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Joshua ready to ‘overcome’ career setbacks against Dillian Whyte

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Anthony Joshua has insisted he is getting his career on the right track ahead of his huge domestic showdown with Dillian Whyte next month.

The 33-year-old is looking to rebuild after successive losses against Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022. He returned to winning ways by outpointing Jermaine Franklin in April, but delivered a lacklustre performance that drew criticism from fans and pundits.

That fight was his first under new trainer Derrick James after Joshua decided to move away from home comforts to team up with the American in Texas.

Having failed to shine against Franklin, questions have been raised about whether the change in environment has benefitted Joshua.

The two-time world champion is happy with his current set-up, though, and feels he is doing everything right to get back to the top of the heavyweight division.

‘What’s beautiful about sports is there’s always a next opportunity to prove yourself, so no matter what happens, there’s a process that I’m following and I just know that if we look at history, everything will work out for me,’ he said.

‘I’ve just got to ride the wave, stay consistent, stay focused and when the opportunity presents itself… everyone can write you off, but if you believe in yourself and you continue on your journey, 100 per cent you will overcome.

‘Only you can defeat yourself. Not anyone else.’

Joshua claimed he would retire if he lost to Franklin, but he now appears to have no plans to hang his gloves up any time soon.

After making a name for himself as a knockout artist in the early stages of his professional career, Joshua has now gone almost three years without a stoppage win.

There are doubts about whether Joshua still has the spitefulness in him that saw him dominate boxing’s blue-riband division, but he believes he should not be written off just yet.

‘If I give up and I’m like, “Yeah, I haven’t got it anymore”, then you can say I’m not the same fighter. But I just know this is going to work,’ he continued.

‘People look at you like you’re crazy, which people probably think now, (asking) “why is he not being aggressive?” I just know what I’m doing is going to work at the right time.’

Joshua’s next test will come against fellow Brit Whyte at a sold-out O2 Arena on August 12.

Their first meeting in the professional ranks came eight years ago, with Joshua knocking Whyte out with a vicious uppercut in the seventh round.

Joshua is unsure whether Whyte has improved since, and has questioned why his rival has changed trainers so regularly in recent years, but admits it will not be an easy night’s work in the capital.

‘What Dillian lacks in certain areas, he makes up for in others. Has he improved? I don’t think he’s improved massively but he’s maintained his standard,’ Joshua concluded.

‘Look how many times he’s moved trainers. He’s moved trainers so many times. Maybe he’s not developing at the rate he needs to, or people aren’t teaching him the things he needs to learn and it’s not good enough. He probably knows it himself.

‘That’s probably why he’s moved trainers so much. I was thinking about this the other day. He was with Okoh, Tibbs, Xavier, Buddy McGirt, Johnathon Banks, but one thing that he has got is the fight and in America they call it the dog. He’s got the dog in him.’

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They still bully me after 14 years – Aiyegbeni on missing tap-in for Nigeria

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Former Super Eagles striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni has cried out over the bullying he suffers in the hands of Nigerians over the goal he missed 13 to 14 years ago.

Nigerian football fanatics are finding it difficult to forget the events of June 22, 2010 when Aiyegbeni missed a tap-in during a World Cup game between Nigeria and South Korea.

The miss came when Nigeria was trailing the Koreans 2-1 in their final Group A match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, South Africa.

The ‘Yak’ would later score from the penalty spot but Super Eagles fans were, at the time, unable to move past the unbelievable miss.

In a recent interview, the video was shared on social media platform, X, and he cried out that he is still getting messages from angry fans who are demanding an explanation of how he missed the tap-in with the goalkeeper and defenders out of the way.

“I still get messages from people. Different messages. I remember one was sending a message last week and he was like ‘how do you explain that goal missed to you daughter Kayla’ he mentioned my daughter’s name ‘Kayla’. I was like 13 to 14 years ago and people still think about that,” he said.

“I got a message today and someone was like ‘you’re the worst Super Eagles striker’ because of that particular goal I missed. They never think about all the other goals I’ve scored.

“They never think about when I scored goals in Sudan when nobody thought we’d qualify for Korea Japan 2002. We went to Sudan. Nobody ever thought we’d qualify because the weather there was crazy. If we get a draw or lose we’re out.

“There I scored 2 goals. Julius Aghahowa scored one and Jay Jay Okocha, ‘pa Jay’ scored another one. We won 4-0. That gave us the ticket and went to Korea-Japan 2000.

“But people in Nigeria never speak about how I made them qualify but didn’t go to the World Cup. I was shocked. I played 99.9% of every game to qualify Nigeria for Japan/Korea and I was dropped.”

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Inter Miami making Messi work too hard – Coach, Martino

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Inter Miami are expecting too much work from their Argentine star Lionel Messi, coach Gerardo Martino said on Friday, ahead of the team’s Florida derby clash with Orlando City.

Miami are unbeaten in their opening two games, with a home win over Real Salt Lake followed by a draw at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.

But with a busy run of fixtures for club and country coming up for Messi this month, Martino says the team need to find a way to reduce the eight-times Ballon d’Or winner’s workload.

“I feel that in these last two matches, he has expended too much energy, and that is also my responsibility to make sure the team operates in a way that we can use him in the best way,” Martino told reporters.

Messi has been playing in a relatively free role, behind former Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez, often floating deep to find the ball and then seeking to drive his team up the field.

It was Messi’s stoppage time goal that earned Miami a point at the Galaxy but Martino says the performance took a lot out of the 36-year-old.

“I’ve been discussing some things with him and what concerns me the most is the day-to-day and how he is recovering game by game. I feel that in these first two matches, we have relied on him too much, which has caused him significant fatigue in both games,” he said.

The former Argentina and Mexico national team coach said the team have to re-find a way to provide Messi service closer to goal.

“In the Leagues Cup game against Orlando (last season), he often found the ball in the final quarter of the field and was able to finish the play, he scored from inside the area. That’s what we need to get back to, the team finding him to make plays and sometimes finding him for the finishes,” he said.

Miami are hoping their latest Argentine signing, midfielder Federico Redondo will have his paperwork resolved in order to make his debut on Saturday.

 

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Lagos FA Cup Kicks Off With No Sponsor, 80 Clubs Eye Star Prize

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Chairman Lagos State Football Association, LSFA, Ogboni Fouad Oki says this year’s Lagos State Challenge Cup popularly known as Lagos FA Cup would go ahead without sponsor.

The much awaited Lagos FA Cup would kick off on Saturday 2 March 2024 across the designated centers.

No fewer than 80 clubs are expected to participate in this year’s edition.

Although Winners Golden Bet, a well known Betting Company has been sponsoring the Lagos FA Cup more than six years, but the company is not part of this year’s edition which gives football stakeholders a lot of concerns.

Oki explained that he is not disturbed that no company or individual has partnered with the association for FA Cup but remained optimistic that the competition would get a sponsor before it gets to the quarter final stage.

“I am not too bothered about the sponsorship of the competition.If you look at the country presently, many companies are still struggling to survive but i want to assure the participating teams and football fans before the tournament reaches quarter final, sponsor would surely come.

“We the organising committee are still working on the possibility to get one or two sponsors on board.Like i said i am not really worried and the most important things is that the competition would kick off on Saturday,”he said.

The Lagos FA boss expressed satisfaction with the number of teams that are participating in this year’s edition.

He disclosed that the state has largest number of entries among the states in the country and charged the teams that would represent the the state to do well in the Federation Cup and possibly win the trophy.

“Lagos has number of entries compare to other states that have less than 10 teams in their state’s FA Cup.If we have such numbers of teams registered and i expect any team that would represent Lagos should make us proud and bring the Federation Cup back to the state,”he said.

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