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Man City have agreed to sell Garcia to Barcelona for €3m & he'll play for free, says Font

One of the men in the running to take over at Camp Nou is confident the Blaugrana will snap up the Spanish defender before the January window closes

Manchester City have agreed to sell Eric Garcia to Barcelona for €3 million and the player will play for free for six months, according to presidential candidate Victor Font.

Garcia has been heavily linked with a move to Camp Nou over the past year, and Goal reported that he had agreed personal terms with Barca earlier this month.

The 20-year-old began his career in the famed La Masia academy in Catalunya before joining City in 2017, but his current contract at Etihad Stadium is due to expire in the summer.

City head coach Pep Guardiola has admitted that he doesn't expect Garcia to extend his stay in Manchester, with the defender having only featured in eight games for the club across all competitions this season.

"I’m pretty sure he’s going to leave at the end of the season," he told reporters at the weekend. "And [whether he leaves] now in this transfer window will depend on the clubs.

"We’ll see until the end of the transfer window."

Font, who is running for election at Camp Nou alongside Joan Laporta and Toni Freixa, says City are now ready to sanction Garcia's departure before the January transfer window closes.

The 48-year-old claims that the Spanish centre-back is willing to forgo his wages until the end of the season in order to seal a return to Barca, who are currently in the middle of a financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're asking the acting board to sign Eric Garcia," Font told the media ahead of Barca's next set of presidential elections on March 7. "Koeman's asked for him, our sporting structure [if we're elected] support it and the player wants to come because there's a European Championship this summer.

"He [would be] fundamental in the fight for three trophies this season. We know City would accept €3m plus add-ons and we wouldn't have to pay until next season - that's a lot less than Barca offered four months ago.

"The player's also ready to make a big effort and not be paid a salary until the end of the season."

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Rupia: AFC Leopards striker targets long-standing record

The former Nzoia Sugar forward says he can break the goal record if he remains fit until the end of the season

AFC Leopards striker Elvis Rupia is confident the goal scoring record in the FKF Premier League will tumble this season.

The record for the most scored goals in one season for the Kenyan top-flight still stands at 26 goals, which was set by two players – Boniface Ambani while playing for AFC Leopards in the 2006-07 season and Gor Mahia legend Maurice ‘Sonyi’ Ochieng in 1976.

Since then, no striker has been able to score more than 26 goals and it is something the former Wazito FC striker believes could be possible in the 2020-21 campaign.

“But I feel the Golden Boot race will go down to the wire and there is a chance of someone scoring more than 28 goals,” Rupia told the Standard Sports.

“We just need to believe in ourselves and make the impossible possible.”

Rupia is currently fighting neck and neck for the Golden Boot with Kariobangi Sharks striker Erick Kapaito with only nine rounds of the league played. Rupia has managed nine goals so far while Kapaito is leading the pack after notching 11 goals.

“Both of us [Rupia and Kapaito] set our targets before the season begun and we are optimistic of achieving them. I believe the competition between me and Kapaito is healthy,” Rupia continued.

On whether AFC Leopards will end their 22-year drought to win the title, the former Nzoia Sugar striker said: “It is still too early to talk about the title, but are doing everything we can to continue fighting for the rest of the season.”

On notching one of the goals that helped Ingwe beat Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 on Sunday, Rupia said: “Of course it was nice to get a goal on Sunday and help the team to win as I try to close in on Kapaito.

“That goal has given me a lot of motivation and I believe I can score more goals. I will keep on working hard and hopefully, more goals will come.”

Ingwe coach Anthony Kimani believes Rupia is determined to help Ingwe end their trophy drought this season.

“You can only score goals when you play well and that’s exactly what he’s been doing,” Kimani told the same publication.

“It is important for him to continue scoring as it will give us an edge over our title rivals and also make the Golden Boot race competitive.”

AFC Leopards will next take on Posta Rangers on Saturday.

Original author: Dennis Mabuka
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Kelly Lindsey sets Morocco target after securing 2022 Awcon hosting rights

The Altas Lionesses will play at the continent's showpiece for the third time next year and the official is looking beyond the event

Kelly Lindsey has set a target of qualifying for the Women's World Cup for the first time with Morocco after securing the hosting rights for the 2022 Africa Women's Cup of Nations.

The Atlas Lionesses will make their first appearance at the major women's tournament on the continent since South Africa 2000 as the event will be held on North African soil for the first time.

The last time the Atlas Lionesses appeared at the event, they suffered three defeats in the group stage, conceding 13 goals and managed to score a goal in South Africa, where Nigeria won her second title.

On January 3, Fifa handed Africa four automatic slots to the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, meaning the four semi-finalists at 2022 Africa Women's Cup of Nations will qualify. 

In the wake of this, two-time Women's Champions League winner Reynald Pedros with Lyon has been recruited as the Moroccan Federation women's football director, and Lindsey opened up on their ambitions.

"It is exciting times as coach Reynald Pedros will be focusing on the senior and U20 sides to build an elite line-up to achieve our massive goal of going to our first World Cup," Lindsey to BBC Africa.

"This Africa Cup will be the culmination of teamwork and unity to drive the women's game forward.

"Hosting the tournament will be a massive boost to women's football here in Morocco. A country so passionate about football will have the best women's football at their doorstep.

"We are very grateful to [football federation] president Fouzi Lekjaa to ensure the girls, families and fans can be personally connected to the beautiful women's game.

"The country is starting to unite around women's football with the start of our U15 and U17 Championships."

In a build-up to 2022 Awcon success, Morocco had commenced international friendlies with Ghana in November 2020 and are set to face champions Nigeria in another doubleheader in February.

With 12 nations set to compete for the first time, the North Africans will aim to excel under the watch of experienced French tactician Pedros in 2022.

Original author: Samuel Ahmadu
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Real Madrid should sign Haaland ahead of Mbappe - Valdano

The World Cup-winning Frenchman has long been linked with a move to the Spanish capital, but a former club favourite would prefer a different option

Former Real Madrid player, coach and general manager Jorge Valdano has urged the club to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund ahead of Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe.

Haaland's rise to prominence is well documented, with the Norwegian scoring 37 goals in as many appearances in all competitions since his Dortmund debut in January of last year, having previously shone at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria.

Mbappe, meanwhile, has continued to find the net with regularity for PSG, but his long-term development has been called into question due to the relative ease with which his club continues to dominate Ligue 1.

The World Cup winner himself recently admitted that he was giving consideration to his future, with his current contract in the French capital set to expire at the end of next season.

A move to Madrid has long been mooted for Mbappe, but Valdano feels that Real supremo Florentino Perez should prioritise Haaland instead.

“I would sign Haaland before Mbappe,” the 65-year-old told Onda Cero. “He moves in small and large spaces, he scores with great regularity.

“I understand that Mbappe is a star, but I'm very impressed with Haaland. He scores goals of all types.”

Martin Odegaard, meanwhile, completed a loan move to Arsenal on Wednesday after failing to nail down a starting spot under Zinedine Zidane.

Valdano, however, feels that Odegaard should have bided his time this season, with patience required for any player with aspirations of becoming a regular fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“It doesn't seem to me that Odegaard played badly when he had his chance, but he lacked a degree of daring and a greater sense of risk,” Valdano said of the 22-year-old.

“He was too close to Casemiro and lacked prominence for the final pass, which is what is expected of Odegaard.

“But that has to do with confidence, and I think time would have given him that. He lacked patience. A Madrid player should have a greater capacity for suffering, he must not give up too soon.

“And even less so being so young and competing for the position of two stars like [Toni] Kroos and [Luka] Modric. They are not just any two players.”

Original author: Goal
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Arsenal sign Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid

The 22-year-old Norway international joins on a short-term deal until the end of the season, filling the creativity gap left by Mesut Ozil

Arsenal have signed Norway international Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid.

The 22-year-old playmaker joins until the end of the current season, providing the Gunners with some much-needed creativity following the departure of Mesut Ozil.

Odegaard had requested to leave the Santiago Bernabeu in January due to a lack of first-team minutes so far this season. He has played only seven times in La Liga and is yet to complete 90 minutes for Madrid since returning from last season's loan spell at Real Sociedad.

Sociedad had been linked with a move to take Odegaard back this month but a return became unlikely once Arsenal entered the race to sign him.

What Odegaard has said about joining Arsenal

Odegaard revealed the role Arteta played in his decision, telling the club's official website: "I spoke to him before coming here, of course. That was very important for me and he seems like a top manager and I liked his ideas, the way he sees football and also the way he is. 

"He gave me a great feeling and that was important for me to come here. He was crucial.

"I think every time you go to a new place, you want to make sure that it feels good and that there is a plan. But I think everything here just seems good. 

"I like the club and I always liked the way that the club wants to play. Everything about the club and now how the manager wants to play, I think it's a club that really suits me well. So I think it's a good match."

What shirt number will Odegaard wear?

Odegaard has been handed the No.11 shirt by the Gunners, having worn the No.21 shirt at Madrid this season.

The No.11 shirt has been worn by some famous names at Arsenal during the Premier League era, including the likes of Marc Overmars, Robin van Persie, and Ozil, who sported that number before swapping to the No.10.

When will Odegaard make his Arsenal debut?

Odegaard could be in contention to make his debut in Saturday's high-profile Premier League game against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

Arteta will have to decide whether to throw Odegaard straight into his starting line-up for that fixture or start him on the substitutes' bench, depending upon his fitness level.

Following that match, the Gunners will take in a trip to Molineux to face Wolves on Tuesday, February 2.

Odegaard is also eligible to be included in Arsenal's Europa League squad, with a last-32 tie with Benfica on the horizon in February.

Why does the Odegaard signing matter?

Mikel Arteta has been keen to bring in support and competition for Emile Smith Rowe, who has impressed since breaking into the first team.

Though Arsenal are out of the FA Cup after their 1-0 defeat to Southampton, the Europa League returns next month so the Gunners will need to rotate their squad.

With Nicolas Pepe and Willian failing to deliver on a consistent basis this season, Odegaard's arrival will add an extra spark to Arsenal's attack, while he is also versatile enough to play in several positions.

Further reading

Original author: Goal
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What did Ibrahimovic say to Lukaku in Milan derby fight & will they be banned?

What was said between the Inter and AC Milan forwards? Will there be any further punishment?

There were plenty of fireworks in the Milan derby in the Coppa Italia quarter-final this season as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku clashed.

The towering attackers traded industrial insults at the halfway mark, coming together in a physical and verbal altercation which saw them both cautioned by referee Paolo Valeri. 

Lukaku eventually came out on top in the match, though, as Ibrahimovic was sent off in the second half and the Belgian scored an equaliser before Christian Eriksen hit a decisive last-minute free kick.

So what actually happened between the pair? Goal takes a look at what was said and what, if anything, will come of it.

What did Ibrahimovic & Lukaku say to each other?

During the heated confrontation, the words of both Ibrahimovic and Lukaku were picked up by the pitchside microphones, with the two players serving volleys of English back and forth.

Ibrahimovic can reportedly be heard saying: "Go do your voodoo sh*t, you little donkey. Go do your voodoo sh*t. Call your mother!"

In an apparent invitation to engage further, Lukaku can then be heard responding: "Well, let's go inside you b*tch. We will see."

Ibrahimovic replied by apparently repeating his earlier comment. Upon hearing the Swede's words, the Inter striker grew increasingly annoyed, shooting back: "What did you say? Who? Who?"

He then followed Ibrahimovic as they left the pitch, repeatedly calling him a "b*tch" before delivering the message: "F*ck you and your wife, you little b*tch."

The pair had squared up prior to that, with Ibrahimovic's head meeting Lukaku's in an aggressive manner.

Ibrahimovic was sent off for a second yellow-card offence in the second half and, after the game, AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli explained that the Swede apologised to his team-mates.

Why did Ibrahimovic reference 'voodoo'?

It is not exactly clear what Ibrahimovic's "voodoo sh*t" is a reference to, but, according to Football Italia, it may have something to do with comments made by Everton owner Farhad Moshiri.

In 2018, representatives for Lukaku denied that the player's decision to reject a new contract with Everton had anything to do with "voodoo", following a suggestion by Mr Moshiri at an Everton AGM.

BBC Sport reported that a representative for the striker said: "Romelu is very Catholic and voodoo is not part of his life or his beliefs.

"He simply had no faith in Everton and no confidence in Mr Moshiri's project. That is why he did not want to sign on any condition."

Will Ibrahimovic & Lukaku be banned?

It is unlikely that Ibrahimovic and Lukaku will face further punishment for their verbal confrontation outside of the sanction meted out by the referee.

Lukaku will serve a one-game suspension in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, will also have to serve a one-match Coppa Italia suspension when Milan are next in action in the competition following his red card.

What is the history between Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Romelu Lukaku?

Tensions between Ibrahimovic and Lukaku have their roots in their time playing together at Manchester United, where they were in direct competition for the position of striker.

Back in 2019, Lukaku revealed how he learned a lot from Ibrahimovic, but that a 50-50 challenge with the veteran in a United training session taught him a lesson.

He told the official Manchester United website: "Because we were both strikers, we were never on the same team and, at one point, there was a 50-50 challenge. He went full-on against me!

"That is when I knew this guy wants to compete and this guy wants to fight for his spot. That is why he changed me. It was an eye-opener. The guy had to fight to be in the position he is in.

"So, I learned just to focus, work hard and enjoy it as well. Because he is a guy who you can have a lot fun with as well and having his personality in the dressing room was good."

When Lukaku signed for Inter, Ibrahimovic was less gracious about his erstwhile colleague.

In an October 2019 interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, the Swede said: "Don't expect good technique from Lukaku. His best strength is sheer power – if only he'd listened to me.

"At Manchester United, we made a bet: 'I'll give you £50 for every decent first touch you make'. He replied: 'What do I win if I get them all right?' I told him nothing, he would simply become a better player.

"For the record, he never accepted the bet! Perhaps he was afraid of losing..."

He added: “Joking aside, Lukaku has this mad hunger to prove himself to the world and I'm sure he will do well at Inter too.”

Their recent collision is, unfortunately, not likely to improve those fraught relations.

Original author: Goal
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James 'frustrated' over a lack of minutes at Man Utd but unlikely to get a loan move, says Giggs

The Wales boss has expressed his sympathy towards a winger who has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford in recent times

Ryan Giggs says Daniel James is "frustrated" over a lack of regular minutes at Manchester United, but thinks it's unlikely he will be granted a loan move this month.

James completed a dream move to United in the summer of 2019 after rising through the ranks at Swansea City.

The Red Devils invested £15 million ($21m) in the winger's talents and handed him a five-year contract, but some questions were raised over whether he would be able to make the step up from the Championship to one of the world's biggest clubs.

He silenced those doubters initially, scoring three goals in his first four outings for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, including a stunning debut strike against Chelsea.

However, James gradually fell down the pecking order over the course of the 2019-20 campaign due to the emergence of Mason Greenwood, who nailed down a spot in the front three alongside Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Edinson Cavani's arrival at Old Trafford on a free transfer in October increased competition for places in attack even further, leading to speculation over the Welshman's future.

James has only appeared in 10 games for United so far this season, and it has been reported that he could be loaned out before the January transfer window closes amid interest from Leeds United.

However, Giggs, who won 13 Premier League titles with the Red Devils as a player, doesn't think Solskjaer will sanction the 23-year-old's departure amid a congested fixture schedule, and has urged him to knuckle down and prove he deserves a place in the starting XI instead of becoming downbeat about his situation.

“We are in unknown territory,” the Wales manager told Stadium Astro. “Where you don’t have a lot of time. A lot of games squeezed into a short space of time.

“So, I think Ole would take the safe option and keep as many quality players in the club as he can.

“Yes, it would be frustrating. I know that Dan is frustrated. Just like any other player who isn’t getting regular football.

"But when you are at a big club like United, when you get the chance, take it.”

James will be available for selection again when United welcome Sheffield United to Old Trafford on Wednesday night, when they will be expected to pick up three points in order to return to the top of the Premier League.

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Jimenez could play again this season as Wolves boss Nuno delivers positive update

The Portuguese is hopeful that he will be able to call upon a talismanic performer again soon as he continues his recovery from a fractured skull

Nuno Espirito Santo says Raul Jimenez could play again this season, with the Wolves boss delivering a positive update on the striker's fitness ahead of a meeting with Chelsea.

Jimenez has not played for Wolves since being stretchered off in the first half of a 2-1 win against Arsenal on November 29.

The Mexican forward was rushed to hospital after clashing heads with David Luiz, and he was diagnosed with a fractured skull after being evaluated by doctors.

He spent a few days under observation after undergoing successful surgery on the issue, before beginning an extensive rehabilitation programme.

Wolves have struggled in the absence of Jimenez over the past two months, winning just one of their last nine Premier League fixtures, and he will also be unavailable for selection when Nuno takes his team to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Wednesday.

However, the Portuguese head coach said he was optimistic that the 29-year-old will return soon, having seen the forward make great strides with his recovery in recent weeks.

Asked if Jimenez could play again before the end of the 2020-21 campaign, Nuno responded: “We are truly positive that this can happen. It’s very good news the way he keeps improving day by day.

“Not only me but all the medical staff are surprised because he’s improving on all the concussion tests that we did previously two seasons ago. He’s doing really, really well.

“Just by seeing him running and lifting weights and doing all these strong training sessions it’s a big lift for everybody because first of all it’s [about] the man.

“It’s Raul, we want Raul back healthy and then we will get back Raul as a player and an important player for the team. The big lift for us is just having him around.”

The Wolves manager won't be rushing Jimenez back into the fold, though, as he added: “We had a medical plan and these things are very responsible decisions to be made because of how serious the injury was.

“We have to be really patient and take the right decisions and this will require decisions from the surgeon, scans on the skull – all these things take time and we will proceed according to the situation.

"We will not rush or take any kind of risks.”

Nuno is confident that Jimenez won't be affected psychologically after such a horrific injury, but he stopped short of predicting how long it will take for him to get back into peak physical condition. 

“That part is not a worry for us because he’s exactly the same guy, always a smile on his face, aware of the process he has gone through and confident that he wants to return stronger,” he said.

“Heading and how can he deal with this situation, how his brain will react to acceleration, deceleration, jumping and impact is another issue. That will come in time.”

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Omulanga outlines how Mathare United can beat Ulinzi Stars in Nakuru

The two former Premier League champions will be meeting for the first time this season as they play catch-up games

Klinsmann Omulanga has explained how Mathare United can beat Ulinzi Stars during the Football Kenya Federation Premier League match on Wednesday in Nakuru.

Omulanga believes playing according to what their game plan would demand is the best way to down Ulinzi Stars at Afraha Stadium.

“The key to this is to stick to our game plan and play the way we as Mathare are renowned,” Omulanga said as was quoted by Mathare United’s Facebook page.

“Ulinzi play a completely different style to ours and if we move the ball around with purpose and play as a team then I reckon we will come away with something from there.”

The forward also stated how they made sure a poor start would not affect them with their season picking up speed as they try to catch-up with the rest.

“We started the season badly but responded quickly so as not to allow the negative results to take a toll on us,” he added.

“We now feel like we are understanding more of one another on the pitch and I expect this to improve with every game that we play.”

Mathare United will be up against the 2010 Premier League champions, who have scored just three goals and have conceded two.

On the other hand, after conceding seven goals against Sofapakaa and Gor Mahia, where they also scored three, the Slum Boys saw an improvement in the next games against Zoo FC and Bandari.

The 2008 champions defeated Zoo 2-0 and managed to get a point from a 0-0 draw against Bandari. Omulanga hopes they will have a better outing against Ulinzi Stars as compared to the game against the Dockers.

“We will be better on Wednesday than we were against Bandari, I can assure you that,” he concluded.

The game will be the first one for the Slum Boys since they confirmed the departure of Moses Mburu and Francis Oduor.

The club is yet to confirm any new signing after the FKF Premier League transfer window opened on Tuesday although they are expected to bolster the squad.

Two matches will be played on Tuesday as Gor Mahia will be up against Zoo in the other clash.

Original author: Kiplagat Sang
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'Ibrahimovic apologised to the dressing room' - AC Milan boss Pioli on Swede's red card & Lukaku spat

The two strikers almost came to blows in a Coppa Italia quarter-final clash before the Milan talisman was dismissed for a second bookable offence

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has spoken out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's red card and spat with Inter striker Romelu Lukaku, insisting the Swede has "apologised to the dressing room".

Milan crashed out of the Coppa Italia at the quarter-final stage after losing 2-1 against Inter at San Siro on Tuesday night.

Ibrahimovic produced a trademark finish to open the scoring in the 31st minute, but he was shown a yellow card just before the interval after a heated exchange with Lukaku, who reacted angrily to a foul from Alessio Romagnoli.

The 39-year-old squared up to his Inter counterpart and the pair had to be pulled apart by their respective team-mates, but they continued to hurl insults at each other as the teams made their way down the tunnel at half-time.

At one point Lukaku was heard saying "Well, let's go inside you b*tch!" to Ibrahimovic as tempers flared, and he also accused the veteran frontman of insulting his mother.

Milan were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Ibrahimovic was involved in another controversial incident.

Ibrahimovic was shown a second yellow card after tripping Aleksandar Kolarov in the middle of the pitch, leaving the Rossoneri with a mountain to climb to hold on and qualify for the semi-finals.

Their stubborn resistance was eventually ended when Lukaku dispatched a penalty in the 71st minute, and substitute Christian Eriksen scored a sublime late free kick to seal a famous victory for Inter in stoppage time.

Pioli addressed Ibrahimovic's ill-discipline in his post-match interview, telling Rai Sport: "It influenced the sending off because he was booked there. I don't know what they said. It can happen, we have to think about the next one. 

"The second yellow card was from his desire to track back and help the team. He could’ve slowed down, but it happens.

"In the dressing room he apologised."

The Milan head coach went on to express his disappointment over the final result, but refused to criticise the performance of his players while highlighting Ibrahimovic's dismissal as the turning point in the match.

"We are sorry to have gone out of this competition, we wanted to win. We were able to keep up with a very strong opponent. Being outnumbered has complicated the situation," Pioli added.

"I had some important responses from the team, the performance was there. I come out of this defeat feeling positive and confident for the future. Only the numerical difference made the difference.

"In 11 vs 11 it was an open game and we were ahead."

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Man City, Leeds & Celtic tracking Hibernian's teenage left-back Josh Doig

The 18-year-old has become a regular for the Scottish Premiership side in the 2020-21 season and is attracting admiring glances from clubs in England

Hibernian full-back Josh Doig is attracting interest from Manchester City, Leeds United and Celtic ahead of a possible summer move.

The 18-year-old had also drawn interest from Arsenal and Chelsea although the latter has stepped away due to the change of manager at the club and not yet knowing Thomas Tuchel's priorities in the transfer market.

Doig, who has impressed in the Scottish Premiership in the 2020-21 season, will command a fee of around a £1 million having become a regular at left-back for high-flying Hibs.

The defender, who has two-and-a-half years left on his contract, is being tracked by Manchester City as they look to add a left-back to their academy teams.

The Premier League side could also likely make use of their wider City Football Group, with there being the possibility to arrange a loan move with one of their sister clubs.

However, Leeds and Celtic would likely offer a faster route to first-team football for the defender, who has also played on the left-hand side of midfield.

Scouts have noted Doig's attacking output as a huge part of his game, with his crossing ability and tireless running two of his key attributes.

Doig, who has made 19 appearances for Hibs this season and provided two assists, is also defensively solid and is the latest talented young left-back to emerge from Scotland following the likes of Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney and Aaron Hickey.

The full-back spent last season on loan with Queen's Park and has earned youth caps with his national team, with Hibs boss Jack Ross explaining earlier in the season: "At 18 years old, for Josh to have played so many games and made the impact he has is impressive.

"He is growing all the time in stature and becoming more confident. I speak often enough about Lewis [Stevenson] supporting and helping him - and I think that we’ve used Josh sensibly this year, in terms of the times we’ve brought him out of the team.

"But at the moment, he is in the team on merit, which is great for him."

Original author: Nizaar Kinsella
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Soweto Derby: Ex-Kaizer Chiefs captain Tau feels dropped points could haunt Orlando Pirates in PSL title race

The 40-year-old football pundit explained that this weekend's clash between Amakhosi and Bucs will boil down to tactics
Original author: Austin Ditlhobolo
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Didier Gomes Da Rosa: Simba SC’s Lokosa still lacks match fitness

The Frenchman admits his new signing from Nigeria is currently not fit enough to play in a competitive match owing to Covid-19

Simba SC coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa has said that new striker Junior Lokosa is still not fit enough to compete in the Mainland Premier League.

The Nigerian forward, who signed for the Wekundu wa Msimbazi as a free agent after being released from Esperance of Tunisia, has already started training with the rest of the squad members but according to new coach Da Rosa, he is still not 100 percent fit to play in a competitive match.

“I have seen him but he is still not 100% fit because he was out of action for a long time due to the effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” Da Rosa said as quoted by Sokalabongo.

“My belief is that as time goes on he will be better and more stable so he needs time to improve it will not be as fast as we need it to be.”

Simba have lined up a tournament in Dar es Salaam to gauge their preparedness ahead of group stage matches of the Caf Champions League.

The tournament, dubbed ‘Simba Super Cup’, will kick off on Wednesday with Tout Puissant Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Al-Hilal from Sudan the other teams set to take part.

Simba will open the tournament with a clash against Al-Hilal, and commenting on the tournament, Da Rosa said: “As for the competition, we are participating in I say we are coming up against good teams and we strive to do well especially as the players have been seen doing well in practice.”

On Tuesday, Simba received a huge boost as winger Luis Miquissone reported to camp after arriving from Mozambique where he had travelled for family issues.

Simba have also beefed up their squad after they confirmed the signing of Highlanders FC defender Peter Muduhwa on a two-year deal.

The Wekundu wa Msimbazi have already signed Zimbabwean Perfect Chikwende and have also reached an agreement to bring the Democratic Republic of Congo player Doxa Gikanji on board.

In the Champions League, Simba have been drawn to play defending champions Al-Ahly of Egypt, AS Vita from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudanese giants Al-Merrikh in Group A of the competition.

Original author: Dennis Mabuka
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Chan 2021: ‘Morocco were absolutely clinical’ - Uganda’s McKinstry concedes after elimination

The Cecafa giants needed a win against the Atlas Lions in order to secure a slot in the knockout phase of the tournament

Uganda head coach Johnathan McKinstry has admitted they fell to a clinical Morocco during their African Nations Championship match on Tuesday.

Morocco picked up a 5-2 win over the Cranes and advanced to the quarter-finals and McKinstry – whose side needed a win against the Atlas Lions in order to progress after falling to Togo in the second group game – has stated the North Africans were lethal in front of goal.

Soufiane Rahimi’s brace, coupled with Ayoub El Kaabi and Hamza El Moussaoui goals and an own goal by Uganda’s Charles Lukwago secured the victory for the reigning champions.

“Morocco were clinical and absolutely clinical. We gifted them a couple of goals but even when you give the ball to them in dangerous areas they have to put them in the net,” McKinstry told Goal after his side suffered a second group loss.

“Congratulations to my counterpart and Morocco and we wish them the best for the rest of the tournament. Look, it was a game we all knew it was going to be very tough.”

McKinstry did not contest the penalty for Morocco towards the end of the first half which was converted by El Kaabi. The star made history after scoring the penalty as he became the first-ever player to score 10 goals in a Chan tournament.

He had scored nine when Morocco won the previous edition on home soil.

“The penalty obviously could not come at the worst time but we have got no complain whether it was a penalty because even my technical bench could not see what I saw from my position and so it was a fair enough call,” he added.

“For the second goal, our young left-backs slept which again is very unfortunate and thereafter the game started to unravel.”

As he conceded the penalty for Morocco, the former Rwanda head coach also claimed he was told of an instance where Uganda should have also been awarded one.

“I have been told by at least five people on the phone that there was a handball which was not given to us,” McKinstry stated.

“Apparently with the penalty we could have gotten well. But look, it started going away from us because when you go behind we had to throw caution to the wind.”

Uganda will now return home and shift focus to the upcoming African Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers.

Original author: Kiplagat Sang
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India U16 beat Sharjah FC U18 to end UAE trip on a high

Suhail Bhat scored his second of the trip...

India U16 emerged victorious against Sharjah FC U18 as the Blue Colts defeated them 4-2 in a friendly on Tuesday. 

There were four different goal-scorers for India. Himanshu Jangra opened the scoring, followed by a strike from Taison Singh. In the second half, they netted two more with Maheson Singh and Suhail Bhat scoring the third and fourth goal respectively. Whereas, the hosts scored once in each half of the match. 

It was India's second consecutive win of the trip and third overall. 

Bibiano Fernandes' boys started their UAE (United Arab Emirates) sojourn on a bright note by beating the U19 team of local side Liwa FC 1-0 in a friendly encounter at the Spanish Soccer School Ground in Sports City.  

The Blue Colts were supposed to play their first match on January 15 against Al Hamriyah FC but the match had to be cancelled because of a few Coronavirus cases in the opposition camp. Four players in their team had tested positive. The Indian team management then arranged a last-minute friendly with Liwa FC. 

Ebindas scored the only goal of the match in the 71st minute. 

In their next match, they were defeated 3-0 by the UAE U16 team. But the team showed character and beat the same opponents 1-0 in their next meeting. 

After a docile first half, the team took control of proceedings in the second. The coach brought on Bhat in the 55th minute in place of Himangshu Jangra. Around the hour-mark, he was almost through on goal but his effort sailed wide of the post. Three minutes later, Ebindas' effort also missed the target. 

However, in the 79th-minute, the deadlock was finally broken and India were rewarded for their persistence. After Taison Singh latched on to a through ball from midfield on the right-wing, he burnt his pace to leave behind his marker and drilled in a low cross inside the penalty box. Suhail was waiting for the delivery and the striker made no mistake to dispatch the ball into the net to give India the lead. 

Fernandes was preparing his team for the upcoming AFC U16 Championship that was slated to be held in Bahrain. 

But AFC (Asian Football Confederation) reluctantly arrived at the decision to cancel the tournaments after taking into consideration the uncertainty and risks in view of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The next edition will be allocated to the same hosts in 2023.

 

 

Original author: Soham Mukherjee
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‘It’s always a pleasure to score’ – Two-goal hero Diedhiou revels in Bristol victory

The Senegal international is on cloud nine after finding the net twice as the Robins defeated Carlos Corberan’s Huddersfield Town on Tuesday

Famara Diedhiou was left grinning after his first-half brace helped Bristol City secure a 2-1 triumph over Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night.

Making his 150th appearance for the Robins, the Senegal international was at his best to hand Dean Holden's men their 12th win of the 2020-21 campaign.

In the 22nd minute, the 28-year-old profited from Antoine Semenyo’s clever dummy before latching on to Alfie Mawson’s pass, took the ball around goalkeeper Ryan Schofield before showing composure in front of goal.

Four minutes later, the former Angers man met Kasey Palmer’s pass before a first-time finish into the far corner. That was his sixth league goal of the current season.

“It’s always a pleasure to score. I thought we started the game brilliantly with the two goals,” Diedhiou told Robins TV after the game.

“Huddersfield are a decent team but the most important thing is the three points and it’s good!. These were two great assists and I needed to be calm to finish.”

In the second-half, the Terriers did everything possible to level matters having reduced their deficit courtesy of Juninho Bacuna in the 59th minute. After that, they hit the woodwork four times, but it was the hosts who walked away with all points at stake.

“Of course, there was pressure because they are a very good team. We saw how they play but we took the three points and it’s what we needed to move on,” he continued.

“The confidence is there and we have to keep going. Come on, let’s go!”

Before his brace, Diedhiou had been cautioned in the fifth minute by referee Stephen Martin. After an impressive shift, he was substituted for Chris Martin in the 64th minute, while Ghanaian midfielder Opi Edwards was not considered for selection by manager Holden.

Thanks to this result, Bristol City climbed to eighth on the Championship log after accruing 39 points from 25 games, while Huddersfield Town stayed 14th with 31 points despite playing a game more.

The Teranga Lions would be hoping to take his goalscoring form to the Pride Park Stadium where they lock horns against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County.

Original author: Shina Oludare
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Video: Guardiola excited to have 'exceptional' Tuchel in Premier League

Video: Guardiola excited to have 'exceptional' Tuchel in Premier League | Goal.com

Premier League

09:21 GMT 27/01/2021

Thomas Tuchel Pep Guardiola Borussia Dortmund Bayern Munich 21052016

Guardiola is looking forward to facing off against Tuchel, from their days coaching in the Bundesliga.

Original author: Goal
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'Toni is a big bro to all of us' - Abraham dismisses Rudiger rumours as 'complete nonsense' after Lampard sacking

The striker has jumped to his team-mate's defence amid claims he was a disruptive influence during a club legend's reign at Stamford Bridge

Tammy Abraham has dismissed rumours that Antonio Rudiger has caused rifts behind the scenes at Chelsea as "complete nonsense" after Frank Lampard's sacking, insisting the defender "is a big bro to all of us".

Lampard was relieved of his managerial duties at Stamford Bridge on Monday after 18 months at the helm, with a club legend paying the ultimate price for the team's disastrous form in the Premier League.

The board decided to act in the wake of a 2-0 defeat at Leicester City which saw the Blues fall 11 points behind leaders Manchester United in this season's title race.

Ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has been drafted in for Lampard, who has not been given the chance to see a long-term project through to its conclusion after being handed a £200 million ($275m) war chest in the summer transfer window.

The 42-year-old brought in the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva to try and take Chelsea to the next level, while dropping several members of the squad that had been regulars in his debut season.

Rudiger was one of those who saw his playing time restricted, and it has been reported that the Germany international was a disruptive influence behind the scenes throughout the final months of Lampard's tenure.

Claims that the centre-back clashed with club captain Cesar Azpilicueta surfaced in the wake of the manager's departure, but Abraham has jumped to the defence of his team-mate on social media.

The Blues striker wrote on Twitter: "Hearing some mad stuff about Antonio Rudier on social media today. Complete nonsense. Toni is a big bro to all of us."

Didier Drogba, who enjoyed two successful spells at the Bridge, responded to Abraham with words of praise while highlighting the importance of using outside negativity as fuel to create a greater collective bond.

"Well said Son, THIS IS THE WAYYY!!! Stick together, get results and the fans will forgive you everything," the Chelsea great tweeted.

"Critics hurt but when you are together it makes you stronger and better."

Abraham and Rudiger will both be in contention for a place in Tuchel's line-up when he takes charge of his first game as Blues head coach against Wolves on Wednesday night.

Chelsea are in desperate need of three points after losing five of their last eight top-flight fixtures, but a 3-1 victory against Luton Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup last weekend served as a timely confidence boost for the squad.

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Arteta: Why Pepe played from the left against Southampton

The Gunners’ boss has revealed why he utilised the Cote d’Ivoire international differently in Tuesday’s defeat of the Saints

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has disclosed why he decided to play Nicolas Pepe as a left-winger against Southampton.

The left-footed 25-year-old, who was signed from Lille for a club-record £72 million, has predominantly been used on the right-wing in his career.

Against the Saints on Tuesday, the Cote d’Ivoire international was swapped to the left while England international of Nigerian descent Bukayo Saka was redeployed to the right.

Nevertheless, Pepe - who made his first league start since December 19, 2020 - was among the goalscorers as the Gunners cruised to a comfortable 3-1 triumph against Ralph Hasenhuettl's side at St Mary's Stadium.

Speaking to the Arsenal website after the game, the former Manchester City assistant manager gave reasons for his tactical change.

“It was more because of what we wanted to do in attack and the spaces we wanted to exploit,” Arteta told the Arsenal website.

“We believed that he could exploit some spaces there and he could be really efficient in doing that.

“I thought that the other day he had a good game and was involved in our best attacking moments, and the way he's been training he deserved his chance. Today [on Monday] he did the job really well.”

The former Lille star was cautioned by referee Kevin Friend in the 70th minute after departing the field too slowly prior to an Arsenal substitution. However, the Ivorian stayed on due to injury to Emile Smith Rowe.

“Well we were going to take Nico off and bring Gabi on but Emile got injured, so we had to change straight away,” he continued.

“We didn't want to use that substitution because then we'd have to make two. The referee believed that we were wasting time or something and he made a call.”

After putting up an impressive performance, Pepe – who now boasts of three goals in 13 league appearances – was replaced by Joseph Willock in the 90th minute.

Thanks to this result, Arsenal climbed to eight on the English top-flight log after garnering 30 points from 20 games. They will be full of confidence against Manchester United in their upcoming Premier League match.

Original author: Shina Oludare
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Yanga SC explain why they settled on Khalfan to replace Mwambusi

The Jangwani giants have outlined the reason they chose their former midfielder to assist head coach Cedric Kaze

Yanga SC have clarified why they picked Nizar Khalfan as the team’s assistant coach to replace Juma Mwambusi.

Goal exclusively reported on Tuesday the Jangwani giants had settled for the former player to take up the role which fell vacant seven days ago after Mwambusi left the position, citing health issues.

Mwambusi tendered his resignation in Zanzibar where the team took part in Mapinduzi Cup tournament and beat rivals Simba SC 4-3 on penalties, and the club moved with speed to appoint Khalfan after vetting over ten coaches, who had applied for the job.

Yanga media officer Hassan Bumbuli has now explained age, experience, and the exposure of their former midfielder earned him the chance to serve the team again.

“After a thorough assessment of our former players who took up coaching lessons at some point of their career, an exercise which consumed at least two days, the judges recommended Khalfan to fill the assistant coach void,” Bumbuli said as quoted by Daily News.

“Coaching slot is very tactical and requires a person who is serious with his works. All those who were shortlisted for the post conducted interviews but in the end, a group of judges were impressed with Khalfan to fill the vacuum.”

Bumbuli further said the appointment of Khalfan was also approved by the team’s head coach Cedric Kaze, who had requested to work with somebody who knows the DNA of the club and who is ready to share ideas with him for the success of the team.

On confirming the appointment of the former African Lyon’s coach, Bumbuli told Goal: “We have picked on Nizar [Khalfan] as he was the best among the coaches who applied for the job. In fact, over ten coaches had applied for the job and only five reached the final stage with Khalfan emerging the best.”

Among the coaches who reached the final stage before the team settled on Khalfan include Salvatory Edward, Maalim Saleh, and Omary Kapilima.

Meanwhile, Mwambusi has hit out at those castigating his move to leave Yanga, saying they were giving misguiding information to the club's family.

“There have been many stories which are misguiding Yanga family and those people who are involved in making such comments are destroying my reputation as a skilled and experienced football coach,” Mwambusi told the same publication.

“I have always enjoyed a good working atmosphere at Yanga and this was the second time for me to work at the club as such, both of us value each other well hence those who need to divide us have no room to excel.”

Yanga are topping the 18-team league table with 44 points from 18 matches.

Original author: Dennis Mabuka
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