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COVID-19: UEFA Still Confident Of Hosting Champions League In Lisbon

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UEFA insists there is “no reason to prepare a Plan B” for the final eight of the Champions League in Lisbon despite Portuguese authorities reintroducing restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“We hope everything will be fine and that it will be possible to organise the tournament in Portugal. For the moment there is no reason to prepare a Plan B,” a UEFA spokesperson told AFP.

The spokesperson added that European football’s governing body is in “constant contact with the Portuguese Football Federation and the local authorities”.

UEFA announced earlier this month that the latter stages of the Champions League would be staged exceptionally as a straight knockout competition from the quarter-finals onwards with all matches in Lisbon.

Earlier this month, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “For now things look well, and we hope everything will be fine until we organise the final eight.”

He added: “We are assessing the situation, not week by week but day by day, and we will adapt when the time comes, if necessary.”

Portugal had not suffered to the same extent as other western European countries during the pandemic but last week Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that some coronavirus restrictions would be reimposed in and around the capital to help control fresh outbreaks.

From Wednesday, 19 neighbourhoods on the northern edges of Lisbon will go back into lockdown.

Gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people in these areas, compared to 10 people in the wider Lisbon area and 20 people across the rest of Portugal.

The final eight is due, to begin with the first quarter-final on August 12, with the final scheduled for August 23.

Matches will be played at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and the nearby Estadio Jose Alvalade, home of Sporting.

Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Atalanta all qualified for the quarter-finals before the competition was suspended in March.

The remaining last 16, second legs are Juventus v Lyon; Manchester City v Real Madrid; Bayern Munich v Chelsea and Barcelona v Napoli.

It is hoped those matches — set for August 7 and 8 — will not need to be played on neutral ground but they could also be moved to Portugal, with UEFA standing by to spread the matches around the country, in Lisbon as well as in the northern cities of Porto and Guimaraes.

Ceferin has admitted that it is unlikely any of the matches will be played in front of crowds but said UEFA would re-assess the situation in July.

(AFP)

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Osimhen Set To Become Africa’s Costliest Footballer

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Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, is set to become Africa’s costliest footballer, with a reported €81m (£73.6m) move from French Ligue 1 side Lille to Serie A giants Napoli.

The deal is expected to be finalised on Thursday, with both clubs reportedly reaching agreement for the young forward.

If the deal falls through, Osimhen will eclipse Nicolas Pepe’s record, when he moved from Lille to Arsenal for £72m last summer.

According to L’Equipe, the Eagles star could complete his move to the side on Thursday.

Reports say the change of agents by the Nigerian delayed his transfer to the Italian side, but is now set to go through.

Osimhen’s agent, Stanley Okolo, had last week said the striker was considering Napoli’s offer and would make his decision soon.

“I read in some media that Victor has already rejected Napoli, but that is absolutely not true. I don’t understand where some information come from. The lad just asked for a little more time, the negotiations continue every day. He is just trying to make the decision that is right for him,” Okolo told Radio Punto Nuovo.

Cedric Bakambu’s £65m move to Chinese side Beijing Guoan from Villarreal in January 2018 makes him the second costliest footballer in Africa ahead of Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez, who joined Manchester City from Leicester City for £60m in July 2018.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Arsenal for £56m from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 to rank fourth costliest in Africa, while Naby Keita, who moved from Leipzig to Liverpool (July 2018) for £52.75m, is Africa’s fifth costliest footballer.

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FIFA Confirms 2022 World Cup Match Schedule

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The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) has confirmed the match schedule for the 2022 FiFA World Cup in Qatar.

A statement on the world football governing body’s website said that the host, Qatar would kick off the 2022 tournament at Al Bayt Stadium.

”Al Bayt Stadium, a 60,000-capacity arena that takes its name and shape from the traditional tents used by nomadic peoples in the Gulf region, will be the stage for hosts Qatar to kick off the tournament on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022 at 13:00 local time (11:00 CET).

”The local kick-off times for group matches have been set for 13:00, 16:00, 19:00 and 22:00, with the simultaneous kick-offs for the last round of group games and knockout-stage timings being 18:00 and 22:00.

”Khalifa International Stadium will be the setting for the play-off for third place on Dec. 17.

”The final will kick off one day later at 18:00 at Lusail Stadium in front of an 80,000 crowd.

”With the aim of providing all teams with optimal rest between their matches, the group stage will last 12 days and, with four matches per day, it promises a full and exciting schedule for fans,” the statement read.

It added that tournament’s compact nature, with no air travel needed to move between the venues, would allow organisers, for the first time, to optimise specific match demands for the benefit and comfort of fans, teams and media.

”This will be achieved through the assignment of the group fixtures for each matchday to a stadium and kick-off time only after the final draw, currently planned for after the March 2022 international match calendar qualifying window.

”Once the pairings are known, the possibility will be discussed of providing a more beneficial kick-off time for audiences at home, or indeed for fans in Qatar with regard to the stadium allocation.

”That additional flexibility is possible without affecting any technical aspects since all stadiums are located within a compact radius and the climate is perfect at that time of year in Qatar, whether it is an early or a late kick-off.

”On top of that, this will potentially give fans the opportunity to attend more than one match a day during the group stage,” the statement read. (NAN)

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CAF Postpones 2021 Africa Cup Of Nations

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The Confederation of African Football Executive Committee on Tuesday announced the postponement of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

It said the competition will now hold in Cameroon in January 2022.

The decision was reached after the committee met via video-conference to discuss the future of competitions and other related issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After consultation with stakeholders and taking into consideration the current global situation, the tournament has been rescheduled for January 2022.

“The date for the final tournament and the remaining matches of the qualifiers will be communicated in due course,” the football body said in a statement.

CAF also rescheduled the finals of the African Nations Championship 2020, shifting it to January 2021 also in Cameroon.

“The CAF Executive Committee is satisfied with t the Cameroonian authorities for their commitment towards the hosting of the two competitions. Cameroon is ready to host either competition and are within schedule,” CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad said.

The statement reads “The Total CAF Champions League and Total CAF Confederation Cup, will resume in September with a Final Four (4) format. Semi-Final matches will be played in a single match.

“Due to challenging conditions, the 2020 edition of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations has been cancelled.

“The 42nd CAF Ordinary General Assembly has been rescheduled for December 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“CAF has allocated an additional USD 16.2 Million to assist Member Associations to mitigate challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each Member Associations will be entitled to USD 300,000.”

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