• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Pick of the week: Drama unfolds within Nigeria men’s national team, Italy dominates in European athletics championship, Mavericks keep hope alive in NBA finals as the Euros 2024 kicks off with no spring of surprise yet.

What is the world of sports without controversy and scandals spiced with a little gossip. While most of the stories follow a predictable pattern we sure like it most when there is a surprise and as it concerns the men’s national football team of Nigeria, an announcement was made after what would be a careful deliberation from the NFF executive meeting. To add, the rather outspoken side of Osihmen was revealed damning the consequences.

In a swift turn out of events, after the NFF had announced it was searching for a foreign technical adviser to head the Eagles,  Finidi George reportedly stepped down as coach of the national team, a facetious comment that many had made after his appointment as the coach of the Eagles. Things started on a rough and tough patch for Finidi George as the Super Eagles World Cup qualifying hopes may have been marred by a shabby performance as they lost to Benin Republic 2-1. Nigeria lost away to Benin, who had to stage the match in Abidjan because their own stadium was declared unfit for use. Nigeria was ahead in the 27th minute when Raphael Onyedika squeezed the ball home, but Benin bounced back with goals from Jodel Dossou and Steve Mounie who profited from Nigeria’s poor defending.
The victory was interesting for Benin, coach Gernot Rohr, as he was sacked by Nigeria 3 years ago on the eve of taking them to the Afcon finals.  Currently, the Eagles, who were favourites in Group C, have not won any of their opening four group games and sit on 3 points while Benin leads with seven. 

Thereafter, in an outburst on Instagram Live, Victor Osimhen in an attempt to dismiss the rumours about his alleged non-commitment to the team due to his last-minute injury which caused his absence from the qualifiers slammed and expressed disappointment towards Finidi who reportedly made comments about players being uncommitted.

In faraway Europe, The Euros 2024 started with Germany having the biggest win in the opening game of the Euros as they defeated 10-man Scotland 5-1. The defending champions in Italy had to fight back for a 2-1 win after their opponents  Albania scored the fastest goal in a European championship match, courtesy of Nedim Bajrami’s historical strike 23 seconds into the game. Spain also made an emphatic 3-0 start.

In the world of unlimited sports, the 2024 European athletics championship provided six days of enthralling competition and impressive feats providing a glimpse of what to expect in Paris 2024.

Italy was very dominant, winning the most medals with 24, followed by France with 16 and Great Britain with 13. Karsten Warlohm took home the European title in the 400-metre hurdles to set a championship record of 46.98. Equally, Keely Hodgkinson, despite battling an illness, was able to capture gold in the women’s 800m. Also, an American-born Swedish pole vaulter Amando Duplantis won his third European title championship and set a record after clearing 6.10m and in what would be the peak, British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith retained her first major title winning a gold with 10.99 seconds, and also won gold in the 4x100m relay race to become the most accomplished British athlete in history surpassing Roger Black and Mo Farah with her sixth European gold medal.

On the other hand, the NBA finals are not yet over thanks to the Dallas Mavericks rising and keeping their hopes alive on a night where the finals would have easily been concluded. Luca Doncic scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half. Kyrie Irving added 21, and the Mavericks emphatically extended their season, fending off elimination with a 122-84 win in game 4.

Interestingly, the 38-point final margin was the third biggest ever in an NBA finals game behind only Chicago beating Utah Jazz 96-54 in 1998 and the Celtics beating the L. A Lakers 131-92 in 2008. Before game four the worst NBA finals loss for Celtics was 137-104 to the Lakers in 1984 but the game against Dallas was worse as the Dallas  Mavericks lead in the fourth with 48 the biggest deficit the Celtics have faced all season. However, the Celtics still lead the series 3-1, and fingers are crossed to see what it would be in game five in Boston.

Jack Draper, new British no.1, claimed his first ATP tour title after beating Matteo Berrettini 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in the Stuggart Open. Draper produced the key break of the match at  3-3 in the third set, going ahead to hold serve twice to clinch the victory. Draper had previously reached ATP 250 events finals twice losing to Adrian Mannarino at the Sofia Open in 2023 and to Jiri Lehecka in the Adelaide International, in January, whereas Berrettini has eight ATP tour titles in his career including three at the Stuggart Open and five on grass

Meanwhile, in the all-British clash, which was suspended and continued today, Katie Boulter won in three sets 6-7 6-3 6-4 against Emma Raducanu, which means Katie Boulter will face Karolina Pliskova in the finals later today.

In f1, the Montreal GP was dominated by changeable weather, which saw heavy downpours in the hours before the race. Verstappen impressively returned to winning ways to re-establish a more comfortable world championship lead of 56 points. Mclarens Norris led the race twice after overtaking Verstappen and Russell but settled for second as the cards were not in his favour, particularly under the first safety car. Rusell ended up third after making several mistakes and colliding with McLarens Oscar Piastri. Meanwhile, Russell ensured he zoomed past Hamilton in the penultimate round to be the driver to seal Mercedes’s first Grand Prix podium of 2024 in the season’s ninth round, fourth still represented Hamilton’s best result so far this year although he still described it as one of his worse races.

The flamingoes taught their opponents Liberia a tough lesson with an emphatic first leg  4-1 win at Sam Kenyon stadium in Monrovia for the u17 women’s world cup qualification The efforts of players like Harmony Chidi, Peace Efffiong, Shakira Moshood, and Ifetueze paid off both in the first and second half of that game.

It was no different in the second leg as the Flamingoes defeated Liberia 2-0 at the MKO, Abiola stadium. The goals came in the courtesy of Harmony Chidi in the 4th and 63rd minute, and with 6-1 on aggregate, the Flamingoes secured their spots for the Dominican Republic u17 women’s world cup which comes up from the 16 October- 3 November 2024.

Join us next week for further updates on the Euros and other stories in sports.

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