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Celtic vow to break 10-year Champions League spell against Lazio

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Once feared as a fortress of European football, Celtic are aiming to end a 10-year wait for a Champions League win at home when Lazio visit Parkhead on Wednesday 4 October 2023.

Brendan Rodgers wasted no time on his return as the Hoops’ manager in revealing his ambition to finally make a mark on the Champions League.

CELTIC RECORD ALONGSIDE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
In domestic football, Celtic remain in a class of their own, having won 11 of the last 12 Scottish Premiership titles and four domestic trebles in the past six seasons.

But Rodgers was in charge during his first spell at the club the last time the Hoops won a game in Europe’s elite competition in 2017 away to Anderlecht.

After failing to qualify for the next four seasons, Celtic collected just two points from six games on their return to the Champions League last season under Ange Postecoglou despite some impressive performances.

The reality facing Rodgers was laid bare in a 2-0 defeat to Feyenoord two weeks ago.

After a bright start, the visitors were undone by red cards to new signings Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Thiago Holm, whose inexperience showed on their Champions League debuts.

Celtic’s business model of hoovering up young talent from around the globe at bargain prices to be developed and sold on at big profits has been highly successful for the club’s bank balance.

FINANCIAL CONCERN IN THE PREVIOUS SEASON
Financial results for last season revealed a club record pre-tax profit of £40.7 million ($50 million) for the 2022/23 season and £72 million of cash in the bank.

Rodgers could be forgiven for wishing he had, therefore, been handed more significant funds to strengthen his squad in the transfer window, especially after suffering a number of injuries to key players early in the season.

“If you look at the strategy of the club, it’s signing the younger players to develop and improve,” said the Northern Irishman. “You need quality, and you need experience, and that will obviously help and support potential that you have.

“So that’s something that hopefully, over the course of my time here, the squad can regenerate into that way.”

After spending most of his managerial career in the Premier League, Rodgers is having to readjust to living within the constraints of a budget in the small pond of Scottish football.

But he still believes Celtic are capable of far more than they have shown in recent times in European football.

The Scottish champions have not won a knockout tie beyond the qualifying stage in any European competition since 2004, during which time local rivals Rangers have reached the UEFA Cup and Europa League finals.

RODGERS WANTS TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN EUROPE
“We want to see if we can make an impact in Europe,” added Rodgers. “It’s always a challenge at the really highest level, but we want to go in there and see if we can progress and show our good side.”

Lazio’s own troubles give Celtic some encouragement – as does recent success against the Italians. Four years ago, they beat the Biancocelesti home and away in the Europa League group stages.

Lazio arrived in Glasgow sitting just outside the Serie A relegation zone, having won just two of their opening seven league games of the season.

And they only salvaged a point at home to Atletico Madrid in their opening Champions League game thanks to a remarkable stoppage time equaliser by goalkeeper Ivan Provider.

Maurizio Sarri’s men appear there for the taking, but that requires Celtic to rise to the Champions League challenge for the first time in a long time.

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Nigeria Premier League

Ebi Egbe Lauds Elegbeleye, Aluo On Improved Fortunes Of Nigerian Football

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Renowned sports facility construction expert, Ebi Egbe, has expressed his satisfaction with the improved standards of the Nigerian football

Renowned sports facility construction expert, Ebi Egbe, has expressed his satisfaction with the improved standards of the Nigerian football league, particularly, the NPFL and the NNL, ably led by Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye and George Aluo respectively.

According to Egbe, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Monimitchelle Sports Facilities Company, Elegbeleye, has turned the NPFL to an attractive brand and with huge crowds coming back to watch the matches.

“I’m very impressed with what Hon. Elegbeleye is doing with the NPFL. Standards of matches have improved tremendously and importantly, the crowds are coming back to the stadium to watch their favourite teams.”

Egbe was equally effusive in praises for the Chairman of the NNL, George Aluo, who he commended for bringing vitality and improved organisation to the NNL.

“And without a doubt, George Aluo, has improved the organisation and standard of the league. The ongoing NNL Super 8 is a testament to the fact that the league can only get better,” Egbe said.

He went ahead to admonish well placed individuals and corporate organisations to give more supports to the Nigerian local football bodies.

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Nigeria Premier League

10th Nigeria Pitch Awards: Sanwo-Olu, Elegbeleye, Soname, Finidi in the spotlight as ceremony holds on Saturday

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There will be real pomp and pageantry in the city of Uyo on Saturday as the tenth edition of Nigeria Pitch Awards comes to town. The Ibom Hotel and Golf Resorts is the venue.

There will be real pomp and pageantry in the city of Uyo on Saturday as the tenth edition of Nigeria Pitch Awards comes to town. The Ibom Hotel and Golf Resorts is the venue.

Shina Phillips, chief organizer of the awards, said on Thursday that all is set for a ceremony that will be full of panache, glitz and glamour.

“As I said a couple of weeks ago, we are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a memorable tenth edition of the awards. All is set, and we are in Uyo not only to put up a super-show, but to mobilize resources within our capacity to support the Super Eagles to victory in tomorrow’s match. As an organization, we will continue to genuinely appreciate the NFF, the Super Eagles, all our friends, enablers, affiliates and commercial partners, for their support over the past 10 years, and to promise that the values of transparency, integrity and credibility will never depart from the Nigeria Pitch Awards.”

Nominees have been picked in all 18 award categories, with the winners to be unveiled on Saturday. The award categories include Goalkeeper of the Year, Defender of the Year, Midfielder of the Year, Striker of the Year, Queen of the Pitch, King of the Pitch, Sam Okwaraji Award, Football Pitch, Football-Friendly Governor, Corporate Sponsor, alongside several honours for media representatives.

Goalkeeper of the Year: Kayode Bankole (Remo Stars); Amas Obasogie (Bendel Insurance); Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba FC)

Defender of the Year: Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC); Ola Aina (Nottingham Forest); Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce SK)

Midfielder of the Year: Alhassan Yusuf (Royal Antwerp); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City); Alex Iwobi (Fulham FC)

Striker of the Year: Robert Mizo (Bayelsa United); Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen)

Queen of the Pitch: Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico de Madrid Femenino); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC); Asisat Oshoala (Bay FC)

King of the Pitch: Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Emeka Obioma (Enyimba FC); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen)

Team of the Year: Super Falcons; Enyimba FC; Remo Stars

Coach of the Year: Daniel Ogunmodede (Remo Stars); Finidi George (Enyimba FC); Randy Waldrum (Super Falcons)

Sam Okwaraji Award: Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Ahmed Musa; Kunle Soname (Proprietor, Remo Stars)

State With The Best Grassroots Football Development Programme: Edo State; Delta State; Lagos State

Football Pitch of the Year: Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos; Remo Stars Stadium, Ikenne; Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo

Football-Friendly Governor of the Year: His Excellency Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom State); His Excellency Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos State); His Excellency Godwin Obaseki (Edo State)

Corporate Sponsor of Football: Bet9ja (Sport Betting); GTI (Financial Services); MTN (Telecom)

Sportsmanship Award: Hon. Kunle Soname (Proprietor, Remo Stars); Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye (Chairman, NPFL Board)

Football Journalist of the Year (Print): Christian Okpara (The Guardian); Charles Diya (New Telegraph); Johnny Edward (Punch Newspapers)

Football Journalist of the Year (TV): Miyen Akiri (TVC); Mozez Praiz (SuperSport); Cecilia Omorogbe (Channels TV)

Football Journalist of the Year (Radio): Olawale Adigun (Mainland FM); Yinka Oyedele (Brila 88.9 FM); Anthony Bekederemo (Brila 88.9 FM)

Football Journalist of the Year (Online): Samuel Ahmadu (Savid News); Tobi Adepoju (Oganla Media); Kunle Solaja (sportsvillagesquare.com)

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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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