AFCON 2019: Super Eagles Thrash Pirates of Seychelles 3-0

first_imgThree –time champions African champions Nigeria’s Super Eagles got their first points of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying race on board after beating the Pirates of Seychelles 3-0 in Mahé Island saturday.Despite opting not to move out of second gear for most of the game due to the delicate nature of the artificial turf at the Stad Linite, the Super Eagles dominated easily and should have won by a wider margin had Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho converted some begging opportunities.Midfielder Wilfred Ndidi was the first to confirm the Eagles were in for serious business when his 9th minute shot was headed out for a corner, and two minutes later, debutant Samuel Kalu waltzed his way past the home defence only to be thwarted. Ahmed Musa Ogenyi Onazi also saw a shot fly over the bar before Ahmed Musa, Nigeria’s star of the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia and captain for the day, let fly a left-foot rocket that shook the crossbar before hitting the Seychelles goalkeeper’s back to roll into the net in the 15th minute.Defender Chidozie Awaziem was the unlikely source of the second goal, as he reacted faster than the home defence to blast home after a free –kick by Kelechi Iheanacho saw the ball kiss the upright and bounce across the face of goal. Two minutes later, with only the goalkeeper to beat, Ighalo lifted the ball too high for what should have been Nigeria’s third.The Pirates started the second half with greater enthusiasm but Leon Balogun marshalled a rearguard that was in no mood to concede. In the 55th minute, the ever –lively Musa lifted the ball and shot again with his weaker left, but the goalkeeper was alert to block for a corner.Two minutes later, France –based Kalu, who did his Nigerian prospects no harm with an impressive debut, was upended in the vital area as he went on another breezy run. Ighalo made no mistake from the spot, for Nigeria’s third.Ighalo came close five minutes later but was foiled from doing the simple tap –in from Kalu’s cut –back. Another brilliant Ahmed Musa move in the 72nd minute ended with him calling out the Pirates’ goalie again, but he missed narrowly. And in the 90th minute, Henry Onyekuru’s header, off a pull out by Oluwasemilogo Ajayi – who also had an impressive debut – went narrowly wide.Victory gave the Super Eagles three points and wiped out the goal deficit from the loss to South Africa on Matchday 1 (with one goal to spare), and victory over Libya in Kaduna on 13th October would brighten Nigeria’s chances for a place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals.South Africa had to settle for a 0-0 draw at home to Libya, who go top of Group E on goal difference above Bafana Bafana.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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LA Lakers draw boos against Hornets after tying franchise record for most consecutive losses

first_imgThe Lakers sure looked that way when they experienced a scoreless stretch in the final 3:50 of the third quarter. Lou Williams missed two shots. Ryan Kelly missed three field-goal attempts and two free throws while also committing a turnover. D’Angelo Russell also recorded three of his five turnovers during that time. Meanwhile, Charlotte scored 12 unanswered points. Throughout that ordeal, the fans at Staples Center showered the Lakers with boos. Meanwhile, Bryant shook his head in disgust as he sat on the bench, something he also did for the entire fourth quarter. Why couldn’t the Lakers make shots or hold on to the ball?“That’s a crazy question,” Russell said. “When you shoot the ball and it doesn’t go in, you can’t control what happens after you shoot it. Turnovers, I guess they played good defense.”The boos did not stop until Russell ended the drought with a jumper at the 10:21 mark of the fourth quarter. But the boos did not turn into cheers until Julius Randle subbed for Kelly as the Lakers trailed 84-60 with 9:48 remaining. “I missed a few in a row,” Kelly said. “It happens sometimes. I have to make them.”And, to think, the Lakers have other concerns besides allowing double-digit efforts to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (19 points), Marvin Williams (19), Kemba Walker (12) and Frank Kaminsky (11). Scott and Bryant suggested the Lakers (9-41) are wilting under a young roster losing its swagger.Said Bryant: “I talked to them a little bit about the chippiness and the meanness. I can only lead them so far. I’m not going to be here next year. Pulling that out of them is a waste if they’re not growing. Then it’s just me talking. They have to pull it out of themselves.”Said Scott: “We have a lot of guys in there right now that has a lack of confidence. We have to get that back.”But Russell suggested the Lakers have failed to make adjustments.“I can only speak for myself,” said Russell, who had 10 points on a 3-of-5 clip, six rebounds and three assists. “I hope the team is the same. I’m still confident. We just got to do something different. When something is not working, we have to do something different as a team. You cant keep doing the same thing if it’s not working.”So what should the Lakers change?“I don’t know,” Russell said.Bryant had other ideas, arguing the 18-year-old version of himself would have scored an 80-point game through this stretch because “I just know my personality.”“I had the same mentality I have now,” Bryant said. “I didn’t understand I was 17. I thought I was good just as anybody else.”So how do the Lakers adopt that mentality?“The Navy Seals have a way of taking guys to the bottom of the pool,” Bryant said. “Sometimes you have to go to the bottom of the pool. We’re almost there, gasping for air.”And they’re doing so while nurturing health concerns. Before Bryant appeared in his first game after missing two of the previous three because of soreness in his right shoulder, Scott sensed those issues are “going to be ongoing for the next 2 1/2 months.” In other words, Bryant’s playing status will likely stay uncertain for all of the Lakers’ remaining 33 regular-season games before Bryant retires from a 20-year NBA career. “Some days his shoulder is going to be feeling great and some days it’s going to be sore,” Scott said. “At his age and all the games that he played, I’m sure there are mornings he wakes up and he’s just sore with the way he slept.”Bryant initially looked sluggish after missing his first five shots. But Bryant soon went on a tear where he scored 11 consecutive points during the second quarter. Bryant then insisted he “felt good” and believes he can play all the way through NBA All-Star weekend.“I’ve conserved enough already,” Bryant said. “Just continue to stay with what I’m doing and make sure I’m nursing nagging injuries and make sure they don’t get worse. I’ll continue to stick with it.”Meanwhile, Lakers rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. sat because of reoccurring soreness in his right knee, an injury that sidelined him last week for four games. That left Scott considering to shut him down for the next five games heading into NBA All-Star weekend, mindful his injury partly stemmed from an ACL injury in his right knee that he suffered during his junior season at University of Wyoming. “He’s been rushing back and not getting fully recovered,” Scott said of Nance Jr. “We know this kid has a bright bright future. So the one thing we want to do is take our time and get him as healthy as possible. Even if it means sitting after All-Star break, I’m good with that as well.”That leaves Randle with a chance to reclaim his starting spot. But after posting four double doubles in his previous seven starts, Randle posted eight points and nine rebounds while committing four fouls. Though Scott gushed about Randle’s aggressiveness and mid-range jumper, he called for Randle to reduce his turnovers and improve his weakside defense. But as the Lakers showed on Sunday, their issues go beyond just one player. “The challenge for our young guys is to stay the course and continue to think positive and continue to work their butts off,” Scott said. “Good things will happen.” For once, the loudest moment of the night did not coincide with Kobe Bryant’s starting lineup introduction. Nor did it happen when Bryant shed off rustiness with each basket he made.Instead, the noise erupted amid the Lakers’ sluggish end to their third quarter that cemented something more than just another forgettable loss, a 101-82 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday at Staples Center. It also secured the Lakers’ 10th consecutive loss, which tied a team record set in the 1993-94 season. Usually the names Magic Johnson and Byron Scott spark nostalgia about the Showtime Lakers and their many championships. But Johnson (1993-94), who was in attendance Sunday, and Scott (present) have also coached the Lakers during their worst losing streaks in franchise history. “Honestly it doesn’t really matter,” said Bryant, who posted 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting, 4 of 8 from 3-point range, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes. “What, it makes a (expletive) season less (expletive)?”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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