The Scot has overseen an impressive revival recently with Villa taking 17 points from their last 11 games to leave them 16th in the table and five points off the relegation zone. Lambert, though, has put the morale-boosting win to the back of his mind as he prepares to return to former club Norwich on Saturday. “You let it go as soon as it’s finished,” he said. Press Association Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has already moved on from Monday’s 6-1 hammering of Sunderland as he focuses on dragging his side to Barclays Premier League safety. “I don’t dwell on it, it’s gone. We’ve got another three games to go and we’ll go and try to win the next one. The lads have hit really, really top form over the last few months and that’s the pleasing thing, they’ve grown with it. “The crowd on Monday were electric and I think the team and the crowd are really bonding – and that can be a fantastic thing at a football club. The way the night transpired, with the crowd and the atmosphere, was fantastic. But it’s important to move on. We’re playing really well at the moment but the minute anyone thinks we’ve done it…we’ll try and avoid that.” Midlands rivals West Brom can help Villa by beating Wigan this weekend but Lambert would rather focus on his own job. “If you start to look for others to do you a favour, then you’re clutching at things,” he said. “The big thing for me is every time we’ve been asked to get a result against teams in and around us, we’ve come up with the goods. “There’s not much in it in the bottom half. We’ve just got to look after our own game and try and win as many games as we can, and our form is very very good. There’s still loads to do. We’ve got to let that game go. The most important thing was to win that game.” Villa now look in a healthy position to beat the drop but Lambert is wary of getting too carried away. “It’s never over until it’s over,” he said. “But we’ve given ourselves a chance.”
Leading owner Barry Connell is looking forward to seeing The Tullow Tank embark on a career over fences later this year following the dual Grade One-winning hurdler’s switch from Philip Fenton to Dessie Hughes. Press Association The six-year-old won the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in the first half of last season and was last seen chasing home subsequent Cheltenham and Punchestown hero Vautour at Leopardstown in February. Connell made the difficult decision to rule his star novice out of the Cheltenham Festival and subsequently the rest of the season after charges were brought against Fenton relating to treatments and medicines allegedly found at his yard in January 2012. And with the case due to drag on until at least September, he has decided to move his prized asset to a new trainer. Hughes trained Our Conor for Connell last year until the talented hurdler suffered a fatal injury in the Champion Hurdle. Connell said: “The Tullow Tank is up in Dessie’s place and is just back in work. “We’re having a good summer and with the grass being so good, you don’t want to leave them out in the field for too long and let them get too big. “He jumps well and the plan is go down the novice chasing route. “Both The Tullow Tank and the bumper horse Volvalien have moved from Philip Fenton’s to Dessie Hughes. “Philip’s case is going to go on for a while yet and we said we’d review the situation in a year’s time. “We obviously needed to get the horses sorted out for the new season.”
— Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley will enter the NBA draft and sign with an agent, leaving school after a breakout season in which he was an honorable mention All-America selection by The Associated Press. Southeastern Conference coaches voted the 6-foot-3 sophomore Player of the Year after he wasn’t picked for any preseason all-conference teams. Quickley averaged a team-high 16.1 points per game last season with double-figure efforts in his final 20 contests.NASCAR-LARSON SLURKyle Larson suspended for racial slur in virtual raceCHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Larson has been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and without pay by Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racial slur on a live stream during a virtual race.Larson apologized in a video posted on his social media accounts. The star driver said there was “no excuse” for his conduct, which drew pushback from sponsors. The team agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract extension with McCaffrey on Monday, a person familiar with the contract negotiations told The Associated Press.The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Panthers have not announced the extension. Details on how much of the contract is fully guaranteed were unavailable.The $16-million-a-year deal eclipses Ezekiel Elliott’s contract with the Dallas Cowboys that is worth $15 million per season.The extension keeps McCaffrey, 23, tied to the Panthers through the 2025 season. The coming season would be the final year of his rookie contract, and Carolina had the option to pick up a fifth year in 2021.It appeared to a matter of when, not if, the extension was coming after Panthers coach Matt Rhule made it clear last week that he viewed McCaffrey as a vital part of the franchise moving forward. Update on the latest in sports: Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditPANTHERS-MCCAFFREYAP source: Panthers make McCaffrey highest-paid running backCHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have rewarded Christian McCaffrey for his production and versatility, making him the highest-paid running in the NFL. April 13, 2020 In other virus-related developments:—Washington State athletic director Pat Chun, head football coach Nick Rolovich and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith are taking voluntary 5% pay cuts through the end of the 2020-21 academic year due to revenue reductions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chun says all Washington State coaches will voluntarily forgo all bonuses or incentives through the end of the next academic year.— New York Post sports photographer Anthony Causi has died from the coronavirus at age 48. Causi was an exceedingly popular sports photographer who covered the city’s teams for 25 years. He was married with two young children. Many of New York’s professional teams and several players posted messages on Twitter expressing sadness, condolences and paying tribute to him.— The Cleveland Browns will donate net proceeds from sales of their new jerseys to a fund aiding health care professionals, first responders and others who have selflessly served during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team launched the Hats Off to Our Heroes Fund on Monday, two days before it will reveal the new uniforms. The Browns said the team will commit 100 percent of the proceeds “for a significant period of time” to the fund.— Spanish soccer club Real Sociedad (ray-AL’ soh-see-ay-DAHD’) is going back on its plan to resume practicing at the team’s training center during the coronavirus pandemic. The club says it made the decision after discussions with the Spanish government. Spain is starting to loosen some of its lockdown measures this week by allowing non-essential workers to return to their activities while observing social-distancing guidelines. —The mother of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has died due to complications from COVID-19. Jacqueline Cruz-Towns had been fighting the virus for more than a month.The native of the Dominican Republic was a fixture at Timberwolves games from the start of her son’s NBA career in 2015. Karl Towns Sr., the father of the two-time All-Star, was also hospitalized with the virus but has since recovered.—The NBA has been sending evaluations to players considering leaving college early and entering the draft. The league will do so for all underclassmen who ask before Thursday’s deadline. The task falls to the league’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which understands that what it says in these uncertain times may carry even more weight than usual. No date has been set for the draft.—Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook has donated 650 computers to children in need so they can continue learning with schools shut down because of the new coronavirus. Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation teamed with Comp-U-Dopt and Houston mayor Sylvester Turner’s office of education to provide computers to underprivileged children across the city.In NBA draft news:— Kansas guard Devon Dotson is entering the NBA draft after leading the Big 12 Conference in scoring his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.1 steals while helping Kansas go 28-3 and win its final 16 games. In other NFL news:—Former NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has died in a one-car crash outside Montgomery, Alabama. He was 36. The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro that Jackson was driving went off the road, struck a tree and overturned at 8:50 p.m. Sunday.Jackson was hired as quarterbacks coach for Tennessee State last season after a 10-year NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills.—The NFL and its players union have agreed to conduct “virtual” offseason workout programs until every team is permitted to open its facilities. Teams can hold classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs using online platforms.The three-week virtual offseason starts on April 20 and runs through May 15. Teams with a new head coach have the option to also hold a fourth week for a voluntary veterans minicamp.—ESPN and NFL Network will join forces for this year’s NFL draft. They will produce a broadcast that will air on both networks over all three days. The April 23-25 draft was originally scheduled to be in Las Vegas but has been moved due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will now originate from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.—The San Francisco 49ers have re-signed cornerbacks Dontae Johnson and Jason Verrett to one-year contracts. Johnson and Verrett played sparingly for San Francisco last season but were brought back for depth in the secondary. The Bulls handed the keys to the 48-year-old Karnisovas last week, hoping he can spark a struggling franchise.Paxson is moving into a background role after nearly two decades as the top basketball decision-maker. He took over as general manager for Jerry Krause in 2003 and was promoted to vice president of basketball operations in May 2009 with Forman — who joined the Bulls as a scout in 1998 — becoming GM.But now, Forman is out. And the future of coach Jim Boylen remains unclear.The Bulls thought they were ready to contend for a playoff spot after combining for just 49 wins the past two seasons. Instead, they were 11th in the Eastern Conference at 22-43 when the NBA suspended play because of the COVID-19 pandemic.In other NBA news: The WWE-backed XFL canceled the rest of its return season last month because of the coronavirus pandemic. It suspended operations and laid off its employees Friday.The XFL had eight franchises this season and played five games out of a planned 10-game schedule. It drew decent TV ratings early on and had deals with ESPN and Fox.NBA-BULLS-FRONT OFFICEBulls fire Forman, announce Karnisovas hire, reassign PaxsonCHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls fired general manager Gar Forman on Monday, while officially hiring Denver Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas as their executive vice president of basketball operations and moving John Paxson into an advisory role. NASCAR ordered Larson to complete a sensitivity training course before he’s eligible for reinstatement.Larson was competing in an iRacing event Sunday night when he appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During a check of his microphone, he asked his spotter, “You can’t hear me?” That was followed by the N-word. The slur was directed at his spotter, who is white.iRacing suspended Larson indefinitely Monday for “offensive and inappropriate” language, and the driver could face short- and long-term sponsorship ramifications.Credit One Bank denounced Larson’s “highly offensive language” and said it supports the “quick actions” by NASCAR and Larson’s team. Chevrolet suspended its personal services relationship with Larson “as we do not tolerate this behavior.” McDonalds is another one of his primary sponsors.VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS —The Los Angeles Rams have signed kickers Lirim Hajrullahu and Austin MacGinnis as potential replacements for longtime incumbent Greg Zuerlein. Hajrullahu has spent the past six seasons playing for three Canadian Football League teams. MacGinnis kicked in the defunct Alliance of American Football and in the defunct XFL over the past 14 months.XFL-BANKRUPTCYXFL files for bankruptcy, cites COVID-19 crisisUNDATED (AP) — The XFL has filed for bankruptcy, likely spelling the end of the second iteration of the league.The filing Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware estimates the organization has between $10 million and $50 million in both assets and liabilities. Former coaches Bob Stoops and Marc Trestman are among the creditors with the largest unsecured claims. Get ready for the Madrid Virtual OpenUNDATED (AP) — Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are among 12 players confirmed to play in the virtual Madrid Open tennis tournament, April 27-30.The online competition will be played from players’ homes and is expected to be broadcast live on TV and social media channels.There will be 150,000 euros ($164,000) distributed in prize money for each of the men’s and women’s events. The winners then decide how much they want to donate to tennis players who are having a hard time financially without any tournaments to play.Another 50,000 euros ($55,000) will be donated to reduce the social impact of the pandemic. Associated Press — IOC President Thomas Bach tells a German newspaper that the Olympic body will face “several hundred million dollars” of added costs because of the postponement of the Tokyo Games. Estimates in Japan place the overall cost of the postponement at between $2 billion-$6 billion. All of those costs will be borne by the Japanese side except for the IOC portion. Bach says he is confident the Olympics could be held in 2021 despite the current pandemic caused by the coronavirus.— Athletes completing doping bans over the next year will be eligible to compete in the postponed Tokyo Olympics. It’s an unintended effect of the coronavirus pandemic that has some crying foul. Irish race walker Brendan Boyce says, “It doesn’t seem like a fair punishment.” The 2020 Olympics were officially postponed last month for one year, with the opening ceremony now set for July 23, 2021.— Premier League soccer club Tottenham has reversed a decision to use government money to fund some staff salaries during the coronavirus pandemic. Staff put on furlough during the pandemic receive 80% of their salaries up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds ($3,000) per month from the government. And Tottenham had said non-playing staff not being furloughed would have their pay cut 20%.— A lower-level German soccer team has sold more than 125,000 tickets to a fictional game. Fourth-division club Lokomotive Leipzig says it has set an “attendance record” by selling so many tickets for a “virtual game against an invisible opponent on May 8.” The former East German league club has been selling symbolic tickets for 1 euro ($1.10).,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6
It has been five years since what started as an experiment international tournaments in Abuja with over 40 African and other foreign players hitting the courts of the Abuja Stadium. Each year the foreigners spend at least three weeks in Nigeria competing for the much-needed points that could take them to greater heights in the game of tennis. It was exciting speaking with Edmond Ajoge who took time out to go down memory lane and the joy of having a stadium ‘homeboy’ compete and take on a much-established European players to three sets for points before bowing out gallantly. Stanley Nkwazema brings excerptsHow is the journey so far?This is the 5th edition and the journey has been very interesting. Of course, it’s been one challenge or the other but so far so good it’s been good and nice. I have said it, every opportunity I have had, I actually got into this because of the fact that I saw a tournament in Abuja that I felt was not properly organised. It was a local championship. And I felt the standard wasn’t good enough, that we could do better than that. That was how I got involved in it and we have done our bit in the last five years to showcase how good we are as a people. How things could be done properly in a country like ours and the kind of support and encouragement we have had from all the players I have been visiting is always very encouraging and so far, so good we have achieved our aims. First it was Tombim, then Dayak and now GSL is in its third edition, are we moving forward?It is such an amazing experience I won’t lie to you because when I started five years ago, I was not even sure we were going to come this far. We thank God this is the 5th edition, this year Dayak will be having the 4th edition too and GSL the 3rd edition. That shows there’s been consistency and quite a few people are talking to us too that they want to do theirs. The support and encouragement from friends and tennis lovers have been very encouraging and high and that’s one of the reasons why we have had successful tournaments in the last five years. We have lots of volunteers that are our friends and some of them are our well-wishers. They all come around and give their little support here and there which makes the tournament according to the players, their parents and some of the coaches as one of the best tournaments in the circuit.Attitude of local players; they lack discipline but the motivation is there they don’t want to cash in on the support they’ve been getting from people who are tennis enthusiasts and even people from outside the tennis environment. Does it not sadden you that we have not gotten anyone who has reached the finals after all these years we’ve been hosting this competition in Abuja with all the encouragement and with all the facilities we have turned around.Let’s be frank here. The truth is, as a human being you can’t have it rosy in every facet of your life. Like you know because you are a tennis player too, we have done our bit. We brought the tournament here for Nigerian players to have opportunities to earn themselves points. Some of them took advantage of it. Most of them are not doing that. But inasmuch as we are not happy with their attitude, we won’t stop doing what we are doing because we know a lot of people are benefitting, good tennis for people to watch, it helps our people to relax and it makes the younger ones look up to some people and feel that okay, maybe, someday I could be this good. I could get as far as these guys in ATP tennis.But you see there is one particular thing that happened this year that has been a good thing. Something we can all celebrate. Five years ago, when we started one of our ball boys then Musa Mohammed played this year, so far, that has the best match of the championship. By the best I mean a match that was very tough. It had every spectator in the stadium abandon all the other matches including the foreign players were all glued to the match being played by Musa. The support Musa had was because he’s one of the indigenes of the stadium. What I mean by indigene of the stadium is that this guy may not have been born in the stadium but has lived all his life in the stadium. So, for one of us to get as far as that is something worth celebrating. He got a wild card and made very good use of it. Thirdly, we are hoping and praying that I will give him more opportunities to exhibit his skills and all. All the officials were glued to his match. That goes to show you how interesting that match was even though he lost at the end of the day but he gave a very good fight. It was not a straights loss as they played the third set before he bowed out.How about turning around dilapidated and abandoned facilities?Outside the players and the investment on the coaches and officiating officials, we have turned around the courts and every year before the tournament started to commit a lot towards making it one of the best courts we can think about, to meet at least the required standard for this kind of courts. We are of the opinion that government should not be part of sports. Individuals and corporate organisations should take over sports and run it the way its run everywhere else in the world. We have not been getting the kind of support we are expecting but as far as I am concerned every single year we try to invite one or two government persons here and a few of them that have been here were actually encouraged and full of praises and they appreciate the fact that we are giving our country a very good name because every single player that has been here has always had something good to say about Nigeria. Which is something we are very proud of because it’s always very sad and heartbreaking when you go anywhere else in the world and you hear them talk about Nigeria. We are all Nigerians and there is nothing we can do about that. This is our own little quota to change the wrong impressions they have about our country and we have been doing that and doing it well. Yes, the few government persons that have been here have as far as we are concerned, supported us and are supporting us.What are you doing about changing the face of officiating?I think it is the case of changing the way we do things because as they usually say if you are doing something in a particular way and getting a particular result and you keep doing it you will always get the same result. But if you want to change it you have to do it differently so that you can get a different result. We have done what they were doing in officiating for so long and we were not getting the right results, so we sat and agreed that we should get more educated people, more people that are doing well in their chosen careers, we should get them into officiating and see how it works. And I think it was a very good decision that we took by bringing in these people, we have a Group Captain in the Nigerian Airforce as one of the officials, We have a PhD holder, we have captains of industry, we have all manner of people now officiating and that is why everything is changing. People are more confident; they are not looking at the money anymore they are just looking at adding value to what is being done and to me that is the ultimate and that’s why we have the caliber of officials we have now. Going forward they have seen the advantage of this and I am sure they are going to do more of that by getting people that are educated into officiating in Nigeria and the same thing we are trying to push into coaching.We have been talking about it when opportunities come now and they have to train coaches we are thinking they should look at people who have gone to school, graduates preferably so that it is easy for them to learn and know the rules of the game, adapt to the dynamics because when you have people who are not educated as coaches, they find it very difficult to understand what the rules are saying and unfortunately for all of us, the rules change every day. So, you need people who are up there so that when the rules are changing, they can always change too and get to know what the new styles are so that they can impart that knowledge in their players. But like they say, Rome was not built in a day. We will keep trying and hopefully we’ll get there somedayAre you tired of what you are doing?I enjoy it because it gives me happiness. Even though we have not been able to achieve some of the things we set out to achieve, we are planning and hoping that we will grow bigger next year. We are hoping that we will getShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
Despite opposition from Los Angeles County and other cities, the California State Assembly approved a proposal Friday to waive environmental laws for a planned NFL stadium in Los Angeles.The measure, which was approved by a vote of 55 to 17, will spare Majestic Realty Co., chaired by USC Trustee Edward Roski Jr., from adhering to various portions of the California Environmental Quality Act when building the proposed 75,000-seat structure in the City of Industry.Lobbyists for Los Angeles County were ordered Tuesday to work against the bill, and nearby cities, such as Walnut, also promised opposition to the proposal, citing traffic impacts and other environmental issues, according to the Associated Press.The measure will now move on to the State Senate for further consideration.
Share Related Articles StumbleUpon EU research agency demands urgent action on loot box consumer safeguards July 29, 2020 Submit Flutter moves to refine merger benefits against 2020 trading realities August 27, 2020 Share Paddy Power raises awareness of Missing People with Motherwell ‘silhouette’ stand August 7, 2020 Paddy Power has been threatened with legal action for failing to consult Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for using his likeness to support a dig at the current Brexit situation.The 46-year-old Norwegian, who has enjoyed such success at Old Trafford since replacing Jose Mourinho in December, reportedly reacted by saying that Paddy Power will have “big problems” and will be hearing from his lawyer.The advert in question featured an image of Solskjaer clapping alongside the following Brexit-themed message: “Theresa, time to try the Norwegian model?” The sub text then read “Ole to be given the job full time – 1/16”.It follows quickly after the firm launched the controversial ‘Loyalty is Dead’ campaign featuring Rhodri Giggs – the brother of Manchester United legend Ryan. The advert, which pokes fun at the highly publicised fall out between the two siblings, was released to promote Paddy Power’s Rewards Club – billed as an ‘anti-loyalty scheme’.This issue of loyalty will be debated at next week’s Betting on Football conference in a session titled ‘Loyal subjects – how can a brand keep its players onside?’Josh Linforth (Business Development Director at Betgenius), Dan Towse, (Head of Brand at Marathonbet), John Gordon (CEO & Co-Founder at Incentive Games) and Sam Depoortere (Head of Marketing at Nederlandse Loterij) will be discussing how bookmakers can generate brand loyalty when customers are so price sensitive. For more information about this year’s Betting on Football, click HERE.
HRI boosts coverage of Irish racing with RTÉ agreement May 28, 2020 Submit Irish bookmakers demand clarity on reopening orders June 17, 2020 Share StumbleUpon Related Articles Share Paddy Power to reopen English & Irish betting shops in Royal Ascot week June 10, 2020 Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has confirmed that race meetings will go ahead, but will be ‘held in strict adherence to Government guidelines regarding COVID-19’. The decision, which is reported to be motivated by employment and incomes for those across the sector, will see all fixtures staged without spectators. Nicky Hartery, Chairman of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “These are unprecedented and sombre times and we are seeking the best ways to support the racing community and industry throughout what lies ahead. “Health and welfare of employees and industry participants is the prime consideration and within that context, we have introduced protocols which can allow racing to continue and thousands of families who rely on the sector to maintain a livelihood. “This will be kept under review on a daily basis and we are also planning measures for reprogramming fixtures as it becomes required. Changes to the programme will be separately announced.“We have consulted with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout this process and we will continue to strictly adhere to the Government and HSE advice. We have made it clear at all times that our medical facilities and personnel will be available for the Government to use if necessary – that will take precedence above any other consideration.”Following a blanket restriction on outdoor gatherings over 500 people in Ireland, five race meetings have taken place behind closed doors. Access has been limited to key personnel such as stable staff, jockeys and trainers, while strict protocols around social distancing and sanitisation have also been rolled out.The Board of HRI have since reviewed the five meetings that have taken place since Friday, and recommended some extra measures:There will be no evening meetings and no double meetings – this will reduce the draw on medical resources, a principal concern for larger racing jurisdictions with multiple meetings every dayA maximum of one meeting per day to reduce impact on resourcesJockeys’ weights to increase by 2lb from Friday, on the Flat and in National Hunt – all racecourse saunas are closedNo owners permitted to attend race meetingsNo overseas runners will be permitted for the time being in Irish racesA maximum of 30-minute intervals between races to assist social distancing The previously approved protocols will continue and are set out in the attached AppendixBrian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, added: “This is clearly a rapidly changing situation and Horse Racing Ireland will continue to liaise with the relevant Government Departments and with our health advisors.“The executive sub-committee of Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is meeting daily to assess the situation, and the Board of Horse Racing Ireland will continue to convene as required.“Racecourses by their nature offer opportunities for social distancing that few other workplaces can. Nothing in Irish life is as it was a week ago, and in the same way, these are not race fixtures as we previously knew them, they are big open-air sites with very few people present and nobody on-site if they are not involved: once a jockey or trainer has finished their business for the afternoon, they are required to leave. “Furthermore, we have carried out risk assessments according to each individual racecourse facility, and some fixtures may be subject to greater restrictions and limitations to ensure social distancing is easily achievable and maintained.“The Board paid tribute to the flexibility shown by stable staff, jockeys, trainers, owners and employees of the IHRB, HRI, the media and broadcasters. Strict measures were imposed on them almost immediately last Friday but their actions, care and vigilance have ensured that social distancing is being observed and racecourses continue to be a safe working environment.”
As his mates had dinner, Captain of the Black Stars, Asamoah Gyan and his ever willing and conniving team mate, Derek Boateng, reportedly conspired to officially induct him into the national team. As was becoming the tradition; new players are made to do a routine in presence of the entire team to signal their acceptance into the team. Abdul Majeed Waris, then playing for Swedish club BK Häcken, was not going to be treated differently. He was made to do a dance routine; yes, you guessed right; he was made to do the ‘Azonto’. Waris’ movement on the night was directly opposite his movement on the football pitch; off beat. That was in 2012 when Waris made his debut for the Black Stars ; a year down the line, Waris will perhaps not look back on that night as one of humiliation, but rather one of exposure; one that put him in the public eye; a night of illumination. In that intervening period, Waris has endured a one big snub and then a recall that has seen him score 3 times consecutively in the Black Stars 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. Today, if you asked many to name their Black Stars’ first eleven, Waris will be one of the first names on the Black Stars team sheet. That’s how quickly Waris has danced his way into becoming a key player for the Stars; that journey however didn’t begin last year, it began in 1991.SMALL BEGINNINGS19th September 1991, was when Abdul Majeed Waris was born in Tamale, Northern Region, Ghana. He would move further south to the Eastern Region and specifically to ‘Right To Dream’, a soccer academy where he honed his raw skills. In 2008, Waris benefited from the Academy’s partnership with Hartpury College and moved to the United Kingdom. In his first season, Waris scored 36 goals in only 21 appearances for Hartpury, including hat tricks in the semi-final and final of the U18 Colleges’ Cup. That was enough to convince scouts of Swedish Premier League club BK Hacken, who signed him on a 4 year professional contract in 2009. However, he had to wait till March 2010 when he made his debut. Waris will go on to make a total of 55 appearances, scoring 26 goals for BK Hacken. Interestingly, 23 of those goals were scored in the 2012 season, where Waris also amazingly scored 5 goals in one single game against IFK Norrköping; becoming the first player in the Swedish top fight and the first Ghanaian to score 5 goals in a single match in Europe. He did not only win the Goal King for that season, he was also voted 2012 Sweden Premier League Player of Year. His rising stock caught the attention of Russian giants, Spartak Moscow, and in November 2012, Waris transferred for an undisclosed fee. Naturally, it was expected that Waris will make Ghana’s squad for the 2013 Africa Cup Nations in South Africa, but he was surprisingly snubbed by Coach Kwesi Appiah. Waris’ disappointments didn’t ease as he picked an injury which delayed his Spartak debut till March 10, 2013, when he came on as an 82nd minute substitute in Spartak’s 3–1 win over FC Terek Grozny. Indeed, that month was a month of second chances, as he was re-invited to join the Black Stars in preparation for a World Cup qualifier against Sudan. RISING PROFILEOn March 24, 2013 at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, Waris made his full international debut for the Black Stars as the lead striker against Sudan. Once this wasn’t an ‘Azonto’ dance routine, Waris had no problem dancing around Sudan’s defenders. He capped a fine afternoon with his debut goal while also making an assist as Ghana beat Sudan 4-0. His pace, movement was so good; Coach Kwesi Appiah surely recognized his mistake in leaving him out of the Nations Cup squad. Since then, Waris’ profile with the Black Stars has been on the up and up. His position in the national team now affords Captain Asamoah Gyan, who used to lead the line alone, the freedom to play behind Waris and even drop deeper to the middle or the lines to create channels for other players to run into. Indeed, both players’ style seem to complete each other; while Gyan emphasizes guile and technique, Waris’ direct running, sharp instincts and incredible ability to out jump taller defenders (Waris stands at 5ft 7.5 inches) have Ghanaians drooling at a strike partnership that will guarantee goals. On October 15, 2013 when Ghana thrashed Egypt 6-1 in the first leg of the final 2014 World Cup play off with Waris on the score sheet, Ghanaian fans and pundits weren’t only convinced about Ghana’s seat at 2014 World Cup in Brazil; there was another conviction; Abdul Majeed Waris had come to stay! It might have come a year late but he had won Ghanaians over; similarly the Azonto steps will come with time.
The 26-year-old forward has regretted going to Libya to sign a pre-contract with a club without the blessing of the Porcupine Warriors and has been slapped with suspension.Ghana giants Asante Kotoko have suspended striker Yahaya Mohammed indefinitely for going AWOL to sign a pre-contract with Al Ittihad Tripoli.A three-member committee set up by the Porcupine Warriors to investigate the issue arrived at the decision after the player admitted his folly.The decision reads: “Following the findings of the three member committee set up to investigate your disappearance, Management in consultation with the technical team has suspended you, indefinitely. The decision of the management to suspend you indefinitely is grounded on the following:“You (Yahaya Mohammed) in your own evidence admitted that it was wrong for you not to have sought permission to travel to Libya.“Your evidence before the committee confirmed that you signed a pre-contract for Iittihad Tripoli club of Libya. “For this reasons, you will receive half of your salary at the end of the month till your suspension period is over with effect from March 2014.”The 26-year-old’s contract ends by the close of the season.Meanwhile, he said he has regretted his actions and has advised his team-mates to take a cue from it.“I have regretted leaving to Libya without informing Kotoko of my intentions to sign a pre-contract with Al Ittihad. This is a lesson other players should learn something from as they progress in their football career, because I am a bit fortunate with the punishment inflicted on me by the club and they might not be that lucky if they do the same,” the former OGC Nice player told Angel FM.
“That’s the only way because the game is going to be real fast for all the young guys, it just is. But the more prepared you are, at least the more comfortable you feel going in. So that would be my advice, I guess.”Working the perimeterBlake Griffin has made a concerted effort to improve his mid-range jumper, and he is shooting a career-high 40.7 percent from 16 feet and beyond. His previous best was 38.2 percent in 2011-12.Teammate Chris Paul suggests Griffin’s effort has been highly beneficial.“It makes us very hard to guard,” Paul said. “A lot of teams would try keep us on one side of the court, but you have to make a choice. If two (players) are going to guard me, then you are leaving Blake open. “When Blake is shooting and passing well, it makes us that much more dangerous.”Love for DukeDoc Rivers after Tuesday night’s victory over the Lakers was asked to talk about what Duke winning the NCAA men’s title might have meant to J.J. Redick, who played at Duke from 2002-06.“He was happy,” Rivers said. “Him and Austin (Rivers) were obnoxious as ever. But it was good for them. Duke did what they needed to do. Even Ryan Kelly was talking to me during the game. He now has two rings (in his family). His freshman year, and his brother’s a walk-on, which is really cool that Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) did that and gave him a scholarship.“So the Duke love is pretty strong right now, that’s for sure.”Austin Rivers played at Duke from 2011-12, though neither he nor Redick won an NCAA title. Lakers forward Ryan Kelly played at Duke and the Blue Devils won a title while he was a freshman. Sean Kelly, Ryan’s brother, was a senior reserve this season for Duke.Another member of the Clippers, Dahntay Jones, also toiled at Duke, from 2001-03. Duke won a title in March 2001, but Jones did not begin playing for the Blue Devils until the fall of 2001 for the ’01-’02 campaign.This and thatThe Memphis Grizzlies are in town Saturday to play the Clippers at 7 p.m. at Staples Center (on Prime Ticket). Memphis was tied with Houston for the No. 2 spot in the West, both at 53-25, heading into Friday’s games. Both teams were on the schedule. … The Clippers have just two games left after Saturday. They host Denver on Monday and finish Tuesday at Phoenix. Neither team will be in the playoffs. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error It is time to begin counting down the days to the beginning of the NBA playoffs, which will commence a week from Saturday on April 18. If the postseason began Thursday, the Los Angeles Clippers (53-26) would be playing the Portland Trail Blazers.But with teams in the second through sixth spots in the Western Conference standings tightly bunched together, that could change. Either way, the playoffs are nearly upon us and not everyone on this Clippers team has experienced them. Austin Rivers, son of coach Doc Rivers, fits into that category.Following Tuesday night’s 105-100 victory over the Lakers, Doc Rivers talked about how his son must be prepared for his first postseason experience, but he wasn’t sure if he had any advice for Austin.“I’m sure he’s excited,” Doc Rivers said. “But advice? Probably not. I just think you’ve just gotta do your homework and be prepared. I tell all our guys that.