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Pochettino says Chelsea must ‘grow up like a team’

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Mauricio Pochettino said his Chelsea players need to grow up as a team after they were beaten 1-0 at Stamford Bridge by Aston Villa to fall to their third loss of the season.

The game turned with the sending off of Chelsea’s Malo Gusto after 58 minutes when the score was still 0-0. His challenge on Lucas Digne was late and caught the Villa defender on the ankle, and after a pitchside VAR review referee Jarred Gillett upgraded the initial yellow card to a red for dangerous play.

Pochettino brought on Ben Chilwell and moved Axel Disasi to right-back, but the dismissal did not much alter Chelsea’s attacking intent as they continued to seek out a winner.

It was a decision that would come to haunt them, as with the home side committed inside Villa’s half Moussa Diaby broke with the ball and fed Ollie Watkins, who after seeing his first shot blocked by Levi Colwill scored with his second, angling the ball beyond Robert Sanchez and in off the far post.

It was the second time in two seasons that Watkins has netted in a Villa victory at Stamford Bridge, as Unai Emery’s side took full advantage of Chelsea’s ongoing inability to turn promising situations in the final third into goals, before pouncing when their own moment came.

Striker Nicolas Jackson, who has scored just once since his £31million summer move from Villarreal, again cut a frustrated figure as he picked up his fifth booking of the season for attempting to block a Villa free-kick, incurring him a one-game ban.

Pochettino refused to criticise the officials and said it is the players that must take the rap for the team’s poor start to the season.

“It’s our responsibility and the players’ responsibility,” said Pochettino. “We can’t blame the VAR or the referee. The situation, we need to act different, in a different way. I’m not going to blame or say anything against Malo Gusto. Situations happen in football and they affect the game and the team in a negative way.

“We need to grow up like a team, not only in an individual way. A player like Nico (Jackson) that is so young, feeling the Premier League and he’s learning, he needs time. In this type of game, we’re competing and we want to win. But players, when they are young, need to learn with experience.

“That’s why we feel disappointed because we are playing too many situations like this. Another small detail and in the end we are losing the game. We are in a situation we need to change as soon as possible.”

Chelsea largely dominated up until the red card with Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk particularly lively attacking down either flank.

But the team were dogged by a familiar failure to turn pressure and possession into gilt-edged chances as their scoreless run in the league extended to three games.

“It was a little bit unlucky,” said Pochettino. “How many chances did we have like Aston Villa? They shoot, we block, then they shoot and it touches the post and goes in. For us, how many one v one against (Emiliano) Martinez? We were a little bit unlucky but that happens.

“We need to accept the reality. But it was unlucky because how many chances did they create? Not many. With 10 men we were forcing them to go back.

“That is unlucky. We need to be aware about what is going on but in some way we need to be calm because the team is creating, the team is alive, the team is fighting every single action.

“We cannot say anything about the players, we cannot say that they gave up after 70 minutes. They were fighting until the end with one player less.”

Villa boss Emery reflected on a performance that he said was proof of his side’s powers of recovery after their 3-2 loss to Legia Warsaw in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.

“Overall I think we are progressing,” he said. “We changed some players, we had some difficult injuries. The most important thing, we tried to create our style and ideas as quick as possible with the players we added this season.

“The first way to get it I think is to be consistency defensively, be competitive like we were today.

“We’ve been strong at home, playing really good and winning a lot of matches. But away we have to try to get the same performances and the same structure.

“Today, to win here at Chelsea, 90 minutes everything that happened today was something normal. To win here is not easy. If the match had gone different we could have lost as well. I’m very happy. We felt strong defensively, better than the last match we played away.”

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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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