June 14, 2021
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first_imgChelsea’s boss, Antonio Conte, was happy to hand the 20-year-old his Premier League debut.“Today, I’m pleased because I saw the things we have been working on this week. Above all, I’m pleased for the players because when you work so hard during the week, it’s logical you want to see a good result and a good game.“Now we have a whole week to work and to see who is in the best shape to play the next match. The players know I want to see the right commitment and work-rate, after that I decide the formation. Another young player from the academy, Ola Aina, played his first Premier League game, and showed he is really able,” the Chelsea boss said.Chelsea have long been criticised for failing to provide a pathway from their all-conquering youth sides, who have been crowned European champions in the past two seasons, to the first team but Conte intends to change that.According to him, “People who know me will know I don’t gift a place to anyone,” Conte said. “Only those who deserve to play will play for me. It is important for Aina to understand this. In the future, he can play from the start. Age is not important. I made my first appearance in Serie A at only 16.”Already, Super Eagles’ captain and Chelsea team-mate, Mikel Obi, has already called upon the England Under-20s to represent Nigeria as against the country of his birth after Aina impressed in Chelsea pre-season debut against Bristol Rovers.“I keep asking him: ‘When are you going to come and play for Nigeria?’ and he jokes: ‘Whenever you come and invite me I will play. I think it is something that we would have to discuss, ” Mikel told Goal.“If he wants to play, we would have to speak to the federation and make sure he really wants to play for Nigeria. If he is ready, we can talk about that, but in the few times we have talked about it, he hasn’t given me a very positive, decisive answer to take back to the FA. I need a positive answer for me to take the case forward to the FA. We will see what happens,” Mikel said.Aina’s performance stood out to the midfielder during Chelsea’s pre-season tour of Austria and the United States, where the youngster made three starts and several substitute appearances to force his way into manager Antonio Conte’s plans.“Aina is a very, very good player,” he added. “He has improved quite a lot after playing in a few friendly games and he played really, really well. I was quite impressed by his performance and it is only a matter of time before these kids break into the first team.”In a telephone chat with THISDAY from his base in America, former Nigeria midfielder, Paul Okuku said he had watched some of Aina’s clips and feels that he has a place in the national team if he decides to play for Nigeria.“It is left for the football federation and the national team manager to decide if he is good enough to play for the team, but from the little I have seen of him I have no doubt in my mind that he has a place in the team, if not now, surely in the nearest future,” Okoku noted.Continuing he said, “when you consider the fact that Nigeria is in a very tough group in the World Cup qualifier, we therefore need our best legs notwithstanding where they are from to prosecute the qualifying campaign. In fact, the fact that Aina is a defender is an added advantage as the defence was the weakest link in our first game against Zambia with too many errors of which we cannot afford to repeat in matches against tougher opponents like Algeria and Cameroon which we are still going to play.”Asked if the trend of relying on Nigeria foreign-based players for Super Eagles matches is not a wrong signal to the local league, Okoku said: “Unfortunately, that is the situation we have found ourselves. The Nigeria League is not as lucrative as it was during our days whereby the bulk of the national team players were home-based. But thank God for the effort of the League Management Company, LMC, that is trying to revive the local league and with the way it is going, the league’s glamour will soon return and the national teams will benefit from it.”Aina’s love for his motherland has never been in doubt. Early this year, the Chelsea player exhibited his philanthropic nature when he revealed his plans to ship off all his old football gear to the less privileged in Nigeria and the kind gesture has endeared him to the Stamford Bridge faithful after he announced on Instagram that he would be sending his used “boots, balls and kits” to the less privileged in Lagos.The 19-year-old was born in Southwark, London and has represented England youth sides for years now. He has played in England Under-19s, Under-18s, Under-17s, and Under-16s and has also won trophies with Chelsea Under-21 Premier League 2013/14; FA Youth Cup 2013/14, 2014/15, and UEFA Youth League 2014/15.Aina signed for the club as an Under-11 and started his career as a right-winger before establishing himself as a highly mobile full-back, who is also capable of playing as a central defender.He made his youth team debut as a schoolboy in the 2012/13 season and went on to start in both legs of the semi-final and final of the FA Youth Cup.In his debut season as a scholar, Aina featured regularly for Adi Viveash’s Under-18s and was an ever-present on the way to Youth Cup success. European Under-19 and domestic Under-21 debuts followed, with the defender utilised as a centre-back as the senior age group won their domestic title.Aina’s prominence in the Youth Cup continued in 2014/15 when he won the trophy for the second time. His run of 18 consecutive appearances in the competition across three seasons is unprecedented. He also played in every game in the Under-19s’ triumphant UEFA Youth League campaign, scoring in the group opener at home to Schalke, while establishing himself as an Under-21 regular. Aina signed a first-year professional contract in October 2013 committing him to the club until the end of the 2015/16 season.It remains to be seen if Aina would follow the pathway of Super Eagles players such Moses and Alex Iwobi that dumped England for Nigeria after initially representing them at age-grade level.And with the shaky defence put up by the Eagles against Zambia, with many elementary errors, NFF eggheads might have little choice but to woo the young Chelsea defender.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Wooing European players of Nigerian origin for the Super Eagles is apparently becoming a norm for the eggheads of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF. Chelsea’s new kid, Ola Aina is the latest player likely to be wooed by the NFF and may join Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup qualifying train. Kunle Adewale reportsLast weekend, Ola Aina made his Premier League debut as he replaced compatriot; Victor Moses in Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat of defending champion, Leicester City.After the game, the right-back took to Twitter to express his delight. “So buzzing right now,” he wrote on Twitter before adding, “Another huge milestone for me. Really pleased to have made my Premier League debut @Chelseafc.last_img read more

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first_img11 LaLiga players were involved in Sunday’s World Cup final in Moscow, more than from any other league.LaLiga’s huge influence on this summer’s World Cup continued right through to Sunday’s final, with MVP Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid scoring one and setting up two as France topped Croatia 4-2. Meanwhile, Real Madrid midfielder and Croatia captain Luka Modric was voted player of the tournament despite his country falling just short at the final hurdle.Eleven LaLiga players were involved in the decider at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, more than any other league. Griezmann clinched his third MVP award of the tournament with an impressive performance. It was his free-kick that was knocked into the net for the game’s opening goal, his penalty which put France 2-1 up and his assist which led to France’s third. Atletico defender Lucas Hernandez laid on France’s fourth and final goal, with his fellow defenders Samuel Umtiti of Barcelona and Raphael Varane of Real Madrid also impressing, while Sevilla’s Steven N’Zonzi was a second half substitute as Les Bleus saw out their victory.Modric shone albeit in defeatand was awarded the 2018 ‘Golden Ball’ for his contribution over the month in Russia. This included a penalty in the opening game victory over Nigeria, a tremendous 20-yard strike in the unforgettable 3-0 victory over Argentina and shoot-out spot-kicks converted against Denmark and Russia during the knock-out stages. Croatia also had Barça’s Ivan Rakitic in midfield in Sunday’s final along with Atletico’s Sime Vrsaljko at right-back, while Mateo Kovacic was on the bench. New Atletico signing Thomas Lemar and Barça’s Ousmane Dembele were unused subs for France.It was a fitting end to a tournament at which LaLiga stars have been prominent throughout, right from the opening game when Villarreal’s Denis Cheryshev scored twice for Russia in the hosts’ 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. The following month of games then saw 24 different LaLiga players from ten different Spanish clubs score 40 goals in total. LaLiga stars were named MVP in 21 of the 64 games as 81 players from across LaLiga Santander and LaLiga 1l2l3 represented their countries.Among the standout stars was Barça’s Philippe Coutinho, who provided two goals and two assists as his team were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Belgium, for whom Real Sociedad’s Adnan Januzaj got on the scoresheet in the group stages.There were countless othermemorable moments involving LaLiga stars, including Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos’ssensational last-gasp strike for Germany against Sweden, Atletico centre-forward Diego Costa’s three goals for Spain and Lionel Messi’s superb solo effort in their victory over Nigeria. Camp Nou teammates Luis Suarez and Yerry Mina hit the net twice and three times for Uruguay and Colombia respectively.Other LaLiga interventions during the group stages included Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas and Malaga striker Youssef En-Nesyri both scoring as late substitutes in Spain and Morocco’s 2-2 draw. Japan midfielder Takashi Inui, who has just completed his move to Real Betis from Eibar, scored against both Senegal and Belgium while Saudi Arabia’s matchwinner in their final group game against Egypt was Villarreal’s Salem Al-Dawsari.This summer’s World Cup has truly showcased the breadth of LaLiga’s quality, talent and its true international reach, leaving fans worldwide to eagerly await the start of the 2018/19 Spanish season next month.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Syracuse is continuing to stockpile quarterbacks.The Orange received a verbal commitment from Zach Allen, a quarterback out of Temple High School in Temple, Texas, according to Scout.com. Allen is the second quarterback and the fourth player overall to commit to SU in the class of 2013. He joins Pennsylvania quarterback Austin Wilson as future signal callers for the Orange.Allen is a dual-threat quarterback, who passed for 1,753 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 766 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. Allen led the Wildcats to a 6-5 record and berth in the Class 5A playoffs in 2011.Brian Perroni, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said Allen was likely going to start seeing offers roll in from more schools once Texas’ top quarterbacks gave their commitments. Perroni said the quarterback pool in the state is especially deep this year, and bigger programs like Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma were locking up the elite quarterbacks.Allen, though, might’ve been next on their list. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘A lot of schools were looking at him and had him as like the next guy they were going to offer,’ Perroni said. ‘He did go under the radar a little bit, but this spring he picked up several offers.’Over the course of his high school career, Allen has continued to develop as a passer while his legs served as his most formidable weapon. At the Elite 11 event in Dallas this spring, which is a showcase of top rising-senior quarterbacks, Allen displayed that growth, sparking further interest from schools.‘He looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket than I expected him to,’ Perroni said. ‘I think his senior year, the team will use him a lot more as a passer. …I think he’ll throw more than 200 balls this year.’According to an article published by the Temple Daily Telegram, Allen also received scholarship offers from Minnesota, Texas State, Texas San-Antonio and North Texas.Allen plans to graduate in December and enroll at SU in January, according to the article.Perroni said Texas Tech had its eye on Allen, but extended an offer to another quarterback in the state.In the end, Syracuse showed interest in Allen throughout the entire process and earned his commitment.‘Syracuse was the first school to offer, and I think he really got to know the coaching staff well,’ Perroni said. ‘I do think if Texas Tech would have offered, that he probably would have gone there, but other than that I think Syracuse did a really good job with him.’[email protected]center_img Published on May 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_isemanlast_img read more

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