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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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Voodoo new to me – Waldrum

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In the aftermath of the drama that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroon during the penultimate qualifying fixture for the 2024 Olympic games, Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, says voodoo is strange to him.

There was drama at the start of the second half inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Monday after a Cameroonian player allegedly attempted to plant ‘voodoo’ inside the Falcons goal post.

Falcons’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, was in fine form as she stopped every shot in her direction to prevent the Indomitable Lionesses from scoring.

However, in the closing minutes of the game, Cameroon sent Annie Enganemben on as they were about to launch a free kick into the Nigerian box with claims that the player was sent on to touch the net in a bid to give Cameroon a saving grace as they were running out of options, and had to resort to diabolical means.

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In a video, the substitute, alongside another striker, were seen trying to run towards the Nigerian goal in an attempt to touch the net, but Asisat Oshoala took it upon herself to prevent that from happening. The drama led to the player being sent off after she hit Nnadozie in the process.

When asked by our reporter about the attempt by the Cameroonians to use voodoo during the game, Waldrum said, “Yes it is true.”

“I have never seen it before but our players wouldn’t let them in our goal to use it.”

The only goal of the two-legged tie came in the early minutes of the first half, with Esther Okoronkwo tapping home from close range after Jennifer Echegini’s clever footwork on the edge of the box.

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Liverpool Win Carabao Cup Title With Late Heroics Thrilling Against Chelsea

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In a thrilling Carabao Cup final clash at Wembley Stadium, Liverpool emerged victorious with late heroics against Chelsea, clinching the coveted title in dramatic fashiion.

The match, highly anticipated by football fans worldwide, showcased the fierce competition between two Premier League giants. Jurgen Klopp’s youthful Liverpool side faced off against Thomas Tuchel’s formidable Chelsea team in a showdown that promised excitement and tension.

Throughout the game, both teams demonstrated their skill and determination, creating numerous scoring opportunities and thrilling moments for the spectators. However, as the clock ticked down towards the end of regular time, the score remained deadlocked in a tense stalemate.

As the match entered extra time, the intensity on the field only intensified, with each side pushing for a decisive breakthrough. It was Liverpool’s star defender, Virgil van Dijk, who ultimately proved to be the hero of the night. In a heart-stopping moment, van Dijk rose above the Chelsea defense to head home a crucial goal deep into extra time.

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The Wembley Stadium erupted with cheers from Liverpool fans as van Dijk’s late header secured the victory and clinched the Carabao Cup title for Klopp’s side. It was a moment of pure jubilation for the Liverpool players, staff, and supporters, marking a memorable triumph in their footballing journey.

The match’s thrilling conclusion highlighted the unpredictable nature of football and the exhilarating drama that unfolds on the grand stage. Liverpool’s triumph with late heroics against Chelsea will be remembered as a testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit in pursuit of success.

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Boniface named among Bundesliga’s most skilful stars

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Bayer Leverkusen star Victor Boniface has secured a nomination among the most skilful players in the ongoing 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign so far.

After his move from Union SG last July, the Super Eagles striker wasted no time making an impact under the guidance of manager Xabi Alonso.

Boniface’s initial burst in Germany was nothing short of impressive, netting ten goals in 16 league matches.

However, his promising run hit an abrupt halt due to a groin injury, forcing him to miss the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast.

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Despite his current injury setback, the striker’s noteworthy performances have not gone unnoticed.

The spotlight now shines on a particular display of individual brilliance during Leverkusen’s Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig at the Bay Arena in August 2023.

In that game, Boniface executed a cunning feint, deceiving his marker into anticipating a right-footed shot, only to cleverly pass the ball with his left foot. Although he didn’t find the net, Leverkusen emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Boniface shares the skills spotlight with four other notable players: Andrej Kramaric, Jadon Sancho, Felix Nmecha, and Xavi Simons.

To participate in the voting process, fans can visit the Bundesliga’s official website and select their choice among the nominated players.

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At the time of this report, Jadon Sancho leads the polls with an impressive 75% of the votes. Xavi Simons secures the second position with 17%, while Boniface currently holds 5%. Hoffenheim’s Kramaric and Dortmund’s Nmecha trail behind with 1% and 2% of the votes, respectively.

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