hen the story of Team Nigeria’s second position outing at the recently concluded Rabat 2019 All Africa Games is being told, the place of athletes from Lagos State and the contribution they made in the success story would not be easily forgotten.
Lagos State has always been the ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Nigerian sports because the state has been known for its sports development programmes, a situation that has made the state grooming ground for athletes for national and international competitions.
Right from the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu down to the present administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the development of sports and the welfare of athletes have always been in the hearts of the state governors who usually give all necessary support to the administrators saddled with the responsibility of managing sports in the state.
There is no doubt that the gains of International Badminton Classics, the monthly Boxing Hall of Fame Show, the ITTF Nigeria Open Challenge Plus and numerous developmental school sports programmes of the Lagos State Sports Commission are adding values not only in sports in the state, but Nigeria as a whole.
This was evident in what happened at the Rabat Games last month with the contribution some of the athletes from Lagos State made to the total number of medals hauled by Team Nigeria to finish second at the continental championship.
Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Godwin Olofia’s inspired Nigerian badminton team won a team gold medal in Morocco, the first to be won by Nigeria when the Games started. Anuoluwapo overall won 2 gold and 1 silver medal, while another Lagos athlete, Godwin Olofia won 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze for Team Nigeria.
In the men’s doubles, the duo of Anuoluwapo and Godwin won silver medal, while in the women’s singles Lagos’ Dorcas Adesokan and Sofiat Obanishola won silver and bronze medals respectively
Dorcas Adesokan paired Deborah Ukeh to settle for silver medal in the women’s doubles event.
Anuoluwapo is Nigeria and Africa’s number one in badminton, while Godwin is rated number three in Nigeria. The pair of Anuoluwapo and Godwin are Africa’s number one in the men’s doubles.
Two Team Lagos boxers, Afeez Osoba (male) and Ayisat Oriyomi (female) representing Nigeria at 2019 All Africa Games won 1 silver and 1 bronze medal in the 69kg and 51kg categories respectively.
Afeez Osoba was a gold medallist in 69kg event in the last Abuja 2018 National Sports Festival. He is currently in the second position in African boxing. Ayisat Oriyomi on the other hand is a gold medallist at the Abuja 2018 National Festival, while she is in the third position on the continent. Record shows that Oriyomi was two times Governor’s Belt winner in 2013 and 2018. Governor’s Belt is an annual boxing championship usually hold every Boxing Day to determine Lagos boxing champions in both the female and male categories every year. Oriyomi also won gold medal at the Eko 2012 National Sports Festival.
In weightlifting, Adijat Adenike Olarinoye, a Lagos athlete, won 2 gold and 1 silver medals in the 55kg (Clean and Jack respectively. She broke the All Africa Games record. ). Olarinoye has been an outstanding lifter. She won 3 silver medals at the year 2018 National Sports Festival (NSF) held in Abuja (snatch, clean and Jack and as well as Total in 55kg)
The same success story was recorded in table tennis where unfavoured Lagos’ Olajide Omotayo, representing Team Nigeria, conquered three of the best players in Africa in the table tennis event to be crowed the champion.
From the quarterfinal stage, Omotayo worked his way to the final beating two former champions – Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh and Nigeria’s Segun Toriola – in the quarterfinal and semifinal stages.
The final produced the best of Africa with Aruna Quadri going up against Omotayo and the fans were treated to an exciting match.
Omotayo threw caution to the wind and raced to the lead with a 3-0 (13-11, 11-9, 16-14) but experienced Quadri cut the lead to 3-2 with 8-11, 13-15 wins in the fourth and fifth games.
The sixth match was a display of energy and skills and it was the younger Omotayo that scaled through with 12-10 win to claim the second gold medals for Nigeria in the table tennis event of the multi-sports fiesta.
Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, who alongside some top management staff of the Commission, including the Director General Oluwatoyin Gafar, were in Rabat to watch proceedings of the All Africa Games. He commended Anuoluwapo and Omotayo for their ‘golden’ performance. He said they are not only good ambassadors of Nigeria, but they also made Lagos state proud.
“Jide Omotayo, a player groomed and developed through the Lagos State sports system, has shown that with determination, commitment and discipline, you can get to the top. We are proud of him and wish him the very best,” Tandoh said.
“Anu has continued to blossom in his badminton career. A product of Lagos State and one of the success stories of the annual Lagos International Badminton Classics, Anu’s focus, humility and discipline has seen him rise to the top of African Badminton. For him, I am sure that this is just a stepping stone to greater success in his career,” the Executive Chairman said..
Lagos State Sports Commission, known for its proactive approach to the issue of development of athletes through the approval of the Governor, used the long holiday of the students in the state to organise a Lagos Sports Summer Camp. The idea behind the Camp, according to Mr.Gafar was to introduce the chosen sports (Athletics, Table-tennis, Basketball, Taekwondo, Judo, Swimming, Squash and Volleyball) to students who have shown interest, for them to make use of the opportunity to become future stars not only for Lagos but also for Nigeria.
“After the camping exercise, some identified talents will be selected for further coaching and mentoring,” Gafar said.
Like the popular saying that ‘the Future is Now’, Lagos recognises that to better the future, all hands must be on deck to prepare for the future now.
Osimhen wins French Player of the Month award
Lille’s Nigeria international Victor Osimhen has been named September’s French Ligue 1 Player of the Month.
The 20-year-old striker, who joined the club in August from Belgian side RSC Charleroi, scored twice and provided two assists in five matches last month as Lille climbed into the top five.
“It’s been an amazing time at this club and to get this award is surreal,” Osimhen told BBC Sport.
“I’m grateful to those who voted, thankful to my teammates, our backroom staff and the entire Lille fans for the love.
“I never expected this to happen so soon but I guess this is what comes when you are surrounded by great players, loved ones and the blessings of God.”
Osimhen saw off the challenges of Monaco’s Algerian international Islam Slimani and veteran Nantes defender Nicolas Pallois to the monthly honour awarded by the Player’s Union (UNFP).
He succeeds Angola-born Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, who won the August award and became the youngest ever winner at the age of 16.
An incredible two months for Osimhen in the colours of Lille has resulted in eight goals in 11 appearances for the northern club.
He also scored on his full debut for Nigeria in a 2-2 friendly draw against Ukraine in September.
Osimhen was the top scorer as Nigeria clinched a fifth Under-17 World Cup title in 2015 with 10 goals in Chile, which saw him win the Golden Boot and Silver Ball.
After the tournament he decided against joining English side Arsenal, to sign with the 2009 German champions Wolfsburg in January 2016, but injuries and lack of opportunities restricted him to 16 appearances for the club in all competitions before moving to Belgium.
Osimhen was also part of the Nigeria side that won the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal in November 2015, which also qualified them for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
His exploits saw him crowned the 2015 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Youth Player of the Year.
He has played for Nigeria at all levels, from Under-17 to the full senior side, for whom he has won seven caps.
Chukwueze has potential to be great – Elaho
A former Super Eagles left winger, Friday Elaho, has paid glowing tribute to Samuel Chukwueze, a player whose style reminds fans of the retired winger’s dazzling runs down the left channel in his heyday in the national team. Elaho stated that the young winger has the potential to be great if he continues to play the way he does at the moment.
Chukwueze, who has been a revelation since breaking into the national team at July’s African Cup of Nations in Egypt where the Super Eagles picked a bronze medal, also dazzled in the international friendly match against Brazil on Sunday, and Elaho noted that this is just a sign of things to come.
“Chukwueze is a great prospect and if he continues on this trajectory, he has a good career ahead of him. You can see the way he plays, he has no fear; he carries the ball to the opponents and causes confusion through the left flank. That is also the way he plays in Villarreal and he has transferred that to the national team,” the ex-Eagles star stated.
Elaho who was a member of the Super Eagles side that won a silver medal at the AFCON in Algeria in 1990, however advised the 20-year-old star to be calm at all times and not get carried away by his early success.
He said: “My only advice to him is to be hardworking and calm. Those are very important elements in a successful football career. He can’t afford to be carried away at this stage in his career. If he remains committed and focused, he will have a great career.”
The former Bendel Insurance and Brondy of Denmark star also took time to assess the current Super Eagles following their penultimate friendly match against Ukraine and the recent one against Brazil. Both matches ended in draws with the team putting up good performances on both occasions.
“The current team is good, and another thing they have going for them is that they are very young. In another two to three years, they will be more mature and that is when we will see the best of them. My only hope is that they remain consistent,” Elaho added.
Osimhen valued at 48m Euros
Victor Osimhen is “the sensation of the moment” in the French Ligue 1 and this could well see his club Lille sell him for a staggering 48 million Euros or more, according to a top commentator.
Osimhen reportedly cost Lille 12 million Euros when he switched in the summer from Belgian club Sporting Charleroi.
A total of eight goals in all competitions including the UEFA Champions League could now see the striker make a big money move soon.
“The club (Lille) are already rubbing their hands because if he continues like this, the clubs will stand in line for him at the end of the season,” French football expert Sirik Geffray told Sporza.
“You know how English clubs are, for example. Then his price of 12 million Euros could be three or four times.”
He added: “He is the sensation of the moment .
“A striker who has not yet turned 21 and who did not have to struggle when he made the switch from Belgium to France, where he was expected to first learn the ropes.
“The talk now is that he is already ready for a step higher because he is already a finished article.”
Leading Spanish sports newspaper AS have already reported that Osimhen tops FC Barcelona shopping list as a replacement for Luis Saurez.
Amapakabo picks Ezenwa, Ibrahim, 18 others for Togo
Head Coach Imama Amapakabo has unveiled a list of 20 home –based professionals to take on Togo’s Sparrow Hawks in Saturday’s 2020 African Nations Championship qualifying final leg in Lagos.
Super Eagles’ goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa tops the list, with Nasarawa United’s stormy forward Sunusi Ibrahim and Akwa United’s Ndifreke Effiong, who netted a brace for the U23 team in the 5-0 defeat of Sudan in Asaba in September, also selected.
Kano Pillars’ ace Nyima Nwagua, Fatai Gbadamosi of Shooting Stars and Lobi Stars’ trio of Ebube Duru, Sikiru Alimi and John Lazarus make the list, alongside goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar of Wikki Tourists and Enugu Rangers’ Anthony Shimaga are included.
Nigeria have a mountain to surmount at the Agege Stadium, Lagos on Saturday, with Togo having won the first leg by a handsome 4-1 scoreline in Lome.
20 EAGLES TO WRESTLE DOWN SPARROW HAWKS
Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Adamu Abubakar (Wikki Tourists); Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC); Nwagua Nyima (Kano Pillars); Stephen Manyo (Enyimba FC); Ifeanyi Nweke (Kano Pillars); Ifeanyi Anaemena (Enyimba FC); John Lazarus (Lobi Stars); Reuben Bala (Enyimba FC); Ifeanyi Nweke (Kano Pillars); Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars); Daniel James (Plateau United); Sikiru Alimi (Lobi Stars); Olisah Ndah (Remo Stars); Anthony Shimaga (Rangers International); Fatai Gbadamosi (Shooting Stars); Ibrahim Olawonye (Rangers International); Ndifreke Effiong (Akwa United); Samuel Mathias (Akwa United); Sunusi Ibrahim (Nasarawa United); Mfon Udoh (Akwa United).
Badminton: Nigeria’s top players begin battle for Olympic points
Nigeria and Africa’s top players – Dorcas Adesokan, Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Godwin Olofua – will begin their quest for Olympic qualification today at the 2019 Egypt International tournament.
The tournament serves off today but the trio will join the action tomorrow in the main draw in the round of 32. The competition ends on Sunday, October 20.
Adesokan (Africa’s number one female player), Opeyori (Africa’s number one male players) and Nigeria’s second best men player, Olofua, will all play in the Singles event, while Opeyori and Olofua will also do battle in the Men’s Double.
After the Cairo tournament, the Nigerian stars will move to Algiers to take part in the 2019 Algeria International Championship holding from October 24 to 27 after which they will return home.
The quest continues with a tight and physically demanding schedule to the Cameroon International November 14 to 17), Scottish Open (November 20 to 24), Zambian International from November 28 to December 1) and a host of other meets in South Africa, Italy, Sweden among others.
According to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, this drive is to ensure that the players garner as much ranking points as possible to stay in contention in the race for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The players, who have expressed preparedness for the rigorous and demanding tasks ahead, have assured the BFN of their determination to give their best at the tournaments.
Opeyori stated that they were ready for the task ahead while commending the BFN for believing in the players to deliver the goods. He said that playing and doing well in many tournaments would help them garner enough points to hopefully make it to Tokyo.
“I am hopeful that the three of us will make it to Tokyo. We are prepared for the task ahead and we have trained hard. All we need do is give our best at these tournaments,” Opeyori stated.
The BFN is leaving no stone unturned in the all-important mission of securing spots in the Tokyo Olympics.
Zenith Bank Women Basketball League: Final 8 starts in Lagos today
The Final 8 of the 2019 Zenith Bank Women Basketball League starts on Friday (today) at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
This is the fourth stage of the women Basketball league which is wearing a new look this year with a fresh format introduced by the Musa Kida –led board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation.
Four centres- Abuja, Zaria, Ibadan and Akure hosted the first two phases with 27 teams on parade while Ibadan and Abuja hosted the third phase which was the Atlantic and savannah conference centres. Eight teams were in each of the conferences and the best four in each of the conferences made it to the final.
The defending champions, First Bank of Lagos, remain unbeaten in the current campaign from the Atlantic Conference and they led the four teams from Ibadan. Other are MFM, Dolphins and Asaba-based Delta Force.
In the Savannah Conference played in Abuja, Air Warriors stayed true to their name as they defeated all seven oppositions to qualify for the National Finals on a high while Customs finished second.
Zenith Bank sponsored league debutants, Blackgold Queens, and Plateau Rocks will also be in Lagos for the finals.
The Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has congratulated all the qualifiers for the final phase.
Onyeagwu said: “All those in Lagos for the finals are winners because other who fell in earlier stages would have loved to be in the final.
“As sponsors in the past 15 years, we will continue to provide the enabling environment through the league to boost women’s basketball in the country. “We are happy that D’Tigress have won the Afrobasket back-to-back with some of those who featured in this competition and we expect more players to enter the national team through this league.” The two finalists of the Final 8 will qualify for the 2019 FIBA Africa Zone 3 Champions Cup qualifiers to be hosted in Cotonou, Benin Republic later this month.
Mikel: Eagles blessed with talented youngsters
Former Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi has said the current players in the team can withstand any challenges, tipping them to rank among the best in a foreseeable future.
The former Chelsea player quits international football after helping the side win a bronze medal at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The former Tianji Teda skipper said he had to call it quit with the Eagles so as to allow younger generation of players to thrive.
He expressed confidence when he spoke with Trabzonspor’s official magazine, that the current Super Eagles were hungry and determined to make the nation proud.
“We currently have very talented young players. They’re all bright. I think these players can handle the challenges. I had to make room for them, besides; I don’t have many years for football in front of me. I want to focus on my team in the remaining period,” he said.
”I served the national team for 13 years, most of them as captain. In this period, we achieved significant successes as a team,” he added.
In all, the former Chelsea star made 89 appearances, scoring six goals for the senior national team.
Lagos Open Tennis: Genesis Academy to organise clinic/tournament for youths
Nigerian youths are to enjoy moments of training and tournament in the ongoing 2019 Lagos Open Tennis at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan courtesy of the partnership between the Local Organising Committee and Genesis Tennis Academy, Arizona, USA.
Convener of the youth clinic, former Nigerian tennis champion, Jonathan Igbinovia, told journalists on Thursday that the clinic and mini tournament became very important in order to bring back the lost glory of the sport as was in his playing days in Nigeria before he retired.
According to him, the LOC of the Lagos Open Tennis is supporting the project by creating a platform for the youth to train and compete during the ITF World Tour.
“About 80 youths will take part in the clinic, which will be in two stages. The first stage will be a two-day training between Thursday and Friday, while a mini tournament for these youths to showcase what they have learnt will hold between Saturday and Sunday. They will be given prizes and we are planning to expose winners to international training at the Genesis Tennis Academy in Arizona.
“We are expecting players from ages 10, 12, 14 and 16 years and I want to assure that the participants will live to remember what they would have learnt during the clinic,” Igbinovia said.
He called on Nigerians to support the project just like the LOC of the Lagos Open Tennis has done, adding that tennis techniques are better impacted on players at their tender ages.
Kano Pillars, Safety Babes win Prudent Energy Handball League
Kano Pillars and Safety Babes were crowned champions of the Prudent Energy Handball Premier League on Wednesday evening at the Rowe Park Sports Center, Yaba, Lagos. Pillars defeated De Defenders 29-21 to win the male category of the league with 38 points, two points above Safety Shooters who defeated erstwhile defending champion Niger United 34-29 to finish on second position with 36 points. A disappointed Niger United finished fourth with 34 point same as Lagos Seasiders who piped them to the third position with better goal difference.
D. Defenders finished fifth with 31 points, COAS Shooters finished 6th with 25 points, Plateau Vipers finished seventh in the league with 17 points while Kada Stars finished eighth with 16 points. Borno Spiders finished 9th with 12 points while Owena Kings and Prison Key Boys are the bottom placed teams.
For the female category, Safety Babes celebrated winning the title after defeating erstwhile defending champion Plateau Peacocks 31-29 in what was a pulsating game. The FRSC ladies finished first on the log with 32 points, while Plateau finished third with 29 points. Edo Dynamos finished second with 30 points as they played a 31-31 draw with Ghana Police in a match that didn’t have any significance on the league standing.
Benin monarch launches cultural golf wears
Overwhelmed by a huge Nigerian golfing society which presently embraces some 3.5 million golfers, the Director General of the National Council of Arts and Culture Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, is of the opinion that the game must have a distinct identity.
To ensure this happens, Runsewe who over the years has given golf an aura of dominance among other sports in Nigeria, has since stepped up to create cultural golf wears that would over time kick to the sidewalk foreign wears from Nike, Adidas and Footjoy.
Even the weekend hackers who miss more tourney ‘cuts’ than a drunk surgeon would marvel at the exceptionally cool wears which are solely created from a rare mix of ‘tie and dye’ and batik fabrics which all come in glowing colours. No doubt, this kit would rev the golf crowd to the level of fanaticism.
And what is more, the cultural golf wears would be officially launched on Saturday, October 26 during the grand closing ceremony of National Cultural Festival ongoing in Benin by no other person than the revered Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare 11.
Hear Runsewe whose devotion to golf over the years has not wavered: “when others agonize over ideas, self doubt has never crossed my mind. I only viewed the Nigerian golf and quickly knew it by heart that it was huge enough to have its own identity. This is reason I could delve into this venture and I can assure you that in another two years these wears would be established in golf circles across the country and elsewhere around the world. The good thing about this project is that it will leave behind a bold statement that Nigeria as a nation is culturally endowed”.
Runsewe equally disclosed that he has since presented the golf cultural apparel to prominent golfers across the country, including the President of the 6th and 7th Senate, Senator David Mark.
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