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MIKEL GIVES CASH, WHEELCHAIRS TO PARA-SOCCER PLAYERS

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Former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel, flanked by the Research Coordinator, Niyi Beecroft (right), Head PR, Ms. Fadekemi Ahmed and Management Team Head Mr. Dwayne during the formal presentation of Back2Base project in Lagos yesterday

Former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel recently extended a hand to physically-challenged sports people in Lagos as he made a cash donation of N2m and five wheelchairs to two para-soccer teams.

Mikel, who recently finished a talent hunt programme with his Back2Base project, decided to extend his goodwill to the para-soccer players who were wowed by the kind gesture of the Chelsea legend.

The arrival of Mikel and his team led by Fadekemi Ahmed, CEO and founder, Avianna & Harvey Entertainments at Ojo Street in the heart of the densely-populated Obalende area of Lagos, was greeted with wide jubilation as the fans jostled to catch a glimpse of one of Africa’s most-accomplished football star. “I thought it was a dream when I saw the man wearing white walking past me and it was Mikel live in Obalende. This is very commendable and inspiring,” one of the fans enthused as he brandished the selfie taken with the FG Youth Ambassador.

After enjoying the thrilling encounter between the Oyingbo Para-Soccer team and their Lagos Island counterparts, Mikel rewarded both teams with N1m while he also gave three wheelchairs to the winning team and two to the losing side. “This is a token to appreciate the unique talents they have and their resilience to be the best at what they do despite being physically challenged,” Mikel said after the donation.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the game between both teams and I am happy I can reciprocate by making the players smile also with the donations made,” he added.

Both teams expressed profound gratitude to Mikel for counting them worthy not just to be watched but also handsomely rewarded.

While they prayed for the former Nigeria international, they described him as a shining example that should be emulated by others.

THE GUARDIAN

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MAN CITY, ARSENAL MAINTAIN PERFECT PREMIER LEAGUE START

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Arsenal vs Leicester

Manchester City stormed ominously to the top of the Premier League by cruising to a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, while Gabriel Jesus opened his Arsenal account in a 4-2 win over Leicester on Saturday.

As soaring temperatures across England forced the need for water breaks at all this weekend’s Premier League games, it was City who were on fire at the Etihad as promoted Bournemouth were blown away.

Erling Haaland failed to score on his home debut, but the Norwegian showed there is more to his game than goals as he used his strength before sliding in Ilkay Gundogan to open the scoring.

Kevin De Bruyne then took centre stage with a scintillating finish with the outside of his right foot to find the far corner before the Belgian turned provider for Phil Foden to make it 3-0 before half-time.

City eased off the gas after the break but added to their lead 11 minutes from time when Jefferson Lerma turned Joao Cancelo’s cross into his own net.

– Jesus shines –

Haaland’s arrival at City was one of the factors behind Jesus’ departure and the Brazilian is already looking like a bargain for the Gunners as he marked his home debut with two goals and two assists to maintain Arsenal’s perfect start.

Gabriel Jesus jubilates

Jesus was often deployed in wider areas in recent seasons by City boss Pep Guardiola, but was brought to Arsenal to be a number nine as he aims to secure a place at the World Cup later this year with regular games as a centre-forward.

The 25-year-old showed his eye for goal with a sumptuous chip over Danny Ward to break Leicester’s resistance and doubled his tally by heading home a corner at the back post.

William Saliba’s own goal gave Leicester a foothold against the run of play.

But the Foxes quickly threw that hope away when Ward dropped a simple cross into the box and Jesus teed up Granit Xhaka to slot home.

Another goalkeeping error at the other end gifted Leicester another goal as James Maddison’s strike squirmed under Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal, though, again responded instantly to avoid a nervy finale as Gabriel Martinelli fired into the far corner before Jesus hit the post with the chance to seal his hat-trick.

– Gerrard beats Lampard –

Steven Gerrard won the first managerial clash between him and former England teammate Frank Lampard as Aston Villa beat Everton 2-1 to get off the mark.

Steven Gerard, Aston Villa

Goals from Danny Ings and Emi Buendia eased the pressure on the former Liverpool captain after a run of two wins in their previous 12 games dating back to last season.

However, Villa had to survive a nervy finish as Lucas Digne’s own goal gave Everton hope as Emi Martinez twice denied Anthony Gordon.

Leeds missed the chance to join City and Arsenal on six points after blowing a 2-0 lead at Southampton.

Rodrigo’s double put the visitors in command at St. Mary’s, but goals from Joe Aribo and Kyle Walker-Peters may have saved Ralph Hasenhuttl’s job after reports this week suggested he could be the first Premier League sacking of the season.

Brighton and Newcastle failed to build on their impressive starts last weekend as both missed chances aplenty in a 0-0 draw at the Amex.

It was also scoreless between Wolves and Fulham at Molineux after Aleksandar Mitrovic saw a late penalty saved by Jose Sa with the chance to win it for the visitors.

Cristiano Ronaldo starts for United after being left on the bench for a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton last weekend.

David De Gea let slip another soft shot as Manchester United fell to a humiliating 4-0 loss at Brentford, making it their second consecutive defeat in as many games.

It was also the first time since 1992 – the Premier League era, that United will lose in their first two league games.

Man United Players

The result was all but certain as early as the 35th minute when Bryan Mbeumo finished off a brilliant counter attack to send his team four goals up.

Erik ten Haag looked frustrated after Mbeumo converted, an expression that captures perfectly the state of the club and its fans. As it stands, all things look dim for United, except the jersey they wore in the drubbing.

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IWOBI’S AN INTELLIGENT PLAYER –LAMPARD

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Nigerian Midfielder, Alex Iwobi

Everton coach, Frank Lampard, says Alex Iwobi is an intelligent player whose versatility he admires as the Toffees prepare for their Premier League game against Aston Villa on Saturday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Everton will aim to get their first 2022/23 Premier League points on the board after they suffered a narrow defeat to Chelsea at Goodison Park last weekend.

Lampard also highlighted Iwobi’s central-midfield performance as one of several encouraging signs from the game – and says the Nigerian is receiving the recognition his exemplary professionalism deserves.

“He’s gaining so much respect and backing…from the fans, particularly.

“The benefits of Alex were very clear early in my days of getting here. He’s versatile because of his qualities, and he’s also versatile because of his humility.

“Anything you ask of him, he does it, and he does it really well. He’s an intelligent footballer.

“When I considered moving him into central midfield, I asked him about the positions he’s played throughout his career. He literally named pretty much every position on the pitch! He’s done it all.

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FULL LIST: 2022 BALLON D’OR NOMINEES

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Ballon d’Or award

A 30-man list of nominees for the 2022 Ballon d’Or award has been announced.

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, was left off the list for this year’s coveted football award.

Messi, who won the title last year, had been an ever-present amongst the nominations since 2006 and a regular feature in the top three since 2007 with the exception of 2018.

The nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or are listed below:

Thibaut Courtois (BEL, Real Madrid)

Rafael Leao (POR, AC Milan)

Mohamed Salah (EGY, Liverpool)

Joshua Kimmich (GER, Bayern Munich)

Christopher Nkunku (FRA, RB Leipzig)

Trent Alexander-Arnold (ANG, Liverpool)

Robert Lewandowski (POL, Bayern Munich then FC Barcelona)

Bernardo Silva (POR, Manchester City)

Vinicius Junior (BRA, Real Madrid)

Luis Diaz (COL, FC Porto then Liverpool)

Karim Benzema (FRA, Real Madrid)

Fabinho (BRA, Liverpool)

Riyad Mahrez (ALG, Manchester City)

Heung-min Son (CDS, Tottenham)

Casemiro (BRA, Real Madrid)

Phil Foden (ENG, Manchester City)

Harry Kane (ENG, Tottenham)

Sadio Mané (SEN, Liverpool then Bayern Munich),

Darwin Nunez (URU, Benfica then Liverpool)

Mike Maignan (FRA, AC Milan)

Kevin De Bruyne (BEL, Manchester City)

Sébastien Haller (CIV, Ajax then Borussia Dortmund)

Luka Modric (CRO, Real Madrid)

Cristiano Ronaldo (POR, Manchester United)

Antonio Rüdiger (GER, Chelsea then Real Madrid)

Joao Cancelo (POR, Manchester City)

Erling Haaland (NOR, Borussia Dortmund then Manchester City)

Kylian Mbappé (FRA, PSG)

Virgil Van Dijk (HOL, Liverpool)

Dusan Vlahovic (SER, Fiorentina then Juventus).

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