Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has returned to the club’s training after emergency surgery for ‘severe back pain.’
The club announced in August that Guardiola would be out for ‘weeks’ after an emergency surgery in Barcelona, Spain, where he also spent time for recovery and rehabilitation.
The 52-year-old has now returned to England ahead of City’s Premier League clash against West Ham United on Saturday and their Champions League opener against Crvena Zvezda next Tuesday.
In Guardiola’s absence, first-team assistant manager Juanma Lillo was in the dugout in the 2-1 and 5-1 wins over Sheffield United and Fulham, respectively.
Manchester City currently sits at the top of the EPL table after winning all four opening fixtures of the season.
East African Leaders Rejoice After Successful 2027 AFCON Bid
East African leaders on Wednesday hailed the awarding of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to a joint bid by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
It is the first time the premier sport event in the continent will be staged by three countries after Ghana/Nigeria (2000) and Equatorial Guinea/Gabon (2012) co-hosted previous editions.
The trio won a contest also involving Botswana, Egypt and Senegal after favourites Algeria withdrew on the eve of the vote, saying they had a “new strategy for developing football”.
Egypt have hosted the biennial tournament five times, most recently in 2019, and Senegal once, in 1992. Botswana were hoping to stage the AFCON for the first time.
READ ALSO: NPFL Bars Head Coaches Without CAF B Licence
“We are grateful to have the opportunity to host AFCON 2027 in collaboration with Kenya and Uganda,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on X (formerly Twitter).
“I congratulate everyone who played a role to make sure our country secures this rare opportunity.
“I now order the ministry of culture, arts and sports to make proper preparations, including to complete the construction of two new stadiums in Dodoma and Arusha on time, to the required standards.”
Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua also took to X to express his delight at the AFCON returning to east Africa for the first time since Ethiopia hosted it in 1976.
“It is quite exhilarating to receive the news that the joint bid by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to host the 2027 (AFCON) has… been accepted by the Confederation of African Football.
“The Pamoja (together) bid fronted by President @WilliamsRuto and the other heads of state was one of its kind as it underscored our readiness to work together to ensure the competition comes to East Africa.”
Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, a spokesman for the east African regional bloc IGAD, rejoiced in a social media post that the Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda bid had been successful.
“This show of confidence is a testament to our region’s passion & commitment to sports,” he said.
“We eagerly anticipate harnessing the unifying power of sports to foster harmony across our region & the African continent at large.”
NPFL Bars Head Coaches Without CAF B Licence
It is now mandatory that to sit on the bench during matches, all Head Coaches of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) clubs must possess the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) B Licence.
As part of its rollout activities for the start of the 2023/24 season, the NPFL Chief Operating Officer, Davidson Owumi announced that the requirement is part of the league’s bid to improve the quality of technical performance of the clubs.
“One of the areas of the league we seek to improve in the new season is the area of technical performance of our teams through the players and this can only be achieved by having competent Managers on the bench.
“For this season, we will only allow Head Coaches with a minimum qualification of the CAF B Licence to sit on the bench. This may be reviewed upwards next season “, Owumi told NPFL Media.
He said the measure is coming into force to trigger the Coaches to acquire trainings that will improve what they offer to players.
“The idea is to encourage our coaches to improve themselves through higher certifications by participating in reputable courses”, explained Owumi.
He described Coaching as one of the problem areas that the league must solve in order to grow the game and produce highly technical players.
The season is scheduled to kickoff on Saturday, September 30 at eight centres with the fixtures in Port Harcourt and Aba postponed due to continental fixtures of Rivers United and Bendel Insurance.
Both are facing Algerian and Burkina Faso opponents in the elimination round of the CAF Confederation Cup.
While Insurance were to face Cup holders, Enyimba International in Aba, Rivers United were to host last season’s runner-up, Remo Stars in Port Harcourt.
Inter Miami May ‘Risk’ Injured Lionel Messi In US Open Cup Final
Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino has said the club could “take a risk” on star forward Lionel Messi in Wednesday’s US Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo.
The Argentine forward was forced off with an injury after 37 minutes against Toronto FC and sat out Monday’s draw at Orlando City.
“We will decide tomorrow based on how he’s feeling,” Martino said.
Martino also said Messi had triggered an old injury but noted that he could make a return for the MLS side in the final.
Martino added, “Here, there are questions. The player, the [US Open Cup] final, and what comes after.
“These three scenarios have to be evaluated; it is not just about the next game. Risk is always there, but we try to decrease the margin of risk.
“If it wasn’t a final, we wouldn’t take any risk, but because it is a final, there is a chance we take that risk.”
However, the manager confirmed that defender Jordi Alba is doubtful for the fixture.
Messi signed for the MLS franchise in July after his contract with Paris St-Germain expired.
The 36-year-old has already helped Inter Miami win the Leagues Cup, beating Nashville SC on penalties in the final.
Inter Miami have not lost any of the 12 matches in which Messi has featured, while he has scored 11 goals and provided five assists.
The final signals a chance for the MLS outfit to win their second trophy since Messi joined the club, adding to their victory in the Leagues Cup last month.
The U.S. Open Cup, a knockout tournament for amateur and professional teams, has been competed for since 1914, making it by far the oldest soccer competition in the country.
After the final, Miami have five games remaining in the MLS regular season as they seek to seal a late spot in the playoff positions.
On Saturday, Miami host New York City FC who currently hold the last playoff qualification spot, ninth place, and five points ahead of Inter Miami.
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