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The draw Ceremony for the West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations tournament for senior national teams in the sub –region scheduled for September took place at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra on Thursday. The competition has been scheduled for September 9 -24, and teams are expected to feature players plying their trade in their countries.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been drawn in Group A alongside host nation Ghana, with Mali and Guinea also involved in a format that will see teams play single games before proceeding to the quarter finals.

All the teams in Group A will play in Takoradi, the twin city of Sekondi that also hosted matches during the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles are drawn to play Sierra Leone. Other teams in Group A are The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Guinea Bissau.

                                                                   CHAN DRAW

Group B will compete in Cape Coast. 2015 African champions Cote d’Ivoire headline the pool that also has Senegal, Burkina Faso and Benin Republic, with Liberia, Niger Republic, Togo and Cape Verde also involved.

Ghana and Nigeria have seven African titles between them, with the Super Eagles and the Black Stars featuring in the last two FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014).

The Nigeria Football Federation’s  Director of Competitions, Ayobola Oyeyode, represented Nigeria at the ceremony.

Nigerian players have backed CAF's decision to move the Africa Cup of Nations to June and July.

The Super Eagles trio of Vincent Enyeama, Ogenyi Onazi and William Troost-Ekong have all expressed support for CAF's decision, which also included expanding the tournament from 16-24 teams.

According to Former captain Enyeama, the competition will benefit from the new date change, saying: "It will improve the quality of the competition because a lot more players will now be available."

After Nigeria's Nations Cup victory in 2013, many of the players were asked to report back to their clubs immediately, stated midfielder Onazi, who played for Italian side Lazio at the time.

"Fortunately I have not had difficulties with that because my club then never gave me any problems, but when we finished the Nations Cup when I was supposed to celebrate with my teammates, they told me to come back immediately to join them in Germany for our Europa League game.

"It was the same for other players too. I remember Efe Ambrose went from South Africa to his team and when my team saw him playing a game the next day, they called me to come too.

"Also, some teams only allow players to come [to national team camp] when it's three days to the start the tournament, which is not good for the players to bond together.

"[But] the team will now find it easier to release players because now the period for the Nations Cup is better. I think clubs will be happy about the development."

Bursaspor defender Troost-Ekong has also never faced the club-versus-country battle in relation to the Nations Cup, but he had a taste of it with the Olympic Games.

"I haven't had my share yet, but even to be released for the Olympics last summer was a fight," says the defender "And I wasn't even missing that many games in comparison to AFCON. So I know it would be a hard sell to my club now.

"It will be good for the competition and it will also make it better for the players so they don't have to fight with their clubs."

Tottenham Hotspur are also reportedly keen on landing want-away Paris Saint Germain defender Serge Aurier before the end of the transfer window. 

Spurs are in for another right-back following the sale of Kyle Walker to Manchester City for a whopping £50 million. 

With money in the bank and PSG open to sell following their capture of Dani Alves, Spurs could land the Ivory Coast international for half the price they demanded for Walker. 

Interest from Manchester United and Inter Milan, though, could up Aurier's price with The Sun reporting that the 24-year-old's wage demands could throw a spanner in the works for Spurs. 

Only three of Mauricio Pochettino's men earn over £100,000-a-week (Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane) with the club unlikely to offer Aurier the money he demands. 

The Liebherr 2017 World Championship in Dusseldorf Germany witnessed an uncommon match up between, 12 year-old Rizumu Ono from Philippines, born to Japanese father and Filipinos mother, against 41-year old Olufunke Oshonaike from Nigeria in the Women's Single qualifications stage.

 

Almost three decades gap between the two, the fact that they played together at the global stage, is a true unifying force for the game, that age is no barrier and table tennis is a sport for all.

 

Rizumu Ono was born on 9th October 2004 and Olufunke Oshonaike was born on 28th October, 1975.

Olufunke Oshonaike beat Rizumu Ono in a thrilling six games encounter (15-13, 11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 6-11, 12-10) but the match and the situation was more than just the close scores.

 

Not shying away from what she felt, Olufunke Oshonaike said,

“I must admit that I have never been so nervous like this in my life particularly playing against the young girl who is not even older than my first son who is 14. I was so scared because she is so talented that even before the match, I could not sleep well. I knew that if I don’t beat her I won’t be able to make it out of the group.”-Olufunke Oshonaike

 

“I must tell you that I was really scared wondering what I will tell Nigerians back home, that a 12 year-old girl beat me without knowing that the girl is more talented than her age,”

World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has been granted an exception by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) to fight Wladimir Klitschko for their heavyweight title.

The IBF, one of the world’s boxing sanctioning bodies, however, noted that the bout must take place before December 2.

Joshua’s promoters Matchroom Boxing requested the special extension and it was approved by the IBF at their convention.

The governing body ruled that the winner of any potential rematch between Joshua and Klitschko must then face number one contender Kubrat Pulev in a title defence.

They also stipulated that there will be no further exceptions or unification fights beyond December 2.

One of the World’s Leading boxing promoters Frank Warren, as announced that elite Nigerian boxer, Larry “The Natural” Ekundayo, will be fighting for the WBO Inter-continental welterweight title at the Copper Box Arena, London on July the 8th 2017. 

 

The undefeated, former African boxing champion and Prize Fighter winner has been given the opportunity to fight for this prestige’s title as the main support to Billy Joe Saunders, who headlines the show and is defending his world title live on BTSports. 

 

Larry Ekundayo (12-0) will fight against the highly ranked and much feared Gary Corcoran, who has an impressive (16-1) record and who has recently campaigned at a higher weight division. Should Ekundayo overcome this challenge he will be catapulted high into the WBO world rankings, with a world title shot in sight.

 

“The Natural” recently attracted major media attention in Nigeria, and across Africa, as world Heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua, recorded a special message requesting that all Nigerians get behind Larry in his forthcoming title fight.

 

Speaking from his training base in London U.K, Ekundayo, who proudly wears the green and white of Nigeria into battle, said “I would really likely to thank my management team, MTK, for arranging this title shot and for Frank Warren for giving me an opportunity to showcase my skills in front of a global audience.”

 

Ekundayo, represents the country’s best opportunity of delivering sporting success in 2017 for those who wear the Nigerian colours. He is thrilled to have the whole nation behind him, saying “They have recently passed a bill in the Nigerian National Assembly to help support me and help bring big time boxing back to Nigeria, if we as fighters are supported correctly we can rule the world of boxing!”

 

Larry, and fellow elite level boxer, Olusegun Ajose, were recently blessed by Ooni of Ife with further promise of support, not only for the boxers but for all Nigerians in the Diaspora seeking to bring glory to their fatherland. His Royal Majesty the Ooni of Ife had earlier urged all Nigerians in the UK and Europe to attend the boxing event to give maximum support to Larry in his forthcoming bout.

From the moment the final blows of a magnificent fight rippled down Anthony Joshua’s 27-year-old arms on to the bleeding and battered head of the 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round, there could be no more arguments about who is the best heavyweight in the world.

It was not just that Joshua, unbeaten in all 19 professional fights, had added the WBA “super” version of the title to his own IBF belt, or even that he had stopped one of boxing’s finest old champions. What secured the winner’s acclaim, surely, by everyone but the WBC champion, Deontay Wilder (who sat ringside) was that he got up from a right cross in the sixth that would have felled an elephant. Probably unsure what city he was in, he fought on through a daze to bring the contest to the most dramatic conclusion, and will rule until someone of equal stature unseats him. There is nobody of that calibre on the horizon.

There was little in it as they came out for the 11th round. Klitschko, perhaps, had an edge, using every trick garnered over 68 fights, 29 of them as champion in an 11-year stretch, to bring anxiety to his young opponent’s work. That changed in the crack of a single uppercut to the Ukrainian’s jaw, which all but toppled him. A left hook and a grazing right put him down for a count in his own corner and Joshua went for the kill, calmly and with fixed purpose. He sent him over like a dead tree with a left hook, yet somehow Klitschko got up for more.

When Joshua moved in with rapacious instincts to let loose that volley of pain in his own corner, his trainer, Robert McCracken, was screaming himself hoarse – along with the rest of the stadium.

Joshua celebrated in the ring with a message that sounded like a recruiting call for all the lost youth he likes to represent: “If you don’t take part, you fail. Boxing is about character. There is nowhere to hide. No complications about boxing. Anyone can do this. Give it a go. You leave your ego at the door. Massive respect to Klitschko. He’s a role model in and out of the ring and I’ve got nothing but love and respect for anyone who steps in the ring. London, I love you. Can I go home now?”

The response from the 90,000 present was rapturous – as it was for Klitschko when he took the microphone to acknowledge: “The best man won. It’s really sad I didn’t make it tonight. But all respect to Anthony.”

In the 10 minutes or so Klitschko had to wait in the ring while the champion sashayed through the crowd, the Ukrainian bounced to Joshua’s music. He did not dance to his tune for all of the fight but Joshua had his measure when it mattered.

Joshua had to call up all the things he had learned – about boxing off the lines, moving in and out, waiting for gaps – but Klitschko had that hard-wired already. He had 50 fights on the young champion, and 14 years. Still, the mutual respect of the buildup carried over to the combat, and neither man took early risks.

 

 

Klitschko, always marginally fancier than his elder brother Vitali, got up on his toes and moved into hitting range in the third, looking to pressure his opponent, but Joshua kept his shape and composure.

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