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Newcastle United’s dressing room mood has improved recently – Atsu

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Newcastle United are currently enjoying a bright mood in their dressing room, according to midfielder Christian Atsu.

Rafael Benitez’s men suffered a poor run of games during the Christmas and New Year period but it seems their mojo is back after picking two wins in a row against Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City.

The Magpies have moved out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time in several months and have also made it to the fourth round of the FA Cup ahead of their Saturday’s fixture against Watford.

“When we lose games, you really have no idea what the dressing room looks like. You don’t know how we feel when we go back home; it’s like the whole week is miserable,” Atsu was quoted as saying by Chroniclelive.

“You don’t know how to get it out of your mind, and you don’t know what to do to make yourself feel better. We just want to see another game so we can do our best and win the next game.

“This is what we do for a living, and we have to be better and try to win more often. Everybody cares for this team and we just need to work harder to achieve what we want to achieve,” he said.

“Every game is important for us. The fans want to see us win each and every game, which is why they always turn up in their tens of thousands, home and away. Things have improved in the dressing room now and we are happy.

“It’s not just a Cup game [against Watford]; we want to win for the fans, so we will be prepared for that. We always put in our head that we have to win against the teams who are fighting in the relegation battle with us,”

He added: “We work really hard on those; we try to win every grease we put in a great effort against Chelsea, but in this game, it was very important for the team.

“We worked really hard, Cardiff couldn’t create any chances, we were defensively good and we attacked very well, too.

“It was a fantastic win for the team against Cardiff and we played very well. A clean sheet was very important for the team, too.

“I believe we shouldn’t be down at the bottom because, if you watched our games, we play well, we create chances, and then sometimes this season we have been unlucky in most of the games but we want to win against Watford and progress.”

Atsu has made 17 appearances in all competitions this season. He is expected to start against Watford.

Source: Goal.com

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Kwesi Appiah scores as AFC Wimbledon lose to Fleetwood

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Kwesi Appiah scores as AFC Wimbledon lose to Fleetwood

Ghana forward Kwesi Appiah was on target for AFC Wimbledon as they narrowly lost to Fleetwood Town in the English League 1 on Saturday.

The 27-year old scored his first of the season after putting the Dons in the lead on 26 minutes.

Wimbledon had to put in a resilient performance to hold their lead in the first half at the Highbury Stadium.

However, Paddy Madden pulled the level for Fleetwood after 56 minutes.

The home side then took the lead a little over the hour mark through Josh Morris.

Appiah lasted the entire duration but the Dons could not salvage a point despite a good end to the game.

Source: GHANAsoccernet.com

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Thomas Partey happy to play first preseason game as Atletico Madrid beat Juventus 2-1

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Thomas Partey happy to play first preseason game as Atletico Madrid beat Juventus 2-1

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey is happy to have played his first preseason game which ended in a win against Italian giants Juventus at the Friends Arena in Sweden.

Atletico defeated Juventus by 2-1 in the International Champions Cup played on Saturday.

Record signing Joao Felix got the two goals for the Madrid club while Khedira pulled one back for the Italian Champions.

The Ghanaian International who missed Atletico Madrid’s tour to the USA due to his involvement with Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations made his debut for the club ahead of the new season as he came off the bench in the second half.

Partey had a decent game and helped his side to secure the win.

“Great team performance, happy for my first minutes to prepare for the season ahead”, Partey indicated on his page.

Source: GHANAsoccernet.com

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CAF Champions League: Kano Pillars 3-2 Asante Kotoko – Rabiu Ali inspires comeback

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CAF Champions League: Kano Pillars 3-2 Asante Kotoko - Rabiu Ali inspires comeback

Captain Rabiu Ali scored with an overhead kick as Kano Pillars came from behind to beat Asante Kotoko 3-2 in the first leg Caf Champions League preliminary round clash at Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Saturday.

Sai Masu Gida opened the scoring 11 minutes into the game through Rahaqqu Adam and held on to a 1-0 advantage until half-time.

However, the Porcupines came strong in the second half as goals from Justice Blay and then Godfred Asiamah looked like they were going to steal a famous 2-1 win in Nigeria.

Pillars are aware they still have a huge task ahead of them as they head for the second leg in Kumasi in a fortnight, having conceded two goals at home in Saturday’s thrilling encounter.

With four of his regular players not registered for this preliminary round, coach Ibrahim Musa expectedly tweaked his usual attacking set-up.

Nwagua Nyima was paired up front with Rahaqqu with captain Ali behind the two strikers.

Coach Kjetil Zachariassen also named a strong starting line-up for Kotoko having promised a solid away performance.

Justice Blay, Samuel Frimpong, Emmanuel Gyamfi and George Abege were all handed starting roles by the manager.

Pillars were dominant in the early exchanges and after a series of attacking pressure on the Kotoko defence, they got the opening goal in the 11th minute through Rahaqqu who hit a low shot from inside the box.

Despite the early opening goal, Pillars were unable to increase their advantage as they failed to utilise the other chances they created until half time.

Those missed chances by Pillars in the first half proved costly as the Porcupines came out smoking in the second half and ten minutes after the restart, the visitors got a deserved equaliser.

Blay, who had been threatening all day, kept his head down to produce a low header beyond the helpless Kano Pillars goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso to restore parity for his team.

While Pillars tried to get back in front as fast as they could, they committed some needless fouls and they were punished in the 67th minute for one of their rash challenges.

Asiamah won a free-kick after he was illegally halted in his run towards the penalty box.

The winger dusted himself for the resulting kick and hit it straight into the net to give Kotoko a shock 2-1 lead.

From then it was Pillars all the way as their vociferous fans cheered them on and captain Ali came to the rescue with his 70th-minute bicycle kick before Gambo sealed victory with another goal moments after.

Despite Saturday’s win, Pillars are still walking a tightrope in their quest to progress to the next stage as they would be faced with a stern test in the second leg in Kumasi in a fortnight.

The winners after the two-legged tie between Pillars and Kotoko are billed to face Hafia FC of Guinea or Tunisian club Etoile du Sahel in the next stage.

Source: Goal.com

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