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Barcelona Unveil Xavi As New Coach

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Xavi Hernandez was unveiled as Barcelona’s new coach on Monday as thousands of fans welcomed the debt-ridden club’s legendary former midfielder back to Camp Nou.

Xavi walked out to chants of “Xavi, Xavi” before signing his contract on the pitch, alongside his family and Barca president Joan Laporta.

“I don’t want to get too emotional so I will just tell you one thing — we are the best club in the world,” Xavi told the crowd of around 10,000 fans.

“And we will work to the highest standards to have success. We cannot accept defeats or draws, we have to win every game.”

Laporta said: “Today will be a historic day for Barca.”

Xavi is the first Barca coach to be presented on the pitch in front of fans at the 99,000-capacity stadium, with the routine usually only reserved for the club’s biggest signings.

The return of the 41-year-old as coach, six years after he left Barcelona to play in Qatar, has generated huge excitement and raised hopes the club can begin a return to Europe’s elite.

Barca sit ninth in La Liga, with the club grappling with debts of more than a billion euros. They have not been European champions since 2015.

READ ALSO: Mikel Obi Is Now Without Club After Sack In Kuwait

Xavi’s appointment was confirmed in the early hours of Saturday and he flew out of Doha a few hours later, before watching Barcelona at a distance as they threw away a three-goal lead away at Celta Vigo to draw 3-3.

He then attended in person to watch the club’s youngsters as Barca B beat Sevilla B at the Johan Cruyff Stadium on Saturday evening.

Xavi’s first training session in charge will be on Tuesday, although the squad is depleted by injuries and absentees away on international duty.

Barcelona’s first game with Xavi in the dug-out will be at home to local rivals Espanyol on November 20.

After playing 767 games for Barcelona, Xavi left to play for Al Sadd in Qatar in 2015 before taking over as the team’s coach four years later.

He is widely considered one of the Barca’s greatest ever players, having won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, as well as the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.

 

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FG Approves January For National Sports Festival 

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Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun

The Federal Government has approved January, 2025 as the official date for the 22nd edition of the National Sports Festival, tagged “Gateway Games, Ogun 2024.”

In a communique released after the first National Council on Sports, held at the Old Government Lodge, Abakaliki Road, Enugu, Enugu State, the Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Owan Enoh extolled the government of Ogun State for its commitment to the successful hosting of the festival.

He noted that the National Sports Festival plays a vital role in national unity, as it would also increase the socio-economic growth for the sustainable development of the state and the country in general.

The minister also urged the federal and state governments to bid and host national and international sports competitions to fast-track the growth of sports in the country.

He urged all key stakeholders to play active roles towards the successful hosting of the Gateway Games, saying the Council of Sports is in support of the establishment of Sports Development and Investment Fund (NSIDF) with its attendant benefits for driving sports development in Nigeria.

While fielding questions from journalists shortly after the meeting, Ogun State Commissioner for Sports Development, Hon. Wasiu Isiaka revealed that the state government is ready to host the National Sports Festival.

He submitted that the NSF has the ability to bring people together, to foster teamwork and cooperation and instil values of discipline and perseverance in humans, and encourage the vast youthful population in the state to embrace the power of sports in community development.

He stated further that targeted funding and incentives are crucial for driving grassroots sports engagements and ensuring the sustainability of sports programmes in the state.

“Through the power of sports, we have the opportunity to come together, forge connections, and celebrate our shared humanity. We are leveraging  the Building Our Future Together Agenda, of the Governor, to develop sports at the grassroots,” he said.

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Barcelona Shows Xabi The Exit Door

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By John Michael Ojo

Spanish football giant, Barcelona has relieved Xavi Hernandez of his role as the head coach of the club.

This was revealed by the club via its official website on Friday.

The statement reads in part: “Today Friday, FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta has informed Xavi Hernández that he will not be continuing as first team coach in the 2024-25 season.

READ ALSO: Ten Times Barcelona Suffered Heavy Defeats In Champions League Since 2017

“FC Barcelona wishes to thank Xavi for his work as coach, as well as for his inimitable career as a player and as team captain, and wishes him every future success in the world.

“Xavi Hernández will be coaching the team for the last time in Sunday’s game away to Sevilla.”

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Lookman Shines As Atlanta Ends Leverkusen’s Unbeaten Run

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By John Michael Ojo

It was a sensational night for Nigeria Super Eagles forward, Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat-trick to help guide his Italian side, Atalanta to its first-ever Europa League trophy in 61 years after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday night.

The win also ended the Germans side unbeaten run in all competitions this season after 51 games.

The Bundesliga champions led by former Liverpool and Real Madrid playmaker, Xabi Alonso, had gone unbeaten all through the season, and had become the first team in the German topflight to finish the league season without a defeat.

However, the defeat now means that Alonso’s hope of securing an unbeaten treble this season with the German Cup final yet to be played has now been dashed.

The game which was heavily dominated by the Italian side had Nigeria stars including Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella in action for Leverkusen and Ademola Lookman who was the star of the night for Atlanta.

READ ALSO: FIFA Okays Nigerian-Born England Player To Join Super Eagles

An elated Lookman who was named the player of the match on the night, while reacting to his performance and the victory after the match, simply said: “One of the best nights of my life. Amazing performance from the team, we did it, we did it, we did it! Not got much else to say but yeah fantastic,”

“They do always say third time lucky, so yeah it is for us today [winning a final at the third attempt this season]. I’m just happy we won. We won today so yes very pleased,” he added

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