Perez, Mustafi and the Champions League Draw

Wenger held his cards to his chest and yesterday Arsenal agreed fees for Mustafi and Perez. The talks of Shkodran Mustafi have been on for weeks but all is set for the German defender to join the Gunners before the new week at £35m.

Lucas Perez Martinez was heading to Everton but Arsenal hijacked the deal. The 27 year old Spaniard scored 17 goals in the La Liga last season for Deportivo La Coruna. Valued at £17m, he will offer an option to Olivier Giroud.

So Arsenal have signed 6 players in the transfer window. Xhaka, Mustafi and Perez for the present; Holding, Nwakali and Asano for the future. Wenger is surely smiling at the random foolishness around some media outlets. Talks of Vardy, Mahrez, Lacazette et al can be put to rest now. Watford is next.

Before the double swoop last night, the UEFA champions League draw for 2016/17 was published. Arsenal drew PSG, FC Basel and Ludogorets in group A. The Gunners will start their Champions League campaign on September 13 with a trip to Paris. In the EFL Cup, Nottingham Forest will host Arsenal in Round 2.

UCL Draw 2016.17

In Africa, Enyimba defeated Sundowns 3-1 in Port Harcourt but it didn’t affect the standings in the CAF Champions League group. Sundowns and Zamalek progressed from group B, while Wydad Casablanca and Zesco united progressed from group A. ZESCO United will play Mamelodi Sundowns in the semifinal. Wydad Casablanca will play Zamalek in the other semifinal.

In the NPFL, Nigeria’s premium lager beer, Star, on Tuesday  sealed a “multi-year” partnership deal with the League Management Company (LMC) for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). The deal is believed to cover 5 seasons starting from the 2015/16 season. The value of the deal is yet unknown but we expect more revelations soon. For now, just shine.

Winter Weekend is coming. Get ready for another round of football matches across the globe.

@AmosCP.

The Weekend and 600 Football Gists

Arsenal played out a 0-0 draw at the Kings Power Stadium against Champions Leicester City. Koscielny returned to the starting line up to partner young Rob Holding at the heart of Arsenal’s defence.

Laurent Koscielny

The Gunners put up a good defensive shift as they earned their first point of the season. The Foxes were denied a late penalty though to Bellerin’s relief. Vardy was marshalled out by Koscielny and Cech was called up to smother a couple of chances.

With the transfer window coming to an end in 8 days, the Gunners must fortify their attack and round up the signing of Mustafi. It seems there have been some tussle as to how much he is worth. It will be a shame if Arsenal fail to sign a striker within this period. Unfortunately, I won’t be surprised.

I was surprised though to see Campbell shipped out on loan to Sporting Lisbon. Sometimes you wonder what he has to do to be in the team especially seeing how Walcott has dwindled in recent years. But the loan move is best for him. Since the manager is not interested in playing him, it is best he gets regular football somewhere else. It is believed that Gnabry’s display at the Olympics was also a factor in the move.

Speaking of the Olympics, Brazil finally got their first ever Olympics Gold medal in football after a 5-4 penalty victory over Germany. The Germans had seen off Nigeria in the semifinals but could only settle for the Silver medal after missing one of their spot kicks in a game that ended 1-1 after FT.

Nigeria finished third with a 3-2 defeat to Honduras. The two second half goals by Honduras sparked up a revival but the former Olympics champions held on for Bronze. It is a shame though that the bronze was the only medal won by the Nigerian contingent to Rio 2016. The football team should have shared the Japanese 390k USD gift although rumours have it that the NFF tried to hijack the money. Seriously?

Suarez started off the La Liga with a hat-trick, Zlatan, Aguero and Nolito got braces in the Premier League, Westham opened the London Stadium and have signed a deal with FC IfeanyiUbah.

The NPFL continued and the new Westham Partners were the biggest winners of the weekend with a 1-0 win over Warri Wolves in Warri. With about 6 games to go, picking up away points in the NPFL is rare and powerful. Can they challenge Wikki Tourists and Rangers at the top?

Tomorrow, Enyimba play Sundowns to round up their woeful campaign in the CAF Champions League. I expect to even lose in Port Harcourt; those South Africans have no chill.

Enough for the morning.

What matters to me is when you have a club with 600 employees you have the money to pay them at the end of the month.

@AmosCP

One Week, More Trouble

It has been a disappointing footballing week especially if you are a Nigerian and you have an affiliation with North London.

First the Premier League began it’s 2016/17 season but the 7 goal thriller at the Emirates was not to Arsenal’s favour. There were defensive concerns with young Rob Stark Holding partnered with Chambers. It was not the opening game Wenger wanted but it is now traditional that the Gunners is most likely not to win an opening league game.

Leicester City is next but it seems Arsenal are not just ready. They have mustafi-ed around for weeks and still nothinh to show for the available funds. Are we going to see Rob-Kos or Rob-Calum?

The Champions League is over for Enyimba after a 1-0 loss to Zamalek in Egypt. The visitors needed a victory but played like they were protecting a 2-0 first leg lead. That was not the Enyimba we used to know but they have taken a step further than last season. Will they be there next season.

The debate is on over Paul Aigbogun’s head and ThatEnyimbaFan has laid it out to the fans. It has been torturous season for Enyimba – no home, new coach, players movement et al – but they remain a force in Nigerian football. One more dead rubber game against Sundowns in Port Harcourt by Tuesday and their night watch for the GoT season is ended.

The Olympics is rounding up with Phelps and Bolt lapping every glory and honour in Rio but Nigerians are left with few opportunities to win at least a medal before it ends. Most of our wrestlers have been knocked, our sprinters couldn’t even make the final, our boxer out-pointed, our canoe rower honourably 20th. We are left with few chances, one of which is football.

The Dream Team could not reach the final of men football in the Olympics after a 2-0 defeat to Germany in the semifinals. It was their 1st semifinal defeat in the Olympics after an emphatic 4-3 comeback against Brazil in 1996 and a 4-1 thrashing of Belgium in 2008.

Maybe Etebo shouldn’t have be played in the dead rubber game against Colombia. Maybe Okey shouldn’t have gotten that silly yellow card against Denmark. Maybe Iwobi, Iheanacho and others could have shun club duties and be among the team. Maybe…

Nigeria League football took a sharp turn on Wednesday with the announcement that Giwa FC have been reinstated to the NPFL. Some of us thought the League Management Company twitter account had been hacked but lo and behold, the news was true. Their actions were as a result of a Jos court order.

Recall that Giwa FC were thrown out of the league for failing to honour three home games this season after they were banished away from Jos. How the LMC will manage this is yet to unfold but if Giwa FC is not eventually kicked out for good then we have taken several steps backward with chaos awaiting at the corner.

On the other side, the LMC finally gave a verdict on the abandoned game between Ikorodu United and Shooting Stars. Game has been dimmed complete at 1-1 and Ikorodu United have been fined and banned to Abeokuta.

So much trouble for one week. The weekend is here. Football continues across the world. Nigeria will play Honduras in the third place match in the Olympics, the NPFL continues with MD32, the Premier League enters the 2nd lap, and the season begins again in Spain and Italy with La Liga and Serie A actions respectively.

Have a fun filled weekend.

@AmosCP

The Regular False Start

We all waited for the return of the Premier League and it didn’t disappoint. The 2016/17 season kicked off at the KC stadium where reigning Champions Leicester City were outfoxed by newly promoted Hull City.

The Tigers were short with 1st team players and few players on the bench. They could only afford a caretaker coach but he took care of the Foxes. Vardy seem to have forgotten his scoring boots last season. He couldn’t convert any of the chances Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa created for him. They face Arsenal next.

Pep Guardiola opened his Manchester City account with a 2-1 victory over Sunderland no thanks to a late own goal by debutants McNair. Aguero was also on song, although from the spot. Zlatan helped Manchester United to a 3-1 away win at Bournemouth.

But the major talking point of the weekend came at the Emirates where the fans were served with a 7 goal thriller although they would have wished it ended in their favour.

Walcott missed a penalty but scored with 90 seconds but Coutinho equalized on the dearth of half time with a wonderful free kick. Within the next 20 minutes (early second half), the Gunners had shipped in 3 additional goals. Surprised?

The Ox came in and began a comeback revival with a goal. Chambers converted Cazorla’s free kick but the Gunners could not grab the equalizer. Walcott even tripped in the box late on. Shame. Not the debut Holding and Xhaka had hoped for.

A missed penalty, injuries to Ramsey and Iwobi and 4 goals conceded in 20 minutes. Could Cech had saved one of the goals? And what was Ox looking at in the 2nd half when the ball was loosely close to him?

Leicester City is next for the Gunners. Would they get Mustafi and a striker before then? Another poor start for the Gunners. Don’t you just love the Premier League?

Tonight, Africa will look to Egypt and Nigerians will hope for a miracle for Enyimba against Zamalek. Enyimba need a win to have hopes of qualifying to the semifinals of the CAF Champions League. We will dine by 7:30pm today.

The NPFL All stars ended their tour of La Liga with a 2-1 defeat to 2016 UEFA Champions League finalists, Atletico Madrid. I believe the lads and officials have learnt a lot. 3 games, 3 goals scored, 3 defeats and 8 goals conceded, it is time to return to the NPFL. 10 more Matchdays to go.

@AmosCP

Rohr, NFF and LMC – Conclusions and Inconclusive Matters

The search for a foreign Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles of Nigeria came to an end on Tuesday with the appointment of Gernot Rohr on a 2 year contract. The German was previously in charge of Burkina Faso, Gabon and Niger. This concludes the search for the head of the Super Eagles since the resignation of Sunday Oliseh in March.

I have a German heart – the heart of a winner. I have confidence that with the right atmosphere and the right support, the Super Eagles have the capacity not only to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, but get to the latter stages of the competition – Rohr.

The 63 year old would have his first match in the dead rubber game against Tanzania next month.

To some inconclusive matters:

The NFF is yet to make any publication about the abandoned quarterfinal Federation Cup matches two weeks ago. Rivers United abandoned their match trailing 1-0 to Enyimba after a penalty was awarded in the 76th minute. Warri Wolves also walked out of their game against FC IfeanyiUbah at 1-0 citing questionable calls from the centre referee. The Seasiders claim that two of their goals were disallowed. Can we conclude on these games? Why is it taking ages for the NFF to conclude on these matches?

The LMC is not exempted from these inconclusive matters. This is the third day after the mayhem at the Onikan Stadium and we are yet to finalize on the abandoned match. A late equalizer by Shooting Stars triggered exchange of missiles at the Onikan between the fans. Game was abandoned in the 2nd minute of the 4 minutes added time. Are we going to have the remaining 2 minutes played on a latter date or are we going to end the match as it is? Maybe we will a wait till after the La Liga trip before we get a final verdict on the Onikan matter.

The Dream Team will play their last group stage match today against Colombia. I expect Siasia to rest some of the lads. Brazil is around the corner. The NPFL All stars also have a date tonight with Valencia. Don’t miss any.

Enjoy

@AmosCP

So Much To Talk About – Football Never Ends

A day away from football is like a thousand years in the sight of the gods of football. In a twinkle, a team can be in the high heavens of defeating one of the best teams in the universe 4-0 and within a blink, same team has suffered a replica defeat in the hand of another team of much lower quality. What is life? Ask Liverpool.

Footballing life is awesome and it has its twist and turns. Sometimes, you have to twist and turn with it. There are so  many uncertainties but you have to make brave decisions especially in the face of crises.

Talking of crises, Arsenal is in a shade of one at the back. Per Metersacker will be away for about 5 months and Gabriel suffered an injury in the final preseason game against Manchester City. Koscielny has just returned from holidays, Holding is but 20, Chambers is yet to hit the mark, will Wenger respond with a purchase? There are talks of Musatfi and even Evans this morning. Should we expect a center back pairing of Koscienly and Monreal? Will Wenger throw Holding into the fray against Liverpool by the weekend?

Gabriel’s injury almost took out the shine of the 3-2 win over Pep’s Manchester City. Starting with three forms of Alex upfront (Iwobi, Sanchez, the Ox), the Gunners came from behind to win the game. It was a game with Nigerian flavour. Three young Nigerians were on song – Alex Iwobi, Chuba Akpom and Kelechi Iheanacho. Is this the future of the Super Eagles? Will Akpom wear the greens of Nigeria?

Few days before the Manchester City friendly, Arsenal went haywire against Vikings FK. When was the last time Arsenal defeated a team by such scoreline? 8-0. It was a game with 7 second half goals.

The preseason is over for the Gunners. Are they ready for the challenge ahead? Manchester United denied Ahmed Musa of his first trophy for Leicester City as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring the winner. If Messi played for the Red Devils, Musa may have grabbed a brace. I thought Mourinho doesn’t take the Community Shield as a trophy. Behold, he has counted it as one. Same man that lost the trophy to Wenger last season. The transfer window is still open for another 22 days. Pogba is back to Manchester United. Mourinho is building a strong squad.

Away from the best soap opera in the world, the NPFL all stars will be in Spain by today for a tour. Hopefully, they put up a good challenge for the Spanish teams and maybe broker deals for some of the players. The players will form a major nucleus of the team to play the dead rubber AFCON 2017 qualifier against Tanzania next month.

The NPFL continued over the weekend with two major talking points. Kenedy Boboye resigned from Abia Warriors after the Umuahia based side failed to defeat Akwa United at home. He cited personal reasons but Abia Warriors have been on the downward spiral since the second half of the season. Their early season unbeaten run is no where now. The other point was in Onikan where a late Shooting Stars equalizer triggered mayhem in the popular side of the stadium. Match has been described as inconclusive by the organizers.

In the Olympics, the Dream Team have qualified for the quarter finals of the Olympics thanks to a 1-0 win over Sudan. Will they win Gold like in Atlanta 1996? We will continue to support Team Nigeria in the Olympics.

So much to talk about but we have to call it a day now.

Enjoy.

@AmosCP

Dare to Dream: Nigeria 5-4 Japan

Sometimes life throw so much at you and turns its back on you. You put in all your effort but there are factors you have no control over thus you are hindered. Everything seem to be against you. You miss your flights, you missed your calls, injuries crave in and it seems everything is falling apart.

Etebo

Man of the Moment: Etebo

The Nigeria U-23 team arrived Manaus about 5 hours before kick off after the flight booking/scheduling drama with the authorities that be. I didn’t give them a chance but the reigning U-23 AFCON champions showed the world what Nigeria means. Against all odds, they saw off Japan in a 9 goal thriller.

Not so many Nigerians were awake to watch the Dream Team pull off this miracle by 2am local Nigerian time but everyone is excited at the response of the team despite the challenges it has faced in recent days.

Sadiq Umar opened scoring in the 6th minute with Nigeria’s fastest ever goal in the Olympics but the Japanese (Koroki) equalized within 3 minutes from the spot. Former Warri Wolves forward Etebo started his 4 goal rampage in the 11th but Minamino responded within 2 minutes. Etebo scored in the 42nd minute to give the Nigerians the lead at half-time.

Etebo went on to complete his double-brace with a 51st minute penalty and 66th minute goal. Arsenal’s Asano reduced the scoreline to 5-3 in the 70th minute. The jet-lagged and tired Nigerians held on but conceded a fourth from Suzuki in added time. 5-4, it ended. What a game?

5 – This is the 1st time #NGR will score 5 goals in an #Olympics football match. Raid. #Rio2016

In other Olympic football games, South Africa held off host Brazil, South Korea went haywire against Fuji Islands (8-0), Gnabry was on song for Germany in their 2-2 draw with Mexico, Honduras defeated Algeria 3-2, Sweden drew 2-2 with Colombia and Portugal saw off Argentina 2-0.

In other news, Arsenal will play Vikings FK today. Another preseason game. Szczesny has returned to Roma for another  one year loan. Ospina is safe then.

Enjoy your Friday.

@AmosCP

 

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