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Tennis: Iga Swiatek, Karolina Muchova set for rematch



Iga Swiatek held off a strong challenge from former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova to reach the third round of the Canadian Open to set up a tasty rematch with Karolina Muchova.

Fresh from winning her maiden title on home soil in Poland a fortnight ago, Swiatek was involved in a scrappy opening set with Pliskova before getting her act together to a secure 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 victory to take her 2023 win-loss record to 48–7.

“This first match was a challenge, it’s always a challenge especially against a player like that,” Swiatek said after the match.

“She for sure used her experience in the first set, but I am happy that I could close it in a tie-break, and in the second set I was more solid because I really wanted to reset, think about what I could do better and I am pretty glad that I did that.”

The world No 1 did get off to a blistering start as she broke in the opening game of the match, but her Czech opponent hit back immediately. Swiatek again got her nose in front in game seven, but again her rival countered with an immediate break.

And so it went to a tie-breaker, which the Pole edged.

From there it was much more straightforward as Swiatek broke in games two and six of the second set, although Pliskova did get one break back.

Roland Garros runner-up Muchova awaits in the third round and when the pair met in Paris just over two months ago, Swiatek came out on top with a 6–2, 5–7, 6–4 win.

But the four-time Grand Slam champion knows she cannot rest on her laurels.

“I think any way we have to be ready for the next match and kind of expect that anything can happen because tennis can be pretty unpredictable,” Swiatek said.

“You know, one player can have a bad day. At the same time the other one can play the best tennis of their life.”

Meanwhile, Wimbledon winner Marketa Vondrousova ended former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki’s comeback run as she beat the Dane 6-2, 7-5 in the second round.

More than three years after she retired, Wozniacki returned to action in Montreal on Tuesday and comfortably beat qualifier Kimberly Birrell from Australia.

However, Vondrousova was always going to be a step up and the Czech claimed a solid win to set up a clash against sixth seed Coco Gauff, who defeated Katie Boulter 6-2, 6-2.

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka kicked off her campaign with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) win over Petra Martic while third seed Elena Rybakina survived a test as she beat the resurgent Jennifer Brady 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

“I would say the conditions are little bit tricky,” Sabalenka said. “I was practicing in Florida and the bounce was completely different. I remember in US Open and Cincinnati the ball bounces high. Here the ball is not bouncing at all. So it’s a little tricky to play here but I hope to adjust and play my best tennis.”

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Jos, Plateau Comes Alive As NNL AGA Holds This Friday




All is set for the Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria National League which is scheduled to hold in the capital city of Plateau state.

Already, stakeholders have started arriving the Tin City for the one-day deliberation.

The AGA which is the first activity of the season will see the NNL board meet with the 40 club representatives to fashion our all formalities for a successful season.

Kickoff date, format, funding and other matters of critical importance will be decided at the assembly.

NNL Chairman George Aluo who is already on the ground, gave further insight on the agenda.

“At the NNL AGA we will be rubbing minds with the club owners, share our thoughts and plans with them and be on the same page and decide when the league will start basically, as that is the most important thing so that after the AGA in Jos, we should be able to tell Nigerians when the league will kickoff.”

He continued, “The President of the NFF Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau has given us a mandate to start the league on time and ensure it aligns with the international calendar and that is the direction we want to go. So we have come up with our own plans and by the time we finish with our AGA in Jos, we’ll tell Nigerians what the plans are and how the league will be played.

He revealed that the board ” has put some plans in place as the NNL has been able to partner with the National Institute for Sports (NIS) for a pre-season capacity building seminar for our coaches. We want to upscale our coaches to make them better. Already, we have invited some resource persons from the NIS and the Technical Director of the NFF Augustine Eguavoen who will be involved in that and a Portuguese coach Thiago Conde so, at the end of the day, we would have upscale our coaches technically and before the start of the season by the time you’ve taken them to the classroom, I’m sure it will rub-off on the NNLas the 2023-2023 season gets underway.”

He appreciated the Plateau state Government for hosting the board as they begin deliberation this Friday.

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Colombia 2024: Falconets progress to third round as Mauritius withdraw




The Mauritius Football Association has notified the Confederation of African Football of the withdrawal of the country’s U20 Women National Team from the ongoing African qualifying series for next year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals.

“Kindly note that CAF was informed of the withdrawal of Mauritius FA from the African qualifiers of FIFA U20 WWC 2024. Consequently, Nigeria is qualified to the next round of the competition and the missions of all officials of matches 37 & 38 are cancelled,” read a communication from CAF to the Nigeria Football Federation.

The Falconets were to fly to Mauritius next week for the first leg in Saint Pierre against the Mauritius U20 girls, with the return leg scheduled for the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday, 14th October.

With this situation, 2022 World Cup quarter-finalists Nigeria now progress to the next round of the qualification series.

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Confed Cup: Insurance players vow to beat RS Berkane for their chief motivator, Obaseki




As Federation Cup champion, Bendel Insurance of Benin plays RS Berkane on Friday in a Caf Confederation Cup match, the players and officials said they are ready to shed blood to win for the good people and government of Edo State especially their number one supporter and motivator Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Though Insurance has a mountain to climb in the decisive leg in Morocco after they were forced to a 2-2 draw by RS Berkane at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, in the first leg on Saturday, September 16, they are confident that will beat their host and qualify for the next round of the competition.

Monday Odigie’s side will miss the services of striker Osarenkhoe Imade, who scored their opener in the first leg as well as their other goal in the last round.

The 22-year-old just penned a deal with United Arab Emirates side, United FC.

Despite missing their highest goal scorer from last season, stand-in captain and goalkeeper, Amas Obasigie, echoed the confidence of the team.

“Knowing the honour that awaits us if we beat our opponents to qualify for the group stage, we are going to fight for everything in the field of play to go home happy. We made two mistakes in Benin and will not want a repeat. We are facing very strong opponents who have been champions twice in a space of three years, but we will not allow their intimidation to affect our play. They should expect a good fight from us the way they also fought in Benin.

“Above all, we want to fight to win for our state Governor, who has been wonderful in giving his all, in sponsorship and motivation that has taken us thus far both in the domestic league and continental level,” Obasogie said.

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