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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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Nigerian League

NNL solicits for funds from cooperate organisation

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NNL solicits for funds from cooperate organisation

The Nigeria National League, NNL, has appealed to cooperate organisations for funds to assist in the effective running of the second tier league.

NNL chairman, George Aluo noted that the unavailability of funds has hindered the progress of his administration.

“I must continue to express my appreciation to Alhaji Gusau for finding me worthy to serve as NNL chairman and a board member of the NFF,” he stated.

“My appeal is that corporate organizations should come to our aid and do what GTI is doing for the NPFL.

“We’re not saying they should give us money to put in our pockets. Let them take care of referees indemnity and once this is done, the referees will not be intimidated but rather be at their best and it will now be possible for teams to be winning more on the road as is presently being witnessed in the NPFL.”

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Nigerian League

NPFL reschedules matchday 30 fixtures

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NPFL reschedules matchday 30 fixtures

The Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL, has rearranged the matchday 30 fixtures, DAILY POST reports.

Three games were initially scheduled to take place on Saturday April 13th, 2024.

The games have now been moved to Sunday April 14th.

The matches affected are the ties involving Doma United and Remo Stars, Bendel Insurance versus Kano Pillars and the Oriental derby between Rangers and Abia Warriors.

The remaining matchday fixtures will be played on Tuesday, April 16th across all venues.

The NPFL Chief Operating Officer Davidson Owumi disclosed this in a memo sent to the affected
clubs.

Rangers currently occupy the top position in the NPFL table with 51 points from 29 games.

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Nigerian League

Asuquo wins Enyimba Player of the Month award for March

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Asuquo wins Enyimba Player of the Month award for March

Uwana Asuquo has won Enyimba’s Player of the Month award for March.

Asuquo beat midfielder Elijah Akanni to the award.

The defender won 51.7 votes, with Akanni getting 48.3 votes.

The right back helped the People’s Elephant secure two victories at home against Niger Tornadoes and Doma United, respectively.

Asuquo has featured in 22 games for Enyimba in the Nigeria Premier Football League this season.

He has two assists to his name.

Asuquo will be hoping to continue with his standout performance as Enyimba continue their title fight.

Enyimba will face Heartland in a matchday 30 fixture in Aba on Sunday.

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