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Messi Could Start From Bench In MLS Debut After Reaching ‘Physical Limit’



Inter Miami head coach Tata Martino has admitted that Lionel Messi may not start against New York Red Bulls in Saturday’s MLS restart, with the legendary Argentine at his “physical limit”

After the high-octane excitement of their successful Leagues Cup campaign and the thrill of their comeback victory in the US Open Cup semi-final, Inter Miami and Messi get down to the main job at hand on Saturday.

The Major League Soccer regular season returns in full with Miami, who travel to the New York Red Bulls, faced with the tough task of climbing from bottom place in the Eastern Conference and into the playoff positions.

Prior to the break for Leagues Cup — and Messi’s arrival along with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba — Miami were winless in 11 games in MLS with the worst record in the entire league.

READ ALSO: Messi Makes Magical Start To Miami Career With Late Winner On Debut

In most leagues in the world, a team in that position would be focused purely on avoiding relegation from the top flight.

But MLS has no relegation and instead has a playoff system which could yet offer a way for the new-look Miami, under Argentine coach Martino, to compete for the title — MLS Cup.

The top nine finishers in each conference earn a spot in the playoffs with the top seven going into the first round, best of three series of games.

The eighth and ninth placed teams play each other in a single elimination ‘wild card’ match to get into the first round.

READ ALSO: Fans Hail Messi’s Wife Antonela As ‘World Most Beautiful Woman’ [PHOTOS]

Miami are currently 14 points behind ninth place with 12 games left and so have little room for error in the remainder of the season.


But the form they have shown since the arrival of Messi and his two former Barcelona team-mates, unbeaten in eight games, albeit winning three of their knockout ties via penalties, suggests such a playoff push is not out of the question.

It will be a long slog to turn Inter’s MLS season around and adding to the difficulty of the task, Martino admitted after Wednesday’s shoot-out win over Cincinnati in the US Open Cup, that his star man was amongst those feeling the pace of their recent exertions.

Both Leo and many other players are reaching an important physical limit and from today we will evaluate how we approach the next three matches,” he said.

“The fatigue is overcome with all the enthusiasm … I hope the team in the future could play better, but it’s very difficult to do that when you almost can’t rest,” he added.

READ ALSO: Transfer: Why We Signed Messi — Inter Milan Co-owner, Beckham Reveals

It would not be a shock then, for one or more of Messi, Busquets and Alba, to start on the bench at Red Bull Arena on Saturday with Martino retaining the option to throw them on in the second half.

The Red Bulls are in 11th place in the East, 11 points ahead of Miami, and have their own hopes of clambering into the post-season.

Saturday’s games see Eastern Conference leaders Cincinnati host 2021 champions New York City, while in the West, top-placed St.Louis City, enjoying a dream first season in the league, are at Orlando City.

Defending champions Los Angeles FC travel to North Carolina to face Charlotte FC.



AFCON: ‘Nigeria Thirsty For Victory’ – Sports Minister Charges NFF, Peseiro




Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh, has directed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro to ensure the Super Eagles emerge champions in the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The competition will be held in Côte d’Ivoire from January 13 to February 11, 2024.

The minister issued the marching orders on Wednesday in Abuja at a meeting with the NFF and Peseiro to discuss strategic plans and preparations for the AFCON.

READ ALSO: 2026 WCQ: Super Eagles Disappoint Again, Settle for 1-1 Draw Against Zimbabwe

Enoh expressed concern about the Super Eagles’ performances, particularly given their slow start to the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

DAILY POST reports that the Eagles were held to uninspiring draws by both Lesotho and Zimbabwe in November.

According to the minister, Nigerians are passionate about the round leather game and are eager to win the AFCON after more than a decade of waiting.

Our country is so passionate about football, such that amidst all other sports, football is about the only sport that has an entry in the nation’s national budget.

READ ALSO: ‘We Don’t Have A Team Yet’, Reactions Trail Super Eagles Disappointing Draw Against Lesotho

“That is how important football is because whatever happens to it happens to us as a country.”

He reaffirmed the Federal Government’s unflinching support for Nigerian football, emphasizing the need for rigorous planning and unified strategies in propelling the national team to victory.

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Transfer: Jorginho’s Next Possible Club Revealed




Arsenal midfielder Jorginho’s next possible club has been revealed.

As per Calciomercato, Jorginho is reportedly set to leave Arsenal at the end of the season, with a return to Serie A on the cards.

The report added that Juventus are interested in signing the Italy international.

The 31-year-old signed for Arsenal from Chelsea in January of this year for a fee of £12 million.

However, Jorginho has not been used regularly by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

Jorginho is in the final year of his contract at Arsenal and is likely to leave as a free agent next year.

READ ALSO: Footballer Slumps During Training, Dies

His playing time has only decreased since Declan Rice arrived from West Ham United in the summer.

He had played in the Serie A before during his time at Napoli, where he made 160 appearances for the club.

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EPL: Aina Wins Nottingham Forest’s November Goal Of The Month




Super Eagles defender, Ola Aina has claimed Nottingham Forest’s November Goal of the Month award.

Aina won the award with his stunning strike in the Steve Cooper side’s 2-0 victory against Aston Villa at the City Ground.

The 27-year-old slotted home a powerful shot from outside the box in the fifth minute of the encounter.

It was the Nigeria international’s maiden goal for the Tricky Trees.

READ ALSO: EPL: Man Utd To Offload ‘Three Most Expensive’ Attackers In January

The stunning strike received 50 per cent of the total vote.

The full-back linked up with Nottingham Forest on a free transfer in the summer.

Aina has made 10 league appearances for the Reds.

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