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Joe Root praises Ben Stokes for showing great ‘courage and bravery’ over mental health struggles

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Joe Root has paid tribute to England captain Ben Stokes for the ‘great courage and bravery’ he demonstrated by continuing to speak out about his mental health.

Stokes took an indefinite break from cricket last summer to focus on his wellbeing, following the loss of his father to cancer the previous December, having struggled with anxiety and panic attacks.

The all-rounder announced in July he would retire from the one-day format due to the “unsustainable” rigour of playing all three formats of the game, while Stokes believes the public will see a different side to him when a new documentary about him heavily features his battle with a “mental breakdown”.

The 31-year-old revealed in the documentary ‘Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes’, released on Friday, how close he came to walking away from cricket and that he was still taking anxiety medication after his return to the international arena.

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“I think it’s exactly what you come to see from Ben [Stokes] as a leader, is how honest he is,” Root said ahead of England’s second Test against South Africa this Thursday live on Sky Sports. “What he expects of everyone else are all things that he wouldn’t be asked of or willing to do himself.

“I think, like with any of your mates, you want to get around them and you want to make sure you do what you can to help. That goes within the dressing room environment and away from the game as well – you just want to do what you can to help out really.”

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Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum were aligned in their post-match analysis of last week’s innings defeat at Lord’s, insisting it was no cause to doubt the blueprint which allowed them to record four thrilling victories earlier in the summer.

Both men suggested that they would be examining if there were times the team could have played more aggressively against the Proteas and Root, who banked a rare double failure in that match, is happy to follow their lead.

“Even though the result didn’t necessarily go how we wanted it to and we didn’t play as well as we could, that doesn’t change anything,” Root added. “That’s been made very clear to the group.

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“If anything it’s an opportunity for us to come out and play with more intent. It’s just another opportunity to get back to how well we were playing in those first four Test matches.
“It’s about really committing to how we want to go about things and having full trust and belief in it. It’s a great chance to get our teeth into it this week and show people what we can do.”

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EPL: Bacary Sagna predicts scorelines for Man City vs Utd, Arsenal vs Tottenham fixtures

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Former Arsenal defender, Bacary Sagna, has predicted the scoreline for Manchester City’s Premier League clash against Manchester United.

Sagna also predicted the outcome of Arsenal’s Premier League tie against Tottenham Hotspur.

Man City will host Man United in a Premier League derby at Etihad on Sunday, while Arsenal will take on Tottenham in a London derby at Emirates on Saturday afternoon.

Providing his predictions, Sagna said Man City would beat Man United by three goals to nil, while Arsenal will defeat Tottenham 2-0.

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“I can’t see anyone other than City winning this match. I think City will win 3-0,” Sagna told Lord Ping.

He added, “Arsenal will win. Arsenal 2-0.”

“Listen, make no mistake, this will be a tough game for Arsenal. Tottenham has quality players, dangerous players. Son [Heung-min] has come into a bit of form. [Harry] Kane, we all know what he can do.”

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Volleyball: Offa, Customs win Premier League

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Offa Volleyball Club (male) and the Nigeria Customs Service (female) have emerged the champions of the 2022 Nigeria Volleyball Premier League competition.

In the men’s final match at the indoor hall of the Ondo State Sports Complex, Akure, Offa defeated Nigeria Correctional Service 3-2 (25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-11), while in the women’s category, Customs emerged champions, beating Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-21) on the final day of the league.

Offa coach, Suleiman Ajeigbe, expressed delight over the victory, saying the trophy would be going to Offa community for the first time.

Ajeigbe also commended his players for properly executing their game plan and playing to instruction.

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He said, “I feel so proud, I feel so excited and I give all glory to God almighty. It has been a very challenging one, but to the glory of God. In the history of the Nigeria Volleyball Premier League, Offa, a local government in Kwara State will be lifting the trophy, this is historical, this has never happened before.

“Offa Volleyball Club came into being to help the youths in my community. I started the club to ensure that every member of my team is Kwara-born, majority of them are born in Offa. It is to the glory of God that I was able to start it, most of my players are playing outside the country now. I started the club in 2010, so it’s been a long time actually.”

Customs coach, Sunny Akapson, said his side’s victory was as a result of hard work, determination and dedication.

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EPL: Glen Johnson predicts result of Arsenal vs Tottenham derby clash

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Former Chelsea star, Glenn Johnson has provided his prediction for Saturday’s North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta’s side will receive Antonio Conte’s Spurs at the Emirates on Saturday.

The Gunners would be leapfrogged by Tottenham at the top of the Premier League table if they hand Arteta’s side their second defeat of the season.

Arsenal has won six out of seven of their opening games, losing once to Manchester United.

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Spurs are unbeaten and just a point behind them in third, with Tottenham able to leapfrog their rivals with a victory.

Johnson told SafeBettingSites: “It’s going to be a tough one to call, to be honest.

“Tottenham looks great, Arsenal looks great. Finally, we’ve got two good teams going into the north London derby!.

‘This is their first big test, for both teams. [I’m going] 2-1 to Arsenal.’

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