A total of 26 teams that emerged champions at the local government levels will from today begin hostilities as the zonal stage of the third edition of the Delta State Principals’ Cup takes centre stage in 10 different venues in the state.

All secondary schools in Delta State were involved in the competition from the preliminary stage which started in October 2018.

The zones with three teams each will produce just one winner while eight teams will come of the process as quarterfinalists for the ongoing edition.

Head of the Organizing Team for the competition, Tony Pemu, said yesterday that all was set for the zonal elimination series slated for between January 21 and January 25.

“It gets tougher as we go on but we are all set in every area of the operations to ensure a smooth running of the tournament. Everything is set. The schools have also been working hard to excel and move into the final stages,” Pemu said.

The Zenith/Delta Principals Cup organizer shed more light on how the eight quarterfinalists will emerge at the end of the zonal series.

“We have just eight zones but 10 centres in the zonal series. Some centres are A and B where only one team will come out. We have been very transparent with all the fixtures and our operations. All the teams are allowed to be part of it,” Pemu added.

At the Hussey College, Warri, Ughelli North champions will tackle Burutu LG winners while at the Ughelli Township Stadium, Ndokwa West Champions will take on the winners of Bomadi Local Government.

In other matches billed for today, Oshimili North champions will clash with Aniocha South at the Pilgrims Baptist Grammar School while Aniocha North and Ika North East will lock horns at the Adaigbo Secondary School, Ogwuashi-uku.

Also at the Oleh Township Stadium, Winner of Udu Local Government and Ughelli South will trade tackles just as Warri South West and Sapele LG winners will battle for honours at the Army Barracks, Effurun.

Quarterfinal matches will be decided on January 28 and 29 while the dates and venues of the semi and final matches are yet to be determined by the organisers.

Delta State Commissioner for Basic Secondary Schools, Chiedu Ebie, has charged all players of the respective teams to be of good conduct on and off the pitch

NCF Hosts Rwanda Female National Cricket Team on a Bilateral Tour

The Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) is scheduled to host the Rwandan Female National Cricket Team on a one-week Tour of the country from Wednesday January 23rd to Wednesday January 30th 2019. This is the first time ever they will be coming to Abuja.

The Tour is the first leg of a bilateral international friendly series between both countries and would take place at the newly constructed wicket pitch inside the National Stadium in Abuja. The return leg is schedule for June 2019 in Kigali.

President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation, Professor Adams Yahaya Ukwenya, yesterday described the development as a major achievement for Nigerian cricket and a pointer that the strides being made back home by the federation were been noticed across the continent.

“The relationship we have with Rwandan Cricket is the first of its kind for Nigerian cricket and it is mutually beneficial. We are looking forward to extending it in all ramifications, by exploring different ways we can leverage to grow the game; on the field, including technical and the management capacities for both federations. We also hope the effect would impact the growth of the game across the continent,” he said.

In preparation for the Tour, the Nigeria female national team has been camped in Kaduna State for the last three weeks for players to jostle for slots in the team that will engage the Rwandan team in the six encounters scheduled during the visit.

Vice President of NCF, Uyi Akpata, stressed that the Rwandan Tour of Nigeria provides an opportunity for the national female team to be tested in skill and depth ahead of the busy schedule they have this year.

“We had 24 players camped in Kaduna with the full technical team to train, select and possibly inject newness in the national female team that we are preparing for major events later in the course of the year”

To shore-up credibility of the encounter, the NCF has also invited technical officials from Ghana to be part of the technical team for the Series. The Ghana Cricket Association has also acknowledged and confirmed availability of their officials for the Series.

Among other things, the Rwandan Tour will also be a boost for the growing interest in the female cricket across the country with 25 states currently involved in grassroots development as well as active participation at intermediary and senior level.

Most of the players presently in camp for the Nigeria’s team are drawn from the National youth games for U-15, The National U-17 girl’s championship and that National women’s championship across the country.

The Rwandan Tour of Nigeria will see the visiting team take on the home side on six different occasions. The 6-match series will consist of two (2) ODI 40 overs matches and Three (3) T-20 matches.

The Nigeria National Female team has also been invited for the first time by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to take part in the ICC Women’s World Cup Africa Qualifier later in the year in Zimbabwe.

Premiership: Winks Earn Spurs Late Winner at Fulham

A Harry Winks header in injury time saw Tottenham come from behind yesterday to beat relegation-threatened Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Spurs looked set to lose ground on league leaders Liverpool, on a day they lost Dele Alli to injury after he had earlier equalised for the visitors, but Winks stooped low in the 93rd minute to head past Sergio Rico from close range.

Fulham had nine shots on goal in an impressive first half and they took a deserved lead when Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente scored an own goal.

The Spaniard, making his first Premier League start of the season in place of the injured Harry Kane, inadvertently beat Hugo Lloris from close range while attempting to clear the danger inside his own six-yard box after a Jean Michael Seri corner.

The hosts thought they had doubled their lead five minutes before the interval but Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header was ruled out as the Serbian was adjudged to be offside.

However, Spurs responded in the second period and they drew level six minutes after the interval when Alli ghosted in behind the Fulham defence to head a pin-point Christian Eriksen cross past Rico.

And Winks completed the comeback in stoppage time when he stooped low from five yards out to meet substitute Georges-Kevin Nkoudou’s cross and break Fulham’s resistance.

Spurs remain in third after the win, nine points behind Liverpool, while Fulham stay in 19th, seven points from safety.

The 50th meeting between these two London clubs saw Tottenham – the side with the best away record in the league – facing the division’s worst defence.

However, Spurs were without their two top goalscorers because of injury (Kane) and international commitments (Son Heung-min), and for 50 minutes, they looked devoid of ideas and opportunities to break down their well-organised opposition.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men had just four shots in the first half which was less than half the number Fulham produced (9).

The man chosen to play instead of talisman Kane made an impact at the wrong end and Son’s replacement, Erik Lamela, only managed one shot at goal in the 79 minutes he was on the field.

Spurs were better after the break as Eriksen’s influence on the game began to grow, but when Llorente had a late chance to make amends for his earlier mistake, his header drifted wide with the game heading for a draw.

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Jermaine Jenas said: “It’s a big, big moment in Spurs’ season. Everything was negative with regards to the players missing but they kept plugging away, they kept getting the ball into the box and it was one of their own in Harry Winks that saved the day today.

“They’ve got a lot of players to patch up and get out there for the next game but that will feel huge.”

Ultimately, two midfielders pulled Spurs out of jail although Alli was replaced in the second half after heading the equaliser, with what looked like a hamstring issue to add further concern for Pochettino.

With Kane not expected to return to the side until March, and Llorente showing signs of rustiness at the Cottage, the Tottenham manager may be forced into the market as their faint tile hopes remain alive.

Fulham’s debutant winger Ryan Babel looked like he enjoyed his first Premier League start since December 2010, after completing a move from Turkish side Besiktas earlier this week.


Federer, Kerber, Sharapova Kicked out of Australian Open Fourth Round

Defending champion Roger Federer is out of the Australian Open after Greek 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earned the biggest win of his career to reach the quarter-finals. The Swiss lost 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-5) on a dramatic night.

Also yesterday, Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber was knocked out by world number 35 Danielle Collins in the biggest shock of the tournament.

Home favourite Ashleigh Barty won nine games in a row to inspire a comeback against Maria Sharapova and book her place in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Having lost the first set, Barty broke twice in the second and went on to win 4-6 6-1 6-4 to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time

The world number two was thrashed 6-0 6-2 in the fourth round in 56 minutes.

Federer, a six-time champion, failed to reach the last eight in Melbourne for only the second time in 16 years.

Tsitsipas, 20, saved all 12 of 37-year-old Federer’s break points on his way to a famous win.

“I’m the happiest man on earth right now, I can’t describe it,” he said.

Federer lumped a forehand long to leave Tsitsipas serving for the match in the fourth-set tie-break, and the youngster forced him into a backhand error to win in three hours and 45 minutes.

Tsitsipas dropped his racquet in celebration and seemed to mouth “me?” at his team before starting to cry as walked over to celebrate with them.

He will play Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic in five sets, in the last eight.

Federer was aiming to win a record seventh men’s singles title at Melbourne Park, moving him clear of world number one Novak Djokovic and Australian legend Roy Emerson.

But the 20-time Grand Slam champion was undone by a player considered to be one of the best hopes to take over the mantle when Federer – along with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – retires.

The pair were contesting their first ATP-level match, although did meet last month in a Hopman Cup tie which Federer edged in two tie-breaks, indicating their contest in Melbourne would be equally as tight.

Tsitsipas’ fearless and energetic approach unsettled Federer, seemingly putting doubt in the former world number one’s mind on the key points.

Federer failed to convert any of 12 break points, with some errant forehands particularly letting him down.

“There are always multiple factors in match like this, but it didn’t go well on the set points,” he said.

“I didn’t break him at the Hopman Cup either, so something is going wrong. It is very frustrating.”

The most significant were the eight which he could not take in a six-game spell in the second set.

For three consecutive service games, Tsitsipas was put under severe examination in lengthy battles which the Greek eventually came through unscathed.

That enabled him to go on and level in the tie-break – a pivotal moment which turned the match in his favour.

Federer had lost his last two Grand Slam matches after dropping sets for the first time in the tournament – against Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon and John Millman at the US Open – and he suffered the same fate again.

“I lost to a better player who played very well. He stayed calm and hung in there, which is not easy for younger guys so credit to him,” Federer added.

Messi, Ronaldo Go after Pele’s Record

The rivalry between former World Footballer of the Year recipient Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo took another dimension last week as the duo go head to head to erase age-long goal record set by legendary Pele.

The duo in the last 11 years have five Ballon Dor each and had continued to break new ground in the present day football especially at club level when they have won several trophies both in domestic and Europe.

Barcelona forward, Messi has  scored his 576th goal in 660 appearances for Barcelona with goal against Levante last Thursday has his latest installment in Copa del Rey win for his club.

After beating Gerd Muller’s record of 565 goals for Bayern Munich in 1964-1969 back in November, the Argentine only has Pele ahead of him.

Pele, who played for Santos between 1956 and 1974, scored incredible 619 goals in 638 games for the Brazilian side. Thus, Messi needs 44 more goals to get ahead of the legendary Brazilian forward.

As Messi said back in November, he himself is not really focused on the individual achievements. “I am delighted, I have just found out now. I am happy for this new stat,” he told reporters after the game against PSV when he has also become the player with the most UCL goals for one club.

Another player who also has a chance of beating Pele’s record is, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward has scored an impressive 589 goals in 789 games. However, it also should be noted, that Ronaldo is 869 days older than his counterpart.

Interestingly, Pele has bashed Messi for being a ‘one skill’ player back in December:

“How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well?” Pele told Brazilian daily newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, as cited by the Mirror.

Earlier in 2015, the Brazilian legend, never accepted the Barca no.10 as a better player than himself, even praised his life-long rival Diego Maradona as superior to Leo: “You will ask me,” Pele said, “was (Maradona) better than Messi? Yes, by a lot. Much better.”

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