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Saudi Arabia appoint Italy’s Roberto Mancini as national team coach

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Roberto Mancini has been named as the new coach of the Saudi Arabia national team on a deal reported to be worth more than $25m a year, after his surprise decision to quit the Italy job earlier this month.

The Saudis, who beat eventual champions Argentina at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, have been without a coach since Herve Renard left to take charge of France’s women’s team.

Mancini, 58, led Italy to the Euro 2020 title but failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup.

“I am immensely honoured to be offered the position as Saudi Arabia national team manager,” Mancini, who has signed a four-year contract, said on Sunday.

“I believe this is a great opportunity for me, to experience football in a new country, especially with the growing popularity of football in Asia.”

He added: “The presence of top players in the Saudi Pro League indicates the potential for growth in the national football scene.”

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter, has made waves this summer by buying a host of players from European clubs for teams in the Saudi Pro League.

Brazil star Neymar was the latest in a growing list of big names to be attracted by the huge sums offered by the Saudis after Cristiano Ronaldo kicked off the trend by moving to Al Nassr in January.

Shock move
Mancini’s resignation from the Italy job came as a shock, as earlier this month he had been handed responsibility for the country’s Under-21 and Under-20 teams.

He was heavily criticised for his decision especially following early reports that he was set to accept a mega-money move to Saudi, which he denied was the reason behind his resignation.

Mancini, who was replaced by former Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti, had a mixed time in his five years as Italy coach.

Victory at Euro 2020 seeming to revitalise a troubled football nation. But the Azzurri failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup following a disastrous play-off defeat to North Macedonia, the second straight time they missed the world’s biggest football tournament.

As a player, Mancini won the 1991 Serie A title and four Italian Cups with long-time club Sampdoria, where he starred in attack alongside recently-deceased Gianluca Vialli.

Newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport reported on Sunday that Mancini’s contract in Saudi Arabia would come with an annual salary of 25 million euros ($27m).

A Saudi Arabian Football Federation’s (SAFF) statement did not disclose his salary.

“The appointment confirms the new era of growth for the Saudi Arabian national team and marks a new milestone in Mancini’s distinguished career,” the Saudi federation said in a statement confirming Mancini’s appointment.

Mancini was due to arrive in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Monday to be presented to the media.

“We are delighted to welcome Roberto Mancini to lead the Green Falcons,” SAFF President Yasser Al Misehal said.

“His experience and proven track record at club and international level marks a significant step towards achieving our goals in international football.

“Roberto believes in Saudi football and our desire to develop top competitive players and take them to new heights on the world stage – including the Asian Cup in Qatar and qualification for the 2026 World Cup … We’re a footballing nation and we [are] continuing to invest at every level in our journey to compete with the best in the world on and off the pitch.”

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National Anti-Doping Bill 2024: Sports Minister applauds Tinubu’s foresightedness

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The Honourable Minister of Sports Development Senator John Owan Enoh salutes President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for placing premium on the National Anti-Doping Bill , thereby giving the Nation a reputation.

The transmission of the Anti-doping Bill 2024 to the National Assembly and the accelerated passage of same remains a landmark achievement of this administration. It is a show of the courageous and bold leadership of the president, a final and appropriate response to the perennial issues of doping that have characterized Nigeria’s relationship with the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA).

Senator John Owan Enoh the sports minister always made it clear that this administration was greeted with WADA issuing a notice to ban Nigeria from International Competitions which degenerated to the point that the agency took Nigeria to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Amidst other non-compliant issues, the main challenge was Nigeria’s inability to domesticate the National Anti-doping Law and setting up a National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) as part of its obligation having signed the international convention in 1999.

“ for years,the country has grappled with meeting up to the expectations of the World Anti-Doping Organization ,despite being a foundational signatory for 25 years.
Nigeria has been in the eye of the storm due to its inability to domesticate the Anti-Doping Law with the backing of parliament.
I must thank our sports loving president for his foresight immediately the issues were brought before him .His foresight and actions have put the country on the right path in sports.
I also appreciate the National Assembly for the passage of the bill ,consideration and approval of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters during plenary.
The county will no longer have doubts of its participation in global sporting events, eligibility to host sports competitions amongst other perennial issues” the Sports Minister said.

This welcome development comes weeks before the country’s participation at the Paris Olympics 2024.

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Bafana Bafana Must Fall, Sports Minister Charges Super Eagles

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Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, on Monday, rallied support of critical stakeholders and Nigerians for Finidi George,

With the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in full swing, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh has called on the Super Eagles to shift their focus from their recent African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and concentrate on the crucial task of securing a spot in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The Super Eagles are set to face Bafana Bafana of South Africa on Friday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, and Senator Enoh stated that Nigeria must approach the tie as a make-or-break one, as victory will put the team back on track for qualification.

“The FIFA World Cup is the biggest showpiece in football,” Senator Enoh emphasized. “We cannot afford to miss out on the World Cup again. The disappointment of missing the last tournament, especially after the disappointing home match against the Black Stars, must drive us to ensure we qualify this time.”

Senator Enoh urged all stakeholders, including players, coaches, and support staff, to be fully committed to the qualification campaign. “All hands must be on deck to ensure the team qualifies for the World Cup,” he stressed. “I urge the players to get the job done in the first half of the game by scoring early goals, so they are not under pressure in the second half.”

“The upcoming match against South Africa is critical,” Senator Enoh said. “The players need to put the AFCON glory behind them and concentrate fully on this task. Early goals will be key to taking control of the game and ensuring a less pressured second half.”

Senator Enoh concluded by expressing confidence in the Super Eagles’ ability to rise to the occasion and secure a much-needed victory. “We have the talent, the passion, and the support of millions of Nigerians. Let’s channel that into a winning performance and take a significant step towards World Cup qualification.”

The match will kick off at 8 p.m. local time on Friday, June 7, at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo. Nigeria currently has two points from two games and sits third in their group of six teams.

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South Africa coach names Super Eagles winger as danger man ahead of WCQ

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South Africa coach, Hugo Broos, has named Super Eagles and Atalanta winger, Ademola Olajade Lookman as the danger man for Nigeria ahead of both teams’ clash this evening, Soccernet.ng reports.

Both sides met in the semi-final of the AFCON 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast, with the Super Eagles emerging victorious after 120 minutes of intense football. Stanley Nwabali was the hero, denying Bafana Bafana twice from twelve yards.

Lookman is a leading candidate for the CAF Player of the Year Award, after a stellar season with Atalanta, getting to the Copa Italia final, and scoring a hat-trick against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the UEFA Europa League final.

Broos, speaking in his presser ahead of their game against Nigeria, highlighted the Atalanta man as the threat for his side but admitted their focus as a team won’t be on the former Leicester City forward.

“Obviously, the (Nigeria) danger man is Ademola Lookman, but we are not focusing on that. We are focusing on our game, we have the ability and we have proven that at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire,” the Belgian said in quotes revealed by Score Nigeria.

Lookman is primed to step up for the Super Eagles of Nigeria against South Africa tonight, alongside Victor Boniface, after the Nigerian attackers enjoyed success with their European club sides this season.

Samuel Chukwueze is a doubt for Finidi George ahead of tonight’s game. The A.C. Milan right winger did not take part in the final training session of the Super Eagles.

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