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D’Tigers closing gap on world basketball elites

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D’Tigers closing gap on world basketball elites

Apparently, Nigeria’s men’s basketball team D’Tigers have come a long way from THAT defeat to the United States of America at the London 2012 Olympics.

In what was one of the most one-sided games in Olympic history, the United States, led in scoring by the red-hot Carmelo Anthony (37 points), battered Nigeria 156-73. It was a humiliating blowout but it was not entirely unexpected.

D’Tigers were up against an all-star cast that included National Basketball Association superstars like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Anthony and James Harden. The Nigerians stood a snowball’s chance in hell and they got properly roasted.

Maybe the points difference was a little more than was expected, but no one was in doubt that the US were going to win by a big margin. That was the level D’Tigers were back then.

Of course, you would still back the US team to comfortably beat Nigeria at the moment, but you wouldn’t bet on a 40-point blowout. D’Tigers have made some progress and it is showing at the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup ongoing in China.

Also, back at the 2012 Olympics, D’Tigers lost to Argentina (93-79) and Lithuania (72-53), and finished 10th out of 12 tteas, beating only fellow Africans Tunisia (60-56).

The 2016 Olympics was a bit of a mixed bag for the Nigerians. They lost to Argentina by a wider margin than four years previously (94-66) but got closer to Lithuania (89-80) and then surprisingly beat Croatia (90-76). However, defeats to hosts Brazil (86-69) and Spain (96-87) meant D’Tigers finished 11th out of 12 teams in Rio.

Apart from the victory over Croatia, who later defeated Lithuania, none of D’Tigers’ results was unexpected. These were big teams that Nigeria, even as African champions, were seen as inferior to.

But that has changed in the last few years. D’Tigers are now expected to stand up to some of the world’s best teams and not be intimidated.

Despite having to practically go down on their knees in order to raise funds for their trip to China, and in spite of the crisis in the Nigeria Basketball Federation board, D’Tigers went into the World Cup not as whipping boys.

With an impressive roster that includes three NBA players and other stars based in Europe and Asia, as well as the vast experience of captain Ike Diogu, D’Tigers are no longer expected to roll over against top opponents.

And after winning the Peak Invitational tournament just before the World Cup tipped off, D’Tigers served notice that they were a team on the rise.

At the pre-World Cup tournament, coach Alex Nwora’s boys, ranked 33rd in the world, first defeated Montenegro (world no.28) 89-86 before beating world no.25 Poland 87-84 to win the Peak trophy.

Even before the Peak tournament, D’Tigers had secured warm-up victories over Dominican Republic (world no.18) and Canada (world no.23).

It’s a measure of their growth that D’Tigers’ defeats to world basketball powers Russia and Argentina were received with disappointment in Nigerian basketball circles.  At the very least, these people felt Nigeria should have won one of these games.

D’Tigers were ranked seventh in the Power Rankings (based on current form) of the World  Cup teams just days to the tournament. They were ranked higher than both Argentina and Russia, even Lithuania and Brazil. That’s how good the Nigerians were going into the World Cup.

In the painful defeat to Russia, D’Tigers kept up with the European giants before finally succumbing to an 82-77 loss. The 2015 African champions also put up a brave fight against Argentina, tying the game in the second quarter, before going down to a 94-81 defeat.

The setback against Russia and Argentina however did not dampen the spirits of the Nigerian lads. They didn’t let their heads drop as they took South Korea apart in their final group game, winning impressively 108-66. That is their biggest ever winning margin against a non-African team.

The victory over South Korea has given D’Tigers a shot at playing for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and with the level they have risen to in recent months, it would take a brave man to bet against this talented bunch.

Hopefully, they will make it to Tokyo and take that next step of actually beating some of the top teams.

It is definitely not beyond these brave young Nigerians. There is still some way to go to catch up with the big boys but the trajectory is promising.

If D’Tigers could be this impressive amid the chaos of late release of funds, a divided NBBF board and the general Nigerian shodiness, who’s to say they would not that next elite level with proper funding and an ideal preparation.

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It’s make-or-break for U-23 team

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It’s make-or-break for U-23 team

…as Amapakabo gets Okechukwu, Awoniyi boost for Zambia

 

After a disappointing 1-0 defeat suffered against Cote d’Ivoire in the opening match of the ongoing U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the Nigerian U-23 team players are sentenced to win their second group match today against Zambia.

The competition also serves as the qualifier for the football event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and a win is required for the team to bounce back on track in the race for the three tickets to the games.

On the other hand, a draw could place the country’s chances on a cliff hanger while another defeat will send the team out of the competition and out of the contest for a berth at the Tokyo Games football event.

Already, Coach Imama Amapakabo has received boosts for Tuesday’s battle with the arrivals in camp of team captain Azubuike Okechukwu and star forward Taiwo Awoniyi.

The absence of the duo was greatly felt in the opening game of Group B that the defending champions lost by the odd goal to Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday, and Amapakabo is confident their arrival will spur his squad to a better performance against the Zambians.

“I am happy we now have Awoniyi and our captain, Azubuike. They are integral to the team and were influential in our qualifying matches. We will throw everything into the game against Zambia because we have left ourselves no choice at this point.

“I believe we have the team to not only overcome Zambia but go all the way in the tournament. We stumbled against the Ivorians but we have learnt from that and we now look forward to rescuing our campaign against the Zambians and South Africans.”

Former U-17 World Cup winner Awoniyi, who plays for FSV Mainz 05 in the German top division, landed in Cairo late on Sunday, while Turkey-based Okechukwu, who also captained the Class of 2015 and to the gold medal in Senegal, arrived in the early hours of Monday.

Okechukwu’s midfield partnership with Kelechi Nwakali was impactful in the handsome home wins over Libya and Sudan in the qualifying series, while Awoniyi got the important opener and also created chances in the defeat of Sudan that landed the Olympic Eagles in Egypt. 

Nigeria take on Zambia at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Tuesday in a game they must pick up the maximum points to return to contention for a place in the semifinals of the competition, ahead of their clash with South Africa on Tuesday.

Only the top three finishers at the U-23 AFCON will qualify to fly Africa’s flag at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo, Japan next year.

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Sports Minister to adopt 8-year-old boxer, Shekinah

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Sports Minister to adopt 8-year-old boxer, Shekinah

Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare,  has pledged to adopt an eight-year-old Nigerian female boxer, Shekinah, after watching the youngster displaying her talent at a championship in Lagos.

Dare stated this while posting a video of the female boxer named Shekinah training with her coach. In the video posted by Mr Sunday Dare, it can be seen how hard the coach of the girl was training her and she was also responding in a superb fashion.

Dare on his  Twitter handle explained that he has spoken with Shekinah’s father in Lagos on how she can help her develop her talent.

Dare also made it clear that he has spoken with the coach of the young female boxer Sulaiman with the option of getting her adopted.

The minister said: “Amazing stuff, brilliant boxing. The gold is in the child. I spoke with her father, Quadri in Lagos and her Coach Sulaiman ‘Energy’ to find out about her.  We will follow up on her and get her adopted.’

Since Sunday Dare replaced Solomon Dalung as Sports Minister , he has demonstrated many times how ready he is to take Nigerian Sports to a great height.

He has also made it clear that his major focus is not on football but all the Sporting activities in Nigeria.

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AFCON qualifiers: Eagles’ camp bubbles as 14 players train in Uyo

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AFCON qualifiers: Eagles’ camp bubbles as 14 players train in Uyo
  • Chukwueze, Aribo, seven others to arrive today

 

The Super Eagles’ camp in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State came alive on Monday as 14 players including captain Ahmed Musa trained ahead of Wednesday’s African Cup of Nations qualifying match against benin Republic slated for Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Wednesday.

The Media Director of the Nigeria Football federation Ademola Olajire said in a press statement that that apart from Musa, goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi and Maduka Okoye, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem, Olaoluwa Aina, Jamilu Collins and Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, midfielders Alex Iwobi, Ramon Azeez and Wilfred Ndidi, and forwards Samuel Kalu and Victor Osimhen were the other players who trained on the grounds of the Ibom Meridien Hotel and Resort on Monday evening.

Olajire also revealed that nine other players wetre being expected on Tuesday morning are defenders William Ekong and Abdullahi Shehu, midfielders Mikel Agu and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, and forwards Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Paul Onuachu and Emmanuel Dennis.

Coach Gernot Rohr will have the full complement of his squad in training when they file out for the evening session at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.

Meanwhile, Rohr has called up Enyimba FC defence stalwart Ifeanyi Anaemena as replacement for Bryan Idowu.

The NFF said Idowu pulled out of the AFCON qualifiers because he was yet to retrieve his  international passport which he submitted for renewal and the document is not ready for him to travel to Nigeria for the encounter.

Anaemena was impressive for the Eagles B in their 2020 African Nations Championship qualifier against Togo at the Agege Stadium last month, and has also been a key player for Enyimba, two –time CAF Champions League winners, as they reached the group phase of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup competition.

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Pinnick gives Rohr conditions for contract renewal

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Pinnick gives Rohr conditions for contract renewal

…says coach must stay in Nigeria, monitor league for talents

 

The Nigeria Football Federation has said it is opened to renewing the contract of Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr if the German tactician was ready to accept a new condition of service.

There have been insinuations the NFF is not ready to renew the coach’s contract when it expires next June but  President Amaju Pinnick has downplayed that saying they are opened to continue working with Rohr only if the German will agree to new clauses that would be inserted into a contract they are about to table before the German.

Pinnick said Rohr must be ready to stay and work in Nigeria instead of living in France and saunter into the country only when the Eagles have engagements.

He said the coach must also be ready to watch league games so as to discover talents that will eventually make the grade for the national team.

“He needs to move around, watch some of the league games. We are not saying take a player from here and bring him to the Super Eagles immediately,” he said in a live interview with Channels Television on Monday morning.

“Rohr’s contract is due for renewal in June and we don’t have any issue with him at the moment,” Pinnick stated in a live interview with Channels Television on Monday morning.

”Contracts are classified documents . What we are going to do is strengthen the clauses in his contract. We are going to domesticate Gernot Rohr in Nigeria and domesticate him to our leagues, that’s just it.”

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Delta Principals’ Cup: Zenith Bank boosts last four teams with new kits

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Delta Principals’ Cup: Zenith Bank boosts last four teams with new kits

Sponsors of the ongoing Principals Cup Football Competition for secondary schools in Delta State, Zenith Bank, has boosted the morale of the semifinalists in the 2019 edition of the competition.

The semifinals of the developmental tournament take place on Wednesday in two different centres in the state.

The last four teams – Zappa Secondary School, Asaba from Oshimili South LG, Destiny Secondary School from Ughelli North LG, College of Commerce from Warri South LG and Okotie-Eboh Government School from the Sapele LG- are to get new set of Zenith Bank branded jerseys. Twenty pairs of quality boots were given to all the teams in the last eight stage.

Head of the Technical Committee of the competition, Lucky Sunday, said the gesture was not a new thing.

Sunday said: “We did the same thing in the quarterfinal and also in the opening ceremony. Twenty pairs of boots and 20 jerseys were given to each of the teams that took part in the opening ceremony. We will do the same for the two teams that will qualify for the final.

“Zenith Bank and Delta State Government have been wonderful to these young lads. They are all eager to play and win. For us, the motive is to make these players get used to the proper way of getting involved in football in all aspects.”

The semifinal pairings will see Zappa at war with Destiny secondary school at the Kwale Township Stadium while the encounter between College of Commerce and Okoti-Eboh Government school will take place at the Ughelli Township Stadium.

The two matches take place simultaneously at 2pm on Wednesday.

The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary School Education in Delta State, Chief Patrick Ukah, expressed delight over the progress of  the competition

“I am happy about the general operations of the competition and this is because we have capable hands in all areas in the Local Organising Committee,” Ukah said.

The competition, revived three years ago courtesy of a partnership arrangement between the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration and Zenith Bank, started in September with over 850 registered schools.

The final of the competition is scheduled to take place at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on November 21.

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D’Tigress players storm Maputo

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D’Tigress players storm Maputo

D’Tigress camp came alive on Sunday as players and coaches reported to their base in Maputo for the 2020 pre Olympics qualifiers coming up in Mozambique between November 14 to 17.

The team comprising of returnee, Atosu Upe, 2019 Afrobasket Most Valuable Player Ezinne Kalu, Promise Anumakara, Atonye Nyingifa, Sarah Imovbioh and Evelyn Akhator were received by the coaching crew led by Otis Hughley.

Elo Edeferioka who was called up by Otis to replace Elizabeth Balogun who could not make the pre-qualifiers has also reported to Maputo.

Others who reported to camp include Jasmine Nwajei, Adaora Elonu, Aisha Balarabe, Ify Ibekwe, Victoria Macaulay and Pallas Kunnayi-Akpannah who may be making her debut for Nigeria if selected in the final 12-man roaster.

Nigeria is grouped alongside Host- Mozambique and DR Congo in Group A while Senegal will compete against Angola and Mali in Group B.

The team will have its first training session on Monday ahead the event starting on Thursday, 13th of November.

According to FIBA, three teams from Africa will join 14 other teams from Europe, Asia and the Americas to fight for the 10 slots on offer at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

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Marylove, Abua win Abuja J5 ITF titles

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Marylove, Abua win Abuja J5 ITF titles

Top seed, Marylove Edwards, overcame Blanche Minet of Ivory Coast 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 to win the girl’s title while Canice Abuse edged Musa Mohammed 7-6, 6-3 in an all-Nigeria affair to claim the boy’s title as the first leg of the NTF International Junior Championships was concluded over the weekend in Abuja.

Edwards, who was competing in her first ITF Junior title, triumphed after over two hours to claim her maiden ITF Junior title. And it was the same for Abua as he puts up a resolute display to beat fellow Nigerian, Mohammed.

Edwards and Abua thus became the third and fourth Nigerians to win an ITF junior title this year after Oyinlomo Quadre (Megrine, Tunisia, in April,and Cotonou in September) and Abayomi Philips (Accra, Ghana, in August).

NTF President Ifedayo Akindoju expressed delight over the performance of Nigerians with the country stretching it’s ITF Circuit triumph this year. He however pointed out there’s room for improvements.

Minet, though, drew first blood, breaking Edwards’ opening service game for 1-0. Momentum shifts would characterize the first set, with Edwards leading 3-2 and Minet finding an edge later on to break for 5-4. The Ivorian, however, couldn’t serve the set out, leaving Edwards to break right back and then, take the next two games to close out the set.

The top seed however lost her way in the second set, as Minet opened a 5-2 lead before going on to secure the set.

The decisive final set had the US-based Edwards, who had a day earlier paired Minet to claim the doubles title, raised her game to eventually prevailed.

For the boys title, Abua wrapped up a superb week in which he didn’t drop a set, with a straight set victory over Mohammed.

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini: Organisers assure fans of adequate security

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini:  Organisers assure fans of adequate security

Flykite Productions, organisers of the maiden edition of GOtv Boxing Night Mini, have assured fans going to the event on Saturday of adequate security. The boxing show holds at the Rowe Park Sports Complex, Yaba, Lagos. Speaking on the event, Jenkins Alumona, Managing Director, Flykite Promotions, said necessary arrangements have been put in place to ensure the safety of the boxers, officials and the fans at the event venue. “Preparations have been put in place regarding top-level security.

This is the inaugural edition of GOtv Boxing Night Mini and it is important that from this very edition we prioritize the security of everyone who will be at the venue,” he said. GOtv Boxing Night Mini will feature five potential explosive bouts. Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, reigning West African Boxing Union (WABU) lightweight champion, will square off against Ola Adebakin in a national lightweight challenge; and Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, West African Boxing Union (WABU) welterweight champion, will take on Dennis “The Range” Mba in a national welterweight challenge. Other bouts are a national cruiserweight challenge between Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi and Tunji “Germani” Olajide; and a national light welterweight challenge between Waheed “Showmax” Shogbamu and Semiu “Jagaban” Olopade.

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Squirrels’ delegation arrives Uyo for Eagles

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Squirrels’  delegation arrives Uyo for Eagles

The delegation of the Senior Men National Team of Benin Republic, known as Squirrels, will land in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s 2021 AFCON qualifying duel with the Super Eagles.

Both teams clash at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in the Day One encounter of the qualifying campaign as from 5pm on Wednesday. The two teams were also part of the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt, with Nigeria winning the bronze medals while Benin Republic famously defeated Morocco while holding their own against Cameroon and Ghana.

Players of the Super Eagles began arriving in Uyo on Sunday, with defender Kenneth Omeruo and utility player Samuel Kalu among the early birds at the Ibom Meridien Hotel and Resorts.

CAF has named Senegalese official Issa Sy as referee for the match, to be assisted by compatriots Nouha Bangoura (assistant referee 1), El Hadji Abdoul Aziz Gueye (assistant referee 2) and Fatou Thioune (fourth official).

The Day 1 clash in the qualifying series will also see Munkaila Nassam Adam from Ghana as match commissioner while Kria Samir Bouzareah from Algeria will play the role of referee assessor.

The match officials arrived in Uyo on Monday.

Cameroon is the designated host nation for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

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Ogunkoya emerges S’ West Athletics Association boss

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Ogunkoya emerges  S’ West Athletics  Association boss

Reigning African 400m record holder (49.10secs), Chief Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotayo (MON) has been chosen as the chairperon of the South West Athletics Association (SWAA) while the chairman of Ekiti Athletics Association, Mr Samuel Fatunla, was chosen as the Technical Director.

The SWAA, a body comprising of all chairmen of Athletics Associations in the six South West State of Nigeria and south west members on the board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) met in Lagos at the weekend and in a communique after the meeting,it was unanimously resolved that Ogunkoya-Omotayo,the two-time Olympic medallist who was voted the best quartermiler in the world in 1998 should continue as the association’s chairperson while chairman of Lagos State Athletics Association, Dr Solomon Alao who hosted the meeting will serve as the director of marketing/sponsorship with Dr Isaac Ogada,chairman of Oyo State Athletics Association and Mr Dare Esan, the editor of Complete Sports serving as the Secretary and Media director respectively.

The association also appointed Elder Ademola Adigun,Chairman of Osun State Athletics Association as Treasurer while Honourable Olamide George,the South West representative who also doubles as the vice president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria will serve as its leader.

The association thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Mr Sunday Dare,a bonafide son of the son as Minister for Youth and Sports Development and pledged to give the Minister total support to ensure he succeeds in his assignment.

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