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UEFA League: Porto knocked out; Ajax, Bruges progress

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UEFA League: Porto knocked out; Ajax, Bruges progress

Porto were knocked out of the Champions League after losing to Russia’s FC Krasnodar on away goals, while last season’s semi-finalists Ajax survived a scare to make the final play-off round.

It is the first time 2004 winners Porto have missed out on the Champions League group stages since the 2010-11 season.

The Portuguese side led 1-0 from the first-leg, but were 3-0 down after 34 minutes at the Estadio do Dragao.

Despite second-half goals from Ze Luis and Luis Diaz they lost 3-2.

Ajax came from a goal down to beat Greek Champions PAOK 3-2 at home, to win 5-4 on aggregate.

Dusan Tadic missed a penalty in the 32nd minute after Diego Biseswar’s opener, but the Serbian made amends as he scored from the spot just before half-time.

Nicolas Tagliafico doubled Ajax’s lead with 11 minutes left, before Tadic scored a second penalty in the 85th minute to make it 3-1, with Biseswar getting his second for the visitors in injury time.

The Dutch champions will next play Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia for a place in the Champions League group stages.

Elsewhere, former champions Red Star Belgrade beat FC Copenhagen 7-6 on penalties in a shootout that saw nine out of the 22 penalties taken missed.

The game had earlier ended 1-1 (2-2 on aggregate) in Denmark.

Club Bruges are also through after a dramatic 3-3 draw with Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine, to win 4-3 on aggregate. The game saw both teams have a player sent off late on and both sides score injury-time goals, reports the BBC.

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Cross River’s Saddo Ismail triumphs in 10km Ikogosi Race

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Cross River’s Saddo Ismail triumphs in 10km Ikogosi Race

*Receives N1m prize

Saddo Ismail of Cross River has won the maiden edition of the 10km Ikogosi Marathon Race, which was organised by the Ikogosi Marathon Initiative in partnership with the Ekiti State government on Saturday.

Ismael placed first among over 2,000 athletes that participated winning the N1 million prize money, returning an impressive time of 30m 45s.

Sadjo was followed by Plateau-born Adamu Shehu Mu’azu, who clocked 31m 22s, while Oyebode Dada Samuel from Osun State came third in 31m 48s.

The State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, presented the winners with their prizes and congratulated all the participants for daring to take part in the sporting event.

Fayemi declared  his administration  would not only invest in the education and human capital development of the youth, but will continue to partner with relevant private sector players in providing them platforms to showcase their God-given talents.

While the overall winner, Sadjo smiled home with N1million; the first runner up got a prize of N500, 000 while the second runner up got N300, 000.

The race was flagged off by the state’s Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi in Aramoko-Ekiti, headquarters of Ekiti West Local Government at 9:25am.

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Alleged NFF Bribe: Radio Presenter apologizes to Minister

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Alleged NFF Bribe: Radio Presenter apologizes to Minister

Ahmed Musa, the presenter of Brekete Show on 101.1 Human Right Radio in Abuja, has tendered an apology over his defamation of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, following the minister’s decision to sue the radio station and the presenter. In a broadcast monitored in Abuja on Friday, Ordinary Ahmed Musa also retracted his claim that successive ministers of the ministry are paid N200 million by the Nigerian Football Federation.

In reference to his previous broadcasts in which he claimed the minister has not commented on the NFF issue being discussed on the programme because he was compromised, a shaken Musa, who presents his show in Pidgin English and a sprinkling of other languages, said during the live broadcast that, “If that one offend you I withdraw the statement.”

The presenter further said “Honourable Minister Sunday Dare, I tender my unreserved apology on air to you, based on the request of your lawyer.” Mr. Dare had through Festus Keyamo’s Chambers written Human Right Radio and Ordinary Ahmed Musa to desist from broadcasting falsehood about him, retract the misleading claims previously made, apologize on the Brekete programme, and to publish the retraction with apology in two national newspa- p e r s or face a N10 billion libel suit. The suit however continues to dangle over the presenter and his radio station as the retraction with apology is yet to be published in two newspapers with national coverage as demanded.

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GOtv Boxing Night 20: Godzilla wows to win WBF title for Nigeria

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GOtv Boxing Night 20: Godzilla wows to win WBF title for Nigeria

Onoriode “Godzilla” Ehwariemi of Nigeria has vowed to defeat his Argentine opponent, Argentina’s Ariel “Chiquito” Baracamonte, when they clash for the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Intercontinental heavyweight title at GOtv Boxing Night 20. Their clash will headline the nine-bout boxing show, which holds on 28 December at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. The show will also feature live musical performances by Zlatan Ibile, Mayorkun and Ortisefemi among other artistes. Speaking after his training in Lagos yesterday, Godzilla, whose 18 fights have yielded 17 victories by knockout and loss, said he is aiming to win the title for Nigeria.

“This fight is a fight for my country. I will do everything legitimate to ensure the belt comes to Nigeria. Argentina tends to beat us in football and I intend to summon the spirit that propelled Nigeria to win the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games to avenge our numerous defeats by Argentina on the football pitch,” he said.

The hulking ring artist said he is familiar with Argentine boxers, having had nine fights in the country. While he is fighting Chiquito for the first time, he, however claimed to be familiar with his strengths and weaknesses through videos of his previous fights.

“I have watched videos of him fighting. I’m taller than he is, meaning I have a longer reach. He likes to get close to his opponents, but I’ll keep him at a distance and punish him once the opportunity arises. He won’t be able to cope with my punches and I’m confident that the fight will not go beyond two rounds,” he bragged. Three other title fights are scheduled to hold at the event. They include a defence of the West African Boxing Union (WABU) lightweight title by Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, who faces Ghana’s Ezekiel Anan; WABU welterweight title defence by Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, who takes on Ghana’s Sanitor Agbenyo; and the national bantamweight title bout between Sadiq “Happy Boy Adeleke and Opeyemi “Sense” Adeyemi.

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Lulu: Jonathan disregarded letters over my travails

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Lulu: Jonathan disregarded letters over my travails

…insists he never stole NFF money

 

Former President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Sani Lulu, has recounted his ordeal during the time he was facing trial for misappropriation of funds, saying he was pained when former President Goodluck Jonathan couldn’t act on his letters, requesting for justice.

Lulu and three other members of the NFF board including late Taiwo Ogunjobi were charged to court for embezzlement and misappropriation of funds but after several years of litigation they were discharged and acquitted.

Lulu said he was unjustly removed as NFF president and his subsequent prosecution broke him and he tried to reach out to President Jonathan to seek redress but it never worked out until the court eventually gave him clean bill of health.

“I was removed illegally and that wouldn’t have happened if FIFA and CAF were  observant enough, it wouldn’t have happened if government was well briefed. But this thing had been pre-determined by those who were hell-bent on removing me.

“I wrote several letters to President Goodluck Jonathan to say I was unfairly treated, I did open letters too. I thank God, about two years ago, under president Muhammadu Buhari, the case was thrown out because there was no merit in all they accused me of,” he said.

He said it was dehumanizing to see that someone who went through so much to develop Nigerian football could be subjected to such treatment.

He insisted that those forces who never wanted  the game to grow in the country were afraid of the progress he was making and ensured that the train of progress was truncated.

“I’m the most accused president of the NFF by virtue of what I have passed through; I am the only former president that has been arraigned by the instrument of court and taken to prison, I was detained at Kuje Prison but at the end of the day I was discharged and acquitted. Nothing was found on me.

“I didn’t steal any money as NFF president, instead Nigeria benefitted from the resources God gave me. When I came in there was a Decree 101 which was not acceptable to FIFA. The election that brought me in 2006 was based on FIFA pre-conditions and the world governing body insisted that six months after the election we must be operating strictly under NFF statutes.

“I came in with a vision to use the power of football for a better future for Nigeria. Some of my colleagues were saying how can we use football to brighten the future of Nigerian when Nigerian football was in darkness. We didn’t even qualify for the World Cup and players had lost hope in the game because we did not even comply with what we usually promise to give them.

“The secretariat was nothing anyone could call an edifice befitting of our football. We had just a 15KVA power generator for a big building. I had a vision and the mandate and I was so determined to use my experience to help Nigerian football and I am happy I was able to achieve all of them despite the financial constraints.

“My first budget was about N3billion which was approved by the Congress and when we went to the National Assembly for our budget they said the envelop they could give NFF was N600m. I was shocked and I said how can we do this when we have about nine national teams. I had a vision to develop football from U-13 level but they said we should concentrate only on Super Eagles who are known to everybody.

“I don’t have a skeleton in my cupboard and I am a man who likes companionship. Growing up, my mum told me if I am left alone in a room that is when I would start crying, I like people around me and I share the little resources I have with them.

He said his passion for the game predated his time at NFF, saying he had displayed more passion for football than his quantity surveying job.

He said: “I joined FCDA in 1991 after my NYSC as a quantity surveyor; I got three juicy appointments in Port Harcourt where I served but my parents said I shouldn’t take any of them because they feared staying back in that city, I would not get married on time.

“I established a club  that year in Abuja; I was the first person to do so in the FCT. Governor El-Rufai who was my classmate at Ahmadu Bello University has said it several times that Lulu only studied QS not because he loves the job but to raise money so as to help the less privileged through football. I am committed to the administration of football more than all of my colleagues that I have been around.”

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Lessons of Joshua’s night of glory

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Lessons of Joshua’s night of glory

Last weekend in Saudi Arabia, Nigerian-born British boxer, Anthony Joshua, put smiles on the faces of Nigerians as he reclaimed the heavyweight boxing belts. Following his defeat by Andy Ruiz Junior in June, his victory last week now made him a two-time world heavyweight champion with a unanimous points victory recorded over Ruiz in a tension-soaked rematch. Ruiz was not close to landing a knockdown and when scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 were read out, Joshua jumped up and down in the ring in jubilation, just as Ruiz did in US six months ago. No doubt, it was a close shave as Joshua’s career was in the balance and a defeat could have been a major setback for him.

After a grueling 12 rounds of movement and well-timed punching, Joshua’s tactical discipline worked for him and his corner as he won back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles. Keen followers of boxing will call Joshua’s tactics ‘stick and move’ while many who have been a fan of the game for long will simply refer to Joshua’s style on the night as Muhammed Ali’s ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’ style. Joshua has a weak jaw and cannot receive much and so because of his reach advantage over his opponent, he danced round the ring to pick his points and avoided heavy jabs from Ruiz. He was a great boxer on the night with smart professional decisions and maximum concentration to get the job done. At 30, Joshua now joins boxing legends like Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Floyd Patterson as boxers to have reclaimed the world heavyweight title. A boxing pundit, Steve Bunce, told the BBC: “AJ was absolutely clinical and he never wasted a shot. That was class and he stuck to his plan.

He got it right in spectacular fashion. He has been steely and nasty.” There are so many angles to the Joshua victory. It shows the never-say-die spirit of the average Nigerian. It also shows that Nigerians can get to the very top with the right mentality, exposure and hard work. He lost the belt and did not give up.

I am particularly happy that he is a proud Nigerian. There is a tattoo of map of Africa etched on his right arm with Nigeria as the only country clear in the continental map. He appeared in videos and adverts to project Nigeria’s image and it is not a surprise that there are moves to bring him ‘home’ to visit President Mohammadu Buhari. Joshua is a role model to thousands of athletes in Nigeria. It is on record that Samuel Peter was also a heavyweight WBC champion. This is enough for the boxing federation to know that there are more Peters and Joshuas in the country. With the right exposure, facilities and good technical men to work with, more quality boxers can come out of Nigeria.

I also recall than in 1964, Nigeria won her first Olympic medal in the boxing event of the Tokyo 64 Games. Joshua has done great to Nigeria’s image and we should look inwards to bring out more of such boxers to rule the world in future. Wrestling, weightlifting, athletics (especially sprints), table tennis, taekwondo are other sports where Nigeria can produce number one athletes in the world. We currently have athletes who are number three, number four in their respective disciplines and so with hard work, they could be number one. After his win, Joshua said he was ready for Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. I strongly disagree. He has to work harder, buy more time by beating some ‘lesser known’ boxers at least for a year before thinking of either of the boxers. Joshua said: “I’m not a running champion, I’m someone who will fight the best in the world. I would love to have the opportunity to either beat Deontay Wilder or beat Tyson Fury.

“I’ve displayed different styles of fighting. I believe I have their number, because I can display a variety of skills when it comes to boxing.” I appreciate his confidence but there must be tactical discipline in dealing with the rest of the world in boxing because it is much more than what we see inside the squared ropes. Congrats AJ, Nigerians are proud of you!

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Injury ended my football career – Chinasa Ukandu

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Injury ended my football career – Chinasa Ukandu

Chinasa Ukandu was the winner of the second edition of the WorldRemit and Arsenal “Future Stars” coaching programme. She coaches boys and girls aged five to 16. Together with her friends, she helps provide young people with an opportunity to develop football and life skills at Help The Talent Academy in Lagos State. In this interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA she said her love for football made her to devote her time to the children. Excerpts…

 

 

 

Could you describe your coaching career?

I’m a football coach and I love working with children, I work with children at Help the Talent Academy. I’m a team player and also involved in the programme called premier skills which is a British Council and English Premier League group programme which has to do with using football as a tool to engage with young people and also to train grassroots coaches all over the world, so basically I’m passionate about working with the children and also how they develop as footballers and also as people.

You look so young and have such a big dream, how did you come about this?

Actually, I was a footballer; I play football because I love playing the game. I played with CAT (Community Action Through sport) from there I progressed to TAP FC, Port Harcourt from where I went to Sunshine Queens. I was with Sunshine Stars when I was invited to the national team in 2013 and it was there I sustained injury that ended my football career and I stopped playing since then. Now, I try to give back to my community with the skills I have acquired.

Was that the reason you decided to move into coaching?

It’s because I love football game and I know that I had a lot to give in terms of playing but because of the injury I knew I couldn’t go higher so I decided to impart what I have into the lives of these young ones, so where I wasn’t able to get to they would be able to get to that level, that’s it.

Could you give a brief insight about the World’s Remit Future Stars programme?

The future stars programme was set up by the WorldRemit and the Arsenal FC and it’s all about recognising and also rewarding the community coaches that are using football as a tool to develop their communities to also impact positively in the lives of young people. Over 1,400 applicants for this year’s edition applied and then the panel of judges selected 20 semifinalists, and it was reduced to eight which was four females and four males. The finalists were chosen through public votes and I was able to come first in the female category.

What’s that your story that gave you that public votes?

Really, it was about my story, I applied with a story and they did a video coverage for documentary of what we did, they looked at the possibility of how you can actually give back to your community and also how you can pass your skills to other community coaches, they looked at the story; how you could do that, I think that was the major reason.

How does it feel emerging tops despite all the oppositions from so many countries and individuals?

Well, it wasn’t easy. I was so excited when I heard I was a winner in the female category, it was really not easy but I’m also honoured and privileged to be a winner. I feel so happy to be declared as a winner in the female category. I hope that this would be a very good platform for me and other coaches; my friends and the children we work with also in our community, this would be a very good opportunity for us to do more things in our community.

What next after award?

Now I’m preparing to go to the UK, to work with the Arsenal Development Football Coaches, and definitely we are going to plan how we can use this to sustain what we do, that’s the next thing; planning to get that new skills, new challenge and bring it back home to Nigeria.

Would you say it was just a game of chance emerging winner?

I don’t really think it was a game of chances, because everybody that applied has one or two things they are doing in their community, so they are also qualified to win but remember I told you it’s all about the public vote, and all about the story behind what you had, what you can give back to more people to gain that skill.

What do you need for the coaching programme in the UK and what’s the duration?

It’s going to last for a week, and we haven’t finalized the date yet; we are actually looking at this month.

Could you share some of the activities that the coaching programme would involve?

Yes, I would be doing a tour in the Emirates Stadium, there would be a personalized training programme with the Arsenal Development coaches and also I’ll have the opportunity to visit World Remit office to do a tour. I’ll also have the opportunity to work with young children in the UK.

What impact do you think this programme can make, can leave in Nigerian coaching sector?

Remember my visit isn’t just going about to look at London, see buildings and come back here. I’m actually going there to gain small skills, to gain experience and also I’ll have the opportunity to plan with the coaches in the Arsenal Development Coaches, to plan how I can be able to give back those skills I learnt over there to the grassroots coaches in my community back home in Nigeria; Lagos specifically. How this can lead to positive impact in the lives of children that we will work with in terms of the way we communicate with the kids, and the way we also react. So definitely this is going to be a very good opportunity, and it’s going to impact more on the kids over here in Nigeria.

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Plateau seek quick response to MatchDay 7 loss to Heartland

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Plateau seek quick response to MatchDay 7 loss to Heartland

After seeing their unbeaten run halted by Heartland at the weekend, Nigeria Professional Football League leaders, Plateau United, will be hoping to return quickly to winning ways when they face FC IfeanyiUbah this weekend in Jos.

The game against Heartland was the first time the former champions would be tasting defeat this current campaign after winning four and drawing two in the previous six games played.

FC IfeanyiUbah on the other hand are currently fifth in the table after securing 11 points from seven matches with three victories, two draws and two losses.

After finally securing their slot in the NPFL, Kwara United will be looking forward to a first home win when they welcome Heartland to Ilorin on Sunday.

Although they have not been doing too well in the league and are currently 17th in the table, a win will help them to restore confidence in the players and the management as a whole.

It will be a battle between two newly promoted sides, Jigawa Golden Stars and Warri Wolves, in Kano on Sunday.

Both are finding the going a little bit tough in the elite division. Although it’s still a long way to go in the season, they must start getting the points if they must retain their NPFL status.

Since the start of this campaign, seven-time champions of the league, Rangers, have been finding it difficult both in the domestic league and also on the continent.

With one win in five matches and three losses,  two of which came on their home ground, the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, Enugu, the team must wake up to reality.

The appointment of Super Eagles assistant coach, Salisu Yusuf, didn’t help matters as the team has lost their last few matches.

The visit to Bauchi to take on Wikki Tourists might be another hard battle for the team as they continue to fight their way up the table.

Newly promoted Akwa Starlets have shown that their performance in the NNL that led to their promotion to the NPFL was not a fluke as they have been in a good form of recent.

They have lost just a game while winning three and drawing three, results that already put them third in the table.

They will however have their hands full when they take on champions Enyimba. Although they will be in defiant mood after recording a 2-1 away win to Rangers recently.

Other matches will see Lobi Stars playing at home against Abia Warriors while MFM will be home against Akwa United.

Rivers United will welcome Katsina United as resurgent Kano Pillars travel to take on whipping boys of the league, Nasarawa United, with Sunshine Stars travelling up North to be the guests of Adamawa United.

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McCracken: I’d like Anthony Joshua to stay around his current weight

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McCracken: I’d like Anthony Joshua to stay around his current weight

Now that Anthony Joshua has regained his heavyweight titles, his trainer intends to keep him around the weight at which he defeated Andy Ruiz Jr.

By weighing in at 237½ pounds for their immediate rematch, the 6-feet-6 Joshua was better able to execute a game plan predicated on him jabbing and moving against a dangerous opponent who upset him by technical knockout in their first fight. The British superstar stayed behind his jab for much of their 12-round fight and mostly moved out of Ruiz’s punching range en route to winning a unanimous decision Saturday night at Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

More was made of Ruiz’s weight gain for their rematch than Joshua’s weight loss. Nevertheless, Joshua dropping 10 pounds from the time of their first fight until their rematch convinced his longtime trainer, Rob McCracken, that this is the weight that best suits the IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion.

“I’d like him to stay around the weight that he is,” McCracken told BoxingScene.com during a post-fight interview. “Obviously, as he gets a little bit older, he’ll gain a little bit. That comes naturally with getting older. But yeah, the weight was good. He had great legs [Saturday night] and we’ll keep him around that weight as long as we can.”

The 30-year-old Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) weighed in at 247¾ pounds for his June 1 fight against Ruiz. Joshua suffered four knockdowns during that stunning TKO defeat.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist hadn’t weighed in as low as he did for the Ruiz rematch since he stepped on a scale at 236½ pounds for his ninth pro fight in October 2014. Joshua was a career-high 254 pounds for his 10th-round stoppage of Carlos Takam in October 2017.

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Ikoyi Club smashers file out for honours in Accra

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Ikoyi Club smashers file out for honours in Accra

The international tennis contest between the Ikoyi Club players and their host, Accra Lawn Tennis Club continues today at the tennis courts of the Ghanaian club.

Rita Nwanye and Aminat Lawal are the female players expected to be in action this evening in Accra.

Also, Jibunor Walter, Ohgunseye Oguniyi, Adedayo Shobitan, Obafemi Olugbenga, Chinedu Okwuosa, Bola Ayorinde, Hilary Eledu and Bimbo Okubena will be on duty in the male cadre of the international tennis fiesta.

Others expected to feature are  Nwaokolo Ekenedilichukwu, Ebhohimen Pascal, Okoronkwo Banabas, Ajayi Olakunle, Effiong Iyang and Alawiye Kolawole.

Chairman of Ikoyi Club 1938, Bimbo Okubena, explained that  the Ghana trip was sponsored by Zenith Bank, Rainoil Ltd. Air Peace, Chief Mike Nwokoni and the members of Ikoyi Club Tennis Section.

“We are truly having fun since we arrived here Thursday morning. We expect great results and also expect to have good exchange of ideas with our friends here in Ghana,”Okubena said.

The International tournament which took place last year in Nairobi, Kenya, is aimed at fostering bilateral business relationship within the ECOWAS region.

The tournament ends on Sunday.

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NBBF/Total National Men Division 1 league gets January, 20 date

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23 teams in the NBBF organised Total National Men Division 1 league will battle for honour and promotion slots to the Premier Division on January 20, 2020. According to information released by the Secretary General of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Afolabi-Oluwayemi Olabisi, in a letter addressed to the clubs, the teams will converge on the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos to battle for the title. Divided into the traditional Atlantic Conference and Savannah Conference, nine teams will compete in the Atlantic Conference made up of teams from the South West, South South and South East geo political zones while the 14 teams from North East, North Central and North West make up the Savannah Conference.

In the Atlantic Conference of the Total National Men Division 1 league, Air Force Warriors (Lagos) will slug it out against O.S Lions (Oshogbo), T. Joba (Akwa Ibom), Comets (Lagos), Police Bombers (Lagos), Impression Academy (Asaba), Brave Heart (Calabar), Camac (Bayelsa) and Oilers (Lagos).

In the Savannah conference, Apa Flames (Otukpo), Dashon Mambas (Abuja0, Kano Pyramid (Kano), Zamfara Shooters (Gusau), Yobe Desert Warriors (Damaturu), AHIP Giants (Kano) and All Stars (Abuja) have all been invited. Others include Jewel Bulls (Gombe), Prison Reformers (Abuja), Taraba Hurricanes (Jalingo), African Patriots (Kaduna), Gboko City Chief (Gboko), Golden Touch (Nasarawa) and Federal Road Safety Commission completes the teams. Teams are expected to arrive on January 19, before the Technical meeting and Total National Men Division 1 league matches the next day. The league will last for a week with teams departing January 27.

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