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I’ve Very Good Relationship With Griezmann -Atletico Madrid Coach, Simeone

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Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone admits he’s close to Barcelona striker Antoine Griezmann.

However, he insists he doesn’t expect Griezmann to return to Atletico.

Simeone told AS: “I have a very good relationship, a beautiful relationship beyond sports, since my daughters play with their sons. Beyond everything he gave Atlético, I want him to do well at Barcelona, he is an extraordinary player.

“At Barcelona, having seasons without being regular for him, he never falls below twenty goals. They are important numbers and I hope he can consolidate the player who has been in the Eurocup, in the World Cup, in the five years with us … I do not expect anything other than that he triumphs at Barcelona.”

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Disqualification Of 10 Nigerian Athletes: We Take Responsibility -AFN Insists

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The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Thursday admitted “lapses” on its part over the disqualification of 10 athletes from Tokyo Olympics for not complying with out-of-competition drug testing requirements.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced the disqualification of the Nigerian athletes on Monday.

The AFN, which has been plagued by power tussle for several years, said they would take responsibility for the lapses that led to the disqualification.

“The AFN bears responsibility for any lapses that may have occurred during the process and reassures Nigerians that our performances (at Tokyo Olympics) will not be negatively impacted,” it said in a statement.

“All our athletes resident in Nigeria and who qualified for the Olympic Games completed the three mandatory tests,” it said.

“Most of our top athletes resident in the USA also completed their tests,” the AFN said.

“However, a few athletes in the American collegiate system were tested, but those tests were deemed not to have complied with WADA (world anti-doping agency) sample collection and analysis standards.”

The AFN said it had appointed a top official to head its medical and anti-doping commission.

Star sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who will compete in the 100m and 200m in Tokyo, was critical of the country´s sports officials.

“The sport system in Nigeria is so flawed and we athletes are always at the receiving end of the damages,” she said.

“They were busy fighting over power, exercising their pride over Puma contract/kits forgetting their major responsibility – the athletes.

“It´s sad that this cycle keeps repeating itself and some people will come out to say I am arrogant for speaking my truth. It´s my career,” she added.

aGENCY rEPORT

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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Novak Djokovic Zooms Into Semi-Finals

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Novak Djokovic maintained his Golden Slam bid by thumping Japanese hope Kei Nishikori to reach the men’s Olympic tennis semi-finals, while his chief gold-medal rival Daniil Medvedev was dumped out on Thursday.

In the women’s draw, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic set up a final against Naomi Osaka’s conqueror Marketa Vondrousova with a marathon victory over Kazakh Elena Rybakina.

World number one Djokovic, who has already sealed the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this season, brushed aside Nishikori 6-2, 6-0 in just 70 minutes.

“My best performance of the tournament tonight against a very good, very good opponent,” said Djokovic, who is looking to emulate Steffi Graf’s 1988 Golden Slam — winning all four majors and the Olympic singles in the same year.

“I feel I had an answer for everything he had.”

The Serb did not have to be in peak form against an opponent who offered very little and made 16 unforced errors.

The 34-year-old Djokovic, whose best Olympic result was a bronze medal in Beijing 13 years ago, will face German Alexander Zverev in the last four on Friday after the fourth seed’s 6-4, 6-1 win over Jeremy Chardy.

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West Ham Set To Bid £20m For Zouma

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West Ham are set to bid £20million for Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma with the Frenchman preferring to move across London rather than being a makeweight in a deal for Jules Kounde, Daily Mail reports.

Zouma, 26, has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge as Chelsea pursue Sevilla and France centre-back Kounde ahead of the new season.

David Moyes side are poised to make an opening bid but it is likely to be beneath Chelsea’s valuation.

Zouma is settled in London and, as it stands, would welcome a move to another club in the capital ahead of being part of any potential swap deal for Kounde.

Kounde, 22, has a buy-out clause of £68.4million and three years remaining on his contract but cash-strapped Sevilla are open to selling him this summer.

They have already rejected a proposal from Tottenham of cash plus defender Davinson Sanchez but that hasn’t deterred Chelsea from trying to strike a cash-plus-player deal.

Chelsea signed Zouma from French club Saint-Etienne for around £12m back in January 2014. He has since played 150 games for the club but has also been loaned out to Stoke City and Everton.

In that time, Zouma has won two Premier League titles, the League Cup and the Champions League.

Having been a regular starter at centre-back under Frank Lampard in the first half of last season, he fell out of favour when Thomas Tuchel took over in January.

He remained an unused substitute in both the FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City and the Champions League final win over Manchester City.

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