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Allegri returns to Juventus after Pirlo sacking

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Massimiliano Allegri

Massimiliano Allegri has been re-appointed as Juventus manager following the sacking of Andrea Pirlo.

Allegri has come back to the Turin club on a €9m (£7.7m)-a-year deal, according to Sky in Italy, two years after he departed following a successful first spell in charge.

The 53-year-old guided Juve to two Champions League finals, he also won four Coppa Italia trophies between 2014 and 2019 and departed that summer after a fifth straight Serie A triumph.

Allegri was understood to be the favourite to fill the vacant post at Real Madrid following Zinedine Zidane’s departure, but Antonio Conte, who guided Inter Milan to the Serie A title last season, is now believed under consideration as a candidate to replace Zidane at the Bernabeu.

The appointment comes following the dismissal of Pirlo earlier on Friday, with the 42-year-old having overseen Juve missing out on the Italian top-flight title for the first time in 10 years.

Upon his return to the Allianz Stadium, Juventus said: “Massimiliano Allegri is the Juventus manager once more. Allegri finds a bench that he knows very well, a club that he loves and that loves him back, as today a new journey begins together, towards new goals.

“What he achieved in his first adventure at Juventus are engraved in the club’s history: five Scudetti, to the four-consecutive doubles, coupled with the Coppa Italia and to the two Super Cups, reaching two Champions League finals in just three seasons, in what were epic feats both in Italy and in Europe.

“We said goodbye two years ago with the message, “History Alone”, the message on the back of the shirt given to Massimiliano Allegri by President Andrea Agnelli with an embrace and a shirt, on which in just two words encapsulated Allegri’s experience at Juve.

“The beauty of the story, however, is that it never stops. And in football, this means a concept that we have ingrained in our DNA: the best victory is the next one. Always.

“And now we are ready to begin again with Allegri, to build our future together; with his enormous professionalism, his moral strength, with the brilliant ideas of a coach capable of shuffling the cards, both on and off the pitch. With his smile, a sort of “signature”. With his way of understanding football and life with simplicity, with his desire to play things down and with the commitment to enjoy every beautiful moment that being at Juventus can give and will give.

Allegri’s predecessor Pirlo, who took over from Maurizio Sarri in August last year, guided Juve to the Coppa Italia and Suppercoppa Italiana but they finished fourth in Serie A, and they salvaged a spot in next season’s Champions League on the final day of the season.

Juve issued the following message to Pirlo upon his departure from the club: “Thank you, Andrea.

“These are the first words that all of us need to say at the end of this special experience together. A few months ago, Andrea Pirlo, an icon of world football, began his new adventure, his first as a coach.

“To do this, first of all, it takes courage, as well as awareness of one’s own means, especially in a period marked by thousands of difficulties, with the world forced by the pandemic to reinvent its own rules day after day.

“Pirlo has just begun the first steps of what will no doubt become a brilliant career as a coach. An adventure of transformation, seeking, and often managing, to bring his ideas and his experience as a champion on the pitch from the “other side” of the fence.

“And since in football, what counts are the victories, let’s remember them: in the space of a few short months Pirlo’s Juve has raised two trophies: The Italian Supercup and the Coppa Italia. And he, as coach, brought home brilliant victories on the most prestigious of fields, from San Siro to Camp Nou.

“For all this, for the courage, the dedication, the passion with which he demonstrated every day, our thanks go to the Maestro, the Coach and to Andrea, that really comes from the heart. As well as our good luck for the future that will surely be a wonderful one.”

The 42-year-old, who won seven major honours for Juventus as a player from 2011 to 2015, managed the club’s U23s side before assuming the role of first-team head coach in 2020.

The 2006 World Cup winner’s Juventus side headed into the final day of the season facing the prospect of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2011/12, but victory over Bologna, and Napoli failing to beat Hellas Verona, saw his side scrape in.

Juve being knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 phase for the second time in successive seasons also did not help the former Italy international’s cause.

Image:Andrea Pirlo played 164 times for Juventus from 2011 to 2015 and helped them towards four Serie A titles

Pirlo’s exit from Juventus and Allegri’s re-appointment comes with managerial changes afoot at some of Europe’s top clubs following the end of their seasons.

Zidane stepped down at Real Madrid following a second spell in charge of the club on Thursday after the Spanish giants failed to win a trophy for the first time in 11 seasons.

Conte left Inter Milan by mutual consent just weeks after winning the Serie A title, with the club’s ownership looking to cut costs which could mean that some key first-team players depart. Simeone Inzaghi is set to replace the former Chelsea boss at the San Siro.

At Bayern Munich, outgoing RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann is to take over the reins from Hansi Flick who will become the Germany national team’s new manager following the departure of Joachim Low after the European Championships.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is in talks with Tottenham over a sensational return after leaving the North London club in 2019.

 

 

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Nigeria Edge Cape Verde in Qatar World Cup Qualifier

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The Super Eagles continued their 100 per cent record against Cape Verde in their second match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

The Nigerian team won the game 2-1 after staging a comeback.

A 75th-minute own goal by Cape Verde earned Nigeria a 2-1 win in their qualifying clash in Mindelo on Tuesday, a result that stabilized the Super Eagles’ leadership of the pool as they await a home-and-away fixture against Central African Republic next month.

Dylan dos Santos steered the home team in front after 19 minutes of an intense back-and-forth by both sides, when he slipped behind the Eagles’ rearguard and slammed a rocket of a shot past goalkeeper Maduka Okoye.

The three-time African champions refused to be brow-beaten, and launched series of attacks, with Chidera Ejuke forcing the opposing goalkeeper to an acrobatic save in the 27th minute. Two minutes later, an alert Victor Osimhen would pull Nigeria level, stabbing home from close range after the goalkeeper punched following a defensive blunder.

In the 41st minute, the lively Ejuke again rattled the Cape Verde number one, before Osimhen came close to adding another one from a corner with a minute to recess.

Kelechi Iheanacho and six other UK-based players were absent when the Super Eagles played the Blue Sharks in Mindelo.

The players were forced out from the tie after the UK government insisted individuals who travel to “red zones” — which Cape Verde falls into — must quarantine for 10 days upon return.

Aside from the seven UK-based players, Serie A defender, Ola Aina, also did not travel with the squad to Mindelo, and returned to Italy instead.

In the second half, Ahmed Musa latched onto a centre by Osimhen as the Eagles pushed forward, but his tame shot was easily collected. Substitute Onyekuru was also guilty of putting too low a purchase on his shot in the 73rd minute as Nigeria streamed to the opposition area.

Two minutes later, in a spectacular backpass to his goalkeeper, Kenny Santos scored an own goal as the ball floated above the goaltender and landed in the net. The goal put Nigeria in front and eventually gave the Super Eagles the three points on the night.

Victory took the Eagles to maximum six points from two matches, three points ahead of second –placed Liberia, ahead of the Day 3 and 4 games scheduled for October.

 

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WC Qualifier: Nigeria to face Cape Verde without UK-based Stars

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The Super Eagles will tackle the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde this afternoon in Match Day 2 of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier without the services of UK-based players.

The Super Eagles contingent landed on the island of Mindelo yesterday morning, after a four-hour flight from Lagos aboard a special Air Peace jet.

There were 21 players on board, following the departure of UK-based players, who returned to their base as a result of UK authorities COVID-19 protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to Britain after visiting a country with COVID-19 red label, of which Cape Verde is one.

Today’s encounter, scheduled for the 5,000 –capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, affords a number of ambitious fresh legs not deployed in Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos to stake claims for permanent shirts in the Nigerian squad.

The absence of Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong, and Leon Balogun probably means that Italy –based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal, and Spain–based Kenneth Omeruo will start against the Blue Sharks this evening.

The departures of two-goal hero Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi also open the door for perhaps Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru. But it is in the midfield that Coach Gernot Rohr would have to enlist entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.

Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo have all returned to the UK.

Coach Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu to the midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia–based Chidera Ejuke, Italy–based former junior international Kingsley Michael, and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are available.

Captain Ahmed Musa will earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, 11 years after he won his first against Madagascar in Calabar if he takes any part in today’s encounter.

Three points will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and the Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum of three points ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star is victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.

A win will also brighten the path of the three–time African champions to the knockout final round, given that home-and-away fixture against the Central African Republic is what is on the plate in October.

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Conte breaks silence, says pre-deal with Arsenal not true

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Antonio Conte’s agent, Federico Pastorello has revealed that the coach has not agreed to a pre-deal with Arsenal FC.

There have been speculations that Conte is in line to replace Mikel Arteta at the Emirates after the later failed to win a single game this season in the Premier League.

The Gunners have also not recorded any goal in their defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Although Conte is out of work since leaving Inter Milan, he is not close to returning to the dugout.

Transfer specialist, Fabrizio Romano, tweeted: “There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre-agreement with any club and he’s free.

“Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre agreement with any club and he’s free.

Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 5, 2021

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