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Osaka withdraws from French Open with ‘hamstring’ injury

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the upcoming French Open with a hamstring injury.

The 22-year-old had her left hamstring taped when she battled back against Victoria Azarenka in the U.S. Open final in New York on Saturday to win her third Grand Slam title.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” the world number three wrote on social media in a message she also posted in Japanese.

“My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have time to prepare for the clay – these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this time.

“I wish the organizers and players all the best.”

French Open will be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The hamstring issue had prompted Osaka to withdraw from the final of the Western & Southern Open in the run-up to the U.S. Open but it did not appear to hamper her at Flushing Meadows.

Osaka made headlines in New York as much for her performances on court as for her commitment to social justice causes.

For each of her U.S. Open matches she wore a different mask that carried the name of a Black American, aiming to highlight racial injustice in the United States to a wider audience.

The withdrawal of Osaka, who has never advanced past the third round at Roland Garros, comes as another blow to the tournament after world number one Ash Barty of Australia said she would not be defending her title due to COVID-19 concerns.

On the men’s side, Roger Federer will not compete as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

Osaka’s absence would improve Serena Williams’s chances of winning a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title if the American chooses to play.

The 38-year-old has pulled out of the Italian Open with an Achilles issue.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) said on Thursday it would allow 5,000 spectators per day following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

It had previously said the clay court major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans per day.

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Cristiano Ronaldo wins The Best FIFA Special Award

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Cristiano Ronaldo has been honoured by FIFA for becoming the all-time leading goalscorer at the international level.

The Manchester United star has now scored 115 goals for Portugal, breaking Ali Daei’s previous record of 109.

Ronaldo received a special in-person award and was also named in the FIFPRO Men’s World11 for 2021, at what was largely a virtual ceremony for FIFA’s The Best ceremony in Zurich on Monday.

“It’s a dream. First of all, I have to say thank you to my teammates, especially in the national team during the last 20 years that I used to play with. I never thought of beating that record,” Ronaldo said.

“I have to say thank you to my family, my wife, my kids – soon I will be a father again! I’m really proud, it’s a great achievement to be the top scorer of all time.”

Asked how he is maintaining his fine goalscoring form at the age of 36,he insisted that he is as motivated as ever to even score goals and win trophies.

“It’s a passion, I still have a passion for the game, not just to score goals but to entertain myself,” Ronaldo added. “I’ve played football since I was five or six years old so when I get to the pitch even in training I still enjoy it and my motivation’s still good.

“I’m 37 soon, I feel good and motivated. I keep working hard since I was 18 and I continue. I have that passion and want to continue.

“People ask sometimes how many more years I’m going to play and I say I hope to play more than four or five years. It’s all about mentally, because physically if you treat your body good, it’ll treat you back.”

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AFCON: Okocha names most important player in Super Eagles

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Former Nigeria captain, Austin Okocha has singled out Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, for special praise.

Akpeyi is currently part of the Super Eagles’ squad at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 35-year-old who has made 19 international appearances, is behind Francis Uzoho and Maduka Okoye in the pecking order after his recent injury concerns.

However, Okocha believes Akpeyi has an important role to play in the team.

“Daniel is a very important player for the squad. He only lost his place through injury. This shows how strong the whole squad is, because once you miss out because of injury, it’s always difficult to get back for a goalkeeper.

“We believe we have a great squad and we have people like Daniel we can rely on if needed.

“I am happy that we have a happy competition in our goalkeeping department and it is a plus for any coach,” Okocha said in an interview with Amakhosi’s media team.

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AFCON: Egypt coach, Carlos Queiroz, reacts to loss to Super Eagles

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Egypt coach, Carlos Queiroz, has said his team’s poor performance in the first half of the Africa Cup of Nations encounter with Nigeria caused Pharaohs’ loss.

He said this during a post-match interview.

According to him, Pharaohs were no where to be found on the pitch in the first half.

He said, “The performance in the first half was very poor and this is the truth, we were not on the field. We started playing in the second half and there was no reason for this failure and loss against Nigeria.

“We lost this match but there are 6 points we must get against Sudan and Guinea Bissau to qualify.”

A sweet 34th minute belter, intelligently struck by Kelechi Iheanacho and off a brilliant headed pass by Taiwo Awoniyi, earned Nigeria a first-ever opening match win over Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations as Cameroon’s northern town of Garoua dazzled in green and white on Tuesday night.

Former U-17 World Cup winner Iheanacho ran hard at the North Africans’ defence a number of times in a pulsating first half clearly dominated by the three-time African champions at the Stade Roumdé Adjia. But it was the dimunitive winger Moses Simon, who plays his club football in France, that threw the Egyptians’ rear into jeopardy several times with his dancing, taunting and inexhaustible bag of tricks, and it was his penetrating pull-out from the left that resulted in the game’s only goal.

The Eagles played with gusto, zest, immense confidence and go-go spirit – not seen for such a long time, and with Olaoluwa Aina and Zaidu Sanusi firm at both wing backs, Kenneth Omeruo and William Ekong surefooted in the central defence, Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo disciplined and focused in the middle, the Pharaohs were literally at sea.

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