar, Divine Nwachukwu and Peter Agba could not effect any improvement in the Eaglets’ game, and Nwachukwu even missed a glorious opportunity with six minutes to the end.

The win means that the Eaglets return to the FIFA U17 World Cup after missing out of the last edition staged in India two years ago.

Nigeria will certainly finish at the head of Group A if they avoid defeat against Uganda at the same venue on Saturday.

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Jose Mourinho appointed Tottenham head coach

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Jose Mourinho has been named Tottenham head coach until the end of the 2023 season.

The former Manchester United and Chelsea boss replaces Mauricio Pochettino, who was sacked on Tuesday with the club 14th in the Premier League.

Having decided it was time to act, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy drew up a shortlist which included Mourinho, RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann, former Juventus boss Max Allegri and PSG’s Thomas Tuchel.

Negotiations between Spurs and Mourinho – who had been out of work since he was sacked by United in December – intensified over the last few days and concluded in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Mourinho was promised funds to improve the squad in January and in the summer transfer window, if he felt necessary.

“I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters,” said Mourinho. “The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

He will take training at Hotspur Way on Wednesday ahead of his first game on Saturday – against West Ham at the London Stadium.

Levy said he was “reluctant” to sack Pochettino, whose Spurs side lost to Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final, but explained the decision had to be made in the “club’s best interests”.

Mourinho won three Premier League titles with Chelsea, and is one of only three managers to have won the UEFA Champions League twice with two clubs, FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.

“In Jose, we have one of the most successful managers in football,” Levy said on Wednesday.

“He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honours at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

Mourinho, who lives in London, inherits a Tottenham side that have won just five matches all season.

He turned down job offers in China, Spain and Portugal since leaving United.

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Pochettino sacked as Tottenham manager

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Tottenham Hotspur have announced that Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as their manager.

The Argentine spent five years in charge of the North London side.

Pochettino led Spurs to top-four finishes in four of his five seasons in charge, as well as their first Champions League final in the 2018/19 campaign.

However, they have won just five matches this season and chairman Daniel Levy said a change had to be made in the “club’s best interests”.

An official club statement read: “We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the board has taken lightly, nor in haste.

“Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls to the board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the club’s best interests.

“Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history. I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us.

“I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here.

“We have a talented squad. We need to re-energise and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”

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FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship Achieves Global Recognition, Gets Listed In the WAGR

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Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Golf Championship scheduled to Tee-Off on Friday, 15 November 2019 is now listed amongst the golf tournaments in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). The WAGR is offered by the R&A and the United States Golf Association as a global service to golf.  Through incorporation and assessment worldwide of both amateur and professional events, WAGR™ encourages the international development of the competitive game. 

Since 1894, FirstBank has continued to promote the growth and development of sports in Nigeria. Apart from the Lagos Amateur Golf Championship which the Bank has supported for 57 years, the Bank has sponsored the Georgian Cup of the Kaduna Polo Tournament for 100 years. Other sports supported by the Bank include; the Dala Hardcourt Tennis, Kano for 32 years and for over a combined 30 years, the Bank has sponsored and owned the popular Elephant Girls Basketball club – which has remained a dominant force in the Nigerian Women Basketball league for many years – and the Elephant boys football club. The highpoint of these is the 2019 100th unbroken years of sponsoring the Kaduna Polo Tournament, widely attributed as the longest running sports sponsorship in the world and a Guinness Book of Records potential. 

The 56-hole golf tournament, to be played over three days would be rounded off with a grand finale and awards ceremony on Sunday, 17 November 2019. Other activities to be held in the course of the tournament are the “Professional Coaching Clinic” to nurture the skills of young and upcoming talents and “Beat the Pro Skills competition”. The 2018 edition which had over 260 golfers in attendance was won by Sam Njoroge from Kenyan.

Speaking on the Bank’s sponsorship of the tournament, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said; “We are excited at the giant strides achieved with the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship. The championship is now one of the international golf events where all amateur golfers worldwide can now participate and amass points to aid their WAGR rankings.”

“FirstBank has been in the business of supporting sports in Nigeria throughout its 125 years of existence. We have partnered with individuals and institutions to provide support, not only in the sports arena, but also in Education, the Arts and Small and Medium Enterprises”, he concluded.

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