• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Pick of the week: Lustre, brilliance, and fire unearthed this weekend as Chelsea women secure a fifth straight WSL title and Manchester City win the EPL, spiced up with Oleksandr Usyk as world heavyweight champion and Iga Swiatek as double clay court winner.

What other way to describe this week in sports than a gemstone with brilliance, lustre, and fire! This week revealed the answers to sports fans’ most urgent questions.

Boxing has been waiting for over twenty-five years to get the new undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999, and indeed, many did expect the drama that ensued even from the build-up to the bout between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury.  It started from the pre-fight media day when John Fury, Tyson’s father, headbutted a member of Usyks entourage, which turned into an ugly clash, thereafter when both opponents came to the front stage for an obligatory face Usyk stood sideways whereas Fury decided to face the crowd, flexed his muscles and left the stage but then again the final face-off was heated as they had to separate the two.  Fury appeared to be in the best form but it was different when Usyk in the ninth round smashed Fury’s jaw with a left hook and further gave him shots that sent him to one set of the rope and received another smack. Fury was on the brink of losing it as he received a standing count. However, Usyk won by a split decision with scores of 115-112, 113-114,114-113 to add the WBC title to his WBA, IBF, and WBO belts.

In faraway Italy, it was a busy weekend as it was graced by the Italian Open finals in tennis and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in f1.
On the courts of clay in tennis, the Italian Open finals between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalaneka was a rematch of the Madrid Open won by Iga Swiatek and the Italian Open was no different as world no.1 Iga Swiatek doubled her clay court titles. Swiatek dominated the opening set, which saw her break Sabalenka twice and, in 35 minutes, wrapped it up with a 6-2 6-3 victory. She became the first woman to complete the dirt double of winning Madrid and Rome back-to-back since Serena Williams in 2013.

Meanwhile, on the tracks of f1, the Emilia Romagna GP was an interesting one as Max Verstappen beat Lando Norris by less than a second to win at Imola despite Norri’s late charge and Verstappen is still on track to get a successive driver title. While Lando Norris was second on the podium, Charles Leclerc took third to seal Ferarri’s first podium at Imola since 2006.

In Europe, the Premier League title decider was down to the final day, but Manchester City’s victory was never in doubt. Pep Guardiola’s team has now become the first team to win the English league title four seasons in a row. City has now won six out of the past seven premier league titles, thereby achieving what no other side has since the English League was formed in 1888.

Similarly, in the WSL race, despite being incredibly tight at the top of the table the title race came down to the last day where Chelsea defeated Manchester United 5-0 to secure the WSL title for the fifth time in a row. Before this Chelsea led Man City on goal difference with an advantage of two goals and after enough drama in the season, the question was if Chelsea could seal the title in manager Emma Haye’s final game or can City lift the trophy for the very first time since 2016 but fortunately Emma Hayes was sent off on a high note from the WSL as Chelsea was crowned the 2023/24 WSL champions.

In addition, Phil Phoden was named the premier league player of the season with a career-best of seventeen goals and eight assists while Cole Palmer was also named young player of the season with twenty-two goals and ten assists, whereas Kadija Shaw of Man City women won the golden boot with twenty-one goals this season.

In table tennis, Aruna Quadri defeated his opponent Mohammed El Belali of Egypt, who was vying for his maiden singles titles, 4-0 to win the 2024 ITTF Africa Cup Mens singles titles. After three consecutive losses and getting to the finals four times in seven years, he reclaimed his crown for the first time since 2017. In the women’s single, consolidating on reaching the semi-finals twice before, Maria Alhodaby got to the finals where she played Dina Meshref. Meshref, despite trailing 2-0 in the hands of Mariam, fought back to win and earn her 14th title in the continent and her 5th in the ITTF African Cup women’s singles.

In addition, Edem Offiong, Omotayo Olajide, and Fatimo Bello all secured tickets to the Paris Olympics 2024.

In Nigeria, the NFF, formally unveiled Finidi George as the head coach of the Super Eagles, he was unveiled at an event in Abuja, that was held at the Media Centre of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium graced by the Minister of Sports John Owan Enoh and the leaders of the NFF in attendance. Finidi George also announced the selection of five assistant coaches to bolster his squad for his first official assignment against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. Alongside Daniel Amokachi, Olatunji Baruwa was appointed goalkeeper trainer. Benjamin James will serve as a second assistant, Chima Onyeike, as a fitness trainer and Mehmet Ozturk as a match analyst.

Bayelsa State, Yenagoa welcomed the NWFL teams for the super 6 and Edo Queens started with a five-star brilliant performance by defeating their opponents Confluence Queens 5-1 goals for Edo Queens were courtesy of Emem Essien who got a brace in the game, Goodness Osigwe who also added a brace and Chioma Moses. The second game between Nassarawa Amazons vs Heartland Queens ended in a goalless draw meanwhile it was a fierce battle in the south-south derby between Rivers Angels and the host of the Super 6 Bayelsa Queens as It ended 1-1 with goals from Fehintola Mabokanje from the spot for Bayelsa Queens and Rita Peter who levelled for Rivers Angels.

The new week awaits with a lot more action and excitement in the world of sports. Join us next week for more updates.

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