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Heck Of A Spot-Kick Bersant Celina.

Football had seen great spot-kicks, such as ‘the Panenka kick’, made even more popular by the likes of French icon, Zinedine Zidane, Italian legend, Andreas Pirlo, even defenders such as Sergio Ramos had done the Panenka spot-kicks, However, there are awful spot-kicks too, who will forget Italian Simone Zaza bizarre, mazy run up to a spot-kick against Germany in Euro 2016, the David Beckham spot-kick that went up into the sky in a Euro 2004 qualifier, the hilarious Henry-Pires failed spot-kick against Man City, the list goes on. Despite the long list, Bersant Celina spot-kick on Wednesday 13th will find it’s way up to the top of the worst spot-kick ever. This is an unfortunate spot-kick that caused Celina’s team a come-back result in the English Championship tie on Wednesday.

4th place on the Championship log table and promotion hopeful, West Brom hosted 15th place Swansea City in a midweek tie, and the match ended in favour of the home side 3-0. However, the real talking point of the match was the missed spot-kick by Swansea’s Bersant Celina 5 minutes from the interval.

West Brom is seeking a 1st win since the sack of manager, Darren Moore, and what a way to respond by the Baggies. Caretaker manager, Jimny Shan recalled captain, Chris Brunt into his team, and the Northern Ireland winger duly justified his inclusion in the starting lineup. The Baggies took a 19th-minute lead through Brunt’s free-kick, but Swansea City was given a way back into the match in the 40th minute when City skipper Mike Van Der Hoorn was brought down in the box by West Brom’s Craig Dawson, with City’s top scorer and regular spot-kick taker is still out injured, Bersant Celina stepped up and this happened;

the stand-in spot-kick taker opted for a panenka kick style, and just as he approached the ball, he slipped and ended up miskicking the ball in a bizarre fashion, one kick he won’t forget so soon, and his manager agreed with me, he was quoted saying;

It was one of those moments that you don’t wish on anybody… It is just a horrible moment that he will have to get over and deal with…It is easy to mock, of course, and I am sure he will get a bit of that, but that is just life – Graham Potter

With Swansea missing their chance to pull level, West Brom pulls further away after the restart, in the 54th minute when Brunt swung in a corner which was timely connected by Mason Holgate, and then, made the game safe with a 3rd goal through striker, Jay Rodriguez in the 85th minute.

So, was it a wicked slip or a panenka gone wrong, either way, it was a stroke of bad luck, one that put Bersant Celina into an unwanted list of bizarre/missed spot-kick.

Like Bersant manager, Graham Potter said, …that is just life, He just has to deal with it,

it’s a minor setback so to say, and the thing about setbacks;

A setback is never a bad experience, just another one of life’s lessons – Richard Branson

also,

…Look at the disappointment as lessons don’t waste time beating yourself up. Just get back on track and focus on what you want…-Jorge Cruise

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The All-Conquering James Harden

James Harden wrote his name in the history book by becoming the only NBA player to have scored 30 or more points against all 29 opponents in a single regular season when he scored 31 points of Houston Rockets’ 121-105 win over Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, a feat that can be like to Cristiano Ronaldo achievement in his penultimate season in the La Liga, where he scored against all 19 clubs he played against. James Harden also added 8 rebounds and 10 assists to his 31 points on the night at the Philips Arena.

James Harden impressive season also includes a 32 consecutive 30 or more points that were put to a halt in the Rockets’ 119 – 111 win over Tuesday night’s opponent, Atlanta Hawks, where James Harden finished with 28 points. With the Tuesday win, Rockets completed a regular-season double over their opponent for a 2nd successive year. James Harden has now overtaken 2 of the 3 previous records of longest 30+ points streak held by Former NBA star, Wilt Chamberlain, who had a steak of 65, 31 and 25. I personally don’t think any player will ever equal or beat Chamberlain’s 65 30+ point streak.

James Harden ruthlessness in front of opposition basket has never been in doubt ever since his days as Oklahoma City Thunder, but his defensive play had raised eyebrows. However, since his trade to the Rockets, his all-round performances have been top notch. James Harden started the season on a rough patch with the Rockets though, going 4-7, many attributed it to James Harden missing 3-straight games due to injury, but with Harden back in the team, Rockets went on a 5-game winning streak.

James Harden’s 30+ points scoring run did not start until mid-December 2018, and against who else? a team that has another James in her ranks, LA Lakers. James Harden ran LeBron James and the Lakers raged scoring 50, 10 & 11 (Pts, Reb & Ast) in a 126 – 111 victory, with LeBron limited to just 29, 5 & 4. James Harden never looked back since that victory, even in defeats such as the 117-112 loss to the former team, where James Harden still finished with 42 points. A scoring run that also includes career-high points, 61 points in Rockets 114 – 110 defeat of the New York Knicks.

Harden’s points streak may be over, He still leads the NBA with a staggering 36.3 points per game on the average, way ahead of former record 30.12 per game, held by Chicago Bulls’ Michael ‘air’ Jordan. Harden has scored 50+ points in 6 different games this season against Washington Wizards-54 pts, Memphis Grizzlies-57 pts, Brooklyn Nets-58 pts, LA Lakers-50 pts, New York Knicks-61 pts, Miami Heats-58 pts, joining the likes of Michael Jordan in a few elite group that scored 50+ points in more than 5 games in a regular season.

All hail James Harden!

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Selected Weekend Summaries From Europe Top Leagues.

Back-To-Back Losses For United:

United loses only there 3rd match in all competition since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at Old Trafford. Wolves which I consider as the premier league boogie team pulled another upset yet again, they confirmed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United to their 2nd successive defeat in all competitions, having lost to Arsenal in the EPL a week again ago. Wolves impressive performance of the season has seen them defeat 4 of the top 6 clubs, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool and now Manchester United are the big guns that have been fed to the Wolves.

Having eliminated Arsenal and Chelsea on their way to the quarterfinals, United were the clear favourite to advance into the last 4, United was also boosted with the return of some of their key men, Anthony Marshall, Jessie Lingard, Ander Herrera was passed fit to start for United

United started the match with the larger percentage of possession, but with little or no threat to Wolves goal, Wolves, on the other hand, were full of energy, pace, and sure ran United ragged, it was a matter of time before such display earned Wolves a goal. Joao Moutinho skipped past 3 United players and found Raul Jimenez who seemed to have lost his footing but somehow regained control and fired the past couple of United bodies, past Sergio Romero for the games opening goal in the 70th minutes. 6 minutes later, it was 2 nil in favour of Wolves, a quick breakaway down the middle saw Wolve’s Diogo Jota shrugged off a challenge from United’s Luke Shaw and fired past Romero. United got a late consolation in the added time of regulation time, 90+5, through Marcus Rashford, 2-1 it ended in Wolve’s favour at the Molineux.

United most realistic chance of winning a title faded into thin air, they still have the UCL as an outside chance though, with Barcelona standing between United and semifinal berth.

Quadruple Still Alive For The Citizen:

Manchester City’s quest of a quadruple was given a scare by championship side Swansea City in the quarterfinals. Swansea is having a difficult season in the league, and a result against high flying EPL side Manchester City, which are coming from a mauling, 7-0 of another team, was highly unlikely. Manchester City gave a much-needed respite to their talismanic striker, Kun Aguero, who started from the bench.

The match started with a plum, Swansea took a surprise 1st-half lead when City’s standing-in left back, Fabian Delph fouled Swansea’s right-back, Connor Roberts in the box, Matt Grimes duly convert the spot-kick to give Swansea a 20-minute lead, 9 minutes later, it was 2 nil, former Man City midfielder, Bersant Celina delightful curler beat Man City goalkeeper, Moraes Ederson to stun Man City. With defeat staring at his face, Pep Guardiola brought in Sterling and Aguero, and their impacts were immense. Man City staged the 2nd-half fight back, though 2 of Man City’s goals were contentious with VAR not in use at the Liberty Stadium. Goals from Bernardo Silva, Swansea’s goalkeeper, Kristoffer Nordfeldt own goal, in off Kun Aguero”s spot-kick, after Sterling was brought down in the box, and an Aguero’s diving header completed Man City’s win.

Manchester City was let off the hook with the absence of the VAR, and head into the FA Cup semifinal with the dream of a quadruple still alive.

Champions Elect Stunned At Genoa:

Juventus travelled to Genoa in the Serie A match-day 28, hoping to extend the point gap between them and nearest rival, Napoli to 21 points, but they were brought to earth by a resolute Genoa. Genoa who sits a distance 12 place on Serie A log table, no longer have the ruthless Krzysztof Piatek in their ranks anymore, but yet were unfazed by the star-studded Juventus side. The Serie A runaway leader had not tasted defeat in the 28 league matches so far, won 24, and drew just 3, one of which was a 1-1 draw against the same opponent earlier in the season, and the odds were in their favour not to lose.

Juventus rested their top goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was not included in the squad to Stadio Luigi Ferraris and were made to rue the decision as the Old Ladies lacked his finesse in front of Genoa’s goal. There was 2 overturned decision by the VAR at either end of the pitch, firstly, a penalty awarded to Genoa at the half-hour mark due to a contentious handball in the Juventus box, then a Paulo Dybala goal due to an offside in the build-up.

The breakthrough goal finally came in the 72nd minute in favour of Genoa, when substitute, and on-loan Juventus ace, Stefano Sturaro curled in from just outside the box to beat Juventus goalkeeper, and former Genoa, Mattia Perin. Genoa made the maximum points save with the 2nd goal when veteran and 33-year old Macedonian, Goran Pandev scored with just 9 minutes remaining. The defeat is inconsequential as far as the league table is concerned but Juventus will not have an unbeaten season after all.

Inter Milan Edged Derby Di Milano:

Derby di Milano or simply Milan derby is one of most fierce derby in world football, both Inter Milan and AC Milan share not just City but Stadium too. The history between these 2 clubs is old and is dated back to 1909, and will most definitely exist as far as football still exists.

The last time both teams met was a Serie A 1st-leg meeting in October last year, Inter ran away with a 1 nil winner, with Mauro Icardi scoring a stoppage-time winner. Fast forward the months and a lot have changed since October, Milan now has a certain Krzysztof Piatek in their lineup, and he has been massive to Milan course so far, scoring 6 league goals already since his January arrival, and are undefeated in their last 5 matches, winning 4 and drawing 1 in all competition. Inter, on the other hand, are having a patching run, with just 1 win in their last 5 matches across all competition, and will be missing the services of a rebel, Mauro Icardi, injured Radja Nainggolan, Joao Mario, Joao Miranda among other key players.

Despite Inter’s injury absentees, they took an early 3rd-minute lead when Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino combined for the latter to score. They scored a 2nd when De Vrij headed in to make the game safe, but Tiemoue Bakayoko half the deficit for Milan, to make it 1-2. Lautaro Martinez restored Inter 2-goal cushion via a spot-kick, but Milan pulled 1 back again 4 minutes later, and so it ended, 2-3 to Inter Milan. Inter have now leap-frog their rivals to 3rd place, 2 points clear, with 10 matches to go.

Contrasting Results For The Madrid Teams:

ZIDANE WON ON HIS RETURN; All the pre-match talking point was the return of Real legend both as a player and manager, Zinedine Zidane to the dugout at the Bernabeu, Zizou as Zidane is popularly referred to was reappointed after Santiago Solari was relieved of the job following a string of poor results that includes an embarrassing 1-4 home defeat at the hands of Ajax Amsterdam.

Zidane’s starting line-up drew a few eyebrows, with the recall of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, left full back, Marcelo, Midfielder, Isco and attackers Asencio and Gareth Bale, all who are a major actor in Zidane’s 3-year dynasty. No qualms as Real Madrid started Zidane’s 2nd reign with a 2-0 victory. Real have to wait until the 2nd half before they finally break Celta Vigo down, Karim Benzema’s cross found Isco, who scored from a few yards out. The 2nd goal came 15 minutes later, Marcelo made one of his trademark forward burst, and then squared the ball to Gareth Bale who fired home, in off the woodwork, to secure the 3 points.

ATLETICO MADRID LOSES AGAIN; Still hurting from the UCL exist, the Diego Simone tutored side went into the La Liga Matchday 28, hoping for a response and a result at rival’s, Athletic Bilbao, which is still in the hunt for a European spot. However, rather than a response from Athletico Madrid, it was more misery as they fell to goals from Inaki Williams and Kenan Kodro at the San Mames Stadium, home of Bilbao.

The slim chance of Atleti catching Barcelona further diminishing, they now trail their rival with 10 points, and Real closing up on their heels, with gap cut to just 2 points.

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LeBron Drowning With The Lakers, Playoffs Seems To Be Out Of Reach.

Sunday’s defeat of the LA Lakers, 107-131 by the Boston Celtics was the 5th consecutive loss for the Lakers, they now sit on 11th position on the Western Conference table, though they still have a mathematical chance of still making the playoffs, but realistically, with the way Lakers are playing, it will take something special and dramatic for the Lakers to make the playoffs, with just 17 games to go, and thus, LeBron’s incredible 13 consecutive playoffs is in great danger. Only 3 players had more consecutive NBA Finals appearances than LeBron; Bill Russell-10, Sam Jones-9, Tom Heinsohn-9, Frank Ramsey-8, LeBron James-8, and even fewer had more consecutive playoffs, as shown below,

Wiki

LeBron James, widely known as the GOAT of the NBA because of his achievements right from his draft into the Cleveland Cavaliers, to his trade to the Miami Heats and the present. His remarkable 13 consecutive years in the playoffs, 8 straight NBA finals since 2011, and 3 championships are worthy of all the accolades he’s received. His 3 championship wins, includes a back to back triumph with the Miami Heats in 2012 & 2013, and on his return to Cleveland Cavaliers, he helped the Cavs to win their 1st ever title in 52 years in 2016.

So, what happened to LeBron? could his recent dip in form be attributed to the injury sustained early in the year? or Is he just being caught up in the Lakers’ playoffs drought? The Los Angeles Lakers last appearance in the playoffs was an opening round loss, 0-4 to San Antonio Spurs in 2012-13, and last won the NBA championship in 2009-10, defeating Boston Celtic 4-3, a 3rd successive defence of the title from 2007-08. Their 5-years playoffs drought may have played a major role in bringing in LeBron James at the beginning of the season, to bring back the good old glory days, but it was not the season both LeBron and Lakers had hoped for so far.

Where did it go wrong for the Lakers? It started right from the 1st-3 matches of the regular season where Lakers lost the 1st game 119-128 to Portland Trail Blazers, then the next, a home loss, 115-124 to Houston Rockets(a game that was also marred with on-court scuffle), and the 3rd, an agonizing overtime loss, 142-143 to San Antonio Spurs. Though the Lakers picked up from the losses, and win the next 2 games, they never really get hold of the season, as they could not go 5 straight games without a defeat, more like 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards.

Lakers 5 games losing streak includes 120-131 loss to Milwaukee Bucks, 109-118 lost to Phoenix Suns, 105-113 loss to Los Angeles Clippers, 99-115 loss to Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics respectively, highlighted a topsy-turvy season Lakers are having. LeBron cut a frustrating figure in some of the losses, he was seen walking out of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks before the final buzzer, it is hard not to feel for him.

Will LeBron inspire one of the greatest comebacks ever record in the history of the NBA? It will be a miracle if Lakers make the playoffs. However, if LeBron and Lakers missed out, which looks likelier, it’s a disappointment but not the end of the world.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,

regroup and come back next season stronger.

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4/4 Into The Last 8, EPL Teams Taking The UCL By Storm

Which league is the most competitive or strongest in Europe?

This is a debate that has been on the lips of football fans across the world for a long time, and while remaining a heated debate till the ‘end of days’.

European governing body, UEFA, uses statistics called UEFA Coefficients to rank countries or associations according to the collective performances of clubs in UEFA competition which includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, and it’s current ranking put Spanish association as number 1 as shown below.

The Spanish La Liga had consistently produced 3 teams in the quarterfinals of the Europe elite competition, UCL, for the past 6 seasons, a feat dated back to 2012-13 season, with Real Madrid and Barcelona even ever present for a longer period, Spanish association surely deserve their status as the number 1 ranked association. The last time another association rather than the Spanish La Liga produced 3 teams in the UCL quarterfinals was in 2010-11 season, when the English Premier League produced Chelsea FC, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs, a campaign where Manchester United went all the way to the final, losing 1-3 to, guess who? Barcelona FC of the Spanish La Liga.

It seemed the tide is turning towards the English Premier League, as Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are bringing back the glory days back to England, all advancing into the quarterfinals.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Leading the EPL charge was Tottenham Hotspur, the North London club became the 1st English side to advance into the last 8 after a 4-0 aggregate win over German side, Borussia Dortmund. Spurs put themselves into the driving seat with a 1st leg 3 nil win at White Hart Lane, goals from Son Heung-Min, Jan Vortonghen and Fernando Llorente settled the 1st leg, and they did it without their injured talisman, Harry Kane. Spurs knew they would have to weather the storm in the return league at the Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, and they had their French goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris to thank for not losing the 3-goal advantage early in the 1st half. A Moussa Sissoko through pass found Harry Kane, who held his nerves and coolly slotted past Roman Burki in Dortmund goal to make it 1 nil on the night, and 4 nil over the 2 legs, Spurs 1st quarterfinal place since 2011.


MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United joined Spurs in the last 8 with a historic 3-3 aggregate comeback victory on away goal rule over PSG, having won 3-1 on the night at the Parc Des Prince, Paris. All odds were stacked up against United who lost the 1st leg 2-0 on home turf, Old Trafford, goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kilian Mbappe condemned United to their worst home defeat in European competitions. However, United Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is no stranger to great comebacks, having helped United as a player staged a comeback 2-1 final win over Bayern Munich 20 years ago, pulled another masterpiece away at PSG. A seemingly mission impossible is now one of the greatest come back of all time (1st team in the UCL and European cup history to overcome a 2-goal margin home 1st-leg deficit). United achieved the feat without the services of 10 1st-team players, having lost Paul Pogba, Anthony Marshall, Juan Mata and others to either suspension or injuries.


MANCHESTER CITY

United ‘noisy’ neighbours, Manchester City joined their EPL counterparts in the last 8 with a 10-2 aggregate whitewash of Schalke 04 of Germany. The 1st leg had ended 3-2 away win for the Citizen, a double spot-kick from former Spurs ace, Nabil Bentaleb had put City in the back foot, but former Schalke o4 ace, Leroy Same scored a delightful free-kick to stage a comeback, then, Raheem Sterling finished off with a late goal.

City come into the return leg at the Etihad Stadium with the 3-away goals, a goalless draw could have been it for City, but City sure put up a ruthless display, once again, it was former Schalke 04 lad, Leroy Sane that orchestrated Schalke 04’s downfall, 7 nil it ended in favour of City, their biggest ever European win. Only Bayern Munich’s 12-1 aggregate win over Sporting CP in 2008-09 UCL round of 16 ties, was a bigger win than City’s 10-2 win over Schalke 04.


LIVERPOOL FC

Liverpool tie against Bayern Munich was seen as many as the tie of the round, and so it proves to be. The German heavyweight faced an inform Liverpool at Anfield for the 1st leg, and after an evenly contested 90 minutes, nothing could separate the 2 clubs as the tie ended in a 0-0 scoreline, making the return leg at the Allianz Arena even more gingerly poised.

Liverpool showed character in Germany, took an early 26-minute lead through Sadio Mane, Bayern equalized through a Joel Matip own-goal, but Liverpool would not be denied victory, as they regained the lead through defender Van Dijk header. Sadio Mane put the final nail to Bayern’s coffin, to make the scoreline 3-1 on the night, and on aggregate.


English Premier League is producing 4 teams in the quarterfinals for the 1st time since they did it back-to-back in 2007-08 and 2008-09, when Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United reached the last 8. It is an outstanding feat that will surely fuel the old argument of the strongest league in Europe once again. Is this another year for the English Premier League teams? time will tell at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.

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Another Twist To The EPL Top 4 Race, It Is Going Down To The Wire.

The race for the top 4 finish is getting hotter, with Manchester City and Liverpool destined to occupy the top 2 places, Tottenham Hotspurs, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea justle for the remaining 2 places. Earlier in the season, Spurs looked to have a firm grip on the 3rd place, and the 4th place was to be contested between Arsenal and Chelsea, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led Manchester United has remarkably recovered and thrown themselves back into the mix, plus Spur dip form has thrown the race all open again.


Tottenham Hotspur’s Dip continues;

Spurs’ firm grip on top 4 finish has gradually loosened, and now hangs on a tread, they now lead the chasing pack led by Arsenal with just a single point, and 3 points ahead of United in 5th place on the EPL log table, having lost to Southampton on Saturday.

Just like Harry Kane’s return from injury was marred with a 1-2 defeat by Burnley at Turf Moor, his teammate, Dele Alli’s return from an injury suffered a similar fate, as Spurs were defeated 2-1 by a struggling Southampton at St Mary Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur is in a poor run of results with just 1 point from a possible 9 of their last 3 matches, Spurs’ last win was in early February when they defeated Leicester 3-1 without either of Kane or Alli. They started the match against Sutton in the best possible way, took the early ascendancy in the match, as shown above, Kane and Alli combined for the former to score a 26th-minute goal, but Spurs’ defensive worry was highlighted again as they conceded an equalizer through Sutton’s Yan Valery, Spurs 6th-goal conceded in the last 4 domestic matches. Just when it seemed the game will end in a draw, Sutton’s James Ward-Prowse converted a delightful free-kick in the 81st minute to condemned Spurs to a 3rd defeats in 4 matches.


Chelsea Slipped Yet Again;

Chelsea was on the brink of another home loss before a sublime Eden Hazard 92nd-minute curler rescued a point for the Blues. The Blues picked up from the 0-6 mauling at the hand of Manchester City with back-to-back wins over London rivals, 2-0 over Spurs and a 2-1 triumph over Fulham respectively, but they come up against EPL boogie team, a team just below them on EPL log table, Wolverhampton, which has also seen a dip in form with just 1 win in their last 4 matches.

Chelsea dominated the proceedings at Stamford Bridge as shown in the stat above but was unable to a stubborn Wolves, Wolves sat back and defended resolutely against Chelsea and hit back on a swift counter-attack to take the lead through Raul Jimenez, after an interplay between Diogo Jota and Jimenez. Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain, Pedro among others, did everything right but could not go past Wolves’ goalkeeper, Rui Patricio, until the stoppage 92nd minute, Hazard found space and took his chance from outside the box. 1-1 it finished at the Bridge.

Chelsea remains in 6th position behind Manchester United in 5th, just 3 points behind 4th place Arsenal, with a game in hand.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Unbeaten Gravy Train Halt Finally By Arsenal;

The biggest EPL match of the weekend was the tie between old rivals Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirate Stadium, as Arsenal claimed the bragging rights over Manchester United, with a 2-0 home win. A win that put an end to United caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s domestic 12-match unbeaten run and 9-straight away win in all competitions.

The history between these 2 clubs is as old as time itself and became even more fierce in the 90s during Sir Alex Ferguson and “the Professor”, Arsene Wenger time as United and Arsenal managers respectively. United holds the advantage over the Gunners on the head-to-head stat as shown, but it was Arsenal who took a 1st half lead when United goalkeeper, De Gea misjudged Granit Xhaka’s 25-yard swerving shot in the 1st half, and then double their lead with a 2nd-half spot-kick from Aubemayang. There were injury scares for Arsenal when Sead Kolasinac and Laurent Koscielny were attended to. United might felt undone by luck as they hit the woodwork twice, firstly, Lukaku hit the crossbar, then, Fred hit the side post, and had more shot on target than the Gunners, as the stat suggested, but Que sera sera.

Arsenal sure getting the most out of Aaron Ramsey ahead of his summer exit, the Juventus-bound ace had another good match, a man of the match display by the Welsh man that saw him won 8 tackles – most in match, won 12 duels – most in match and covered most ground, 12.7km – most in match, He is vital for Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League place push. Arsenal’s home form also playing a pivotal role, 9 wins out of their last 9 home matches was a massive improvement to last season’s home form.


With 8 matches to go, there is no clear cut favourite for the UCL remaining 2 places, either of these 4 clubs can stake a claim. Fixtures above show the run-in for the 4 clubs in question, points will be dropped no doubt, and if Spurs poor form continues, it looks like she might not make it.

Image 1, and for more stat see link

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Sly Fox, Ramos Antics Caused Real Madrid Badly.

Some see being cunning or sly as smartness that surpasses strength [German proverb],some others disagree, they liken the cunning to a fox, which is as murderous as the violence of the wolf [Thomas Paine], both groups have their reasons, for me, I feel if there are no rules of engagement, then there is no harm or shame in being cunning. The game of football like every sport is guided by different rules and regulations, any sort of antics and trickery outside those rules and regulations are not acceptable and can be term as ‘violence’, ‘improper’ conducts amongst other conduct violations.

Sergio Ramos, fully aware of the rules and regulations, chose to ignore them or probably tried to outfox everyone. The Spaniard was booked in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 ties against a familiar foe, Ajax Amsterdam of the Netherlands, but it was later discovered by UEFA’s ethics committee that it was a premeditated act by Sergio Ramos, Ramos was then slammed with a 2-match ban which ruled him out of the next 2 UEFA matches.

HOW IT UNFOLDED;

Ramos, improper conduct went down in the 1st of the 2-leg match of the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Ajax at the Johan Cruff Arena, Netherland, Ajax home ground. Real Madrid had taken a respectable 2-1 lead and was holding on till the final whistle, but then, Ramos in his ‘sly wisdom’, picked up an 89th-minute booking (his accumulated 3rd), for what seemed to be a careless tackle on Ajax’s striker, Kasper Dolberg, but during the post-match interview, Ramos was quoted saying;

I would be lying if I said I didn’t force the booking…

His comment apparently showed that his ack was premeditated rather than careless, a comment that had UEFA open a disciplinary investigation and eventually found Ramos guilty by the panel. An additional 1-match ban was added to the initial automatic 1-match ban incurred from the booking. The ban ruled Ramos out of both the return leg against Ajax, and the 1st leg of the quarterfinal should Real go pass Ajax( unfortunately Real didn’t go past Ajax).

Awkward moment for Dolberg when Ramos offers a handshake after been booked, this guy should be sober, Dolberg thought in his mind.

Rubbing salt to Ramos’ injury was the fact that, in his absence, Real Madrid were humiliated in front of home fans 1-4 in the return leg, as they exited the competition 3-5 in aggregated to Ajax, his leadership role at Real Madrid’s defence backline as well as the team as a whole was missing.

WHAT UEFA REGULATION SAYS;

•UEFA rules stipulated that accumulation of 3 cautions carry an automatic 1-match suspension.

•It also says that all yellow cards pick up will be wiped clean after the quarterfinals.

with the rules in mind, Ramos wiping his booking slate clean, reduced the risk of being unavailable for the crucial stages of the competition, well, so it seemed if his plan was successful.

IT HAD HAPPENED BEFORE;

Sergio Ramos is no stranger to cunning conducts and controversies. In 2010, Ramos alongside teammate, Xabi Alonso, deliberately picked up a 2nd booking and then sent off against the same team, Ajax, having taken a comfortable 3-0 lead at the Dutch club home ground. Real goalkeeper, Iker Casillas received instructions from their coaching staff headed by Jose Mourinho through reserved goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, Casillas, in turn, informed Ramos and Alonso of the purported plan from the bench. The red card meant Ramos and Alonso would miss the last group G match for Real Madrid against Auxerre, and enter the knock out phase with a clean slate. Mourinho, Ramos and 3 other Real Madrid players involved in the improper conduct were charged, fined and suspended by UEFA.

Absolutely no room for unsporting conduct in the game will all love. Sergio Ramos cunning ways were caught by the long arm of justice both on and off the pitch. A wise man once said;

You can be more cunning than others but you cannot be the smartest of all – François de La Rochefoucauld

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A Dethroned King, And A Potentially Birth Of Another

Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League defeat of reigning champion, Real Madrid, at home turf, Santiago Bernabeu, at the hand of less fancied Ajax Amsterdam, can be seen by many as the end of a golden generation, the dethroning of a true king, and the birth of a new generation of Ajax players. Real Madrid had ruled UEFA Champions League for 3 successive years and was 1 of the fancied clubs to win, but a 1-4 home defeat to Ajax, despite holding a 2-1 advantage, was the least on the bookmaker’s list.


The 1st leg between these 2 clubs ended 2-1 in favour of Real Madrid, an action-packed contest, but overshadowed by controversies. The 2 major talking points that marred the match played at Ajax’s Johan Cruff Arena was a disallowed goal and an intentional yellow card. Nicolas Tagliafico headed opener was disallowed by VAR for a Dusan Tadic’s offside, and then, Sergio Ramos picked up a booking which was later discovered to be a premeditated action by Ramos, which ruled him out of the return leg at the Bernabeu, an action that will now haunt him for a while, as his leadership role was missed in the Real Madrid backline in the return leg defeat.

A masterclass display from former Southampton of English Premier League player, Dusan Tadic, saw the Dutch side took a 1st half lead, 2-0 in an explosive 1st 18 minutes. The Serbian then scored a subline 3rd goal in the 2nd half to pull the match away from Real Madrid. Real pulled a goal back through Marco Asensio, but a 4th Ajax’s goal through Lasse Schone meant Real Madrid will not be defending the UEFA Champions League for a 4th successive year.

The 2nd leg was supposed to be a difficult mountain for the Amsterdam club to climb, but a spirited display by the Dutch side saw them CAME to the Bernabeu, SAW, and CONQUERED, 4-1 on the night, and 5-3 on the aggregate to progress to the quarterfinals stage since 2003, 16 years ago.


DETHRONED KING

Real Madrid’s 1011 days(2years, 9 months, and 5 days since Athletico Madrid defeat in 2016) as champion has been ended by a new generation of young lads from Ajax Amsterdam. The beginning of the end of a talented Madrid squad that includes current world footballer of the year, Lucas Modric, Welsh star, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, former world cup winners, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, and ex-Real Madrid superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo among the Galacticos.

Real parted ways with their talismanic striker, Cristiano Ronaldo in the last summer transfer window, and arrogantly refused to replace him with adequate cover, the current struggle in front of opposition goal is a clear indication that the Portugal international is hugely missed. Real Madrid had reached at least the semifinal since Ronaldo’s 2nd season, 2011-12, at the Bernabeu, players such as Bale, Benzema, Asensio and the young Vinicius Jr found Ronaldo’s shoe too big to lace. Home stadium, Santiago Bernabeu is no more the fortress it used to be as Real has now lost 2(0-3 loss to CSKA Moscow & Ajax) home game already in this UCL campaign, Sergio Ramos’ disciplinary records getting worst by the season, among other worries for Real Madrid.1-4 defeat to Ajax was Real Madrid’s heaviest in a knockout game in Europe, It’s Real Madrid’s 4th lost at the Bernabeu since 2004, their 3rd in history, 1st reigning champion to fail to advance past. round of 16 since Inter Milan in 2010-11, among other stain on their pretty records.


AJAX’S NEW GENERATION

It’s almost a decade and a half since the golden generation of Ajax team ruled Europes elite club competition, the Louis Van Gaal tutored side won the UCL in the 1994-95 season with an exciting youthful team, with an average age of 23 years, a side that includes the likes of Frank De Boer, Edwin Van Der Ser, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Kanu Nwankwo, Patrick Kluivert, Jari Litmanem among other great names of such a talented group. A lot had happened since the generation ended, Ajax struggled to put together such an elite group to challenge in Europe. The best Ajax could achieve in the UCL since then was a quarterfinal place in the 2002-03 tournament, and had failed to advance past the group stage since the round 16 exits in the 2005-06 season.

However, a new wind is blowing, looks like another era has begun with the Dutch side Ajax, a group of young lads have done well for themselves this season. Ajax manager, Erik Ten Hag’s team has performed so well in the current campaign, getting remarkable results especially away from home, Erik side has not lost away from home this UCL campaign, including a 1 all draw at the Allianz Arena, Bayern. The youthful side with an average age of 24, includes much sorts after duo of, Matthijs De Ligt and Frankie De Jong, strikers, Kasper Dolberg and Dusan Tadic, Hakim Ziyech among others.


Ajax defeat of Real Madrid was a remarkable feat, and the lads deserved all the accolades that are been showered on them. They joined a group of trio clubs to have scored 4 or more goals at the Santiago Bernabeu, they become only the 2nd team to eliminate Real Madrid from European competition knockout tie, having lost the home tie. Does this herald another golden era in with the Dutch club, time will certainly tell?

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Another Milestone For King Roger Federer

Roger Federer once again proves that age is just a number, as he achieved another milestone in his illustrious career. He now writes his name in the history book by becoming the 2nd male tennis player to win and reach a 100 ATP singles title, with his Dubai Championship triumph over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 37-year-old Federer is now just 9 singles titles shot of equaling the most title wins, a position that is currently being held by Americas Jimmy Connors, who is on 109 singles titles.

What more can one write about a man that has dominated the sport, Roger Federer broke into world stage since 1998, during an era that includes great tennis players such as the duo of Americans Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt to mention few, Roger Federer has not looked back since then.

Federer started 2019 tennis season on a winning note, with a successful defence of the Hopman Cup alongside female countrywoman, Belinda Bencic( who also won the female singles in Dubai). However, a disappointing 4th-round defeat to rising star, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas meant, there won’t be a 3rd-time defence of the Australian Open for Federer.

Federer’s hunger for more glory was reiterated recently when he said he aimed for more titles and not ATP top ranking, and he showed such hunger with another championship win, his 8th title in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, adding to his victories in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2014 and his 2015 victory over archrival, Novak Djokovic.

En route to his triumph, Federer dropped 2 sets, certainly not one of his vintage performances, but he got the job done. A round of 32 wins, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over German’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, then, he dropped his 2nd set in the tournament with a round of 16 victories, 6-3, 3-6 6-3 win over Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, for a place in the quarter-final. His quarter-final contest was also exhausting as Federer was stretched into a tie-breaker, a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over Hungarian, Marton Fucsovic. A much easier win for Federer in the semi-final over Croatian, Borna Coric, 6-2, 6-2 straight set triumph. The final was against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, Federer’s conqueror at the Australian Open, a couple of months ago. This time, the Swiss Maestro got his revenge, a 6-4,6-4 straight set win over Tsitsipas.

8th Dubai Championship for Federer, 100th career title win and still counting, give it up to the Swiss MaestroRoger that!

Images are Getty Images’ 123

and blog can be found on my Scorum account also

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Brendan Rodgers In For Claude Puel, 5th Mid-Season Managerial Shakeoff Of The EPL’s 2018-19 Season.

The English Premier League 2018-19 season is not over, yet, another manager had been shown the exit door, Claude Puel of Leicester had been replaced by former Celtic Manager, Brenda Rodgers. This managerial replacement at Leicester made it the 5th across the EPL in the current campaign, having seen Fulham replaced Slavia Jokanovic with Claudio Ranieri, Southampton replaced Mark Hughes with Ralph Hasenhuttl, Manchester United replaced Jose Mourinho with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Huddersfield replaced David Wagner with Jan Siewert, Who says coaching job is an easy one?

OUT GONE CLAUDE PUEL;

Puel was sacked after just 16 months in charge of Leicester City. He led Leicester to a 9th place finish in his 1st season, 2017-18, after taking over from Craig Shakespeare, but a string of poor results has seen his Leicester City team falling down the EPL log table, 12th place, just 8 points from safety, and any hope for European qualification is all but gone.

Leicester poor run started since the turn of the year, since the new year day 1 nil away victory over Everton, the team has been on a free fall, a 7-match-winless run in all competitions, a poor run that includes a FA Cup 3rd-round 1-2 defeat to lowly Newport County, and 5-EPL defeats and a single draw out of 6 EPL matches, just 1 point out of a possible 18 points. Leicester had also lost her last 4 home matches during this poor run, the last time Leicester lose 4 or more (5) home matches in a row was in 1959, some 60 years ago, and the last time Leicester lost 4-EPL matches in a row was in December 1999, a run that extended into January, into a 7-match winless run. They have also conceded 15 league goals since the new year, only Cardiff City had conceded more this year.

It’s hard to figure out what went wrong. Tracking back to December last year, Leicester was flying, a remarkable 1 nil defeat of Chelsea at the Bridge was quickly followed by a 2-1 home win over high-flying Manchester City, but then, a disappointing home loss to Cardiff City laid the foundation for what followed in months after.

Claude Puel had now joined the growing list of mid-season manager casualties, and also joined Leicesters list of sacked manager, 3rd in just less than 2 years.

CAME BRENDAN RODGERS;

Rodgers needs no introduction to the EPL clubs and fans, his feat at Swansea City especially, announced him to the EPL, as he managed and helped Swansea City gain promotion into the EPL, and became the 1st Walsh club to do so. His managerial touch made Liverpool came calling in 2012, to replace King Kenny Dalglish. Rodgers helped built the famous, deadly, strike combination trio, SSS; Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling, and were on the brink of winning the 2013-14 EPL title for the 1st time in 28 years, but an unfortunate and infamous Steven Gerrard slip, put the dream to the sword, and ultimately Rodgers reign at Anfield came to an end in 2015.

However, Rodgers quest for glory would soon be realized in the Scottish Premier League. Neil Lennon had just left his post as Celtic manager, and Rodgers soon took over at Celtic Park in 2016. In his 1st season in charge, Rodgers won a domestic tremble; Scottish Premier League title (with 30 points ahead of 2nd placed Aberdeen), Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup, setting a record of 47-domestic-unbeaten run in the process. Rodgers repeated his 1st season success by retaining the tremble in his 2nd season. He had already won the Scottish League Cup for the current campaign, bringing is a total hall to 7. Safe to say Leicester got a manager with a champions mentality.

The burning question is, has Rodgers taken the right decision? No doubt he wanted a new challenge, having won everything that needed to be won in Scottish football, but taking the job of a struggling club might stain his credentials, all the new managers brought in by Fulham, Southampton and Huddersfield have not been able to improve situations on the ground.

Can Brendan Rodgers perform the magic at Leicester and turn around their fortune? Time will tell.

ps: all images are Getty Images, and blog can be found on my Scorum account 

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Maurizio Sarri, The Architect Of His Own Misfortune.

Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri may have sealed his fate at the hands of Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovic. The Chelsea owner still hurting from the 0-6 humiliation of his Chelsea club since he assumed ownership, was slapped in the face with another damaging FA cup exit, 0-2 home loss to Manchester United. Victory over FC Malmo in the Europa Cup on Thursday night a much needed respite, but EFL Cup final defeat against familiar adversary, Manchester City on Sunday, may have ended Sarri’s reign at the Bridge, as news making the rounds already suggested that Chelsea chiefs are already considering the duo of former Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane and former home ace, Frank Lampard as Sarri’s likely replacement.

Sarri started his reign at the bridge with an early-season-winning run, but things have changed since those remarkable start. So, what went wrong for Sarri and his tactics? How did things get to this stage? He has not even completed a season, and yet, he is about to join the growing names of Chelsea mid-season casualties as shown above;


SAME OLD POSSESSIVE PLAY AKA SARRIBALL;

Sarri’s possessive play, better known at the Bridge as Sarriball seems not to be bringing the early-season success, and with seemingly no plan B to navigate this hard time. Clubs like Burnley are very difficult to break down by just passing the ball around, you’ve got to go long and direct if need be to win against difficult teams as such, how many times have we seen Liverpool rescued a result from long balls and setpieces. Chelsea is failing in this direction and the blame has to be Sarri’s, who remains adamant on his Sarriball style of play. According to Skysports stat, Chelsea’s possessive play is not bringing success or results as much as it does for Manchester City and Liverpool who are also rank high with possessive play, Chelsea’s possessive play is not resulting as much as it should into chances created or goal.

JORGINHO OVER KANTE AS MIDFIELD ANCHOR MAN;

Sarri remained defiant playing Jorginho rather than Kante in the holding midfield role despite strings of poor results, raised more question than answers. There is no denial of the fact that Sarri and Jorginho know each other too well from their time at Napoli, and bringing Jorginho to Chelsea seems sensible, but Chelsea already has a world class player in the holding midfield role, Ngolo Kante. Kante’s exploits as an anchor-midfield man are well documented, right from his breakthrough season with surprise English Premier League winner, Leicester, to his warrior-like display to help Chelsea win back the League title, and not to forget his 2018 FIFA World cup heroics with France, all as the midfield anchorman. Yet, Sarri favours Jorginho over Kante, even when Jorginho is sometimes out of sorts. Clubs seem to have decoded Sarri’s tactics, stop Jorginho and you will stop Chelsea, such were the stories when Chelsea played Westham, Everton, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United to mention few.

PREDICTABLE SUBSTITUTIONS;

Sarri’s like-for-like substitution is well too predictable, either in victories or in defeats, it is all too similar. Ross Barkley for Mateo Kovacic substitution is growing too popular, the latest duo interchange in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United was the 20th times in all competitions that both players will be swapped for each other under Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea’s other talented midfield players that are being constantly overlooked by Sarri includes the duo of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and enterprising young winger, C. Hudson-Odoi who can both come in and win a match, little wonder some of these lads are refusing a new contract.

Managers are known for being too adamant and defiant with their approach and philosophy, and it has really not helped most of these Coaches and certainly might not help Sarri too. We’ve seen the likes of Arsene Wenger, who despite widespread calls for him to change his approach, to invest in a weakened Arsenal defence year in, year out, but he refused, and he ultimately paid for his stubbornness, as his long-year affair with Arsenal was brought to a less ceremonial end.

The English Premier League is a tough league, managers have to be dynamic and unpredictable with their tactics and approach, any manager who failed to do that will have himself to blame, other managers will figure him out. It seems to me that Sarri has failed with his tactics, or maybe he just needs more time to perfect his tactics and his Sarriball style.

What do you all think?

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What Went Down In England, My Take On Selected Weekend Results

Plenty to talk about from English weekend football, both English Premier League and English Championship presents a kind of competitiveness that makes them one of the most watch around the world, this weekend was not an exception. Plus, the EFL Cup final between Manchester City and Chelsea, it’s barely 2 weeks since City thrashed the Blues 6-0, a nail-biting defeat that certainly set the tone for this cup final.

CITY’S QUEST FOR QUADRUPLE IS ALIVE;

Where else can one start the weekend review than the EFL Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester City? Chelsea aiming to avoid a repeat of the humiliation suffered at the hand of their opponent some couple of weeks ago, adopted a more cautious approach this time, allowing City to have the possession but with no real threat to them. City still managed 3 shots on target compared to Chelsea’s 1, but no breakthrough, not even extra time could produce a goal, thus, the ultimate spot kick to decide the contest. After enjoying success last season from the FA-Cup-shootout win over Manchester United, Chelsea were hoping to repeat the feat against City, but poor kicks from firstly, Jorginho and then, David Luiz, meant Chelsea would leave Wembley Stadium empty-handed, while City, despite losing a spot kick through Leroy Sane, still won 4-3 from the shootout, and Manchester City’s quest for 4 trophies still very much alive with EFL Cup in the bag.

HARRY KANE’S RETURN MARRED BY SPURS DEFEAT;

Tottenham Hotspur title push may have hit a snag, with a damaging defeat at Turf Moor, Burnley. Spurs were beaten 2-1, to slip 5 points further behind 2nd on the log, Manchester City. News of Spurs leading scorer, Harry Kane’s early return from injury ahead of initial March schedule was met with excitement and joy among Spurs officials, teammates and fans, but Kane’s return was marred with a defeat. Burnley yet again showed they are a tough nut to crack, they seem to have shrugged off their early season poor performances, with just one defeat ( to Man City) in their last 8 matches, a run that includes a remarkable 2 all draw at Manchester United to halt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winning gravy train.

It was the visitors that took the early ascendancy as expected, but with no real threat to Burnley’s goal, Burnley was happy to sit back and weather all storm blew at them by Spurs, and find their goal in customary Burnley fashion, fast breaks and set pieces. The 2nd half was where all the action were, as Burnley took the game to Spurs, Burnley took a 57th-minute lead through Chris Wood via a disputable corner kick, Harry Kane showed no sign of rustiness from injury lay-off, with a come-back goal, to level matters in the 65 minutes, but spirited Burnley got their deserved winning goal in the 83rd minute through Ashley Barnes, to end the contest 2-1. Burnley’s run of unbeaten 2019 continues while Spurs slim chance of title further fades away.

FULHAM DESTINED FOR RELEGATION;

The Cottagers are having a torrid season, and are languishing in relegation waters, not even the appointment of the Tinkerman, Claudio Ranieri could transform the fortune of the West London Club.

Looking for their 1st win since the 4-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the end of January, Fulham took an early 3-minute lead through the Dutchman, Ryan Babel, in the London derby, over Westham United, but a 29th-minute controversial equalizer by Javier Hernandez put Fulham on the path of defeat, replay showed that the Mexican had scored with his hand, but the goal stood. Issa Diop’s 40th min header and Michail Antonio’s goal sealed the comeback win for the Hammers. It was Fulham’s 18th league defeat of the current campaign, and are still rooted on 2nd from bottom on leg table with just 17 points from 27 matches, with a huge -35 goal deficit, only a miracle can prevent a relegation.

INJURY-RAVAGED CONTEST AT OLD TRAFFORD;

The much talked about rivalry match between title favourite, Liverpool and rejuvenate Manchester United ended in a goalless stalemate. It was almost a horror show rather than an entertaining showpiece, with 4 1st-half injuries that took the delight out of the game. Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced into making all his substitution in the 1st half due to injuries, both Ander Harrera and Juan Mata got injured in quick succession, firstly, it was Herrera in the 21st minute, and Mata just 4 minutes later, both players were replaced by Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard respectively. It got uglier for United when substitute, Lingard limped off, to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez in the 43rd minute. Liverpool was slammed with their own injury worry too, stylish striker, Roberto Firmino was replaced in the 31st minute by Daniel Sturridge.

A point was enough to move Liverpool back to the summit of the EPL table on 66 points, a point ahead of title challenger, Manchester City, in 2nd place, and 6 points clear of 3rd place team, Spurs.

CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE RACE IS 3-HORSE RATHER THAN 2-HORSE RACE;

Championship title race gets even more interesting now, with Sheffield United thrown into the mix, alongside Norwich City and Leeds United. The blades as Sheffield United are popularly called, have been on a 5-match unbeaten run prior to Saturday’s victory over West Bromwich Albion, they now sit in 2nd position on the Championship log table with 64 points after 34 matches played, just 2 points adrift of log leader, Norwich City, with Leeds United also on 64 points, having played a game less.

It could be recalled that both Norwich City and Leeds United recorded a slim win respectively, to keep the race hot and to the wire. Table topper, Norwich, held on to their grip on top with a hard-fought 3-2 home victory over Bristol City, while Leeds also had a 2-1 home victory over struggler, Bolton Wanderers to stay in touch with Norwich and Sheffield United.

DERBY COUNTY IN DANGER OF MISSING THE PLAYOFFS;

Frank Lampard has done a very great job since he assumed the managerial role at Derby County, his good works have not gone unnoticed by his former club, Chelsea, who are considering him to take over at the Bridge. However, Derby’s push for promotion either through the automatic slot (which seems so unlikely) or the playoffs (which is more attainable), was hampered with a damaging 0-1 home loss against relegation-threatened, Millwall, last Wednesday. Derby County now sits on 7th place on Championship log table, just outside the playoffs spot, with 2 outstanding matches too though.

OTHERS;

Another notable point of discussion was the home defeat of Leicester City, 1-4 by Crystal Palace on Saturday late kick-off, a defeat that signalled the end and sack of manager, Claude Puel after just 16 months in charge. Huddersfield doomed for relegation after another 0-2 loss at Newcastle United, they are rock bottom on the league table.

These were just a few spotlights of what went down in England this weekend from my points of view, you can add your talking point or spotlight in the comment section.

ps; all images are from Getty images, and can be found on my scorum account 

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AJ vs Big Baby! Psychological Games Have Started In Earnest.

The June 1st showdown between the 29-year-old Briton, Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua and the 30-year-old American, Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller draws ever closer, and thus the customary press conferences and the usual antics and mind games from the boxers had already begun with a bang.

I am never a fan of mind/psychological games, for me, it feels like boasting, haughty or pride, and like the old wise saying;

pride goes before a fall

How hard can it be, to go into the press conference, show respect for your opponent, the AJ style and let the fight’s outcome or result speak for you, just like it has been speaking for AJ, and, how ridiculous can it get, after one makes so much noise and boasting, and then, end up losing. I will rather go for the former. Yes! Most will argue that mind games are good for the sport, it helps build the momentum, and also, a lot of games/bout are won even before stepping into the battlefield, as Iron Mike Tyson used to almost always match his pre-bout antics and mind games with results, and in contrary, a certain Dereck Chisora, who despite his pre-bout war call and antics against Dillian Whyte, lost twice.

The press conference between AJ and Big baby was held at the famous Madison Square Garden, New York, USA, and it was Jarrell Miller who drew the 1st blood if mind games count. The shorter 6ft 4in Miller pushed his taller 6ft 6in opponent, Joshua off balance during their meeting on Tuesday, causing a short-lived brawl, and now, with such hostility building, boxing fans are in for explosive warfare come June.

Miller’s assault on Joshua did not end at the standoff, he further rained more insults on the current IBF, IBO, WBA & WBO champion, Joshua, saying amongst other things;

…He’s lucky I didn’t punch him in the face, but as I said, I ain’t got no time to play games. I don’t play boxing, this is what I do. Breathe, eat, sleep this c**p.
…He knows that I’m not playing. I don’t care. I knock him out right now. I’m a warrior. I don’t care about any of that.
…You’ve never seen anybody with mental fortitude like me, he said. No matter what he does, what he hit me with, how many punches he throws, he ain’t going to beat me, he ain’t going to stop me.
…I’m a walking monster. On June 1, I’m uniting the world.

Anthony Joshua who had never encounter such bullish act since probably the pre-bout press conference to 2016 Dillian Whyte bout, in his response to Miller’s action said;

You can see Dillian Whyte – they are cut from the same cloth, I don’t expect anything else from characters like those.

A quick look into Jarrell Miller stats as shown above, he is certainly not a pushover, AJ will definitely have is work cut out against his “Monstrous” opponent who has got as much win success in the ring as Joshua. Miller who also had a successful kickboxing career from 2006-2014, with 21 wins out of 23 fights, with just 2 losses will pose a great threat to Joshua’s world titles.

Anthony Joshua needs no introduction, the British star status was rubber-stamped when he knocked out Wladimir Klitschko back in 2017 to add the WBA belt to the IBF title he won with a 2nd-round stoppage of Charles Martin in 2016. Though, boxing fans may be disappointed for his choice of Jarrell Miller, they have been hoping for a unification fight against WBC holder, Deontey Wilder, or a Tyson Fury fight or even a rematch against Dillian Whyte, AJ’s prowess is never in doubt and his 100% win record as shown above is a testimony to that.

Boxing fans around the world eagerly await next episode of AJ-Big Babys mind games.

ps: images are BBCSports’ and GettyImages’

Thank you all for taking the time out to check my blog.

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Another Crazy Scoreline From Europe’s Pro League, 20-0! Is Such Scoreline Good For Soccer/Football?

Just when you thought you have seen it all, then BOOM! it is starring right into your face all over again. 10-0 scoreline is embarrassing, but even worse is a 20-0 scoreline, which can be damaging to any leagues competitiveness. Soccer fans are still trying to wrap their head around a 10-0 scoreline in modern pro leagues, then came another 20-0 scoreline. A certain Serie C club, Pro Piacenza was pummeled 20-0 by their Serie C opponent, AC Cuneo, in a rather unfortunate fashion. One begins to wonder if it was a soccer match or a rugby game.

Serie C is the 3rd highest football division in Italia’s 9-tier-football division, and it includes 59 teams/clubs divided into 3 groups of 20:20:19 (Grp A: Grp B: Grp C) respectively. Both AC Cuneo and Pro Piacenza are in Group A of Serie C, and both also sit in the bottom half of the league table, While Cuneo sits on 13th position, it is ever relegation battle for Pro Piacenza who sits rock bottom on the league table.

Pro Piacenza, also known as the Rossoneri found themselves making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It was a mess that started way back last year, 2018, and remained unresolved till the present day. Players went on strike action over months of unpaid wages prior to a league fixture against log leaders, Pro Vercelli, adding insult to Pro Piacenza injury was the local council who sealed up the Rossoneri’s rented home stadium, Stadio Garilli over unpaid fees. With all the internal crisis, Pro Piacenza was unable to put together a team for matches, which in effect meant an automatic 3 goals, 3 points conceded. The league rule stipulates that if a team/club failed to turn up for 5 leagues fixtures, such club will be liable to expulsion from the league, in a bid to avoid expulsion, Pro Piacenza rallied a team for the match against AC Cuneo.

With most 1st team players still out on strike, Pro Piacenza turned out against AC Cuneo with just 7 players, a 7-man team that includes 6 teenagers among which an 18-year-old Nicola Cirigliano dua as team captain and team coach, hilarious huh! FIFA rules stipulate that the minimum number with which a team can start/begin a match is 7. So, the Rossoneri had just enough to begin the match against AC Cuneo, a huge mistake on their path.

Pro Piacenza was thrashed 20-0, as AC Cuneo went riot with 7 different scorers. The goals started raining down as early as the 3rd minute, and by half time, it was 16 nil, 4 more goals at the restart condemn Pro Piacenza to a humiliating defeat.

See highlight below;

Cuneo Goal Scorers :

Hicham Kanis-6 goals (8′, 10′, 17′, 30′, 32′, & 36′)

Edoardi Defendi-5 goals (3′, 4′, 16′, 20′, & 22′)

Francesco De Stefano-3 goals (15′, 31′, & 84′)

Michele Emmansso-3 goals (38′, 44′, & 89′)

Guiseppe Caso-1 goal (24′)

Francesco Ferrieri-1 goal (58′)

Nicola Alvaro-1 goal (78′)

AC Cuneo who had only scored 18 goals in their previous 24 league matches, now double their seasons tally in just 1 match.

After the match, a worried and disappointed President of the Italian Football Federation described the result as;

insult to the sport,…Our responsibility is to protect the passion of the fans, healthy entrepreneurs and credibility of our championships,…The one we unfortunately witnessed will be the last farce.

Now, CD Nacional who lost 0-10 a couple of weeks ago and her fans can breathe a sigh of relief, a much-needed respite at a point in need. Conceding 10 goals apparently is not the worst scoreline anymore.

Do you think scorelines such as 10-0, 20-0 at any league division is good for football?

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Son Heung-Min Leading Tottenham Hotspur’s Title Charge In Kane And Alli’s Absence.

Tottenham Hotspur made it 4 straight wins in all competitions since Harry Kane and Dele Alli got injured, having defeated their German opponent, Borrusia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday night. The win followed Spurs wins over Leicester City, Newcastle United, and Watford respectively in the English Premier League, and 1 man who is leading Spurs charges for glory in the absence of 2 of Spurs’ main players, Kane and Alli, is the South Korean Ace, Son Heung-Min. The Spurs forward has been crucial to Spurs’ wins since his arrival from international duty(Asian Cup), scoring a goal each in all the 4 matches mentioned earlier.

When the news 1st broke out that Spurs’ striker, Harry Kane and Midfielder, Dele Alli would be out on treatment table until March, it was met with so many long faces and disgruntled Spurs fans, and in all fairness, they could be cut some slacks, both Kane and Alli had been so instrumental in Spurs 4-front-title chase, both could have made a difference had they played in the Chelsea and Crystal Palace losses, plus, the injury news came at a time when another important Spurs player, Son Heung-Min was away on international duty. Though, Spurs Manager, Mauricio Pochettino tried to allay the fans fear and concern by saying his team have enough firepower to continue the title charge without the trio, but a back-to-back defeats/exits from cup competitions at the hands of Chelsea in the EFL Cup, and Crystal Palace in the FA Cup 4th round, aggravated fans concern, but just when it seems Spurs title charges are over, there came a light at the end of the tunnel, South Koreas quarter-final exit at the Asian Cup meant Son would be returning to Spurs earlier than expected, and boy what an instant impact he has made since his return.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3-0 BORUSSIA DORTMUND UCL ROUND 16

Spurs played host to Dortmund on Wednesday nights UCL round of 16, It was a match few could have predicted the scoreline. Spurs were widely expected to have it tough against the German club, but it was not that tough after all, the home side got a deserved and comfortable 3 nil win. Guess who set the ball rolling? You guessed it right, Son Heung-Min. Spurs wing back on the day, Jan Vertonghens pitch-perfect cross was met with Son’s right-side-footed volley to score 1st goal, out of the night’s 3 goals for Spurs. It turned out Son loves playing against Dortmund, BBCSports stat tells that, Son’s goal on the night was his 9th against Borussia Dortmund in 11 games in all competition.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3-1 LEICESTER CITY EPL MATCHDAY 26

Spurs played host to Leicester City in an English Premier League match-day 26. Spurs still without the duo of Kane and Alli, up against a team that had defeated title chaser, Manchester City and Chelsea in this current campaign, but yet again, Spurs won with a convincing 3-1 scoreline. Davinson Sanchez and Christian Erikson and given Spurs lead, but Jamie Vardy pulled 1 back to make the scoreline 2-1, and just when it looked like Leicester will complete a fightback, Spurs sealed the win with the 3rd goal through, yes, you got the name right, Son Heung-Min. A Spurs break-away put Son through on Leicester goal from inside Spurs half, the Korean race on, and with the keeper to beat, He coolly scored.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1-0 NEWCASTLE UNITED EPL MATCHDAY 25

Spurs victory over Newcastle United was a hard-fought win. The Magpies, brimming with confidence after a recent victory over Manchester City, Newcastle match was a potential banana peel. It took a late 83rd-minute strike from Spurs ace, Son Heung-Min again, to break down the Magpies, a man-of-match performance from Son that got his manager elated

Sonny is like a battery that you have, you work, work, work until the battery is gone…He gives you everything… said Pochettino.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2-1 WATFORD FC EPL MATCHDAY 24

Spurs 4-match-winning streak started against Watford, Spurs were just coming back from a back-to-back defeat at hands of Chelsea and Crystal Palace, and then needed a hero to inspire the team, a hero they found in Son Heung-Min, who had just returned from International duty. It was an EPL match against high- flying Watford Fc which had not lost in 5 straight matches. Watford scored 1st through Craig Cathcart, it took 42 minutes for Spurs to level up, thanks to their South Korean Striker, Son Heung-Min, 6 minutes later, Spurs went ahead through their Spaniard, Fernando Llorente who sealed the win with a header.

Son Heung-Min might not be making the headlines as he should, his importance to the Tottenham Hotspur team is as valuable as Harry Kane’s and Dele Alli’s, and statistics duly shows that Son Heung-min’s 11 goals and 5 assists made it 16-goal involvement for Spurs in his last 12 appearances in all competitions, Son is courageously holding the fort in Kane and Alli’s absence.

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Isreal Adesanya’s UFC Outstanding Record Extended To 16-0-0

Nigerian-New Zealander, Israel Adesanya defeated his opponent from Brazil, former UFC champion, Anderson Silva with a 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 unanimous scored to continue his impressive winning run of 5 straight UFC win in less than a year.


Israel Adesanya;

The Nigerian-born New Zealander made his mixed martial arts(MMA) debut in 2012, and he has never looked back since, winning 11 straight bouts, a feat that got Ultimate Fighting Championship(UFC) come calling, and he was signed up late in 2017. Adesanya had since won 4 straight UFC fights; a debut TKO win over Australian Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221, a split decision win over Italian Marvin Vettori at UFC on Fox 29, another unanimous decision win over America’s Brad Tavares at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale and lastly, a1st-round TKO of another American, Derek Brunson at the UFC 230. His total UFC win stands at 15-0-0 (W-L-D), what outstanding results.


Anderson Da Silva;

The 43-year-old Sao Paulo-born Brazilian is arguably regarded by some pundits as the greatest professional mixed martial artist of all time. The former UFC Middleweight Champion once ruled the sport with the longest title reign of 2,457 days that spanned over 7 years (2006-2013), his reign also includes a 16 consecutive victories, a run that was brought to an end by an American, Christopher James Weidman. Silva lost to Weidman twice in 2013 at the UFC 162 and 168 respectively. Nevertheless, Silva aka The Spider still boasts of an impressive record of 34-8-0 (W-L-D) before Adesanya’s bout. Unfortunately, Silvas career took a downward turn since his defeat against Weidman, age seemingly catching up with him, coupled with a 1-year ban from the sport for doping in late 2017. Silvas fight against Adesanya was his 1st in about 2 years.


THE BOUT

Adesanya against Silva bout was supposed to be a co-main event contest at the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, but an unexpected injury to the UFC Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker meant the main event on the day, Whittaker against Americas Kelvin Gastelum would be cancelled, thus, Adesanya-Silva bout was then made the main event. It was a fight of experience, 43-year-old Silva versus a younger 29-year-old Adesanya, it was the younger fighter that showed and gave more to carry the day. Adesanya landed the bigger punches, faster and showed better stamina, He quickly imposed himself right from the start, and almost connect with a left high kick in the opening round. The former champion, Silva showed why he was once a champion in the 2nd round, more blows that connected cleanly on Adesanya. With the momentum and results going the way of Adesanya, Silva tried to turn the game on its head in the 3rd and final round, but he simply did not have enough in him to do so. Adesanya was unanimously pronounced the rightful winner by the 3 judges 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27, his UFC career record now stands at 16-0-0.


Both players showing respect to eachother after the bout.

In his remarks, Adesanya acknowledged his vanquisher, Silva, who he referred to as 1 of his idols, he said it’s like playing basketball against Michael Jordan. Silva who has now lost 3 of his last 4 bouts was also full of appreciation, especially to God, for another chance to fight at a top level, having been out for about 2 years.

Adesanya is on the right path to challenging for the middleweight title, if he continues in this form and streak, the sky is his limit.


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Rangers

An Explosive Match At The Pittodrie, Aberdeen 2 vs 4 Rangers Match Review.

Rangers bid of securing a Scottish Premiership title for the 1st time in about 8 seasons was kept alive with a resounding 4-2 win over hot on their heels and 3rd on log table, Aberdeen on Wednesday evening, goals from Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier and substitute, Jermain Defoe secured Gerrard-led Rangers’ 4th win in a row.

The matchup between these 2 clubs had always been feisty, in fact, the last 2-league meetings had produced 3 red cards, 1 for Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove and 2 for Alfredo Morelos, seems Morelos have a personal vendetta against Aberdeen. Also, the last 3 meetings had seen Rangers dominated proceedings but were undone twice by a 1-nil scoreline and the 3rd match ended in a draw.

There had been much debate whether Rangers coach Steven Gerrard should stick to his 4-3-3 that has brought him an instant success at Ibrox or deploy a traditional 4-4-2 formation to accommodate new loan signing, Jermain Defoe and in-form striker, Alfredo Morelos. Both players were used in a 4-4-2 formation against Kilmarnock some 4 matches ago, but ended up losing 1-2, Gerrard quickly debunked the notion that the loss was due to change of tactics and formation, he resorted back to the preferred 4-3-3 and Rangers had gone on to win 4 in a row including this win over Aberdeen.

Key Moments: Aberdeen 2-4 Rangers,

It was an entertaining end-to-end matchup that contained everything a match has to offer, Goals, Spot-kicks, Cautions and Dismissals;

20′ ; It was Rangers who lit up the stadium in the 20th minute, when Liverpool loanee and in-form Rangers forward, Ryan Kent made a run into the box and then fired a shot at Joe Lewis in Aberdeen goal, the goalkeeper could only parry the ball unto the path of Morelos who duly obliged and scored.

31′ ; Aberdeen would not go down without a fight on home turf, just 11 minutes after they conceded, Aberdeen responded with an equalizer through the Scottish league top scorer, Sam Cosgrove. Almost a replica of Rangers goal, Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson well-connected volley ricocheted off Rangers’ players and fell unto the path of Cosgrove, who side-footed into the net.

38′ ; Rangers really meant business and regained the lead, once again, it was Kent-Morelos combination, the lively forward was a constant menace to the Aberdeen defence, and his pass picked out Morelos who left-footed into the bottom corner.

43′ ; Rangers steered clear with the 3rd goal, another penalty in their favour, making it the 4th spot-kicks in last 2 league matches ( scored 3 spot- kicks in their 4-0 victory over St Mirren). James Tavernier initial free-kick was handled in the box by Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna, Rangers’ captain duly scored his 3rd from 12 yards in last 2 games.

47′ ; The 2nd half barely started when Aberdeen pulled 1 more goal back, Sam Cosgrove drew a foul from Rangers captain, Tavernier and the referee pointed to the spot, Cosgrove dusted himself up to tuck away the spot-kick to make the scoreline 2-3.

55′ ; Alfredo Morelos found himself in the bad book again, the Colombian, just like his 2 previous matches against Aberdeen, was sent off after involving in a tangle with Aberdeen’s James McKenna, the referee, Bobby Madden also sent off McKenna for violent play.

90+4′ ; With both teams playing with 10 men, it was all Aberdeen trying to find the equalizer, they threw bodies forward and left themselves open at the back and were duly put to sword by Rangers, a quick break-away saw substitute, Jermain Defoe unmarked at the far end, and he smartly fired home the 4th for Rangers.

Rangers still sit in 2nd place on the Scottish Premier League, 6 points adrift of log leader, Celtic, but are now 5-point clear of their rival, Aberdeen in 3rd place.

Steven Gerrard has not even completed a season as Rangers manager yet, but he is already making a name for himself not just at Ibrox but in the league at large. If he can upstage Celtic to the league title remains to be seen, that will be one headliner if he does.

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LeBron

+32,000 Career Points For LeBron, But Not The Result He’d Hoped For.

LeBron James became only the 5th player in the history of the NBA to score +32,000 (32,008) points after scoring 18 points in Wednesdays match up with the Indiana Pacers, sadly, LeBron ended up on the losing end after the LA Lakers went down 94-136 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Arena, home of the Pacers. LeBron now suffered the worst defeat of his illustrious NBA career, having not previously lost by more than 36 points to any team, the defeat condemned Lakers to another back-to-back lost in this calendar year having lost 101-115 to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

LeBron James returned to the lineup after been rested in the loss against the Warriors, but he could do little as the Lakers back-and-forth season continues with the 27th defeat of the regular season, winning 27 and sit 10th on the Western Conference log table.

Indiana Pacers were on a run of 4-straight defeats before they rallied with a back-to-back wins, the losses respectively includes ; a 103-106 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a 100-132 loss to the Golden State Warriors, a 87-107 loss against the Washington Wizards and then a 100-107 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic, but they snapped out of those defeats with a hard-fought 95-88 win over the Miami Heat and another narrow 109-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, what a recovery they have now, with the 3rd straight win over Lakers.

Despite not been at his usual ruthlessness, having recently returned from a groin injury, LeBron still led his teammates in points (18), rebounds (7), and assist (9), but the overall performance of the Lakers was abysmal, Lakers only scored 4 3-pointers all game compared to Pacers 19 3-pointers. It was all Pacers from the start to finish, the Lakers could not even win a quarter of the 4 quarters. Lakers had 5 players in double figures, the closest to LeBron’s points was JaVale McGee who played just 15 minutes and scored 16 points, 4 rebounds with no assist, followed by Lance Stephenson with 13 points, a rebound and 2 assists, Brando Ingram and Kyle Kuzma had 12 points each, Ingram with 6 rebounds and an assist, and Kuzma with a rebound, no assist, Lakers seem ordinary without a fully fit LeBron.

Indiana Pacers on their path did the needful, they successfully limited LeBron’s influence on the game, Pacers outscored the Lakers in all quarters, by the time it was half time, Pacers had opened up a 23-points gap, with a score of 69-46 points. The onslaught continued in the 2nd half, as the Pacers ensured that the day belongs to them and not LeBron with a full-time score of 136-94. 7 players were on double figure for the Pacers, led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s game-high 24 points, a rebound and 5 assist, he was closely followed by teammate, Myles Turner with 22 points and a rebound, Domantas Sabonis had 17 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, Aaron Holiday and Edmond Summer also had 17 points, Holiday with a rebound and 3 assists, while Summer had 2 rebounds, other players are Cory Joseph, who had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists and Thaddeus Young who also had a decent 21-minute game and scored 12 points, game-high 11 rebound and 8 assists, a remarkable display by the Indiana Pacers.

Brando Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and others need to come to the party and support LeBron James if Lakers really want to be a force to reckon with, no wonder the widely speculated news of LeBron pushing for a Lakers’ trade for New Orleans Pelicans star, Anthony Davis.

It was indeed a milestone achievement for the King, LeBron James, but one he will remember for the good and ugly.

ps; images from BBCSports, Sportstoday and Getty Images

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Qatar Crowned Asian Cup Champion, Japan’s 5th-Title Push Hit A Snag.

The 17th edition of the continental football showpiece, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup has been decided, After a 4-long week of fiest competitions that started on the 5th of January and ended on 1st February of current year, between 24 teams, UAE 2019 final match was contested between 4-time winner, Japan and the oil-rich nation, 2022 FIFA world cup host, Qatar, and the deserved champion is Qatar. The Maroon defeated Japan 3-1 to win the Asian Cup for the 1st time ever.

JAPAN: The Samurai Blues are the tournament most successful team with 4 titles to their name, prior to the final match: 1992; Japan hosted and won the championship defeating Saudi Arabia 1 nil in the final. 2000; After failing to defend their title in 1996, Japan returned to Lebanon to reclaim the title with a 4-1 win over the defending champion at the time, Saudi Arabia. 2004; Japan successfully defended her title with a 3-1 win over host, China. 2011; Japan last triumph came at Qatar with a narrow 1 nil win over Australia. The Samurai Blues had scored 11 goals in their 6 matches played before the final and conceded 3, a slight worry against an unstoppable force like Qatar. Japan’s run to the final includes;

3-0 Iran (semifinal)

1-0 Vietnam (quarterfinal)

1-0 Saudi Arabia (round of 16)

2-1 Uzbekistan (group stage)

1-0 Oman (group stage)

3-2 Turkmenistan (group stage)

QATAR: The Maroons had never been in the Asian cup final before, despite hosting in 2 different occasions, firstly, in 1988, when they hosted and never made it out of the group stage, then, in 2011, in which they were knocked out 3-2 in the quarterfinals by the eventual winners, Japan. In a bid to have a reputable tournament in the 2022 world cup, Qatari football federation promoted former youth coach, Spaniard, Felix Sanchez Bas to handle the senior team, and boy what an impact Sanchez has had over the Qatari team. The Maroons had not conceded a single goal in the 6 matches played prior to the final, scoring 16 goals in those matches, they were not just an immovable object, they were also an unstoppable force. Qatar’s run to the final includes;

4-0 UAE (semifinal)

1-0 South Korea (quarterfinal)

1-0 Iraq (round of 16)

2-0 Saudi Arabia (group stage)

6-0 North Korea (group stage)

2-0 Lybia (group stage)

The buildup to the game as seen host nation, UAE filed a protest against the legibility of 2 of Qatar’s players. Tournament top scorer, Almoez Ali (8 goals before the final match) and son of former Iraqi international, Bassam Al-Rawi were both alleged to be ineligible, However, UAE’s claims were thrown out and thus both players were given the all clear by AFC.

It was the Samurai Blue that took the early initiatives to the Qatari but they just could not break down the defensive wall put up by Sanchez lads, Against the run of play, it was Qatar that drew the 1st blood in the 12th minute through, you guessed it right! Almoez Ali for his 9th goal of the tournament, Almoez was afforded too much space and time to turn and control before taking a spectacular over-head kick past Japan’s goalkeeper, Shuichi Gonda. Japan prowl and probe for an equalizer but was stunned instead in the 27th minute with another beauty of a curler from outside the box through Hatem Abdulaziz. Finally, Qatar’s defence was bridged for the 1st time in the tournament when Japan’s Takumi Minamino’s 69th-minute chip over Qatar’s goalkeeper made it 2-1. Unfortunately, Japan’s rally for an equalizer was hampered in the 83rd minutes when Japan’s Maya Yoshida was penalised for handling the ball in the box, Qatar’s Akram Hassan Afif duly converted the resulting spot kick, 3-1 it ended. Astonishingly, all the 4 goals in the match came from the only 4 attempts on targets, the ESPN statistics throws more light on the contest. Japan’s quest for a record-extending 5th title will have to wait for another 4 years. Qatar not just boast of a formidable attack, but also boast of a dependable defence and had shown the world they are battle ready for the next world cup. Tournament top scorer, Almoez Ali was also named the tournament MVP.

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New York Financial Regulators Grant BitLicense to Bitcoin ATM Operator

News

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has granted a virtual currency license, or BitLicense, to Cottonwood Vending LLC, according to an official tweet on Jan. 31.

Cottonwood Vending is a Bitcoin (BTC) ATM operator with terminals in New York City and the surrounding area. According to the tweet, the granting of such licenses “continues to advance responsible innovation in New York’s fintech industry.”

Bitcoin ATMs, or BTMs, are touchscreen kiosks that enable users to deposit cash and either buy Bitcoin, or to scan their mobile wallet, sell their crypto, and withdraw cash. Sales and purchases sync automatically to users’ mobile wallets.

In November 2018, NYDFS granted a Bitlicense to another BTM operator, Coinsource. NYDFS said in a press release that its decision followed a comprehensive and thorough review of Coinsource’s application and subjects the firm to significant regulatory conditions.

BitLicenses were introduced by NYDFS in July of 2014 by Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s first Superintendent of Financial Services. The acquisition of such a license is seen by many in the cryptocurrency and blockchain spheres as a necessary step to conducting business in the state.

Firms that receive such a license are subject to certain anti-money laundering (AML) standards and counter-terrorism financing standards. Other requirements include background checks on all employees, and records of transactions must be kept for 10 years.

Various companies in the crypto space have sought and received BitLicenses from NYDFS. In July 2018, global crypto payments processor BitPay was granted a BitLicense. At the time, BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said:

“New York state has one of the strictest policies around businesses involved in cryptocurrency and working through the approval processes to obtain a License was important to BitPay. We believe this hard work will pay off as New York presents significant business opportunities for BitPay.”

Asian final

Japan Plays Qatar In The Final, As Irans Great Wall Finally Cracked And Host UAE Bowed Out.

The Asian Cup UAE 2019 is going to be contested by the 4-time winner and the oil-rich nation, Qatar. The Samurai Blue clinically broke down Iran’s impregnable defensive wall with 3 unreplied goals to stake a claim in Friday’s final, while The Maroons as Qatar are known reached their 1st ever final by putting 4 goals past the host, UAE and yet to concede a goal.


Having not conceded a single goal in the tournament prior to the match against Japan, Iran seems like an immovable force, the Carlos Queiroz tutored side hopes to go one better with such impressive defence against experience and dogged Japanese side who knows how to grind out results in difficult circumstances. The table was set at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, as about 23000 crowd cheers on in favour of Iran expectedly, Despite this, Japan showed their experience and quickly took early ascendancy of the match, about 66% of the possession to Irans 34%, but Iran grew in confidence as the match progress and took over possession. It was a competitive 1st half with no goal.

The real action started in the 2nd half as the goals rained in, 11 minutes into 2nd half, Japan had a breakthrough goal, Iran’s defender neglected his duty to complain to the referee about a call that never came, the Japanese player in question raced to pick up the loose ball and swung in a cross to an unmarked teammate, Werder Bremen striker, Yuya Osaka to nod in a 54th-minute goal. Yuya Osaka scored again in the 67th minutes from the penalty spot after Irans Morteza Pouraliganji handled the ball in the area. Iran huff and puff to get back into the match but to no avail. The Icing was put on Japans cake in the stoppage time, 90+2 minutes when Genki Haraguchi scored the 3rd goal. Japan 3 goals came out of a few 4 shots on target, how clinical can they be compared to Iran’s 2 shots with no goal.


 

Qatar and UAE have both had a great tournament so far, having reached the semifinals defeating the likes of South Korea and Australia respectively along the way. Both teams squared up in a gingerly poised contest, and what a match it turned out to be. The host knew they had it all to do if they are to go past a Qatari defensive strong wall, and we’re hoping their 12th player, the home supporters could help jeer the Qatari wall down, it was not meant to be. Playing under the watchful eyes of over 38000 supporting crowd, UAE failed to break down Qatar’s back 4. The crowd jeered and booed the Maroons, but despite all, it was Qatar who shocked and silenced the home crowd with a 22nd-minute goal through Boualem Khoukhi, who raced away and side-footed through and under UAE goalkeeper, Khalid Lisa’s hands, the goal sparked a reaction from the crowd who rained down missiles unto the pitch, however, it did not dampen Qatar’s spirit as they got their 2nd goal in the 37th minute through a fine curler just at the edge of the box from Qatar’s Almoez Ali.

The host fans had hoped for a turn around in the 2nd half, but it was the Maroons who picked up from where they left it with another breakaway goal in the 80th minute, Hassan Al Hagdos latched unto teammate, Akram Hassan Afif’s flick to chip over the on-rushing UAE goalkeeper, it was game over at this point yet there were still late dramas, a stoppage-time red card to UAE’s Ismail Ahmed for elbowing Qatar’s Salem Al Harris face after a VAR review, and then, Qatar’s 4th goal in stoppage-time 90+3 through Hamid Ismail, to complete the onslaught. The 2022 FIFA World Cup host will play in the Asian Cup for the 1st time in their history and did so without conceding a single goal yet all tournament. The Felix Sanchez Bas’ team are truly moving in the right direction in preparation for the world cup.


Japan vs Qatar is going to be a great and entertaining match up, judging by the past meetings between this 2, Japan looks the favourite having won their last encounter 3-2, and in fact, won 2 and drew 1 over Qatar in the last 3 matches. So will it be The Samurai Blues or The Maroons come Friday evening? Time will tell.

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Asian Cup Into The Semis, The Defending Champion, Australia, South Korea Among Others Had Been Sent Packing.

The Asian Cup, UAE 2019 has now reached the semi-finals, and among the teams that were eliminated included the defending champion, Australia, pre-tournament favorite, South Korea, China and Vietnam, and their conquerors includes the Host, UAE, Qatar, Iran, and a new favorite, Japan.


Vietnam 0-1 Japan: The 1st quarter-final match saw the former 4-time winner, Japan squared it up with tournament surprise team, Vietnam. Playing at this stage for the 1st time ever, Vietnam had nothing to lose, Japan, on the other hand, was the favourite to progress from the match, and it was supposed to be a walk in the wood for Japan, but it seems there is no such thing as easy match in football anymore. It took a dramatic 2nd half penalty before Japan could break down a dogged Vietnam. Japan was given a lifeline by the VAR in the 57th minute after the center referee had initially dismissed Japans call for a foul in the 18-yard box on Maya Yoshida, but reversed his decision and awarded a spot-kick after a VAR review. Ritsu Doanscored the spot-kick to edge Vietnam 1 nil. Vietnam could have earned the 89th-minute equalizer but Nguyen Cong Phuong blasted the ball over from an unmarked position. Japan now faces a stern test against a former 3-time winner, Iran in the semi-final.


China 0-3 Iran: Iran proved their Asian heavyweights status by easily dispatching China 3 nil in the 2nd quarter-final match. The Carlos Queiroz tutored side came into the match with a mean defense, having not conceded a single goal so far in the tournament, and had scored a respectable 9 goals in the 4 matches they have played, while their opponents shaky defense was in question, China had conceded 4 goals in their 4 matches played so far and scored 7, Iran duly obliged, and exploited the Chinese weak defense. The Marcelo Lippi side, China were out-muscled and out-classed by the Iranians. Iran open the scores in the 18th-minute when Iranian striker, Mehdi Taremi was afforded too much space and time in the box by Chinese defenders to tucked home, 22 minutes later, it was 2 nil, Chinese defense went to sleep again as a long ball over the top found Iranian’s Sardar Azmoun who rounded the goalkeeper, Yan Junling to slot home the 2nd goal, then, a stoppage-time Iranian through ball sent Karim Ansarifard clear to score the 3rd goal. China’s long search for the 1st Asian Cup title still continues while Iran advanced to the semi-final for the 1st time since the year 2004.


South Korea 0-1 Qatar: Qatar showed the rest of the world how much they are progressing and battle ready for the next FIFA world cup which they host in 2022, by defeating pre-tournament favorite, South Korea 1 nil in the quarter-final. Qatar has shown so far in the tournament that they are a force to reckon with, having scored 11 goals in their 4 matches played and conceded none, yet they were not expected to defeat a strong force like the South Koreans. The former 2-time winner, South Korea, led by Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min, were searching for their 1st title since their last in 1960 and were highly favored to lift the UAE trophy were sent packing by a determined Qatar side. The oil-rich nation has not enjoyed a whole lot of support all-tournament due to the political tension between them and host UAE, Saudi Arabia, and some other neighboring Nations, but that did not deter Qatar from some commendable performances, and surely a big win over South Korea. It was a match with few chances created as both teams canceled each other out in front of a crowd of just below 14000 at the Zayed Sports City. The deciding goal came on the 78th minutes from the left foot of Qatar’s Abdulaziz Hatem, a long-range effort from outside the box that ended Korea’s title hope. South Korea now failed to reach the semi-final for the 1st time since the 2004 tournament and 59 years long wait for Asian Cup win continues while Qatar head into the semis as the 2nd team after Iran not to have conceded a goal after 5 matches and will now engage with the UAE in a potentially politically charged semi-final match.


UAE 1-0 Australia: The defending champion, Australia‘s quest/hope to retain her title were dashed by a spirited host, UAE. The host had had a decent run-up to this stage, having won 2 and drew 2, scoring 7 goals and conceded 4 of their 4 matches played prior to the quarter-final match against the Socceroos. With the crowd playing the 12th player role tremendously, UAE fancied their chance against an Australian team that were not at their best in the tournament, Australia recovered from a 1st group match defeat to Jordan to win their next 3, with their 3rd and round of 16 match win came in a 4-2 shoot-out victory over minnows Uzbekistan, seems the Socceroos missed their talismanic leader, Tim Cahill who had since retired after last years summer world cup. Australian defeat was their own making though, a weak back pass from Milos Degenek was intercepted by UAE’s Ali Mabkhout, who rounded up the Australian goalkeeper, Matt Ryan before slitting into an empty net, Australians felt hard done by, having seen Milos Degenek fouled in the build-up to UAE’s goal, all their protest fell into the deaf ears of the center referee. The host started with intent, with a 1st-minutes long-range attempt by Ismail Al Hammadi which was dealt with by Matt Ryan, Al Hammadi called Matt Ryan to action again in the 19th minutes. Australia had chances of their own too with Trent Sainsbury‘s looping header and Apostolos Giannou shot called UAE’s goalkeeper, Khalid Essa to smart saves too, and even had the ball at the back of the UAE net, but was ruled offside. And so, the 68th-minute UAE goal decided the contest, UAE had successfully avenged their semi-final loss to Australia 4 years ago.


The semi-final line-up; 

Iran vs Japan, 

Qatar vs UAE

will be played on Monday 28th, January, will be played on Monday 28th, January, you can catch up the results and highlights on AFC ASIAN CUP, UAE 2019.

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uae

Asian Cup Into The Quarter-Finals, The Race Is Nearing The Finish Line.

The Asian Cup, UAE 2019 round of 16 has been decided, and all the pre-tournament favorites still fight on. Among the quarterfinalists includes Australia, China, Iran Japan, Qatar, South Korea, UAE, Vietnam.

Jordan 1(2) vs 1(4) Vietnam:

Surprise quarter-finalist, Vietnam, won their round of 16 knock-out match for the 1st time in an Asian Cup at the expense of Jordan. It could be recalled that Vietnam qualified into the round of 16 by the whisker, having reached the stage via a spot in one of the 4 best 3rd-placed finishes, In contrast to Jordan who won their group B, beating Australia along the way. It was the Jordanian that took a 1st half lead through a spectacular tight corner free-kick through Baha Abdel-Rahman in the 31st minute, but the Vietnamese pegged Jordan back in the 2nd half, a Nguyen Cong Phuong‘s 51st minute shot inside the box to level matters and held on till the end of 90 minutes. The additional 30 minutes could not separate both Jordan and Vietnam and thus, it has to be decided by spot kicks. The Jordanian duo of Baha Seif (who hit the crossbar) and Ahmed Saleh (whose kick was saved) missed their kicks, while the Vietnamese had better luck with their kicks missing only 1 through Tran Minh Vuong, and then winning the kicks 4-2. Vietnam reward is a quarter-final berth against Japan.

Thailand 1 vs 2 China:

It was China‘s turn in the second round of 16 matches against Thailand. The 2-time runner up, desperately in search of their 1st ever Asian Cup title had to fight their way back from the jaws of defeat after going 1 nil down to a 31st minute goal from Thailand’s Supachai Jaided, but China leveled, thanks to their 33-year old lanky striker, Xiao Zhi, who came of the bench in the 64th minute to clinch a 67th minute equalizer, before another China forward, Gao Lin converted a 71st minute spot kick to ensure a deserved victory for China. China will host Iran in their quarter-final.

Iran 2 vs 0 Oman:

Former champion and 3-times Asian Cup winner between 1968-1976, Iran, was hoping to put to an end, their 43 years long wait for another title, and fancied their chance against lowly Oman. Having qualified from group D with 7 goals scored and none conceded, the odds favor Iran to go past Oman, who managed to qualify through the best 3rd-finish. Iran did not disappoint, with 2 1st half goals more than enough to put the game to bed, firstly, an Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s 32nd minute finish, then, an Ashkan Dejagah’s 41st-minute spot kick. Oman would have themselves to blame though, after squandering a 2nd-minute spot kick to have taken the lead, but it was not meant to be.

Japan 1vs 0 Saudi Arabia:

Match of the round was definitely between Japan and Saudi Arabia in terms of status and titles, with 7 titles shared between them, 4 for Japan and 3 for Saudi Arabia, it would not be wrong to have tagged it clash of the Titans. The last 6 matches between these two had seen them winning 3 each, it was an intriguing match with no pre-match clear cut favorite. Japan deploying a traditional 4-4-2 formation saw less of the ball, with Saudi Arabia controlling the game, having deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation. However, despite sharing the larger possession of the ball, Saudi Arabia were not clinical in front of the Japanese goal, with 15 shots and only 1 was on target, they were punished by Japan who fared better in front of goal, having just 5 shot, 2 on target, with the lone goal through Takehiro Tomiyasu. Japan now through to the quarterfinals for the 8 consecutive time in the competition.

Australia 0(4) vs 0(2) Uzbekistan:

The defending champion Australia was made to go the extra miles before they could go past Uzbekistan. It was a fairly even match that could not produce a winner after 120 minutes of football, and it had to be decided through the dreaded spot kicks. Both teams had qualified to this stage after coming 2nd from their respective group B and F, yet the odds slightly favor Australia, who had won the previous 3 matches between them and Uzbekistan scoring a combined 9 goals and conceding none. However, the Socceroos had a less admirable 1st half where they troubled-not the Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov. Australia turned on the gas in the 2nd half but had Nesterov in Uzbekistan goal to beat, the ball just won’t go past him. Nesterov was eventually beaten but it was in the shootout, Australia scored 4 of their 5 spot kicks and had their own goalkeeper, Maty Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper) to thank for his heroics, saving 2 spot kicks from Uzbekistan’s Islam Tukhtakhujaev and Marat Bikmaev, and thus won 4-2. The Socceroos will now slug it out with the host UAE in the quarter-final.

UAE 3 vs 2 Kyrgyzstan:

Every tournament wants the host to go far in a competition, so, the locals will be delighted to see the host, UAE advanced into the last 8. It did not come easy though, as the host needed an extra time spot-kick winner to advanced ahead of an unfazed Kyrgyzstan. It was an even game, with both side threatened in the attack, the host slightly edge in control of the game with a 56% possession to Kyrgyzstan’s 44%. UAE got their noses in front from a Khamis Esmaeel goal, but were pegged back just 12 minutes later through Kyrgyzstan’s Mirlan Murzaev, the host regained the lead in the 64th minute through Ali Ahmed Mabkhout and thought they have secured the win but were shocked in the 90th minutes when Tursunali Rustamov equalized for Kyrgyzstan to push the game into the extra time. UAE’s blushes were saved when substitute striker, Ahmed Khalil came off the bench to net a 103rd-minute spot-kick winner.

South Korea 2 vs 1 Bahrain:

South Korea is arguably the strongest team in the tournament, the 2-time champions were expected to have it easy over Bahrain, but it was not to be, as the minnows gave a good fight, and bowed out of the tournament 1-2 after extra time with their heads held high. The Koreans had the larger share of the possession, 68% to Bahrain’s 32%, but that was as good as it got for the Koreans, it took them almost the entire 1st half to have a breakthrough, Hwang Hee-Chans 43rd minutes goal was thought to be the beginning of the in flocks of goals, but the Bahrainians were resolute, and even got their equalizer in the 77th minute through Mohamed Al Romaihi, to extend the match into extra time. South Korean made their quality counted in the extra time with a Kim Jin-Su 105th header to book a quarter-final match with Qatar.

Qatar 1 vs 0 Iraq:

Qatar came into the round of 16 with the meanest defense, having conceded zero goal in the group stage, and scoring 10 goals, and was expected to score against Iraq who on the other hand had conceded 2 goals and scored 6. In the end, it was a scrappy match in which the oil-rich nation, and 2022 world cup host edge with a lone goal, a delightful free-kick scored by Bassam Al Rawi, amazingly (or shockingly) the son of ex-Iraqi footballer international, Hisham Al-Rawi. Despite the boos aimed at the Qatari from the fans in disapproval of the Gulf blockage by Qatar, they held on to claim their victory.

The complete quarter-final line up starting from later today is as follows:

Vietnam (VIE) vs Japan (JPN)

China (CHN) vs Iran (IRN)

South Korea (KOR) vs Qatar (QAT)

United Arab Emirates (UAE) vs Australia (AUS)

For more information highlights and pictures on UAE 2019, check website

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manny

Congressman Manny Pacquiao At 40, Old War Horse Still Going On Strong.

They say age is just a number, perhaps so, Manny Pacquiao certainly thinks so, the 40-year-old Filipino congressman was in scintillating form in his 70th career bout, to outbox his younger challenger, 29-year-old Adrien Broner in a unanimous decision to claim his 61st career wins and retained his WBA Welterweight title. Coming into the bout, the older Filipino weighing 146lbs was a bit lighter than his American challenger who weighed 146.5lbs, and thus, few questions were asked if the ‘Pac-Man’ has got enough stamina to cope with ‘The-Problem’ as Broner is popular called, however the Pac-Man responded emphatically, attacking Broner all the way from the start to the finish. Returning to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, USA, for the 1st time since the defeat of another American, Timothy Bradley in 2016, the Pac-Man showed more than stamina.

Round 1 started, and it was Pacquiao who got off with great intent, the round was pretty much of both boxers sizing each other out, Pacquiao turned on the heat from Round 2 on, showing much aggression and intensity, Broner was confined to holding and backing to the corners but did land a right-handed counter punch later on. Round 3 saw Pacquiao landed a clean left jab that got the crowd shouting. Round 4 was perhaps Broner’s best round as one of his left hooks made Pacquiao retreated to the ropes. The slight shift in momentum runs into Round 5 as Broner continued to counter punch Pacquiao, while the Filipino could not found a clean shot of his own. The Pac-Man regained control and landed his 23rd body shots compared to Broner’s single body shot. The crunching body shots kept coming with Broner having no answer to. Round 7 was Pacquiao’s biggest round, with countless shots and jabs to Broner’s head, Broner could only back up to the ropes and resorted to the head clinch, could have been knocked out in the round but was saved by the bell. Round 8 looked the closest of the rounds, with both boxers throwing counter punches at each other. Round 9 saw Broner reeling and backing into the red corner with hooks and jabs from Pacquiao. By then, Pacquiao seems to have lost his pace but not his aggression, and by this round had landed 42 body shots compared to Broner’s 2. Broner seems to be comfortable with Pacquiao leading the charge, he was mistaken, he should have pushed for the knock out, it was Pacquiao that finished strongly, by the time the bell rang to end the match, a Pacquiao’s win was unanimous as the judges scored in favor of Pacquiao 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112. It is now 61 wins(39 KOs), 7 losses and 2 draws for the Filipino congressman.

Manny Pacquiao had said a day earlier;

it is just a number. I have turned 40 but I still feel young and tomorrow I have something to prove, that I can still perform now at 40.

The Pac-Man said after the bout;

I really don’t think my career is over,…I proved in my last fight against Lucas Matthysse and now I proved it again. The journey will still continue.

Some of Manny Pacquiao’s finest moment includes;

2003 defeat of Marco Antonio Barrera, the victory was widely regarded as the one that announced the little known Pacquiao to the world.

2008 blockbuster bout against ‘Golden boy’ Oscar De La Hoya, the 8th round knock-out of De La Hoya was one of Pacquiao’s proudest moment.

2009 stunning second-round knock-out of Ricky Hatton was easily the most ruthless finish of Manny Pacquiao boxings career.

▪Still, in 2009, Manny Pacquiao defeated Miguel Cotto to become the 1st boxer to score 7 world titles in 7 different weight classes.

2018 knock-out of Lucas Matthysse in the 7th round showed the world that the Pac-Man still got something to offer in the ring and not just in politics.

ps: All images are sourced from Getty Images.

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Asian Pix

Asian Cup Heads Into The Knock Out Stages, Boys Are Being Separated From The Men.

The 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup is going thick and fast. It is a FIFA certified international men’s soccer championship that is been held every 4 years and this year’s championship is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates(UAE), started on the 5th January and will run through to 5th 1st February. It is the 1st time this championship that 24 teams will be participating in the showpiece having been increased from the 16-team format. The 24 countries include; Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Syria, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.

The 16 teams qualified for the round of 16 is almost completed, with just 3 places remaining to be filled up, among the already qualified are; the defending champion, Australia(2015 champion), Host UAE, 4-time champion Japan, 3-time champions Saudi Arabia and Iran, 2-time champion South Korea, China amongst others.

 

GROUP A

Host UAE emerged from this group as the winner alongside 2nd place Thailand, completing the group are Bahrain and India. It was a keenly contested group with all 4 teams getting a win each, but the host added 2 draws to their win to earn 5 points ahead of Thailand and Bahrain who managed 4 points apiece with Thailand edging Bahrain on the head-to-head advantage, leaving India at the bottom of the group with 3 points.

GROUP B

Group B comprised the defending champion Australia, who were given a scare of qualifying with an opening match o-1 defeat to eventual group winner Jordan, but Australia rallied with next 2 wins over other group campaigners in Palestine and Syria to earn 6 points and secure their 2nd place slot. Jordan won the group with 7 points with 2 wins including the wins over Australia and Syria and a nil-all draw against Palestine who finished in 3rd place with 2 points having drawn with Syria in their 1st match, Syria crashing out with just 1 point.

 

GROUP C

Group C paired 2 of the Asian heavyweights together, South Korea, China alongside Philippines and Kyrgyzstan completed the group. It was a straight forward win for both South Korea and China over their lesser competitors, living up to their big boys status. Then it was the battle for the group winner between these two, and it was the South Korean that claimed the bragging right with a 2 nil win over China. South Korea with maximum 9 points, scoring a total of 4 goals so far and conceding none, China finished with 6 points to qualify also for next round, Kyrgyzstan also earned a win over group whooping team Philippines to have a chance of still qualifying to the round of 16.

GROUP D

Group D also saw 3-time champion Iran slugged it out with seasoned campaigner Iraq, It was a stroll in the park for these 2 over other group competitors, Yemen and Vietnam. Iran with 7 goals so far from 3 matches and conceding none, qualified for the round of 16 with 7 point, edging Iraq who also finished with 7 points on goal difference, after head-to-head could not separate them both, Vietnam occupied the 3rd place with their solitary win over Yemen and hope other results go their way to qualify for next round.

 

GROUP E

3-time winner Saudi Arabia, Qatar, North Korea, and Lebanon occupied group E. It was all too easy for Saudi Arabia and Qatar who had 2 wins each over North Korea and Lebanon, both teams squared up in a supremacy matchup and it was Qatar that won the group with a 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia, Lebanon also trashed group whooping boys North Korea 4-1 but was not enough to see them earn a place in the 4 best 3rd-place finish.

GROUP F

Asian cup highest winner, Japan with 4 championship trophies to their name have qualified for next stage, they qualified alongside Uzbekistan, both already won 2 games each against the group’s other teams, minnows Oman and Turkmenistan. Japan and Uzbekistan squared up to determine the group winner and it was Japan that edge the contest 2-1 to top the group, while Oman secured a 3rd place finish with a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan.

 

4 3RD-PLACED TEAMS

The 4 best 3rd-placed team have been decided too, and Bahrain top the list of 4 with her 4 points total more than enough, closely followed by Oman, Kyrgyzstan, and Vietnam, all on 3 points each. All 4 had been added to the other 12 qualified teams in the next stage fixtures; Jordan vs Vietnam Thailand vs China Iran vs Oman Japan vs Saudi Arabia Australia vs Uzbekistan UAE vs Kyrgyzstan South Korea vs Bahrain Qatar vs Iraq.

Now that the boys are being separated from the men, it is the knock out phase and there is no room for error, the winner takes all from here on. No doubt the stand out match will be between Japan and Saudi, and whoever wins the matchup might go all the way to the final, the odds also favor South Korea, Australia to go far in the competition.

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Gunnar

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Rebuilding Manchester United’s Cracked Forte

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot take any foot wrong presently, the Norwegian has been an instant hit at the theater of dreams. The babyface assassin as Solskjaer was fondly called because of his ruthlessness in front of opposition goals returned to his old hunting ground this time as a caretaker manager at a period many regarded as a turbulent time for United. Not many would have expected such instant turn around, believe it or not, the results are speaking for Solskjaer. The defeat of Tottenham Hotspur makes it 5-straight win in the premier league and 6-straight in all competitions, beating former United manager Sir Matt Busby’s straight wins of 5.

Sir Busby’s 1st 6 matches wiki

Sir Alexander Matthew Busby was Manchester United manager between 1945-1969 and then 1970-71. He was one of the greatest manager Manchester United ever had second to only the greatest Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Busby’s reign at United brought a lot of laurels to Old Trafford, he started well with a winning streak of a 5-straight win which was halted by Chelsea in a 1 all draw at home.

Sir Alex 1st 6 matches wiki

Manchester United greatest manager to date, Sir Alex Ferguson did not have a rosy start to his reign, He started with just 1 win in his 1st 6 matches, Sir Alex started with a 2 nil defeat at Oxford United and his 1st win came in his 3rd match with a 1 nil home win of Queens Park Rangers. In fact, it was widely reported that Sir Alex was on the brink of losing his job in 1990 having been employed on November 1986, but a FA Cup win over Crystal Palace saved his job. The rest they say is now a story, Sir Alex’s 27-year reign produced trophies like never before in the club’s history.

Sunday’s win over title hopeful Tottenham Hotspur was Solskjaer 6th in a row in a competition and it was not just the win but the manner at which United was achieving the wins. The match against Spurs was regarded as Solskjaers 1st real test, only a few gave United a chance to pull such result at Wembley stadium, it was a test Solskjaer duly passed. The result now blew the race for UCL spot open and more feisty, only goals difference separates 6th placed United from 5th placed Arsenal, it could be recalled that the point gap between Arsenal and Manchester United was 8 points when Solskjaer took over from Mourinho. Solskjaer has been able to revitalize United’s underperforming big boys, it was vintage David De Gea in goal for United against Spurs, as he produced some magnificent match-winning display, and not just De Gea but other United players too, Paul Pogba now playing like the Pogba United invested hugely in, Pogba’s delightful pass found pacey Marcus Rashford who controlled the ball into his stride and finished off clinically from a tight angle.

Roll back the time to just above 3 weeks ago Dec 19th, 2018 when Solskjaers appointment raised eye-brows with divided opinion on his managerial track records and status for United pedigree. Many United fans were disappointed not to see Frenchman and former Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane who is unattached, take over at Old Trafford, as his records and status better suits United. Ole Solskjaer started his coaching career with Manchester United U-23 squad in 2008, in his 3-year stint with the U-23, he managed a total of 25 matches, won 16, lost 4 and drew 5. He then moved on to seek greener pastures with a Norwegian club side, Molde FK (a club he once played for) in 2011, and guided them until 2013, during this time, Molde Fk won 68 matches, lost 31 and drew 24. He was soon on the move back to the UK, with Cardiff City where he managed them until he was relieved of the job in 2014 for poor performances, winning just 9 matches, lost 16 and drew 5 in a total of 30 matches. Solskjaer returned to Molde FK in 2015, and guided them in 118 matches, won 66, lost 33 and drew 19, He was still with Molde FK when United came calling.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as so far proven to be a worthy manager since joining United and there are calls to install him on a permanent basis, a valid or overzealous call? Nevertheless, Solskjaer has made history for Manchester United and deserve the accolades showering on him, however, calls to make him a permanent coach should be approached with caution as things can go bad as quickly as they start well. Let his end of the season assessment decide his fate.

The original blog on my Scorum account

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Tim

Tim Dittmer Made A Mess Of A Simple Back Pass, What A Gaffe From Him

Star Sixes is a new Competitive soccer tournament making the rounds of late. It is a 6-a-side indoor soccer game that brings together former legends of the game, ex-football association international players representing their nations. The 2019 regional tournament was hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, at the indoor arena of SSE Hydro, a 3-day event between the 4th and 6th of January.

https://www.facebook.com/SportsJOEdotie/videos/2062146823868120/
Tim Dittmer’s gaffe

Rep of Ireland was one of the participating nations for the regional contest and certain players led by Tim Dittmer put up some hilarious and less admirable performances. Tim Dittmer was the man in goal for the Rep of Ireland in their 1st match against Wales and he almost cost his team victory. It was an entertaining contest that ended in a 4-3 victory for the Rep of Ireland, but the talking point came when the scores were still locked at 2-2, Tim Dittmer’s teammate and ex Liverpool ace rolled back a simple back pass to Tim but Tim made a howler out of it, somehow allowing the ball to roll beneath his foot and into the goal for his team to go behind 2-3, but his blushes were saved with his team turning the result around to win 4-3.

The drama didn’t end there for Rep of Ireland as two of her other players were sent off for unsportsmanlike behavior in 2 separate matches. Firstly, it was Stephen Hunt who was involved in a scuffle with Scotland’s Barry Ferguson and then Jason McAteer who also squared off with England’s Michael Owen. Maybe my week’s moanday blog should have been dedicated to the Rep of Ireland team instead.

A ball juggler
cheerleaders

Star Sixes is an entertaining football tournament that also has other side attractions like ball juggling and cheerleading. The inaugural edition was the world’s tournament that took place on July 2017 in London’s O2 arena, England, and it involves 12 nations in Brazil, China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Scotland and Spain and they were split into 3 groups of 4. The groups top 2 winners alongside 2 other best 3rd place team advanced to the knockout stage, eventually the final was between France and Denmark with France coming on top with a 2-1 victory with goals from Ludovic Giuly (3′) and Youri Djorkaeff (22′) for France and John Jensen (81′) for Denmark, for the 1st ever winner of the Star Sixes. The regional tournament was supposed to take place later same year but the plan was scrapped.

England

This year’s regional tournament was contested for by 6 teams, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Rep of Ireland and Wales plus an All-star rest of the world in a round-robin contest with the top 2 competing in the final. The 2 finalist was England and all-star rest of the world, and it was England that carried the day with Michael Owen starring with 2 goals, brings back the good old days. It was the All-star that took the lead through Danish Martin Jorgensen but were pegged back by England’s Michael Owen, All-star regained the lead through Spaniard Gaizka Mendieta but England leveled again through Joe Cole, then Michael Owen ensured the day belongs to England with the 3rd goal, England winning the regionals 3-2.

I guess the senior football citizens were tired of watching the game they once grazed from the sidelines and so they came together to create this tournament, less duration time of 30 minutes and slightly different rules to accommodate their ageing legs, but even though they still feel like they’ve got it in them, seems football had left some of them. Tim Dittmer, for example, is the head of goalkeeping at English FA, maybe he should stick with that role.

This kind of gaffe is so hilarious and makes one just smile as Mallory Hopkins says;

Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.

For Tim Dittmer and co, you’ve already given your all to football, these errors and mistakes are inconsequential as far as your careers were concerned, a wise saying goes thus;

As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes. – Mel Brooks

original blog on my scorum account

ps: all images are sourced from Star Sixes site, you can check for more here

Ufc news

Robber Attacked The Wrong Lady, Met His Waterloo.

A Nigerian adage says;

Every day is for the thief, one day is for the owner.

Which simply interprets as; one can lie, cheat, steal and do whatever evil one could, one is sure going to meet downfall someday. This was the case of a robber who must have been robbing innocent and helpless people for a hobby but got caught up by karma when he tried to rob a Mixed Martial Art lady (MMA).

Polyana the Iron lady

Meet Polyana Viana Mota aka Poly or The Iron Lady, an MMA fighter, standing at a formidable female height of 5’7” and a reach of 67.0′, the 27 years old Brazilian has a good MMA record of 10 wins and just 2 loses. She also adds fashion to her MMA finesse by endorsing and modeling products ranging from clothes to equipment on Instagram, with her Instagram account boasts of about 400000 followers.

It was on a quiet evening , Saturday the 5th, 2019, Polyana was outside her apartment in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil waiting for her Uber to arrive when the evil perpetrator approached her and asked for the time with an ulterior motive of stealing from her, a smart Poly had sensed something was not right about him quickly hid her phone and was alerted like the boy scouts motto says ‘Be Prepared’, soon after the would-be-robber demanded Poly hand over her phone, threatened her with a ‘gun’ which turned out to be a paper made gun. Ha Ha Ha! ‘taking a paper to a martial art fight huh’.

robber’s gun

Give me the phone. Don’t try to react, because I am armed – the robber said

The Iron Lady reacted as a martial art expert would;

He was really close to me, so I thought, if it’s a gun, he won’t have time to draw it, so I stood up and I threw 2 punches and a kick – Polyana explained.

Poly further said she caught the robber in a martial art’s rear-naked choke move and succeeded in incapacitating the hoodlum till the police arrived to apprehend him. This was not the first time Polyana has been attacked by thugs, another incident was reported sometimes whilst she was away at her home town of Belem, Brazil, when 2 robbers on motorcycle tried to take her phone off her, but she punched one of them in the face to scare them off and away on their motorcycle. Justice set and served in both cases, isn’t it?

Bruce Lee will look down wherever he is and chuckled in agreement with Polyana, that’s my ‘gurl’ he would say.

Polyana is a trained and skilled MMA fighter and to some extent could be justified for resisting and fighting back robberies, but to some of us that can not even throw a punch let alone a martial art-like moves, I will advise not to resist a robbery, there could be a real gun/knife or other dangerous weapons and it could get really messy. It is better to live and fight another day so to say.

On a lighter note, I wish there are many more MMA fighters in the neighborhood to help fight off robbers or teach some lessons into the heads of these hoodlums or better still, more people learn MMA. It was speculated that;

Robber Union in Rio de Janeiro is asking that the UFC should please give a fight to Polyana soon! They are worried about their safety while she is [loose] out there and with nothing to do!

For me, my little brother knows a thing or 2 about martial art, it is time I eat a humble pie and meet him for some tutorials.

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FA

FA Cup Upsets Galore As Premier League Stragglers Were Bundled Out By Lowly Clubs.

The English FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world, and it has produced some jaw-dropping upsets wrapped in thrills and dramas over the years, 2018/19 FA Cup season is living up to that billings with the 3rd round knocked out of some premier league clubs by their lower league counterpart. Some dogged performances from league 1 & league 2 clubs like Newport, Gillingham, and co seen them knocked out English Premier League Clubs like Leicester City, Fulham among others.

It all started on Saturday afternoon(5th Jan) when Gillingham hosted Cardiff City. Cardiff sits on 17th position on the premier league log table yet were favored and widely expected to get a win over their league 1 counterpart Gillingham, who are also struggling in their own league, and sits on 19th position on the League 1 log table. The match started and there was nothing to separate them, it seemed like it was going to end in a barren draw, but was turned on its head in the 81th minutes, when Gillingham striker Elliot List scored the decisive goal, Cardiff who had earlier struck the post twice probed and prowled for the equalizer to no avail.

Frustrated Neil Warnock charging his Cardiff team

Playing in the 3rd tier of the English football league, championship side Bristol City look like a match to their opponent from the premier league Huddersfield Town. Huddersfield Town got promoted into the premier league at the beginning of the season, seems like a mountain too high for them as they sit at the bottom of the premier league log table, they also seem like a sure candidate for relegation come the end of the season. With this in Bristol Citys mind, they showed Huddersfield no respect and scored their goal, the only goal of the match on 72nd minutes when Josh Brownhill made the difference. Huddersfield latest defeat made it 7 straight loses for the lack-luster Terrier as Huddersfield are popularly called.

The drama continued into the next day when Fulham hosted league 2 side, Oldham Athletic on Sunday afternoon. Fulham is another struggling team just above Huddersfield on the premier league log table with just 14th points, however, they were still fancied to overcome a league 2 side, Oldham. It was not to be as the unfazed league 2 side had other ideas, though went behind to a Fulham’s Denis Odoi’s second-half goal (52nd min), but fought back to silenced the Fulham’s home crowd with a Sam Surridge 76th minutes equalizing spot-kick, then a Callum Lang 89th minutes header to sealed the victory for Oldham. Fulham’s misery in front of goal was highlighted when Aleksandra Mitrovic was brought on to play a spot-kick only to saw it saved by Oldham goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.

dejected Fuch and teammates after defeat to Newport

The biggest shock of the 3rd round was the defeat of high flying premier league Leicester (not in the group of stragglers of course) from the hand of lowly Newport, a team playing in league 2. Newports league form is appalling with just 1 point out of possible 12 in its last 4 matches, nobody would have seen this coming, a 2-1 win over a more glamorous Leicester City would be the highlight of this 3rd round. It was Newport that started like a house on fire with a headed goal from Jamile Matt in the 10th minute, Leicester thought they have salvaged a replay on the 82nd minutes when Rachid Ghezzal fired home, but their joy was short lived when Marc Albrighton handled in the area and the spot-kick call was made, Padraig Amond kept his cool to convert the spot-kick (85 min) which sent the Newport fans into a wild jubilation.

Other premier league stragglers that were fortunate to try again from a replay are Newcastle and Southampton.

Newcastle was given a scare when they went behind to a championship side Blackburn Rovers’ Bradley Dack‘s 56th-minute header but were giving a lifeline to come back into the game from a spot-kick, safely dispatched by Matt Ritchie in 84th minutes. They would have to try again at Blackburn Rover’s turf to earn their place in the 4th round.

Southampton also got a narrow escape from elimination in the 3rd round, when they saw their 2 goals advantage been canceled out by a determined championship Derby County. Drawing inspiration from the home crowd, Derby County fought back from 2 goals down, with goals from Jack Marriott (58th min) and Tom Laurence (61st min) canceling out the Saints Nathan Redmond‘s 4th and 48th minutes goals. The Saint could have left empty handed had Jack Marriott scored a last-minute opportunity that came begging but ballooned agonizingly wide instead. Sotton will host Derby in a replay.

The classic FA Cup dramas definitely won’t end here at the 3rd round, has tantalizing 4th round fixtures will soon be unveiled.

ps: all images are getty images

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winners n losers

Winners, Sinners & Loser Of English Premier League End Of The Year’s Hectic Fixtures.

End of the year hectic fixtures is a period when English Premier League Clubs play as much as 4 matches in little space of about 12/13 days, this period has always been a bone of contention between English Premier League coaches and the league body, most club managers had complained about the fatigue and injuries it brings on the team and had called for a break instead. It is a period where clubs/teams are stretched to the limit, the real spine and makeup of clubs are revealed during this period. Outgone year 2018 hectic fixtures had proven to be a pain in the rear for some of the ambitious clubs among the big/top 6 EPL clubs as far as title race and top 4 race is concerned, and there were winners, sinners, and loser of this year’s period fixtures.

WINNERS:

Manchester United: The clear-cut winner of the hectic schedule was Manchester United with maximum 12 out of 12 points from 4 matches. Former home favorite, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the mantle of affairs at the Theater Of Dreams after Jose Mourinho was shown the exit door, and what a time to take charge at Old Trafford. It was a dream start for Solskjaer as United won in emphatic fashion, 5-1 away victory against Solskjaers former employer Cardiff, it was the 1st time United would score as many goals since the big boss himself Sir Alex Ferguson left United, United fans have almost forgotten what it takes to score that much. United attacking display did not end there, it was soon followed days after with a desirable 3 straight win with goals aplenty, 1st a 3-1 home win against Huddersfield, then another 4-1 home win versus Bournemouth, and capped it all with a fine 2-0 win away at Newcastle. It was not just the win, but the manners at which they got it, with miss firing big boys like Pogba and Alexi getting their mojo back. Seems like the race for the top 4 just got fired up.

Liverpool: Closely followed up on winning table was Liverpool though not with an excellent points total of 12, but 9 out of 12 points not bad either. It was a period that saw Liverpool overtook their rival at the summit of the league table, after spending much of the early season breathing down Manchester City’s neck. It looks like Liverpool were going to end up with a perfect 4 just like United, especially after a commanding display against Arsenal, but they were cut shot by title chaser Manchester City 1-2 their last match of the 4 ended. Nevertheless, Liverpool still on top with 4 points over their closest rival City, thanks to their earlier wins; 2-0 at a tricky Wolves, 4-0 home whitewash of Newcastle and the emphatic 5-1 home win over Arsenal. Most teams that led at the turn of the year had gone on to win the EPL title, hopefully, Liverpool will replicate such feat.

Tottenham: Tottenham sure looked like they have made the 3rd place position theirs with equally very good return of 9 out of 12 points, only an unlikely collapse can see their London rivals overtake them. Started well with a rain of goals in their 1st 2 matches of the hectic period, 6-2 away thrashing of Everton was followed by a 5-0 home drubbing of Bournemouth, but Spurs were shocked by a tricky Wolves 1-3 at home, we seen Wolves taken points off Chelsea and Arsenal this season. Spurs picked themselves up to win their last match 3-0 at Cardiff. When you have rival clubs dropping as much as 5-6 points, earning 9 points is really a victory for Spurs.

SINNERS:

Chelsea: Sinners are the Clubs who could have had it all or done better than they did, and Chelsea falls under this category because they could have had it all (12 from 12 points). A return of 7 points out of 12 was never going to do their title chase any good, with rejuvenated Manchester United hot in the chase behind them, top 4 is even more of a concern now. Chelsea’s new manager Maurizio Sarri got his work cut out with his 1st baptism of fire of EPL annual busy schedules, a totally new one from where he was coming from (its winter break in Italy). Chelsea started the lined up fixtures with a shock 0-1 home loss to Leicester, picked themselves up with 2 straight slim away wins, 2-1 at Watford and a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, and then ended the fixture by a disappointing goalless draw at home against Southampton. Sarri and his Chelsea team will be kicking themselves for letting such valuable points slipped away.

Arsenal: Seasoned campaigner Arsenal was almost certainly going to be in this list, it has always been since the famous invisible, Arsenal fans were hoping the post-Wenger era will usher a new beginning, well! maybe next season because this past hectic schedule was the same old story. Nobody saw Arsenals early turn around coming, the strings of back to back wins had suddenly raised Arsenal fans to hope so high, so high that the top 4 seems achievable. It was Unai Emery’s 1st shot at busy schedules too, and realistically, it looks like a 9 points sure bet out of 12 ( with a Liverpool lost inevitably), Arsenal kick-started with a decent 3-1 home win against Burnley, then the disappointing 1-1 away at Brighton & Hove Albion FC, soon followed by the embarrassing 1-5 lost away at Liverpool, though Arsenal capped it all with a 4-1 home thrashing of Fulham, total of 7 out of 12 points for a Champions League spot chaser is a sin. Hard to see if Arsenal won’t rue this at end of the season.

LOSER:

Manchester City: Manchester City could easily fit under the sinners list, but just 6 points out of 12 points for a title challenger made them the sole loser of the busy fixtures. Manchester City had led for the majority of the season so far, and look like they were coasting home despite Liverpool’s hot chase, however, their gravy train was stopped by an unfazed Crystal Palace in a 5-goal thriller. Palace stunned City at home 3-2, the dust had not even settled, the Citizen was shocked again, this time away at Leicester. Though City rallied with quick fired double wins, 3-1 win at Southampton and a hard-fought 2-1 win to disrupt Liverpool’s unbeaten season, yet, 6 points out of 12 points is disappointing for City and had seen them dropped to second place on the log table, 4 points short of their rivals, and certainly will be hoping for a miracle to overtake high flying Liverpool.

Though the season is still far from over, and a lot can still happen between now and end of the season, each points matters, and one cannot afford to lose them lackadaisically.

ps: All images are sourced from Getty images and Sky Sport.

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Thanks for checking by, and I hope I did not bore you out.

hopman1

Serena vs Federer! 2 Of The Greatest Tennis Players Met For The 1st Time

American female tennis player, Serena Williams, and Swiss male player Roger Federer need no introduction to tennis community, they both are 2 of the greatest players that have grazed tennis court and still grazing, with 43 grand slams between these two, 23 for Serena, and 20 for the Swiss master, they sure rule their worlds.

hopman2.jpeg
Serena & Federer in 2010

Though Serena and Federer had met in a charity match-up in the past, 2010, an exhibition match for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, the Hopman Cup match-up between them presented an opportunity to slug it out in a competitive encounter, and it was a glorious match rather than competitive.

Hopman Cup is an Australian championship for nations named after one of Australia’s tennis legend, Harry Hopman, founded 30 years ago in the year 1989. It is a tournament that pairs 8 participating nations into two, A & B groups, 4 each in a round robin contest, with the group winners of the 2 groups competing in the final. This year’s championship had grouped the Switzerland, USA, France & Great Britain together in group B.

hopman3.jpeg
Team USA vs Team Switzerland

All eyes eagerly awaited the match-up between the Americans and Switzerland, it was a contest that would see the pair of Serena Williams & Frances Tiafoe for team American squared up against Swiss pair of Roger Federer & Belinda Bencic in a mixed double, after the singles matches had ended 1 apiece for both nations. It could be recalled Federer had early defeated Americas Tiafoe in a straight 6-4, 6-1 win to take a 1 nil lead for Switzerland, but America fought back when Serena came from a set down to beat Swiss Belinda 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win. The tie had to be decided with the mixed double.

The encounter was described as;

The most anticipated contest involving a male and a female player since the battle of the sexes in 1973, when 39-time Grand Slam Champion, Billie Jean King defeated former Men’s number 1, Bobby Riggs in straight sets – BBCSports

Serena teamed up with her compatriot Tiafoe for the first time were no match for the Swiss team of Federer and Belinda (who are the defending champion). Swiss team capitalized on the non-cohesion of the Americas pairing to win in a straight sets 4-2, 4-3 (5-3).

Serena Williams said in her post-match remarks;

I was excited and literally, it was the match of my career… The guy is great, He is the greatest of all time. There is a reason why he is so great, He has a killer serve…maybe I could get tips from him later on,

In his remarks;

what an honour and pleasure… I was nervous returning because people talk about her serve so much… She is a great champion, you see how focused and determined she is, Federer said.

It was a rare meeting between these 2 tennis legends, a rare one tennis community will savor for a long time if they will meet again in a singles match-up before they both quit an illustrious careers remain to be seen.

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Thank you all for the time.

Crypto Critic Roubini: Trump’s ‘Flirting With Mutually Assured Economic Destruction’

In an article published on MarketWatch, crypto critic Nouriel Roubini asserted that the risk of a financial crisis has grown significantly, mainly due to President Trump. While stock market indexes grew 20% in 2017, markets have been trading sideways for a major part of 2018, followed by steep drops across several sectors as markets closed for 2018.

Roubini stated that the growth in stock markets over 2017 can be attributed to tax cuts, which have accrued mainly to corporate entities. Secondly, the trump administration is ambitious towards deregulation within certain sectors. Apart from this, Trump has also gone after the Fed, which recently hiked their rates by a quarter point.

A professor of economics at the Stern School of Business at NYU, Roubini said:

Trump is now the Dr. Strangelove of financial markets. Like the paranoid madman in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film, he is flirting with mutually assured economic destruction. Now that markets see the danger, the risk of a financial crisis and global recession has grown.

Roubini Is Fervently Anti-Crypto

He made headlines when he bashed cryptocurrencies and bitcoin in general, stating that “Crypto is the mother or father of all scams and bubbles,” along with other severely dangerous claims, even going as far as taking a shot at stablecoins – which have gained steam throughout 2018.

And the biggest scam of all is the case of ‘stable coins’ – starting with Tether – that claimed to be pegged one to one to the US dollar but are not fully collateralized by an equal backing of true US dollars.

Roubini previously testified before the United States Senate Committee On Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and subsequently got into a heated debate against Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin. He also falsely claimed that crypto is centralized.

Markets have had a shaky close toward the end of 2018, which is mostly attributed to uncertainty surrounding China. However, Roubini states that recent troubles are due to Trump. Tax cuts have pushed the Long-term interest rate. Moreover, Trump’s immigration policies might affect the growth of labour-supply which can have grave implications, given Silicon Valley’s dependence on foreign talent

The crypto community’s distaste in Roubini cannot be denied. He, however, predicted the financial crisis of 2008, that occurred due to the collapse of the housing market, which compels anyone to take his claims seriously. According to Roubini, almost all of the tax cuts accrued to the corporate sector, which isn’t a good sign. Secondly, US Sanctions against Iran pushed Oil prices up.

This was followed by Saudi Arabia ramping up their oil production at the behest of Trump, which resulted in a steep decline in oil prices.

The volatility caused by this indirectly affects US Energy based companies. Moreover, the volatile price of oil has severely impacted consumption and production.

Roubini also asserted that a full scale trade war with China cannot be ruled out, and if it does happen – will have a grave impact on the economy, along with disrupting supply chains worldwide.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Bitcoin Network Loses Nodes and Difficulty, Militants Use Crypto In Struggle to Secede, NYU Professor Goes Off The Rails, and More: Last Week In Crypto

Bitcoin Price Recovery Alongside Network Changes

The Bitcoin price came back from the brink this week, reaching nearly $4,000 by Sunday. Analysts were at times throughout the week worried that it would lose support around $3,400 and then drop beneath $3,000, but this hasn’t happened.

At the same time, however, two important Bitcoin network metrics saw reduced performance over the week. For one thing, mining difficulty – which signifies the number of miners on the network – dropped by 7% during the week. David Hundeyin explained:

In the light of the bitcoin blockchain’s reduced hashrate caused by withdrawing miners, the network is designed to automatically adjust the difficulty level in order to avoid a situation where there is a huge transaction confirmation backlog and high confirmation fees. The 7 percent drop in difficulty is likely to be the start of a similar difficulty readjustment pattern as bitcoin below $6,000 increasingly becomes a prolonged reality.

The number of reachable Bitcoin nodes also dropped, meaning that a number of people have shut off their full nodes. This number is harder to discern, as not all full nodes are mining nodes, but certainly the miners no longer mining are represented in this figure. As CCN writer David Hundeyin wrote:

A falling number of reachable nodes could theoretically lead to increased centralization of the network if fewer and fewer entities control the remaining full nodes. Overtime if unchecked, this could at least on paper lead to 51 percent attacks and the nightmare scenario of double spends which would destroy the credibility of bitcoin. While this is obviously very far from happening and realistically not very likely, it does illustrate the impact of the continued bear market on the bitcoin blockchain.

Survey Shows 3% of Americans Ready for Blockchain Banking

A survey conducted by an ICO-funded blockchain banking solution found that 3% of American Internet users are ready to use blockchain banking. Over a third of those surveyed would be willing to try blockchain banking solutions if they felt they were ready, which they did not at the time of the survey (early December). More than 60% of those polled (over 3,000 people) were not interested in blockchain banking at all, not seeing any value in it.

Elsewhere, a poll by the Bank of England showed users preferred cryptocurrencies in remittances.

Six New Bitcoin ATMs Installed Every Day in 2018

CCN’s Alan Wass noticed that an average of six new Bitcoin ATMs were installed every day in 2018:

One of the most startling figures to come from the Data Light statistics is that six cryptocurrency ATM machines were installed per day on average in 2018. One of the main ingredients of wider crypto integration and adoption is the availability of crypto for the masses, and that is exactly what the increase in ATMs shows.

Ambazonian Secessionists Give Exclusive Interview to CCN

CCN’s David Hundeyin obtained an exclusive interview with Cameroonian militants who are attempting to establish their own country called Ambazonia. Chris Anu, the militant movement’s Secretary of State for Communications and IT, said:

Cryptocurrency is freedom! It takes away control from centralized power and gives the power to the people and the private sector. It is independent of the control of a centralized government structure. Cryptocurrency is the next logical step in the evolution of fiat currency!

Nouriel Roubini frequently blocks anyone who disagrees with him on Twitter, including CCN writer Samantha Chang, who authored some coverage of the tweet-storm.

NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini Throws Twitter Tantrum

Nouriel Roubin, an economics professor at New York University, decided to go on a multi-tweet rampage on the subject of cryptocurrencies, of which he is a major critic. The professor frequently blocks anyone who disagrees with him on Twitter, including CCN writer Samantha Chang, who authored some coverage of the tweet-storm.

Global Regulatory Push

Multiple jurisdictions had news on the regulatory front this week. Also, former presidential candidate Ron Paul finally embraced Bitcoin and said the US should switch to it from debt-backed fiat.

Brian Armstrong Commits Most of His Wealth to Charity

Coinbase CEO and crypto billionaire Brian Armstrong has publicly announced that the majority of his wealth will be donated to charity over the course of his lifetime. Armstrong said:

This year, I started my first philanthropic effort, GiveCrypto.org, which makes direct cash transfers to people living in poverty. I’m excited about the potential for this organization to help people, but I’m still early on my journey of discovering how to have the most impact via philanthropy.

Bithumb Accused of Faking Volume

CCN received and reported on a detailed study regarding South Korean Bitcoin exchange Bithumb, which is alleged to have faked volume consistently over the course of 2018. Faking volume is an increasingly common allegation as regards crypto exchanges, but in the case of Bithumb, the researchers went to great lengths to justify their claims.

Upbit Denies Fraud Allegations

Fraud charges have been filed against South Korean excahnge Upbit, but they are denying all allegations. As CCN’s Mark Emem wrote:

According to the Financial Services Commission of South Korea, Upbit’s senior executives used a bot to manipulate the data processing system which consequently inflated the trading volumes. Additionally, it has also been alleged that underperforming coins on the cryptocurrency exchange were targeted and this was with the goal of assisting the platform and the issuer to save face by making it appear more popular and enjoying high demand than was really the case.

90% of All Monero Has Been Mined

Monero

Over 90% of the fixed supply of Monero has been mined, meaning that only 10% of the mining reward remains. Monero has a “long-tail emissions” policy in which every block after the mining has finished will yield a smaller amount of XMR than the mining rewards did. CCN’s Yashu Gola reported:

Per data available at MoneroBlocks.info, a Monero blockchain explorer, the privacy-enabled cryptocurrency have emitted close 16.6 million XMR. As the emission forms parity with the total supply, the Monero project will switch to a new supply program, dubbed as tail emission. The project’s earlier announcements indicate that miners will obtain a consistent mining reward of 0.6 XMR per block that would likely maintain the overall security and integrity of Monero blockchain.

Images from Shutterstock.

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Huobi-Backed BHEX Launches Blue Helix Token (BHT)

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James Ju

CCN spoke to James Ju, the CEO of the new Blue Helix Exchange (BHEX) and former CEO of Huobi Global.

Blue Helix is an exchange which is pushing toward a decentralized topology in a regulator-friendly manner. They raised $15 million from institutional investors including Huobi and OKEx by selling equity about six months ago, and last week they launched the beta of their exchange product, along with the BHT token.

Currently in Beta, the Blue Helix exchange offers OTC sales (for CNY) of Bitcoin, as well as a handful of trading pairs including EOS/USDT and ETH/BTC.

Not An ICO Token or ICO-Backed Exchange

The BHT token is not a typical fund-raising option in that people cannot simply make an investment in the network and receive a set number of tokens. Instead, BHT are rewards for buying “points” on the BHEX exchange. These points are then used to secure discounts on trading fees. It’s similar to the Binance BNB token, where for the first few years of the token’s existence, users get trading fee discounts if they choose to pay in BNB.

BHEX sells two types of virtual point cards. One is pegged to USDT and the other is pegged to BTC. The BTC card has each point pegged at .0001 BTC, but since Bitcoin is volatile, the points are first redeemed for that amount of BTC and then used against the trading fees due. This means that at various times points held in the BTC points card could be worth more than they were when they were secured.

When the BTC Point Card is used to offset the trading fee, the trading fee will be converted into BTC according to market price of the assets and then deducted from the corresponding Point Card.

The maximum points that can be purchased during the current period is 27,000 – don’t worry, it’s unlikely you’ll need that many, as that would cost you 2.7 BTC. The reward for buying points is BHT, 800 of the 2.1 billion issued for every 10 points (.01 BTC) you buy. The reward is roughly equal if you use the USDT version.

.0001BTC = 1 Point

Tokens Generate Revenue

Actual BHT that circulate in the free world, free of lock-ups or other delegated purposes, is limited. The company has a full explanation of BHT here. The tokens you would earn buying points cards today come out of the following allocation:

15% of the total issuance, or 315 million BHT, is used to motivate seed users who support the platform. 315 million BHT will be rewarded through platform activities with no lock-up period, while stocks last.

The BHT tokens are issued 80% of fee revenues from the BHEX exchange. Users receive these dividends based on how many tokens they own. Other benefits are associated with holding the BHT token. All of them are predicated on the success of the exchange, which may be why the only way to obtain them directly at present time is through the purchase of point cards, which necessitate a need of such.

James Ju told us that in the future, the platform will be totally decentralized, using technology that BHEX has been developing since its inception.

Everything that centralized exchanges have, we also have it. But we are a decentralized exchange in the sense that – in the future, our assets will be  stored and cleared through a decentralized technology.

The version that’s currently running isn’t fully decentralized, but BHEX is working hard toward this goal. They believe that a decentralized exchange will provide more security for users. In furtherance of this belief they also have BHOP – the Blue Helix Open Platform, which is a Software-as-a-Service product that other exchanges can use. This element speaks to why they’ve received investment interest from major exchanges like Huobi and OkEx.

BHEX Working Toward Fully Decentralized Exchange and Custodial Services

The advantage of decentralized exchanges for users is that they eliminate counterparty risk. Rather than the EtherDelta model, where the user simply connected his wallet to the exchange, the BHEX model will work as a staff member explained to this reporter:

We still adopt a username/password system, considering that if a user loses his private key, it is not retrievable. Decentralization comes into play in our “asset custody:” users store their assets not in their own wallets nor in BHEX wallets. Instead, users deposit their assets on the Blue Helix decentralized asset custody and clearing platform, which is the bottom layer beneath the BHEX exchange. This bottom layer is decentralized and not owned by BHEX exchange.

The other interesting aspect of BHEX is their social trading feature, called Super Guilds. Investors will be able to join a guild if they are invited to do so, and then they can optionally allow the guild to invest their funds for them. This is another way of building interest in the exchange, as it is a relatively unique feature. It formalizes trading groups. To motivate participation in super guilds, BHEX has set aside 3 million BHT which will be used to reward groups that are created.

Volumes have not yet developed in considerable fashion at BHEX, mainly due to its very young age and beta status.

BHEX is very new and thus its overall volume is negligible. However, the crypto exchange world is fast-changing. Binance was just an idea not so very long ago, and now it’s the dominant exchange in the world. There is a growing demand for decentralized exchanges for multiple reasons, and when BHEX launches their fully decentralized product, it would seem that users who have grievances with the existing system of exchanges will want to take advantage of it.

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US Lawmakers Seek Sanctions Against Iran’s Cryptocurrency Efforts

A bill introduced this week in Congress takes a hard line on Iran’s efforts to develop its own cryptocurrency.

U.S. regulators have warned in recent months that Iran’s government wants to use a sovereign cryptocurrency, similar to the petro in Venezuela, to evade economic sanctions.

Portions of the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), call for a report on Iran’s efforts to create a sovereign cryptocurrency. A corresponding bill was submitted in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The proposals call for sanctions against those who knowingly provide Iran with funding, services or “technological support, used in connection with the development of Iranian digital currency.”

The move comes in context of the Trump administration’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Withdrawing from the JCPOA was only the first step in ratcheting up pressure on the Iranian regime,” Gallagher said in a statement. “We now have an important window to impose maximum economic pressure and degrade the Iranian regime’s ability to export violence across the region. This legislation does exactly that by effectively cutting Iran off from the international financial community.”

Iran has been in the news for a number of cryptocurrency-related issues in recent weeks.

Earlier this week an Iranian government official talked up the positives of embracing blockchain. Cheap electricity in the Islamic Republic has made Iran a hot destination for bitcoin mining farms.

Meanwhile, recently-released U.S. sanctions have ensnared Iranian bitcoin traders, one of whom later told CoinDesk that he’s innocent.

Iranian rial image via Shutterstock

US Lawmakers Seek Sanctions Against Iran’s Cryptocurrency Efforts

Coinbase President: Despite Bitcoin Price Crashes, 2018 was an Innovative Year

bitcoin price

Crypto players from around the globe are chiming in on the direction of the Bitcoin price in 2019. Will it continue to see price crashes? Or will the current recovery continue? Better yet, has the industry had a good year and will it continue to have significance in the new year?

Earlier in the week, we heard from bears, like Erik Finman who called Bitcoin “dead;” and we heard from Spencer Bogart, a Bitcoin bull, who not only said BTC will continue to rise, but that 2018, contrary to popular belief, has been one of the best years for the cryptocurrency.

Today, word surfaced that the President of Coinbase, Asiff Hirji, believes something similar to Bogart.

2018: A Good Year for BTC, Despite Bitcoin Price Crashes

Despite the crashes experienced in 2018 (such as the bearish run that sent the Bitcoin price to a low of $3,200), Asiff Hirji believes BTC is recovering.

In his interview with CNBC’s Fast Money, Hirji said this recovery isn’t surprising and that it’s likely to continue into 2019. That’s a statement in complete opposition of the thoughts of Erik Finman. “Some things are never as good as they seem,” said the Coinbase President, “and never as bad as they seem.”

During the interview, Hirji spoke on the performance of the crypto market in the last year. According to Hirji, there’s been more innovation this year in the market. “We’ve never had as much innovation as we have today,” Hirji explained, citing, for instance, how cryptocurrencies are getting more visible.

>> Facebook Cryptocurrency: Is the Tech Giant Developing a Stablecoin?

Spencer Bogart, also during a Fast Money interview, spoke on something similar, calling 2018 a “fantastic year” for BTC, despite the Bitcoin price crashes. Speaking also on innovation, Bogart said this year is the first time we have scaled the digital currency “with a lightening network,” making transactions quick and cheap.

Bitcoin Price

At the time of writing, the BTC price is $3,905.13.

Bitcoin price
Source: CoinMarketCap

The Takeaway

It’s vital to take comments such as Asiff Hirji’s into consideration. While it’s easy to oust BTC from your mind due to the recent Bitcoin price crashes, we must also recognize the good that occurred during the year, such as an increase in innovation.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/Piter2121

Autonio Welcomes Stan Larimer to Our Advisory Board

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Latest news from the Steemit scam

Latest news from the Steemit scam

1: More and more bugs on the website and with the API these last days.
2: No more validated account for one month. If you want to join Steemit with a free account, forget this. People who wants to create an account will have to pay. Steemit needs more real money?
3: As soon as you earn some STEEMS/VESTS rewards, steemit decreases the amount of delegated STEEMS/VESTS.. You can see at https://steemblockexplorer.com/@steem Steemit needs more real money?
4: The last annoouncement at https://steemit.com/steem/@steemitblog/introducing-mira One thing is interesting: “Steem should become even more decentralized”. Great! It shows we are right to tell Steemit is not a real blockchain and I think it will NEVER be the case.
5: Steemit goes on to delegate amounts to accounts left months ago.. Why? They really think that their members will go back? How they can be notified they have received these delegated amounts? Members stopiing to use Steemit will never go back to this poor stupid ‘social network’ haunted by some teams of abusers flagger trolls harassing people and destroying accounts for pointless and unjustified reasons.

 

Malaysia Files Criminal Charges Against Goldman Sachs

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Following months of investigation into the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia, the country’s attorney general Tommy Thomas has filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs International and two of its Asian subsidiaries alongside former Goldman Partner Tim Leissner, alleged scam mastermind Jho Low and former 1MDB counsel Jasmine Loo. The Wall Street Journal reports that Malaysian authorities earlier today released a statement confirming the prosecution for omitting material information and publishing untrue statements, which are offenses under Malaysia’s securities laws.

Attorney General’s Statement and Goldman Sachs Response

In the statement, the attorney general revealed that the offenses in question were in relation to documents for international bond sale offering in 2012 and 2013 by Malaysia’s state-run investment ehicle 1Malaysia Development Bhd., also known as 1MDB. According to the prosecution, of $6.5 billion worth of bonds that were arranged by Goldman Sachs in that period, about $2,7 billion was embezzled, with the bank making profits of over $600 million in the process.

Since that time, 1MDB has become a political and legal black hole, bringing down the government of former prime minister Najib Razak and becoming the focus of a vast international investigation led by the United States Justice Department alongside authorities across Southeast Asia and Europe. Goldman Sachs is front and centre of the investigation, with former executive Roger Ng currently fighting extradition to the U.S.to face charges by the Justice Department.

An excerpt from the statement reads:

Malaysia considers the allegations in the charges against the accused to be grave violations of our securities laws, and to reflect their severity, prosecutors will seek criminal fines against the accused well in excess of the $2.7 billion misappropriated from the bonds proceeds and $600 million in fees received by Goldman Sachs, and custodial sentences against each of the individual accused: the maximum term of imprisonment being 10 years.

Leissner on his part has already pleaded guilty in a separate case brought against him by the U.S. Justice Department last month on charges of embezzling public money and bribing public officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. While he awaits sentencing fixed for next year, Low and Loo have been charged in absentia with money laundering and a host of other charges, but their whereabouts are unknown for the time being.

Responding to the charges in a statement quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs said:

We believe these charges are misdirected, will vigorously defend them and look forward to the opportunity to present our case. The firm continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating these matters.

Cryptocurrency’s Significance

At a time when some are calling for aggressive regulation of cryptocurrencies, this case illustrates the potential that exists for blockchain technology and cryptocurrency systems to create a positive disruption within the existing banking paradigm which permits or even encourages theft and inefficiency through opaque processes and practices.

The complete transparency offered by cryptocurrencies makes it very unlikely that a single sticky-fingered public official would realistically get away with diverting the better part of a billion dollars, aided and abetted by private bankers whose only real interest is in their fees – $600 million in this case. The use of smart contracts for example, in carrying out large, high-level financial operations like 1MDB would make them substantially more efficient and much less prone to corrupt siphoning of public funds as in this case.

Images from Shutterstock.

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https://www.ccn.com/malaysia-files-criminal-charges-against-goldman-sachs/

Coinbase Adds Crypto-to-Crypto Trading for Retail Customers

Coinbase users can begin trading cryptocurrencies directly with other cryptocurrencies, the exchange startup said Monday.

The company is adding support for crypto-to-crypto trading for its retail customers, adding a feature that has long been available to professional cryptocurrency trading services, said product manager Anna Marie Clifton. Users on Coinbase.com, as well as the Android and iOS apps, will be able to begin trading bitcoin pairs in the coming days through the new feature, called Coinbase Convert.

She told CoinDesk that while trading pairs are “a pretty common paradigm in the crypto trading space,” they are not currently being served well to the broader retail audience.

“The functionality is giving customers the ability to directly convert between one cryptocurrency and another, which is pretty advanced,” she said.

The trading pairs were developed based on user feedback, Clifton said.

Unlike professional trading services, which use such pairs to take advantage of price fluctuations, retail users are likely to use these pairs for more utilitarian purposes.

As one example, she said, some customers have purchased bitcoin but now want to interact with decentralized applications (dapps), and therefore need to convert their holdings.

“I think one of the things that was most surprising was seeing a lot of customers frustrated because they wanted to use the product immediately [but] it required two trading fees,” she said.

Initially, Coinbase Convert will support bitcoin trading pairs, with customers able to convert to bitcoin cash, ethereum, ethereum classic, litecoin and 0x. More pairs may be added in future based on customer feedback.

The exchange has been rolling out the functionality over the past week, with small groups seeing the new pairs last week. The feature will be “gradually” rolled out to each of the different countries Coinbase offers native payment access in.

“We’ll continue iterating on the product and expanding the functionality,” Clifton said. “An increasingly large number of customers will have this functionality available.”

Image via Shutterstock

Coinbase Adds Crypto-to-Crypto Trading for Retail Customers

Augur House Elections Market: Alleged Reporter Says Republicans Won The Market

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A person claiming to be the designated reporter for an Augur predictions market which asked the question “Which party will control the House after 2018 U.S. Midterm Election?” has posted to Reddit saying that he will be reporting that the Republicans control the house today. The market ends today, 12/10, and the Decmocrats, who won the election, won’t take control of the house until January.

A Twitter user said that this is an arguable case:

At issue, of course, are several things as regards predictions markets. The question is ambiguous – it doesn’t clarify who will win the election, but who will control the House after the election. However, one could argue that if we’re going to play semantics, then both parties are correct – Republicans control it now, and Democrats will control it in January, and both periods of time follow the mid-term elections.

In fact, if the outcome is reported as it allegedly will be, then it belies a previous article on CCN where we said it correctly predicted the outcome. In fact, 90% of people probably did believe they were forecasting the election outcome, but according to the alleged market reporter, they were actually just predicting incorrectly who would be controlling the House on December 10th.

At time of writing, the market report had not been finalized. The alleged reporter, who goes by the handle Poyo-Poyo on Reddit, wrote:

Regarding 0xbbbc0a8baa03535e0a680ee2f057162aaaafd570,

I am sorry for any confusion or financial loss my gimmick house market may have caused. The intention is, and always has been, to measure the status of the House of Congress on the 10th of December, NOT the status after the new congress takes office.

Thusly, I shall, and am required to, report as “Republican” when I submit my official selection for this market later today.

Again, I am truly sorry for any damage to traders, or to the Augur Community as a whole for this ambiguity, and I hope the Augur World continues to thrive along toward the future, and I plan to continue to play my important role in its development over the coming years.

The Augur market allows reporters three days to report, and the market officially ended just under 24 hours ago. CCN will post an update at that time, regardless of the outcome. If the results go the way the alleged reporter says they will, then we 90% of those who bet on the market will have lost their money, totaling around over 3/4s of a million dollars in cryptos.

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https://www.ccn.com/augur-house-elections-market-alleged-reporter-says-republicans-won-the-market/

One Month Later, Which Crypto Is Winning the Bitcoin Cash Split?

One month has officially passed since the bitcoin cash blockchain underwent a hard fork on November 15, resulting in the creation of two distinct networks.

They’re now commonly referred to as Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin SV. Yet in the weeks that followed the mid-November fracture, there is still no favorite in terms of overall price.

Bitcoin cash is designed in such a way that, every six months, its users must ‘fork’ the blockchain and adopt a software upgrade with changes determined by the project’s open-source software developers.

If the developers and miners reach consensus as to what the upgrades should be, the main chain stays intact and simply adopts the software upgrade known as a ‘soft fork’.

All bitcoin cash forks had fallen under the ‘soft’ category, but circumstances were different with the latest fork. This time around, the upgrades could not be agreed upon and tension grew among developers, so the main chain experienced a divisive hard fork – in other words, it split into two separate chains with their own cryptocurrencies.

Since the fork, both BCHABC and BSV have been trading on public cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, but after 30 days of wild volatility and drastic swings in hash power, their prices stand just $10 apart.

Where are they now?

Bitcoin cash prices reached a peak of $621 in November but had fallen 32 percent to $421 on Nov. 14, the day before the scheduled fork. according to CoinDesk’s pricing data.

After the split, the two newly created cryptocurrencies bitcoin cash ABC and Bitcoin SV hit the market and began trading at $295 and $90 respectively on the Binance exchange.

It should be noted that multiple exchanges including Poloniex and Bitfinex engaged in ‘pre fork trading’ before the fork took place.

These experimental markets involved the trading of ‘IOU’ token place holders for BCHABC and BSV redeemable post-fork, theoretically allowing exchange users to decide amongst themselves which fork to support.

For much of November, BCHABC was the distinct price leader, at times valued as much as 10 times that of its counterpart.

The difference between the two narrowed as the month elapsed, so much so that Bitcoin SV was able to take a brief price lead on Dec. 6.

Since the fork, the broader cryptocurrency market has witnessed a significant sell-off of more than $80 billion in terms of total capitalization. As a result, the two forks depreciated greatly in price.

At the time of writing, BCHABC (currently trading under the BCH ticker on many exchanges) is valued at just $80, while BSV is $70, according to CoinMarketCap, so it’s clear the public has yet to pick an undisputed favorite.

Looking forward

While the long term success of BCHABC and BSV will likely be dictated by usage and hash power, technical analysis can be applied to their price charts so a more immediate direction of the assets prices can be anticipated.

As can be seen in the BSV/USDT chart above, price began forming a bearish consolidation pattern known as the descending triangle on Nov. 26, which broke down on Dec. 16. 

The break of triangle support at $84 opened the doors for more depreciation with just two notable support levels nearby: $74 and $54. Based on the large size of the triangle pattern, it seems the lower support level is likely to be reached although the oversold conditions seen on the intraday relative strength index (RSI) may slow the fall.

There is less to glean from the BCHABC chart since it has been in a steady, near 80 percent downtrend ever since hitting the market.

With no known support levels nearby, it’s difficult to predict where its price may eventually pick up bid although oversold conditions are evident on the higher time frame charts, so sellers may soon take a breather allowing for a corrective bounce.

Needless to say, it’s unlikely either of the newly forked cryptocurrencies pick up strong big until bitcoin and the broader market does as well.

Disclosure: The author holds BTC, AST, REQ, OMG, FUEL, 1st and AMP at the time of writing.

Locked forks image via Shutterstock; charts by TradingView

One Month Later, Which Crypto Is Winning the Bitcoin Cash Split?

Bitcoin Price Tumbles Further: New Low for the Coin

Bitcoin Price

Bitcoin price is tumbling further today, dashing any hopes of a rally that some felt was certain thanks to current extreme oversold conditions.

The world’s largest coin by market cap is currently selling for $3,301.60 USD according to coinmarketcap.com. But earlier today, it fell to $3,200, representing a 15-month low for Bitcoin and not helping bulls’ hopes for a revival.

This is the lowest level since September 2017.

Bitcoin Price Drop

In the last four weeks alone, Bitcoin has dropped 49% in price. Surely, sellers are exhausted, and Bitcoin is set to turn around. Earlier this week, BTC began moving upwards towards $3,633, but it did not last. The coin’s failure to produce a worthy bounce back despite being extremely oversold indicates that the bears are winning this war and negative sentiment is strong. A 200-week moving average support of $3,170 has been established and now heading below it may be a real possibility for Bitcoin.

Others Follow

Across the market, the sentiment is once again bearish. Bitcoin Cash’s recent forks Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin Cash are both two of the biggest losers, with declines of approximately 11% and 14% respectively.

It seems the hashrate war between these two coins is doing neither of them any favors. The hard fork happened on November 15th, and the contentious split has caused both coins to lose more than they have gained.

Elsewhere, Stellar is down 7.5%, and EOS is down 5%. Ethereum is down 4.5%.

>> You Can Earn Bitcoin (BTC) While Shopping with the Lolli App

Sell-Off

What’s causing the market-wide sell-off?

Notably, investors are worried over the fate of a Bitcoin ETF gaining US approval in February. Also the uncertainty of whether or not (or when) this bear sentiment will end, leaves investors’ prospects for short-term Bitcoin price gains at a paltry level.

However, some are calling this period one of the “best buying opportunities.” At its current prices, rating agency Weiss is a firm believer that Bitcoin will turn around and now is the time to buy.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© vectorfusionart

Autonio Welcomes Stan Larimer to Our Advisory Board

You Can Earn Bitcoin (BTC) While Shopping with the Lolli App

Lolli app

Do you shop frequently at Sephora? Lululemon? Walmart? If you do, a new in-browser app has emerged and wants to give you Bitcoin (BTC). CoinDesk just reported that the app called Lolli just added Sephora to their list of retailers.

Earn Bitcoin (BTC) While Shopping

Lolli gives shoppers cash back after they make purchases at their list of partnered retailers. The Bitcoin rewards startup told CoinDesk that it recently won over Sephora by data. Around 30 percent of Lolli’s active users are women.

“We’ve gone back to a lot of these retailers that previously were not interested but now are coming on-board,” Lolli CEO Alex Adelman told CoinDesk. “One of the biggest ones that just joined us is Sephora, which adds an entire suite of retailers in the beauty category.”

Lolli is also partnered with Sephora’s biggest competitor, Ulta. These retailers pay Lolli for customer referrals in fiat currency, which in turn is converted into Bitcoin for rewards in the app. Many crypto-based startup companies have faced vast layoffs this year, due to the bear market. However, Lolli has only six employees and is gaining some traction.

>> Crypto Users Increased to 35 Million in 2018: What Will 2019 Bring?

Adelman told CoinDesk that Ulta is a huge retailer for the startup company. The tech CEO also claims that men and women alike were consistently requesting Sephora. To earn rewards on Sephora or Ulta, users just have to install the app in their Chrome browser and shop normally. So far, Adelman claims 60 percent of Lolli users become repeat shoppers.

Lolli is currently partnered with 500+ popular retailers. You can earn Bitcoin (BTC) through Lolli by shopping online with these major retailers: Barnes & Noble, Overstock, FinishLine, Michaels, Toms, Macy’s, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, Lululemon, Groupon, and VRBO.

The Bitcoin startup was launched back in September of 2018, and it has raised $2.35 million so far. On average, Lolli pays out $10 per purchase in BTC.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© [email protected]

Autonio Welcomes Stan Larimer to Our Advisory Board

Pro-Crypto Fintechs Robinhood & Revolut Aim to Replace Bitcoin-Hostile Banks

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Earlier today, two of the world’s hottest fintech startups, the US-based Robinhood and the UK-headquartered Revolut, separately announced new product offerings that could greatly benefit the crypto industry over the long-term and put pressure on bitcoin-hostile banks to begin modernizing their service lines.

Bitcoin-Friendly Fintech Startups Want to Replace Banks

Revolut, which recently achieved a $1.7 billion valuation, announced this morning that it had received a European banking license, enabling it to begin rolling out insured bank accounts to its more than 3 million customers in early 2019.

Revolut Receives European Banking License

The firm, whose app already features a built-in cryptocurrency exchange and will soon support commission-free stock trading, also plans to begin offering personal and business loans within the near future.

“With the banking licence now secured, commission-free stock trading progressing well and five new international markets at final stages of launch, we are living up to our reputation as the ‘Amazon of banking,’” said Nikolay Storonsky, founder and CEO of Revolut. “Our vision is simple: one app with tens of millions of users, where you can manage every aspect of your financial life with the best value and technology.”

“Our vision is that retail and business customers will be able to apply for a loan in just two minutes from within the app, and then have the money in their account almost instantly,” he added. “We’ll remove the bureaucratic process and come in cheaper than traditional lenders.”

Robinhood Announces Checking & Savings Accounts

robinhood cryptocurrency trading bitcoin
Robinhood, which wants to become the largest cryptocurrency trading platform, will now also offer checking and savings accounts. | Source: Shutterstock

Stock trading app and Silicon Valley darling Robinhood has also expressed its desire to become a licensed banking institution, and while the firm has not yet achieved that goal, it did take a major step toward becoming a viable digital banking alternative.

Hours after Revolut revealed that it had received a European banking license, the $5.6 billion Robinhood announced that its more than six million customers (up from 3 million in February) could begin registering for early access to its new zero-fee checking and savings service, which offers an industry-leading 3 percent interest rate.

In lieu of waiting to receive a full-fledged banking charter, Robinhood is offering the service through its broker-dealer license and says cash deposits will be insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) up to $250,000. Customers will receive a free debit card, as well as zero-fee withdrawals at more than 75,000 ATMs across the United States.

Robinhood, like Revolut, operates an in-app cryptocurrency exchange alongside its flagship stock trading platform. The service is now available throughout more than half of the US, and executives have said that they expect it to be the largest crypto trading platform within the near future.

“We expect by the end of the year to be either the largest or one of the largest crypto platforms out there,” Robinhood co-founder and co-CEO Baiju Bhatt said in May. “But we also really feel we’ll have the absolute best experience for investing in crypto as well—from having a large variety of coins available to a more favorable cost structure—mainly no commissions—to just quality of product.”

Crypto-First Firms Eye Banking Licenses

Revolut and Robinhood are far from the only fintech startups seeking to provide a digital alternative to conventional banks, nor are they the only ones to do so with an eye towards increasing cryptocurrency adoption.

Square, the digital payments startup that allows customers to trade bitcoin through its peer-to-peer Cash App, previously applied for a banking license but withdrew that application in July. The firm said at the time that it would refile the paperwork in the future but demurred about when this would occur.

Cryptocurrency unicorns Coinbase and Circle are also said to have held early-stage discussions with regulators about registering as licensed banks, but it’s not clear whether these talks will result in concrete action.

Can Fintechs Upend Anti-Bitcoin Banks?

wall street bitcoin crypto cryptocurrency
Wall Street has a complicated relationship with bitcoin. | Source: Shutterstock

In the meantime, these new digital banking products from Revolut and Robinhood appear to be primarily targeted at individuals in their core demographics, who skew younger due to the mobile-first nature of their platforms. However, as they continue to grow — and acquire the necessary licenses — it would not at all be surprising if they expand their offerings to target enterprise customers as well.

Indeed, Revolut has already said that it intends to offer business loans as part of its future lending service. If once those relationships were in place, Revolut began offering standard business accounts, it would — to put it simply — represent a huge opportunity for a cryptocurrency industry that has long found banks a thorn in its side.

Cryptocurrency Firms Face Cold Shoulder from Many Wall Street Banks

While some major cryptocurrency firms have managed to establish stable banking partnerships, many crypto startups continue to struggle to establish permanent relationships with reputable financial institutions. When they do, it is often with smaller outfits like the US-based Silvergate Bank, which are more readily willing than larger firms to endure the perceived risks associated with taking on crypto clients.

To wit, even as some large financial institutions like Goldman Sachs have confirmed that they are working on cryptocurrency products, others refuse to take on crypto firms as clients or in some cases shutter their accounts after the fact.

“Banking in this ecosystem,” Silvergate CEO Alan Lane stated in a recent Wall Street Journal interview, “is not for the faint of heart.”

The situation is particularly dire in smaller markets like Chile, whose Supreme Court recently ruled that banks could discriminate against cryptocurrency exchanges. The move effectively prevents local firms from offering fiat-to-cryptocurrency trading, stunting the industry’s ability to grow.

Embracing this industry is a calculated risk, one that most Wall Street institutions have thus far decided is not worth it. However, Main Street banks like Silvergate have scooped up US crypto heavyweights like Coinbase, Kraken, Genesis Global Trading, and bitFlyer USA.

Revolut: Banks Won’t Catch up

Revolut Nikolay Storonsky bitcoin crypto cryptocurrency
Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky has said that fintechs will continue to lead the charge on crypto adoption, while ordinary banks will fail to keep up. | Source: Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Wikimedia Commons

Commenting on Wall Street’s hesitancy (and occasional outright hostility) to engage with crypto, Revolut’s Nikolay Storonsky predicted that fintech would continue to lead the charge on mainstream cryptocurrency adoption, regardless of whether legacy institutions change their tune on this nascent asset class.

“Fintech will be very big in crypto for the foreseeable future,’’ he said last month. ‘’I just don’t think banks will catch up.’’

At this stage, it’s far too early to eulogize the legacy financial sector, but for the cryptocurrency ecosystem, one thing is certain: the advent of crypto-friendly banking alternatives like Revolut and Robinhood will at the very least increase the opportunity cost of Wall Street failing to engage with this burgeoning industry.

Featured Image from TechCrunch/Flickr

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https://www.ccn.com/pro-crypto-fintechs-robinhood-revolut-aim-to-replace-bitcoin-hostile-banks/

US Lawmaker Suggests ‘WallCoin’ Crypto to Fund Trump’s Mexico Border Wall

Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson thinks crowdfunding may provide a solution to the controversial proposal of building a wall on the Mexican border.

And, perhaps more notably, he suggested using a cryptocurrency to do so.

During an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, the U.S. lawmaker explained that he has already proposed letting the American public pay for the wall, which is opposed by Democrats but mades up a key aspect of President Donald Trump’s list of 2016 campaign promises. In particular, Davidson told Inskeep, he has suggested a private funding program wherein “the American people, or whomever should choose to donate,” (including residents of Mexico) would be able to fund the wall’s construction.

He went on to add:

“You could do it with sort of like a crowdfunding site or you could do a blockchain and you could have WallCoins, but you could raise the money and frankly if we get it right at the Treasury you could even pay with Mexican pesos.”

Davidson noted that this funding would not support a full wall across the entire border and that some parts could likely be reinforced with fences.

“There are areas that you would want to secure with a wall, and if you look at the areas where you have secured them with walls, $5 billion isn’t going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China, this is going to build secure fences,” he said.

Davidson is an outspoken supporter of the cryptocurrency space, having previously held a round-table event with more than 80 representatives from both the crypto and finance industries to discuss possible legislation for initial coin offerings.

A spokesperson for Davidson did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Border wall image via Shutterstock

US Lawmaker Suggests ‘WallCoin’ to Fund Trump’s Mexico Border Wall

Cardano Founder Charles Hoskinson Explains Why ADA’s New Smart Contract Tools are a Boon for Fintech

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IOHK, a leading blockchain research and development firm, announced two tools developed by a world-leading team for writing smart contracts for the Cardano blockchain.

The apps are called Plutus and Marlowe and were launched in test format at the first PlutusFest conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. These powerful tools will enable start-ups, the financial services and fintech industries, and academia to prepare blockchain contracts that will run on Cardano (ADA).

Plutus provides a general purpose programming language and tools for the Cardano protocol. IOHK’s scientists and engineers have combined the discipline of the Haskell functional language with the ADA network to create a platform for fintech developers to write secure and robust smart contracts.

IOHK has provided an easy-to-use exploratory development and testing environment for Plutus contracts based on a novel blockchain emulator, called Plutus Playground. These contracts are ready to be deployed to the blockchain itself.

Speaking with CCN, Cardano’s Charles Hoskinson explained that the Marlow application provides instant global fund transfers for business. It also enables the holding of rental deposits in escrow to increase transparency.

He explained:

“As an example: The escrow mechanism allows Party 1 to deposit the money into a contract, in a way that the money will only be released when two out of three participants agree on whether Party 2 has indeed given Party 1 the item. The escrow participant (Party 3) is supposed to be a neutral third party that decides in case of dispute. This way if Party 1 and Party 2 are honest, they will just agree on the result of the transaction and Party 3 will not need to do anything. If Party 1 and Party 2 disagree, Party 3 will be able to choose whether the money must go to Party 1 or to Party 2.”

To put matters in a simpler context, Hoskinson said that, for example, if the money paid for Item A is 450 ADA and it must be committed by Party 1 before block 10, it will be refunded to Party 1 if there is no consensus before block 90.

For non-programmers, Marlowe is a simple way to generate code and create software products. It is an easy-to-use tool that enables professionals in the finance industry who have no programming background to build automated financial contracts on the blockchain. Marlowe comes with its own web-based testbed, Meadow.

The first PlutusFest, the event at which these tools were unveiled, has been hosted by the Edinburgh Blockchain Technology Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh. This facility was established in February 2017 as the headquarters for IOHK’s network of global university partnerships.

Featured Image from IOHK/YouTube

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https://www.ccn.com/cardano-founder-charles-hoskinson-explains-why-adas-new-smart-contract-tools-are-a-boon-for-fintech/

Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Backs $4 million Raise for Crypto-Lender BlockFi

BlockFi, a startup that offers U.S. dollar loans against crypto collateral, has raised $4 million in its latest round this year.

The New York-based firm announced Wednesday that the funds have been raised in convertible debt investments in a round led by Akuna Capital, with participation from Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Ventures, Anthony Pompliano’s Morgan Creek Digital, Susquehanna Government Products and Fidelity-linked Devonshire Investors.

With the new funds, BlockFi said it plans to grow its team and launch new products, including an interest-earning crypto savings account (slated for Q1 2019), a portfolio line of credit and crypto-backed credit cards. The firm currently provides dollar-denominated loans against bitcoin, ether and litecoin.

“We believe debt and credit markets in the crypto space will continue to grow and BlockFi is well-positioned to maintain its leadership position as the market expands”, said Dean Carlson, head of digital asset investments at Susquehanna.

Today’s funding round follows BlockFi’s previous $52.5 million raise back in July that was led by Galaxy Digital. In February, the firm also received funding of $1.55 million from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFi and Kenetic Capital, among others, for its stated aim of “bridging the gap” between traditional capital markets and the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Earlier this week, Galaxy Digital also led a $30 million in a Series A funding round investment in digital banking platform Good Money.

Mike Novogratz image via CoinDesk Consensus archive

Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Backs $4 million Raise for Crypto-Lender BlockFi

Still the King: Bitcoin Dominance Hits 3-Month High as Crypto Market Limps Toward 2019

Bitcoin’s share of total cryptocurrency market capitalisation is at its highest point in three months, currently standing at about 55.14 percent according to data from CoinMarketCap. Bitcoin Dominance Surges amid Crypto Price Panic The next four high volume cryptocurrencies in order of market volume are XRP with 11.14 percent, ethereum with 8.55 percent, bitcoin cash

The post Still the King: Bitcoin Dominance Hits 3-Month High as Crypto Market Limps Toward 2019 appeared first on CCN

https://www.ccn.com/still-the-king-bitcoin-dominance-hits-3-month-high-as-crypto-market-limps-toward-2019/

Comprehensive tutorial with videos and all – How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster – by SpaceX

 

The SpaceX keeps on lifting rockets, but little the people know how many of them fell down or exploded. This is a video that shows teh finest examples. I personally think that the detailed reports of the incidents should be put in a written form and shared around to the people who wish to know more about this rocket business. Future is not far away and flying around the planet in the lower orbit can be just around the corner. You can’t learn from the success the same as from the things that failed.

Netflix is Down

Source: zerohedge.com

A number of users are complaining that the service is down.  Netflix twitted that they are aware of the issue and are working to solve the steaming problem.  They appreciate the user’s patience during the down time.

 

Is it a coincidence that today was the day that net neutrality was officially repealed.  Although the bulk of the outages reported are clustered in Europe and the issue of net neutrality is centered in the US, the internet is a global web and what affects the web in one country will be reflected in other countries.

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