South American football’s premier club competition kicks off this week after a six-month hiatus caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.
But the restart has caused complaints and consternation in a region where the sport is not yet fully up and running.
A total of 32 teams from 10 countries will play matches in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
This is in spite of the fact that domestic football is still to restart in three of them, including regional giants Argentina.
“Argentine teams have been called upon to compete at a disadvantage and they are not ready for it,” said Nicolas Russo, the president of Lanus and a director of the Argentine Football Association (AFA).
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) is celebrating the return of the continent’s major competitions.
These include the Copa Libertadores, which is the equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
There is also its second-tier competition the Copa Sudamericana, the South American version of the Europa League that will restart on Oct. 27.
But with different nations restarting their domestic programmes at different times, some teams are crying foul.
Brazil restarted in June, Colombia kicked off at the weekend, while Argentina would not begin until at least October.
Racing coach Sebastian Beccacece said Thursday’s opponents Nacional of Uruguay would have played almost a dozen times since restarting, while the home side has not played any games.
“That’s a real and overwhelming advantage,” said Beccacece.
“We need to trust that we’ll be strong and can appeal to our mental and emotional capacity to try and make up for that initial difference because we will also be without the energy of our fans that are so vital to us. But we have to be ready for the challenge.”
All games will take place behind closed doors but with infection rates still high, there is a fear that flying teams of players across the enormous continent risks spreading the virus.
CONMEBOL struck a deal with national governments aimed at reducing risk, with the organisation paying for charter flights and demanding that teams spend no more than 72 hours in foreign nations.
However, hardly a week goes by without a team reporting positive tests for their players.
One league game in Brazil was called off minutes before kick-off last month when players tested positive for the virus.
The entire league programme in Peru was suspended temporarily when fans gathered outside stadiums.
Boca Juniors recently found that 22 of their players, or almost all of the first team squad, tested positive for the virus.
The players self-isolated and returned to training last week, a move that further hampered the club’s preparation for their match in Paraguay against Libertad.
CONMEBOL have allowed each team to register 50 players for the competition, up from the usual 30, in a sign that they expect more positive tests to occur.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Schools Resumption: Some private schools record high turnout in Lagos
Some private schools in Lagos State recorded large turnout of students following the Lagos State Government’s directive on resumption on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that on Aug. 29, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu directed primary and secondary schools to reopen.
Sanwo-Olu gave the directed during the 17th Update on the management of the coronavirus pandemic in Lagos.
A correspondent of NAN, who visited some schools in the state, reports that water, soaps, hand-sanitisers and infrared thermometer were provided by the schools’ management.
At Honeyland Schools, Ipaja, parents were seen trooping in to drop their children while observing social distancing in registering them.
Also, compulsory wearing of nose masks and social distancing in classrooms were observed by students and teachers.
A big banner displaying the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines was seen at the entrance of the school.
The school principal, Mr Oluyemi Faleke, said that academic activities would start immediately.
Faleke said that the school had concluded the second term examination before the lockdown while the third term examination was conducted during the lockdown.
“Before the resumption, we conducted three online entrance examinations for the new students.
“In all classrooms, we are maintaining social distance by displaying a sticker of “Do Not Sit Here”.
“Teaching starts from 8.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and virtual learning is still available for students who do not want to resume yet,’’ he said.
NAN,however, observed that some schools at Iyana-Ipaja and Egbeda areas were still locked and there was no sign of resumption.
At Victoria Island and Lekki, some private schools continued to teach their students through virtual learning.
At the Senior High School, Alimosho, only Junior Secondary Three (JS 3) and Senior Secondary Two (SS 2) students were allowed to enter the school premise with face masks or shields.
Security officials at the Faith Academy, Gowon Estate, Ipaja said that only SS three students have resumed while others will be resuming on Thursday.
Mr Abdul Ademola, Principal, Homat Group of Schools, Odogunyan, Ikorodu said that the school would keep guiding the students on COVID-19 protocols.
Ademola said that management had reduced number of students in a class from 20 students before the lockdown to 12 students as part of effort to prevent infection.
“We are all happy to resume back to school after staying home for too long.
“There is no automatic promotion in our school, we are going to engage all classes with lectures, continuous assessment and examination,’’ he said.
Mrs Olanike Ayoola, a parent at Honeyland schools expressed confidence that her children were safe with the school because of the guidelines been maintained.
“I am so confident of my children’s school; they are ready for the students’ resumption.
“During the lockdown, they educated us on the safety protocols against COVID-19,’’ Ayoola said.
Another parent, Mrs Kehinde Ojewoye, corroborated Ayoola’s confidence, saying that she was not scared of COVID-19.
According to Ojewoye, the school is fully prepared for the students’ resumption.
She said that teachers should just maintain social distancing with their students to avoid any issue.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Foundation urges Nigerians to promote peace, stability
An NGO, Helpline Foundation for the Needy, on Monday urged Nigerians to promote peace and stability in the country.
President and Founder of the foundation, Dr Jumai Ahmadu, made the call while addressing a news conference, as part of activities to mark this year’s International Day for Peace in Abuja.
Ahmadu, who stressed the need for Nigerians to retrace their lost values, warned of the danger of western influence especially among youths.
She called on all those involved in communal clashes to to lay down their weapons and focus on peace building, adding that peace was the only panacea for economic growth and development.
Ahmadu stated that the 2020 International Day for Peace was remarkable especially for health workers and other frontline workers who have demonstrated commitment in the battle to defeat COVID-19 pandemic.
”Global solidarity and peaceful coexistence was imperative in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
Commenting on this year’s theme, “Shaping Peace Together,”Ahmadu, said peaceful coexistence was not just moral but everybody’s business.
She urged government to do more to listen to people demanding change and seized the moment to build a more equal and inclusive society with respect for human rights.
“This year, it has been clearer than ever before that we are not each other’s enemies, rather, our common enemy is COVID-19 that threatens our health, security and way of life.
“COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact on others elsewhere,” Ahmadu said.
She enjoined all stakeholders to focus on the battle against the unprecedented global pandemic, noting that cooperation was needed to win the fight against the worst public health crisis.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the International Day for Peace, celebrated yearly on Sept. 21, is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
It was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly.
Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.
Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Sadiya Hamza
Again, Buhari challenges Kaduna indigenes on peace, harmony
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja urged Kaduna State indigenes to cooperate with government and security agencies to secure peace and harmony in the state.
The president made the call at the virtual opening of the Fifth Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, with the theme KADInvest 5.0, Infrastructure, Industrialisation and Innovation.
According to him, development will only take place when energies are collectively channelled to building, instead of destruction of lives and property.
He said: “We must live together as brothers and sisters because without peace, development cannot take place.
“I wish to commend the efforts of the Kaduna State Government to establish its credentials as one of the new investment destinations of choice in Nigeria.
“These efforts have received just recognition in the response of the business community which has put in new investments in the state.
“This is a further affirmation of the ranking of the state as Number One for Ease of Doing Business by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2018.
“I call on the Kaduna State Government to keep up these laudable efforts and surpass the impressive results already attained.’’
He noted that the success of state governments in attracting investments, creating jobs and increasing their internally generated revenues would be critical to the development of the entire country.
“Therefore, I am impressed that the Kaduna State Government has from inception used KADInvest as a serious platform for showcasing its investment potentials.
“The state’s commitment to consistent implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Charter is exemplary, including its ability to increase its Internally Generated Revenue to N44bn in 2019 from N13bn in 2015 without hiking tax rates. This is very laudable.’’
The president congratulated the Kaduna State government for making KADInvest a regular fixture on the investment calendar, held annually since 2016.
“It is a fitting statement of the resilience of the Kaduna State Government that it is able to host the 2020 edition amidst the severe disruptions to the normal order caused by Covid-19.
“This is the sort of determined focus that can help the country to navigate the challenging consequences of the pandemic.
“It was my pleasure to commission the Olam Hatchery and Feed Mill project in 2017, about 18 months after the ground-breaking was done at the first edition of KADInvest in 2016.
“It is commendable that investors like Tomato Jos are creating jobs in the agribusiness sector, taking advantage of Kaduna State’s prioritisation of agriculture.
“I also note with delight the success of new investments in renewable energy like Blue Camel and tractor assembly and the revitalisation of poultry farms across the state.’’
Buhari commended the ongoing development of iron mining and steel processing capacity in the state through investments by African Natural Resources and Mines Limited.
He said the federal government would continue to support efforts to attract job-creating investments.
“We believe that much can be done at the sub-national level to drive human capital development and expand economic opportunity.
“I note with delight the massive investments in infrastructure upgrade Kaduna State is executing through the urban renewal programmes in Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria.
“Given the track record since 2015, I have no doubt that the Kaduna State Government and its private sector partners will take full advantage of the economic windows that are being opened by Federal Government investments such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline.
“The state government should afford full cooperation and support to cross-border federal projects such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano pipeline and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Highway,’’ he added.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Man City’s Gundogan tests positive for COVID-19
Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League club said on Monday.
Gundogan is the third player in the squad to return a positive test in recent weeks.
City winger Riyad Mahrez and defender Aymeric Laporte previously tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.
“Gundogan is now observing a 10-day period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine,” the club said in a statement.
Gundogan is likely to miss three matches for City while he self-isolates, including Monday’s league clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Thursday’s League Cup tie against Bournemouth and Sunday’s league game against Leicester City.
Both Mahrez and Laporte returned to training last week but City boss Pep Guardiola said only the Algerian winger would be available against Wolves — City’s opening game of the season.
Edited By: Maharazu Ahmed
Edited By: Joseph Edeh