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Aftermath: Blay leads Kotoko to victory, Madrid, Ronaldo, Kobe .

Justice Blay dominates in Kotoko’s super clash win.

In an interview before the game,Kumasi Asante Kotoko coach,Maxwell Konadu emphasised the importance of winning the midfield battle and how crucial Justice Blay would be in these kind of games.

He picked out Justice Blay, specifically as their man to rival any effort of Accra Hearts of Oak, to go toe to toe with Hearts of Oak’s latest sensation ,Emmanuel Nettey, and finally, to lead Kotoko to dominate in that area of the field.

It was very unusual for a manager to put  that amount of pressure on his player ahead of a game as big as this. When the day arrived though, Blay wasn’t  perturbed by this at all, on the contrary, he fed off it as he went on to deliver a midfield masterclass.

Blay and Kotoko started slow, with Hearts of Oak enjoying the better share of opening ten minutes which saw Nettey and Afriyie go close to getting the opener for the home side.

However, it was Kotoko who got the breakthrough in the 11th minute when Blay rose high above Robert Addo Sowah of Hearts to direct Augustine Okrah’s in-swinger past Richard Attah in post for Hearts.

The goal seemed to have swung the momentum in the favor of Kotoko with Blay and Salifu Mudasiru coming into the game and exerting their dominance in the middle of the park. Blay dictating play while Mudasiru’s strength, power and drive complimented his partner very well.

The ability to sustain that dominance was threatened when midway through the first half, Mudasiru Salifu had to be substituted after struggling with a groin problem but Blay, along with Adom Frimpong, steadied the ship for the porcupine warriors.

Hearts of oak switched up gears in the second half in search of an equaliser and after a moment of sustained pressure, Joseph Esso reacted quickest to a rebound to head home from just yards out to level the score for the Phobians.

The game looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw but in the 89th minute, Kotoko were award a penalty when substitute Mathew Anim Cudjoe’s goal bound effort struck the arm of Mohammed Alhassan of Hearts of Oak.

Justice Blay made his case to take the penalty and cap of a brilliant performance but Naby Keita stepped up and duly converted for Kotoko.

Blay was rightfully named man of the match as Kotoko claimed a vital away win against Hearts. On a day when his name was being mentioned in all the previews and a big performance was needed, Justice Blay stood tall and strengthened his claim as the best Central Midfielder in the country.

Madrid go top of La Liga as Barca lose at Valencia

Real Madrid’s 1-0 win away at Valladolid sent them three points clear of La Liga after Barrcelona’s 2-0 loss at Valencia.

Madrid remain the side with the meanest defence in the Spanish Primera Liga, letting in only 12 goals all season and losing only one game. Thibaut Courtois seems to have got over his early season troubles as the 2018 FIFA best goalkeeper of the year looks to be back in form.

It’s a long road to claiming their first La Liga title since 2017 but Madrid are surely in a good place right now.

Ronaldo scores for the 8th game in a row

Ronaldo scored for the 8th game in a row as Juventus succumbed to a 2-1 loss to Genarro Gattusso’s Napoli. Results elsewhere meant a win for the Bianconerri would have sent them 6 points clear of second place Inter but Napoli cruised to a first home win in 5 games.

On a personal note however, Ronaldo equalled David Trezeguet’s record when he scored in his 8th successive game.

With the Champions league returning in 4 weeks, Juventus will need their star man in top form as they aim to end their 24- year wait on Europe’s most coveted trophy.

 

Kobe passes on

The NBA and entire sporting fraternity were left in shock on Sunday 27th January, 2020 as news of the tragic death of 5 time NBA champion, 1-time regular season MVP and 2-time  finals MVP, NBA and Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant spread through the sporting circles.

Kobe was involved in a helicopter crash that claimed 9 lives with his 13 year old daughter Gianna Bryant, also on board.

Tributes began to pour in from fans, friends and teammates as the world mourned the ‘Mamba’.

Kobe embodied the spirit of never giving up , rising above hate, every obstacle, and not stopping until you get to the very top.

In 1996, Kobe Bryant said set out to be the greatest basketball player of all time. At the end of his career, he achieved something even bigger than that as he had impacted not only a generation of NBA stars, but also influenced sportsmen from other field with his professionalism and work ethic.

The mamba mentality doesn’t apply to a particular style of playing basketball, It is a way of life.

Rest in Peace, Kobe Bean Bryant. Mamba Forever!

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Written by Eli Avot

Eli is a determined young man driven by his will to succeed and his passion for sports. Writer, presenter, pundit.

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