After gaining promotion from the English Championship with West Bromwich Albion, Nigeria’s Semi Ajayi looks set to make his Premier League debut when the Baggies welcome Leicester City to the Hawthorns on Sunday.
Ajayi made 43 appearances and scored five goals for Albion in the English second-division last season – where they finished runners-up behind Championship winners Leeds United and secured promotion to the Premier League – having been relegated in the 2017-2018 season.
And the 26-year-old says he’s ready to make an impact this season in the Premier League with West Brom.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work in over the last 12 months to be in this position and it’s definitely not a chance we’re going to take lightly,” he told the club’s website.
“I’m massively excited. Everyone has so much belief in each other because we see the quality in the players that we have day in, day out in training so it’s time for us to take that into the Premier League and show everyone else what we’re capable of.”
The Nigerian defender also says that the Baggies will be “somewhat of an unknown quantity at this level and a lot of people don’t know how we play and the dangers we possess.”
“I always want to test myself against the best and I can’t wait to go and show people what I can do and a good season would be Premier League survival, as a minimum, having a good Cup run and continuing to represent my country,” he continued.
Ajayi, a former Charlton Athletic defender was also an unused substitute on the bench for Arsenal during his time at the Emirates (2013 – 2015), and had loan spells with Cardiff City, AFC Wimbledon, Crewe Alexandra, and Rotherham United, before joining West Brom in July 2019 on a four-year contract for undisclosed fee.
He has made 11 international caps for Nigeria’s Super Eagles, but missed out on getting selected for last year’s Africa Cup of Nations squad in Egypt.
And looking ahead to Sunday’s game against Leicester City, in what will be their first game back in the English top-flight, Ajayi points out that his team are not “under any illusions,” but will go into the game against the Foxes “with our own game plan, ideas and hopefully come away with a result.”
UFC 253: Israel Adesanya Knocks Out Paulo Costa
The UFC 253 main event was expected to be an evenly matched battle of undefeated fighters. Instead, the UFC middleweight title bout turned into a rout.
Nigerian born Israel Adesanya (20-0) destroyed Brazil’s Paulo Costa (12-1) inside of two rounds on Saturday night. Adesanya earned a TKO at the 3:59 mark of the second round of their fight in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Adesanya used a pinpoint kicking game to slow the brash Costa, who threw a white belt at Adesanya during their face-off at Friday’s weigh-ins. Over and over he landed precise kicks to Costa’s lead leg, which slowed Costa, who is known to load up for heavy power shots.
Costa did his best to mask his pain, but by the second round, it was obvious the end was a matter of time. Adesanya wobbled Costa with a huge head kick, which opened a cut on Costa’s forehead. A perfect left hand to the temple dropped Costa, and Adesanya followed with shots on the ground until the bout was waved off.
The evening’s co-feature bout crowned a new light heavyweight champion, and one who would have been considered improbable just a few years ago.
Warsaw’s Jan Blachowicz (27-8) downed Victorville, Calif.’s Dominick Reyes (12-2) in the second round, earning a TKO at the 4:36 mark. The 37-year old, who lost four of his first six UFC fights, capped a run of four straight victories and eight of nine to claim the belt.
Blachowicz used efficient combos followed by ruthless left kicks to the ribs to take the first round. By the second, Reyes’s ribs were horrifically swollen. Blachowicz poured it on, and a straight right which appeared to break Reyes’ nose was followed by an overhand left which finished things.
The bout filled a title left vacant in August, when longtime titleholder Jon Jones relinquished the championship in order to focus on a move up to heavyweight.
Kenyan Athletes’ Doping Troubling – President Kenyatta
Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has described cases of doping by athletes from the country as troubling.
President Kenyatta said this on Saturday during the reopening of the Nyayo Stadium which has been under renovation and upgrading since 2017.
He also directed the sports ministry to enhance anti doping education among athletes.
“We have had the use of illicit products among our sportsmen. Even-though this cases are tiny, they are troubling,” he said. “Provide resources for enhanced anti-doping education, testing and reporting on a regular basis.”
The President said Kenya’s reputation has been built on a foundation of competing clean and winning fairly.
According to Kenyatta, Nyayo Stadium upgrade is not an isolated case and by next year Kenya Defence Forces will also have their own stadium in Langata.
He said the ministry should resume preparation for Olympics and Paralympics and coordinate on how athletes can resume competing abroad.
The Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Amina Mohammed, thanked the president for his support in making all the changes required for the stadium.
“The track is in good shape and we will put to test in a few days with the Kipkeino Classic,” she said. “Several international sports bodies have sent their representatives to inspect this facility (Nyayo Stadium) and have rated it among the best on the African continent. “
Amina said the World Athletics gave the 45,000-seat Nyayo National Stadium clean bill of health ahead of planned World Continental Tour dubbed Kip Keino Classic on October 3.
Nyayo Stadium was closed in 2017 for renovations to host the 2018 Africa Nations Championships (Chan), which was later moved to Morocco over unpreparedness.
The stadium was briefly opened to host a Kenyan Premier League match between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards in August 2017 then closed again for renovation.
It was then partially reopened for Beyond Zero Half Marathon on March 8 and February 11 for former President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi’s state funeral.
Zambia Invites 40 Players To CHAN 2021 Camp
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has invited 40 players for the 2021 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) camp.
This was revealed by the Milutin Micho Sredojevic, Head Coach of the Zambian men’s football national team, on Friday.
The Serbian manager said that the list would be eventually pruned to 23 for the competition to be hosted by Cameroon in January 2021.
The all locally based squad will enter residential camp on Sunday, September 28th.
The 11-year-old championship is meant for players in the domestic leagues of African countries.
“The players will commence camping on Sept. 28 and after one week, they will be reduced to 23 players. Thereafter, the team will play international friendlies against Malawi, Kenya and South Africa in October.
“We are also planning two other international friendlies against Rwanda and Libya,’’ he said.
The Serbia-born tactician said the friendly matches would assist the team to ascertain their level of preparedness for the competition.
He said the Zambian Premier League scheduled to start in October would assist the players to sharpen their skills and be in good form.
Sredojevic said the national team would play Botswana in AFCON qualifier at home and away in November.
“After Christmas, we shall come out with a comprehensive programme to prepare for the CHAN tournament. From there, we will know the players that will represent Zambia in Cameroon 2021,’’ he said.
Morocco is the defending champion of the CAF African Nations Championship.
FAZ also announced that the Copper Bullets will play a friendly against the Flames of Malawi on October 7th at Nkoloma Stadium. Zambia will then travel to South Africa for another friendly match against Bafana Bafana on October 10th before facing Kenya.
Among the invitees are NAPSA Stars star midfielder, Collins Sikombe, who scored the only goal of the game when Zambia played their last match at Nkoloma Stadium on March 12 beating the Flames 1-0; Zesco United new duo of Kelvin Mubanga Kampamba and Bruce Musakanya; and youngsters including Patrick Gondwe, Ricky Banda, Thomas Zulu, and Jackson Kakunta.
Jackson Kakunta (Power Dynamos), Lameck Siame (Kabwe Warriors), Sebastian Mwange (Green Eagles), Richard Nyirenda (Nchanga Rangers)
Gift Zulu (Nkana), Kondwani Chiboni, Benson Sakala, Zachariah Chilongoshi (all Power Dynamos), Benedict Chepeshi (Red Arrows), Pride Mwansa (Nkwazi), Kebson Kamanga (Zanaco), Luka Banda, Luka Ng’uni (both Napsa Stars), Isaac Shamujompa, Solomon Sakala (Zesco United), Dominic Chanda (Kabwe Warriors)
Leonard Mulenga, Robin Siame (both Green Buffaloes), Kelvin Kapumbu, Boyd Musonda (both Zanaco), Gozon Mutale (Green Eagles), Thomas Zulu (Nkwazi), Laurent Muma (Forest Rangers), Paul Katema (Red Arrows), Godfrey Ngwenya, George Chisala (both Power Dynamos), Collins Sikombe (Napsa Stars), Chaniza Zulu (Lumwana Radiants), Clement Mundia (Kabwe Warriors), Amity Shamende (Green Eagles), Patrick Gondwe (Nkana), Bruce Musakanya, Kelvin Mubanga (Zesco United), Webster Muzaza (Forest Rangers)
Emmanuel Chabula (Nkwazi), Akakulubelwa Mwachiaba, Jimmy Ndhlovu (Kabwe Warriors), Joseph Phiri (Red Arrows), Ricky Banda (Indeni), Friday Samu (Green Buffaloes)
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