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Madrid goalie Navas grateful for Zidane’s support

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Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas has thanked Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane for the confidence shown in him through a difficult 2017-18, as speculation in Spain continues that the Bernabeu outfit have ended their chase for Manchester United’s David De Gea.

Navas had a foot operation last summer and on his return made a number of high-profile mistakes through the autumn and winter.

He has also been whistled at the Bernabeu as recently as March, but he returned to form in the crucial part of the season and made impressive stops in the Champions League semifinals against Atletico Madrid and last weekend’s 4-1 final win over Juventus.

The Costa Rica international’s uncertain form led to rumours that Blancos president Florentino Perez was keen to finally seal a deal for Spain No. 1 De Gea, who almost joined Madrid two years ago in a deal that would have seen Navas moving to Old Trafford.

Speaking on international duty the Los Ticos captain said that support from Zidane and his teammates at the Bernabeu had been vital to getting over some difficult times.

“I began the season injured, then it was difficult to recover,” Navas said. “I wanted it to be easy, but it wasn’t like that. Now I feel much more strengthened on a footballing and spiritual level.

“I owe thanks to Zidane, and one way to repay him is to play as well as possible so that his decisions are backed up. Everyone likes that someone supports them when you are in a difficult moment, even more your teammates who are there day to day. Seeing that they never doubt you is something that motivates you.”

During the celebrations of Madrid’s back-to-back Champions League win in Cardiff, Zidane reportedly told Navas that “you are my goalkeeper,” with others in the dressing room apparently making it clear to Perez that they were happy with the current situation.

Marca have now claimed sources at the Bernabeu have confirmed to them that given Navas’ return to form, and United’s apparent €75 million valuation of De Gea, they have ended any interest in signing the ex-Atletico Madrid shot-stopper.

Navas has also revealed that he will not play for Costa Rica in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States, as he will be elsewhere in the country ensuring he gets a proper preseason with his club.

“These are decisions taken by the coaching staff and the player,” he said. “I have had a very long year, many games, injuries, and we often need the space to recover for the next year, which will also be very difficult.”

There is, however, expected to a be a goalkeeping change at the Bernabeu this summer, with last season’s third choice Ruben Yanez, 23, moving on in search of first-team football elsewhere. That could see Luca Zidane, 19, promoted to the senior squad, despite some uncertain form in last season’s Europa Youth League campaign.

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NFF makes new appointments

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Tuesday announced the appointments of new media officers for the various National Teams.

In a statement signed by Demola Olajire, NFF Director of Communication, Toyin Ibitoye and Miss Jane Nweze have been retained for the Super Eagles and the Super Falcons, respectively, until after the two teams’ major championships.

He said Ibitoye and Nweze will still retain their positions until the Super Eagles’ AFCON finals in Egypt and the Super Falcons’ FIFA World Cup finals in France, NAN reports.

Olajire, however, announced the appointment of Pius Ayinor as media officer for the Super Eagles B, also known as CHAN Eagles.

“Sharif Abdallah will serve as media officer for the U-23 National Team (Olympic Eagles), while Andrew Randa will take charge at the camp of the U-20 Boys National Team (Flying Eagles).

“Cecilia Omorogbe will work with the U-20 Girls (Falconets), while Francis Achi will serve the U-17 Boys (Golden Eaglets) and Faith Meremegbunam will work with the U-17 Girls (Flamingos).

“Tobi Adepoju will be media officer of the U-15 National Boys (Future Eagles),’’ Olajire said.

According to him, all the newly-appointed media officers will serve until after their next major championships, before giving way to other persons to also benefit from the experience.

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My expectations from Man United, Man City clash – Guardiola

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Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola has revealed what he expects when his side tackle Manchester United in Wednesday’s Premier League derby clash.

Guardiola says he expects the ‘best’ Manchester United team to face Man City at Old Trafford.

Man City head to the game following a 1-0 victory over Tottenham on Saturday, while Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s side were defeated 4-0 by Everton on Sunday.

“I expect the best United tomorrow, I am sure,” Guardiola was quoted by Man City’s official website as saying in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“They are bright. Football players try to do their best and tomorrow is going to happen. We prepare for their strong points and weak points.”

Guardiola added: “I don’t make theories about what happened in the past. Every game is completely different.

“The fact is this club grew a lot in the last decade, so it is not scary to go there.

“Before that, it was maybe more difficult. The players Manchester City have had in the last decade made this game a little bit more equal.”

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Man Utd vs Man City: Solskjaer releases killer squad

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Manchester United have released a strong squad to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in Wednesday’s Premier League derby fixture at Old Trafford.

According to Mirror UK, Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer released a list of 25 players on Tuesday.

Man United head to the game following a 4-0 defeat to Everton in the Premier League on Sunday at Goodison Park.

Below is Man United’s Premier League squad against Man City:

De Gea, Romero, Grant, Dalot, Darmian, Bailly, Valencia, Young, Jones, Shaw, Lindelof, Rojo, Smalling, Herrera, Fred, Matic, McTominay, Pereira, Pogba, Lingard, Mata, Martial, Sanchez, Lukaku, Rashford.

The kick-off time for the match is 8pm.

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