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Oparanozie in, Oshoala out as Super Falcons begin training ahead Aisha Buhari tourney

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A contingent of nine –time African champions Nigeria has arrived in the Austrian capital, Vienna for an 8-day training camp as part of intense preparations for some upcoming challenges, most notably the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Football Tournament. Already, initially branded outcast, Desire Oparanozie, has been recalled after he reportedly apologised to the officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over her repeated outburst.

The City of Lagos will host the six-nation invitational that will see the Super Falcons, Ghana’s Black Queens, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses, Banyana Banyana of South Africa, Morocco and Mali tango in a celebratory atmosphere in the month of September for a glittering trophy named in honour of Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr (Mrs) Aisha Buhari.

A total of 26 players, alongside technical and administrative staff, are ensconced at the Event Hotel Pyramide Vienna for the purpose of total concentration as Coach Randy Waldrum seeks to harness the different qualities and abilities of individual players to conflate a better and stronger team.

New faces have continued to emerge in the camp of the Super Falcons as Coach Waldrum’s roving lenses have been picking up Nigeria-eligible dames from across the globe to strengthen the squad.

Before the Summer Series tour of the United States of America in June, where the Falcons drew with Portugal and lost narrowly to Jamaica and hosts USWNT, few Nigerian ball fans had heard of Yewande Balogun, Onyinyechi Zogg, Nicole Payne and Michelle Alozie. But they formed part of a group that bonded fabulously with foreign-based and home-based professionals and presaged an interesting future for the Falcons.

Nigeria is in the Club of only seven countries that have qualified for and participated at every edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the competition was launched in 1991, and has also featured in
three Olympic Games.

Waldrum has unearthed even more prospects as the Ijeh sisters (Josephine and Evelyn), Megan Ashleigh and Ninuola Dada are part of the training camp in Austria, even as England –based forward Ini-Abasi
Umotong makes a return to the fold of the perennial African champions.

The camp in Austria is the third gathering that the Nigeria Football Federation has arranged for the Super Falcons this year, following an interesting three-wins-out-three account at the Turkish Women’s Cup in
Antalya in February and the Summer Series in the USA last month.

First –choice goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, defender Osinachi Ohale, midfield impresario Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene and forward Uchenna Kanu,
who all missed the tour of USA for one reason or the other, are in Austria. There is also a return for forward Ebere Orji.

The countdown to the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Tournament has already started with the Super Falcons insisting the trophy will surely remain in Nigeria after the one-week event. The Falcons have
won all but two of the 11 editions of the Women AFCON held since the
first edition in 1998.

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana have played in every single edition of the Women AFCON as well, and have also played in two Olympics. The Banyana were the runners-up to the Falcons in the last edition of the Women AFCON in Ghana in 2018.

Ghana’s Black Queens have played in 10 out of the 11 editions of the Women AFCON, and have also played at three (3) editions of the FIFA World Cup. The Queens were runners-up to the Falcons in the inaugural edition of the Women AFCON in Nigeria in 1998.

Cameroon’s Lionesses lost by a lone goal to Nigeria in the final of the 2016 Women AFCON inside the Stade Ahmadu Ahidjo in Yaounde. They have also participated in every edition of the Women AFCON and also played at two FIFA Women’s World Cup editions, including a second-round berth.

Mali have played at seven (7) editions of the Women AFCON and are considered a very strong team in the WAFU A region.

Morocco is one of the strongest teams in the North African region and the girls have featured at two editions of the Women AFCON.

SUPER FALCONS IN AUSTRIA

Goalkeepers: Tochukwu Oluehi (CD Pozoalbense, Spain); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC, France); Patience Okeke (Bayelsa Queens); Yewande
Balogun (California Storm, USA)

Defenders: Glory Ogbonna (Edo Queens); Osinachi Ohale (Madrid CFF, Spain); Esther Ogbonna (Edo Queens); Chidinma Okeke (Madrid CFF, Spain); Onyinyechi Zogg (FC Zurich, Switzerland); Nicole Payne (West Virginia University, USA); Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash Reserves, USA); Megan Ashleigh (Leicester City, England); Josephine Ijeh (BK Hacken, Sweden)

Midfielders: Rita Chikwelu (Madrid CFF, Spain); Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskilstuna United, Sweden); Toni Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain); Mowaninuola Dada (Watford FC, England)

Forwards: Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Spain); Francisca Ordega (Levante UD, Spain); Gift Monday (FC Robo Queens); Joy Bokiri (Bayelsa Queens); Uchenna Kanu (Linkopings FC, Sweden); Ebere Orji (Sundsvall DFF, Sweden); Ini-Abasi Umotong (Lewes FC, England); Evelyn Ijeh (BK Hacken, Sweden); Desire Oparanozie (FC Dijon, France)


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Breaking: Nigeria’s D’Tigresses lose again at Tokyo Olympics

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Nigeria’s women basketball team D’Tigresses on Friday lost their second game 87-62 versus France in the ongoing Olympic games in Tokyo Japan.

The Nigerian team had lost to USA during their first encounter at the games 

Details coming…


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Chelsea make ‘audacious’ Lukaku €130m bid

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Chelsea have tabled a monstrous €130million (£110.6m) bid to sign Romelu Lukaku as they ramp up their search for a No.9, according to reports in Italy.

The Blues have monitored Lukaku throughout the summer transfer window after he scored 24 goals to fire Inter Milan to the Serie A title last season.

Stamford Bridge chiefs have also kept tabs on Erling Haaland but they are said to be resigned to missing out on the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

As such, they have stepped up their interest in Lukaku and aim to lure their former player back to west London with an offer Inter may not be able to refuse.

That’s according to Corriere della Sera , which claims Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is keen to bolster Thomas Tuchel’s side with a marquee centre-forward signing.

The report adds Inter have not received an official offer, but they are already tempted by the huge money Chelsea are preparing to put on the table.

A nine-figure fee would make Lukaku the Premier League’s record signing, while the Belgian is no stranger to big-money moves having joined Chelsea, Everton, Manchester United and Inter for sums totalling almost £200million.

Lukaku spent a brief spell with Chelsea after arriving from Anderlecht in 2011 but failed to make an impression before joining Everton on loan in 2013 and permanently the following year.

The report from Italy explains Abramovich is desparate to give Lukaku a second chance at the Bridge and has sent his son to Milan to make contact with Inter chiefs.

Talks are understood to be underway, although the player himself appears to favour extending his stay at San Siro rather than moving back to the Premier League.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta recently declared Lukaku is not available for a transfer, telling Sportmediaset : “From our side, we can yes absolutely, Lukaku is not for sale.

“Lukaku is an important piece on the chessboard available to Simone Inzaghi.”

Inzaghi replaced Antonio Conte as Inter manager earlier this summer after the latter fell out with his bosses over the club’s transfer policy, despite the fact he led the club to the league title.

The crux of the problem between Conte and Inter supremos related to the club’s financial crisis and need to sell players, which means Marotta’s resolve regarding Lukaku is not as strong as it may appear.

Inter parted ways with star wideman Achraf Hakimi earlier this month after agreeing an initial £51.3million fee with Paris Saint-Germain.

But the club’s finances remain in a dire state and the huge bid Chelsea are readying for Lukaku may convince them to cash in.


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Chinese billionaire sent to prison for ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’

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ByKyle Barnett

Sun's sentencing on Thursday is one of many high-profile cases the Chinese government has pursued against outspoken entrepreneurs in recent years. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

July 29 (UPI) — A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced an outspoken billionaire businessman to nearly 20 years in prison for “provoking” trouble and conspiring to oppose state institutions.


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