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Coronavirus forces Serie A to postpone five matches

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Five Serie A matches which had been scheduled to go ahead behind closed doors this weekend, including the key clash between Juventus and Inter Milan, have been postponed because of the coronavirus crisis, Italy’s soccer league said on Saturday.

All five games, which also include AC Milan v Genoa, Parma v Spal, Sassuolo v Brescia and Udinese v Fiorentina, will now be played on May 13, Serie A said in a statement. The Coppa Italia final, due to be played May 13, was moved to May 20.

The matches had been due to go ahead behind closed doors after the government banned public gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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However, a soccer official, speaking off the record, said broadcasters and fans did not want the matches to be played in empty stadiums and the clubs themselves were concerned about the loss of gate receipts.

Nearly 900 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Italy, and cafes and schools have been closed as daily life has ground to a halt.

Serie A said in a statement that the decision was made “considering the succession of numerous urgent regulatory interventions by the Government to respond to this extraordinary emergency to protect public health and safety.”

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Four matches were cancelled last weekend including Inter Milan’s home game against Sampdoria and the club’s chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said they were running out of dates for rescheduling games.

He added that the situation would be even more complicated if a government ban on sporting events in six regions of the country was extended beyond Sunday.

“As a citizen, and this being an emergency situation, I have great respect for measures to protect the health of everyone but as a sports manager, I am very concerned, especially looking at such a tight schedule of commitments,” he said.

He called for an emergency meeting of the league and clubs “because there are many and delicate issues to discuss and they must safeguard the balance and competitiveness of our championship”.

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Marotta said that playing behind closed was not ideal but could be the only solution.

“This could certainly have been resolved sooner, without arriving at last-minute decisions. Everything could have been handled better,” he added.

Five Serie A matches will go ahead as planned — Lazio-Bologna and Napoli-Torino on Saturday, Lecce-Atalanta and Cagliari-Roma on Sunday and Sampdoria-Verona on Monday.

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Osimhen wins player of the year award

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Osimhen

Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen has added an award to his name after being voted as the Player of The Year at his French club Lille.

Nigerian international and top striker for French club, Lille has won the player of the year award from his club.

Osimhen’s emergence as Lille’s best player in the truncated 2019-20 season is not surprising for many going by the spectacular displays of the 21-year old in what is just his maiden campaign in Ligue 1.

Among other feats; Osimhen had scored 18 goals and provided eight assists in all competitions for the French Ligue 1 side, before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season.

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It is these breathtaking performances that have seen Osimhen be linked with a possible transfer to several top clubs across Europe.

On the list of potential suitors for Osimhen are Napoli, Liverpool and Chelsea who are all said to be willing to pay heavily to lure the striker away from Lille.

Since his record-breaking performance at the 2015 U-17 World Cup, where he scored 10 goals -the most by any player in a single tournament- Osimhen has continued to shoot, despite having a torrid time at Wolfsburg where he was denied enough playing time.

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The same way Osimhen has been the toast of fans at his club, he has also been tipped for greatness with the Nigeria national team, the Super Eagles. Already, some have identified Osimhen as the next Rashidi Yekini.

On 14 August 2019, the coach of the Nigerian National Team, Gernot Rohr, extended an invitation to Osimhen for a friendly against Ukraine that was played on September 10, 2019, in Dnipro Arena, Ukraine, which ended in a 2–2 draw.

He was also included in the Super Eagles team to face Brazil in a friendly match in Singapore on 13 October 2019 and also helped Nigeria to win bronze at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.

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Before Osimhen’s emergence as the player of the year at Lille, another Nigerian, Simon Moses, had also been crowned Player of the Year, this time by Nantes.

Both Osimhen and Simon have been nominated for the African French Player of The Year.

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Tyson Fury signs agreement to fight Anthony Joshua

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Frank Warren has revealed that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) has been signed by Tyson Fury’s camp to face Anthony Joshua – however, it may not be the best news for boxing fans in the UK.

Warren claims the agreement has been struck with a country outside of the UK – who will soon table an offer to Joshua.

British fans were hoping to see the two world heavyweight champions unify the division on home soil at Wembley Stadium or Tottenham’s new ground.

However, it appears the fight will head to the luxurious foreign land if Joshua agrees to the terms.

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But Warren fears the WBA, WBO and IBF belt holder will not want to step into the ring with the Gypsy King.

“We have no problem with it,” Warren told Good Morning Britain. “We signed an NDA with a country that is hopefully about to make an offer and we have no problem with it.

“Tyson wants to fight but I don’t think the other side do.

“It is just lip service. We want to get it on and the British public want to see it.

“I have just got a feeling in my bones and I’m hearing behind the scenes that they don’t really want the fight.”

Before Fury even has the change to box Joshua he must complete his trilogy obligations with Deontay Wilder – who he beat for the WBC title last year.

“There are all these words about Anthony Joshua and all these other opponents but Deontay Wilder has still got his third fight that he has to take,” Fury said.

“He will take the fight for one pure reason and it is called money.

“There is a hell of a lot of money on the table and he has got eight or nine kids to feed so he will definitely take the rematch.

“It’s heavyweight boxing – anything can happen, especially with a dynamite puncher like Wilder.”

Meanwhile, Warren is hopeful of putting on some boxing shows for fans next month.

“I do think there will be boxing of some sorts behind closed doors in July,” the promoter said.

“They will be tested going into it and tested afterwards. Tested leading up to the fight.

“They will go through all the medical protocols and if either of them are showing any signs of the symptoms they will just not be allowed to fight.”

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Ighalo speaks on Manchester United loan extension

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Ighalo speaks on Manchester United loan extension

Recall that Manchester United on Monday announced an extension of Odion Ighalo’s loan deal till January 2021.

A really excited Ighalo then vowed to do all he can to make the English side go higher and higher.

Ighalo also appreciated Chinese club Shanghai for giving the support for him to remain at Old Trafford.

“I’m really happy. It’s a dream for me to be here. I’m buzzing and ready to go,” Ighalo told MUTV on Tuesday.

“The last few days have been difficult as there have been different talks about it but now I’m really happy so I need to concentrate fully. I’m here until the end of January, so it’s good for me.

“I decided I want to stay and I’m happy. Since the first day I arrived, I made it clear that I wanted whatever it takes to continue that work. It was very difficult, there were some talks, but I’m happy they finally agreed and got everything done. Everything is official now.

“I’m sending thanks to the Shanghai president and director for the support because they know this is what I want. So I’m thanking them and I’m happy that this has happened. They wish me all the best too.

“Like I’ve said, since I was young, I’ve been supporting this club and playing for it is a dream. Now I’ve extended my loan, it makes it even more clear and I’m committed as I know, in my head, I’m here until January ending. I just want to work hard and enjoy it, support the team and do whatever I can to make us go higher and higher.”

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“It’s different from where I’m coming from and different to where I was before,” he said. “It’s something I’ve never seen before and it makes me wonder if I’m dreaming or it’s reality.”

“I’m getting better and better every day,” he told the club’s website. “We have been training together the past two weeks now, so it’s getting close to the game. The sharpness is coming, the fitness is coming and everything is going well.

Speaking about how Covid-19 has affected his training at Manchester United, Ighalo said;

“It’s been strange, you know because you have to stay two metres apart to talk to your team-mates. Sometimes, you need to get close to give them some signs but now it’s two metres and it’s kind of strange.

“But this is what we have to do for us to be safe and for the game to go on. We are ready to do it and we’re happy to do it. Everybody is looking good. Running, working hard and playing football. Little two-a-sides and doing some ball work.

“Everyone is getting better and better. Everyone is back, even Paul is back training normally and Rashy is back training as normal. Everyone is training normally and training full and all that, so the squad is full and everyone is ready, I think.

“I can’t wait for the league to start again. I’m really looking forward to it. We’re working hard and I believe we’re going to do great.”

Recall that Ighalo joined United in a Deadline Day move in January and he already has four goals in eight appearances in all competitions prior to the suspension of the Premier League.

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