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Enoch Nwali On Cloud 9 After Winning 2023 Lekki Scrabble Classics

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The tense muscles on Enoch Nwali’s face began to relax as they stretched into a smile, revealing a sigh of relief for the African champion as he confirmed his first-place position at the 2023 Lekki Scrabble Classics after a rigorous 18 rounds of games over two days.

Playing in the Nigerian circuit by any crowned champion in this game has shown that nothing is guaranteed as every player is capable of creating a devastating upset- the signature of the finicky game in Nigeria.

For Nwali who is the current African champion, the journey to the top was interestingly arduous despite having a dominating run, starting from the first day when he recorded a draw in round three against former African champion Moses Peter after 11 rounds.

His winning streak appeared to have ignited some flames as other top players took turns to challenge him on Table 1.

Former World Champion and two-time winner on the continent Wellington Jighere, Sunday Oshodi and Timi Doko all tried to remove him by out-pointing him as games were running out but failed.

Only Olatunde Adigun on 13 wins, who has found good ground in Lekki in the past succeeded twice but faltered on his third attempt in the crucial 18th round for Nwali to win the coveted title and a prize of N500,000 with an unassailable result of 14 wins, one draw and two defeats.

His impressive stats showed he played a total of 43 Bingos with an average of 2.4 per game while his opponents played 27 Bingos.

“I really don’t know what made me stand out, but I was very calm even when l was losing a few at the closing stages, I wasn’t scared. I just didn’t allow the loss to get to me. What I just did was to focus on the next game, and remain calm. Even when I knew I could have won the game against Adigun” he revealed.

Jighere came second with 13 wins same as Adigun, James Ewruje, Dayo Tayo and Oshodi following suit but with different cumulative points.

Unexpectedly, the LSC2023 organisers would surprise all by awarding spot prizes to the top three players in other categories.

In the intermediate, Dayo Tayo, Adowei Ebikeme, Akpojotor Ochuko and Curtis John all got rewarded as well as Priscilla Akhabue who got 100,000 naira as the Best Female.

Dickson Iyelih, Kuye Ademola, James Eteng and Eniola Ashaolu were also rewarded as top Open players.

Adowei who was the immediate past President of Lekki Scrabble Club Adowei showed he was truly at home as he shocked bookmakers to claim the Most Valuable Player.

Players were also presented with opportunities to win with monetary rewards in every round once they could meet different criteria set during the tournament.

LSC President Engr. Samuel Anikoh commended all participants as he extolled members for the success of the Classics.

“I feel honoured to be honest as the President of the club. It’s quite interesting that joining the club, I just felt I would play based on my childhood passion, but things just evolved, and I took up the mantle as the president. Under the leadership of Adowei Ebikeme, the former president he helped establish our tournament as a mainstay in Nigeria. “

“It’s been an exciting two days. Lots of players, lots of fun and I think worthy winners have emerged as well. Scrabble is an intellectual game and it’s also an interesting sport good for our youths especially children in schools.”

“We hope one day, players will be able to win as much as N10m as prize money because it’s such a game that offers so much for development. We want support,” he said.

He thanked the management of Ikoyi Club 1938 where the LSC was held for its support in making the second edition more memorable.

Over 90 players from Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Rivers, Edo, Delta, Osun and Kwara states featured at the Classics.

Nigeria remains one of the strongest bases of Scrabble in the world and the best in Africa.

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Xavi faces sack at Barcelona

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Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish

Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish media has reported.

Catalan radio station RAC-1 said president Joan Laporta had decided to sack Xavi, with daily newspaper Sport confirming the news, while AS said Barcelona were already deciding who would replace the coach.

In January, Xavi said he would leave at the end of the season but, after a run of strong form, in April he and president Joan Laporta agreed the coach would stay for the next campaign, with his contract expiring in June 2025.

However, Laporta did not travel with the team for their 2-0 in at Almeria in La Liga on Thursday, with Spanish media reporting he was angry with Xavi’s pre-match comments.

The coach had highlighted Barcelona’s financial difficulties in comparison to the strength of new Spanish champions Real Madrid and other European giants.

“Barcelona fans have to understand, we’re not in the same situation (as those clubs),” said Xavi on Wednesday.

The coach stood by his words on Thursday when he was asked about Laporta not attending the Almeria match.

“They haven’t told me anything personally… We travelled with the sporting vice-president, more directors, all normally,” Xavi told reporters late Thursday. “I said what I think is real, that we will fight for all the trophies, with a lot of hope, with ambition, but that the situation is not easy.

“We are working very well, the club most of all, to change this situation.”

Barcelona won La Liga last season but were not able to defend the title. They went out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals to Paris Saint-Germain and will end the season trophy less.

Real Madrid thrashed Barca in the Spanish Super Cup final while Athletic Bilbao eliminated them in the Copa del Rey.

In April, Xavi, 44, said he was “full of hope” and that fans, players and “above all the confidence of the president and (sporting director) Deco” was what convinced him to stay.

Laporta said at the time that he was glad Xavi would remain at the helm and that it was good for the stability of the club.

“It’s great news that Xavi is staying,” the president told a news conference.

“The team we have, that is (still) consolidating, with very young players, needs that stability.

“Xavi is a reference for young players and we can see that – today I’m especially pleased, and the board have unanimously supported this decision.”

Laporta appointed Xavi, one of Barcelona’s greatest ever midfielders, to replace Ronald Koeman in November 2021.

As a player, Xavi made 767 appearances for Barcelona, winning four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles, as well as the World Cup with Spain.

During his time as Barcelona coach, he lifted the Spanish Super Cup last season, along with the league title.

 

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Kane to miss Bayern’s game at Hoffenheim

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Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich's final game of the season with a back injury - less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his

Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich’s final game of the season with a back injury – less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his England squad for Euro 2024.

Bayern end their campaign at Hoffenheim on Saturday – live on Sky Sports – but Kane has not travelled with the squad.

“Harry Kane is receiving treatment from his personal doctor,” said Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel. “He can’t travel with us.”

Kane has not played since being replaced late in Bayern’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final second leg earlier this month.

Bayern were leading 1-0 in the Bernabeu – and 3-2 on aggregate – when Kane was replaced but conceded two late goals to exit the competition.

Tuchel explained after that defeat that striker Kane had suffered a back injury and on Friday he said: “It was already questionable in Madrid. It’s gotten worse.”

Bayern have endured a difficult campaign, failing to win the Bundesliga for the first time in 12 seasons and exiting the DFB Pokal to third-tier Saarbrucken.

owever, Kane has enjoyed a prolific campaign on an individual level, scoring 44 goals in 45 games across all competitions after joining Bayern from Tottenham in August.

 

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Van Persie lands first managerial role with Heerenveen

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Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has been appointed as manager of Eredivisie side Heerenveen, the

Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has been appointed as manager of Eredivisie side Heerenveen, the Dutch club has announced.

The 40-year-old, who retired from playing in 2019, has signed a two-year contract in his first role as manager of a senior team.

He has previously spent time working at Feyenoord, the club he began and ended his playing career with, where he took charge of the under-18s side.

Van Persie is the all-time top scorer for the Netherlands national team and was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2012, one year before he won the Premier League title with Manchester United.

Heerenveen, who are 10th in the Eredivisie, face Sparta Rotterdam in their final match of the season tomorrow.

 

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