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Chelsea Could Spring Surprise In Spain.

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the English champions can do “something incredible” by knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League at the Camp Nou on March 14, despite blowing a lead to draw the first leg of their last-16 tie 1-1.

Willian gave reason to a bold team selection from Conte on Tuesday by putting the English champions ahead just after the hour mark, having also hit the woodwork twice before half-time.

However, Barca pounced on a very rare Chelsea mistake on the night as Andres Iniesta intercepted a slack pass by Andreas Christensen and squared for Lionel Messi to slot home his first goal in nine appearances against Chelsea.

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We must be realistic. We are talking about Barcelona. They show tonight to be a strong, fantastic team,” said Conte.

“We have showed that if we are ready to work very hard together defensively, but continue to have the right feeling when you win the ball when you have the chance to score, we can try to do something incredible at the Nou Camp.”

Conte named a front three without a recognised centre-forward with Willian and Pedro Rodriguez either side of Eden Hazard, while the 21-year-old Christensen started in place of club captain Gary Cahill.

And Conte refused to pin the blame on the inexperienced Dane for conceding.

“I think it was a great performance, an incredible performance,” added Conte.

“We’re talking about a player he’s only 21. It’s great that he can play this game with this maturity. I am very happy. For me he was one of the best players tonight.”

– ‘Like a handball match’ –
Barcelona enjoyed nearly 70 percent of the possession, but lacked the penetration to open up Chelsea’s well-organised defence.

“At times it seemed like a handball match, because they sat back and waited,” said Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

“It is difficult when they have eight players behind the ball.”

However, Conte defended his tactics, saying it would be “crazy” to approach facing Barcelona any other way.

“When you play against Barcelona you know very well that if you want to face them box-to-box then you are crazy and you go to lose the game, not 1-0, (but) 4, 5, 6-0,” said Conte.

“You must play with intelligence, especially if you know that (Barca) level is up on us. You must play an intelligent game, we are not stupid.”

Chelsea’s former Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas, though, stressed the importance of going to Catalonia in three weeks’ time with attacking intent rather than just trying to keep Barcelona at bay for as long as possible.

“We have to go there to attack and score because 90 minutes defending at the Nou Camp is an eternity,” said Fabregas, who played for Barca between 2011 and 2014. “It is a suicide mission.”

Messi’s goal was the first a Barcelona player has scored in an away Champions League match for six games.

And whilst Barca boss Ernesto Valverde welcomed the slight advantage gained from a sub-standard performance, he warned Chelsea possess the threat on the counter-attack to still land a knockout blow.

“It is very important to have scored here and logically both teams will respect their own style in the second leg. They have the attacking resources to cause us problems.

“It is important to have the advantage, but it is far from decided.”

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Motherland News

Nigeria General Elections postponement not politically influenced – INEC

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Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared the air, saying its decision to postpone the general elections a few hours to the commencement was not politically influenced.



INEC chairman Mahmoud Yakubu said at a press conference that “The decision has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence and nothing to do with lack of resources.”

The postponement heightens the political tensions in the country, especially between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party.

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The parties have accused INEC of kowtowing down to the political influence exerted by either party to postpone the elections which ought to begin the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 16 2019.

PDP and APC faulted INEC’s decision to reschedule the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 23 while the governorship and state houses of assembly elections will take place on March 9.

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Nigeria: Reactions trail INEC Postponement of 2019 General Elections

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Reactions have trailed the decision of The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to postpone the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for today by a week, citing operational difficulties.



Prior to the postponement of the election, the PDP accused INEC of hoarding the presidential and senatorial elections result sheets for undisclosed reasons.

The party also revealed that its monitoring and intelligence showed that INEC had been distributing sensitive election materials in most states of the federation without the Presidential and Senatorial elections results sheets.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said that the party’s agents were being denied the INEC accreditation and identification cards, ostensibly to shut them out of the election monitoring process and allow the APC a field day to manipulate the process.

According to him, “The development is already heightening tension and suspicion of underhand method by the commission to open the elections for manipulations and allow the APC to enter fictitious results for onward transmission to collation centres.”

The PDP also rejected alleged substitution of the already trained INEC adhoc staff in various states of the federation with members of the APC.
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The party said that PDP would never allow “this unscrupulous attempt at power hijack to stand.”

He stated, “This surreptitious ploy to use APC members as polling staff is a direct template by the APC in collusion with some INEC officials, to rig the elections for the APC.

“This affront to the collective quest by the people for a credible election is akin to sitting our nation on a keg of gunpowder.”

A renowned political analyst in Lagos state, Isaac Abiola on his part expressed displeasure at the postponement, citing the electoral body’s insincerity the worrisome part.

Mr Abiola said “I am disappointed with INEC. It is obvious that they are not sincere with us. INEC till 11:30pm yesterday claimed to have been ready and even tweeted that their situation room was ready. It is not a must to conduct elections when you are not fully ready. But the decision to postponed should have been reached and announced at least 24hrs before election. Why announce 2:30am when people were sleeping. I feel there is an arrangement somewhere.”

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Also Reacting to the postponement, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ahmed Raji, noted that if the postponement was towards achieving a credible, free and acceptable election, it is in order. According to him, if the reason for the postponment is actually on logistics as it is being said, it is okay instead of the Commission to go ahead and conduct an election that would put it to ridicule both locally and internationally.

Raji, while stating that it is high time Nigerians begin to see election as a process, observed that budgetary allocation for the elections came a little bit late.

According to him election materials are not things people just pick from the shop, hence the commission needs adequate time to plan and arrange for some of this materials.

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On the ruling party’s side, Arc Waziri Bulama, the deputy director general of APC presidential campaign council disclosed the party’s readiness for the forthcoming general elections dismissing claims that the APC was looking for a postponement of the polls. Bulama who disclosed this on Wednesday, February 13, stated that the council had carried its campaign all over the country. He said the responsibilities of leaders was to deliver good governance, secure the lives of Nigerians, ensure that they promote justice, rule of law, peace and freedom through their actions.



Meanwhile, the opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar said the postponement of the general election by Independent National Electoral Commission is “obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.”

“The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019,” Atiku said in a stateemnt on Saturday.

“By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date,” he added.

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