Napoli plunged deeper into crisis on Sunday after crashing to a 3-0 defeat at Torino which ended with fiery protests from fans and humiliation for the troubled Serie A champions.
Furious supporters launched flares onto the pitch at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino during the latest embarrassing loss which left Napoli languishing in ninth place.
Last season’s historic Scudetto has now been forgotten as Napoli sink further into the abyss with each passing week, their third defeat in four matches in all competitions fully deserved after a shambolic display in Turin.
Without Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen, Walter Mazzarri’s side failed to score for the fourth straight match and are completely unrecognisable from the team which charged to title glory last term.
“We have to apologise to the fans for the performance… we’re trying to find ways to stimulate the team and get back to some sort of normality,” said Napoli’s sporting director Mauro Meluso.
Meluso spoke to DAZN after a series of post-match summits with Mazzarri and the team, and insisted that the coach — who was suspended for Sunday’s match — would not be sacked.
“I, the club and the team have total faith in the coach, so we’re not having thoughts in that direction,” he added.
Mazzarri was brought in to clean up the mess left by predecessor Rudi Garcia but Napoli are now a full 20 points behind league leaders Inter Milan and closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table.
Antonio Sanabria got the ball rolling two minutes before the break when he scored from close range, and things went from bad to worse in the 50th minute when debutant Pasquale Mazzocchi was sent off for a wild challenge on Valentino Lazaro.
Mazzocchi, who signed from Salernitana on Friday, had only been on the field since the start of the second half and two minutes later Nikola Vlasic doubled Torino’s lead with a brilliant low strike from outside the area.
Napoli were all over the place and they should have been three down just after the hour mark when Sanabria hit the post and Duvan Zapata somehow didn’t finish on the rebound.
However Alessandro Buongiorno made sure of an emphatic victory in the 66th minute when he thumped a bullet header past Pierluigi Gollini.
– Milan cruise –
A sumptuous early strike from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Olivier Giroud’s 31st minute penalty set third-placed AC Milan on the way to a 3-0 win at Empoli which was sealed by Chaka Traore with two minutes remaining.
Missing a host of players to injury and the Africa Cup of Nations, Milan took advantage of their closest rivals for the top four dropping points.
Stefano Pioli’s team are six points ahead of fourth-placed Fiorentina who lost 1-0 at Sassuolo on Saturday, and a further point in front of Bologna in fifth following their draw at Genoa.
READ ALSO: Osimhen Keeps Napoli Top Of Pile
Milan have had a bumpy campaign riddled with injuries and questions over Pioli’s future but Sunday’s win was their fifth in six matches in all competitions.
“We went through a bit of a difficult period… We never listened to what other people were saying, we got down to hard work and that’s why we won today,” said Theo Hernandez, who was again deputising at centre-back.
France international Hernandez is a buccaneering left-back by trade but has been forced to move to the centre of defence by an injury crisis which has left Pioli without defenders Fikayo Tomori, Malick Thiaw and Pierre Kalulu.
“It’s in the difficult moments that you learn if people have given up on you, and that wasn’t the case here,” said Pioli.
“When things don’t go well we stay together and we give each other a hand.”
Milan trail city rivals Inter by nine points and are four behind second-placed Juventus, who play Salernitana later on Sunday.
Lazio warmed up for their midweek derby with Roma in the Italian Cup quarter-finals by winning 2-1 at Udinese and moving up to sixth.
Nigeria’s Basketball Team Withdraws From Afrobasket Qualifiers Over Lack Of Funds
Nigeria’s basketball team popularly called the D’Tigers has withdrawn from the Afrobasket qualifiers window over lack of funds.
D’tigers made this announcement on Wednesday evening after it complained of not getting funding from the Federal Government.
The PUNCH reports that President Bola Tinubu, in January, cleared the outstanding payment that FG owed the Super Eagles and other sporting teams of the country.
According to a statement on the X handle of Tinubu’s Media Centre, on Sunday, the payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.
The statement reads, “President @officialABAT has approved the payment of N12 billion outstanding backlog for Nigeria’s National teams of various sports, which includes Super Eagles and others.
“The payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.”
However, D’Tigers on its X handle wrote, “Despite several 2020 Olympians committing, D’Tigers forfeit this AfroBasket Qualifiers window due to lack of funds from the government.”
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Recall that in 2022, former President, Muhammadu Buhari, approved the withdrawal of Nigeria from international basketball competitions for two years.
A statement issued by the then Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, said the presidential directive followed the intractable crisis that has dogged and crippled the development of basketball in the country in form of the leadership crisis at the Nigeria Basketball Federation.
The statement said the decision to withdraw the country was made to concentrate efforts by the government towards revamping the sport from the grassroots as well as domestic leagues which have become moribund.
The sports ministry also said an Interim Management Committee will also be set up to oversee the management and development of the domestic basketball leagues in the country to further address other related issues around the development and advancement of the game in the country and to utilise the period of break to address all contentious issues among stakeholders.
FULL LIST: AFCON 2025 Preliminary Draw
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.
Emerse Fae Confirmed As Cote d’Ivoire Head Coach After AFCON Triumph
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.
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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