De­cem­ber 8, 2018

The Punch - - SPORT ON SATURDAY -

More stars have con­firmed their par­tic­i­pa­tion for “The Match: A Cel­e­bra­tion of Ex­cel­lence in Sports.” Amongst them are AF­CON 2019 qual­i­fiers lead­ing scorer with six goals, Odion Ighalo Ivory Coast leg­end Di­dier Zokora.

The event, meant to cel­e­brate Gover­nor Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode’s strides in La­gos, will pit past and present African stars against their Nige­rian coun­ter­parts at the Onikan Sta­dium, La­gos, on March 16, 2019.

Ighalo, who plays in China, is re­port­edly ex­cited with the prospect of join­ing some of the big­gest names on the con­ti­nent in cel­e­brat­ing Am­bode for his ef­forts in sports de­vel­op­ment in the state.

Also listed for par­tic­i­pa­tion is for­mer Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and Ivory Coast mid­fielder Zokora, who’s the Ele­phants’ most capped player.

Chelsea leg­end, Di­dier Drogba, Sene­gal’s El-hajj Diouf, ex-ar­sr­nal de­fender Kolo Toure, Ghana­ian duo Michael Essien and Stephen Ap­piah and French World Cup win­ner, Chris­tian Karembu, had al­ready sig­ni­fied their in­ten­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the event.

From the home front, ex-su­per Ea­gles stars Sam­son Si­a­sia, Nwankwo Kanu, Austin Okocha, Joseph Yobo, Julius Agha­howa and oth­ers will file out for the Nige­rian Le­gends ver­sus the African All-stars.

Liberian Pres­i­dent, Ge­orge Weah, is also ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in ‘The Match.’

One of the or­gan­is­ers of the event, Waidi Akanni, an ex-in­ter­na­tional, said, “As in­ter­na­tion­als, we have seen the in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ments in La­gos un­der Am­bode. The Onikan Sta­dium that has been aban­doned over the years is un­der re­con­struc­tion to meet FIFA stan­dards. Tes­lim Ba­lo­gun Sta­dium is un­der­go­ing sim­i­lar re­con­struc­tion while the Agege and Epe sta­di­ums are in fan­tas­tic shape not to talk of the Mara­cana sports com­plex in Aje­gunle.”

Jose Mour­inho be­lieves Manch­ester United are be­gin­ning to dis­cover their “mad-dog” men­tal­ity but knows points are more im­por­tant than per­for­mances, Sky Sports re­ports. United have dropped to eighth in the Pre­mier League ta­ble, 18 points adrift of Manch­ester City, af­ter a run of four games without a vic­tory.

Mour­inho stated af­ter last Satur­day’s 2-2 draw with Southamp­ton that his side lacked “mad dogs” will­ing to fight for the team but he was more pleased with his side’s dis­play against Arse­nal on Wed­nes­day, when they twice bat­tled back from a goal down to earn an­other 2-2 draw.

“There are spe­cial play­ers with spe­cial char­ac­ter­is­tics,” Mour­inho said, ahead of the visit of Ful­ham to Old Traf­ford on Satur­day.

“Just to give you a cou­ple of ex­am­ples – (An­der) Her­rera, (Mar­cus) Rash­ford – they are the kind of play­ers that even if their game was not phe­nom­e­nal, that in­ten­sity, that de­sire, that pas­sion and that sac­ri­fice is al­ways present.

“But I pre­fer to say that the team as a team had that men­tal­ity. We have to try to trans­port that to this game. I know that it is only two days. I know that it is not easy.

“But no excuses. I sat here a few weeks ago speak­ing about the De­cem­ber month and no de­feats – that is a re­al­ity – good

Adekunle Peter, Benin

Gover­nor God­win Obaseki of Edo State has as­sured that his ad­min­is­tra­tion has the ca­pac­ity to host the 2020 edi­tion of the Na­tional Sports Fes­ti­val. Obaseki stated this dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 19th Na­tional Sports Fes­ti­val in Abuja on Thurs­day.

“My state is more than ready to host the next Na­tional Sports Fes­ti­val as it’s high time we re­gained our lost glory in fights and good spirit but just one vic­tory against Young Boys and three draws. We need points.”

Mour­inho’s side have been crit­i­cised for their lack of run­ning of sea­son.

Through 15 games, United have cov­ered 1,618km (av­er­ag­ing 108km per game) and made 1472 sprints (av­er­ag­ing 98 per game). Both those to­tals rank 16th in the league.

Liver­pool and Manch­ester City are first and sec­ond in sprints while Arse­nal and Tot­ten­ham are first and sec­ond in dis­tance cov­ered.

Mour­inho ap­pears to have taken the crit­i­cism on board as he was keen to point out his team im­proved in those ar­eas against the Gun­ners.

United cov­ered 108.5km, which is just above their sea­son av­er­age, while Arse­nal cov­ered 114.5km.

They made 119 sprints, which is a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease on their sea­son av­er­age, and that was more than 97 man­aged by Arse­nal. sports,” Obaseki said.

He also urged Edo ath­letes to give their best at Abuja 2018.

“Edo State is known for pro­duc­ing great sports­men and women and I charge you to en­sure you do the state proud by win­ning medals,” he told the Edo con­tin­gent.

In his re­marks, the Min­is­ter of Sports, Solomon Dalung, con­firmed that he had re­ceived two ap­pli­ca­tions from Edo and an­other state to host the fes­ti­val in 2020.

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