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Victor Osimhen Recovers From COVID-19

File photo of Victor Osimhen

Nigerian striker, Victor Osimhen has been given the all-clear by the medical team of Italian club giants Napoli after making a full recovery from COVID-19.

The 22-year old had tested positive for the virus after he returning from Nigeria where he had celebrated the yuletide.

His clean bill of health was disclosed via the official Twitter account of Napoli on Friday night which read.

”Victor #Osimhen has recovered from #COVID19”

However. it is not yet clear if the 22-year -old attacker will be available for selection when the Parthenopeans take on Hellas Verona in a Serie A game on Sunday.

The center-forward joined the Napoli side for a club-record fee of €70 million potentially rising to €80 million with add-ons, making him the most expensive African transfer to date.[

Real Madrid Coach Zidane Tests Positive For COVID-19

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane looks on before the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Club Brugge and Real Madrid CF at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges on December 11, 2019.
JOHN THYS / AFP

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has tested positive for COVID-19, the Spanish club announced Friday.

The positive test comes a day before Madrid travel to Alaves in La Liga seeking to bounce back from an embarrassing midweek Copa del Rey exit.

“Real Madrid C.F. report that our coach Zinedine Zidane has tested positive for Covid-19,” the club said in a statement.

Zidane has already had to self-isolate this month after coming into contact with a person infected with the virus.

He tested negative at the time and was able to oversee the team.

After successive defeats in the Spanish Super Cup and Copa del Rey, the second a shock loss to third-tier Alcoyano, Zidane is again under pressure, and Real Madrid will try to reignite their La Liga title challenge away to Alaves.

Zidane’s side are playing catch-up to Atletico Madrid, despite having played a game more, after draws against struggling Elche and Osasuna, two of the league’s bottom three, in recent weeks.

Alaves beat Madrid 2-1 in the capital in late November but have won just once in eight matches since, their slide into a relegation scrap costing coach Pablo Machin his job last week with former Spain international Abelardo Fernandez returning to take charge.

AFP

Japan Denies Cancelling Olympics

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

Japan dismissed a report claiming officials see cancelling the Tokyo Olympics as inevitable on Friday, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was “determined” to hold the Games.

Deputy government spokesman Manabu Sakai there was “no truth” to the report in The Times, which quoted an unnamed ruling coalition source as saying “the consensus is that it’s too difficult” to hold the Games.

It is the latest article to cast doubt on the Games, which were postponed over the coronavirus last year but have been hit by a surge in cases and plunging public support.

“I am determined to realise a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus,” Suga insisted on Friday.

Games organisers also said they were “fully focused on hosting the Games this summer”.

READ ALSO: Japanese Minister Concedes ‘Anything Can Happen’ With Tokyo Olympics

But Sakai said a decision on hosting the Games was looming for Japan, a statement that appeared to deviate from the government’s stated position.

“At some point in time, we will naturally make a decision as to whether to actually hold it,” he said.

“Until then the Japanese government will do what it needs to do and make progress and prepare for it.”

Concerns have risen as Japan battles a third wave of virus infections, with polls showing around 80 percent of Japanese oppose hosting the event this year.

But International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said there was “no reason whatsoever” for them not to go ahead on July 23 as scheduled.

“This is why there is no plan B,” he told Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

‘The Tokyo Games are on’

The IOC took the unprecedented decision to postpone the Games last March after Australia and Canada said they would not be sending teams to Tokyo as the pandemic worsened.

On Friday, Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll ruled out another withdrawal, calling reports of the Games’ cancellation “unfounded rumour”.

“The Tokyo Games are on,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“The flame will be lit on the 23rd of July 2021. This has just been reconfirmed again by the Japanese prime minister this afternoon in parliament in Tokyo.

“It will be a very different Games, simpler, with a focus on the athletes and their competitions.”

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told AFP this week that the organising committee is “unwavering” on holding the event this year, but couldn’t rule out staging it without spectators.

But domestically there is rising doubt, with opposition lawmakers in parliament on Thursday calling for the Games to be postponed or cancelled.

And on Friday, the Tokyo Medical Association called for the event to be held behind closed doors.

“They must give up the idea of having the festivity of the century by inviting people from various countries,” its chairman Haruo Ozaki told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

“The feasibility of holding it with no spectators should be considered.

AFP

Ex-Super Eagles Goalkeeper, Joe ‘Jogo Bonito’ Erico, Is Dead

A file photo of ex-Super Eagles goalkeeper, Joe Erico. Credit: The NFF

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper and one-time assistant coach, Joe Erico, has died, the Nigeria Football Federation said on Thursday.

According to the NFF, Erico’s death was confirmed by family sources who said “the flamboyant trainer of trainers and respected nurturer of talents complained of body pain and was treated for malaria, only to be found dead in his bed at dawn on Thursday.”

Born Joseph Bassey Eric in the Odukpani local government area, Cross River State, Erico belonged to the cast of the very best goalkeepers in the history of Nigeria’s senior team, and served at the same period as the revered Emmanuel Okala and Eyo Essien, the NFF said.

He made his debut for then Green Eagles in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Zambia in Lagos in July 1973 (which Nigeria won 3-2), and then kept goal in all of Nigeria’s six matches at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia, where the Eagles finished third – the first time Nigeria would win a medal at the AFCON.

Erico was also in goal in all of Nigeria’s pre-tournament friendlies against Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania just before the team flew to Ethiopia.

“It is another sad day for Nigerian Football. Erico was among the very best of Nigeria’s international goalkeepers and also served the country with fervour and diligence as Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles between 2001 and 2002. He will be sorely missed. We pray that Almighty God grant him eternal rest and also grant his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear the big loss,” NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, said in Abuja.

Nicknamed ‘Jogo Bonito’(Beautiful Game) for his preference for fluency and expression in the rhythm of play of his teams as a coach, Erico was part of the triumvirate (alongside late Amodu Shaibu and late Stephen Keshi) who were shooed in to do a rescue job for Nigeria as the ship to the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals tottered badly under Dutchman Johannes Bonfrere.

With three matches left in the campaign and a must-win mandate for all, the trio got the job done and qualified Nigeria for Korea/Japan.

They also led the team to a bronze-medal finish at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Mali early 2002.

With his death on Thursday morning, it means all members of that historic triumvirate have now passed on, the NFF noted.

Arteta Focuses On New Signings As Arsenal Shed Fringe Players

File photo: Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 19, 2020. (Photo by Will Oliver / POOL / AFP)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is focusing on potential signings in the January transfer window after trimming his squad but refused to be drawn on a loan move for Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard

Sokratis Papastathopoulos was released from his contract this week, while Mesut Ozil is on the brink of a transfer to Turkish club Fenerbahce.

Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba have already left on loan deals as Arteta seeks to re-balance his squad.

The Arsenal boss, speaking ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round match at Southampton, would not be drawn on reports linking the club with a loan move for Real’s attacking midfielder Odegaard.

But he said the focus would now turn to the entrance door rather than the exit at the Emirates.

“We are in that process now,” Arteta said on Thursday when asked if it was now time to start bringing players in.

“We have done the first part more or less and we are focusing now on the second phase.

“Obviously this market and the context makes it difficult, but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do.”

Arteta, whose team are FA Cup holders, said the departures had left his squad short in certain areas.

He said a left-back could be on the radar, with the decision to allow Kolasinac to join Schalke until the end of the season leaving him with only Kieran Tierney as a natural option.

“With the departure of Kola we are a little bit short with left-footed full-backs at the moment,” he added.

Both Ozil and Sokratis were omitted from Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads for the first half of the season.

Arteta had stressed several times he was unhappy with the bloated nature of the squad and feels the departures will help him achieve a better balance.

“We could not carry on with 31 players in the squad,” he said. “It is unmanageable. And when you have to leave some of the foreign players out, it makes it even more difficult.

“To do it for a few weeks is OK, to do it for months and maintain the health, the ambition and the chemistry is really complicated.

“So one of the main objectives was to make some decisions about how we are going to offset that. We have done it.”

Man City Move Into First Place After Late Show Sinks Villa

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (3R) celebrates scoring their second goal to take the lead 1-2 during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage in London on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /

Bernardo Silva fired Manchester City to the top of the Premier League for the first time since August 2019 as his late strike inspired a 2-0 win against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side found it hard work to pierce Villa’s stubborn defence at the rain-lashed Etihad Stadium.

Silva finally made the breakthrough with 11 minutes left with his first Premier League goal since July.

Villa boss Dean Smith was sent to the stands after a furious complaint that Rodri should have been given offside in the build-up to Silva’s goal.

Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty ensured City made it nine successive wins in all competitions as they extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches.

They move above previous leaders Leicester on goal difference, but Manchester United would take over top spot if they win at Fulham later on Wednesday.

After a spluttering start to the season, City, last crowned champions in 2019, are hitting their stride at just the right time.

Plagued by defensive problems last season, they have been rock solid this term, conceding only once in the 11 matches John Stones and Ruben Dias have played together at centre-back.

The only worry for Guardiola was the sight of Kevin De Bruyne coming off in the second half with a possible injury after Kyle Walker limped off in the first half.

A significant coronavirus outbreak at Villa meant their first team had not played since they lost to Manchester United on New Year’s Day, with the club fielding a youth side for their FA Cup defeat against Liverpool.

Villa had only three days of training before facing City and put up a brave fight before fading at the end.

– Slick City –
With Sergio Aguero still in self-isolation and Gabriel Jesus on the bench, Phil Foden came into the front three in a move that left City without a recognised striker.

Silva started in the false nine role and the Portugal playmaker should have opened the scoring in the fourth minute.

When Rodri’s header looped towards him, Silva’s effort from virtually on the goalline was brilliantly saved by Emiliano Martinez before Matt Cash threw himself in the way of John Stones’ shot from the rebound.

Smith had joked it was “nice to be out of the house” as he named all his returning stars, including Ross Barkley after two months out with a hamstring injury.

But Smith might have wished he was back on the sofa as Guardiola’s men monopolised possession, with Foden and De Bruyne having shots blocked.

With Foden in fine form, City kept up the pressure, but another mazy run from the youngster ended with Rodri’s goalbound shot hitting Raheem Sterling instead of the back of the net.

Villa finally came out of their shell as Barkley’s curling strike from the edge of the area tested Ederson.

Gundogan went close with a curler, while Bertrand Traore’s outrageous control took him into range for a strike that Ederson pushed away.

As the game became more open, City defender Joao Cancelo made an incisive raid into the Villa area before shooting against the bar.

When De Bruyne pulled up sharply, Guardiola sent on Jesus with half an hour left.

Villa nearly snatched the lead as Douglas Luiz’s 20-yard blast was repelled by Ederson.

Gundogan’s close-range shot was superbly stopped by Martinez, but City finally grabbed their controversial winner in the 79th minute.

Rodri, coming back from an offside position, nicked the ball off Tyrone Mings and found Silva on the edge of the Villa area.

Silva twisted into space before curling a fine finish into the top corner.

In stoppage-time, Jesus had a header blocked by Cash’s hand and Gundogan stepped up to convert the spot-kick.