Everton’s impressive 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday was their first against them for eight years, but of greater significance was the impact of their new signings.
Optimism was hardly high at the end of the last campaign as Everton finished down in 12th place.
But it has returned in waves after Carlo Ancelotti signed a midfield trio that look capable of turning Everton into genuine contenders for a place in the top six.
Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez, who burst into the limelight at the 2014 FIFA World Cup before signing for Real Madrid, was a major coup for Everton when he signed this week.
His stock may have fallen in recent seasons but against Tottenham he looked a class act, pulling the strings and giving Everton the creativity they have been so badly lacking.
French powerhouse midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure, signed from Watford this week, was a dominant presence in the middle of the pitch.
Allan, a technical Brazilian, provided calm assurance in front of the back four.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose thumping header sealed the points, said the trio had given Everton an instant uplift and predicted there was much more to come.
Ancelotti described his team’s performance as brilliant and picked out Rodriguez, a player he worked with at Real Madrid, for particular praise.
“James is not the fastest player in the world but he has a lot of quality. We have to use him to show his quality. He is not a winger, but he can come inside and receive the ball. He is very dangerous,” Ancelotti said.
“I am not worried about the physicality. If I was worried about that I would sign Usain Bolt, not James.”
Everton fans have had to watch Liverpool take over as the force in English football, but after some stunning transfer business and a win against a bogey club, there is hope.
“After a long time of suffering now the fans have to be happy. It was not easy in the past to win here and we won, it’s good to celebrate,” Ancelotti said.
“We need continuity. Last season we were up and down and now we will see. This game tells us we can compete with anyone.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Spanish triathlete grateful for praise after incredible act of selflessness
Diego Mentrida, a Spanish triathlete, has played down the significance of his sporting gesture in last week’s Santander Triathlon.
His act of selflessness was reflected in his surrendering third-place by slowing down to allow a fellow competitor who had taken a wrong turn to overtake him.
Mentrida was in fourth place and trailing James Teagle heading into the final stretch when Teagle accidentally headed for the barriers.
This allowed Mentrida to dart ahead and move within sight of a podium finish.
But once he had realised Teagle’s mistake, the 21-year-old Mentrida paused to allow the Briton to retake his place in third just before the finish line.
Spain’s 2010 FIFA World Cup-winning captain Iker Casillas was among those who praised Mentrida’s selfless act on social media.
But, while the Spaniard appreciated the recognition, he reiterated it was the right thing to do.
“This is something my parents and my club have taught me since I was a child,” Mentrida wrote on Instagram.
“In my opinion it should be considered as a normal situation. I never thought that something like that would be so far reaching and would be repeated by so much media.
“But it makes me proud to receive so much affection.”
After the incident received global media coverage, race organisers decided to give Mentrida an honorary third-place and award him 300 euros in prize money.
It was the same amount Teagle had earned for coming third.
Teagle praised Mentrida for showing “incredible sportsmanship and integrity”.
”Moral of the story is that sportsmanship is a highly regarded trait. And British kids pay attention in language class… or you may end up looking like a fool worldwide.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Laloko wants 25% of local players in Super Eagles
Laloko made the call on Friday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria , in reaction to Nigeria’s latest FIFA rankings released on Thursday.
Nigeria is placed on the 29th spot in the world and third in Africa, behind Senegal and Tunisia, in current FIFA ranking.
Laloko said it was wrong for the current team handler Gernot Rohr to constantly feature foreign-based players while home-based players were left to their fate.
According to him, such situation has negatively affected Nigeria’s previous rankings.
“It is not proper for us to go and select players from Europe and play all of them when we have players at home.
“We need a policy that will allow 25 per cent of the players in the national teams to come from our local leagues.
“Do Rohr and his assistants watch the leagues? They don’t; they do what they like at the expense of the country, and the way the coach is assembling only foreign players, I can only wish him well.
“Nobody is playing football now, otherwise how can we be 29th. Our friendly matches and preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), will determine the actual position where we are.
“I will suggest that we wait until we play friendly matches and proceed to the AFCON; for me, our current ranking is fake, so let us play first because no country is playing now.
“So how did we arrive at 29th? Time will tell,” Laloko said.
He urged the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to regularly monitor the activities of the coach, noting that gone were the days when coaches folded their hands and watched players train.
He explained that football had gone scientific and not the usual running round the field with players.
“How long are we going to do that? There are new ways of coaching and I have never seen that during Super Eagles training,” he said.
Edited By: Dianabasi Effiong/Donald Ugwu
FIFA president meets Trump to discuss 2026 World Cup finals
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has met United States president Donald Trump to discuss preparations for the 2026 World Cup, the global football body said on Thursday.
United States are to co-host the finals with Mexico and Canada.
“President Infantino thanked President Trump for his great commitment to the success of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and his engagement in a bright future for football in the United States,” it said.
Infantino also made a courtesy visit to United States Attorney General William Barr where he used the opportunity to “personally thank the United States authorities… for their work in the fight against corruption in football.”
Several dozen football officials, mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean, were indicted in the United States in 2015 on corruption charges leading to the biggest scandal in FIFA’s history.
Several of those have since been jailed.
“Ever since I was elected, we have shown our determination to eradicate the malpractices which tarnished FIFA’s reputation in the past,” Infantino, who was elected in 2016, was quoted as saying.
“I have had similar meetings in Switzerland, and FIFA’s lawyers are also in regular contact with prosecutors and law enforcement agencies wherever and whenever needed,” he added.
“In this way, I am fully convinced that the credibility and reputation of FIFA is being restored at the highest level.”
Infantino himself is the subject of criminal proceedings in his native Switzerland.
These were launched by a special prosecutor looking into meetings the FIFA president had with former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.
Lauber and Infantino have denied wrongdoing.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
FIFA Ranking: Nigeria moves up by two spots, now world 29th
In the ranking placed on the world football governing body’s website on Thursday, Nigeria garnered 1493 points during the period under review without playing any match.
The movement also placed Nigeria as the third in Africa behind Senegal and Tunisia who garnered 1555 and 1506 points respectively.
On the global scene, with the exception of Uzbekistan’s 2-1 friendly victory over Tajikistan, the countries back in action have all been European.
The successful staging of these games was nonetheless encouraging for teams from other confederations as they seek to resume international fixtures in the weeks ahead.
The 54 UEFA Nations League games which took place across Europe at the beginning of September had an immediate impact on the oca-Cola World Ranking, which had remained unchanged since April 9.
While there had been no movement among the leading quartet —- in descending order: Belgium, France, Brazil and England —- Portugal (5th, up 2) have moved into the top five.
This was as a result of victories over Croatia (8th, down 2) and Sweden (18th, down 1).
Other countries moving in the right direction are Spain (7th, up 1), Italy (12th, up 1), the Netherlands (13th, up 1), and Germany (14th, up 1).
Each of them gained one place respectively in the global classification.
Wales (21st, up 2) climbed two rungs but remain just outside the top 20.
Russia, hosts of the last FIFA World Cup, are further back in 32nd.
But they had the biggest gain in this edition, ascending six places courtesy of wins over Serbia (31st, down 2) and Hungary (52nd, unchanged).
In spite of not playing, Iran (30th, up 3) moved into the top 30 after Serbia and Turkey (32nd, down 3) dropped points.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru and Olawale Alabi)