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Anything is Possible, Benzema Gushes As He Wins First Ballon d’Or

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First time Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema said anything is possible if one never gives up on his dreams.

The Real Madrid’s France forward Benzema won the 2022 Ballon d’Or award for the best men’s player in the world on Monday.

Benzema, who played a pivotal role in Madrid’s run to the Champions League title last season, was the first French player to win the trophy since Zinedine Zidane in 1998 and the fifth after Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini and Jean-Pierre Papin.

“This prize in front of me makes me really proud. When I was small, it was a childhood dream, I never gave up. Anything is possible,” Benzema said on stage at the ceremony.

“There was a difficult period when I wasn’t in the French team but I never gave up. I’m really proud of my journey here.

“It wasn’t easy, it was a difficult time for my family as well.”

Benzema beat Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mane of Senegal and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne after Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the award for a record seventh time last year.

Benzema had a stellar season with Real, scoring 44 goals in 46 games in all competitions as he helped guide them to a LaLiga and Champions League double.

His 15 goals in the Champions League guided Real Madrid to a record-extending 14th title.

Real Madrid made remarkable comebacks from losing positions in the last-16, quarter-finals and semi-finals against Paris St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City respectively — with Benzema scoring in each of the second legs.

The highlight of their European campaign was the 3-1 win in the second leg against PSG when the Spanish club were 2-0 down on aggregate, with Benzema grabbing a 17-minute hat-trick in the second half to stun the Ligue 1 side.

Meanwhile, Spanish international and FC Barcelona’s midfielder Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or for a second straight year, beating England’s European Championship winner Beth Mead and Australia’s Sam Kerr.

Putellas, who was also named FIFA Best Women’s Player earlier this year, was top scorer in the Champions League last season with 11 goals and scored 18 in the Primera Division.

The 28-year-old missed the Euros for Spain, however, after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury on the eve of the tournament in England.

Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois won the Lev Yashin award for the best goalkeeper last season, with the towering shot stopper making nine saves in the final to keep a clean sheet against Liverpool in a 1-0 victory in Paris.

However, the teams in the Champions League final lost out on the Best Club award, which went to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who won a fourth Premier League title in five years.

FC Barcelona’s 18-year-old midfielder Gavi picked up the Kopa Trophy for the best under-21 player, while Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane won the inaugural Socrates award, with the Senegal international recognised for his humanitarian efforts.

Lewandowski did not go home empty handed either as he picked up the Gerd Muller Trophy for the best striker after scoring 50 goals in all competitions for Bayern last season.

NAN

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IGP Salutes Exceptional Performances of Police Athletes at 2023 African Games

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The Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, Ph.D, NPM, has commended the exceptional performances of the Police Athletes who distinguished themselves, as Nigeria’s ambassadors at the recently concluded 13th African Games in Accra, Ghana.

The IGP notes that their remarkable performances across various sporting events have brought immense pride to the Force and the country at large.

While receiving the athletes, the IGP, who was represented by the Force Director of Sports (FSO), CP Patrick A. Atayero, likened the African Games to a continental Olympics, and harped on the significance of young and talented Police Sports Men and Women showcasing their skills, passion, determination and courage on such a prestigious stage to emerge Medalists. He emphasized that the success of Police Athletes at the 13th African Games which held from 8th to 26th March, 2024, shortly after the 14th Biennial Police Games (Oluyole 2024) that concluded on 2nd March in Ibadan, is a veritable testament to the effectiveness of the sports development initiatives of the Force.

The medalists – Inspr. Aisha Adamu, Sgt. Mohammed Inuwa, Sgt. Emmanuel Bala, Sgt. Matthew Deshi, Corporal Chika Blessing, Corporal Nathaniel Samson, Corporal Victor Ikechukwu, Corporal Eweh Emmanuel, Corporal Collins Obi, Corporal Godwin Sunday, Corporal Emmanuel Ochayi, Corporal Aminu Garba, PC Olayiwola Zainab, PC Mabel David, PC Precious Joel, PC Esther Peter, and Bello Tunde Muiz (Education Officer II), demonstrated exceptional dexterity in Arm wrestling, Athletics, Badminton, Mixed Martial Arts, Swimming and Hockey. These Police Athletes garnered 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 5 Bronze totalling 8 Medals, for Nigeria at the Continental Sports Fiesta.

The Inspector General of Police appreciates all Police Athletes for their dedication, hard work, and commitment to sporting excellence, national unity and development in all spheres in Nigeria. He reiterates that their collective success serves as an inspiration to other Police Officers and fellow aspiring Athletes and inestimable potentials across the nation.

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Super Falcons Draw Goalless with South Africa, Quality for Paris Olympics

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Nigeria’s female national football team, Super Falcons have qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Nigeria beat South Africa 1-0 on aggregate to reach the Summer Olympics.

Rasheedat Ajibade scored from the spot in the first leg of the qualifiers in Abuja on Friday.

That goal was enough for the Super Falcons to pick one of Africa’s tickets for the women’s football event of the Paris Olympics as the second leg tie ended goaless in South Africa.

The last time Nigeria’s Super Falcons reached the Olympics was 16 years ago.

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UCL Quarter Final: Arsenal Draw Bayern, Madrid to Play Man City

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Arsenal have been drawn against FC Bayern Munich while Real Madrid will face defending champions Man City in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

The draws are as follows:

Q4: Paris Saint Germain vs FC Barcelona

Q3: Real Madrid vs Manchester City

Q2: Atletico Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund

Q1: Arsenal vs Bayern Munich

Here’s the

Winners of Q2 vs Winners of Q4

Winners of Q1 vs Winners of Q3

The eight teams that get past the round of 16 will compete in the draw, with all eight teams likely to face each other as there is no seeding for the draw.

Teams from the same country and teams that played against each other in the competition’s group stage will be allowed to meet in the draw going forward. The host team will draw the first ball, while the visiting team will draw the second.

The semifinal and final routes will also be determined here, as has been the tradition since the 2018–2019 campaign. Thus, the eight qualified teams will be aware of the path required to get to the final.

The quarter-finals will be played on April 9 and 10 for the first leg, while the conclusions will come one week later, on the 16th and 17th of the same month.

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