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UCL: Virgil van Dijk sends message to critics after Ajax win

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Following Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Ajax, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk claims the team pays little attention to criticism of their performance.

Joel Matip’s late winner gave the Reds their first European points of the year on a night when it appeared that they wouldn’t score again after Mohamed Salah gave them the lead.

Last week’s 4-1 loss to Napoli by Liverpool drew harsh criticism, and Van Dijk himself has been singled out for some subpar defending after years of excellence.

Van Dijk acknowledged the poor performance last week, but he continued to criticise the pundits and stated that his team would keep trying to get better.

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The Dutchman responded to the question about how Liverpool’s players were handling the recent rumours: “Not listening to the outside world, that’s the most important thing.

“It’s funny sometimes because a lot of ex-football players know exactly what we are going through.

“They say a lot of things to try and get to us. We know last week was unacceptable and we try to make it right.

“This is a step in the right direction, don’t get carried away because there are so many games but it’s time to focus on the international break then crack on when we return.”

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BREAKING: Bayern Munich to part ways with Tuchel

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German giants Bayern Munich will be parting ways with its manager, Thomas Tuchel, at the end of the season, Sky Germany reports.

Theheute reports that Tuchel will leave Bayern after both sides had “fair and positive discussions” and came to an agreement.

An official announcement is set to be made in the coming days by Bayern.

The Bundesliga champions have also reportedly started a search for a new coach with Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp among the top contenders.

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Details later…

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Osimhen May Miss Napoli’s Champions League Clash with Barcelona

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Napoli could be without Victor Osimhen when they host Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 after the striker missed their last-gasp 1-1 home draw with Genoa in Serie A yesterday due to fatigue.

Osimhen returned to his Italian club after helping Nigeria reach the Africa Cup of Nations final which they lost 2-1 to hosts Côte d’Ivoire last Sunday.

“According to him and the doctors, the boy is at his lowest,” coach Walter Mazzarri told DAZN.

“Coming back from the Africa Cup of Nations it wouldn’t have been the best choice to risk it and let him play for a quarter of an hour to 20 minutes, so the doctor told me.”

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The tournament took its toll on Osimhen, who suffered stomach pains ahead of the semi-final against South Africa and was only cleared to play the day before the match.

The 25-year-old scored one goal in the tournament but his performances played an important role as Nigeria reached the final for the eighth time.

“Today (Saturday) he had an anti-fatigue training, tomorrow (Sunday) he will train. We hope to have him ready for Barcelona (but) his presence will not be certain,” Mazzarri said.

“Since I arrived I’ve never had him. He was injured, I had to recover him gradually. Then there was the Africa Cup of Nations,” the Napoli gaffer concluded.

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Sports Betting: House of Reps want awareness on negative impact of gambling

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Leading the debate on the motion titled ‘Need to curtail the dangerous effects of sports betting and direct the National Lottery Regulatory Commission to comply with the Lottery Regulatory Commission Act, 2005,’ in a session presided over by the Speaker Tajudden Abbas, Kelechi noted that “sports betting is expanding like wildfire globally, including Nigeria, which has growing betting outfits such as Naira Bet, Bet9ja, Sure Bet, Winners Golden Bet Max Bet, Merry Bet, 1960 Bet, Bet Colony, Stakers Den, Bet 360, Bet 365, Apollo Bet, etc,” noting that “approximately 60 million Nigerians aged 18 to 40 are engaged in sports betting.”

He further stated that the House is “aware that the National Lottery Act, 2005, provides for the establishment of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and the National Lottery Trust Fund and is intended to ensure the fair operation and protection of players, stakeholders, and the public.

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“The House is aware that Section 2 of the regulations stipulates that a licensee, appointed agents, franchisees, or operators shall adhere strictly to government policies on social responsibility in designing, advertising, and marketing.

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“The House is worried that weak or neglected regulations of sports betting have dangerously led to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or addiction; strained or broken relationships due to lying or stealing from friends and family; financial problems, legal issues, and job loss due to excessive loss or debt; increased crime rates; and eventually committing suicide,” stressing that “most players prefer betting through their mobile phones instead of visiting retail outlets in order to evade control and regulations.”

He also opined that if sports betting is properly regulated and supervised, “it will generate tax revenue for the government and contribute to economic growth.”

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The House adopted the motion, urging the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation to implement comprehensive nationwide campaigns to raise public awareness about the negative consequences of youth engagement in sports betting.

It also directed its Committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs to hold a public hearing on the dangers and benefits of sports betting in Nigeria and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

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