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Tag: Sergio Aguero

Manchester City

Manchester City poised to make History

Never in the history of Manchester City has the club ever played in the UEFA Champions League Finals. Only once has Manchester City reached the semi-final stage of the UEFA Champions League. That was in the 2015/2016 season under coach Manuel Pellegrini. Manchester City was eliminated by Real Madrid 1-0, after a barren draw in the first Leg.

Today, the 4th of April, 2021, the current EPL Leaders, and one of the only two English clubs remaining in the competition, play host to Paris Saint Germaine of France in a crunch 2nd Leg UCL encounter. The first Leg ended 2-1 in City’s favour, with goals coming from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.

What Manchester City needs to progress to the final for the very first time is a win, a draw or a 1-0 loss. On current form, Manchester City is the overwhelming favourite to progress ahead of the Parisian club, with Kylian Mbappe, the danger man of PSG rumoured to be nursing an injury.

Pep Guardiola is expected to keep the same starting eleven that achieved a huge result in Paris, except for one or two changes at left-back, where Oleksander Zinchenko is expected to start in place of Joao Cancelo.

The expectation is high, and all eyes would be on the home side to perform at their very best. Gundogan, Rodri and Bernardo Silva are expected to orchestrate the midfield, while Ruben Dias who has been a Trojan in defence is expected to start alongside John Stone or Aymeric Laporte. Kyle Walker is a sure berth at right-back.

In between the sticks, Ederson Moraes is assured of his place after a splendid performance in the first leg. Upfront, Riyad Mahrez, Foden and Debruyne are expected to start. Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho, Nathan Ake, Ferran Torres and Benjamin Mendy are options on the bench.

One notable absentee from the PSG side would be Senegalese defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye who was red-carded in the first leg after a reckless challenge on IILkay Gundogan. Danilo Periera is expected to take his place.

History beckons on Manchester City and the beauty about today’s clash are the motivation and spirit within the camp. It would be the last chance for Sergio Kun Aguero to have a feel of the coveted trophy, and the boys would want to give him a perfect parting gift.

Both sides are desperate to reach the finals, and Brazilian international Neymar speaking ahead of the encounter says “I am ready to die on the pitch to ensure my team progress ahead of Manchester City”. That is surely a rallying call.

The match is billed to be an exciting encounter as both sides are noted for an attractive brand of football. The Etihad stadium beckons on the Manchester City warriors to make a push for history. Heroes are bound to be made and tears of sorrow and disappointment will surely flow. The end of 90 minutes will determine the course of history.

Legends

Legends never say goodbye

Legends are individuals who are extremely famous and have impacted their field of endeavor. Their names never fade away even when they transit from the earth. Manchester City over the years has got some amazing legends. They have made the club so popular since its inception. Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Dennis Tueart, Mike Summerbee, Peter Doherty, Bert Trautmann, Asa Hartford, Uwe Rosler, Shaun Goater, Vincent Kompany, David Silva…The list of Legends goes on and on.

Backtrack to the year 2012. Precisely on the 13th of May, 2012, Manchester City was trailing QPR 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in a must-win game, to secure the EPL title after a 44 years wait. Time was ticking away, and with less than 10 minutes on the clock, the frustration of losing the title to arch-rivals Manchester United was too bitter to swallow.

Fans on the stand were already in agony. Manchester City needed a savior. The resurgence started with an equalizing goal by Edin Dzeko in the 91st minutes. There was palpable tension in the City technical area, as Roberto Mancini was pacing up and down the touchline. There were just 5 minutes left of extra time, and Manchester City needed someone who could do the impossible. Up stepped Nigel De Jong who made a decisive pass from midfield to Mario Balotelli on the edge of the QPR penalty area.

The Italian striker had never made any previous assist in his City career, but on this occasion, as he received the pass, he tried to maneuver his way but stumbled. When it seemed he was almost been dispossessed of the ball, Mario stretched all the muscles on his right leg and made the all-important pass to Kun Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine international skipped past QPR defender Taye Taiwo in the 96th minute and hammered an unstoppable shot into the lower right of goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. Football commentator Martin Tyler captured the moment in one of the most dramatic final games of the English Premier League.

Manchester City are still alive here..Balotelli…Agueroooooooooooo!! I swear you will never see anything like this again. So watch it, drink it in”.

There was a commotion at the Etihad as the ball went in. The sound of euphoric City fans echoed to the stadium of Light where United was waiting for some good news. It was shock and disbelief that was etched on the faces of sir Alex Ferguson and his United players. They had just defeated Sunderland 1-0 and the belief was that Manchester City may slip up at home.

Sergio Aguero became an instant Legend. His name was etched in gold. The young and the old poured into the Etihad pitch at the blast of the final whistle. There were tears everywhere. It was the tears of joy.

Fast forward to 9 years later,  and the much-revered striker who is now 32 and at the end of his current City contract seems to have lost a bit of the spark that saw him emerged as the best striker in the league.

Statistics don’t lie

The City legend has broken some incredible records since his debut against Swansea City on the 15th of July 2011.

** Highest number of hat-tricks in Premier League history (12)

** The Most goals scored in the last decade (174)

** Most goals/assists against other EPL top six sides (54 goals/ 12 assists)

** Winner of the most player of the Month(POTM) Awards (7)

** Highest foreign goal scorer (180)

Over the past few months, however, there has been speculation about his replacement, as Gabriel Jesus who is his striking partner is not seen as a long-term replacement for the City legend. Names like Erling Haaland of Borrusia Dortmund of Germany, Romelu Lukaku of Inter Milan of Italy, and lately Danny Ings of Southampton of England. The obvious target is Erling Haaland, the 1.94m tall Norwegian striker who has set the Bundesliga on fire with goals.

Injuries have hampered Sergio all through his City career, and as he gets older, the injuries have seemingly slowed him down. In the 2019/2020 season, Sergio missed 20 matches, the most he had missed since moving to the blue side of Manchester. His injury woes include Calf, hamstring, knee problem, Thigh problem, groin, and muscular problems.

Unfortunately, Legends don’t say goodbye. City faithful aren’t ready to let go of their Argentine talisman. The fairy tale that started in 2011 seems to be coming gradually grinding to a halt. The possibility of an extension to his current contract is high, but the City hierarchy is planning for the inevitable.

The top priority this coming transfer window will be to get a long-term replacement for a man who has shown his loyalty, love, and respect for Manchester City. In an exclusive interview he had with an Argentine Newspaper four years ago, Sergio poured out his innermost feelings about the club:

I am very happy at City, very happy since the day I came. I knew that the project was good, and in my head, there is nothing else but Manchester City, so how long I’m going to be at City is just never a question”

Gidado Toyeeb

I am not scared of bigger players- Gidado Toyeeb

Austin Okocha, Juan Mata, Bernardo Silva, Lionel Messi, Xavi, and David Silva. These are all world-class players. They all have some common traits. They are attacking midfielders and they aren’t the biggest in terms of size or height. What they lack in size, they compensate with skills, goals, and defense-splitting passes and assists.

One advantage players with small physique have, is their low gravitational force, which makes them more stable while dribbling and very difficult to dispossess whenever they are with the ball. An example is Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, the Late Diego Maradona, and David Silva. These players were exceptionally good when on the ball and they had this uncanny way of utilizing small pockets of space in the field of play.

Gidado Toyeeb, an attacking midfielder with Remo Stars FC shared with me during an interactive chat recently, about his love for Bernardo Silva, the Portuguese international who presently plays for Manchester City of England. Weighing at 68KG and a height of 5 feet, 4 inches, the Lagos born footballer doesn’t lack the confidence to take on bigger players.

I prefer the taller players because it is easier for me to maneuver around them. I don’t have problems dealing with players that are bigger than me

Gidado who was nicknamed “Baba Kekere”, while playing with Crest Football Academy (Formerly Cowbell Football Academy) because of his height, never allowed his small size to stop him from achieving his dream. The Academy which was owned by Godwin Dudu Orumen helped shaped his career.

He was also part of the victorious U-15 team that represented Nigeria at the 2014 African Youth games held at Gaborone, Botswana. Gidado coincidentally captained the team, which went on to win the Gold medal at the competition. They defeated Swaziland 3-1 in the final.

The team led by coach Danladi Nasidi, defeated host Botswana 2-0 in their opening game, before playing a 0-0 draw with Mali. They trashed South Africa 3-0 in their third game before defeating Tanzania 2-0 in the Semi-Finals.

Asked to share his experience at the competition, Gidado remembered with nostalgia, the excitement that came with winning his first major honor as a footballer; “It was great. It’s the best feeling ever, wearing the green white green jersey of Nigeria. Nothing feels better. The happiness, excitement. It was my best moment as a footballer, and I was the captain of the team”.

He didn’t score in the tournament, but chipped in three-assist, as the team scored an impressive eight goals while conceding just one goal en route to winning the Gold Medal. He jokingly shared how his teammates and friends threatened him because of his height. he said he has however come to accept his faith, as he didn’t create himself.

Gidado who is the eldest of four kids remembered the rough treatment he usually got from his Dad whenever he came home late after playing street soccer. “Dad and Mum didn’t approve of me playing street soccer at that time. Mum didn’t even want me to go into football. It was not until I went to England in 2011 for the Copa Coca-Cola Mini Tournament, that they began to approve of my taking  up football as a career.

When asked about the secret of his success in Remo Stars FC. He attributed his performance so far to the influence of the Remo Stars FC coach. “My present manager usually has a mantra, and that is IJA, which when translated from Yoruba means FIGHT. It’s not about been talented alone. You must be ready to give your all at any given moment. You have to be ready to Fight

On a final note, he has this little advice for aspiring footballers: “As an aspiring footballer, you have to be confident. You got to be disciplined. There would be lots of obstacles. Be ready for challenges and stay focused. Hopefully, everything will fall in place”

win

It is not over until you win

Life is like a football match. We win some, we lose some. The beautiful thing about football is that it gives players an amazing opportunity to correct their mistakes. It is a 90 minutes game, where there is provision for extra time.

I have seen teams that started so badly but ended up winning even in extra time. It is a game where a few seconds can determine the outcome of a game. It is rare to see football players giving up on a game. They keep chasing and fighting until the referee blows the final whistle.

I watched a local football match at a school playing ground. As I sat down, I asked one of the boys what the score was. With a smile, he replied; “They are leading us 3-0”

And to be honest, he never looked like someone who was discouraged with the score. I asked him why he didn’t sound discouraged?  “Discouraged?” the boy asked with a puzzled look.

Why should I be discouraged when the referee has not blown the final whistle. I have confidence in the team and our manager; we shall win this game. it was one of the most inspiring words I heard from such a young boy. He should be around 14 or 15 years.

Truly, the match ended 5-4 in favor of the boy’s team. He waved at me gently, with a beautiful smile as he left; I was amazed, mouth wide open; Such confidence; Such awesome positivity. It was a turning point in my view about life.

As I got back home that night, his question kept coming back to me – “Why should I be discouraged when the referee has not blown the final whistle”

Life is like a football game. Why be discouraged, when there is still life. Why should I be discouraged when the final whistle has not sounded?

The truth is that many people blow the final whistle themselves. The desire to win isn’t there. They are defeated, even before the referee blows the whistle for the game to commence.

But as long as there is life, nothing is impossible and it is never too late for you.

Half time is not full time. There are still 45 minutes left, and games have been won in 10 seconds, left of extra time. On the 13th of May 2012, Manchester City made history when they won the Premier League title for the first time in their history.

It was a game where everyone expected them to win against Queens Park Rangers. Pablo Zabaleta gave City an early lead in the first half, and everyone was already in celebration mood at the Etihad. Unfortunately, Djibril Cisse of QPR capitalized on an error by defender Joleon Lescot to equalize for QPR.

Things turned from bad to worse when Jamie Mackie headed QPR into a 2-1 lead with time running out. With the game going into extra time, Manchester United had already defeated Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and was poised to be crowned champions.

It was a nervous time for fans who were watching in shock as the title was slipping away from the grasp of Manchester City. Five minutes of extra time and City had a corner kick quickly taken by David Silva. Edin Dzeko rose highest to head in the equalizer.

Two minutes before the extra time was up, Mario Balotelli stumbled in the QPR penalty area, but still managed to make a pass to Sergio Aguero. The City talisman did the incredible and scored the winner.

It was a lesson I had come to learn. Life gives us opportunities even when all hope seems lost. As individuals,  we must never give up until we win. Don’t blow the final whistle yourself.

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