CAF ELECTIONS 2017: THE NIGERIA DILEMMA

The Nigeria football polity has been in the news over the past week following NFF’s President Amaju Pinnick’s open support for Madagascar’s FA chairman Ahmad Ahmad who is the lone rival to incumbent Issa Hayatou of Cameroon in the upcoming CAF elections.

The Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung issued a statement late last week disassociating the country from Amaju Pinnick’s support and has gone ahead to schedule an emergency meeting with top FA members and stakeholders for 11am on Tuesday in Abuja.

Background of the Elections:
Through a constitutional assembly after several attempts, the Confederation of African Football came to life in February 1957 and has since grown over the years into a formidable organization in World football affairs. In 1988, after being endorsed by the then incumbent CAF President, Issa Hayatou emerged as the new man at the helms of affair defeating his Togolese challenger by 22 votes to 18, the 72 years old has been President for 29 years and is seeking re-election for his eight term in office come March 16 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when the elections take place.

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In past elections, Hayatou has gone unchallenged but this year, with the strong wave of change blowing across various political settings in the world which also saw FIFA electing a new president in Gianni Infantino, Madagascar FA Chairman Ahmad Ahmad is leading a strong resistance to the Hayatou reign. The 57 year old is the Chairman of the Madagascar FA, elected in 2003, he is also a member of CAF executive committee and was once named in corruption allegations surrounding the award of the hosting of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he did admit to requesting for financial aid for his FA but insists it was not in exchange for votes.

The Nigerian Dilemma:
The NFF President who was recently in Zimbabwe and South Africa with Ahmad Ahmad for a three day FIFA council meeting with President Infantino last week openly endorsed the Madagascar’s FA President as Nigeria’s choice in the upcoming elections, harping on the need for a change in how football affairs should be run on the continent. The NFF President who is also seeking a place on the executive seat claimed that the decision was one discussed and agreed upon during an NFF executive meeting.

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However, the declaration has opened a can of worms to which there seems no end, 9 Nigerians in CAF’s committees including Dr Amos Adamu, Brig-General Dominic Oneya (rtd), Alh. Sani Lulu, Alh. Aminu Maigari, Mr Amanze Uchegbulam, Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Mr Paul Bassey, Mr Chris Green and Aisha Falode, issued a statement insisting that Pinnick’s decision to dump incumbent Issa Hayatou was purely a personal matter and not a national decision as they were not consulted before the endorsement was made.

They insisted that no Nigerian in CAF or the supervising Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports was consulted before the NFF chief decided to announce the country’s support for the candidate from the Southern African football sub-region (COSAFA).

“Mr Pinnick as an individual has a right to declare support for whoever he pleases but when such support is made in the name of Nigeria then there is need for extreme caution given the political colouration of CAF elections of which we are well grounded and versed in.

“CAF Elections are not about individuals… They insisted that while Hayatou remains a friend of the country having previously supported most of the football fiestas hosted by the country as well as helping Nigerians into various CAF positions, Ahmad has not been here to canvass support and listed the hosting of the FIFA Under-17 Competition in 2009, the election of Nigerians into the CAF and FIFA Executive Committees, (Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo and Dr. Amos Adamu) as some of the benefits accruing to the nation under Hayatou’s reign.

But in a swift move, Chairman of Chairmen of the current NFF board, Ibrahim Gusau, countered this statement, he revealed that Pinnick was given the go-ahead to act in whatever possible way to advance the interest of Nigeria in the CAF elections.

“In a nutshell, we all agreed unanimously at the board meeting of NFF to support NFF President, Amaju Pinnick to contest for a CAF Executive seat in the forthcoming CAF elections in Addis Ababa. We also gave him a mandate to use his discretion to vote for any presidential candidate that has genuine vision that will benefit Nigeria. We believe Amaju as the President of NFF is not going to CAF as an individual but he is going there to represent the interest of Nigeria and we believe as a leader he understand the politics in CAF”.

My Opinion:

Just so we clear, Amaju Pinnick getting on the executive committee of CAF is more to his benefit than to Nigeria’s benefit, there is really no gain that comes to the nation from him being on the board. I am fully in support that Issa Hayatou’s time is up and he needs to go but two things worry me, are we not jumping from the proverbial ‘fry pan to fire’ in seeking change just for the sake of change without due diligence on Ahmad Ahmad and why is Pinnick going all about his support like an amateur politician, forgetting that in politics, nothing is certain.

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Issa Hayatou came in as an unknown, a breath of fresh air and grew into a behemoth that we all want out of the door. Ahmad Ahmad has been Chairman of his FA for 14 years (anything to read from that?), he is also the deputy Senate leader in his country and having listened to him on several platforms, I am yet to be convinced about his plans for football on the continent outside the leading chant that Hayatou just needs to leave. I have also learnt following the Nigerian Presidential elections, that all politicians are from the same side of the coin.

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For Pinnick, who is Nigeria’s representative on the board and gets to vote, he seems fully confident that Ahmad Ahmad will win following FIFA President Infantino’s veiled support, COSAFA’s endorsement and some West African nations also supporting the challenger, but maybe he needs to take a cue from the likes of South Africa who have been careful in putting their necks on the line despite pressures from both side.

A total of 28 votes are required to unseat Hayatou, Ahmad Ahmad claims to have secured 15 already, will today’s meeting with the Minister witness any change in Nigeria’s stance, whatever the outcome of today’s meeting, football and not politics should be the winner.

Halftimeng Premier League Muppets of Week 26

On Sunday; we saw probably the worst first half performance you would see anywhere in the world by Stoke City as Tottenham Hotspurs put up a first class performance with four goals scored in the first half. Mark Hughes has a huge headache with this team in sustaining performances; one week Stoke City are solid and gritty in their performances; then next week, absolute Muppets.

West Ham are another team that compound critics; new signing Robert Snodgrass hasn’t settled at all and had probably one of his worst games away to Watford; Mikael Antonio got a red card for all his hustling and desire to get West Ham all three points at Vicarage Road.

Here’s my selection for Premier League Muppets of the Week in a 4-2-3-1 formation:

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Halftimeng PL/EFL CUP Team of Week 26

Let me make a quick confession; I hate selecting the team of the week when there’s a Monday game yet to be played; it distorts the entire thought process that goes into picking the team; but hey, somebody has got to do it right?

What is it with clubs sacking managers and then the next game after the change, the players step it up and put in a great performance. Just look at Leicester City, got rid of Claudio Ranieri, only to step it up and have a cracking performance, putting Liverpool to bed quite comfortably with Jamie Vardy, Wilfred Ndidi and Danny Drinkwater putting in top class performances.

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On Sunday, we had the EFL Cup final; where Southampton gave Manchester United a really hard time; outclassing them in virtually all departments. What a signing Manolo Gabbiadini is turning out to be; I do not think any player has made this type of impact in Southampton’s history fresh off arriving at the club, he makes the cut for the second time running along with the grand old scoring machine; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose header sealed the EFL Cup victory for Manchester United.

Finally just before the EFL Cup final; Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen delivered a master class as Spurs demolished Stoke City at White Hart Lane 4-0 with all goals coming in the first forty-five minutes of the game.

Here’s my Joint (Premier League & EFL Cup) Team of the Week selection in an interesting 3-3-1-3 formation:

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#FootballAgainstXenophobia

It is no longer news that Xenophobic attacks against foreigners has made a return to South Africa. The Football world particularly in Africa have formed a United front to fight and stand against this inhuman uprising; under the auspices of the Football Africa Arena a press statement released yesterday stated in clear terms the role football has played in positioning its self as an all embracing, all inclusive and nondiscriminatory way of life. (Please find statement below).

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There is no place in today’s world for Xenophobia especially as we continue to grow the world today as a global village; where we embrace our differences despite race, colour, gender, religious or political leanings.

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EFL FINAL PREVIEW: Jose guns for glory

Sunday evening sees the English Football League Cup final take center stage at the famous Wembley ground as Manchester United take on Southampton.

Jose Mourinho made a winning start to his United career with a victory in the Community shield against Leicester City on this same ground, but this time he will be gunning for his first major silverware since he took over affairs at Old Trafford. It has been a good few months for Manchester United as they have won five straight games including progressing not just in the FA cup but also in the Europa Cup where they have now been paired to face FC Rostov of Russia in the last 16. Manchester United will be playing in their 8th league cup finals come Sunday having been winners on four occasions. Talisman Henrikh Mhkitaryan will be missing having picked up a knock in the second leg Europa Cup tie against St. Etienne, whilst skipper Wayne Rooney is expected to play some role after recovering from injury.

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For Southampton, the Saints have had a longer time to prepare for the finals as they have not kicked a ball in two weeks. Claude Puel has seen his first season take him to the finals of a tournament and that alone would be deemed as success on some levels as this was a feat even his more favored predecessor Ronald Koeman failed to achieve. In a season where the Saints lost some of their best legs in Sadio Mane and Captain Jose Fonte, they have again re-invented themselves and despite not playing the brand of attractive football they displayed in recent years, they have proven to be a team capable of competing and taking major scalps off the big teams without having to spend big; also considering they have only conceded one goal on route to the final whilst taking on Premier League teams through out. In their semi-final tie, the Saints expertly dispatched Liverpool in both legs and would take this confidence into the game on Sunday.

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Both sides have met once in the league this season already with Manchester United winning by 2 goals to nil, this is however a totally different situation as there is a little bit more at stake here and the battle is on a neutral ground where the only advantage is in the qualities of the players.
The likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailey who are all expected to start and will be hunting for their first piece of silverware since joining the team, Ibrahimovic has been the man for the big occasions this season with an impressive 24 goals including 2 against Sunday’s opponents when both sides first met and will be leading the attack with the likes of Juan Mata and Anthony Martial likely to support him, for the Saints, Claude Puel will be counting on Manolo Gabbiadini to continue his fine scoring form since he joined, whilst the likes of Shane Long also poses a big threat, they will however be missing key defender and Captain Virgil Van Dijk who is out with a long term injury.

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The last time United won the League Cup was in 2010 when a Wayne Rooney goal gave the team a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, Jose has a history of not losing too many finals and whilst the fixtures are coming in thick and fast, his focus will be on settling the one right before him and hoping the result is a favorable one that will boost the team’s performance as they continue to seek for a top four finish in the league.

Referee Andre Mariner will be in charge of this one and whilst it is expected to be a difficult game, the odds favor Manchester United to win this as Jose seeks to become the first United manager to win a major trophy in his first season in charge of the Red devils.

Prediction: Manchester United 2 Southampton 0

Nice Guys never win

You are young, bright, intelligent, courteous and know how to treat a lady; so you should be the dream of every woman on the face of the earth; in ideal terms that its. So you summon up the courage and ask her to the Prom; she sees you are a nice guy, so she says yes. You pick her up on time; open the door of the car for her, open the door to the hall to let her in; pull up the seat for her to take a sit first; the perfect gentleman; but what happens at the end of the night she leaves you for the bad boy, who didn’t even care enough to ask her to the Prom in the first place. Tells you one clear story that Nice guys always come last or never win.

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Lets take a look at Leicester City for example; rewind to two seasons ago; ”bad boy” manager Nigel Pearson was in charge; got them promoted as Champions of the Football League Championship the previous season; rallied to rescue the Foxes from relegation with an impressive run of victories in the last few months of the season in their first season back in their Premier League; however this was without one controversy or the other. We can start with the antics of his Son and some academy/reserve players; who filmed themselves on a racist orgy whilst away on tour or is it the comments to a Journalist that he had his head buried in the sand like an Ostrich. The Board got tired, fired Pearson; despite keeping the foxes up  and went ahead to hired the self styled Tinker man and all round nice guy; Claudio Ranieri.

Claudio Ranieri was fresh from been fired by the Greek National team for losing to Faroe Islands; who does that? Nobody loses to Faroe Islands, absolutely no one does that. I was on of those who kicked against his appointment at the time. The Leicester City Board as far as they were concerned had gotten a much more calm, experienced and renowned manager with pedigree of coaching many top clubs in Europe. The Tinker Man got to action; left much of the structures inherited  from Nigel Pearson, signed N’Golo Kante and as they say the rest is history.

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Ranieri made the most outlandish of Cinderella stories; fiction, a figment of a little boy’s imagination come to reality; we doubted for many months; Leicester will falter by January, they didn’t; wait till the fixtures come thick and fast in March and April, the wheels will firmly fall off; it didn’t and on that day in May; the Foxes lead by Wes Morgan; a player who moved from Dunkirk to Nottingham Forest for two sets of kits lifted the ultimate prize in English Football. Maybe we do not understand the enormity of this achievement; this is a Leicester City side that the best they have ever achieved are two League Cup victories during the Martin O’Neill era; now why I do not consider these major or grand achievements is because the period between 1995- 2004; many of the big clubs used the League Cup as a tool to blood and give their young players first team experience; don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the success of Martin O’Neill; just distinguishing between the importance or gravity of their individual success.

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Consider the amount of money been spent by the big clubs; Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea etc despite this Leicester City found a way by spending just a fraction of the transfer fees paid by the big clubs; with largely unknown players; if you ask me the achievement of Claudio Ranieri deserves a lot more and not a sacking; not at this point with 13 games to go; I don’t know the miracle worker of a manager Leicester City will get now that will save them from relegation; even at that if there’s one manager that deserves the right to relegate Leicester City and potentially get the opportunity to bring them back up; its Claudio Ranieri; just take a look at Newcastle United and their resolve to hold on to Rafa Benitez. Many have said the financial considerations of going down would be too enormous to absorb by Leicester City; this I do not agree with. Leicester City are in the second round of the Champions League with a good chance to make it to the Quarter finals; even if they don’t, the Foxes would have made nothing less than £30 Million from their Champions League campaign. If you add this to proposed parachute payments that accompany a team’s relegation; Leicester City would be heading in the direction of record revenues; more so their wage bill is not that astronomical; so I ask whats the rush? Why the knee jerk reaction?

When calls and debates on the future of Claudio Ranieri began; my stance was simple, if the Board feel he was no longer the ideal man to lead Leicester City; why not elevate the man as a sign of respect, make him a Director of Football or something and this madness of embracing the Greatest manager in the club’s history. What this says is that Football as an entity has more or less lost its human face; its all about the numbers now;but in Leicester’s case the numbers still add up and well at that. It is even more comical the names that have been brandished as likely successors for a man who should have a statue erected in front of the King Power Stadium and at the City Center in Leicester; the likes of Roberto Mancini (a man who took off as the rooms of the San Siro got hotter) and a personal favorite of mine; Alan Pardew, any chance we will get another premature dance move from him.

Leicester City owe Claudio Ranieri too much; not just as a club, but as a city in general; Leicester City are not just a football club anymore; it has become a reference point, a case study and a tourist attraction; all because of what the Tinker Man achieved in the Midlands, but as with every story of this nature; the Nice Guys never win.

UEFA Champions League Knockout Round Day 4 Preview

Talk about exciting attacking football; yesterday’s Champions League games in Manchester and Leverkusen had it all, 14 goals in total, a record of some sorts. It was an explosive night for strikers and forward players; but a damning one for defenders especially at the Etihad where upwards of £200 Million has been spent on Center backs over the last few season with little solution in site.

Today; we seek and ask for same of the same, I must say that I have my doubts that lightening will strike twice and we would have free scoring and free flowing football in back to back Champions League nights. Oporto and Seville are the destinations today; featuring three clubs in the Championship mix in their respective leagues and one whose Cinderella story is heading towards their worst nightmare in under one year.

Porto v Juventus

Juventus continue to be the leading lights in Serie A; heading for a sixth straight league title. The Champions League is where the Turin giants want to show that they are part of the European elite; they need to win another European title to consolidate on the domestic dominance. At the Estadio do Drago, they face a Porto side who have been in a rich vain of form lately; winning at the weekend 4-0 and currently on a six match winning streak;incidentally, Juventus are also on a six match winning streak of their own and go into this game as clear favorites considering that in their previous meetings the Old Lady has had the upper hand.

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From a tactical perspective it would be nice to see how Porto’s band of youngsters deal with their more illustrious and experienced counterparts from Turin, especially with huge doubts on Giorgio Chiellini’s fitness and the disciplinary issues surrounding Leonardo Bonucci. The game will be won in midfield with Porto set to revert to its 4-1-3-2 Champions League formation and Juventus embracing the 4-2-3-1 formation of late. Will Allegri go in with a calmer, laid back approach or would the events of the last two weeks in the Champions League tilt the general approach of the game. Nuno would look to use the pace of Brahimi to gain some advantage  of the spaces left behind by the Juventus full back; this could work in Porto’s favour if Dani Alves gets the nod ahead of Stephan Lichtsteiner; the latter is the better disciplined defender. Porto may never get a better chance against a defensively depleted Juventus side.

My Verdict: Juventus Win or Draw (Both Teams to Score)

 

Sevilla v Leicester City

Talk about the ultimate Cinderella story; where fiction became an absolute fact and in the space of one year; its heading to be the grimmest and darkest nightmare in the history of football. Be that as it may Leicester City have earned their right to sit at the table of European Elites; this might be the stage they bow out; it won’t be without a fight.

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Sevilla on the other hand are on a new course, a new direction, a departure from the Unai Emery era; Jorge Sampaoli has tinkered, changed and flirted with the way this team has played since he took over at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan; where they have only lost to Barcelona and Juventus, playing some dazzling football along the way. Unfortunately, this tie seems more of a mismatch considering the travails of Leicester City with only two goals scored in 2017 so far; defensively the team is an absolute shambles and I do not see how this Leicester side can stop Sevilla from scoring at least three goals; that’s how bad the situation is at the Midlands club.

My Verdict: Sevilla to win comfortably (Over 2.5 goals)

 

 

UEFA Champions League Knock Out Round Day 3 Preview

I must say I like the way UEFA a few years ago decided to spread the first knock out round of the Champions League over a period of three weeks to maximize television viewership and leveraging on the appetite of the football public for the Champions League. If last week was anything to go by; we might just be in for another set of breathe taking individual or team performances. With out a doubt; Paris Saint Germain’s demolition of Barcelona was the highlight of the round, raising questions on a potential crisis at the Nou Camp; whilst I particularly was quite disappointed with Pierre Eric Aubameyang and the number of chances created and missed at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon as Benfica got a solitary goal lead to take to Dortmund in three weeks.

Today and Wednesday; provides us with some interesting clashes to savor as we take trips to Manchester, Leverkusen, Oporto and Seville for our next dose of quality European football, but our focus is on today’s games at the Etihad and the Bayer Arena.

Manchester City v Monaco

Manchester City welcome the top scoring team in Europe to the Etihad; in what promises to be a tough battle between two teams with varying characteristics; whilst Monaco have scored with reckless abandon so far this season; they have seamlessly merged this with resolute defending; unlike City who have struggled to keep their rear end impenetrable up until the last few weeks as Pep Guardiola was bold enough to make critical changes that seem to have steadied the ship somewhat. With Monaco, you have a stable side, top of their league; with Manchester City; you have a side seeking a new identity and balance; makes for an intriguing match up.

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Leonardo Jardim has ensured that Monaco have flown under the radar; climbed almost unnoticed to the top of Ligue 1; with a number of interesting changes; coupled with the revitalization of the once previously deadliest striker in Europe in Radamel Falcao. With over a 100 goals scored in all competitions; Monaco have put themselves in a very strong position especially as they face a team whose leading scorer is trying to win his place back and are firmly supported by their enviable record when it comes to visiting England; undefeated in their last four visits; add that to their ongoing unbeaten record of seven games on the road which has had they win five of those games.

Manchester City have found a way around their problems and it took a bold and hard decision to somewhat find a solution to the problem; Willy Caballero has provided a calming effect and influence at the back since replacing Summer signing Claudio Bravo and this has given the defense a little more assurance. Guardiola’s men are undefeated in six; with four of these matches ending in victory; although it would have been largely disappointing for the Citizens to have drawn the FA Cup 5th round tie with Huddersfield.

If you are looking for a game that has goals written all over it, I believe is this one; Sergio Aguero wants to prove himself worthy again despite Gabriel Jesus’ injury, so expect him to be fired up; we are all well aware of Monaco’s goal scoring prospects and I do not see Manchester City keeping a clean sheet.

My Verdict: Manchester City Win; but both teams to score

 

Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid

This is potentially a clash between Manchester United Strikers; past and likely future; as Javier Hernandez comes up against Antoine Griezmann; who has been persistently linked to Manchester United. Atletico Madrid have looked different from the team many have come to love over the past four seasons or so; defensive solidity seems to have departed the side as it seems Diego Simeone may have given as much as he can to this team; but at the right time they seem to have bounced back and found their goal scoring boots with Kevin Gamiero scoring a hat trick at the weekend after a series of unfortunate draws in an unbeaten run away from home that has lasted for seven games.

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Bayer Leverkusen under Roger Schmidt are team who promise so much but fail to deliver when the chips are down. So far this season despite all the draws especially the two at home; the side remains undefeated in the Champions League this year; stretching their unbeaten run to eight games in total in the competition. My worry for Bayer has to be defensively; this is a team that promises so much going forward; but always find a way to let it slip at the back and the absence  of  Jonathan Tah would back this even more glaring as they face an in form Atletico Madrid front line.

Talk about a game between two teams who have found consistency hard to come by, but promise a lot going forward which they more often than not deliver on; Atletico look like the more likely to grab the initiative in this tie; but Bayer have the assurance of keeping a lid on the goals conceded against the team from Madrid over their last four meetings.

My Verdict: Looks like a draw to me (Under 2.5 goals an alternative)

5 THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND

This week saw some exciting football and shocking results as the European championships featured across various grounds mid-week, we saw Barcelona stunned, Napoli’s unbeaten run ended by Madrid, Arsenal mauled and the Pogba brothers sharing more hugs than tackles. The bread and butter of league football however makes a return this weekend but in England, the Premier League fades to the background this weekend as the FA cup takes center stage. You can be forgiven for thinking all other leagues are also on break but that is wrong as league football continues across all other countries, here are the top 5 highlights to look out for this weekend across the world.

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1. The NPFL enters Week 9- The Nigerian Professional League which took a break from midweek football returns this weekend with some juicy ties across the centers. Remo Stars new manager Fatai Osho has to hit the ground running as his team lie bottom of the log, they host 8th place Lobi Stars and know that only three points will do the Ogun State based team a world of good. League leaders Plateau United host Niger Tornadoes as they seek to bounce back from their first defeat of the season, other fixtures include, Abia Warriors at home to El Kanemi Warriors, Katsina United VS Shooting Stars, Gombe United VS Akwa United and Sunshine Stars away at Nasarawa United. The likes of MFM, ABS and Enyimba have had their games postponed as their opponents all have continental engagements.

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2. Barcelona seeks to bounce back: After the shocking defeat the Catalan giants suffered in Paris during their Champions league tie, under pressure Luis Enrique will be seeking for some form of response from his team as they welcome Leganes to the Nou Camp Sunday night, league leaders Real Madrid who enjoyed better fortune in Europe will welcome Espanyol as they seek to maintain their top position on the log whilst third place Sevilla host Eibar in a game they just need to win so as not to stay too far off the top two teams. Villareal who got battered in the Europa cup are away at Real Sociedad while Athletico Madrid will take on Sporting Gijon in some of the key fixtures.

3. Upsets in the FA Cup?: The FA cup has always had the glory of major scalps being taken over the years even though we have seen the big teams taking it bit more serious of late as the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United are recent winners. There is no really mouth watering tie in this round as the top sides have been kept apart but don’t rule out an upset from any of the grounds.
Key fixtures: Wolves VS Chelsea, Millwall VS Leicester City, Fulham VS Tottenham Hotspurs, Blackburn VS Manchester United and Monday night football where Sutton United welcome Arsenal.

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4. Across other leagues: In Germany, Bayern Munich who are 7 points clear on the log and off the back of their annihilation of Arsenal in the Champions league making the second leg more or less a formality are away at Hertha Berlin, second place Leipzig are also away at Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund host Wolfsburg. In France, the race is on as PSG who are in a fine vein of form are just three points away off leaders Monaco, whilst Monaco who have been free scoring are away at Bastia, PSG hosts Colosseum. Third placed Nice are also away to Lorient. In Italy, runaway leaders Juventus host Palermo, Roma host Torino, Napoli are away at Verona whilst the Milan teams, Inter and AC takes on Bologna and Fiorentina respectively.

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5. Lights out for Arsene Wenger?- All eyes will be on the Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger this weekend following his teams defeat in the hands of Bayern Munich and the voices calling for his exit seemingly more united than ever over the last few days. Luckily for him, it is a little matter of Sutton in the FA cup on Monday night and this should give the team a chance to at least restore sanity with a convincing win. Arsene Wenger has been in the news since Wednesday night as pundits, fans and analyst have had their say on his career and the time for him to finally call it quit. However, for fans of football, especially followers of the Premier league, how best do you think Arsene Wenger will be remembered? The manager that re-defined the style of English football, the man who helped them make that move from Highbury to the Emirates, the manager who has failed to win the league in 13 years, the manager who has seen his team knocked out in the second round of the Champions league for the last six years (maybe seven) and who has never won the big trophy, how best will fans remember the French man if he does eventually reject the new contract offered and call it quit at the end of this season?

**Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2016/17: DAY 2 PREVIEW

The knockout phase of Europe’s elite competition, the UEFA Champions League returned to our screens last night with two eye catching games as PSG hosted Barcelona whilst German side Borussia Dortmund were away at Benfica in Portugal.

All eyes however were in Paris as the game of the night took place coincidentally on St. Valentine ’s Day and what a game it turned out to be. Unai Emery’s side produced a master class to take a commanding 4 nil advantage in the first leg of the tie. The third goal on the night by Di Maria was the highlight of the confidence and beauty of the PSG display, the move which started all the way from Trapp playing out from the back, which is a typical Barcelona move, all the way to Di Maria who curled a beauty past Ter Stegen was a joy to watch and the likes of Veratti, Rabiol, Draxler all ran riot on the night and effected a little bit of revenge for all the past defeats suffered in the hands of the Catalan giants.

In Portugal, Benfica stole a win with their only shot on target whilst Pierre Emerick Aubameyang had a night to forget as he missed gilt edged chances including a penalty before been taken off by Tuchel, many may say the PSG VS Barcelona tie is all but over, the same cannot be said of this second fixture when the Portugese side visits the Westfalenstadion in some weeks time.

Day 2 sees yet another juicy tie as German champions Bayern Munich host English side Arsenal in yet another tie that has a familiar ring to it, while the Bernebeu is the stage for Napoli’s visit.

Bayern Munich VS Arsenal: Arsenal despite always progressing through the group stages have not made it past the second round in the last six seasons, twice suffering defeat in the hands of the Bavarians. However, both sides meet at a point where their forms have not been entirely too convincing despite recording victories in their last league games. Carlo Ancelotti has struggled to imprint his style on the Bayern side but he is a manager who seemingly has a love affair with the Champions league winning it with two different teams in the past, whilst for Arsene Wenger, the victory at the weekend placated the fans a little who were asking for his departure after two consecutive defeats, progress beyond the round of sixteen will further soothe the fans and help with the gunners mentality as they continue to challenge for silverware before the end of the season.

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Jerome Boateng and Frank Ribery will be missing for the German side but Robben made a return over the weekend including scoring a vital goal, Alonso has also been passed fit and Robert Lewandowski who has 25 goals to his name this season already will be eager to add to it. If there is a tie where Arsenal like PSG stand a chance of turning the tides, it has to be this one, but will Wenger like Emery get his tactics right on the night? Will the likes of Ozil turn up like Di Maria did to lead his side to victory? And is the mentality right going into this fixture? I am one who expects Bayern Munich to win this but for them to stand a chance of qualifying over two legs, they have to not just win but win by a wide margin.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 3 Arsenal 1

Real Madrid VS Napoli: When the draws were made late last year, many immediately tagged this an easy fixture for Real Madrid, but events thereafter have proven that this may not just be the walkover predicted, the Los Merengues have suffered a dip in form, had their unbeaten run stopped, suffered several key injuries and star forward Cristiano Ronaldo not being at his best.

Image result for Jose Callejon

Whilst Napoli are off the back of an 18 games unbeaten run since the start of the year, the game sees Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol return to their former grounds while Marcelo and Gareth Bale are expected to make a return from injury. Cristiano Ronaldo will still be the man to watch for Madrid as he has an amazing 34 goals in 38 knockout games for Madrid but Dries Mertens is one that Zidane will be conscious of in his match plans as he has 16 Serie A goals to his name already.

Prediction: Madrid may not be at their convincing best but they do know how to win when that is the requirement and at the Bernebeu, that may just be asking too much from the Napoli side, I expect Madrid to get a convincing win to take into the second leg.