Former Nigeria captain Nwankwo Kanu has told the Super Eagles to shrug off the disappointment of seeing Chelsea stars Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori called up by England.
Gareth Southgate rewarded the pair for their fine start to the season by naming them in his squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria later this month.
Former Arsenal favourite Kanu insisted Nigeria should “move on” and still had enough top players to cope with missing out on the two Premier League stars. “That’s football and I think we have enough quality and we can win matches without them,” he said.
“We can’t continue to beg one player to play for us. Nigeria cannot beg, players have to beg Nigeria.”
Abraham, 22, who has won two caps for the Three Lions in friendlies against Brazil and Germany in 2017, had flirted with switching his international allegiance to the country who he qualifies for through his father. Centre-back Tomori, 21, is also eligible to represent Nigeria and Canada at international level.
Nigeria Football Federation officials had repeatedly tried to convince Abraham to change his international allegiance but he looks set to slip through their grasp by playing a competitive match for England.
In the past the Super Eagles have convinced players like Victor Moses and Sone Aluko, who played for England at youth level, to represent the West African nation.
Ineos 1:59 Challenge: Kenya’s Kipchoge says ready to “break the two-hour barrier”
Kipchoge, 34, went close to breaking the two-hour barrier when he was 25 seconds too slow in another staged run
As he prepares for more assaults on the peaks of marathon running, Eliud Kipchoge stays true to an austere lifestyle despite his fame and fortune.
The Kenyan superstar, who holds the marathon world record and is reigning Olympic champion, hopes to become the first man to run the 42.195 kilometres in under two hours on Saturday in Vienna.
Despite his status and wealth, the 2018 world athlete of the year leads a monastic existence at a spartan running camp in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
With the 30 or so runners living at the camp, Kipchoge sets off at dawn for the first of two daily training sessions.
The rest of his time is spent resting, reading and eating, with a focus on simple Kenyan food staples.
“I don’t think I am different. I am trying my best to live a modest life,” he said.
“I am a simple person, I try to stay calm and focus on what I do. There are no distractions.”
The special event in Vienna, sponsored by British conglomerate Ineos, has been given a catchy marketing title: the “1:h59 Challenge”.
Kipchoge, 34, went close to breaking the two-hour barrier when he was 25 seconds too slow in another staged run, at Italy’s Monza race circuit in 2017.
That time was not sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because a vehicle and a squad of pacemakers aided Kipchoge in controlling his speed.
The same conditions will prevail for the Vienna attempt, preventing any potential world record from being validated.
‘Landing on the moon’ –
“This is about history,” he said. “It’s about leaving a legacy. It’s about inspiring people,” he said of the Vienna event.
“My main message to the 7.5 billion people in the world is that no human is limited.”
“Breaking the two-hour marathon barrier would be like man landing on the moon,” he said.
He added that it would “show to the world that when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”
Kipchoge was born in Kapsisiywa, Nandi County in western Kenya.
At 18, he beat two legendary runners, the Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, to became 5,000-metre world champion in Paris in 2003.
In 2012, after failing to qualify for the London Olympics, Kipchoge switched to marathon running.
With his compact silhouette and unwavering stride as the miles tick by, Kipchoge is perfectly suited to the longer distance.
Out of 12 marathons, he has lost just once: in his 2013 debut in Berlin, against compatriot Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record that day.
Kipchoge set his world record, 2hr 1min 39sec, in the Berlin race in 2018.
He had met coach Patrick Sang in 2001 and joined the fabled running stable in the foothills of the Rift Valley a year later.
‘Sense of sacrifice’ –
Kipchoge enjoys no privileges at the Kaptagat camp where he is nicknamed the “philosopher” for his love of reading. The camp is a few hours’ walk from his home village, Eldoret. On weekends, he returns to his family.
Coach Sang, an Olympic runner-up in the 3,000m steeplechase in 1992, remains impressed with his student’s determination.
“He has continued to amaze me with his self-sacrifice and dedication. He has given 100 per cent of his ability and total commitment to what he does,” he told reporters.
The champion’s often mischievous gaze hardens when the subject of doping arises. Kipchoge has never been caught up in scandal, but the reputation of his Kenyan compatriots has raised questions.
Kipchoge, who will defend his Olympic title in Tokyo next year, is fixated on Saturday’s challenge.
“I have visualised it. I have put it in my heart and my mind that I will break the two-hour barrier,” he said.
Egypt’s star Mohammed Salah set to miss friendly against Botswana
Salah finished fourth in the balloting for the FIFA best player award last week
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah “must rest” and will miss Egypt’s friendly against Botswana on October 14, national team coach Hossam El Badry said Thursday. The announcement came days after Salah raised eyebrows by changing his Twitter bio to say he only played for Liverpool, removing any mention of his affiliation to Egypt.
Salah finished fourth in the balloting for the FIFA best player award last week, with two of Egypt’s votes rejected by football’s governing body after they were signed in capital letters. El Badry said he spoke to Salah following a report from the national team doctor on the fitness of the squad’s overseas-based players.
“I agreed with him that it is in his best interests and those of the national team that he rests,” El Badry told local channel MBC Masr. “He won’t be with us at the training camp for Botswana, but God willing, he will be with us for the official matches.”
Salah scored twice on Wednesday as holders Liverpool defeated Salzburg 4-3 at home in the Champions League group stage.
Salah and the Egyptian FA have butted heads before several times, most prominently when a photo of him was plastered on the squad’s plane ahead of the 2018 World Cup, causing sponsorship problems for the star.
El Badry will take charge of his first match as Egypt coach against Botswana following his appointment last month. Egypt begin their qualifying campaign for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations at home to Kenya in November.
Zwane strikes earn Mamelodi Sundowns huge win over Black Leopards
Zwane prodded a cross from Venezuelan Jose Ali Meza past Guinea-Bissau goalkeeper Jose Mendes
South Africa international Themba Zwane scored to set up Mamelodi Sundowns for a 2-1 victory at Black Leopards Wednesday, and third place in the South African Premiership.
Zwane prodded a cross from Venezuelan Jose Ali Meza past Guinea-Bissau goalkeeper Jose Mendes on 25 minutes at a packed Thohoyandou stadium in the northeast of the republic.
A mix-up with Mendes condemned Leopards’ Namibian Chris Katjiukua to concede an own-goal just before half-time as the side played under Belgian coach Luc Eymael for the first time.
Eymael, who arrived from a club post in Egypt after previously coaching two South African sides, replaced Frenchman Lionel Soccoia following a poor start to the 2019/2020 season.
Zambian Mwape Musonda, the leading Premiership scorer last season with 16 goals, halved the deficit on 59 minutes and Sundowns survived some anxious moments before winning.
Kaizer Chiefs (19 points) top the table after eight rounds followed by Bidvest Wits (15) and Sundowns (14), both of whom have played less matches than the pacesetters.
Sundowns’ victory came five days after they smashed two CAF Champions League records when overwhelming Cote d’Or of the Seychelles 11-1 in a qualifier ahead of the group phase.
Promoted Stellenbosch won for the first time as goals from Waseem Isaacs and Iqraam Rayners within 20 minutes of the kick-off produced a shock 2-0 win at fourth-place Polokwane City.
After going five league games without a victory since the season began, Maritzburg United won for the second time in six days by edging Baroka 1-0 through a Mxolisi Kunene goal.
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