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WAFU: Nigeria beat Ghana, qualify for semi-finals

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The home-based Super Eagles on Monday defeated the Black Stars of Ghana 2-0 in their last group game to progress to the semi-finals of the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Super Eagles B team bounced back to winning ways after two successive draws against Mali and Guinea, beating bitter rivals and host Ghana at the Cape Coast Stadium.

Super Eagles Chief coach Salisu Yusuf made six changes to the line-up.

Ikechukwu Ezenwa returned in goal and led the team as captain, Kingsley Eduwo was rested for Tony Okpotu, while Stephen Eze, Rabiu Ali, Peter Eneji and Ubong Friday all started.

Nigeria needed a win against the already qualified Black Stars and the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) stars put up a brilliant performance.

The first half ended goalless with the Super Eagles home-based team dominating the half.

Ghana goalkeeper Addo Joseph was the star man in the first half has he denied Okpotu, Friday and Eneji on several occasions.

However, the goals started pouring nine minutes into the second half for Nigeria. NPFL top scorer Okpotu finally broke Nigeria’s goal drought in the tournament with a brilliant finish in the 54th minute.

Three minutes later, Plateau United’s Eneji doubled the lead after the Ghanaian defence switched off and were caught napping.

Eneji was voted the Man of the Match at the blast of the referee’s full-time whistle.

Victory for Nigeria meant Ghana and Nigeria advanced to the semi-final of the tournament from Group A.

Ghana finished as group leaders with six points while Nigeria finished second with five points.

Both teams will wait for the results from Group B on Tuesday to determine their semi-final opponents.

In the other game in Group A played simultaneously on Monday, Guinea and Mali cancelled out each other in a 1-1 draw at the Nduom Sports Complex to finish on two points each.

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Fraud: Man United boss, Mourinho sentenced to one year imprisonment

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has reportedly accepted a one-year suspended prison sentence for tax fraud in Spain.

Mourinho is alleged to have defrauded the Spanish authorities of €1.9 million (£1.78 million) during his time in charge of Real Madrid, using offshore companies in Ireland, the British Virgin Islands and New Zealand to conceal his earnings.

The Portuguese is thought to have earned around €3.3 million (£2.9 million) from image rights in 2011 and 2012, of which he has been fined 60 per cent.

El Mundo claims that Mourinho will accept in writing that he concealed that income from the authorities, avoiding the need for a trial and ensuring that he will not serve any jail time.

Mourinho is the latest high-profile football name to be penalised for tax evasion by the Spanish authorities, with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alexis Sanchez and Javier Mascherano also being caught in recent years.

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Fashanu, Tonto Dike, Siasia, others named Freestyle Football ambassadors

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Feet and Tricks International, organisers of the first ever African Football Freestyle Championship in Africa has named former professional English footballer, John Fashanu; Former Nigerian defender and former Head of Lagos State Football Association, Waidi Akanni; and former Super Eagles Coach, Samson Siasia, Superstar actresses, Kate Henshaw and Tonto Dikeh as brand ambassadors for this year’s Championship. All with enviable careers and celebrated globally are undoubtedly a perfect representation of the sporting excellence the brand stands for.

Confirming this, the Chairman, Feet ‘n’ Tricks International, Valentine Ozigbo noted that ” Feet ‘n’ Tricks is on a mission to making Africa the home of freestyle football and providing a new platform for self-expression of skills in order to ultimately exploit the global appeal of the sport. In order to realize this, we decided to look for ambassadors, who exemplify the same passion for the sport like we do, and decided to work together with John Fashanu, Waidi Akanni, Samson Siasia, Kate Henshaw and Tonto Dikeh to actualize this dream”.

“Without a doubt, they have over the years demonstrated leadership in the sports and entertainment scene and beyond. To this end, we trust in their ability to help engage and inspire our target audience to accept as well as  promote freestyle football to the lofty height and the global phenomenon that it is now fast developing into. The infusion of Kate Henshaw and Tonto Dikeh into the event is to create an entertainment appeal to the sport and quip the interest of the youths. We are glad to have them onboard as brand ambassadors.” Ozigbo said.

The qualifying rounds and Nigerian championship will hold on September 13th -14th, 2018 at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos. After the qualifying rounds, the best 16 male and 8 female freestyle athletes in Africa will emerge to battle it out at the grand finale on September 15, 2018 in a keenly contested competition that is expected to produce the first African male and female Freestyle Football Champions.

The new ambassadors, while commenting on their new role as ambassadors of Feet ‘n’ Tricks International, took turns to commend the firm for the hard work that has seen it rise to the height attained within a short period, while also noting that the gesture is indeed an honour.

“I am in-tune with the mission of this tournament, to develop and sustain the growth of the art of freestyle football because I have a passion for the development of grassroot football. What feet and tricks is doing is basically creating an avenue to accommodate these freestylers who have been neglected all over the continent.” said Fashanu.

“My interest in this sport grew when I realised the huge potential it has to impact grassroots football and make an otherwise overlooked freestyler a celebrity, at no cost at all. I am happy to be part of this and I encourage people to register to attend the event.” Kate Henshaw said.

Waidi Akanni said, “Freestyle football is the foundation of beautiful football, and it is an honor to be an ambassador of a tournament that is determined to touch lives and mine this huge reserve of talent in Africa. Because of the lack of structure in the sport, it has been impossible to harness the economic and entertainment potentials it possesses.  This championship by Feet ‘n’ Tricks International brings structure and reward to the table, making it possible for freestyle football to be more than just a hobby.”

Tonto Dikeh said “Last year,  it was just a Nigerian Championship but this year, Feet ‘n’ Tricks has extended the event reach to Africa. It shows a growing company with a vision and I am happy to be brought on board as an ambassador. I am here to also encourage more women to be part of this game, because I have seen that this is one football sport that women find incredibly entertaining and awesomely beautiful. ”

The 2018 Africa Freestyle Football Championship is a perfect fusion of freestyle football and entertainment as top musical and dance artistes will be performing, including Falz, Vanessa Mdee, Kcee, Mayorkun, Slim Case and Mr Real. The championship will also host international freestyle professionals; Guinness world record holder, Iya Traore and Female freestyle legend, Raquel Benetti from Brazil.

While appreciating Feet ‘n’ Tricks, Samson Siasia said: “Associating with an organization that is poised to project and reward talent in Africa is a good one for me because I am particularly happy with the positive impact this championship is having on the youths in Africa, who have only their freestyle skills to survive. This puts them on a pedestal for the world stage, and I foresee a world freestyle football championship from Africa. Anything is possible”,

This event is endorsed by World Freestyle Football Association and proudly sponsored by Heritage Bank, Sprite,  GAC Motors, MTN, Startimes, FIRS, Eko Disco, Goal.com among others.

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EPL: Brighton beat Manchester United 3-2

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MANCHESTER UNITED slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion as Jose Mourinho’s men lost early ground on their title rivals.

United went into Sunday’s showdown at the Amex Stadium having watched reigning champions Manchester City and Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea secure three points against Huddersfield and Arsenal respectively.

Manchester United will have to come from behind in order to win their first Premier League title since 2013 though thanks to goals from Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and Pascal Gross.

Murray put Brighton a goal to the good after 25 minutes with a cute flick at the near post and Duffy was on hand two minutes later to extend their advantage.

Romelu Lukaku got United back into the game 10 minutes before the break but Jose Mourinho’s men failed to stay close to Brighton for long.

Gross stepped up and dispatched his penalty thanks to a deflection off David De Gea after Eric Bailly had a rush of blood to the head in the box.

United failed to muster a response in the second half and Paul Pogba’s late penalty came too late to threaten Brighton’s hopes of gaining three points.

The result leaves an increasingly under-pressure Mourinho down in the dumps while the Seagulls soar following their first win of the new season.

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