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Napoli Sack Coach Mazzarri Ahead Of Barcelona Clash

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Walter Mazzarri has been sacked by Napoli to become the second man sent packing by the ailing Italian champions this season, Italian media reported on Monday.

The 62-year-old took charge in November after Rudi Garcia was dismissed but Napoli have since fallen to ninth in Serie A ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 clash with Barcelona.

Slovakia national team coach Francesco Calzona is set to be hired until the end of the season and will be in charge for the first-leg visit of Barca.

Calzona guided Slovakia to Euro 2024 but has a huge job on his hands as he returns to Napoli where he was an assistant during Luciano Spalletti’s trophy-less first season with the club.

Calzona will reportedly keep his job with Slovakia and bring with him Marek Hamsik, Napoli’s top all-time appearance maker who was also the first man to beat Diego Maradona’s scoring record for the club.

Napoli romped to a historic third Scudetto last term but since title-winning coach Spalletti stepped down in the close season, chaos has reigned in Naples.

Napoli are a whopping 27 points behind league leaders Inter Milan after winning just four of 12 league matches since Mazzarri took over, collecting 15 points.

That is even less than the 21 that Garcia managed from his 12 league matches in charge, a total that had Napoli fourth when the Frenchman was dismissed.

The chances of Napoli getting back into the top four and next season’s revamped Champions League are exceedingly slim, even if Italy wins a fifth spot.

Napoli are nine points behind both fourth-placed Atalanta and Bologna in fifth, and have shown little sign of being able to claw back that gap, failing to score in nine of Mazzarri’s matches in all competitions.

It is a disappointing end to Mazzarri’s brief second spell in charge of Napoli, after helping return southern Italy’s biggest club to the upper echelons of Italian football between 2009 and 2013.

Mazzarri guided Napoli to the 2012 Italian Cup, beating undefeated league champions Juventus in the final to win the club’s first trophy in over two decades.

He left in May 2013 after finishing second in Italy’s top flight with a thrilling team which boasted Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsík and Edinson Cavani in attack.

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Transfer: I want to play for a bigger club – Nwabali hints at next move

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Super Eagles goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, has dropped the biggest hint that he could leave Chippa United this summer.

Nwabali burst onto the scene at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in January this year.

The 27-year-old goalkeeper finished the competition with four clean sheets in seven appearances.

He also made two penalty saves in the shoot-out against South Africa in the quarterfinals.

This season, Nwabali has kept 11 clean sheets for Chippa United in 26 appearances.

Following his impressive performances, Nwabali has become a target for clubs abroad.

Saudi Pro League club Al Ettifaq, English Championship side Queens Park Rangers, and South African side Kaizer Chiefs have all been linked.

Following the final game of the season – a 2-0 defeat to Orlando Pirate – Nwabali dropped a hint on his future.

“Well, everyone would love to leave because when you are in some position, you need to grow,” said Nwabali.

“Like everyone in my position, I would like to grow more. I’m talking about clubs higher than this [bigger than Chippa United] because I have been giving my all to my club this season.

“I just wish to have another challenge at some other place,” Nwabali said.

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Just in: 2024-2025 Premier league start date revealed

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The 2024-2025 English Premier League campaign will commence 90 days after the 2023-2024 season ended in a historic way as Manchester City became the first side to win four Premier League titles in a row.

This newspaper platform can confirm that the 2024-2025 Premier League season will kick off on the weekend of August 17 and 18, 2024.

The forthcoming season will feature one Bank Holiday matchweek, 33 weekends of Premier League games, and four midweek rounds of league games.

In the forthcoming season, the Premier League plans to arrange the games in such a way that no club plays within 60 hours of another match. This is expected to prevent the “congested schedule across Christmas and New Year”.

Unlike last season, there won’t be games on the eve of Christmas (December 24) during the 2024-2025 Premier League season.

The forthcoming season is expected to end on Sunday, May 25, 2025, and just like last season, all the games will have the same kickoff time.

As for the 2024-2025 Premier League fixtures, the fixtures and kick-off time of all 20 clubs (380 fixtures in total) are expected to be released at 9 a.m. (UK time) on Tuesday, June 18.

Note that three clubs have been promoted to the Premier League ahead of the 2024-2025 season. The newly promoted clubs are Leicester City, Ipswich Town, and Southampton.

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Onyedika wins Belgian League title with Club Brugge

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Nigeria midfielder Raphael Onyedika has won the Belgian Pro League title with Club Brugge.

Club Brugge were held to a 0-0 draw by local rivals Cercle Brugge in their final game of the season on Sunday night.

Onyedika featured for 90 minutes in the game.

It was his 30th league game of the season for Club Brugge and he has scored three goals.

The 23-year-old also won the league title during his time with FC Midtylland in Denmark.

Nicky Hayen’s side finished the Championship playoff with 50 points, a point ahead of Union St. Gilloise.

It was the Blue and White’s 19th league title.

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