Musa lifts duo Russian league title

Friday 16 May 2014

/ by Colin Udoh

Super Eagles forward, Ahmed Musa, will be at the Brazil 2014 World Cup as a champion. The speedy winger who is on the Eagles 30-man provisional list released by coach Stephen Keshi last week won his second consecutive Russian league title with CSKA Moscow on Thursday.

The forward, who just came back from an injury, lay off, played 79 minutes in his club’s final day 1-0 win over city rivals, Locomotiv Moscow, to defend the title which they had won in the 2012/13 season.

CSKA defended the league with 64 points from their 30 matches, a point more than the closest rivals Zenit St. Petersburg, which had 63.

Musa, who is a part of the Eagles team that won the African Nations Cup in 2013, joined CSKA from VVV Venlo of Holland in 2012 for €5m and has so far scored 20 goals in 65 appearances for the Moscow club.

An excited Musa told that his season’s target had been met.

“I am very delighted to have won the league again. My target for the season was the league and cup double but I thank God we won the league. It has not been easy but we battled through,” he said.

The league win means that CSKA Moscow will feature in next season’s UEFA Champions League, which they fell out of at the group stage this season.

Meanwhile, rewards for winning the often-unloved Europa League are getting bigger, maybe even enough to ignite more interest in countries like England and Italy. Sevilla’s penalty shootout victory over Benfica on Wednesday after a 0-0 draw was the last final before UEFA offers winners a place in the following season’s Champions League, AP reports.

“By introducing this reward there is a feeling that teams will take it more seriously,” UEFA Events marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein said.

An expected 20 percent increase in prize money from 2015 should also help with clubs likely to share about €250m ($342m).

The European Club Association says its 200-plus members are happy with the Europa League. However, it acknowledges a need to close a “big financial gap” between the globally successful Champions League and an event rebranded from the UEFA Cup only five years ago.

Today, that gulf is more than €1bn ($1.4bn) each season.

“We have to be pragmatic – Europa League is not Champions League,” Epstein told The Associated Press ahead of the final. “It’s for teams that are more community (based) rather than international brands most of the time.”
Epstein said he expects rising Europa League earnings for the 2015-18 seasons.

“I think it will pass the €300m bar in the next cycle,” said the marketing chief, though no sponsor deals have yet been sealed.


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