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Super Falcons to play about 10 matches before 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – NFF

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AWCON: Super Falcons bounce back with big win over Zambia

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Thursday said it has put in place plans to provide the Super Falcons with better preparations for the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.

Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Communications, said in a statement that the federation had made plans for the African champions to participate in about 10 matches altogether.

“Participation in the Four-Nation Invitational Tournament in China from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20 will be followed by participation in the Cyprus Women’s Cup billed for Feb. 25 to March 7.

“They will then play planned friendly matches with Spain or Canada before a final training camp in Austria that could also take in two tune-up games,’’ he said.

Already, the NFF has announced that the Falcons would have their final camping programme at the same Avita Hotel and Resort in Bad Tatzmannsdorf in Austria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Super Eagles stayed at that same facility before heading to Russia to participate in the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.

Olajire disclosed that players and officials of the nine-time African champions were on Tuesday at the Embassy of China in Abuja for visa processing.

“The team is expected to fly out of Nigeria to China on Monday,’’ he said.

Hosts China, Romania and Korea Republic are the other teams taking part in the four-day invitational.

The NFF official added that the players and officials would on return from the invitational tournament in China begin visa processing for the trip to Cyprus.

“They will take part in a 12-nation Invitational Tournament between Feb. 25 and March 7.

“Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, North Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, South Africa and Thailand are the other nations taking part.

“Of the lot, Nigeria, Italy, South Africa and Thailand will be going to France,’’ he said.

Olajire disclosed also that Spain and Canada have approached Nigeria for friendly matches.

Spain will face South Africa, Germany and China in Group B at France 2019, while Canada will also take on African team Cameroon, New Zealand and The Netherlands in Group E.

“Jamaica, who play Australia, Italy and Brazil in Group C, have also written to the NFF expressing interest in playing against the Super Falcons,’’ he added.

Nigeria are the only African country to have featured in all previous editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup since the competition was launched in China in 1991.

The African champions, who are the Women National Team of Year 2018 in Africa, will tackle host nation France, Korea Republic and Norway in Group A of this summer’s finals.

The Super Falcons, who were quarter-finalists in 1999, will open their account in France against Norway, at the 21,000-capacity Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims on June 8.

They will then face Korea Republic in Grenoble on June 12 and hosts France in Rennes on June 17.

The 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals will hold from June 7 to July 7.

France will be up against Korea Republic in the opening match at the Parc des Princes in Paris on June 7.(NAN)

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Cardiff City’s new signing Sala missing after plane disappears over English Channel

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Cardiff City’s new signing Sala missing after plane disappears over English Channel

Cardiff City Football Club’s new star Emiliano Sala was on board a light aircraft that disappeared en route to the Welsh capital where he was to join up with the team.

France’s civil aviation authority made this disclosure on Tuesday.

Argentine Sala was flying from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff when the plane lost radar contact off the English Channel island Guernsey late on Monday.

Rescue aircraft and boats scoured more than 1,000 square miles of sea for the single-engine Piper Malibu on Tuesday.

Guernsey police said a number of floating objects had been seen in the water but they were unable to confirm whether any were from the missing aircraft.

As night fell, search operations were suspended.

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Police said they would resume at sunrise on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old forward joined English Premier League strugglers Cardiff City from FC Nantes last week for a club record fee of about 17 million euros (£15 million).

He had played in France since 2012.

“We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today (Tuesday) was due to be his first day with the team,” club CEO Ken Choo said in a statement.

“We continue to pray for positive news.”

The club’s Tuesday’s training session was called off.

“The management and the whole club are staying hopeful and the whole FC Nantes family is praying for Emiliano Sala and the other passengers to be found safe and sound,” Nantes said in a statement.

British authorities contacted airfields along the coast to check if the plane had made an unplanned landing, but there was no sign it had, Guernsey police said.

The plane had been cruising at 5,000 feet when the pilot requested to descend to a lower altitude on passing Guernsey.

It lost radar contact at 2,300 feet, the police said.

John Fitzgerald, chief executive of Channel Islands Air Search, said: “If they are wearing the right dry suits or they got into a life raft, then the probability is not too bad.

“If they are in the water without any protection, the water is really too cold at the moment for any form of survival beyond an hour or so,” Fitzgerald told Sky TV.

Sala’s father Horacio told Argentine TV channel C5N: “I didn’t know anything because I’m away from home, I’m a truck driver. A friend who saw it on TV told me. I’m in despair.”

Julio Muller, the mayor of Progreso, the small town in the farming province of Santa Fe where Sala grew up, told Clarin online: “The town is in shock. The only thing we were talking about was his transfer.”

Daniel Rivero, the president of Sala’s first club, San Martin de Progreso, told radio LT9 he was “hoping for some kind of a miracle.”

Sala scored 12 goals for Nantes this season.

France’s football federation has postponed Nantes’s French Cup last-32 game against Entente Sannois-Saint Gratien that was scheduled for Wednesday.

Sala on Monday tweeted a photo of himself bidding farewell to his Nantes team mates, saying. “The last one. Ciao @FCNantes.”

(Reuters/NAN)

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Mikel returns to England, set to join Middlesbrough

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Mikel returns to England, set to join Middlesbrough

Latest transfer reports indicate that Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel is set for a return to England for his playing career.

According to Sky Sports, Mikel has agreed personal terms with Middlesbrough and is undergoing a medical on Tuesday.

It is understood that the former Chelsea star held talks with Boro manager Tony Pulis at the Middlesbrough training ground last week and is now close to signing a short-term deal with the Championship club.

Mikel, who has been playing for Chinese side Tianjin TEDA, ended his two-year spell recently to find a move to the UK, where his wife and children have stayed after his move abroad.

The 31-year-old spent 11 years at Chelsea, most notably winning one Champions League title, two Premier League titles, the Europa League, three FA Cups and the League Cup.

Mikel had a successful stint at Stamford Bridge, most notably winning the Champions League title in 2012.

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Some Nigerians have donned the colours of Middlesbrough in the past but the biggest of them all is Yakubu Aiyegbeni who played for the club from 2005 to 2007, making over 70 appearances and scoring 25 goals.

Since playing for Nigeria at the Russia 2018 World Cup, Mikel has been missing in action for the Super Eagles.

It is expected that if the Boro move sails, Mikel will get the necessary match fitness that could see him return for the upcoming games again Seychelles and Egypt in March 2019.

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Ronaldo accepts fine for tax evasion, avoids jail

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Ronaldo accepts fine for tax evasion, avoids jail

Portuguese football star, Cristiano Ronaldo was fined almost 19 million euros ($21.6 million) for tax fraud on Tuesday, but he will avoid serving a 23-month prison sentence after agreeing to the deal.

Ronaldo, holding hands with his Spanish fiancee, Georgina Rodriguez, came out of the court-room smiling, pausing to sign autographs before leaving in a black van.

The 33-year-old Juventus forward, who played for Real Madrid from 2009 to 2018, agreed to settle the case by paying an 18.8 million euro fine and accepting a suspended jail sentence.

Under Spanish law, a first offender can serve anything less than a two-year sentence under probation and Ronaldo will not have to go to prison.

His court appearance lasted about 15 minutes as the five-times World Footballer of the Year only needed to sign off on the previously settled agreement.

Earlier, Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid team-mate, Xabi Alonso walked in to face own tax fraud case with his hands deep in his suit pockets.

“Yes, all good,” was his only response to reporters’ questions.

Ronaldo had to enter the courtroom through the front door after his request for special security measures to avoid the spotlight was denied on Monday.

In 2017, Ronaldo denied the accusation that he knowingly used a business structure to hide income generated by his image rights in Spain between 2011 and 2014.

After reaching the deal, he paid a fine of 5.7 million euros, plus interest of about 1 million euros, in July 2018, the prosecutor’s office said last week. (Reuters/NAN)

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