The week started on a low for Nigeria after Blessing Okagbare made a slow start in the 100m final at the IAAF World Championship in Moscow and never recovered from that, finishing in sixth place very well behind Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (rare name make up) who clocked a world leading time of 10.71 seconds.
The Jamaican sprinter would later claim gold in the 200m event and complete a double-double; winning her events consecutively at an Olympic and the following World Championship, same feat British long distance runner Mo Farah achieved when he won the 5000m event in Moscow to add to the wins over 10000m last week and at both events at the London Olympics last year.
Okagbare meanwhile performed much better in the 200m final, settling for third place and a bronze medal to add to the silver she won in the long jump at the start of the Championship; Nigeria’s first medals in the Athletics World Championship since 1999.
In Durban, South Africa, Nigeria’s Super Eagles put in a good perfomance to defeat South Africa 2-0 to claim the Mandela Challenge title courtesy of two second half goals by halftime substitute Uche Nwofor, earning only his second cap on Wednesday night.
Other friendly matches were played worldwide, Barcelona defender Dani Alves heading in a peach of an own goal to hand Switzerland a lone goal win over Brazil, ending an 11 match unbeaten run for the 2014 FIFA World Cup host. Reigning world champions Spain meanwhile laboured to a 2-0 win at Ecuador while England came from behind twice to defeat archrivals Scotland 3-2 at Wembley, with Ricky Lambert heading home England’s winner minutes after coming on for his first cap. Dreamy!
Elsewhere, Uruguay won 4-2 at Japan, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal salvaged a 1-1 draw for Portugal against the Netherlands, Belgium and France played out a goalless draw in Brussels, Germany came from behind to draw 3-3 with Paraguay and sure-to-join-Arsenal-for-long-only-to-sign-for-Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain gave Argentina the lead in a 2-1 win over Italy in Rome, with Higuain’s Napoli teammate Lorenzo Insigne netting Italy’s solitary goal late on.
All that ahead of this weekend when the European league season will fully come alive, with the Premier League and Primera Liga kicking off while the German Budesliga and Ligue 1 enter their second week of matches.
In England, Arsenal’s quest to not go a ninth season without a trophy kicks off today when Aston Villa visit the Emirates in one of seven opening day matches of the 2013/14 Premier League season, which starts off at Anfield where Liverpool host Stoke City now managed by Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes.
A new era starts for defending champions Manchester United in a daunting trip to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City, with all eyes on David Moyes whose eyes will likely be on Robin van Persie to help in quelling the doubts hovering over him since being handed the task to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement.
Over at Stamford Bridge, great expectation is what hovers over returning manager Jose Mourinho whose Chelsea side welcome newly promoted Hull City (Tigers) on Sunday afternoon, a match preceded by Tottenham Hotspur’s London affair with Crystal Palace, another newly promoted side, at Selhurst Park.
In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid begin another power tussle for the Primera Liga title on Sunday, both sides under new management, with Barça hosting Levante and Real also starting at home against Real Betis.
Also under new management is Bayern Munich that began the season last weekend with a 3-1 win at home to Borussia Monchengladbach. Pep Guardiola’s Bavarian (bully of a) side visit Eintract Frankfurt this weekend, the host team looking to recover from a heavy opening day defeat at the capital.
Hertha Berlin, that crushed Frankfurt 6-1 then, visit Bayern’s local rivals Nurnberg on Sunday, with 2011 and 2012 champions Borussia Dortmund playing right after at home to newly promoted Braunschweig.
In France, Olympique Lyon got a 3-1 win at Sochaux on Friday night to maintain its perfect start atop the standings after two matches. Olymique Marseille and Monaco could join them with wins over Evian and Montpellier respectively, while reigning champions PSG will be out for a first win when Ajaccio visit the Parc Des Princes on Sunday night.
The big match on Sunday night takes place in Italy where back to back Scudetto winners Juventus face Coppa Italia holders Lazio in the SuperCoppa. Lazio would be without its captain Stefano Mauri whose appeal of a six match ban slammed on him for his involvement in matchfixing was delayed.
In Nigeria, Kano Pillars, with a game in hand, regained top spot in the Premier League with a 3-0 win over ABS of Ilorin while Warri Wolves slipped to second spot following a goalless draw at homd to fifth placed Enyimba of Aba.
Bayelsa United rose to third place with a 4-1 win over Akwa United, Kwara United built on their lone goal win at Heartland last weekend with another lone goal win at home to Enugu Rangers, a win that takes them up to fourth spot with two matches in hand.
This weekend, Kwara United travel to Lafia to face relegation threatened Nasarawa United, Enyimba play at home against Kaduna United, leaders Kano Pillars go on a tricky trip to face Sunshine Stars in Akure and Rangers host Gombe United in some of the league matches.
No more dull weekends with all the football available now… at least for the majority. And fortunately for IAAF, the World Championship comes to a conclusion this weekend as would the Cincinnati Masters where Maria Sharapova was beaten by American Sloane Stephens in only the second round.
Obviously this post should’ve come up Friday night or Saturday morning but some how, was unable to put it up. Now done, for righteousness’ sake.
‘Over the Weekend’ roundup will be up on Monday. Cheers!