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Bertolini steps down as Italy coach after World Cup exit

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Milena Bertolini said she has left her role as Italy head coach after their group stage exit from the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Italy began with a 1-0 win over Argentina but were thrashed 5-0 by Sweden before being eliminated in dramatic fashion on Wednesday, when South Africa scored a stoppage-time winner to win 3-2 and leave Bertolini’s team third in Group G.

Bertolini, 57, took charge in 2017 and oversaw Italy’s stunning run to the 2019 World Cup quarter-finals. Their early exit this year was another disappointment after the Euro 2022, where they finished bottom of their group with one point.

“I leave the national team after so many beautiful and very intense years, which I will always carry with me,” Bertolini said on Sunday in a lengthy statement posted on her Instagram.

“It is not always possible to achieve positive results, but I have no doubts about everyone’s commitment and good intentions.”

A day after Italy’s exit, a statement on Instagram signed by “players of the national team” said the team were “not put in the condition” to succeed. The statement was shared by veteran forwards Cristiana Girelli and Barbara Bonansea, among others.

“Too naive and obvious is the search for a scapegoat,” Bertolini said. “I do not feel any resentment and I have no reason to feel or look for a culprit.”

Bertolini had said earlier Italy’s dented confidence after the 5-0 defeat to Sweden likely played a major part in their loss to South Africa.

“We were never afraid. But we didn’t feel there was a lot of confidence in us either,” the players’ statement read.

“The national team is made up of a core of 16 Roma and Juventus players. We think it’s fair to ask how come a national team made up of this group of players … struggles a lot first at the Euros and now a World Cup.

“The feeling of regret is still strong because we came to this World Cup wanting redemption … We’re sure we could have got different results if only we’d been put in the condition to do so.”

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Nigerian League

Dreams FC land in Uyo for crunch clash with Rivers United

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Ghanaian club, Dreams FC have arrived Uyo for their CAF Confederation Cup clash with Rivers United.

Abdul Karim Zito’s side top the Group C table with 12 points from five games.

The Ghanaian FA Cup champions need just a point from the game to secure a place in the quarter-finals.

Rivers United occupy third position in the group with nine points from same number of matches and just 1-0 win will be enough for the Port Harcourt club to qualify for the knockout round.

The encounter is slated for the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo on Sunday.

Tunisia’s Club Africain and Academica do Lobito of Angola will clash in the other group game.

 

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Nigerian League

StarTimes to air four NPFL games weekly

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StarTimes has increased its weekly live broadcast of Nigeria Professional Football League matches to four from February, instead of the usual two live matches per week.

The Pay-TV firm said fans should brace themselves for an electrifying weekend as the NPFL serves scintillating fixtures on Beta Sports channel 244 on StarTimes.

As the sun sets on Saturday (today) at 5:30pm, Remo Stars take on Bayelsa United. Remo, renowned for their attacking flair, aim to extend their winning streak, while Bayelsa, hungry for points, will be out to play party spoilers.

Also, Doma United square off against Sporting Lagos on Monday. The stakes are high as both teams jostle for mid-table supremacy.

Midweek, two matches were already aired live. Some of the other matches scheduled for this weekend like the Gombe United vs Shooting Stars match have been rescheduled to Tuesday.

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Nigerian League

NPFL U-17 Youth League: Elegbeleye Reveals Major Reason Behind Programme Creation

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The Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) has revealed that the major reason for making inroads into the NPFL Youth League is to have a pool of players the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) can consider for international youth tournaments.

At a media parley in Benin, venue of the maiden edition of NPFL Youth League Playoff, NFF 2nd Vice-Chairman and NPFL Chairman, Gbenga Elegbeleye also said the league body has picked some former Super Eagles players whose recommendation would be relied upon to assemble a solid structure for the junior national teams.

“Nigeria have an enviable record of winning the U-16 World Cup on five occasions. However, we couldn’t even qualify from Africa the last time the competition was held due to our lack of planning.

Now that we know that without good planning, you can’t get result, we decided to come up with the idea of the NPFL Youth League exclusively for players in the elite league.

With that, we hope to have a pool of talented players where NFF can pick for U-17 Africa Cup of Nations or FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

He insisted that NPFL should be the main focus of such players.

Four ex-Nigeria International players were unveiled as brand ambassadors.

They are current Super Eagles coordinator Patrick Paschal; Nigeria’s third highest scorer of all time, Yakubu Aiyegbeni; Seyi Olofinjana, a chemical engineer and NFF technical director, Augustine Eguavoen.

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