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Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ademola Lookman, in fine outing at Europa and Conference League

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It was joy for Super Eagles trio of Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey, as their Scottish team, Rangers, edged out Portuguese side, Braga, 3-1 (3-2 on aggregate) to progress to the semifinals of the 2021/2022 Europa League.

Midfielder Aribo was particularly in fine form as he produced an assist in the nervy second leg win on Thursday night.

It was the Nigerian international’s sublime pass to team captain James Tavernier for Rangers opening goal in the second minute before he was substituted in the 106th minute for Zambian striker, Fashion Sakala.

The duo of centre back Leon Balogun and left back Calvin Bassey were also in action, producing a solid defensive shift to prevent Braga from causing any more damage than the one goal they got.

While Balogun came on for Borna Barisic and gave a good account of himself, Bassey played the full 120 minutes and showed why coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst sees him as one of Rangers’ most important players.

This will be Rangers’ first continental semi-final in 14 years, and a huge boost to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final with Premiership leaders Celtic at Hampden.

Kelechi Iheanacho

Kelechi Iheanacho

In the UEFA Conference League, the duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Ademola Lookman helped Leicester City come from a goal down to defeat PSV of Netherlands 2-1 and qualify for the semi-finals of the newest UEFA competition.

With the feat, Leicester have now qualified for their first ever European football semi-final.

Iheanacho was in the starting eleven before being substituted on 65 minutes while Lookman came on for Harvey Barnes at the start of the second half and had a hand in Leicester’s winner.

Ademola Lookman

Ademola Lookman

Leicester’s reward for taking out PSV is a meeting with the winner of the tie between Bodo/Glimt and Serie A giants, AS Roma, in the semi-finals.

Samuel Chukwueze celebrating his goal against Bayern Munich

Samuel Chukwueze celebrating his goal against Bayern Munich

On Tuesday night, Nigeria’s Samuel Chukwueze was the hero as he scored the decisive goal for his Spanish side Villarreal, which knocked out Bayern Munich of Germany to take the Yellow Submarine into the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League.

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Simbine wades in on Omanyala, Tebogo “Africa Sprints King’ debate

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South African sprint sensation, Akani Simbine, has weighed in on the “African Sprint King” debate between Africa’s fastest man and Commonwealth Games champion, Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya, and Letsile Tebogo of Botswana on who should rightfully hold the title.

Simbine who defeated Omanyala in the 100m at the Atlanta City Games on Sunday, shared his thoughts in an interview with Track and Field network on whom between him, Omanyala and Tebogo is the best sprinter in Africa.

Simbine who is regarded as one of Africa’s and world’s best sprinters in history, while reacting to Omanyala’s recent declaration of himself as the king of sprints on the continent pointing to his African record and title as well as his Commonwealth gold medal, said he was waiting for the Paris Olympics to know whom among them should wear the crown.

The claim by Omanyala had put him on a collision course with Tebogo, the world 100m silver and 200m bronze medallist.

Tebogo, in an earlier interview, had said Omanyala is yet to prove his claims where it matters following his semi-final exit at the Tokyo Olympics and seventh place finish at the 2023 World Championships where the 20-year-old won two medals.

“To me, it does not make sense if you are the African champion, but where it mattered the most, he could not step in,” Tebogo had fired at Omanyala.

To prove his point, Simbine dusted Omanyala to take the track in the 100m at the Atlanta Games in a world leading time of 9.90 while the Kenyan was second in 10.00.

In the interview, Simbine simply said:

“I am waiting for that conversation, I never left. We will see,” suggesting he should be among those being discussed, especially with the Paris Olympics on the horizon.

Simbine, a former African champion and record holder, had had those two titles were taken away from him by Omanyala who set a new mark of 9.77 in 2021 while he is also the 100m African champion.

But based on current form, Simbine trumps both Omanyala and Tebogo in 100m given he is the first to dip under 10 seconds this year.

His 9.90 came after he had managed 10.01 on two occasions, both recorded in April when he finished first, while Omanyala ran 10.03 at the Kip Keino Classic where he finished a disappointing fifth, before improving it to 10.00 in Atlanta.

Tebogo meanwhile managed 10.13 in his first 100m of the season at the Los Angeles Grand Prix last weekend.

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Moroccan steeplechase star El Bakkali aims for gold at Paris Olympics

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Morocco’s steeplechase champion, Soufiane El Bakkali, says he is aiming for the gold medal at the upcoming Paris Olympics after clinching victory in the 3000m at the 15th Mohammed VI International Athletics Meeting on Sunday with a season’s best time of 8:09.40.

At the meeting which was part of the Diamond League series, El Bakkali narrowly edged out his fiercest rival, Ethiopian Wale Getnet, who clocked a time of 8:09.78, and Kenyan Amos Serem, who completed the race in 8:10.82.

“Despite my long absence due to injury, I always kept hope. I trained intensely to win this victory, which was not easy,” El Bakkali stated after the race.

He added that he adopted a different race strategy for this event as anticipation builds for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

El Bakkali who said he is acutely aware of the high expectations from Moroccan supporters, called on fans to continue their support as he aims to secure the gold medal.

The fourth stage of the Diamond League brings together athletes from all over the world, including Olympic champions and world champions.

El Bakkali’s victory in Marrakech marks a significant milestone in his preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where he aims to defend his Olympic title in the steeplechase.

The Mohammed VI Meeting in Marrakech is one of Africa’s premier track and field events, attracting many of the world’s top athletes and El Bakkali’s victory was a testament to his strong form as he gears up for the Olympics where he will face formidable competition from athletes like Getnet and Serem, who pushed him hard in Marrakech.

With the Olympics just under 67 days away, the Moroccan said the victory boosts his confidence, confirming that his training is on track.

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