Aribo: Nigeria’s switch, no brainer

first_imgRelatedPosts Super Eagles soar on FIFA ranking FIFA ranking: Nigeria moves up by two spots, now world 29th Omeruo welcomes second child Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo has admitted that the decision to play for Nigeria rather than England at international level was a “no brainer” after growing up watching Super Eagles icons such as Jay-Jay Okocha and Kanu.The Ibrox star has made a huge impression already after scoring just three minutes into his debut and forcing manager Gernot Rohr into a stunning selection u-turn.Aribo’s parents are Nigerian and, despite the player being born in London, he opted to play for the Super Eagles ahead of the Three Lions – before quickly being compared with Okocha after his debut against Ukraine earlier this month.“I could have played for England but my parents are from Nigeria and I always watched players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu as a kid so it was a no brainer to play for them,” Aribo said, as quoted by the Evening Times.“I read the headline where a journalist compared me to Okocha after the Ukraine game – that’s putting a lot of pressure on me!”Aribo will now face Brazil in a friendly in Singapore before the upcoming AFCON qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho.After his quick rise in international football, hopefully, Aribo can continue to impress and put in a stellar performance against the Brazilians.The comparisons with stars such as Okocha will put some lofty expectations on Aribo’s shoulders for his country but it could really help him grow as a player and help him get used to the pressure he’s under constantly at Rangers.Tags: jj okochaJoe AriboSuper Eagleslast_img read more

His time now: Konz finding voice as leader

first_imgCenter Peter Konz has started 20 of his 21 career games. Entering his redshirt junior season, Konz will be counted on more as a leader.[/media-credit]On the field, Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt were two of the best offensive linemen in the country.They also happened to be just as good off of it.Carimi protected Scott Tolzien’s blind side at left tackle for the Badgers and received the Outland Trophy – given annually to the best lineman – for his masterful 2010 season.Moffitt was equally effective at left guard and he joined Carimi on the Associated Press All-American team.Those two senior captains anchored the University of Wisconsin offensive line and were two of the best leaders to come through the program.They were vocal when they had to be. They constantly studied their craft with extra hours in the film room. They knew how to lighten the mood when appropriate and they knew when it was necessary to call someone out.They led by example and they commanded their teammates’ respect.But now, they’re off to the NFL, and they need to be replaced.Ricky Wagner will slide over to take Carimi’s spot at left tackle and Travis Frederick will step in for Moffitt at left guard, but where will the leadership come from?Who will step up and fill that massive void?Look no further than center Peter Konz.“I feel like that responsibility is now placed on me, as it should be,” Konz said. “I’ve seen a lot of games. I’m supposed to be the quarterback of the O-line and I need to be better at that.”Konz has all the tools necessary to become the next elite Badger lineman.He’s played in 21 games and started 20 of them. He has tremendous mobility for a 6-foot-6, 315-pound center, making him a force in the run game, pulling from side to side to pave the way.His quick feet make him a reliable pass protector and his quick mind (two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection) helps to diagnose blitzes.Konz was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten selection and he’ll be widely considered one of the top centers in the nation heading into the 2011 season.He’s confident in his abilities to play at the high level expected of him, but Konz knows he needs to grow as a leader.With Moffitt and Carimi gone, his role on this team has undeniably changed.“Oh yeah, it’s changed. I try to call out more of the defensive stuff. I have to be more of a vocal guy,” Konz said. “Before, I would just sit back and if something was going wrong, Moffitt or Gabe or both of them would step in and say, ‘Hey, we need to fix this.’ If there was a blitz that I didn’t see, then it was Gabe or Moff saying what we’ve got.”As the center, Konz has the responsibility of calling out assignments at the line of scrimmage, but last year Moffitt and Carimi were the vocal ones and they often had the final say before the ball was snapped.“If I made a call, sometimes they would feel that they could override it – sometimes it wouldn’t work and sometimes it did,” Konz said. “It was a little uncomfortable making calls because it was like, ‘Do I have all this say?’. But those guys did a good job respecting what I had to do.”Konz is running the show now, and will be the definitive voice of the O-line from his center position. Knowing blocking assignments and calling out oncoming blitzes is something he’s comfortable with, but that’s just one part of the job.The hard part for the redshirt junior now comes when things go wrong, when his teammates make mistakes and need to be told what to do.At times, Konz, who is known for his engaging demeanor and humorous nature, needs to be a disciplinarian. That hasn’t been easy.“A lot of times I’ll be quiet just because I don’t like telling guys what to do. Sometimes you need to be an asshole – I’m terrible at that,” Konz said. “But I can promise you if I don’t do that, then its not going to be a good season.”Konz won’t allow foolish mistakes to reoccur time and time again in practice. Earlier in the spring, the centers were taking part in a snapping drill in which numerous balls hit the ground.Centers simply cannot afford fumbled snaps and Konz felt he needed to step in.So he made everyone start over.“We snapped and I made everybody go back and do it again and I hate doing that. I know no one is trying to purposely fumble the ball. … We have a bunch of new centers but it’s getting to the point where it’s every day and I had to say something,” Konz explained. “I know I’ve been there. I’ve been the one fumbling and making mistakes, so for me to call guys out is just tough.“But if we want to win, that is what has to happen.”Konz recently suffered a high ankle sprain in practice, so he’ll be in street clothes for the remainder of spring camp. But he’s out there on the field, watching every drill closely, delivering pointers to his teammates.He’s slowly transforming himself into the vocal leader in the trenches his offense needs ?- even if it means leaving his comfort zone to do it.“I know I can do it, and if I didn’t, I would be hurting the team,” Konz said. “Good teams always have those leaders stepping up and now it’s on me to do that.”last_img read more

Suarez says Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of El Clasico

first_imgThe former Liverpool hitman is set to make his long-awaited Barcelona debut against Ronaldo’s Real Madrid next weekend.Luis Suarez will be Liverpool’s biggest fan when his old Anfield mates take on Real Madrid on Wednesday.Despite moving to Barcelona in a £75million deal in the summer,the Uruguayan ­superstar has two reasons for willing the Reds to success.He still retains his Liverpool loyalties and on Saturday he is set to make his debut for Barca in El Clasico. So anything the Reds can do to undermine and tire the European champions will be gratefully received.Suarez said: “I will never forget what the supporters of Liverpool have done for me. They were always behind me and they gave me the best time of my life. That is something I will never be able to forget.”Suarez has been serving his ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup but will be in the Barcelona squad that takes on Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.  GettyReturn: Suarez has almost completed his four-month ban for biting Chiellini in the World Cup Last week he received the Golden Shoe, the award handed to the leading ­goalscorer in Europe.           It is amazing to think that while achieving that for Liverpool he missed part of the campaign through suspension and never took penalties.It was an award he had to share with Real’s ace marksman ­Cristiano Ronaldo. Kop legend Kenny Dalglish travelled to Barcelona to present the award to Suarez and strengthen the Liverpool links.“What Kenny Dalglish has done for me at Liverpool is incredible,” he said.“He was like a coach, a mentor and a father. He helped me so much in a league as complicated as the Premier League.“That’s why it meant a lot to me that he came all the way to Barcelona last week for the award of the ­European Golden Boot. I personally thanked him again for what he has done for me.”  David RamosFormer manager: Dalglish travelled to Barcelona to award Suarez with the Golden Boot Suarez has never feared controversy and in typical style he joined the debate about whether Anfield will see the best footballer in the world in action when Ronaldo turns up.He reckons it would be much tougher for the Reds if Lionel Messi was among the opposition.With an eye to the weekend’s El Clasico, Suarez insisted: “In my opinion Leo is better. I train and play with Leo every day and he surprises me every day. He is unique. “Everybody knows what he has brought to Barcelona, what kind of world-class player he is.“For me he is the best player in the world for what he has already done, and he’s still so young.”last_img read more