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NPFL 2018/19: Opening Matchday sees twist in expectations

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Michael Babatunde
The Matchday 1 of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2018/19 came with surprises as the expectation of the usual home win didn’t pull through, uniquesports reports.

The result has got many talking of the expectation of a shocker in the league this season as favourite teams to win the league prior to their signings suffered setbacks

Enyimba, seven-time champions put up a wonderful display with an easy 2-0 victory over Mountain of F ire at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba on Sunday.

The people’s elephant had the biggest win of Matchday 1with goals from Nelson Ogbonnaya in the 13th minute and Abdulrahman Bashir in the 54th minute.

Chukwuka Onuwa and Stanley Okorom had nothing to show for joining MFM FC.

El-Kanemi were good travelers in their opening game as they defeated Akwa United by a lone goal at the Nest of Champions in Uyo.

Akwa’s hired Brazilian trainer Rafael Everton along his countryman and midfelder Alberico da Silva could not do enough in their opening match.

Big names such as Juwon Oshaniwa, Mfon Udoh, Ndifreke Effiong, Emeka Atuloma and Ocheme Edoh in the lineup for Akwa couldn’t strike fear into their opponent from the southeast.

BabaGanaru’s boys were holding on till the fourth minute of added time when Ba’akaka Ajikolo who came on for Ali Aliyu, barely nine minutes on the pitch found the back of the net from Akwa goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo’s hilarious action.

Kwara United and Sunshine Stars shared spoils in Ilorin in an entertaining 1-1 draw.

The Ilorin team had no goal standing but lucky of Seun Olulayo’s own goal.

Kwara had their first goal denied, a penalty saved in the 15th minute when Sunshine’s goalkeeper David Ariyo kept out Segun Alebiosu’s spot kick.

Franklin Sasere gave the Akure side the lead in the 41st minute after Olulayo’s long ball unsettled the Harmony Boys’ backline. Sasere, under pressure from a United defender saw Yusuf Mohammed off his line before lobbing his effort into the back of the net.

The host while seeking an equalizer saw Owello and Usman combined to deliver a cross for Alebiosu whose header into the net was ruled offside.

The Ilorin side continued to torment Sunshine’s defence and could have leveled things on the hour mark when Alebiosu’s effort cannoned off the post from a tight angle.

Kwara United eventually equalized when Sunshines’s Olulayo in the 71st minute diverted Usman Mohammed’s cross into his own net with less than 20 minutes to time.

Ifeanyi Ubah survived the scares of the intimidating Plateau United with a 0-0 scoreline in

Despite Plateau’s pressure with a bench looking stronger that their opponents XI, Ifeanyi Ubah were solid in their defence and rarely launched an attack, they parked the bus.

Ifeanyi Ubah were however wasteful as the limited chances they could have converted were fluffed.

Abia Warriors were not lucky on their journey to Lafia as they lost 0-1 to Nasarawa United.

The southeastern team has never lost an opening match since they joined the NPFL IN 2014.

Abdullahi Abubakar’s strike in the 20th minute was enough for Nasarawa United who have endured struggling starts in recent seasons.

Ebele Obi’s aided Pillars 1-0 victory over Heartland in Kano. Chinedu capitalized on Obi’s poor goalkeeping to fire in from close range in the 16th minute.

Pillars could only do with the early one goal lead to scale through the pressures of Heartland in the absence of their goal poacher, Junior Lokosa.

Heartland’s Chidiebere Ajoku got a goal in the second half but the referee came to the rescue of Kabiru Baleria’s boys to declare the goal offside.

NPFL continues as matchday two fixtures hold this midweek.

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Football

If you want to win trophies, Leave Tottenham, Ibrahimovic tells Harry Kane

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Former Manchester United striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has told Tottenham Hotspur star, Harry Kane to leave Spurs, which according to him is a normal club, if he want to win trophies.

Kane, who is currently sidelined due to injury, is expected to return to training in March.

The 25-year-old injured his ankle ligaments at the end of Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in a Premier League encounter last week after a collision with Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof.

Ibrahimovic, who has represented the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Inter Milan, believes the time has come for Kane to leave Tottenham in pursuit of silverware.

“When I was in England, I saw him [Kane] play, I think he is a good striker,” the La Galaxy striker told Bethard.

“He’s still developing, he’s doing good things. But I always say, playing in a big club, performing good is different from playing in – with all due respect to Tottenham – a ‘normal’ club.

“Performing there is a different situation, because I saw players do the same thing, but when they go to a big club something is different.

“I think he can make it. He just needs to make the move and people will remember you for what you win and. In the end, he needs to win.

“If he wants to win, I think he needs to change. I think Tottenham has a great team but they’re not at the level to win everything, even if they’ve got a fantastic coach.”

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New Barcelona signing, Boateng to wear No 19

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The 31-year-old Ghanian Star, kevin-Prince Boateng has been reported to have accepted to waer the number 19 shirt previously worn by El Haddadi, Lucas Digne and Sandro Ramirez, uniquesports reports.

Boateng completed a €2million move to Barcelona from Serie A side, Sassuolo, on Monday and was unveiled on Tuesday at the Camp Nou.

The deal includes an €8million option for Barcelona to buy the former Tottenham and Portsmouth star if he impresses.

Boateng will stay in Spain until the end of the season.

Speaking after his unveiling, Boateng told reporters: “It’s a big dream come true. It’s a big honour for me to be here.”

Boateng will hope to feature for Barcelona when they tackle Girona on Sunday in the La Liga fixture.

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Football

Sala’s father, mother cries out over missing Cardiff striker

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Cardiff City striker, Emiliano Sala’s mother and father have confirmed that their son was on board a plane that went missing from the English Channel on Monday night.

Sala was on the light aircraft that disappeared from radar on Monday night while apparently flying from Nantes to Cardiff.

The 28-year-old was announced as a new signing for Premier League club Cardiff City on Saturday, signing a three-and-a-half year deal, for a club record fee believed to be around £10 million.

Sala’s father, Horatio, told Argentine TV station Channel 5 News on Tuesday: “A friend told me the situation of my son, I did not know anything, I’m in Rosario, I’m desperate, I hope everything goes well.”

His mother, Mercedes, added: “The plane is from the President of Cardiff City FC, they informed us that the plane had disappeared and that they were looking for it.”

Meanwhile, Cardiff City chairman, Mehmet Dalman said in a statement on Tuesday through the club’s official website that the light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night.

Dalman said: “We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night.

“We are very concerned about the safety of Emiliano Sala.

“We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further.”

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