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Djokovic missed playing big US events, excited to be back

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Novak Djokovic said he missed playing in the biggest tournaments in the United States and was thrilled to be back after easing to victory in his first singles match there in two years at the Cincinnati Open on Wednesday.

The 23-times Grand Slam champion was not allowed to compete in the U.S. last year and earlier this year over his refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccine, but returned after the U.S. government relaxed its rules for unvaccinated foreign travellers in May.

Playing singles in Cincinnati for the first time since 2019, the 36-year-old Serbian won the first set 6-4 against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who later retired with a back issue.

“Time flies. Four years seems like it was yesterday. So it’s definitely nice to be back,” Djokovic told reporters. “I’ve had some really nice memories from this tournament.

“Winning it in 2018 obviously is a highlight for me, because it was the only Masters I hadn’t won for years. I think I lost four or five finals mostly to Roger (Federer).

“But I played well in the past and was really glad to have a chance to come back to the States. It’s been two years. I missed it. Some of the biggest tournaments in our sport are played on American soil. I’m just excited to play some tennis.”

World number two Djokovic, who lost the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz last month, is looking to capture his third Grand Slam title of the season at the Aug. 28-Sept. 10 U.S. Open.

The 2021 New York runner-up last competed on hardcourts in March and said it was too early to rate his form on the surface after a rusty first match back.

“Some positives, some negatives. But at the end of the day, it’s expected. First match coming back,” said Djokovic, who will meet fellow veteran Gael Monfils next.

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Nigeria Premier League

Eyimba FC International on expansionist mission- Ekwueme

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Nigerian professional football league and continental soccer record holders, Eyimba football club fc of Aba has commenced the

Nigerian professional football league and continental soccer record holders, Eyimba football club fc of Aba has commenced the implementation of an expansionist idea that would spread the club franchise, further past its current torrents, the club Sporting Director, ex intetnational , Ifeanyi Ekwueme has disclosed.

Ekwueme speaking in Kano last Tuesday,.further revealed that the club management under the pilot of Atlanta 96, Olympics football gold medalist, Kanu Nwankwo has embarked on the implementation of a newly designed development template that would stampede the influence of the club franchise on Nigerian, African and international football climes.

He said, Eyimba fc is a trademark that has excelled over time, Kanu Nwankwo regime currently at the helms of affairs at the club is building on the heroic achievements of the club by resorting to building bridges across Nigeria and beyond.

Ekwueme said ” we have signed partnership that involves exchange programmes, we are committed to coaches development mini and major projects

He further said ” we now have the requisite development structures, with our now in place youth football and semi professional talent development programmes , this is vital and critical.

” Eyimba is not a stagnant or zero football brand, we are a broad football brand, that is why, we are committed to partnerships that are results oriented and have them spread across Nigeria and extend same to the continent and beyond.

He averred that though there are challenges, the current leadership of the club is focused and committed towards surmounting the hurdles and posed to take the club to the zenith of club side football, where Eyimba fc is rightly believed to belong to.

Ekwueme appealed to the fans and their partners to keep faith with the Eyimba fc brand , stating that the club has witnessed enviable improvements in the area of football coorporate administration that he said is now yielding dividends and would continue to help the Aba football warlords to improve in the delivery of mandated club football services and business divdends expected by all stakeholders.

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Nigeria Premier League

Lagos State FA Congratulates Madiba, Inter Lagos, Ikorodu City, On NNL Play-offs Tickets

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The Lagos State Football Association ably led by Hajji Gafar Liameed, has congratulated the trio of Lagos State based football clubs, Madiba

The Lagos State Football Association ably led by Hajji Gafar Liameed, has congratulated the trio of Lagos State based football clubs, Madiba FC, Inter Lagos and Ikorodu City, for qualifying for the NNL Super 8 payoffs.

In the press statement, Hajji Gafar Liameed described the qualification of the teams, as remarkable and very commendable.

“Lagos State Football Association, the stakeholders and indeed, all lovers of the game are very happy over the feats of these teams, and of course, what it portends for the development of the game in Lagos State.

“As we earnestly look forward to big time and top level football matches in Lagos State in the next season, Lagos FA, shall continue to give technical and every other necessary supports to all clubs, for the benefits of game in the state.”

The board of the Lagos State Football Association, also expresses its profound appreciation to the Lagos State Government and its agencies, including the Lagos State Sports Commission, for providing the enabling environment for social activities and particularly, football to thrive in the state.

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Nigeria Premier League

Stormers FC will return to NNL soonest, Olopade Assures

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The Chairman / proprietor of Stormers Sports Club of Abeokuta, Chief Bukola Olopade, has promised that with proper restructuring, planning and complete dedication of the players and coaches of the team, the relegated Nigeria National League club will return to the professional league cadre, sooner than expected.

Stormers SC, at the end of the concluded NNL 2023/2024 season were relegated to the lower Nationwide League after ammassing a meagre 24 points in 22 matches in the Group A of the NNL.

The team’s below par NNL outing only saw them winning 7 matches, lost 12 and drew three games, only good enough for the bottom third position in a league of 12 teams.

Stormers SC scored 16 and conceded 10 goals, a performance not good enough to keep the team in the professional league, when compared with the NNL Group A Champions, Madiba FC, that finished with 40 points with the same number of matches in the league, won 18 games, lost 6 and drew 6.

Olopade, a former Commissioner of Youth and Sports in Ogun State, stated that, by all standards, Stormers SC’s performance was not befitting enough and he doesn’t have any option than to make positive changes in the team that would lead them to greatness.

Olopade said on Monday in his office in Lagos that: “The relegation of Stormers SC from the professional NNL to the amateur Nationwide, is failure on the part of the technical crew and the players.”

He noted that, with the new plan for the club ahead of the 2024/2025 campaign, he would ensure Stormers Sports Club return to the NNL sooner than anyone expects. Adding that :”The goal of the team is to get promoted back to the NNL and in record time step up to the premier league and play prominently in the Nigeria Professional Football League. I believe strongly this is possible with hard work and investment in young players who will believe their future is in the team.”

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