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International Football

Osimhen’s manager named new coach of Italy

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Luciano Spalletti under whose tenure as manager of Napoli Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen achieved his best ever season in Europe, has been named the new Italian manager in succession to Roberto Mancini who resigned earlier in the week.

 

He guided the Osimhen-inspired Napoli to their first ever Serie A title in over 30 years.

 

Factbox on Luciano Spalletti, who was appointed Italy manager on Friday.

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Born: March 7, 1959 in Certaldo, Italy.

PLAYING CAREER

* Played as a semi-professional midfielder for third-tier Serie C teams.

* Ended his playing career in 1993 at Empoli.

MANAGERIAL CAREER

* Began his managerial career with Empoli shortly after retirement and guided the team to consecutive promotions from Serie C1 to the top-flight Serie A.

* Moved to Sampdoria in 1998 but left after one year to take over Venezia for another short spell.

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* Was replaced as manager by David Platt in mid-season but recalled when the former England midfielder resigned after only six matches in charge.

* Had two spells as head coach of Udinese in 2001 and 2002-2005 with a short period as Ancona manager in between.

* Took Udinese to the Champions League after finishing fourth in Serie A during the 2004-05 season.

* Named AS Roma manager in 2005 and won the Italian Cup twice and Italian Super Cup before resigning in September 2009.

* Appointed Zenit St Petersburg manager in December 2009. Stayed in Russia five years and won the Premier League twice.

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* Sacked in March 2014 after two seasons without a trophy.

* Took over Roma again in January 2016 before leaving by mutual consent at the end of the 2016-17 season.

* Took over as Inter Milan manager from 2017-19 before getting sacked at the end of the season.

* Named Napoli manager in 2021, leading them to third place in Serie A before making them champions in 2022-23.

* Left Napoli at the end of last season after asking for a sabbatical.

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* Appointed Italy manager on Friday.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

International Football

Two Moroccan football players lost at sea, says club official

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Abdellatif Akhrif, IRT player reported missing off the coast of M'diq this Saturday, July 6, 2024. © COPYRIGHT: IRT

Two Moroccan players from top-flight soccer side Ittihad Tanger have been missing at sea since Saturday after strong currents drifted their small yacht, a club official said on Sunday.

They were in a group of five players from the club who went cruising off the northern city of Tangier when strong currents and heavy winds drifted their yacht away as they were swimming in deep waters, club deputy president Anass Mrabet told Reuters.

“Three players have already been rescued on Saturday, while research is still ongoing for the missing Salman Harraq and Abdellatif Akhrif,” he said.

The players did not have buoys on them when they jumped from the small yacht to swim, he said citing recounts by rescued players.

While Akhrif, 24, is already a full member of the squad, Harraq, 18, was about to move up to the senior team this year, Mrabet added.

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Ittihad Tanger have been in the Moroccan top flight since 2015 and won the league title for the first and only time in their history in the 2017-18 season. However, they have struggled in the lower half of the standings in recent years.

-Reuters

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International Football

FIFA launches ‘Football Manager’ World Cup with $100,000 in prize money

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FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development and former soccer manager Arsene Wenger speaks during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

FIFA will host its first ever FIFAe World Cup of Football Manager this year to crown the best virtual manager on the highly-popular video game, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

FIFA is partnering with Sports Interactive, the developers of the game that has sold millions of copies and has also been used by several football clubs to scout players and opponents thanks to its extensive database.

Players will compete for $100,000 in prize money in the final event from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

“This competition requires participants to demonstrate a profound understanding of football strategy and tactics,” said former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is the ambassador for the esports event.

“Success demands not only mastery of game mechanics but also in-depth football knowledge, making this format a fascinating blend.”

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FIFA said in the inaugural year of the event, selected member associations will be invited to be represented at the final event.

Member associations from all six confederations are expected to be invited while players can sign up on FIFA’s website.

-Reuters

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International Football

Former Italy international Roberto Baggio robbed at gunpoint

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at his home in northern Italy while watching his country’s match against Spain in the Euro 2024 tournament on Thursday, local police said.

Burglars broke into Baggio’s house near Vicenza, hit him on the head with a gun butt and locked him and his family in a room while they stole jewellery, watches and cash, daily Il Corriere della Sera reported. It said he suffered a deep wound.

“Luckily, the violence I suffered only resulted in a few stitches, bruises and a lot of fear. Now it is to overcome the fear,” Baggio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

Baggio, 57, played for clubs including Juventus (JUVE.MI), opens new tab, AC Milan and Inter Milan. He also played 56 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals, and is widely seen as one of his country’s all-time greats.

After the robbery, Baggio, widely known as the “divine ponytail”, was treated at a local hospital where he received stitches for the head wound, Italian media reported.

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Italy lost to Spain 1-0 on Thursday and now must avoid defeat by Croatia to guarantee progression in the tournament.

-Reuters

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