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Boniface Back In Leverkusen Squad For German Cup Semi-final –

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Boniface Back In Leverkusen Squad For German Cup Semi-final -

Nigeria and Bayer Leverkusen striker Victor Boniface who missed the last Africa Cup of Nations in January and February,  will be back in the squad for Wednesday’s German Cup semi-final against Fortuna Dusseldorf following a three-month injury absence, coach Xabi Alonso said on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old underwent surgery on an adductor muscle injury in January after being injured while preparing with Nigeria for the Africa Cup of Nations.

“We are in a super situation. We have no injuries and a full squad. Boni (Boniface) is also back in the squad,” Alonso told a press conference, with the Bundesliga leaders in the hunt for three trophies this season.

Asked how long Boniface could play in the game, Alonso said: “Not 90 minutes. 45 maybe not. But maybe 30. He has done a good recovery and has trained well. He has a strong mentality to come back. He can’t wait to get back.”

Boniface had scored 10 goals and set up another seven in the Bundesliga before his injury.

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Leverkusen are on course for a first ever Bundesliga title with a 13-point lead over second-placed Bayern Munich and seven games remaining.

They are also through to the Europa League quarter-finals having gone 39 matches unbeaten across all competitions this season.

“We have to take it one game at a time. That’s the way we have done it until now and we will not change that,” said the Spaniard, who confirmed last week he would be staying at Leverkusen despite interest from major European clubs.

“We have done a lot but have won nothing so far. We still have a lot of work to do. We have done a few things well to get here but we should not speak too early.”

 

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“We have to remain focused and that is the message I give my players and they know it,” he said.

Saarbruecken face Kaiserslautern in the other semi-final on Tuesday.

-Reuters

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Bundesliga

Guinea player, Naby Keita suspended for rest of season by Bundelisga side

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Werder Bremen have suspended Guinea’s Naby Keita for the rest of the season and forced him to pay a ‘substantial fine’ after he refused to play in Sunday’s Bundesliga clash with Bayer Leverkusen.

Keita made headlines over the weekend when he refused to travel with his teammates and instead went home after finding out that he would not make the starting lineup for the game which eventually saw Leverkusen crowned Bundesliga champions.

While reports claim Keita will receive a ‘substantial fine’, an official statement from the club has revealed he will serve a suspension. Keita will be not be selected for games for the rest of this season, while he will also be banned from training with the team and featuring in the dressing room.

Bremen director Clemens Fritz said: “Naby’s behaviour cannot be tolerated for us as a club. With this action, he let his team down in a tense sporting and personnel situation and placed himself above the team.

“We can’t allow that. At this stage of the season we need full focus on the remaining games and a team that is very close together. There was therefore no alternative to our measures.”

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The former Liverpool midfielder joined the club as a free agent on a three-year deal in the summer of 2023, following a poor spell at Anfield.

The 29-year-old was keen to defend himself and his professionalism, taking to Instagram to share his point of view. He said: “Ever since I arrived at this magnificent club, I have always shown my professionalism.

“I have always tried to help the club and the great supporters, especially during this time of poor results. Since the start of my career, I have never had problems with my discipline and have always shown an exemplary attitude. I will not accept any person trying to tarnish my image.

“To the supporters, I have always worked hard in training to get the right result at the weekend. In training, I can only give my best.”

Keita has played just 106 minutes for Bremen since moving back to the Bundesliga last summer and now will be unable to secure any further game time during the current campaign.

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FEDERATION CUP

Draw for Nigeria Federation Cup holds on Thursday

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How CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup Draw will be conducted

The National Draw for the men’s and women’s versions of this year’s Federation Cup competition will take place on Thursday, 18th April 2024 at the NFF Secretariat, Abuja.

Already, the field for the national competition in the men’s draw has been trimmed to 64 following last week’s Play-off matches that saw the elimination of Classic FC of Adamawa, Simon Ben Academy of Kaduna, PRO Line of Kano, Crusaders FC of Bayelsa, KC FC of Kogi and Flight FC of Benue State.

From those games, Warinje FC of Bauchi, PCM FC of Ebonyi, Ine Stars of Edo, Zamfara United Feeders, Fr. Eburuaja of Imo and Gamji Eaglets of Taraba emerged to confirm their slots in Thursday’s draw ceremony.

The men’s competition will begin with Round of 64 matches, before the Round of 32, and then Round of 16 dovetailing to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the Grand Finale.

The women’s competition, which has 31 entries, will begin with Round of 32 games, then the Round of 16, before the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the Grand Finale.   

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States & Representative Teams (Men Competition)

Abia State: Enyimba FC, Abia Warriors

Akwa Ibom State: Akwa United, FC One Rocket

Anambra State: Solution FC, Edel FC

Bauchi State: Wikki Tourists, Warinje FC

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Bayelsa State: Bayelsa United

Benue State: Lobi Stars

Borno State: El-Kanemi Warriors

Cross Rivers State: Rovers FC, May Frank FC

Delta State: Warri Wolves, Delta Marine FC

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Ebonyi State: Cynosure FC, PCM FC

Edo State: Bendel Insurance, Ine Stars

Ekiti State: Ekiti United, Ekiti United Feeders

Enugu State: Rangers Int’l, Coal City FC

FCT: EFCC FC, Sporting Supreme FC

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Gombe State: Gombe United, Doma United

Imo State: Ikukuoma FC, Fr. Eburuaja FC

Jigawa State: Lautai FC, Dutse Strikers

Kaduna State: Green Beret FC

Kano State: Kano Pillars

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Katsina State: Katsina United FC, Jr. Danburan FC

Kebbi State: Discovery Talent Academy, Kebbi United

Kogi State: FC Bako

Kwara State: Kwara United, ABS FC
Lagos State: Inter Lagos FC, Ikorodu City FC

Nasarawa State: Nasarawa United, FC Basira

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Niger State: Niger Tornadoes, Niger Tornadoes Feeders

Ogun State: Beyond Limit FC, Stormers Sports Club

Ondo State: Sunshine Stars, Adanimogo FC

Osun State: Osun United, Hammola Int’l FC

Oyo State: Ilaji FC, Shooting Stars

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Plateau State: Plateau United, Mighty Jets

Rivers State: Rivers United, Ofirima FC

Sokoto State: Sokoto United, Jedo Academy

Taraba State: Gamji Eaglets FC, Karim United

Zamfara State: Zamfara United, Zamfara United Feeders

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States & Representative Teams (Women Competition)

Abia State: Abia Angels, Ahudiya Nnem Queens

Bayelsa State: Bayelsa Queens, GoldenSun Sports Club

Benue State: Honey Badgers

Delta State: Delta Queens, Delta Ladies

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Edo State: Edo Queens, Fortress Ladies

Ekiti State: Ekiti Queens

Enugu State: Bright Future FC, Greenfoot FC

FCT: Naija Ratels, ON Youth Academy

Imo State: Heartland Queens

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Kaduna State: Kada FC, Gallant FC

Kogi State: Confluence Queens

Kwara State: Kwara Ladies FC

Lagos State: FC Robo Queens, Dannaz Ladies

Nasarawa State: Nasarawa Amazons

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Ogun State: Remo Stars Ladies

Ondo State: Sunshine Queens, Onimang FC

Osun State: Osun Babes

Oyo State: Suit De Queens

Plateau State: Plateau United Queens, Mighty Jets Int’l Mata

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Rivers State: Rivers Angels, Oske Lean FC   

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Olympics

Paris 2024 torch lit in ancient Olympia, relay under way

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Paris 2024 Olympics - Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony - Ancient Olympia, Greece - April 16, 2024 Greek actress Mary Mina, playing the role of High Priestess, lights the flame during the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony for the Paris 2024 Olympics. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

The torch for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games was lit in ancient Olympia in a traditional ceremony on Tuesday, marking the final stretch of the seven-year preparations for the Games’ start on July 26.

Greek actress Mary Mina, playing the role of high priestess, lit the torch using a backup flame instead of a parabolic mirror that is normally used, due to cloudy skies, for the start of a relay in Greece and France.

It will culminate with the lighting of the Olympic flame in the French capital at the opening ceremony. Paris will host the summer Olympics for a third time after 1900 and 1924.

“In these difficult times we are living through, with wars and conflicts on the rise, people are fed up with all the hate, the aggression and negative news they are facing day in and day out,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in his speech.

“We are longing for something which brings us together, something that is unifying, something that gives us hope. The Olympic flame that we are lighting today is the symbol of this hope.”

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The IOC has cleared the way for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Olympics despite the ongoing war in Ukraine but they will do so as neutral athletes with no national flag or anthem, a decision that angered Moscow.

French President Emmanuel Macron also said last week Russia would be asked to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine during the Paris Olympics. The Kremlin said Ukraine might use it as an opportunity to regroup and rearm.

Suspending armed conflicts under an Olympic truce during the Games was a standard practice in ancient Greece.

TORCH RELAY

The high priestess then lit the torch of the first runner of the relay, Greece’s Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos.

After a short run he then handed the flame on to France’s three-time Olympic medallist in swimming and head of Paris’ Olympic torch relay, Laure Manaudou, as the representative of the host city.

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The flame will be officially handed over to Paris Games organisers in Athens’s Panathenaic stadium, site of the first modern Games in 1896, on April 26 after an 11-day relay across Greece.

It will then depart the next day for France on board a three-masted ship, the ‘Belem’ where it will arrive on May 8 in Marseille, with up to 150,000 people expected to attend the ceremony in the southern city’s Old Port.

The last torch bearer in Marseille will climb on the roof of the Velodrome stadium on May 9, organisers said.

Marseille, founded by the Greek settlers of Phocaea around 600 BC, will host the sailing competitions.

The French torch relay will last 68 days and will end in Paris with the lighting of the Olympic flame on July 26.

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-Reuters

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