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Emiliano Martinez booed at Ballon d’Or ceremony

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Emiliano Martinez was booed at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris on Monday night as he collected the best goalkeeper’s Yashin Trophy.

Martinez thwarted France in the 2022 World Cup final, making a crucial one-on-one save from Randal Kolo Muani in extra time to take the game to penalties, before making two more saves in the shootout to help clinch Argentina’s first World Cup since 1986.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper was criticised in the aftermath of the final, however, for his overzealous celebrations when he was pictured carrying a doll of France captain Kylian Mbappe during the trophy parade in Buenos Aires.

Martinez arrived at Ballon d’Or ceremony to chants of “Mbappe!” outside the venue. Later, after receiving his award from his father on stage, boos could be heard as he was interviewed by host Didier Drogba while a video played his famous save from Kolo Muani in the background.

Martinez’s teammate Lionel Messi won a record eighth Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world, beating Norway’s Uefa player of the year and treble winner Erling Haaland of Manchester City to the prestigious prize. The 36-year-old is now three Ballons d’Or clear of rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the last of his five trophies in 2017.

Messi has now finished among the top three a record 14 times in total, finishing runner-up on five occasions.

“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved. The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It’s nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing,” Messi said.

“All of them (Ballon d’Or awards) are special for different reasons,” he added. “I’m happy to get that recognition that I’m getting thanks to what we have achieved with the national team,” Messi told Reuters. “This (World Cup) title we had been aiming for for so many years makes it even more special.”

Asked if he would carry on until the 2026 World Cup, Messi said: “I don’t think about it. I’ll enjoy (my career) day by day. There will first be the Copa America in the United States (in 2024). (The World Cup), I don’t think about it.”

Spain’s World Cup winner and Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati won the women’s Ballon d’Or. “It’s an individual trophy but it can’t exist without a team,” she said.

Messi, who won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009 and claimed four in a row until 2012, finished second to Haaland at the Uefa awards in August.

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Dominican Republic 2024: Flamingos thrash Burkinabe girls 6-0 to cruise into final round

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Nigeria reached the final round of the African qualification series for this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals after a 6-0 defeat

Nigeria reached the final round of the African qualification series for this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals after a 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday evening.

Goal-poacher Harmony Chidi, who netted six of Nigeria’s dozen goals in the 12-0 annihilation of Central African Republic in the first round and also got the team’s goal in the 1-1 draw away in Bamako last week Saturday, came up big again with a hat-trick in front of delighted spectators in Nigeria’s administrative capital.

She put the Nigeria U17 girls in front after 11 minutes, capitalizing on a defensive blunder by the duo of Faridatou Ouedraogo and Obaidatou Nkiema to dribble past goalkeeper Agueratou Baguian. Four minutes later, Shakirat Moshood’s angled shot was foiled by the upright, and in the 27th minute, Peace Effiong’s dashing run ended with a tame shot.

Effiong made amends in the 34th minute, riding a couple of rough tackles to flash past the overworked Baguian as spectators egged the Flamingos on. She should have made it 3-0 with four minutes left in the first period, but got too much purchase on the ball from four yards.

In the second half, visiting goalkeeper Baguian drew applause with an excellent double save from Harmony Chidi in the 55th minute, but the World Cup bronze medallists reserved their greater potency for the last quarter-hour. In the 74th minute, Taiwo Afolabi’s soaring volley from 20 yards rocked the crossbar, but Chidi was on hand to coolly nod it into the net.

Substitute Ramota Kareem made it four in the 84th minute. Two minutes later, Chidi got her hat-trick with a dipping shot, and with one minute left on the clock, Effiong got her brace after a wonderful team move.

Victory earned Nigeria a 7-1 aggregate win, and a place in the final round against the winner of the Senegal/Liberia fixture. The first leg is scheduled for Saturday, 8th June.

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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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