On a day they needed just one goal to topple the South Africans and assure of a place in the last four – irrespective of the result in the other match between Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia – the Olympic Eagles failed to find their sting in the fore, dancing too much on the ball without effective contact or meaningful touches in the opposition critical zone.Perhaps awed by Nigeria’s array of stars in Kelechi Nwakali, Taiwo Awoniyi, Azubuike Okechukwu, Sincere Seth and Orji Okwonkwo, alongside respected home-based professionals Sunusi Ibrahim and Ndifreke Effiong, the South Africans preferred to absorb the heat for the first half hour. Seeing that the Olympic Eagles lacked the punch when it mattered, the Amaglug-glug came out to attack. And thrice they came close to putting the ball in the net, but met with the alertness and agility of goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar.Abubakar also saved the Olympic Eagles in the second half, as the South Africans fired from every angle, while Nigeria were looking to walk the ball into the net and stubbornly stuck to an ineffective strategy of trying to make hay from the wings.President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, said the failure of the Olympic Eagles was a shock. “Working together with the Ministry of Sports, we have been able to provide the team with what is required for them to excel. The team’s failure to reach the semi-finals and ultimately qualify for the Olympics is a big shock.“Three years ago, football won the only medal that Nigeria took from the Olympics in Brazil. Our expectation was that this team would qualify for Tokyo and go there to do the country proud.” Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram …Fails to qualify for men Olympics football eventCup holders, Nigeria have been booted out of the ongoing U23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt following a dire 0-0 draw with South Africa yesterday night that was not enough to see them through to the semifinals. The result meant they finished third in Group B and dropped out of contention for a place in the Men’s Football Tournament of next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.Failure at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo sustained an unsavoury streak of Nigeria appearing in the Men’s Football Tournament at every other Olympics since the year 2000. Champions in 1996 in Atlanta, USA where they won Africa’s first-ever football gold medal of the Olympics, the Nigeria U23 participated in the tournament in Australia in 2000; missed the event in Greece in 2004; took part at the event in China in 2008 and won the silver medal; missed the tournament in the United Kingdom in 2012; participated in the event in Brazil in 2016 and won the bronze medal and; will now miss Tokyo 2020.
LOS ANGELES — All that offseason shaking and baking was the recipe for a liberal mix of delicious new matchups around the NBA – including Friday’s in L.A., pitting Paul George and Russell Westbrook against each other for the first time since they were Oklahoma City Thunder teammates.“It’ll be fun,” George said Friday at shootaround.Via offseason trades, George, a Palmdale native, landed in Southern California with Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, and Westbrook was teamed with fellow Angeleno James Harden in Houston, with the Rockets.Although the George-Westbrook partnership didn’t advance past the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in the two seasons it lasted, it otherwise worked in a lot of ways – especially for George. “I knew it was going to work. Russ is a winner. Russ wants to win, Russ does whatever it takes to win,” George said. “My time playing with him, Russ don’t really have an ego. He puts his ego to the side. He allowed me to be myself, he allowed me to be comfortable. And I had one of the best (seasons) of my career while playing alongside him. Russ is a heckuva teammate.”He’s made Houston a heck of a lot more dangerous, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.“He adds pace. I said that right away. when that trade happened,” Rivers said. “People were like, ‘This won’t fit.’ I was like, ‘Oh my god, Houston’s gonna have pace now.’ This is what the league’s coaches have always feared. They’re already a good offensive team, now add pace to that, that makes them tougher, and he’s done it.”George knows about that, too, he said, remembering having to alter even his off-the-court habits to keep up with Westbrook.“I had to change my diet, I had to change my conditioning,” George said. “Coming from the East to the West was a big adjustment, but then playing alongside Russ was an even bigger adjustment, just because he’s a blur. He gets up and down the court so fast and he creates action so fast that you got to be ready.”SHAMET UPDATE: SHOESRivers said he doesn’t know how long it will be before he can expect to reincorporate Landry Shamet, the Clippers’ second-year shooting guard – sidelined with an ankle sprain – back into the rotation.The Clippers have been bugging Shamet, Rivers said, just not about a return date.“We have this thing with Landry, and I think it’s irritating him, but we keep saying, ‘If you can put on a shoe, you can walk, if you can walk you can run, if you can run, you can sprint, if you can sprint you can play,’” Rivers said. “He’s wearing shoes now, so that’s better than what he was doing.“I talk to him every day, and I have yet to ask him, like, ‘When do you think you’re coming back?’ I just always think when a coach asks that question, a player thinks that’s pressure. So I literally never ask that question.“But,” Rivers confirmed, “he’s wearing shoes.” George finished third in league MVP voting last season, averaging career-highs of 28 points and 8.2 rebounds, and a career-high-tying 4.1 assists per game – despite shoulders that needed surgery once the season was over.So it was George’s own experience that told him that the Westbrook-Harden pairing would play out well for the Rockets, who entered Friday’s game 11-4.“They are one of the best teams in the West, so they are working well,” said George, who’s recently returned from the surgeries that repaired a partially torn tendon in his right shoulder and a partial tear of his left labrum, and who entered Friday’s game averaging 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his first four games with the Clippers.“I don’t really watch too much of the Rockets, but I know their standing and what their record is, and the indication of that is they are playing well this year.”While Westbrook came into Friday averaging 21.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists this season, Harden was averaging a league-best 38.4 points, 7.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error