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Real Madrid more of a team without Ronaldo - Bale

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Gareth Bale says Real Madrid work together more as a collective unit without former talisman Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese forward moved to Juventus in the close season.

The Welsh winger is thriving in the absence of Ronaldo and Madrid have three wins from four La Liga matches.

Bale is Madrid’s key weapon as the Champions League starts again this week, with Real facing Roma on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“It’s maybe a bit more relaxed (without Ronaldo),” Bale told the Daily Mail. “I suppose there is more of a team, more working as one unit rather than one player.”

Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer Ronaldo was crucial to the club’s three consecutive Champions League wins under former coach Zinedine Zidane, although it was Bale who scored twice against Liverpool in the 3-1 triumph in May’s Kiev final.

Bale came on from the bench and said he was annoyed about not starting the match, with that rage fuelling him to score a brilliant overhead kick.

“(I was) angry. Quite angry, to be honest. Obviously, I felt I deserved to start the game,” said Bale.

“I’d been scoring goals. So yeah, I suppose it was hard to put the anger aside.”

With Ronaldo out of the way he is essential to new manager Julen Lopetegui’s Madrid, with the defending champions ready to start their bid for a fourth consecutive trophy on Wednesday in Group G.

Hazard can be Premier League top-scorer - Sarri

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Eden Hazard can score 40 goals this season and win the Premier League Golden Boot, according to Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri after the Belgium forward scored a hat-trick to maintain the club’s perfect start to the season.

Sarri believes Hazard can become the best player in Europe and outstrip even arch poachers Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah following his three goals in a 4-1 victory against Cardiff on Saturday.

“We have spoken and I told him he can score 40 goals,” said the former Napoli manager. “He has to improve some things, but he can do it.”

Hazard himself has hailed Olivier Giroud as the world’s best target man after the World Cup-winning striker laid on two goals for him.

Giroud is yet to find the net for Chelsea this season but already has three assists in five Premier League games while Hazard has found the net five times.

And the 27-year-old paid tribute to the Frenchman for creating his first two goals at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

“Olivier’s a target man, maybe the best in the world, I think so,” said Hazard.

“When he gets the ball he can hold the ball and we can go in deep with him, so for us it’s a pleasure to play with him.”

Despite Chelsea’s fluency in attack, Sarri is aware the Stamford Bridge team must improve their defending.

The Italian boss wants to turn Chelsea into the best team in England but says Liverpool and defending champions Manchester City will be the league’s pacesetters.

“Eight players joined us this summer,” he said. “So I think it’s normal that in this period we have some defensive problems. We can cope with the problems with the quality in the offensive phase, but not in the defensive phase.

“So I have to organise better the defensive phase and the players have to understand that. I think my opinion in this moment, two teams, Liverpool and Manchester City, are better than us.

“We have to improve step by step. My target is to become the best team in England in one year, 18 months. That’s the target.”

Ogunjobi, Maigari target Pinnick's NFF job

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The official list of candidates vying for places in the Nigeria Football Federation Executive Committee for 2018-2022 has been released by the electoral committee.

In the list released on Friday, four persons are battling for the presidency, including incumbent Amaju Melvin Pinnick, who is also the 1st vice president of CAF, member of the organising committee for FIFA competitions and president of AFCON.

Mr Pinnick, a former chairman of the Delta State Football Association and executive chairman of the Delta State Commission, is the highest –placed Nigerian ever in football’s boardroom globally.

He would be looking to break the tradition that has been the norm in football administration in Nigeria as no president has served two terms consecutively at the NFF in recent years.

Indeed since after independence, no Nigerian has headed the NFF for more than four years at a stretch.

There is also Aminu Maigari, immediate past president of NFF, who was for several years chairman of the Bauchi State Football Association and also headed the Bauchi sub –seat for the FIFA U17 World Cup that Nigeria hosted nine years ago.

Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former Nigeria international defender, also has his hat in the ring.

Mr Ogunjobi captained and administered one of Nigeria’s traditional powerhouse clubs, Shooting Stars of Ibadan, served as Secretary General of then Nigeria Football Association (2002-2005) and was Member of the NFF Executive Committee 2006-2010.

He is presently chairman of the Osun State Football Association.

There is also Chinedu Okoye, proprietor of amateur league club, Bimo FC.

For the first vice president’s position, there are two candidates.

The incumbent, Seyi Akinwunmi, will be up against another South West chieftain, Sunday Dele-Ajayi.

Incumbent Ibrahim Gusau will battle club proprietor, Patrick Ubah for the slot of chairman of chairmen on the board.

For other positions on the executive committee, Rabiu Inuwa, a member of the present board, is the only candidate from the North West.

The battle in the North Central has been somewhat narrowed with the withdrawal of FCT FA chairman Musa Talle.

However, Ahmed Yusuf ‘Fresh’ and Honourable Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, ranking members of the board, have to contend with Busari Ishola, chairman of Kwara State FA.

Similarly, incumbents Babagana Kalli and Musa Duhu from the North East have to contend with Farouk Yarma Adamu.

In the South East, Chidi Ofor Okenwa (presently Chairman of the Nigeria National League), will vie with Enyimba FC chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu (ranking Member of Board); Jude Obikwelu (Vice Chairman, Anambra State FA); Emmanuel Ochiagha (Vice Chairman, Imo State FA) and; Emeka Inyama (former Chairman of the NNL and former Chairman of NFF Marketing and Sponsorship, and also Chairman of NPFL side Abia Warriors).

From the South West, only Ganiyu Majekodunmi, chairman of Ogun State FA, is seeking an Executive Committee member position. From the South-South, Oswald Atuake from Cross River State is up against Emmanuel Ibah, chairman of the Akwa Ibom State FA.

Elections into the NFF Executive Committee 2018-2022 will hold as scheduled on Thursday, September 20 in the city of Katsina. 

Success targets Mourinho's downfall

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Super Eagles striker, Isaac Success will face the biggest test of his career as Watford host Manchester United on Saturday at the Vicarage Road.

Success has made four Premier League appearances even though a few have come as a substitute.

Watford have collected 12 points from their four league fixtures this term and will be looking to overcome a United team that has won two and lost two of their four matches during a tough start to the season.

Saturday will be the 31st meeting between Watford and United in all competitions. United have won 20 of the previous 30, suffering just five defeats.

United have won nine of their 10 Premier League meetings, including a 4-2 victory at Vicarage Road last season.

Iwobi targets win over Newcastle

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Super Eagles forward, Alex Iwobi will be aiming to add to his goal tally as Arsenal visit Newcastle in Saturday's Premier League tie.

Iwobi last scored against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Gunners' 3-2 loss and has since been kept quiet by EPL defenders.

The Nigerian international has managed two Premier League games and has always been part of team's manager, Unai Emery's game plan.

Except the unexpected happens on Saturday, Iwobi is considered to feature against Newcastle.

Moses seeks first start as Chelsea host Cardiff City

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Former Super Eagles winger, Victor Moses will be hoping to he gets the nod to start for Chelsea ahead of Saturday's clash against Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge.

Moses, who has managed just one game as a substitute since the beginning of this Premier League season, seem not to be having a good time under manager, Maurizio Sarri.

The Nigerian international recently quit the senior national team in a bid to concentrate on club football but things haven't gone well as planned, perhaps due to a change in Sarri's style of play.

However, the former West Ham and Wigan star still remain hopeful of starting against Cardiff City on Saturday.

Why I stayed at Manchester City - Silva

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Manchester City star David Silva has pointed out why he shunned a move to Real Madrid and Barcelona during his days with Valencia, according to report.

Silva joined Manchester City for £25m in 2010 from Valencia despite the interest from the top teams in Spain.

The former Spanish midfielder has been one of the best players in English Premier League, he has made 349 appearances for the Etihad outfit and has scored 62 goals and 115 assists in all competitions.

His main reason for moving to England is to get out of Spain and experience a new culture, City wanted me," the Spaniard told the Premier League Show.

"They had been calling me since December, asking me to come and play for them.

"I thought, 'who wants me? City wants me, so that's where I'll go'.

"Back then I was living with my parents and they were getting divorced and it was the right time to get away from there, from Spain, and live a new experience.

“It turns out I made the right move."

Silva’s first trophy with City was the 2010/11 FA Cup and has since added three Premier League titles, three League Cups and two Community Shields.

"That was the turning point for success,” Silva added.

"Once you win, you get used to winning and that's not a bad thing

“The same has happened in the Spanish national team - winning the first title was a game-changer and we carried on winning.

“So the FA Cup was a real highlight."

Silva put up a solid performance for Pep Guardiola’s team last season that saw them claim the Premier League title in a grand style and amassing 100 points surpassing the 95 points record held by Chelsea.

Falz, Mr. Real, Mayorkun, Tonto Dikeh, Kate Henshaw, others to grace Freestyle Football Championship tomorrow – Live coverage on StarTimes

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Mayorkun, Falz, Tonto Dikeh, Kate Henshaw, Mr. Real, Kcee, Slim Case and others will all be performing live at the African Freestyle Football Championship starting from tomorrow 13th to Saturday, 15th September in Lagos.

To be a part of the show for free, simply register –

Can’t attend? No problem…Download the StarTimes app to watch Live free of charge here –

If you are a StarTimes subscriber, you can also watch on ST Sports Focus Channel 250/240.

Follow @startimesng on social media for more information.
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