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Novak Djokovic has won the season's opening Grand Slam a record nine times, including the last three editions

World number one Novak Djokovic once again declined to reveal whether he has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and said he was unsure if he would defend his title at next year’s Australian Open.

The state of Victoria, where the Grand Slam event takes place in Melbourne, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes, although authorities have not yet clarified what the requirement will be for those coming from abroad.

“Things beings as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic told the online edition of Serbian daily Blic.

“I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.

“People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person. Whatever you say ‘Yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it’, they will take advantage.”

Djokovic has won the season’s opening Grand Slam a record nine times, including the last three editions.

The 34-year-old last competed at the U.S. Open, where his bid to complete the calendar slam — winning all four majors in the same year — was ended by Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic, who is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on a record 20 Grand Slam titles, said he plans to compete in the Paris Masters, the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and the Davis Cup before the end of 2021.

“Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful Grand Slam tournament. I want to compete, I love this sport and I am still motivated,” he said.

“I am following the situation regarding the Australian Open and I understand the final decision (on COVID-related restrictions) will be made in two weeks. I believe there will be a lot of restrictions just like this year, but I doubt there will be too many changes.

“My manager, who is in contact with the Australian Tennis Federation, tells me they are trying to improve the conditions for everyone, both for those who have been vaccinated and those who have not.” 

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'Greek Freak' Giannis Antetokounmpo was the main man as the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA championship in 50 years

Five months ago, Kevin Durant’s dramatic 3-pointer merely tied Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks in Brooklyn.

The Bucks went on to dominate overtime, survive Durant’s dominance and beat the Brooklyn Nets. A little over a month later, Giannis Antetokounmpo helped them celebrate their first NBA title in 50 years.

Antetokounmpo and the Bucks receive their championship rings and raise their title banner, all while turning the page to begin their defense of the championship when they host Durant and the Nets on Tuesday night in the first game of the NBA season.

Milwaukee’s roster from its six-game victory over the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals remains mostly unchanged.

The Bucks’ only loss in free agency from their primary playoff rotation is P.J. Tucker, who signed with the Miami Heat. But Milwaukee also gets a few pieces back from injury, including forward Donte DiVincenzo.

The Bucks are looking to repeat behind their core of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday following a spectacular postseason run where they overcame a pair of 2-0 series deficits against Brooklyn and the Suns.

“I’m not satisfied,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m not even close to being satisfied. That’s the tone we’ve got to set as a team. And as a leader of this team, that’s the tone that I’m going to set. We understand that teams are coming for us, but we’re going to be ready.”

Antetokounmpo averaged 35.2 points and 13.2 rebounds while shooting 61.8 percent from the field in the Finals after missing two games in the Eastern Conference finals with a hyperextended left knee. He was just as dominant against the Nets, averaging 31.9 points and 12.9 rebounds on 57.4 percent shooting, and in Game 7 he delivered a 40-point, 13-rebound performance.

“We continue to say we feel like Giannis has got a lot of room for improvement, which is a lot of respect for how much he already does and how great a player and how impactful he is to winning,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Brooklyn is healthier than it was against the Bucks. But the Nets are still shorthanded. Durant averaged 35.4 points in the series, had 48 in Game 7 and a triple-double in Game 5 to extend the series.

He dominated the series when Kyrie Irving missed the final three games due to an ankle injury and James Harden missed three games and was severely limited due to a hamstring injury early in the series opener.

Durant and Harden are available for the season opener but Irving is unable to participate in team activities due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19.

New York City regulations stipulate Irving must be vaccinated to play home games. Although he could play in road games, the Nets decided last week they were unwilling to entertain Irving being a part-time player.

Without Irving, the Nets might attack differently. Harden will play more of an on-ball, point guard role as he did with the Houston Rockets.

Free-agent addition Patty Mills, previously with the San Antonio Spurs, could help fill the production void during Irving’s absence. Primarily off the bench last season, Mills averaged 10.8 points, 2.4 assists and shot 37.5 percent from 3-point range. Head coach Steve Nash also described Jevon Carter, acquired in the Landry Shamet trade from the Phoenix Suns, as a “guy who will play for us.”

The Nets are still among the favorites to win the NBA title thanks to Durant and Harden, who gave Brooklyn fans glimpses of their star talent during the regular season.

Durant played in only 35 games last season but averaged 26.9 points, and Harden averaged 24.6 points and 10.9 assists in 36 games following his arrival via a January trade with Houston.

“What we have on paper is cool,” Durant said, “but we’ve still got to get out in between the lines and play.”

The Nets refreshed their roster by picking up Mills and Paul Millsap in free agency, and retained Blake Griffin along with Bruce Brown, who will replace Irving in the starting lineup.

“Now we get a full year of togetherness and you can’t beat that,” Harden said. “But we showed glimpses last year without being healthy and being full. This year it’s going to be a different story.”

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Liverpool were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone's team in the Champions League Round of 16 last season

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Monday that he was not a fan of Spanish side Atletico Madrid’s style of play but could not argue with their results on the pitch.

Liverpool, who were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone’s team in the Champions League Round of 16 last season, travel to Madrid on Tuesday to take on Atletico in the group stage.

Klopp, who criticised Atletico’s physically demanding and defensive style after Liverpool’s defeats, told reporters on Monday that those comments had stemmed from anger and disappointment, not a lack of respect for the Spanish team.

“After the second game I was angry and disappointed about a lot of things,” Klopp told a news conference.

“Life, a bit, as well as things going wrong in the world at that moment. We played against a team full of world class players and they defended with all they had.

“Diego Simeone is doing everything right, he is the Spanish champion and he has been at Atletico for a long time. He keeps them on their toes and they fight for their lives. I couldn’t respect it more.

“Do I like it? Not too much. But that’s because I like a different style of football. It just has to be successful and that is what Atletico is for sure.”

The German added that beating Atletico over both legs this season would likely seal Liverpool’s progress to the knockout rounds.

Klopp’s team are top of Group B on six points from two games, two points ahead of second-placed Atletico, while Porto are third with one point and AC Milan bottom without a point.

“If we win both games against Atletico it’s likely we go through,” Klopp added. “We lost both games last time though, so let’s see.

“I am not that positive to think we have this in the pocket. A tough place to go. The second leg (last season) was our toughest game in the toughest circumstances.

“We didn’t play well there last time but we learned a lot in the two games.

“Now the world is in a better place, not safe but a better place. They have changed some players but are not a weaker animal… We want a positive result and a positive performance.”

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Pep Guardiola was speaking on the eve of City's Champions League Group game at Club Brugge

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has encouraged players to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the recent rise in cases in Britain.

On Sunday, Britain reported 45,140 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily number since the middle of July, and 57 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Guardiola did not comment on his squad’s vaccination status, saying it was “private”, but added that he and his family have been vaccinated.

“I have my own opinions, I trust the doctors and scientists. If they say it’s the best way to protect the people, you should do it,” Guardiola told a news conference on Monday on the eve of City’s Champions League Group game at Club Brugge.

“Myself and my family have done it. The doctors will talk with the players individually and after that they have to decide.

“We see in England how many deaths there still are and people get the virus and are suffering. We have to move forward, stay safe, be careful, use the masks, use the vaccines for better for the society and for themselves.”

Guardiola said goalkeeper Ederson and forward Gabriel Jesus could be in contention to face Brugge on Tuesday.

The Brazil internationals will meet up with the rest of the squad at the team hotel in Belgium, Guardiola added, as they would have had to spend 10 days in quarantine if they arrived in England after the international break.

City are third in Group A on three points from two games, one off Brugge, who are second on goal difference behind Paris St Germain.

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Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou, playing the role of High Priestess, lights the flame during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

The Beijing 2022 Olympics flame was lit at Greece’s ancient Olympia on Monday, just over 100 days before the start of the Games in February, as a handful of Tibetan protesters attempted to protest inside the ancient site.

The Chinese capital will become the first city to host both the Winter and Summer Games when it stages the Feb. 4-20 event but protests and calls for boycotts over the country’s human rights record have marred the run-up.

Three human rights activists entered the site of the ancient Greek stadium and temple where the flame for the Olympic Games is traditionally lit, despite a strong police presence, and attempted to unfurl banners just after the torch was lit.

They were stopped by security and led away.

Four other protesters had been detained by police outside the stadium an hour before the ceremony.

Rights groups and U.S. lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating forced labour by detaining around a million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities in camps since 2016.

China denies wrongdoing, saying it has set up vocational training centres to combat extremism.
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Cristiano Ronaldo was anonymous against Leicester

SALAH STAKES CLAIM TO BE WORLD’S BEST

Roberto Firmino may have bagged a hat-trick but it was the name of Mohamed Salah that was on everyone’s lips after Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford that featured another wonder goal from the Egyptian.

Salah started with a sublime early pass to tee up Sadio Mane for the opening goal, but it was his second-half strike that stunned fans and re-ignited the discussion as to whether or not he is the best player in the world at the moment.

Surrounded by defenders, he somehow manoeuvred himself into a sliver of space before sending a defender the wrong way and firing the ball into the net for another stunning solo finish, leaving manager Juergen Klopp to declare him as the best player on the planet at the moment.

Encouragingly for Liverpool, all of their forward line got on the scoresheet but Salah following up his magnificent goal against Manchester City with this effort puts him in a class apart.

LEICESTER DEBACLE SHOWS MAN UNITED STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS

High-profile summer signings were expected to turn Manchester United into genuine Premier League title contenders this term but a draw and two defeats in their last three games suggest it will again be a tall order.

The 4-2 fiasco at Leicester City, who headed into the clash on the back of a four-game winless streak, exposed United’s weaknesses in all departments, most glaringly a vulnerable and error-prone defence.

The result will only have piled more pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has come under intense scrutiny from droves of fans.

With Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane still finding their feet, Cristiano Ronaldo’s blistering return to United and the Premier League has faded in the last few games as he failed to make any impact against the Foxes.

The setback was only the start of a testing month for United as they clash with fellow heavyweights Manchester City and Liverpool while they also face Tottenham Hotspur and a Champions League doubleheader with Atalanta.

CHELSEA RING THE CHANGES AGAIN

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel was forced into another change of his back line against Brentford on Saturday, and the way his defenders held out against a late bombardment by the hosts underscored why the Blues are seen as serious title contenders.

With Antonio Rudiger injured and Thiago Silva back from Brazil duty too late to play, Tuchel gave Malang Sarr, 22, his league debut alongside Trevoh Chalobah, who was making only his fourth start for the Blues, and Denmark’s Andreas Christensen.

As Brentford subjected Chelsea to intense pressure in the last 25 minutes, Tuchel made a point of applauding Frenchman Sarr as he matched the pace of winger Bryan Mbeumo, helping the Blues to hold on for a 1-0 win that kept them top of the table.

“We trust the guys who are young. If you don’t play you cannot get experience,” Tuchel said.

NORWICH CONTINUE TO FALTER IN ATTACK

Norwich kept a second successive clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion and though manager Daniel Farke looked at it as a sign of improvement, his team have only scored twice this season to sit bottom of the standings.

Teemu Pukki netted eight in the opening eight games in their last Premier League campaign in 2019-20 but the Finnish striker — the club’s sole goal scorer with two strikes — has been unable to replicate that form in his second top flight season.

With attacking midfielder Todd Cantwell sidelined with injury and their best creator Emiliano Buendia having swapped Norwich for Aston Villa, Farke’s side are struggling in the final third.

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Patrick Vieira captained Arsenal to three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs as a player, famously leading the 'Invincibles' side

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira said returning to his former club Arsenal would be an emotional moment after a successful nine-year stint shaped his career as a footballer, but he would put all that aside in search of three points.

Vieira captained Arsenal to three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs as a player, famously leading the ‘Invincibles’ side that went an entire league campaign unbeaten in 2003-04.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I had the chance to play for this football club for nine years. I arrived at this football club as a kid and I left as a man,” Vieira told reporters.

“This is the club where I played my best football, so obviously going back there will be emotional but I will put that on the side because what will be important for us is to perform well and try to get points.”

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had said he hoped the club great receives a warm reception from the home fans for the Premier League fixture on Monday.

Vieira said he saw parallels in the Spaniard’s qualities with that of France’s World Cup-winning manager Didier Deschamps who also made the switch to coaching after ending his playing career. During his playing days, Arteta had spells with Paris St Germain, Real Sociedad, Everton and Arsenal.

“When he was playing, you knew that Didier was going to be a football manager. And I think Arteta is quite in the same kind of mindset,” Vieira said.

“He (Arteta) was a really good player. I think he had a wonderful career… And he learned the job before getting a chance at Arsenal. I think he did everything the right way.

“When he was under pressure, he did quite well because he’s always been calm and composed. Winning and losing games… the way he was conducting himself is a really good sign of a person who has everything under control.”

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Cameron Norrie will rise to a career-high 16th in the world, having started the year ranked 74th, after a stunning season where he has reached six finals

Cameron Norrie battled back to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6 6-4 6-1 in the Indian Wells final on Sunday, becoming the first British man to win the Masters 1000 tournament.

It appeared an upset was in the works when the hard-hitting Basilashvili quickly took the first set but Norrie regrouped in the second, breaking the Georgian at love to force a decider.

In the third set, the left-handed Norrie broke early and saved three break points to take a 3-0 lead as unforced errors began to pile up for Basilashvili under the lights in the Southern California desert.

Norrie sealed the biggest win of his career when Basilashvili sent a forehand long on championship point.

“What can I say? Obviously, I’m so happy. It’s my biggest title so I can’t really describe it right now,” said Norrie, who was playing in his sixth final of his breakout year.

Britain’s Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski have all played in the men’s finals at Indian Wells but finished runner-up.

The 26-year-old Norrie, born in South Africa to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, won his first ATP singles title at Mexico’s Los Cabos Open in July.

Norrie has shown steady improvement all year and expertly executed his strategy of forcing Basilashvili into long rallies in the final, giving himself the opportunity to dictate points from the baseline.

He congratulated Basilashvili on his outstanding tournament, where the 29-year-old stunned world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals and American Taylor Fritz in the semis.

“I’m sorry it went my way. You deserved it just as much as I did,” Norrie said.

“Well done to you and your team on a great week.”

Basilashvili said he was disappointed in the outcome but looked forward to returning to the event, which is sometimes referred to as the fifth major.

The tournament was not held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was pushed from March to October this year because of the global health crisis.

It will return to its regular March date on the sports calendar next year.

“I was hoping to get a title, but it’s okay,” Basilashvili said.

“I will move on and I hope that I’ll come back here in March and play better tennis.”

Norrie’s breakthrough win comes on the heels of British teenager Emma Raducanu’s stunning triumph at the U.S. Open last month.

Earlier in the day, the tournament crowned its first female champion from Spain when Paula Badosa came out on the winning side of a three-set thriller against Victoria Azarenka to claim the biggest title of her career.

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Wojciech Szczesny saves Jordan Veretout's penalty kick

Wojciech Szczesny was the hero for Juventus as he saved Jordan Veretout's penalty, awarded under controversial circumstances, en route to a 1-0 win over Roma.

Moise Kean earned the credit for the Bianconeri's winning goal in the first half as Rodrigo Bentancur's header deflected off his forehead and in.

Tammy Abraham thought he had equalised, turning a loose ball into the back of the net after Szczesny brought Henrikh Mkhitaryan down in the box, but the whistle had already gone to award Roma a spot-kick, which Jordan Veretout saw the Juventus goalkeeper parry aside.

The result sees Massimiliano Allegri's side move up to seventh in the Serie A table, just one point behind Roma, who remain fourth.

Roma started the brighter of the two sides, Gianluca Mancini testing Szczesny with an early headed effort, but went behind in the 16th minute as the hosts scored with their first attempt of the game, Bentancur heading the ball against Kean and in following Mattia De Sciglio's deep cross from the left.

The visitors were left frustrated as the referee blew his whistle to award them a penalty - confirmed after a VAR review - for Szczesny's foul on Mkhitaryan just moments before Abraham found the net, with Veretout's subsequent spot-kick saved by the Poland international.

Shortly after the restart, Federico Bernardeschi's spectacular bicycle kick was spilled into the path of Kean by Rui Patricio, but the striker blazed the loose ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

A second VAR penalty check was conducted when Lorenzo Pellegrini went down in the box as he and Giorgio Chiellini swiped at a loose ball, but this time Jose Mourinho's men were denied a spot-kick and were unable to find an equaliser, slumping to their third defeat of the season.
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Bayern Munich players celebrate Robert Lewandowski's second goal

Bayern Munich helped themselves to five first-half goals as they thumped Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 on Sunday to return to the top of the Bundesliga.

The reigning champions suffered their first defeat of Julian Nagelsmann's tenure last time out against Eintracht Frankfurt, but they responded in just about the best way imaginable at BayArena.

Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry helped themselves to a couple of goals each in a one-way first half, with Thomas Muller registering in between those doubles.

Leverkusen were level on points with Bayern before kick-off and pulled one back through Patrik Schick, but Nagelsmann's side were able to cruise through the rest of the match to overtake Borussia Dortmund at the summit.

The hosts had won their previous five matches in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in the last three of those, but it took Lewandowski just three minutes to backheel Dayot Upamecano's centre past Lukas Hradecky.

Bayern went on to lose after opening the scoring against Frankfurt, but there was no sign of that happening against Leverkusen. Shortly after Leroy Sane sent a shot against the right post, Lewandowski lashed home a second of the game on the half-hour.

That was the first of four goals in seven minutes, with Muller in the right place to deflect in a Niklas Sule shot before setting up Gnabry to score. Gnabry then joined Lewandowski in bagging a brace with a shot into the bottom-left corner.

The visitors had kept a clean sheet in only one of their last nine league games, however, and that poor defensive record was extended when Schick latched onto Florian Wirtz's throughball and arrowed a shot past Manuel Neuer in the 55th minute.

Sane squandered a couple of good opportunities to get in on the act, including a header over the bar from close range, while a disallowed Lucas Alario goal for offside was the closest Leverkusen went to further reducing the deficit.
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Harry Kane celebrates scoring his first league goal of the season

Harry Kane scored his first Premier League goal of the season as Tottenham Hotspur overcame Newcastle United 3-2 at St James’ Park on Sunday to prolong the hosts’ winless run in a match that was briefly halted after a fan collapsed in the crowd.

Newcastle, spurred on by a buoyant atmosphere in their first game since being taken over by a Saudi Arabia-led consortium, flew out of the traps and went ahead after just 108 seconds when Callum Wilson headed in from a Javi Manquillo cross.

But the bright start soon fizzled out as Spurs hit back in the 17th minute through Tanguy Ndombele, who lashed home from the edge of the box after being played in by Sergio Reguilon. Kane gave Spurs the lead five minutes later, scoring with a smart dink following an excellent ball from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Play was suspended for nearly 25 minutes just before halftime after a fan collapsed in the East Stand of the ground. Newcastle said that the supporter’s condition had been stabilised and they were on their way to hospital.

Son Heung-min added a third from close range in first-half stoppage time before Newcastle were reduced to 10 men in the 83rd minute when Jonjo Shelvey saw red for a second booking. An own-goal from Eric Dier set up a tense finish but Spurs held on.

Spurs moved up to fifth in the standings with 15 points from eight games. Newcastle are second from bottom with three points.

West Ham snatch battling win at Everton

Angelo Ogbonna’s late header earned West Ham United a 1-0 win at Everton on Sunday and lifted them to sixth in the Premier League table.

The visitors struggled to create clearcut chances at Goodison Park with Everton aiming to move into the top four with a draw on Merseyside, but Ogbonna’s goal secured a vital three points for West Ham manager David Moyes against his former club.

Neither side carved out any real chances in a cagey opening 45 minutes, with Alex Iwobi’s air shot going down as Everton’s best opening, before England stopper Jordan Pickford kept out Jarrod Bowen at the other end.

The Blues did look to increase the tempo after the restart with Iwobi’s close-range effort bravely blocked by Ogbonna and Salomon Rondon flicking a header just wide of the post.

West Ham made them pay with 15 minutes left when Ogbonna got above Ben Godfrey to nod home Bowen’s whipped corner.

Rafa Benitez’s side tried to rouse themselves in the final minutes, with substitute Anthony Gordon thrown on in search of an equaliser, but the visitors hung on to secure back to back Premier League wins at Everton.

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Governor Nyesom Wike

Governor Nyesom Wike and Real Madrid Foundation have ratified the partnership agreement that established the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, to give hitherto excluded females the opportunity to benefit from the academy.

The ratification agreement was jointly signed at the Real Madrid Sport City, Madrid, Spain, by Wike on behalf of Rivers State Government and Enrique Sanchez, Executive Vice President, Real Madrid Foundation and Jihad Saade, President, Interact Sports.

Governor Wike on the occasion held weekend, commended the Real Madrid Foundation and the Interact Sports for the opportunity for Rivers government to partner Real Madrid Football Club to motivate Rivers’ youths in developing their talents and skills through sport.

Wike stated that, “We had to stop to include the girls. We are very ready to kick-start the school and we believe this is a very good opportunity for our people. We are honoured to be identified with the Real Madrid, a good brand for us.”

Sports, the Governor noted, is an important factor in social integration and promotion of ethical values such as solidarity, participation, team spirit, respect for one’s opponent and non-discrimination.

Real Madrid Foundation maintained its commitment to the partnership, promising continued promotion of sport amongst children and youths, knowing sport enhances development of a young person’s personality, with positive alternatives to risk and fostering healthy life amongst children and youths.

President of Interact Sports, Jihad Saade, said the body has been an active contributor to the dynamic transformation of Nigeria, moving forward with modernity without forgetting Nigeria’s rich culture and heritage.

Wike was accompanied to Spain by Governor of Abia State, Okezie  Ikpeazu and Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN).
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Fans react outside the stadium after Newcastle United announced takeover

Steve Bruce has insisted he will always have cause to thank Mike Ashley for handing him the reins at Newcastle.

The Magpies’ head coach will celebrate 1,000 games in management on Sunday when he leads the club he supported as a boy into Premier League battle with Tottenham after surviving one of the most brutal weeks of his career to date.

Few expected Bruce still to be in post when Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed consortium completed its takeover last Thursday, but he remains at the helm as the new owners continue to assess their options and has vowed to fight for the job handed to him by Ashley in July 2019.

Asked how he would assess the sportswear magnate’s controversial reign on Tyneside, the former Manchester United defender said: “It’s been difficult, there’s no doubt about that.

“I understood very, very quickly, that it was going to be difficult because we want Newcastle to be at the top end of the division, not at the bottom end.

“Unfortunately. We’ve been in the bottom half of the division more in the last 10 years, so to improve on that is the key to it and I’ll let other people judge that.

“For me, he gave me the opportunity to manage this club, so I’ll always thank him for that.”

Whether Staveley’s confirmation that Bruce would remain in charge this weekend proves to be simply a stay of execution remains to be seen – the club have won none of their first seven league games and are 19th in the table.

The 60-year-old has signalled his intention to remain on board as a new era gets under way on Gallowgate, although he knows from experience the club’s fortunes will not be transformed overnight – no matter who is in charge.

Bruce said: “I think we’re all going to have to be patient. It’s not going to just happen and transform overnight. These things take time.

“But I think what we’re all excited about is now the opportunity to go and mix with the best in the Premier League, which we haven’t been doing for a number of years now.

“To go and propel yourself amongst the elite of the Premier League is the thing that we’ll all look forward to – and even me as a supporter – look forward to everything that’s going to happen over the next few years.”

Bruce will have injured trio Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Callum Wilson back for Spurs’ trip to the north-east, and is hoping to rekindle happy memories.

He said: “I had my first win against them as Newcastle manager a couple of years ago, so let’s hope we can have a repeat of that.

“They’ve got good players there, really, really good players, so it’s going to be difficult, but I’m quietly confident that we can get a result.”

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Ben Chilwell has scored in each of his last three Premier League games for Chelsea, as many as he had in his previous 33 appearances in the competition

Ben Chilwell says Chelsea showed the mentality they will need for success this season as they held off an intense late push from Brentford to return to the top of the Premier League.

England left-back Chilwell's first-half goal - his third in three games for club and country - was enough to win the west London derby, but only thanks to some strong work as the Bees piled on the pressure in the closing stages.

After Liverpool had gone top by thrashing Watford earlier on Saturday, Thomas Tuchel's side responded in the day's late game with a mature and dogged display against their promoted hosts.

The European champions dominated the first half but had to dig deep to secure the three points in the first league meeting between the two clubs in 74 years.

"The last 20 minutes, we showed the mentality we need to be showing all season," Chilwell said.

"It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes, but we did pretty well."

The outcome would have been different had Brentford forward Bryan Mbeumo scored instead of twice hitting the Blues woodwork either side of Chilwell's winner.

In a frantic final 15 minutes where Brentford threw everything at their opponents, Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy had to make two important and brave saves, while Blues defender Trevoh Chalobah also cleared off the line.

Senegal international Mendy also tipped over an acrobatic effort from Bees midfielder Christian Norgaard in injury-time, sealing a victory which the Blues keeper celebrated wildly with his team-mates at the final whistle.

"In the end, the last 20 minutes were suddenly a cup game and they had nothing to lose," said Tuchel.

"They found momentum and it felt like we had one player less. They played with more belief and we focused too much on defending.

"I was happy with the first 65-70 minutes and we should have scored more. But respect to Brentford."

The early part of the season saw 24-year-old Chilwell largely limited to a place on the Chelsea bench, with Marcos Alonso's revival earning him the left-wing-back spot in Tuchel's Premier League line-up.

Tuchel insisted it was "no great drama" and it always seemed likely a player of Chilwell's calibre would play his part over the long season.

Chilwell spoke afterwards about the importance of "taking your chance". Recent form suggests he has done exactly that - scoring in the 3-1 win over Southampton before the international break, then finding the net again in England's 5-0 victory in Andorra last Saturday.

Preferred once again to Alonso against Brentford, the £50m signing from Leicester continued his rich vein of scoring form with a confident and crisp left-foot strike.

Not only did he score the winner but he was part of a defensive unit which remained firm under pressure despite lacking key players.

Veteran centre-back Thiago Silva was missing after playing for Brazil in a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay about 36 hours previously, while Germany international Antonio Rudiger was also out injured.

That saw 22-year-old Malang Sarr given a league debut in a back three also containing Chalobah, another inexperienced youngster, and Andreas Christensen.

"We have Eddy [Mendy] to thank, he was amazing," Chilwell said. "He made superb saves and got us the three points in the end.

"I'm happy to get on the scoresheet and happy to score the only goal of the game. But we showed our defensive steel."

Brentford have impressed fans and pundits alike since winning promotion to the Premier League and came away from this match with lots of credit despite the defeat.

Chilwell's strike was reward for a first half where Chelsea dominated without creating many clear-cut opportunities.

Brentford lacked aggression on the front foot and struggled to impose themselves in the Chelsea third.

But the Bees considerably improved in the final half an hour and will count themselves unfortunate not to earn at least a point.

A higher intensity allowed the hosts to pose more questions of the makeshift Chelsea defence, with tactical tweaks and substitutions from boss Thomas Frank helping his side press the European champions back.

The statistics laid bare their dominance in the final stages.

The Bees had 15 shots in the second half - 12 of which came in the final 11 minutes - and spent almost 40% of the last 15 minutes inside Chelsea's third.

While it did not produce an equaliser, it earned Frank's side a proud ovation from the home fans at the final whistle and keeps them in seventh place after an encouraging start to their debut season in the Premier League.

"If you look over the 90 minutes, there can only be one winner - and that's us," said Frank.

"We kept the number one side and European champions to five shots. In the end, we were all over them. They got a lucky win."

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts

Leicester City ended their four-match winless run in the Premier League as goals from Youri Tielemans, Caglar Soyuncu, Jamie Vardy and Patson Daka helped them to a comeback 4-2 home win over Manchester United on Saturday.

With the score 2-2 late in the game, Vardy netted a superb goal with the outside of his foot to cap a frantic five-minute spell before substitute Patson Daka put the icing on the cake for Leicester in stoppage time.

Mason Greenwood had fired United into a 19th-minute lead when he unleashed a thunderbolt from 20 metres that flew into the far corner as it shaved the inside of the post.

But the visitors were punished for sloppy passing in the danger zone in the 31st as Kelechi Iheanacho robbed Harry Maguire of the ball and squared it for Tielemans to hit the top corner with a looping shot over goalkeeper David De Gea.

A tame second half came to life when Soyuncu turned the tide with a close-range effort in the 78th minute before Marcus Rashford, returning after shoulder surgery in August, levelled for United in the 82nd.

Less than 60 seconds later, however, substitute Ayoze Perez chipped the ball into Vardy’s path and the striker gave De Gea no chance, before Daka took advantage of more poor defending by United to tap the ball in at the far post.

Norwich remain winless in the league

Norwich City are still searching for their first Premier League win this season after playing out a goalless draw with Brighton & Hove Albion at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Brighton dominated possession and had a penalty appeal denied in the first half when Neal Maupay claimed contact from goalkeeper Tim Krul, but Norwich squandered a golden opportunity towards the end of the half to take the lead.

Josh Sargent looked set to fire into an open net from outside the box when visiting goalkeeper Robert Sanchez raced out and missed a clearance, but the American forward’s tame shot was cleared with ease by Shane Duffy.

Norwich remain rooted to the bottom of the league standings on two points, while Brighton move provisionally up to fourth with 15 points.

Broja gives Saints first win as Leeds fall

Southampton claimed their first Premier League victory of the season as Armando Broja’s second-half goal gave them a 1-0 win at home to Leeds United on Saturday.

The three points mean Ralph Hasenhuettl’s side rise to 15th in the table, while Leeds are one point and two places behind.

The hosts came close to opening the scoring early on when Broja flicked on a Nathan Redmond corner towards the back post but Mohamed Elyounoussi failed to meet it.

Redmond and Broja combined to break the deadlock in the second half when the former squared it to the on-loan Chelsea forward who netted his first Premier League goal, side-footing the ball into the roof of the net.

Dan James should have levelled for the visitors when he poked wide after a lapse from the hosts’ defence, but that was as close as Leeds would come.

Despite a late surge in intensity, Marcelo Bielsa’s men failed to create any real chances.

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their fourth goal

Mohamed Salah set up Sadio Mane’s 100th Premier League goal and scored a brilliant goal of his own, while Roberto Firmino bagged a hat-trick as Liverpool reclaimed top spot with a 5-0 win over Watford in Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge.

Firmino may have walked away with the match ball, but it was Salah that took the breath away in an individual attacking display full of the kind of vision, skill and guile that the watching Watford fans could only dream of from their side.

The visitors took the lead in the ninth minute when Liverpool won a Watford kickout, and Mohamed Salah played a sublime pass to Mane with the outside of his left boot for the Senegalese striker to notch his Premier League century.

Mane then picked out James Milner on an overlapping run and he drove a perfect ball across the goal for Firmino to steer home from close range in the 37th minute to put the Reds 2-0 up at halftime.

Watford defender Craig Cathcart endured a torrid afternoon, sliding to send a back-pass to Ben Foster that the goalkeeper spilled into the path of Firmino, who finished with a simple tap-in to make it 3-0. But the worst was still to come for him as Salah took possession in the box two minutes later.

Trapped in a triangle of Watford defenders, the Egyptian rolled his studs over the ball before bursting past Cathcart and then leaving him sliding in the wrong direction as he cut back and curled the ball home with his left foot for an exquisite solo goal.

“Every time I’m in the box, I’m trying to get the ball for someone to score or trying to score by myself. It’s always about the team, I always try to play for the team,” a beaming Salah told BT Sport.

“The most important thing is we scored good goals, all of us up front scored,” he added.

Ranieri, who took over as Watford boss on Oct. 4 following the sacking of Xisco Munoz, was left in no doubt about the size of the task he faces as Watford came up woefully short, and Firmino added his third in second-half stoppage time.

The win keeps Liverpool second in the Premier League table on 18 points, while Watford are 16th on seven points.
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Manchester United's Marcus Rashford

Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford must “prioritise his football” to deal with the challenges of playing for his club and country, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

Rashford underwent shoulder surgery in August and has not played since England’s Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy in July, but he could make his first appearance of the season in Saturday’s Premier League game at Leicester City.

The 23-year-old was awarded an MBE last year for services to vulnerable children amid the COVID-19 pandemic and became the youngest recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester this month.

“He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is more experienced,” Solskjaer said.

“You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to maybe prioritise his football because he’s got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England.

“I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come.”

Rashford bagged 21 goals and 15 assists in all competitions for United last season and Solskjaer said the club will give him time to rediscover his form this season.

“He knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be,” Solskjaer said.

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Many Newcastle fans would also like to see the back of Steve Bruce, who despite hailing from the region and managing to keep the club in the top flight, has been unpopular

Newcastle United begin their new era under Saudi ownership when they face Tottenham Hotspur at St James’ Park with Steve Bruce set for his 1000th game as a manager and possibly his last with the North East club.

Last week, to the delight of their fans, Newcastle was sold to a consortium dominated by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) alongside minority partners PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.

While human rights groups such as Amnesty International have condemned the Saudi take over, Newcastle supporters are delighted to see former owner Mike Ashley sell his stake in the club and have relished the promises of “heavy” investment in new players.

Many fans would also like to see the back of Bruce, who despite hailing from the region and managing to keep the club in the top flight, has been unpopular with supporters.

Media reports and bookmakers are already speculating on his successor, but after a meeting with the new board, Bruce remains in his position.

Sunday’s game is likely to see further celebrations from Newcastle fans, but could be an awkward occasion for Bruce – if he remains in charge of the team which is next to bottom of the Premier League.

Newcastle’s goal is to break into the elite of English football, a status Tottenham have enjoyed in recent seasons but are struggling to maintain.

Spurs appeared to be cementing themselves in the top echelon after four straight seasons of top four finishes, including in 2019 when they reached the Champions League final.

But the past two seasons have seen the club end sixth and then seventh and a mixed start under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo has left Spurs in eighth place going into Sunday’s game.

Chelsea are the early leaders after seven games but face a tricky test on Saturday at promoted Brentford, who have impressed with wins over Arsenal and West Ham United and a draw with Liverpool.

Manchester United begin a series of tricky games, after the disappointment of a defeat to Aston Villa and a draw with Everton, with a visit to Leicester City on Saturday.

Liverpool kick off the weekend at Watford on Saturday lunchtime while Manchester City will expect three points at home to winless Burnley.

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Harry Kane is yet to score in the Premier League this season after playing six games

Tottenham Hotspur manager Nuno Espirito Santo said on Friday he is relaxed over Harry Kane’s goal-scoring form and has backed the striker to get back on the scoresheet soon.

Kane is yet to score in the Premier League this season after playing six games but has found the net twice in the Europa Conference League. He has also been on target for England three times in World Cup qualifying.

“It’s normal (the reaction to his form). Harry for sure is used to it, but we are relaxed. We know that Harry is much more than goals when it comes to what he does for the team,” Nuno told a news conference ahead of the team’s league trip to Newcastle United on Sunday.

“He’s a fantastic football player, one of the best, and naturally goals will come.”

The Portuguese added that he would take a late call on the inclusion of Cristian Romero, Davinson Sanchez and Emerson Royal and Giovani Lo Celso following the quartet’s involvement in South American World Cup qualifying on Thursday.

“They are travelling now. They will join us tomorrow and then we will see… the report that we have is that they finished the games well,” said Nuno.

“Some of them played 90 minutes, Davinson Sanchez no, but what we are expecting is them to join us and then we will see.”

Winger Steven Bergwijn has returned to training after recovering from an ankle injury but Nuno said that he was unsure if the Dutchman could feature against Newcastle.

“He joined us yesterday. He is totally integrated with the group,” Nuno added. “Trained well yesterday, trained well today. No pain. So it’s about getting back to his highest levels of fitness, but he’s in the process of it.”

Spurs are eighth in the standings with 12 points from seven games. Newcastle, who are yet to win this season, are second from bottom with three points.

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The newly appointed Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mallam Ismalia Abubakar has declared the sixth edition of the National Youth Games open at the University of Ilorin. 

Following the declaration was a match pass parade by different States, that caught the admiration of the spectators. The opening ceremony was colourful and exciting with great display by all participants.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare said, “This edition of National Youth Games will be serving the purpose of which it was strategically designed by the Ministry. Basically, the concept of National Youth Games is to serve as an effective platform for talent identification, development and as well as a level playing ground for young athletes, ranging from age 15 and below to achieve excellence in sports."

He further said that this year’s edition of the games is unique as it will produce formidable athletes that will represent Nigeria at the Africa Youth Games in Ethiopia 2022 and the next Youth Olympics games in Dakar, Senegal. 

The Minister then urged all concerned National Sports Federations to take advantage of the games and guide their sports to developmental objective and further develop the identified talents to the benefit of the country.