• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Pick of the week: Swiatek is untouchable in Paris, Alcaraz wins on all three surfaces in tennis, the MotoGP rider market turned inside out while EPL clubs vote for VAR improvements and the Eagles hope for the 2026 World Cup place faints.

The sports world never sleeps, and this week was no exception. But, since the end of the season for major leagues across Europe, activities throughout the week switched to the preparation for the Euros 2024 with International friendlies and the Euros 2025 women’s qualifiers not leaving out the 2026 World Cup qualifiers and mostly more from the world of unlimited sports.

In tennis, it seems getting a Grand Slam title is just as hard as getting a Champions League trophy.

Rafael Nadal may be the” king of clay,” Serena Williams and Justine Henine also pronounced on the clay courts, but Iga Swiatek also proved she’s royalty in Roland Garros

Iga Swiatek completes a three-peat in the French Open with a comprehensive victory against Jasmine Paolini 6-2,6-1 in just one hour and eight minutes. Here are a few things she achieved with winning the Roland Garros this time out. World no.1 Iga Swiatek has become the youngest player to win three consecutive titles at Roland Garros since Monica Seles between 1990-92 and first since Henin 2005-07. First to win Madrid, Rome, and the French Open since Serena Williams. She’s also the third player to win her first five grand slam finals and the 15th grand slam champion after saving a match point first since Krecjcikova in 2021.

In the French Open men’s final, it was the first time since 2004 that the men’s final did not have one of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, or Roger Federer. After a hard fight, Carlos Alcaraz beat Alexander  Zverev 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-1 6-2 and became the youngest player at 21 years and 35 days old to win his first three grand slams on all three surfaces in US open 2022, Wimbledon 2023 and Roland Garros 2024.

From the tennis courts to the basketball courts, The NBA finals game 1 came with the Boston Celtics cruising past the Dallas Mavericks 107-89 from a lengthy display of flexing muscles from the regular season, the playoff, and to the finals, their persistence in shot making, solid defence and deep rotation paid off in game 1. The Celtics led with as many as 29 points in the first quarter. Luca Doncic led a run to reduce the deficit by 9 in the third quarter, but thanks to Jaylen Browns’ timely play, they responded with a 16-2 run. Brown finished with 22 points, 3 blocks and 3 steals, and Porzingis returning from a calf injury scored 20 points, and on the other side, Doncic had 30 points, 10 rebounds, and one assist.

On the busy tracks of the MotoGP, in the Italian Grand Prix, Italian rider Francesco Bagnaia clinched a third consecutive win on a difficult weekend for championship leader Jorge Martin. Martin saw his championship lead cut down to 18 points after crashing out during the sprint and finishing third in the main race at Mugello in Tuscany. Bagnaia’s teammate Enea Bastianini produced a stunning late move to Pip Martin to second while Marquez was fourth.  The MotoGP season would continue from the 28-30 of June in the Netherlands.

In addition, the 2025 MotoGP rider market turned inside out by Marc Marquez, Jorge Martin, Ducati, and Aprilia. The puzzle was unarranged when Ducati informed Martin that he would not be getting the factory team seat, and he went straight to Aprilia and signed a deal to ride with the Italian manufacturer in 2025. Thereafter, the piece firmly came together when it was announced that the six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez would join the Ducati factory team on a two-year deal starting in 2025. He will replace Italian Enea Bastianini alongside the team, reigning two-time world champion Francesco Bagnaia.

In the EPL, Premier League clubs have voted against scrapping VAR, wanting it to be improved rather than removed. Wolves who have been on the receiving end of wrong decisions from VAR tabled a vote to abolish it alongside a list of nine reasons for clubs to support its proposal to ban VAR  which includes impact on goal celebration and lengthy checks amongst others. For VAR to be scrapped 14 out of the 20 clubs needed to vote in favour of it but at the premier league clubs’ annual meeting wolves’ proposal was knocked down as they were the only ones who voted I’m favour of the proposal and failed to gain support from other clubs. In the meeting, it was reaffirmed that semi-automated off-side will be introduced at some point while the premier league also confirmed in-game VAR announcements which were used in the 2023 women’s World Cup, that will see referees explain post-VAR decisions to the supporters in the stadium.

It was another setback for the Super Eagles of Nigeria after they were held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa in Uyo. While South Africa, has now gone three straight games without losing to the Eagles on home soil and is fourth in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers group C log, the Eagles on the other hand have now drawn three straight games and are fifth on the log with three points. In the first half of the game, South Africa took the lead in the 29th minute courtesy of Themba Zwane, who moved past two markers and slotted the ball home. The second half came with a perfect t start for Nigeria as Dele-Bashiru received a pass from Iwobi and held on to his markers to strike a low shot past Ronwen William although, he was forced to a change due to injury.
Next up for the Super Eagles will be an away trip to Cote D’Ivoire to face third-place Benin Republic on Monday 10th June.

Edo Queens who emerged as NWFL champions last month in Bayelsa will begin their quest to qualify for the 4th edition of the Caf women’s champions league when the WAFU Zone B qualifiers take place in Abidjan in August. The venue and date for this year’s women’s champion league qualifiers were announced as the tournament will be held from August 10-23 in Cote D’Ivoire and countries like Nigeria,  Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire Ghana, Niger Republic, and Togo will battle for the sole slot to the finals.

Meanwhile, by August, countries will be jostling to get the coveted trophy in the U20 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Colombia. The world soccer ruling body conducted the draws for the U20 Women’s World Cup, and Nigeria’s Falconets were among the qualified teams drawn into six groups of four teams. Here are the groupings:

The NBBF during the week unveiled the list of 20 invited players for the first phase of camping in Abuja, in preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Subsequently, D’Tigress will take on Germany and Puerto Rico in their warm-up games, which are slated for the 19th and 21st of July 2024.

Join us next week as we recap the biggest stories and most exciting moments.

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