Seven things we saw last week | Nigerian clubs crash, Essien’s wife buys Italian club and Federer marches on

Pique and Messi [Photo: Mirror,]

No Nigerian representative in CAF Champions League

Both Rivers United and Enugu Rangers were knocked out of Africa’s premier club tournament last weekend. Rivers United, with a 3-0 first leg advantage, were taken to the cleaners by Sudanese side,  Al Merreikh, who beat them 4-0 in the second leg.

Rangers, on the other hand, could not muster the three goals needed to overhaul their first leg 4-1 defeat by Zamalek of Egypt, although the Enugu-based side protested to CAF over the ineligibility of Zamalek’s striker, Hossam Salama.

Michael Essien’s wife buys Italian third division side

The world knows Michael Essien but his wife, Akosua Puni, came to the world’s attention last week when she purchased Italian third division side Como at an auction for £206,000. The former Serie A side was facing bankruptcy but Puni has now rescued the side. Whether her husband would join her at the club in whatever capacity is unknown. Michael, without a club for the last six months, joined Indonesian side.

Panico takes over as first female coach of Italy’s U-16 male team

In a footballing first, a woman, Patrizia Panico, former national team player, will be at the helm of Italy’s national U-16 team. Viewed as the best-ever female footballer from Italy, Panico is originally an assistant in the U-16 setup. But the head coach, Daniele Zoratto, will be taking up the U-19 side temporarily, giving Panico a bite at the job.

“There are many walls still to break down but this will help them fall,” said Panico.“ To be the first woman to coach a male side is a huge success for me.”

Federer wins 90th career title at Indian Wells

Roger Federer definitely has no intentions of slowing down any time soon as he took his career titles to 90 on Sunday. The 36-year-old won at Indian Wells, beating fellow Swiss, Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 to continue his fine start to 2017 after his Australian Open conquest in January.

The win will take the 18-time Grand Slam champion to sixth in the ATP rankings on Monday. Afterward, Federer stated that his own form had surprised him. “I have totally exceeded my expectations. My goal was to be top eight by Wimbledon. This is just a dream start.” He is showing that dreams can actually be accelerated.

Odey hits 10th league goal

While national team boss, Gernot Rohr, did not see it fit to invite any player from the NPFL for the Super Eagles’ upcoming friendly games, one name continues to resonate stridently across the league and it is Stephen Odey. The 19-year-old forward for MFM scored a brace on Sunday against league leaders, Plateau United, to take his tally for the season to 10 goals in 12 league games. He just needs to continue scoring for MFM, his first professional and the call would eventually come.

First female competitor falls at second fence

Lizzie Kelly became the first female jockey to compete in the Gold Cup for 33 years but unfortunately for her, she could not end as her ride was cut early because she and horse Tea For Two fell at the second fence. Afterward, she told the Daily Mail, “I’m gutted. An opportunity has gone. A long build-up for not a lot of pizzazz.”

“Kelly had always been uneasy being cast as a mould-breaker for her sex. She pointed out that Margeret Thatcher had not gone into politics to become a woman Prime Minister; she had gone into politics to be Prime Minister. That was her template.” Well, that should really be the template for equality!

And finally…

Pique is not invited to Messi’s wedding

Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique are teammates at Barcelona and have a pleasing relationship on and off the pitch but that relationship could be strained in the future.

It has been reported that Messi’s girlfriend – the mother of his two children is very close to Pique’s former girlfriend, whom the defender dumped for music star, Shakira, in 2010. On account of this joint hurt, Pique would not be welcome at Messi’s wedding, taking place this summer. We have a saying in Nigeria that “people should stop taking Panadol for another person’s headache”. In this case, it is a case of collective migraine that needs Aspirin!

Have a wonderful working week.

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Former footballer, passionate football enthusiast and analyst and a proud Nigerian.

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