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FG didn’t expect Falcons to win AWCON, says Sports Minister

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The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, on Thursday said the Federal Government did not expect the Super Falcons to win the just-concluded African Women’s Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Dalung spoke with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, amid continued protests by the victorious Falcons over their unpaid allowances and bonuses.

The players had seized the trophy they won at the competition and said they would hold on to it until they were paid the N238.05m accumulated bonuses which they are being owed.

They had threatened that if President Muhammadu Buhari refused to address their grievances at the Federal Executive Council’s meeting on Wednesday, they would embark on protest on the streets of Abuja.

But the minister said the situation could have been avoided if the Nigerian Football Federation had envisaged that the team would win and put in place the process of paying their entitlements.

He said, “Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team will emerge victorious.

“If we were confident they will emerge victorious, all the federation would have done is to plan for the process of participation and entitlement.

“It is already established in sports tradition, when you win this is what you are entitled to.

“The situation is highly unfortunate and I don’t like it. These girls have given confidence to women who want to embrace sports, so this will go a long way in killing this laudable achievement. It is unfortunate but we will make sure the right thing is done.”

The minister said his position had always remained that the process of request for funds for sporting projects must come earlier to meet the objectives.

He said if the federation had requested for funds on time, the process of settling the players would have been easier.

The minister admitted that the matter was not handled properly, regretting that there are also issues of outstanding payment of coaches.

“I think it is a complex situation but the entire governance of football deserves an urgent surgery. If that surgery is not done, we will always live with the embarrassment.

“I am talking about the governance of football administration in Nigeria.

“Government has to do the surgery because they have been at the receiving end of the embarrassment.

“We must be prepared to do this to save the future of football in Nigeria. We must come together to find solutions to see how these issues can be tackled, “ he said.

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SPORTS

2022 World Cup: FIFA announces new date for kick off

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FIFA has confirmed that the 2022 World Cup will now kick off on Sunday, November 20, rather than the initially scheduled date of Monday, November 21.

The first game will now be between the host nation Qatar and Ecuador instead of Senegal’s match against the Netherlands.

This means the tournament will be extended to 29 days, with the final taking place on Sunday, December 18.

FIFA confirmed this on Thursday, in what was a unanimous decision by a committee comprising FIFA president, Gianni Infantino and presidents of the six continental soccer bodies.

“The change ensures the continuity of a long-standing tradition of marking the start of the FIFA World Cup with an opening ceremony on the occasion of the first match featuring either the hosts or the defending champions.

“The decision followed an assessment of the competition and operational implications, as well as a thorough consultation process and an agreement with key stakeholders and the host country,” FIFA said in a statement.

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Rashford takes decision on joining PSG

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Manchester United striker, Marcus Rashford has decided to rule out any possibility of leaving the club to join Paris Saint-Germain this summer.

PSG are strongly interested in signing Rashford from Man United this summer.

The French Ligue 1 champions have held talks with Rashford’s representatives and want to bring the England international to the Parc des Princes.

But according to Daily Mail, Rashford has now responded to their approach by saying that he is happy at Man United and that his priority is to stay at Old Trafford this summer.

The report added that Man United are relaxed over the situation – despite the fact that Rashford’s contract is set to end on June 30, 2023.

Rashford has scored 93 goals in 304 games for Man United.

The 24-year-old has helped Man United win the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League since he made his debut back in 2015, having progressed through the club’s youth ranks.

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Aguero warns Guardiola against selling Man City star

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Former Argentina striker, Sergio Aguero, has warned Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City against selling Bernardo Silva this summer.

Aguero said Silva is a great player, adding that he would be surprised if City under Guardiola let the Portugal international leave the Etihad this summer.

Silva has been linked with a move to LaLiga giants, Barcelona, this summer.

“Bernardo is a great player. He carries the ball, he sacrifices, has quality to assist and score goals, and he can play in different positions,” Aguero told Stake.

“It would surprise me if City let him go. He’s a player who contributes a lot every season, but everything is possible.

“If he finally arrives at Barca, then he’ll be someone who can be key to the possession game that Xavi likes.”

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