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NPFL Oriental Derby: Rangers Hold Heartland In Awka

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Rangers International F.C maintained their dominance over neighbours, Heartland F.C at the weekend courtesy of a goal in each half of a highly entertaining match day 7 of the NPFL 2023/2024 fixture played in front of a massive crowd at the Awka City Stadium, Anambra State on Sunday.

Coach Ilechukwu of Rangers kept faith with the starting squad that lost narrowly to Lobi Stars but for the duo of Philip Clement and Kenechukwu Agu as Kazeem Ogunleye shot the ‘Flying Antelopes’ into an early lead with an unstoppable free kick from about 25 meters that the goalkeeper for the visiting side, Chisom Chiaha had no answer to on three minutes.

Stunned as they were, the boys of the ‘Naze Millionaires’ side under coach Christian Obi swooped on the rear of Rangers with ceaseless attacks led by Samuel Stone, Patrick Nwaogbaga, and Chijioke Opara pulling the strings but met very stiff resistance from the backline fielded by coach Fidelis Ilechukwu.

While there were opportunities to increase the tally for the Enugu side through Isaac Saviour on 43 minutes, Chukwudi Nwaodu on 18 minutes, and Chidiebere Nwobodo on 35 minutes, the visitors also created some that could not be buried, especially a late first-half rally the saw one opportunity crash against the upright and another against the crossbar as the seven-time league champions retired to the dressing room on the driver’s seat.

On resumption of play, both sides upped their game with the Owerri side pushing for an early equalizer. Still, it was the host that increased their tally in 57 minutes when Kenneth Igboke reacted the quickest to bundle home a Chisom Chiaha’s saved penalty kick taken by Godwin Obaje after a handball incident that occurred after an earlier awarded penalty for a foul on a goal-bound Obaje had been pushed out by the goalkeeper. Still, Peters Afolayan stopped the ball with his hand.

Ifeanyi Ogba blazed his effort wide off target after he was set up by Joel Okoro on 75 minutes while Chiaha produced another spectacular save to deny Kazeem his second of the day on 85 minutes from another dead-ball situation as the arbiter whistled to end proceedings to send fans of the Enugu side into wild jubilations.

With the win, Rangers bounce back into the top spot on the log with thirteen points from seven matches and will be travelling to Akure for a date with Sunshine Stars in a match day 8 fixture on November 12, 2023.

Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu in a chat after the win, said, “It was a good game. Heartland did very well as a team as it was a derby match. We tried our best and did not concede that is the most important thing because I told the boys that we must play without conceding a goal so that we can come up on the table and we thank God we won the game today.”

Kazeem Ogunleye was full of joy as he said, “I feel very happy about the result because we have been playing games and conceding but today, we did not concede and won. On my goal, I am very elated as I have been practising it and I am happy it went in.”

Coach Christian Obi in his post-match chat, said: “In the game of football three outcomes are expected and today we lost not for want of trying but we were unlucky against our opponents, Rangers. We made some careless mistakes, especially in conceding the first goal which jolted my boys into action but could not convert our chances when created but hit the woodwork twice. It was an unfortunate loss.”

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Liverpool offer too big to reject – Arne Slot

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Arne Slot says the opportunity to work at one of the "biggest clubs in the world" was "difficult to ignore" as he was confirmed as Liverpool

Arne Slot says the opportunity to work at one of the “biggest clubs in the world” was “difficult to ignore” as he was confirmed as Liverpool’s new head coach.

The Reds agreed a compensation deal worth £9.4m with Feyenoord in April after the 45-year-old was identified as the man to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

Klopp, who had been in charge of Liverpool since October 2015, left the club following their season-finale win against Wolves on Sunday.

After the game, the 56-year-old German called on Liverpool fans to get behind their new boss, chanting “Arne Slot, na na na na na”.

Slot’s three-year contract at Liverpool will officially start on 1 June, subject to a work permit.

“It is certainly not an easy decision to close the door behind you at a club where you have experienced so many wonderful moments and worked successfully with so many wonderful people,” Slot told Feyenoord’s club website.

“But as a sportsman, an opportunity to become a head coach in the Premier League, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, is difficult to ignore.”

Following Liverpool’s announcement on Monday, Mohamed Salah appeared to suggest he would remain at Anfield next season.

“We know that trophies are what count and we will do everything possible to make that happen next season. Our fans deserve it and we will fight like hell,” the 31-year-old posted on X.

Liverpool rejected a £150m offer from Al-Ittihad for Salah last summer, but the Saudi Pro League’s director of football Michael Emenalo later said the door was not closed to the Egypt winger.

 

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Burnley’s Kompany surprise candidate for Bayern job

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Burnley boss Vincent Kompany is a surprise name on Bayern Munich’s list of potential candidates to become their new coach.

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany is a surprise name on Bayern Munich’s list of potential candidates to become their new coach.

The Bundesliga giants have struggled to find a replacement for Thomas Tuchel, whose exit was confirmed last week after initially being announced in February.

Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso, Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann and Austria coach Ralf Rangnick have all turned the job down.

Talks aimed at persuading Tuchel to stay on failed to reach a positive conclusion, leaving Bayern with a problem.

Kompany has built a decent reputation during his time at Anderlecht and Burnley, although the Clarets’ relegation – following lofty pre-season expectations – has not reflected well on the Belgian.

However, he has knowledge of the Bundesliga from his time as a player at Hamburg and speaks German.

If Bayern were to make a formal approach, it is sure to be attractive to Kompany, who signed a five-year contract extension at Burnley in 2023 but refused to answer questions about his future after Sunday’s season-ending defeat by Nottingham Forest.

Bayern endured a trophyless campaign under Tuchel, finishing third in the league behind unbeaten champions Leverkusen and second-placed Stuttgart.

 

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Mikel Arteta is ‘creating a monster’ at Arsenal – Fabregas

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Cesc Fabregas has backed Arsenal to continue challenging Manchester City for the Premier League title next season, claiming that Mikel Arteta

Cesc Fabregas has backed Arsenal to continue challenging Manchester City for the Premier League title next season, claiming that Mikel Arteta is ‘creating a monster’.

Arsenal suffered disappointment on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday as City sealed a 3-1 win at home to West Ham to be crowned champions for the fourth campaign in a row.

Arteta’s side ended up two points behind Pep Guardiola’s men but Fabregas believes City have not received enough credit for their historic success in the Premier League.

‘It’s still an achievement,’ Fabregas told El Larguero.

‘They don’t give it that much attention either because it’s, ‘oh, they always win’, but it’s very difficult, very difficult.

‘They have a lot of money and they have the best players but it is also very difficult because you are competing in the Champions League against Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona.

‘In the Premier League, Arsenal are creating a monster too and they [City] continue to beat them and compete well and it’s not the end.

‘My admiration comes from knowing what I do now and how much work does not stop to continue improving and analysing and creating game plans, what they do at the highest level every three days and switching from cup competitions to the league is amazing and I hope that one day I have the opportunity to be on the same pitch as them.’

When asked what he learned during his time under Wenger at Arsenal, Fabregas said: ‘How to be a manager.

‘Like now I am lucky to be experiencing something unique because when I know when I leave I will be a normal coach.

‘In the club where I work now I am lucky to control everything a little bit. The truth is that I think a lot not about how Arsene was the manager but how to control everything when it comes to scouting, how to manage staff, where to get your staff, how to control different groups, how to create a work culture within the club to make the whole family grow together.’

Asked what he took from playing under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Fabregas said: ‘How to manage the dressing room.

‘How to play with the players’ heads. He is the coach who has known the best how to play with my mind, both when I was not well or when I was.

‘He always made me feel the best and this is very important as I am seeing it day by day now.’

 

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