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Again, Messi Wins Ballon d’Or for World’s Best Player

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Argentina captain Lionel Messi won a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world on Monday, beating Norway’s UEFA player of the year and treble winner Erling Haaland of Manchester City to the prestigious prize.

Inter Miami’s Messi, who last won the award in 2021, played a pivotal role in guiding Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years in Qatar last season.

Reuters

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Nigerian Tennis Star, Quadri Aruna Shines at 2024 ITTF Africa Cup in Rwanda

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By Dolapo Aina

May 14th will remain a remarkable day for Nigerian table tennis community and Nigerian table tennis legend, Quadri Aruna as he won the International Table Tennis Federation Africa Cup. The tourney took place at the Kigali Arena in the city of Kigali, Rwanda. The Nigerian table tennis maestro had a sublime 4-0 victory over Mohamed EL Beiali of Egypt.

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna and Dina Meshref who is an Egyptian table tennis player and who is African number one table tennis player were the newly crowned ITTF Africa Cup champions by winning the 2024 edition of the tournament in the men and women singles respectively.

Nigeria’s Aruna, had an unstoppable and commanding win in the final against Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali with a 4-0 (11-5, 11-6, 12-10, 11-3) win to emerge as the new Africa Cup champion. It is noteworthy to state that Quadri Aruna lost the title to Egypt’s Omar Assar in 2018.

After the final, Aruna stated that; “There is never an easy win in any competition, and I am happy that I gave my best and my best resulted in the victory. It has always been in me not to give up, even when I am down, and I am happy that all my hardwork paid off with the victory. I must commend Rwanda for providing excellent facilities and great hospitality for us, the players, and I look forward to returning again to this beautiful country.”

He is quoted to have stated; “I never gave up on my dream, it doesn’t matter where you come from, I came from a small place in Oyo state in Nigeria, and it was really difficult growing up, I just want to tell them that something great is very possible to happen in every individual.”

Egypt’s sensation Meshref was at her best after coming back from 2-0 down to defeat a fellow Egyptian, Mariam Alhodaby, 4-3. Meshref becomes the new Africa Cup champion after losing the last two editions in the final.

In her own words; “I am happy that I was able to come back, especially coming back from an injury I sustained before the tournament. I thank my family and my mother who sacrificed to be with me in Rwanda. It was a tough win for me here in this beautiful country and I will cherish this moment for a very long time to come.

She further stated that; “This title means a lot to me, just so happy to be able to fight and be able to reclaim this title, I wouldn’t have done it without my family, especially my mother who’s in the crowd. Thank you so much and of course, I want to thank God.”

Despite trailing 2-0, she fought harder with every setback, ultimately earning her 14th title on the African Continent.

Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu also congratulated Nigeria’s table tennis legend, Mr. Aruna Quadri, on winning the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Cup title.

In an official statement, the President stated; “Mr. Quadri achieved a resounding victory in the final match of the 2024 ITTF Africa Cup in Rwanda, reclaiming his title and sealing his place as Africa’s table tennis champion.”

President Tinubu commended the table tennis star for his dogged pursuit of excellence even in the face of gnawing obstacles, declaring that the zeal for distinction, the hardiness to succeed, and the inventiveness to solve complex problems are the exceptional qualities that define Nigerians.

Nigeria’s team at the end of the ITTF Africa Cup 2024 in Kigali had Men’s singles Gold won by Quadri Aruna, Men’s singles Bronze won by Olajide Omotayo and Women’s singles Bronze won by Edem Offiong.

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Amusan Sets New World-leading Time, Hailed by Sports Minister

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The world record-holder in the women’s 100m hurdles, Tobi Amusan, was the fastest over the barriers, setting a world-leading time of 12.40 (0.9m/s).

Danielle Williams, a two-time world champion, was ahead for most of the race but lost her rhythm over the final two hurdles and finished second with 12.46.

“This is the healthiest I’ve been. It’s a pain-free season compared to other years,” World Athletics website quoted Amusan to have said.

“I told myself: ‘I’m not getting a DQ today’. I’m not the best of starters, but looking at how I executed today, it could have been better, but I am thankful for the win.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, John Enoh, took to his X handle to congratulate the Nigerian athletics queen for her latest feat.

“Take your flowers Tobi Amusan, you stormed to an emphatic win in the women’s 100m hurdles at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational, clocking a time of 12.40s (0.9), a World Lead time!

“You defeated World Champion Danielle Williams, who came 2nd in 12.46s, while Christina Clemons was 3rd in 12.54s.

“Tobi, you keep making our country proud. Paris Olympics is around the corner, your performance gives us hope just like others that Nigeria is set to break a jinx. Keep soaring, we are proud of you,” Enoh wrote.

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NFF Announces Finidi George As New Super Eagles Head Coach

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The Board of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), on Monda,y approved the recommendation of its Technical and Development Committee to appoint former ace winger, Finidi George, as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

George, who spent 20 months as assistant to José Santos Peseiro before the Portuguese voluntarily left the post following the accomplishment of Africa Cup of Nations runner-up position at Cote d’Ivoire 2023, took charge of the squad in interim capacity during two friendly matches in Morocco last month.

His squad edged Ghana 2-1 in the first match, ending an 18-year winless streak against the Black Stars, but then lost 0-2 to Mali in the second game.

George, a member of the so-styled ‘Golden Generation’ that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia and emerged the second most entertaining team in Nigeria’s debut at the FIFA World Cup finals in USA the same year, won 62 caps for Nigeria, including featuring at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup finals. He also won gold, silver and bronze medals from the 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2002 AFCON tournaments.

The 52-year-old former Ajax Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Real Betis (Spain) forward, who made a scoring debut for fatherland in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Burkina Faso at the National Stadium, Lagos on July 27, 1991, also featured for Calabar Rovers and Sharks FC in the domestic scene before heading to Europe. He assisted Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory) to score Nigeria’s first-ever FIFA World Cup goal against Bulgaria in Dallas, USA on 19th June 1994.

George had actually scored the goal that took Nigeria to that FIFA World Cup debut, when he put Nigeria ahead against hosts Algeria in a crucial qualifier in Algiers on October 8, 1993. The match eventually ended 1-1 and earned Nigeria a ticket to the finals in America.

George’s immediate task will be to guide the Super Eagles to victory in two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic in Uyo and Abidjan respectively, in a little over five weeks. The matches are must-win encounters, with the Super Eagles lagging behind in third place in Group C of the African campaign behind Rwanda and South Africa.

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