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From Ballon D’Or To Abject Humiliation: Why Messi Seeks Pastures New



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  1. When Lionel Messi won an unprecedented sixth Ballon d’Or in December last year, the speculation had already begun over his career at Barcelona.

The 33-year-old Argentine footballing genius was increasingly unable single-handedly to rescue his imploding club, as he had done so often in the past.

Barcelona, despite lifting the La Liga title, had collapsed at the end of the 2018-19 season, losing a 3-0 semi-final lead, including two Messi goals, to Liverpool in the Champions League.

They then dropped the Copa del Rey final 2-1 to Valencia, where the Argentine was again on the scoresheet, this time though just a late consolation.

But all that paled in comparison to Barca’s barren 2020, capped by a shocking humiliation in Lisbon.

– Bayern embarrassment –

The abject 8-2 quarter-final embarrassment against Bayern Munich in Lisbon 12 days ago meant a first season since 2007 without a trophy for Barcelona.

It marked the first time Barca had conceded eight goals in a game since losing to Sevilla 8-0 in the 1946 Spanish Cup.

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But far more significant than that, it convinced the twinkle-toed talisman his final footballing years lay elsewhere.

The fallout was immediate. Coach Quique Setien was sacked after barely six months in charge while sporting director Eric Abidal was also dismissed.

Even the appointment of former Camp Nou fan favourite Ronald Koeman as head coach last week could not convince Messi to stay.

The Dutchman has indicated he will embark on a clear-out and, at 33 years old, Messi must feel he doesn’t have time to wait until Koeman’s rebuilt Barca are able to challenge Europe’s elite.

On Tuesday, Messi informed Barcelona he wanted “unilaterally” to terminate his contract by triggering a release clause, sending shockwaves across the world of sport.

There will be no shortage of clubs eager to employ Messi, who could be snapped up on a free transfer, but the favourites look to be Manchester City, led by his former Barcelona mentor Pep Guardiola.

READ:  Barcelona great disaster in champions league confirm end of CR7-Messi dictatorship.

They were close to European glory again this season, and the addition of four-time Champions League winner Messi could give the Guardiola the X-factor he needs to win the one trophy missing from the Manchester City cabinet.

The growing turmoil enveloping Barcelona has been reflected in Messi’s diminishing statistics.

Though he managed 31 goals in all games during the virus-interrupted campaign just ended, it was his lowest return since 2007-08, when he was just 20.

– Irreplaceable –

Barcelona have insisted in the past they had plans for coping with Messi’s retirement, whenever it came, but the truth is their number 10 is irreplaceable.

He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, winning a club-record 33 trophies, including 10 La Ligas, four UEFA Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups and six Spanish Cups.

Equally effective as a mesmerising playmaker or lethal goalscorer, Messi holds the records for most goals and most hat-tricks in La Liga and has scored more than 700 senior goals for club and country.

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But his greatest year was long ago. In the 2011-12 season, under Guardiola, he became Barcelona’s all-time top goalscorer at just 24 years old, breaking Cesar Rodriguez’s 232 goal mark which had stood for 57 years.

That year Messi netted a Liga record 50 goals on the way to a European all-time record season tally of 73, breaking Gerd Mueller’s 67 goals scored in the 1972–73 German season.

Almost a decade on, Messi still harbours unfulfilled ambitions, including another Champions League crown and an elusive major trophy with Argentina to add to his 2008 Olympic gold.

With time running out on a career that has seen a record six Ballon d’Ors and six Golden Shoes, those are major factors in convincing him to end his playing days away from the club that has been his home since he arrived as a 13-year-old.


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Kogi State Ministry of Youth, Sports Development Assures Roboost Partnership With SWAN



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Kogi State Ministry of Youth, Sports Development Assures Roboost Partnership With SWAN


By: Joshua Adinoyi

It was another fruitful deliberation for a progressive course as the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Kogi State Chapter, paid a courtesy visit to the State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development at the State Secretariat, Lokoja the State Capital.

Received by the Honourable Commissioner of the Ministry, Hon. Idris Musa (Oando), the team was accorded a warm welcome with members feeling at home following the friendly environment created by the Ministry.

Hon. Idris Musa, while addressing SWAN, appreciated the body for its efforts so far at disseminating sports news to other parts of the State, the Country and the world at large.

Hon. Musa noted that, today grassroots sports have been receiving adequate coverage, courtesy of the new leadership of the body in the State.

He commended Aturu Bishop, the State Chairman of SWAN for the new lift being experienced since his assumption of Office, urging the body to continue in such light.

He enjoined SWAN to continue to do its best at reporting and promoting sports in the State to the outer world, stressing that there was always reward for good work.

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“I have been listening to your radio presentations and reading your news on various bloggs and other media platforms, your activities thus far is highly commendable

“When you represent us well, you represent yourselves well because we are all Kogites

“As we are all expected to give account of what we are doing, let us also be mindful of what we do as well

“We know what the body did during the “Edo 2020″, all your activities have been highly motivative and the State government is grateful”

The Sports Commissioner assured of the Ministry’s collaboration with SWAN at all times, tasking the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Victoria Tafu, to always remind the Ministry to include SWAN in its programs.

In his contribution, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Slyvanus Akpama, applauded SWAN for living up to expectations, describing the body’s activities in the State so far as unprecedented.

Mr. Akpama stressed that collaboration with the body will go a long way at promoting sports in the State, assuring of a good working relationship between the Ministry and the body.

Earlier, the Kogi State Chairman of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Aturu Bishop, noted that the body was in the Ministry to make known, the new development of the body and also seek for collaboration with the Ministry to give sports a face lift.

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“We are here to let the Ministry know that SWAN in Kogi State has gotten new Executive
and we are ready to work to achieve an ideal SWAN

“We are here to appreciate the Ministry for its doggedness at promoting sports in Kogi State even in the face of Covid-19 that Sporting activities in some States have been paralyzed and still struggling to rise

“We, as SWAN Members in Kogi State are also here to seek for roboost relationship with the Kogi State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development

“We need more engagement with the Ministry at all times

“We are here for you and we promise to take ownership of the Ministry’s projects in terms of publication”

Bishop pointed out that the State Chapter of SWAN will continue to live up to expectations, adding that members cooperation so far has been the propeller to the successes achieved within a short period.

He added that the State SWAN will continue to promote grassroots sports, promote the welfare of Sports Journalists, amongst others.

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The State SWAN Chairman also appreciated the Commissioner for being down to earth, as he’s always reachable at all times, urging him to sustain such tempo.

In a remark, Elder Sam Egwu of the Leadership Newspaper, describe sports as a unifying factor, capable of bringing people together to achieve a common goal.

“In sports, no religion, no ethnicity, no clan, no tongue, what matters most is to work as a team and ensure victory at the end of the day”

Elder Egwu noted that sports remain a focal point in every State, adding that according attention to the sector will get a lot of youths engaged positively.

Similarly, Odinmayo Olatunde of Grace 95.5fm and Godwin Wambebe of the State Broadcasting Corporation 94.1fm Lokoja, describes Hon. Musa as one of the most outstanding Commissioner of Sports the State has ever produced, following transparency in his activities and his friendship with the Press.

While urging the Commissioner to always carry SWAN along in the Ministry’s activities, they also promised to always promote the Ministry using various Media platforms.

The meeting was also attended by the Ministry’s Director of Administration and Finance (DAF) and the Media Aide to the Honourable Commissioner, Apeh Mordecai.

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By: Godwin Wambebe

The Executive Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello on Thursday received a former Nigerian athlete, a former All African Games medalist and 1996 Atlanta Olympian, Fatima Yusuf Olukoju at the Government House, Lokoja.

The Sport loving Governor received the former 400 metre specialist in company of the Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Matthew kolawole and the Chairman, Kogi State Sports Council Board who doubles as the Chairman of Kogi United and the Confluence Queens Football Clubs, Hon. Abdulmalik Isah Dolly.

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The Atlanta 1996 Silver Medalist who arrived the Country from the United States of America, was in the State on a mission to help promote sports activities in Kogi State and also inform Governor Bello of her ambition to participate in the forthcoming election of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) as a zonal representative.

Fatima Olukoju thanked the Governor for his immense contributions to the growth of sports in the State, urging him to sustain such tempo.

“It was nice to see our Governor and I appreciate the warm reception I received

“I will continue to establish relationship with him so his attention can be drawn to our youth sports and I believe good days are ahead for the youth sports in Kogi”

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Fatima Yusuf Olukoju, a retired athlete who born on 2nd May 1971 in Owo, Ondo State, competed mainly in the 400 metres during her career.

She won 400 metres race in the
1991 All-Africa Games and was second in the 200 metres race.

She later competed in the 200 meters at the World
Championship in Spain and she is also the first African woman to run under 50 secs in the 400 meters.

Fatima competed for Nigeria in the 1996 Summer Olympics
held in Atlanta, United States in the 400meters in which she placed 6th with the time of 49.77 and 4 x 400 metres
where she won the Silver medal with her teammates Bisi Afolabi, Charity Opara and Falilat Ogunkoya behind host
nation America.

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Fatima Yusuf Olukoju, has continue to be an inspiration to the younger generation in Kogi State and the Country at large, following her immense achievement in sports during her playing days.

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The game between Kogi United and their guest, Zamfara United went underway at 4pm, Saturday 5th June, 2021 at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja, Kogi State.

The match which started off at a slow tone picked up minutes later when a controversial foul committed almost gave the host a clear chance at scoring the opener but they were denied by the quick witted visiting goal keeper.

Series of attempts to score by both sides were aborted as both teams were neck and neck in the match.

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28 minutes into the first half, the visiting defense was under a lot of pressure as both attackers and defenders of the hosts stormed their goal area in a bid to score.

This was successful as Danlami Abubakar of Kogi United headed the ball in, to put the home side ahead making it the only goal of the first half.

Ball possessions lost by the hosts got their fans crying out of frustration as they missed major chances to add to their tally.

Another big break came 10 minutes into the second half of the game after a penalty was awarded in favor of the host as Kogi United’s forward, John Jerome was brought down in the 18 yard box of the visitors.

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The penalty was expertly converted by Eghe Osas to double home side’s lead.

All efforts by the visiting FC Zamfara proved abortive the host as United’s solid goalkeeper, Ogbe Salisu, mounts the post with agility.

The finishing touch came during the added time as a sloppy pass made by the visitors saw Jibril Abdulwahab of the home side racing pass the half mark, beating the defense and keeper of the visitors to score a top notch goal.

The result ended United’s seven match winless run in the ongoing league and the team’s first win in the second half of the league.

Kogi United will be visiting the Yobe Desert Stars of Damaturu next week as the fight to negate relegation continues.

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Some fans of Kogi United are hopeful and prayerful that the team records another victory in its scheduled encounter in Damaturu to enable it escape relegation, boost fans confidence, make mark for itself and as well, make Kogites and its fans across the Country proud.

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