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Southampton Sign Partnership Agreement With Kotoko

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Southampton Football Club is delighted to welcome Kotoko SC, one of the leading professional clubs in Africa, to its growing portfolio of International Club Partners.

Over the course of the partnership, Southampton will support the development of Ghanaian Premier League Kotoko’s strategy both on and off the pitch.

Southampton will share their industry-leading coaching expertise to help Kotoko realise their ambition of building a sustainable Academy and pathway to the first team, with year-round remote support supplemented by regular visits to Ghana throughout the partnership from the club’s International Football Partnership team.

The partnership will include Academy staff exchange visits between the UK and Ghana, as well as opportunities for Kotoko’s young players to attend annual UK Player Development camps and experience the Southampton Academy methodology first-hand, when travel corridors open up and it is safe to travel.

Southampton will also support the development of Kotoko’s commercial and operational strategy through collaborating on key projects.

NANA YAW HAS A CLEAR VISION FOR ASANTE KOTOKO TO BE A SELF-SUSTAINABLE FOOTBALL CLUB, BOTH ON AND OFF THE PITCH

MARK ABRAHAMS
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, SOUTHAMPTON FC
Based in Kumasi, Ashanti Region in Ghana West Africa, Kotoko have been champions of the Premier League a record 23 times, have won the CAF Champions League twice and were named the African club of the century by International Football Federation of History and Statistics (IFFHS).

Kotoko’s CEO, Nana Yaw Amponsah commented: “This partnership enables us to plug Kotoko into Southampton in such a way that Kotoko functions like Southampton. Kotoko would have everything Southampton has but to a level that reflects our different budgets. I believe that with the expertise and resources available at Southampton, we can tap into this and develop our setup to look and feel professional like Saints.”

Mark Abrahams, Director of Business and Community Development commented:
“During these challenging times we’re delighted to have agreed a long-term partnership to work with Kotoko. Nana Yaw has a clear vision for Kotoko to be a self-sustainable football club both on and off the pitch. We look forward to working with him and his team to support their development.”

Kotoko SC becomes Southampton’s first professional club partnership in Africa adding to a range of partners across North America, the Middle East, Australia and Japan.

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Jose Mourinho Claims Gareth Bale ‘Looks Happier Than Ever’ And Has His Confidence Back

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Jose Mourinho has claimed Gareth Bale is in his best shape since returning from Real Madrid and is finally free from lingering injury concerns.

Bale has looked sharper and hungrier in Tottenham’s last three games, scoring twice in the Europa League against Wolfsberger and making a positive impact from the bench in the 2-1 defeat at West Ham.

‘The mental is always a consequence of the physical,’ said Mourinho. ‘If a player feels great, if he is playing 100 per cent and if the feelings are all good, there are no psychological problems or fears.

‘When you have little worries and especially when you have a recent history of injuries, it’s normal to have some fears – and these fears have a consequence – but lately he has been fine.

‘He looks happier than ever, he looks confident. He has confidence back in training, the way he hits shots. His goal on Wednesday was a confident shot. A player with fear or negative feelings would never have hit that type of shot. To strike the ball that way, it means a lot. It means freedom: for this you need to be in a good condition and he is in the best condition since he arrived.’

It is only two weeks since Mourinho was at odds with Bale, criticising the Wales captain for a social media post about a ‘good session’ in training after requesting a scan because he could feel discomfort and was unable to play at Everton in the FA Cup.

Bale’s much-heralded return from Madrid on loan has been a disappointment but a spring flourish from the 31-year-old would lift faltering Tottenham.

‘It’s just a question of how many minutes he can play and how many days he needs to recover between matches,’ added Mourinho. ‘We trust him. Players with a lot of experience know their bodies better than anyone.’

The Spurs boss was also more positive than usual about Dele Alli, who has spent most of this season on the fringes and has suffered minor injuries.

‘I am happy with him,’ said Mourinho. ‘He came back and we had good conversations. He is training well, playing parts of matches. His condition is improving. We need him, we need them all. More than ever, we need a squad.’

Spurs have been drawn against Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Both clubs are confident they will be able to play the tie across two legs in their own stadiums.

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Jara: If Messi Comes To MLS, I’ll kiss His Feet

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Former Argentina forward Franco Jara, now playing for FC Dallas in the United States, has flirted with the idea of Lionel Messi arriving in MLS.

The Barcelona captain has a decision to make come the end of his contract at the Camp Nou in June, with a move stateside one of the options being speculated over.

“If he [Messi] comes to play [in MLS], I’d kiss his feet,” Jara told 90min. “It would be insane, a madness.

“Over the course of my career, when I was in the national team, I had the chance to share [the pitch] with players like them but having him face to face is totally different.

“[MLS] have brought in Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], [Gonzalo] Higuain… let’s hope [Messi] gets the opportunity.

“As much for Messi as for Cristiano [Ronaldo], it’s an opportunity to live outside of football, to be a normal person.

“Me, you, we like to go out to eat, go to the cinema, go to the supermarket to buy… and the United States offers that.”

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Jurgen Klopp Claims A Top Four Finish For Champions Liverpool Would Be ‘BIG’

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Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool will have achieved something significant this season if they can finish in the top four.

Liverpool have 13 games left to get back into the Champions League spots but Klopp is aware it will be easier said than done and is concerned about the buffer that clubs such as Chelsea and West Ham have.

Liverpool have finished in the top four in each of Klopp’s four full seasons at Anfield but a ruinous run of form coupled with a dreadful injury list — that was added to by Jordan Henderson recently — means they face an uphill battle.

It would not be an achievement comparable to winning a trophy but, in terms of the hurdles that have been put in front of Liverpool, there is no disguising how proud Klopp would be if they can somehow transform the situation, starting at Sheffield United on Sunday.

‘Yes it would be big,’ said Klopp. ‘You can see the competitors. It is about what we can bring on the pitch. It is about results. The table doesn’t lie. We know that points-wise we are not that far away, but results-wise we are.

‘That is what we have to change. We try but while we try and sort one problem another problem occurs. We have to think about Sheffield United. If we can do that then we are maybe a step closer but then Chelsea is coming!

‘So, if we were to do it in the end… yes, it would be big.’

Aside from Henderson, Klopp will be without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Fabinho, James Milner and Joel Matip at Bramall Lane, while No 2 keeper Caoimhin Kelleher also has an issue that has been keeping him out.

Henderson (below) had successful surgery on a damaged adductor on Thursday after he had seen a consultant in London.

He is expected to be out for somewhere between six and eight weeks but there is no doubt about him being fit for the Euros in June.

‘It’s not a quick (injury) but we all hope there is still a possibility for him to play a few games this season,’ said Klopp.

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Elmina Sharks Sack Head Coach Yaw Acheampong

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Ghana Premier League side, Elmina Sharks, have sacked head coach, Yaw Acheampong, and his backroom staff after Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Legon Cities in the league.

Sharks in statement said Acheampong, who has been at the club since 2017, is leaving post with his assistant, Felix Aboagye, and goalkeepers’ trainer, Nana Mbrah.

The Cape Coast-based club has found it difficult to pick results this season, winning only three games in their 16 games this season.

They sit 14th on the league log with 17 points, two above the relegation places.

Elmina Sharks added in the statement that replacements will be announced in due course.

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