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Anthony Joshua gives fresh hints on his next fight

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Two-time heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, has backtracked on his claim that he won’t fight again until December this year and instead hinted at a potential return to the ring this summer.

Joshua, 33, got back to winning ways at the start of April by dominating Jermaine Franklin in a shut-out points victory at the O2 Arena.

Recall that Joshua had lost twice against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, leaving the door open for potential mega-fights with Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury or Joe Joyce.

Yet one week after beating Franklin, fans were left puzzled when Joshua revealed on social media that his next outing would not come for another eight months.

“Not ideal, but everything is part of a bigger picture,” Joshua wrote on Instagram.

That announcement was soon followed by astonishing reports which claimed Saudi Arabian officials are now planning a historic night of boxing which would see Joshua vs Wilder and Fury vs Usyk take place on the same card at the end of this year, with the winners of each bout then going on to lock horns in 2024.

However, Joshua has now suggested he could return to the ring in “July or August” if both he and his new coach Derrick James believe doing so is the right move.

“I thought as I have changed maybe three coaches in three years, it would be good to develop and work under the guidance of my new coach and by the time I am back in the ring, I have cemented and implemented everything he wants,” the British boxer told Sky Sports.

“But the only way we are going to put everything he is teaching me to the test is through fighting.

“So rather than putting pressure on myself, and I don’t want to lie to the fans at the time, I am fighting this date when there is still conversations, I just wanted to draw a line in the sand and say I am not fighting until this date.

“If I, my coach, decide to change my mind… I feel I am able to change my mind, right? So I am able to fight in July or August if I want, but right now, it is off the table, but we are subject to chance providing my coach is happy with what he sees.”

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FIFA World Cup-Why Nigeria’s Super Eagles are condemned to qualify

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By Dr. Salau Dee Elf (NUGA Publicity Liaison Officer 1993-2001)

Nigeria will return to the stable to continue its quest for a place at the glamorous 2026 FIFA Football World Cup soon. The football loving country will take on South Africa on Friday. 7th June 2024 and Benin Republic on Monday, 10th June 2024. The two legged matches will determine if the performance of the Super Eagles (getting to the finals) at the 2023 African Cup of Nations AFCON is not a fluke

The Qualifier match with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa will definitely rekindle the rivalry between the two Countries. Nigeria defeated South Africa at the recently concluded African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. This defeat was well celebrated by Nigerians who now believed that their dream Super Eagles has landed.

This will be a test case for the recently employed Chief Coach of the team Finidi George. Winning the Bafana Bafana of South Africa will not only be the confirmation of the Super Eagles superiority over our South African team but a good way to commence the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches.

The second match against Benin will be a crucial one as our neighbors always want to prove a point anytime they play against Nigeria.

However, this is the time for the Super Eagles to put their house in order and not underrate any team in these qualifiers. Nigeria is condemned to qualify for the 2026 World Cup given the array of Stars players the country parades in big leagues all over the world. In the English, Spanish, Italian, German and other leagues, they have proven to be of sterling qualities this season. Luckily, we have limited injuries to these players.

With the combination of a brand new Manager who was also a former Super Eagles player, the team will have no excuse not to qualify for the World Cup. We must however desist from being complacent during the first two matches.

The listing of 35 crack players out of which 25 will eventually be picked for the two matches by Coach Finidi George testifies to the importance attached to the qualifying matches.

The era of struggling to qualify for the World Cup must be a thing of the past now. We should be able to combine the array of football players we have at this period to prosecute the qualifiers successfully. This is the time for us to prove that our having first class players in the best leagues all over the world is not a fluke. Fly high the Super Eagles.

Dr Salau Dee Elf writes from Lagos | [email protected]

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Chelsea part ways with Pochettino with immediate effect

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Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have reportedly parted ways with immediate effect on Tuesday.

Sport reporter, Fabrizio Romano, announced on Tuesday via X.

“Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea part ways with immediate effect. Chelsea and Pochettino have already agreed on terms, as @Matt_Law_DT reports.

“Chelsea will consider a young manager as a priority to replace Pochettino,” he wrote.

Details later…

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JUST IN: Liverpool name Arne Slot new coach

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Liverpool Football Club has announced that Arne Slot has agreed to become the club’s new head coach.

The club disclosed that Slot will resume duty on January 1 after a work permit.

This was disclosed in a statement on the club’s website on Monday.

“Liverpool Football Club can announce Arne Slot has agreed a deal to become the club’s new head coach, formally taking up the position on June 1, 2024, subject to a work permit.

“The 45-year-old will join the Reds from Feyenoord ahead of the 2024-25 season after a deal was reached with the Eredivisie club for his services,” it read.

Slot will replace Jürgen Klopp at the helm following his decision to step down from the post at the end of the current campaign.

“The Netherlands-born coach will arrive after three highly successful seasons with Feyenoord, during which he led them to the league title in 2023 and was named Eredivisie Manager of the Year on two occasions.

“More recently, he helped the Rotterdam club to victory in the KNVB Cup in April after they defeated NEC Nijmegen 1-0 in the final.

“Before moving to Feyenoord, Slot held the position of AZ Alkmaar head coach, and he had led them to second place in the table, trailing leaders Ajax only on goal difference, when the Dutch season was cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2019-20.

“During his playing career, he operated primarily as a midfielder, turning out for FC Zwolle, NAC Breda, Sparta Rotterdam and PEC Zwolle before hanging up his boots in 2013,” it further read.

He will now soon become the first head coach of Liverpool FC from the Netherlands – with his first pre-season in charge of the squad set to get underway in July.

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