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Kylian Mbappé sinks Spain to clinch Nations League for France

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Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappé sinks Spain to clinch Nations League for France

The final four brought three wild nights in Milan and champions who twice had to come from behind to lift a still unfamiliar trophy, not least because when it came to the moment that decided its destination, there in the madness was Kylian Mbappé, blood running cold. There too was Hugo Lloris, the man raising it to the sky.

A game of control and quality but few chances had gone crazy, exploding into life and suddenly wide open and that was where France found a way to win it. Having beaten Belgium 3-2 after trailing 2-0 in the semi-final, now they beat Spain having trailed 1-0. First Karim Benzema bent in an outrageous shot to equalise a minute after Mikel Oyarzabal had given Spain the lead and then Mbappé, clean through, coolly slid the ball under Unai Simón for the winner.

Spain were not happy about it: Mbappé had been clearly offside when he was released by Theo Hernández and Eric García admitted he had trouble accepting Anthony Taylor’s explanation that the tiniest of touches from his studs as he stretched had played the Frenchman back onside again. It was a cruel, almost bureaucratic way to lose a final.

Not that it was over just yet. Those three goals had come in 15 minutes and although there would be none in the remaining 15 there was so much happening it was hard to keep up. Mbappé scored in the 80th minute. Just as important was Lloris’s dramatic save from Oyarzabal in the 95th. Between those moments there had been two more superb stops, one at each end, as the final, frantic minutes played out and Spain kept flooding forward desperate to recover a lead they felt they had deserved and were determined not to relinquish without a fight.

To the point that Simón went up for a corner and stayed up too, getting a touch in the scramble that ended with Lloris making an exceptional stop, team mates collapsing on the floor in disbelief. In the end, then, Mbappé’s goal had done it and so had Didier Deschamps. Whether by design might be another question, but there can be no doubting the quality of players he has. There may be less doubt about the Spanish players now than a week ago too: a team is emerging under Luis Enrique that came close to claiming a first trophy in nine years and whose identity is clear.

Deschamps had said it was impossible to take the ball off Spain, a statement of fact that also felt like a declaration of intent, and for much of this game so it proved. Sergi Busquets was the axis on which their play was built. Gavi again belied his seventeen years, turning quickly and often, French players left behind. And Ferrán Torres was the outlet, repeatedly receiving on the right and quick to go at opponents, inside or out.

But while Torres released Pablo Sarabia for a scuffed early shot, there was little in the way of real opportunity in the opening forty-five minutes – Spain’s achilles heel. A brief VAR check for a potential Jules Koundé handball was as close as they had come and France may not have been unhappy with what had happened, which was not much, both coaches departing at the break believing this was under control, each in their own different way.

Soon though control had gone and the game was better for it. The second half began with Sarabia almost finding Oyarzabal and Marcos Alonso having to intercept Mbappé, a glimpse of the coming storm. The crossbar was still vibrating from a Theo Hernández shot at one end when Spain took the lead at the other, Busquets clipping a lovely pass for Oyarzabal to hold off Dayot Upemecano – who had replaced the injured Raphaël Varane – and score. Just seconds had passed between those two shots and just seconds would pass before the next, Benzema curling in a sensational shot to make it 1-1.

A goal each and they were back where they had been, no time to take it in. The game, though, was no longer where it had been but in a better, more unpredictable place. Mbappé was denied by Simón, the noise rising, legs tiring, then Yeremi Pino controlled a 70-yard ball, turned and almost got Spain in again. This was wild, and perhaps that suited France, who soon had the winner, Mbappé sent running away. One on one with Simón, he paused, ran his foot over the ball, looked one way and shot the other to place one hand on the trophy. Lloris would apply the other.

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.

Backstory

PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

A motion seeking the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and Justices of the Supreme Court, over issues bordering on welfare and working conditions suffered a setback on Thursday.

While the House called for a general review of salaries and allowances of all political office holders and public servants, the members were divided over which committees should handle the task.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, had moved a motion to seek the intervention of the chamber in the crisis rocking the apex court and better welfare package for judicial officers across the courts.

Luke, who moved the motion titled, ‘Need to Address the Deteriorating Working Conditions of Judicial Officers,’ prayed the House to urge the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities.

The lawmaker prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide special intervention funds for the development of the arm

He further prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

While the lawmakers were making amendments to the prayers, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, called for an upward review of the welfare package of all public office holders.

Wase, who stated that he appreciated the memo from the Justices to the CJN, noted that only the RMAFC had the responsibility to review remuneration of government officials.

The Deputy Speaker made reference to a part of the motion that read, ‘The remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the RMAFC when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1, whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.’

Wase partly said, “I think this particular element does not affect just judicial officers, maybe because they cried out now. I don’t think it is right that we have to wait every time until people write letters of complaints and there is protest before we begin to do the right thing.”

Rephrasing Wase’s proposed amendment, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “The DSP’s amendment is that we should not isolate the Judiciary and all those enumerated constitutional bodies and public office holders. They should be reviewed; a comprehensive review based on all the things that Hon Luke said – the exchange rates and this and that.”

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