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Guardiola Slams Ceferin Over Financial Probe Claims

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has slammed Aleksander Ceferin after the UEFA president claimed European football’s governing body was right to punish the Premier League champions for financial breaches.

UEFA banned City from European competition for two years in February 2020 for breaching its Financial Fair Play rules, but the ban was later overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS found that some of the charges against City were “not established” and others were time-barred.

Ceferin remains adamant his organisation was correct, telling the Daily Telegraph on Thursday: “We know we were right. We wouldn’t decide if we didn’t think we were right.”

READ ALSO: Klopp Wants Nothing To Do With Liverpool ‘Quadruple’ Talk

The Slovenian’s remarks came as City await a Premier League hearing after being charged with 115 breaches of their domestic competition’s profit and sustainability rules.

A furious Guardiola said that by speaking out now, Ceferin had not respected City’s ongoing process with the Premier League.

As the lawyer that he is, as president of UEFA, he should wait – and after do whatever he wants,” he told reporters on Thursday.

He has to respect it and he has to wait. He has a lot of jobs to do at UEFA. A lawyer should respect the procedure. He knows we have the right to defend ourselves.”

READ ALSO: Negreira Called To Testify In Barca Refereeing Bribery Case

City will again be without striker Erling Haaland for their FA Cup fourth tie at Tottenham on Friday.

But the Norway striker is nearing a return after almost two months out with a foot injury.

“He is on the verge of coming back. For Friday he is not ready but he is close,” Guardiola said.

“The training camp was good, he trained some sessions. The last few days he’s trained but it is not perfect and we will wait a little bit more.”

READ ALSO: Liverpool To Face Chelsea In League Cup Final

John Stones is back in contention after an ankle injury but fellow defender Manuel Akanji remains on the sidelines. Goalkeeper Ederson is also fit after limping off in City’s last game at Newcastle.

City have lost on all five of their previous visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without even scoring a goal.

Calling on the FA Cup holders to break their duck, Guardiola said: “That is the reality, (and shows) how tough it is for us.

“Of course this is a ‘final’, a knockout game and to go through we have to score goals. Always it is a new opportunity to break it.

“The feeling is most of the times we played really good but the reality is there, no goals, five defeats – so they were much better than us.”

 

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FULL LIST: AFCON 2025 Preliminary Draw

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The preliminary draw for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations has been held today at the Confederations of African Football headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

The draw followed the conclusion of the 34th edition of the competition hosted by Ivory Coast.

The preliminary draw had the eight lowest-ranked teams according to the FIFA ranking: Somalia, Djibouti, Sao Tome, Chad, Mauritius, South Sudan, Liberia and Eswatini.

The teams will play on home and away basis during the FIFA Window of March 18 to March 26.

READ ALSO: FULL LIST: CAF AFCON Starting XI

Explainer: Guidelines To Actualise Guinness World…
Below is the full list of the AFCON preliminary draw:

Somalisa Vs Eswatini

Sao Tome Vs South Sudan

Chad Vs Mauritius

Djibouti Vs Liberia

The just concluded 2023 AFCON was held in Côte d’Ivoire and won by the host team, the Elephants.

They defeated the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 in the final of the tournament.

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Emerse Fae Confirmed As Cote d’Ivoire Head Coach After AFCON Triumph

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Emerse Fae was on Monday rewarded for guiding Ivory Coast to the African Cup of Nations title as interim coach by being given the job full-time.

“Emerse was until now interim coach and has just been confirmed today as full coach,” the Ivoirian federation boss Idriss Diallo said.

The Elephants were facing elimination when they fired veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset in January after winning just one of their three group games.

The next day, results fell the hosts’ way and they squeezed through as the last of the four best third-placed teams. Fae, a former Ivorian international who had never coached before, took over.

READ ALSO: Messi Insists Hong Kong No-show Was Due To Injury, Not Politics

Fae oversaw an incredible turnaround.

In the last 16, the Ivorians came from behind to beat holders Senegal on penalties. Then, playing much of the match with 10 men, they came from behind to beat Mali in extra time in the quarter-finals.

After beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 in the last four, they came from behind once more to beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final and lift the trophy.

 

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Messi Insists Hong Kong No-show Was Due To Injury, Not Politics

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Argentine football star Lionel Messi insisted Monday that his absence from a match in Hong Kong two weeks ago that drew the ire of spectators was not a snub but prompted by injury.

In a video posted on China’s Weibo social media platform, Messi rejected chatter that his no-show was “for political reasons” and said if this had been the case, “I would not have traveled” to Hong Kong in the first place.

As everyone knows, I always want to play and be in every game,” he said.

READ ALSO: Messi, Beckham Booed After Superstar Sits Out Hong Kong Friendly

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner stayed on the bench throughout Inter Miami’s 4-1 win against a Hong Kong select XI on February 4.

His no-show drew boos and calls for refunds from thousands of fans who had shelled out large sums to see the World Cup-winning captain play in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Widely considered the best player of his generation, Messi is a highly marketable sportsman who people around the world will pay top dollar to see, even in the twilight of his trophy-laden career.

READ ALSO: Messi Not The GOAT – Spain Coach, De La Fuente

Some nationalist politicians and outlets interpreted Messi’s absence — and his subsequent appearance at a similar match in Japan — as a snub to China, without offering evidence.

Sports bosses in China subsequently canceled two friendly matches featuring world champions Argentina.

Messi spoke in his video of a “very nice and very close” relationship with China, a country with which he said he had “done a lot of things” including matches and events.

His reason for not playing, the star striker said, was due to injury, specifically “inflammation of an adductor” muscle.

 

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