• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Pick of the week – Feel the excitement, torments, and delight of the Euros 2024 and Copa America Quarterfinalist, down to the exhibition of class and poise in the British Grand prix, whereas Nigeria got familiar foes at the Afcon 2025 draws, as with a little bit of drama, followed Randy Waldrum’s Falcons Olympics list. Elsewhere,Iga Swiatek’s woes on the grass continue as Rivers appointed Finidi Goerge to avert a lacklustre finish next season in the NPFL.

What a week it has been in the world of sports! We’ve witnessed thrilling matches, dramatic upsets, and historic milestones. Let’s relive the most electrifying moments!

The Euros 2024 quarter-finals kicked off with a bang as Spain and Germany clashed in a rematch of the 2008 finals. Former German goalkeeper Jens Lehman had boldly predicted that Spain’s “kids” wouldn’t survive the quarter-finals, but his words were left in the dust as Spain advanced to the semis with a stunning 2-1 win over Germany. Dani Olmo and Mikel Merino’s extra-time heroics secured Spain’s spot in the next round, making them the first team to knock out the host nation at this stage.

Meanwhile, Portugal’s Euro dreams were shattered by France in a nail-biting penalty shootout. Despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s successful penalty kick, Theo Hernandez emerged as the hero for France, scoring the winning penalty after Joao Felix hit the post. This sets up a thrilling semi-final showdown between France and Spain.

In another quarter-final match, England struggled to find their rhythm but managed to edge past Switzerland in a penalty shootout. The credit goes to Cole Palmer, Saka, Ivan Toney, and Alexander Arnold, who all converted their penalties to secure England’s spot in the next round.

It appeared that Turkiye’s torment was the Dutch team’s delight as the Netherlands are through to the semis after a 2-1 victory, at least the second game aside Spain and Germany, which didn’t need to go into penalties. Akaydin headed in a brilliant cross that put Turkey in front in the 35th minute. The Dutch team levelled up through De Vrij’s header and an own goal from a Turkey player Mulder ensured they advanced. The Netherlands have now won at halftime in the Uefa European championship for the first time since 21st June 2000 against France.

What a week of sports it has been! The drama, the excitement, and the upsets – we can’t wait to see what the next round has in store!

Whereas in the Copa America, despite Lionel Messi missing his spot kick, Emi Martinez came to Argentina’s rescue to ensure Argentina moved to the last four in the competition. Canada, after playing out a 1-1 draw with Venezuela, advanced based on penalties to the semi-finals. Mighty Brazil’s run in the Copa American came to an end with their South American neighbours Uruguay even with 10 men for the final 20 minutes Uruguay stayed stable to ensure the game went into a penalty shoot-out and won 4-2 advancing to the Semifinals.

The draw for the Afcon 2025 was held in Johannesburg. After the draws, forty-eight teams are now aiming to qualify for the African showpiece to dethrone Cote D’Ivoire. While some countries were placed in a tricky group, Nigeria got familiar foes in Benin Republic and Rwanda in group D of the draws. The qualifiers will start in September 2024 and end in November. Here are the full draws.

The Super Falcons head coach Randy Waldrum unveiled his 22-woman final squad list for the Paris Olympics women’s football tournament in France.  This couldn’t have been without a bit of drama as Onome Ebi via her socials debunked rumours of speaking with NFF officials to force her name on the squad list. Nevertheless, well-known Rasheedat Ajibade will captain the team with other key players like Asisat Oshoala, goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, and Michelle Alozie. However, the team will be without the services of a preeminent midfielder, Halimatu Ayinde, who is out due to a knee injury and defender Ashleigh Plumptre as she sustained an injury while on her club duty with Al-Ittihad. The Super Falcons are currently in a two-week training camp in Sevilla. thereafter, the team will depart Sevilla for France on Thursday, 18th July. Nine-time African champions Nigeria, who are making their first appearance at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament for the first time since 2008 in China, will tackle Brazil, Spain and Japan, in that order, at this year’s tournament.

Meanwhile, on the international scene, the men’s qualifiers for the Paris Olympics are still ongoing for some countries as Spain will aim to avoid missing out on the Olympics for the first time in almost three decades against their opponent Bahamas who will try to qualify for the first time ever, Giannis Antentokoumpo Greece will play Croatia also for an Olympic berth.

On the contrary, the senior national women’s basketball team D’Tigress is in Germany to finish preparation for the Paris Olympics. Sixteen players were invited to the final camp from which twelve will be selected, but one notable name missing from the list is Sarah Ogoke, who, due to personal reasons, will be absent. The team is to take on Germany and Puerto Rico on July 19 and 24, respectively, before the basketball event begins in Paris on July 28.

Queen of Clay’s tag stamped on Iga Swiatek’s remained unchallenged, but her quest for a maiden Wimbledon title ended in disappointment. The top-seeded Swiatek struggled on the grass court, suffering a third-round loss to Yulia Putintseva, ranked 35th in the world. Meanwhile, Andy Murray’s career came to a close when his planned mixed doubles partner, Emma Raducanu, withdrew due to a stiff right wrist, forcing him to bid farewell to the tournament and professional tennis altogether.

Seven-time champion Novak Djokovic also came from a set down to secure his place in the Wimbledon fourth round with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 7-3 over Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. The defending champion Alcaraz battled Ugo Humbert to win 6-3 6-4 1-6 7-5, sending him into a ninth quarter-finals from 14 Grand Slam main draws entered. Ben Shelton was looking to make a major statement against world no.1 Jannik Sinner in their first grass encounter, but Sinner’s class came through as he beat Shelton 6-2 6,4 7-6 (11-9)

Form is temporary but class is nothing but permanent as it’s been generally accepted — Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious in the British Grand Prix, fending off a late challenge from Max Verstappen to secure a record-breaking ninth win at Silverstone, thereby ending a 56-race winless streak. Hamilton’s triumph marks a historic milestone, as he becomes the first Formula 1 driver to win the same race nine times, surpassing a record he previously shared with Michael Schumacher. Verstappen claimed second place, overtaking Lando Norris in the latter stages of the race, relegating Norris to third position. This victory follows Hamilton’s fourth-place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix, where George Russell secured an unexpected win, while Verstappen finished fifth after a collision with Norris.

The Nigeria Premier Football League witnessed the first coach unveiling for the 2024/2025 season and it was Finidi George who was introduced as the new head coach of Rivers United in the NPFL, marking a new chapter in his career after leaving the Nigerian national team. The unveiling ceremony was held at the Sharks Stadium. Finidi previously led Enyimba FC to NPFL victory in his second season, and he now hopes to replicate that success with Rivers United, who had a disappointing 8th-place finish in the recent NPFL season. His goal is to restore the team’s continental glory.

Join us again next week for a more thrilling recap on some of the hot moments in the sports world.

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