Southgate explains leaving Sancho and Chilwell out of England squad for Croatia clash

Kieran Trippier was given the nod to start on the left side of the defence despite the presence of the Champions League winner and Luke Shaw

Gareth Southgate says he left Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho out of the England squad to face Croatia in their opening game of Euro 2020 because they need cover for other positions.

The Chelsea left-back and Borussia Dortmund winger were not named among the substitutes for the clash at Wembley on Sunday.

Instead, England lined up with right-back Kieran Trippier on the left side of the defence, while Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling started on the wings.

What has been said? 

Chilwell and Sancho are not missing due to injury and Southgate says he needed different reinforcements available.

"With the two boys that are out of the squad, it's just unfortunate we can only name 23 and we've had to cover certain positions," Southgate told BBC Sport.

"I don't like the fact we're having to leave players out of the squad in a major tournament."

Why is Trippier playing at left-back?

Southgate's decision to put Trippier on the left despite the presence of Chilwell and Luke Shaw has caused some confusion among England fans.

But the coach is confident the Atletico Madrid player can offer the protection his side need on that side.

"With Kieran we feel he's a very experienced player and a good one-on-one defender to stop crosses coming in," he said.

"His communication and leadership will be a help and his experience will help us."

Further reading

(Originally posted by Peter McVitie)
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Orlando Pirates: Five players Bucs need to build their team on

Including last season's top eight title, the Sea Robbers have only won one competition in seven seasons and last claimed the league title in 2012
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Revealed: Tanzania’s XI vs Malawi – Manula starts as Bocco is captain

The towering Simba forward has been handed a start after missing the last three matches and will captain Taifa Stars in absence of Mbwana Samatta
(Originally posted by Dennis Mabuka)
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'I won't leave Real Madrid as a failure' - Hazard determined to show he's 'made for' the Blancos in 2021-22

The Belgian winger is looking forward to playing in front of supporters at Santiago Bernabeu after a "difficult" first two years in Spain

Eden Hazard has insisted that he won't leave Real Madrid "as a failure" and says he's determined to show that he's "made for" the Blancos in 2021-22.

Much was expected of Hazard when he arrived at Santiago Bernabeu from Chelsea for a club-record fee of €100 million (£86m/$121m) in June 2019.

Unfortunately, the 30-year-old has been unable to live up to that price tag due to a string of niggling injuries, and he has now opened up on his frustrations while away on international duty with Belgium at the European Championships.

What's been said?

"I'm only myself when I can enjoy myself on the pitch. That hasn't happened in the last two years at Madrid," Hazard told Het Nieuwsblad.

"If you have one or two injuries you can flip the switch, you recover to come back stronger, but if it's five, six, seven it's much more difficult mentally. But I keep going."

Asked if he has ever contemplated leaving Real, the former Chelsea winger responded: "It didn't occur to me for a second that it would be better for me to leave.

"I won't leave there as a failure. I only want to show that I'm made for Real Madrid.

"The last two years have been difficult, I've been at Madrid without really being at Madrid, you know... We've played in a stadium without fans, and I signed to play at a full Bernabeu."

Hazard's record at Real

Hazard has been restricted to just 43 appearances across all competitions during his first two seasons at Real, while missing a total of 60 games through injury.

The Belgium international only has five goals and six assists to his name so far, but did pick up a La Liga winners' medal in 2019-20.

Hazard on laughing after Real's Champions League exit

Hazard went on to address the criticism he received after being seen laughing with Chelsea duo Edouard Mendy and Kurt Kouma after Real were beaten 2-0 by the Blues in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge last term.

The Blancos were ultimately knocked out 3-1 on aggregate and Hazard saw his loyalty to their cause questioned, but he claims the incident was blown out of proportion.

"That was bad, yes," he said when asked to recall the pictures. "What [Edouard] Mendy and [Kurt] Zouma said wasn't even funny... If there was one game I wanted to win, it was against my former club Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

"I was surprised when I saw the images. I got some phone calls [from Real Madrid team-mates]. But honestly, it's a nice group of players, that's one of the reasons I want to stay, the atmosphere is impressive."

Further reading

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LIVE: England vs Croatia

17' Kane, the sixth player to captain England at both the Euros and a World Cup, gets on the end of Trippier's chipped free-kick to nod towards goal. The England striker was just offside in the buildup though.

16' Sterling finds Mount's run. Mount holds the ball up near England's left corner-flag and flings a cross into the box that Croatia head away. England get a free-kick as Phillips is tripped by Kovacic shortly after muscling Brozovic over.

15' England are playing what looks more like a 4-3-3 than a 4-2-3-1 with Phillips venturing high up the pitch and Rice dropping deep to help his centre-backs out. The line-up looks surprisingly well-balanced so far.

13' Croatia get their first real spell on the ball. England haven't allowed the visitors to breathe yet. Stones wins his aerial duel with Rebic and England are back on the attack.

11' Foden checks onto his left foot again and this time lays off to Mount. England end up losing the ball but show brilliant pressure to earn a throw-in. The hosts look highly motivated.

10' Phillips floats a pass out wide to Walker who's unable to get the ball under proper control. The partisan home crowd groan in disappointment.

9' Caleta-Car sticks a foot out to intercept Sterling's run to the left of the box. England get the first corner of the game. It's floated in and Phillips' volley from outside the box is tipped aside by Croatia's goalkeeper Livakovic.

7' Croatia break upfield and Rebic shoots from distance, forcing Pickford to make a routine save. This game has started with a welcome openness.

6' Foden hits the post! What a start to Euro 2020 that nearly was for the England midfielder! The Manchester City man, sporting a new blonde hairstyle, receives a pass from Sterling to cut inside onto his favoured left foot and strikes the bottom of the left-hand post. The ball ricochets out and Croatia hurriedly clear.

5' Croatia pop the ball around in front of England's box. Modric tries to weave his way through and the referee gives a free-kick for accidentally blocking the ball. Croatia achieve little with it.

3' England start the game on the front foot, giving away a free-kick as Sterling loses possession and checks the run of Perisic.

1' The Italian referee Daniele Orsato blows his whistle and we're underway here at a very warm Wembley!

The 22,500 fans at Wembley welcome the players out onto the pitch who stand for their respective national anthems. England will play in all-white, Croatia in all-black. England's players take the knee to protest racism. The reception, like last time, is mixed.

This game will be a test of England's promise. England have never won their opening game at a European Championship tournament, while Croatia are unbeaten in their five Euro openers. In fact, Croatia have lost just two of their last 11 games at the Euros, excluding penalty shoot-outs. England have never lost at Wembley in a major tournament though. Will home advantage help the Three Lions get off to a winning start?

Southgate selects a cautious England team for this first group game with Mings, Phillips, Rice, Mount and Foden making their tournament debuts. Grealish, England's brightest player in the pre-tournament friendlies, starts on the bench. Zlatko Dalic's Croatia look an experienced side. Their line-up, like England's, features six players which started in the 2018 World Cup semi-final. Left-back Gvardiol becomes the first teenager to feature in a tournament match for Croatia.

SUBS: Milan Badelj, Bruno Petkovic, Josip Juranovic, Mario Pasalic, Mile Skoric, Luka Ivanusec, Nikola Vlasic, Ante Budimir, Lovre Kalinic, Domagoj Bradaric, Simon Sluga, Josip Brekalo.

CROATIA (4-3-3): Dominik Livakovic; Sime Vrsaljko, Domagoj Vida, Duje Caleta-Car, Josko Gvardiol; Luka Modric (c). Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic, Ivan Perisic.

SUBS: Jordan Henderson, Reece James, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Dean Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Conor Coady, Ben White, Sam Johnstone, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw.

ENGLAND (4-2-3-1): Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Tyrone Mings, Kieran Trippier; Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice; Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling; Harry Kane (c).

Croatia were victorious in that World Cup semi-final match, of course, and many of their latest golden generation remain as they take part in their fifth European Championship in a row. The Central Europeans have lost to the eventual winner in three of their last four major tournaments. It'll take a team of similar calibre to dispatch them again.

Three years on from meeting in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-finals, England and Croatia meet again. England play hosts on their 10th European Championship appearance, with no side playing more games in this tournament without making the final. Gareth Southgate and his young Three Lions will be dreaming that this will finally be England's year.

Hello! Welcome to our live text commentary of this UEFA Euro 2020 Group D clash between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium, London.

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'I think we will grow' - Waldrum expects Nigeria improvement against Portugal

The American manager stated the Super Falcons would keep getting better while expecting them to step up against the European nation

Coach Randy Waldrum has insisted the Nigeria senior women's national team will continue ‘to grow’ despite losing to Jamaica on Thursday.

The reigning African women champions bowed 1-0 to the Reggae Girlz in their opening match of the United States of America Summer Series.

Despite a dominant display in Texas, Deneisha Blackwood’s second-half effort clipped the wings of the reigning African women’s champions – a result that also ended their seven-match unbeaten run.

Even at that, coach Waldrum claimed the team would continue to progress while expecting a positive response against A Seleccao das Quinas.

“I think we will grow. If we continue this way. I would expect the team to do much better tomorrow,” the 64-year-old said on the Super Falcons’ Instagram handle.

“The more time we can be together, the better we are going to be. I would expect things to look improved.

“Every time I step on the field, I expect to win. So, that never changes [against Portugal].

“I’m still hopeful that we may get one or two players before camp is over. But if not, we will move to the rest of the camping exercise with what we have.”

For Francisco Neto’s Portugal, they would be hoping to return to winning ways after losing to hosts United States in their first match.

Assessing the Europeans ahead of the fixture billed for Texas’ BBVA Stadium, the former Trinidad and Tobago handler said that they are a well-organised side.

“I thought Portugal was excellent, they had a great game plan and strategy, worked very well and almost got the result [against the USA]. In the last 10 to 15 minutes, they got broken down,” added.

“They are very disciplined, very organised. So, it would be a difficult game and it’s going to be a different kind of challenge from Jamaica. They are a very good team.”

After Monday’s game, Nigeria will square up against the USA in the final match of the four-nation competition on June 17 at the Q2 Stadium.

With the beginning of the 2022 Awcon qualification campaign on the horizon in October, these games will be a useful exercise in determining who merits further inclusion against Ghana.

(Originally posted by Shina Oludare)
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Schmeichel slams UEFA for 'ridiculous decision' to restart Denmark vs Finland after Eriksen collapse

The former goalkeeper felt his home nation were put in a difficult position by organisers after seeing their team-mate taken to hospital

Peter Schmeichel has slammed UEFA for the "ridiculous decision" to restart Denmark's Euro 2020 clash with Finland after Christian Eriksen's on-field collapse.

The Group B encounter was suspended with 41 minutes on the clock after Eriksen fell to the ground before receiving emergency treatment from Denmark's medical staff.

The midfielder was taken to hospital after regaining consciousness, and Kasper Hjulmand's side were subsequently given the option to finish the game on Saturday night or at noon the following day.

What's been said?

UEFA eventually announced that the match would recommence at 19:30 "following the request made by players of both teams", with Finland ultimately running out 1-0 winners thanks to a second-half header from Joel Pohjanpalo.

Schmeichel, whose son Kasper played the full match between in goal for Denmark, has now come out to criticise European football's main governing body for failing to protect the players after such a harrowing incident.

"It's a ridiculous decision by UEFA," the former goalkeeper told BBC Radio Five Live. "They should have tried to work out a different scenario and shown a little bit of compassion, and they didn't.

"That would be the worst two hours in my time in football. Something terrible like that happens and UEFA gives the players an option to go out and play the game or come back at 12:00 on Sunday.

"What kind of option is that? The result of the game is completely irrelevant. I mean, how can you play?"

What did Hjulmand's say?

Denmark boss Hjulmand's said that his players quickly made the choice to complete the game after hearing that Eriksen was in stable condition at a hospital in Copenhagen.

"You can't play a game with such feelings, [but] there were no players who could manage to go home, sleep and get up again [after what happened]," Hjulmand said post-match.

What is Eriksen's condition now?

The Danish Football Association (DBU) gave an update on Eriksen's recovery on Sunday morning, revealing that 29-year-old Inter star has been in touch with his team-mates and coaches but will remain in hospital to undergo further tests.

"This morning we have spoken to Christian Eriksen, who has sent his greetings to his team-mates," the statement read. "His condition is stable, and he continues to be hospitalized for further examination.

"The team and staff of the national team has received crisis assistance and will continue to be there for each other after yesterday's incident."

Further reading

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Euro 2020 matchday LIVE: England vs Croatia, Netherlands vs Ukraine updates, news & reaction

Live updates from all of the day's European Championship fixtures, including the latest news from the camps, TV reaction and more
(Originally posted by Ryan Kelly)
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The Hot Seat: Thomas Partey – hit or miss?

Can we really give a thumbs up to the Arsenal midfielder’s debut Premier League season?

Thomas Partey’s first season at Arsenal was definitely a mixed bag, but overall, can the Ghana powerhouse’s maiden campaign in England be considered a success?

This was one of the questions examined in the latest episode of The Hot Seat, where Oluwaseye Omidiora—Goal Africa features writer—was grilled on one of his latest articles.

Omidiora came to the conclusion that Partey’s season had been a cautious success, but is he being generous in reviewing the contribution of a player of whom so much was expected?

Certainly, there was overwhelming optimism when the Gunners parted with £45 million to recruit the Black Star from Atletico Madrid at the campaign’s end.

There were questions about why Arsenal waited until deadline day to activate the player’s fee-release clause and liberate him from his contract at Atleti, with Partey denied precious team to get to know his new teammates before the season started.

Subsequently, there have been issues with his form and fitness, while doubtless, Arsenal’s own muddled campaign under Mikel Arteta will have made it harder for him to settle and begin to express himself.

Would he have had things much easier if he had joined a team who were winning more consistently?

Omidiora also makes an eloquent case on The Hot Seat that the coronavirus pandemic also played a part in Partey’s troubles, with the midfielder unable to settle in London and socialise with his teammates in a way that would have been possible had he joined in another season.

There are merits to the various points of view, but ultimately, Arsenal fans will surely have been left hoping for more after seeing Partey struggle to truly impose himself consistently in the Premier League.

This conclusion was reflected in a recent poll conducted by Goal Africa, as we asked readers to rate the midfielder’s season.

Only 13.1 percent gave him a thumbs up for 2020-21, while 54.7 percent gave him a thumbs middle.

32.3 gave Partey a thumbs down for his first year in North London, which demonstrates that there is still much work to be done.

The 27-year-old ended the season with 24 appearances in the Prem, registering two assists across the campaign.

Original author: Ed Dove
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Afcon Qualifier: Sierra Leone vs Benin to be played behind closed doors

The Leone Stars will square up against the Squirrels without their fans during Monday's make or break Africa Cup of Nations qualifying encounter

The Africa Cup of Nations qualification encounter between Sierra Leone and Benin Republic will be played behind closed doors.

The Sierra Leone Football Association made a request through the Confederation of Africa Football to allow 30% of fans for Monday’s crunch showdown.

However,the hosting Guinean Football Federation turned down the request due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Group L fixture, initially billed for Tuesday, March 30, at the National Stadium, Freetown did not take place owing to a Covid-19 controversy.

Nonetheless, the two teams will now square up against one another at the General Lansana Conte Stadium in a game that will determine the last team to secure a place for Cameroon 2022.

A 1-0 win will be enough for Leone Stars to qualify, but should Michel Dussuyer’s Squirrels - who just need a draw to qualify - score, John Keister’s men will need a two-goal winning margin to qualify and end their 26-year Afcon hiatus.

Their last outing was at the 1996 edition staged in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Tunisian Fifa referee Haythem Guirat will take charge of the encounter, while he will be assisted by Faouzi Jridi (assistant), Youssef Jemmi (assistant), and Mehrez Melki (fourth official).

Ghana’s Munkaila Nassam Adam will serve as match commissioner as Guinea’s Mohamed Bangoura replaces Songor Koedoyoma as the Covid-19 officer.

Sierra Leone coach John Keisterhad revealed that there is no "discomfort" within his squad.

"There is no pressure. Our ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, and there is no discomfort within our squad,” Keister told Caf website.

"This squad is a blend of both young and experienced players; I've rationally selected 11 local and 15 foreign-based players.

“Thankfully, despite the numerous challenges, we succeeded to arrange a camp and let our players train together in Freetown since last Monday.

"What I need now is support from our fans at home and abroad. Already there is a huge willingness among the players and the whole nation wants us to qualify.

“So, I'm on to guide the team to get the best result against Benin and proceed to Cameroon next year."

Original author: Shina Oludare
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Omalla: My target is to score goals and help Gor Mahia after return

The former Western Stima says he will not listen to what people are saying after his failed bid to play turn pro in Sweden

Gor Mahia striker Benson Omalla has pledged to help the club do well this season after his abrupt return from Sweden.

The young striker, who joined K’Ogalo from Western Stima at the start of the season, had travelled to play for Division One side FC Linkoping City, but in a surprising turn of events, he returned to the country citing frustration at being played out of position.

Omalla has said he is now back and will not listen to what people are saying about his aborted move to Sweden and has promised to help the reigning champions win their remaining matches in the FKF Premier League by scoring goals.

What has been said?

“I am back…I have picked my lessons and l will strategise on how well to build my football career,” Omalla said as quoted by the club’s official website.

“People will talk but let them talk…I have read and heard a lot about my return, some of which are just created stories but am calm and focused.

“I will keep working hard and I am keen on helping my team to do well. There are a good number of matches remaining in the season and my target is to score goals and help the team achieve the best.”

Vaz Pinto on Omalla's return

Speaking on the return of the player, Gor Mahia coach Carlos Manuel Vaz Pinto welcomed him with both hands, insisting he is one player who can help the team achieve their targets.

“Benson [Omalla] is one player who can help the team achieve its goals. He is a player who has potential but needs to be inserted in a team that is different from what the player knows,” Vaz Pinto told the same portal.

“So, it needs some time but he can add different characteristics to the players we have for that position.  There comes a time when we don’t have many options in his position but we need to assess how he is at this moment.”

When he left Gor Mahia for Sweden, Omalla had struggled to nail down a starting role in the team following the arrivals of striker Jules Ulimwengu and Tito Okello.

Whether he will manage to break into the squad remains to be seen as K’Ogalo are chasing two trophies currently – the Premier League and domestic cup titles.

Original author: Dennis Mabuka
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Benzema declares himself 100 per cent fit for France's Euro 2020 campaign after injury scare

The Real Madrid striker has confirmed that he is back in full training with Les Bleus after recovering from a slight knock

Karim Benzema has declared himself 100 per cent fit for France's Euro 2020 campaign after shaking off an injury scare.

Benzema was called up to the France squad for the first time in six years ahead of their latest international tournament, but left head coach Didier Deschamps sweating on his fitness after limping out of their final warm-up game against Bulgaria.

The 33-year-old was replaced by Olivier Giroud in the 41st minute of the 3-0 victory after going down under a challenge from opposition defender Ivan Turitsov, leading to question marks over his participation in France's Group F opener against Germany.

What's been said?

Deschamps played down the severity of the injury post-match, and Benzema has now revealed that he is already back in training ahead of his country's first game at the European Championships on Tuesday.

"I'm very good. I was able to resume training with the group yesterday," the Real Madrid striker told Telefoot. "There was no pain. I didn't think about the fact that I could have had to forfeit the Euros.

"It was a big pain but it was only a blow. It was not necessary to stay more minutes on the ground so as not to force it, so I decided to go out.

"We have a very good medical staff so everything was done very quickly. If I resumed training with the group yesterday, it is because I have no discomfort, no pain.

"I feel good, I worked in the gym so I am 100%."

Benzema's international record

Before Benzema was exiled from the France squad due to his alleged involvement in a sex-tape scandal in 2015, the forward had played in 81 games for his country, having been handed his international debut eight years earlier while on Lyon's books.

Benzema has 27 goals to his name for Les Bleus, but drew a blank on his return as Deschamps' men beat Wales 3-0 in a friendly on June 2 before being withdrawn prematurely against Bulgaria on Tuesday.

Benzema's relationship with Mbappe

Benzema will be sharing the limelight upfront for France with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Mbappe, who helped fire the team to glory at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Madrid talisman is enjoying working with the 22-year-old and says he is ready to step up for his country on the biggest stage once again.

"I had seen him on TV and I had already played against him at club level," Benzema said of Mbappe. "For his young age, he is already one of the best. I like playing with him a lot. I have a lot of fun because he's someone who can make a difference at any time.

"He goes fast, he knows how to play one-touch, he knows how to win, he knows how to do everything. It's important for the French team to have a player like him.

"There are always things to improve in football, but the main thing in important games is to be there and make a difference."

Further reading

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Ex-Kaizer Chiefs ace Maluleka draws Hazard inspiration in defending Mamelodi Sundowns move

The midfielder has stated he is satisfied with his performance for the champions in the maiden season with them

Former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder George Maluleka has explained why he does not regret his move to join Premier Soccer League champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

Maluleka, 32, struggled to stamp his authority on the starting Mamelodi Sundowns team, only featuring in 11 games - and 14 across all competitions - in a season where the Brazilians dominated the league once more. 

"It was good [the first season], but obviously, judging from the situation I came from, playing week in and out, a lot of people would say it was very bad," Maluleka told KickOff.com.

"But I came here and found players already playing and playing the number of games I played, I feel I did well in the first season and I will be able to build from here for next season."

The midfielder used the example of how Belgian star Eden Hazard has struggled at Real Madrid to explain why his situation is not completely unique.

"This is my first season and you look at players worldwide, everywhere it happens to everyone, even Hazard at Real Madrid," he added.

"These things take time. I am still adjusting as well but obviously, we don't have much time, but I don't regret anything, to be honest, and like I said I, feel I have done well and I can build from here [for next season]."

Recently, the former Ajax Cape Town star responded to claims he was moving close to the exit door at Mamelodi Sundowns.

"I am very happy at Sundowns, and I am in a very good space. I have heard about these moves. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't happen, it doesn’t happen," he told News 24. "I am a Sundowns player, and I am not going anywhere. I think [the first] season was good. I feel I contributed where I could."

"A lot of people didn't give me a chance and I played. I did not play much, but I feel that I did well in my first season. It's always amazing. You can't explain it, because you get players who play football their whole careers and they end up retiring without even winning anything.

"For me to have already won four titles is a big thing. I am very happy.

His time at Chloorkop was made more difficult by the fact that he had to compete for a position with Hlompho Kekana, Andile Jali, Rivaldo Coetzee, and Lebohang Maboe.

Original author: Kiplagat Sang
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Zaha: Would Crystal Palace star be a good signing for Arsenal?

Football fans have had their say that the Cote d’Ivoire international would be a perfect fit for Mikel Arteta’s men

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha would be a good signing for Arsenal, according to the majority of Goal readers.

After a disappointing outing in the just-concluded season, Gunners coach Mikel Arteta is expected to reinforce his squad ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

As many expect, the Gunners could be heading towards the direction of the 28-year-old winger.

As a follow-up to Seye Omidiora’s piece on Zaha to Arsenal: Would Crystal Palace attacker really be a good fit? Goal conducted a poll on Twitter to ask if the Cote d’Ivoire international would be a good signing for the North London outfit.

 

 

A massive 72.5 percent of total votes are of the opinion that Zaha would be a good signing for the 13-time English league kings.

In contrast, 27.5 percent felt otherwise. And as such, the former Manchester United player should remain with the Eagles or look elsewhere.

Zaha was reportedly being valued at around £80 million ($102m) when Arsenal were pursuing him two summers ago.

However, his former manager Roy Hodgson admitted that the African star "would relish a move" away from Crystal Palace, as the player remains eager to "find some pastures new" after being denied a transfer two years ago.

“That’s the $64,000 question isn’t it? But it’s not just Wilf Zaha – there’s players in every club that come into that category,” Hodgson told the media.

“Wilf has made it clear, ever since I came to the club really, that he would relish a move and would like to move on and find some pastures new.

“But he’s a very valuable player and the club realises his value and appreciates his value and so really everything will depend I guess  – as it always does – [on] what sort of offers the club is going to receive for him and how they will equate that with the need to keep him or the need, maybe, to satisfy his wishes, and allow him to go after giving good service to the club for a period of time.

“Quite frankly, I’ve got no answer to that question, it will be all a matter, I guess, of seeing what transpires.”

The Ivorian returned to Palace for a second spell back in 2015 following an ill-fated three-year stint at Old Trafford, and has since recreated his dented reputation by becoming one of the most effective attacking players outside of the top six.

Original author: Shina Oludare
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Makgopa: No Orlando Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns offers for Baroka FC striker

Some PSL giants are believed to be circling around the 21-year-old forward, who enjoyed a stellar 2020/21 season

Baroka FC chairman Kurishi Mphahlele says no team has approached them for striker Evidence Makgopa's services amid reported interest in the player from Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Makgopa witnessed his profile drastically improve in the just-ended season when he was named the campaign's best young player after scoring seven goals in 28 league starts, before making his Bafana Bafana debut last Thursday.

The forward immediately made an impact by grabbing a brace after coming on as a second-half substitute in an international friendly match against Uganda and that appeared to have heightened interest in him with most reports pointing at Pirates.

But Mphahlele has dismissed talk that there have been moves for the player.

“Don’t ask me about other teams, what they want and what they don’t want. I don’t know anything [about teams lining up to sign Makgopa],” Mphahlele toldPhakaaathi.

“We are very much proud of our boy, how can we not be proud? It shows that we are producing and we are adding value to the league and the nation. He was 17-years-old when he joined and we developed him. 

“All my boys can go places, they just need time to develop fully. We give them confidence that they are the best. All of these boys have something to offer for this country and our supporters. Also, our supporters need to know that they are supporting a quality team.”

With Pirates finding it tough upfront during the 2020/21 season, when all their number nines - Frank Mhango, Tshegofatso Mabasa, Zakhele Lepasa and Jean-Marc Makusu - struggled with injuries, and coach Josef Zinnbauer might need to beef up his strike force. 

This has seen reports heavily linking Makgopa with a move to the Soweto giants and Mphahlele believes his striker will be a much-improved player in the upcoming season. 

“He is the young player of the season this year, he will be matured next season because he is 21-years old now,” continued Mphahlele. 

“I wish him all the best and I treat him like my blood son because I have been with him for a very long time. He has been doing a lot of good work inside the field and he is also behaving very well outside the field, that’s what I like about him.”

Makgopa himself says he is eyeing a move to Europe and not looking at a local move.

Original author: Michael Madyira
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Yanga SC's Fiston Abdoul Razak sends 'come get me' plea to Azam FC

The Burundian star reveals his unhappiness at the Jangwani giants and confirms he will not extend his short-term contract

Yanga SC striker Fiston Abdoul Razak has claimed he will not extend his short-term contract with the local giants when it expires at the end of the season.

Instead, the Burundian has sent a 'come get me' plea to Azam FC to sign him when the deal elapses, boasting they are the only team that will give him a chance to stay in the Mainland Premier League if he decides to stay in Tanzania.

Razak joined Yanga in the small window of the season but has failed to meet expectations, scoring just one goal in the top-flight with only five matches left to conclude the season.

He has now claimed he currently does not consider staying at Yanga even if he is required to extend his contract, because of the things he has experienced in Jangwani since joining from Esperance of Tunisia.

What has been said?

“I came to Yanga to play football, not walking my contract was short because I wanted to see the environment first, but for the time I played I no longer need to extend the contract,” Burundian told MwanaSpoti as quoted by Sokalabongo.

“I’m a player, my job is to play football now when someone makes me not play at his will I can’t stand this life I say I can’t extend my contract anymore.

“Azam is a team especially in the way it lives with its players, personally I like it very much but Yanga is not like that if I stay in Tanzania maybe Azam is the only one I can accept to stay.”

The Burundian striker continued: “Coach Cedric [Kaze] was the one who persuaded me to come and play for Yanga and in his honour I decided to come and see and better I signed for a while, I had no news of playing in East Africa, but unfortunately when I came Kaze left, although I was confident and remain to this day.”

Razak has played for a number of clubs in Africa including FKF Premier League side Sofapaka, JS Kabylie, LLB Academic, Rayon Sports, CSMD Diables Noirs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bloemfontein Celtic, C.D. Primeiro de Agosto, and Al-Zawra'a SC.

Original author: Dennis Mabuka
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Denmark give fresh update on Eriksen following collapse in Euro 2020 opener

The midfielder was hospitalised after needing emergency treatment on the pitch, but is now in stable condition in hospital

Denmark have given a fresh update on Christian Eriksen's condition following his collapse in their Euro 2020 opener.

Eriksen fell to the turf in the first half of Denmark's Group B clash with Ukraine at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Saturday afternoon, and subsequently needed emergency medical treatment.

The match was suspended after the midfielder was removed from the stadium on a stretcher and sent to hospital, where he was later revealed to be awake and in a stable physical state.

What's been said?

The Danish Football Association (DBU) have now released a statement confirming that Eriksen will remain hospitalised to undergo more tests, but he has been in contact with the national team staff and his team-mates.

"This morning we have spoken to Christian Eriksen, who has sent his greetings to his team-mates," the statement on the DBU's official Twitter account reads. "His condition is stable, and he continues to be hospitalized for further examination.

"The team and staff of the national team has received crisis assistance and will continue to be there for each other after yesterday's incident.

"We would like to thank everyone for the heartfelt greetings to Christian Eriksen from fans, players the Royal Families from both Denmark and England, international associations, clubs etc.

"We encourage everyone to send their greetings to the Danish FA, where we will make sure they are all passed on to Christian and his family."

How did Denmark vs Finland finish?

After the incident, Denmark were given the option to finish their first Euro 2020 fixture later the same day or on Sunday, and ultimately chose the former, with the game resuming from the original stoppage point four minutes before half-time.

Finland went on to spring an upset thanks to a 59th-minute effort from Joel Pohjanpalo, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg missing a late penalty for the Danes as they suffered a 1-0 defeat.

Denmark manager's post-match comments

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand has explained why his team decided to go ahead with the match two hours and five minutes after the original kick-off time, insisting that no one in the squad was prepared to head home and rest after such a traumatic event.

"You can't play a game with such feelings, [but] there were no players who could manage to go home, sleep and get up again [after what happened]," Hjulmand said post-match.

"We tried to win. It was incredible to go out and try to play that second half. Honestly, we had players out there that were completely done, emotionally done and emotionally exhausted."

Further reading

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Is Mkude on his way out of Tanzanian heavyweights Simba SC?

The midfielder has been in trouble with Wekundu wa Msimbazi and his 10-year stay might be ending
Original author: Seth Willis
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Cancelo replaced by Dalot in Portugal Euro 2020 squad after testing positive for Covid-19

The Manchester City star has been ruled out of the tournament due to the illness and will now enter quarantine

Joao Cancelo has been replaced by Diogo Dalot in Portugal's Euro 2020 squad after testing positive for Covid-19.

Cancelo was named in Fernando Santos' final 26-man squad for the European Championships after helping Manchester City win a Premier League and Carabao Cup double in 2020-21.

The 27-year-old was expected to be one of Portugal's key players at the summer tournament, but has been struck down with coronavirus ahead of their Group F opener against Hungary on Tuesday.

What's been said?

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) have confirmed that Manchester United right-back Diogo Dalot, who took in a successful loan spell at Milan last term, has been drafted in to fill Cancelo's spot. 

"Under-21 international Diogo Dalot will join the National Team's delegation in Budapest to prepare for his debut at Euro 2020," an official statement from the FPF reads. "The AC Milan player will replace Joao Cancelo, who tested positive for Covid-19 following a rapid antigen test carried out this Saturday by the FPF Health and Performance Unit.
 
"The Hungarian health authorities were immediately informed and the player – who is doing well – was placed in isolation. The result of the test carried out by USP was confirmed by an RT-PCR test carried out on Joao Cancelo also on Saturday and whose result was known on Sunday morning.
 
"In accordance with the Covid-19 protocol defined by UEFA before the Euro 2020 matches, all players and members of the entourage underwent RT-PCR tests on Saturday. The results, with the exception of Joao Cancelo, were negative.
 
"The Hungarian health authorities became aware of compliance with the protection procedures, fully respected according to the UEFA protocol, in a group that also has a high rate of vaccine coverage and authorised the National Team to comply with the stipulated plan for the European Championship without any changes."

Portugal dealt major blow in Euros title defence

Cancelo's quality and experience would have surely seen him make Santos' starting XI against Hungary and in subsequent group stage fixtures against Germany and France.

Dalot will now have to deal with a huge weight of expectation after being handed his maiden call-up to the Portugal senior squad, with Cancelo now set to spend the next ten days in self-isolation.

The Seleccao are being billed as one of the favourites to win the Euros five years on from lifting the trophy in France after a stunning 1-0 upset of the hosts in the final.

Portugal still have the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota and Joao Felix to call upon, but service to those star players will surely be reduced after losing Cancelo as an outlet down the right wing.

Further reading

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Fan View: ‘Patience always pays’ – Gor Mahia’s Omalla should have stayed at Linkoping City

The former Western Stima striker is back in the country after ending his six-month loan deal with the Swedish Division One side

Kenyans have castigated the decision taken by young striker Benson Omalla to return home from Sweden where he had gone for trials with Division One side FC Linkoping City.

The former Western Stima striker had signed a six-month loan deal to play for the club until December, then return to his parent club Gor Mahia, but on Wednesday he returned to Kenya after only a month and a half in Sweden, citing frustration and being played out of position.

On Saturday, Omalla told Goal: “I have been forced to return home because of frustration, I was being played out of position and could not take it anymore.”

Kenyans have hit out at the young striker, who also features for the Kenyan national team, for the decision he took insisting he should have been patient enough to see through the six-month contract because the coach may have seen a better position for him to grow in.

The fans have further moved to give examples of players who have been played out of position but went ahead to make their position their own, including Manchester United’s keeper one David de Gea, who started as a striker but was turned to a goalkeeper, and Emannuel Eboue, who went to Arsenal as a defender but could also play on the wing.

Another example they gave was that of Kenyan Mike Okoth, the father to Liverpool striker Divock Origi, who started as a goalkeeper back in school in Itiero High School, then joined Shabana who were playing in the Premier League, but was turned into a striker and became one of the best forwards in the country.

The towering Okoth ended up scoring many goals for the Harambee Stars before he retired.

Below is how the fans reacted to a post on Goal Africa's Facebook page in regards to Omalla’s decision as sampled by Goal.

Pastor-Edward Smith: Patience always pays. In this world, we don't have to insist on having our way all the time.

Josphat M Mwenda: This can't be the reason. It's just a scapegoat. He was a non-performer. If changing positions is a crime Quadrado couldn't be playing in Europe. He has played in almost every position.

Eric Oduor: Patience Patience Patience...He ought to have borrowed a leaf from Van De Beek...Mata...Matic.

Kinyash Kinyash: Hehe...he ought to have tried it out even Fernando Torres started as a goalkeeper.

Peterlis Odeyo: Omalla should take examples of Lucas Radebe when he first traveled to Europe and joined Leeds United.

Carlos Alberto Ogari: A laughable excuse, players should play in different positions. Bukayo Saka earned his place in the England squad because he performed well in position three.

Omondi Duogo: Professional football players and great players don't have favorite positions, look at Messi he plays no. 10, 9, and 7.

Dennoh Andrewson: Played out of position...were you alive when Henderson played in defence for Liverpool? I hope you won't regret that decision.

Nico Kyalo: As a player, you must learn to be flexible.

Baba Wawili: Nothing comes on a silver plate. He doesn't know what he wants in life.

Konda Potani: I have seen CR7, one of the best players in the World playing different positions with different teams.

Omosh Jnr: Some of us we're just yearning for that chance then you're leaving Sweden with a silly excuse that you can't play out of your position.

Babake Tulip: Dennis Oliech spent three months in Al Arabi Qatar without even sitting on the bench, patience pays!

Edwin Smolling: A good player always shines and proves his talent no matter which role he is offered to play...be serious young boy!

Eugene Siema: He should have listened to Denis Oliech when he was hosted by Jalang'o TV, he was played at full-back when he was in Qatar but he was patient and finally he got his chance.

Enock Kenyoru: I guess they realised where you can play better, you never took time to learn. Learn bro, home is not always the best. You need patience Omalla, you are a very good player. Work hard.

Okumu Chico Elijah: Kwado Asamoah was playing in the defence instead of midfield, same as Alaba, Yaya Toure, Alex Song, and many others, even Cliffton Miheso is a good example.

Mabascor Carpitow: This boy is out of his mind, you cannot terminate a contract simply because you are played out of position...Bukayo Saka, Aubameyang, Maitland Niles, Cuadrado. Patience always pays.

Kiptum: He could have used that position to prove himself as a great player. Terminating the contract and coming back to Kenya is unwise. He had a promising talent that's going down the drain just like Blackberry's. I pity him.

Ngetich Peter Menechwen: Did you know that David Silva started as a goalkeeper? Did you know that Ramsey started as a defender? Did you know that John Terry started as a midfielder? This is not a footballer. He should have adapted to the position he is playing. After all, players are not sticking to their positions whenever they have a ball they move all over the pitch.

Eric Oduor: Valencia joined Manchester united as a right-winger to replace Ronaldo but what happened...he became a solid RIGHT BACK!

Emmanuel Ngovi: Kante plays from position 1 to 11 and can as well officiate the game if given the chance. That's what being professional means.

Original author: Dennis Mabuka
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