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Gov Okowa pre-season: Rivers Utd in opening day victory

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Gov Okowa pre-season: Rivers Utd in opening day victory

Rivers United on Wednesday started their participation at the maiden edition of the Gov. Okowa Pre-season Championship with a 1-0 defeat of Abia Warriors at the Stehen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.

Bamba Bakari 81st minute goal was enough for the Port Harcourt-based team to get the maximum points in a match featuring two Nigeria Professional Football League sides.

The competition started a day after the U-23 Eagles thrashed their Sudanese counterpart 5-0 in the second leg of the final round for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with the fans expecting goals which failed to come.

Nigeria Football Federation board was led to the venue by 1st vice president, Seyi Akinwunmi, as clubs continue their preparation for the new season.

The second match involving relegated Kwara United and Nigeria National League side, Remo Stars, ended in a goalless draw.

Speaking in Asaba, the general coordinator of the championship, Bash Badawir, expressed his delight on the level of performance of the teams.

“Even though there were not more than one goal in two matches, the teams showed class,” he said.

“We should not forget that these teams are still working ahead of the new season  and I am sure as the competition progresses, we are going to see improvement in performance.

“I want to use this opportunity to appreciate the NFF board members that took their time to be available for the opening game and also all the teams present.”

The Kwara United General Manager however called on the fans to come out in their numbers for the second day with Lobi Stars taking on Cynosure, MFM against Delta Force and Bendel Insurance playing against Remo Stars.

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EPL: Iwobi goes Cherries’ picking at Dean Court

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EPL: Iwobi goes Cherries’ picking at Dean Court

After his impressive midweek performance for the Super Eagles in the international friendly with Ukraine, Alex Iwobi turns his attention back to the English Premier League hoping to do same for Everton this afternoon against Bournemouth, writes TUNDE SULAIMAN

 

Fresh from missing a weekend of domestic football in order to accommodate national team football in the shape of Euro 2020 qualifiers, the attention switches back to the Premier League this Sunday with Match Day Five action continuing.

Although the “big boys” in the shape of Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, all saw action yesterday, there is still a feast of football to saviour this afternoon from the teams desperate to make a statement.

Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth kick off the schedule with a tricky home tie against inform Everton at 2pm, while Arsenal has a trip to Vicarage Road to play Watford, who became the first team to do away with their manager, when they announced the departure of Javi Gracia during the international break.

 

In his place returned 54-year-old Quique Sánchez Flores for his second stint in charge of The Hornets.

 

However, Howe will be hoping that the international break would have been enough time to pick up his players after their chastising trip to the King Power Stadium on Match Day Four where the Cherries were completely outplayed by the Foxes.

 

 

Although the 3-1 score line hints that perhaps they did try, in truth the result totally masks the lacklustre performance of the visiting side that scored from their only shot on target.

 

Jamie Vardy scored twice and made the other as an impressive Leicester showed the Cherries no mercy.

In fact the 2016 surprise champions could have had more but Harvey Barnes and Soyuncu both curled efforts narrowly wide from promising positions.

 

Howe will have to decide if he will be sticking with Aaron Ramsdale between the sticks or opting for 39-year-old former Polish international, Artur Boruc.

 

The 21-year-old goalkeeper, who was making just his fourth top-flight appearance having spent last season on-loan at League One AFC Wimbledon, was also given an equally uncomfortable afternoon at King Power Stadium and looked extremely shaky when presented with the ball at his feet.

 

 

On one occasion, Ramsdale thought he had more time as Vardy darted into the box and stuck out a foot to a short pass, which fortunately rolled straight back into the hands of the keeper.

 

Vardy stung Ramsdale’s hands with a thumping drive from the edge of the area and it was his industry, not giving up on a loose ball, which allowed for the second, rolling the ball across the six-yard area for Tielemans to tuck home.

 

However, besides the shaky performance of the England U21 goaltender, most of the Cherries players in front of him also failed to show up on Match Day Four and Howe must not allow that happen again this afternoon if he is to stop the slide down the table.

Currently 15th, Bournemouth has only managed one win out of the four so far played and face a side full of confidence after their 3-2 victory over Wolves.

 

Bournemouth finished 14th in the league last season, losing half of their 38 games, and this looks like being another inconsistent season for them.

 

Eddie Howe’s side were barely given a sniff by the hosts, former Coventry striker Wilson evading the offside trap to score just three minutes after Vardy’s opener, but they were unable to build on it.

 

On-loan midfielder Harry Wilson, who has made a positive start in a red-and-black shirt, failed to engineer any opportunities before being brought off on 64 minutes, while Joshua King was also quiet.

 

Summer signing Philip Billing and Jefferson Lerma put themselves about in the middle of the park, but Bournemouth lack a creative spark.

 

Speaking after the game, Howe was man enough to admit his side had been outplayed.

 

“There were bits in the first half we were pleased with. The goals killed us – from the first to the third. We’ve gifted them goals. It gave us a mountain to climb,” he said.

 

He knows he cannot afford another display like that especially in front of home fans, but he equally knows that sixth-placed Everton will not be easy push overs.

Everton manager Marco Silva would have been delighted with this side’s last league outing in which they got the better of a very impressive Wolves side, 3-2 in an entertaining game at Goodison Park.

 

 

Wolves, which had been the scourge of the “big teams in their promotion year last season, just could not handle the Toffees’ Brazilian international, Richarlison who scored a brace.

Richarlison’s performance prompted his manager to by every effusive in his praise of his once most expensive signing calling him “the spirit inside our dressing room” after the match.

 

“Richarlison is the type of player that needs good performances and if possible to win more confidence in the way he likes to play,” Silva said.

 

“Last season, he did all the pre-season for us. This season, he did Copa America and after was on holiday and started the first game against Crystal Palace with 13 days working with us.

 

“He scored two really important goals for us. He will keep improving, for sure.

“We are talking about a fantastic football player and a fantastic boy. He is the spirit inside our dressing room.”

 

Unfortunately Howe cannot only formulate a game plane to checkmate the Brazilian, because Silva also has other players at his disposal that can hurt him and one of them is Nigerian international Alex Iwobi.

 

In a late surprise transfer move, the 23-year-old Super Eagles star decided to end his 15-year sojourn with Arsenal to head to Merseyside in a £34 million five-year deal, ostensibly because he wanted more first team playing time.

 

And since his arrival, Iwobi, who has scored six times in 36 appearances for Nigeria, has proved that he did not make a mistake in becoming a virtual regular starter for Silva.

 

And he has repaid the Portuguese’s faith in him by scoring two vital goals in his two starts –the first was a crucial one in the League Cup to break the stubborn resistance of League One Lincoln City in a 4-2 win, while he was on hand to convert Gylfi Sigurdsson’s pin-point cross to restore the Toffees’ lead before 12 minutes had passed in the clash with Wolves.

Incidentally, Everton went into the Wolves game having only scored one goal in their previous three Premier League matches.

 

But with Iwobi and Moise Kean making their first league starts, the Toffees looked transformed in the attacking third.

 

The summer signings added extra verve to Everton’s attack and allowed more space and time for Richarlison and Sigurdsson to work their magic.

 

Behind them, Fabian Delph provided some muscle and awareness to keep the Wolves midfield in check.

 

Kean made a telling contribution in the build-up to Everton’s first goal, his hustling causing confusion in the home defence and allowing Richarlison to pounce for his first goal in the fifth minute.

Left out of Italy’s Euro 2020 squad that beat Finland last Sunday, Kean has a lot to prove that he is the man that can properly lead the line for the Toffees and should thus be all fired up, especially after featuring for the Azzurri’s U21s.

 

This may be bad news for Howe in his quest to stop the slide with a master tactical game plan to cage the Toffees, who with Iwobi in fine form will love nothing more than to pick all three points of the Cherries at Dean Court.

 

Some 24 kilometres northwest of central London, Unai Emery faces a much different problem then Howe, the Arsenal manager is going up against a side that is expected to receive a massive lift with the return of their popular manager, Quique Sanchez Flores.

 

It was during the first tenure of the former Spanish international, who was a member of the Italia’90 World Cup squad, that the Hornets enjoyed some of their best success in the top flight.

 

When he was first appointed on June 5, 2015 Flores to be the head coach of the newly promoted Premier League side in December, the team won three and lost only one of their league matches, earning him the Premier League Manager of the Month accolade; his forward Odion Ighalo earned the equivalent award for his five-goal haul that month.

 

However, despite going on to lead the team to a comfortable mid-table position and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, it was announced on May 13, 2016 that Flores would be leaving at the end of the season.

Thus fans will be hoping that the former right-back will be able to get his side purring once again and they would love nothing better than to see the Hornets lift the scalp of the Gunners today.

 

But in spite of the expected lift by the home side, Emery can still bask in the knowledge that historically Vicarage Road is a good hunting ground for the Gunners.

 

In 30 previous meetings between the two, Arsenal has won 17 of them. In fact the last time the Hornets triumphed over the London outfit was during the 2017 campaign when they did the double over their more illustrious visitors – winning 2-1 in both the home and away fixtures. Incidentally, Watford captain, Troy Deeney played a big part scoring in both legs.

 

However, since the last triumph on October 14, 2017, the Gunners have subsequently won three straight league meetings putting six goals past the Hornets without conceding any.

But if there is one stat that Flores can look at with some form of solace it is the fact that for some funny reason Arsenal has not been good travellers. In fact had their road form been as good as their form at the Emirates, the Gunners would have been playing in the more prestigious Champions League rather than the Europa League.

 

Last season Arsenal lost eight times away from The Emirates and included some surprise defeats at West Ham, Wolves and Everton amongst others.

 

So far this season, the only away loss as been at Anfield a 3-1 reversal, which Emery knows that had his players taken their chances the result, might have ended differently.

 

Today the Spaniard is likely to go for a win at Vicarage Road in order to keep in touch with the early pacesetters, Liverpool and Manchester City.

 

On his part, ever the pragmatist, Flores will most likely set his team up to hit on the counter, which should give both sets of fans a lot to either enjoy or gnash their teeth.

 

Match Day 5 games conclude tomorrow night with newly promoted Aston Villa, currently in 18th place, hosting seventh placed West Ham.

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Stadium facilities tour: Not a journey in futility, says Sunday Dare

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Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare, has said his visit to the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, will not be like previous visits by his predecessors. The recently appointed minister, who toured facilities at the national monument on Saturday, said he was going back to the President and the presidency to brief them of his findings.

 

According to him, there is a political will to improve the facilities and bring them back to standard. “I am here on a working visit, I have been to the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Kaduna and the Daura Township Stadium because we have plans for grassroots sports development, especially in football and other sports,” he said.

 

“Coming to the National Stadium in Lagos, is a continuation of that working visit. I have said at the beginning that we are going to focus of three major things, facilities maintenance, facilities upgrade and facilities upgrade.

 

 

“What we see in Lagos and other stadium was because those three things have not been done 100percent. “I just want to make it clear now that it is not going to be another tour ritual. I came with a renew determination, the President, Mu- hammadu Buhari, gave me this appointment and the assignment.

 

“Also, there is political will on the part of the president and the presidency to make sure that we find ways of restoring national monuments like this (National Stadium) back to their lost glory.” He added that Nigeria as a football nation must have at least 10 or 12 functional world-class stadium and pitches that meet FIFA standard.

 

He added: “There is a new political will and after this tour, I will do a comprehensive report from the ministry with directors and stadium managers, that I will submit to the presidency about how we are going to turn things around.”

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EPL: Norwich stun Man City, wins for Chelsea, United

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Norwich City produced a magnificent all-round display to inflict Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat since January at an ecstatic Carrow Road.

 

The Canaries were ravaged by injuries with 11 players missing but made light of the handicap to take full advantage of a performance from the reigning champions that was careless in the extreme and characterised by chaotic defending.

Kenny McLean rose unmarked to meet Emiliano Buendia’s corner after 18 minutes and Norwich doubled their advantage 10 minutes later when a flowing move started by Marco Stiepermann ended with Teemu Pukki setting up Todd Cantwell for a simple finish. Sergio Aguero’s header just before the break looked to have established the platform for a Manchester City comeback but a misunderstanding between John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, which was typical of their displays, saw the Argentina centre-back robbed by Buendia for Pukki to score, reports the BBC.

 

Rodri scored his first goal for Manchester City with two minutes left to make it a nerve-jangling ending before referee Kevin Friend’s final whistle was the cue for wild celebrations and inflict a defeat that leaves Pep Guardiola’s side five points adrift of Liverpool. And Tammy Abraham scored a brilliant hat-trick – and an own goal – as Chelsea destroyed Wolves at Molineux.

 

The England forward scored twice in the space of seven firsthalf minutes after Fikayo Tomori – another 21-year-old – had opened the scoring with a stunning 25-yard finish.

 

Abraham, who spent last season on loan in the Championship with Aston Villa, doubled the lead with a shot on the turn after referee Graham Scott had played an advantage following Conor Coady’s foul on Mason Mount. Wolves, who remain without a top-flight win this season, fell further behind when Abraham headed home, before the Chelsea striker made it 4-0 with a superb finish after beating Coady – a seventh league goal of the season that took him to the top of the scoring charts. In an eventful game, Abraham then scored an own goal as Romain Saiss’ header struck his right hand before crossing the line, before Patrick Cutrone added a second Wolves goal from close range. Mason Mount, 20, added Chelsea’s fifth goal with virtually the last kick of the game.

 

At Old Trafford Manchester United returned to winning ways and ended Leicester’s unbeaten start to the season by edging to a Premier League victory in a pulsating contest. After thrashing Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day, United had failed to win any of their last three games but took all the points to inflict Leicester’s first defeat of the campaign. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the eighth minute after being tripped by Leicester defender Caglar

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EPL: Norwich stun Man City 3-2

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EPL: Norwich stun Man City 3-2

Norwich City produced a magnificent all-round display to inflict Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat since January at an ecstatic Carrow Road.

The Canaries were ravaged by injuries with 11 players missing but made light of the handicap to take full advantage of a performance from the reigning champions that was careless in the extreme and characterised by chaotic defending.

Kenny McLean rose unmarked to meet Emiliano Buendia’s corner after 18 minutes and Norwich doubled their advantage 10 minutes later when a flowing move started by Marco Stiepermann ended with Teemu Pukki setting up Todd Cantwell for a simple finish.

Sergio Aguero’s header just before the break looked to have established the platform for a Manchester City comeback but a misunderstanding between John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, which was typical of their displays, saw the Argentina centre-back robbed by Buendia for Pukki to score, reports the BBC.

Rodri scored his first goal for Manchester City with two minutes left to make it a nerve-jangling ending before referee Kevin Friend’s final whistle was the cue for wild celebrations and inflict a defeat that leaves Pep Guardiola’s side five points adrift of Liverpool.

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EPL: Abraham scores hat-trick, Rashford penalty as Chelsea, United win

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EPL: Abraham scores hat-trick, Rashford penalty as Chelsea, United win

 

Tammy Abraham scored a brilliant hat-trick – and an own goal – as Chelsea destroyed Wolves at Molineux.

 

 

The England forward scored twice in the space of seven first-half minutes after Fikayo Tomori – another 21-year-old – had opened the scoring with a stunning 25-yard finish.

 

 

Abraham, who spent last season on loan in the Championship with Aston Villa, doubled the lead with a shot on the turn after referee Graham Scott had played an advantage following Conor Coady’s foul on Mason Mount.

 

 

Wolves, who remain without a top-flight win this season, fell further behind when Abraham headed home, before the Chelsea striker made it 4-0 with a superb finish after beating Coady – a seventh league goal of the season that took him to the top of the scoring charts.

 

 

In an eventful game, Abraham then scored an own goal as Romain Saiss’ header struck his right hand before crossing the line, before Patrick Cutrone added a second Wolves goal from close range.

 

 

Mason Mount, 20, added Chelsea’s fifth goal with virtually the last kick of the game.

 

 

And Manchester United returned to winning ways and ended Leicester’s unbeaten start to the season by edging to a Premier League victory in a pulsating contest at Old Trafford.

After thrashing Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day, United had failed to win any of their last three games but took all the points to inflict Leicester’s first defeat of the campaign.

 

 

Marcus Rashford scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the eighth minute after being tripped by Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu.

Rashford could have got another in the second half, but his wonderful free-kick from 30 yards curled over the wall and onto the angle of crossbar and post.

 

 

Defender Harry Maguire, given a torrid reception by the Leicester supporters, came close to scoring against his old side but headed straight at Kasper Schmeichel.

 

 

Leicester grew into the contest with the lively James Maddison twice coming close and left-back Ben Chilwell saw his dipping effort tipped over by David de Gea, reports the BBC.

 

 

RESULTS

 

 

Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle

 

 

Brighton 1-1 Burnley

 

 

 

Man Utd 1-0 Leicester

 

 

Sheff Utd 0-1 Southampton

 

 

Tottenham 4-0 Crystal Palace

 

 

Wolves 2-5 Chelsea

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Nigeria to face Brazil in Beach Soccer World Cup

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Nigeria to face Brazil in Beach Soccer World Cup

Nigeria will face Brazil, Oman and Portugal as the draw for the FIFA Beach Soccer Paraguay 2019 is conducted. The Nigerian side and the opponents are all drawn in Group D.

The Draw was conducted at the CONMEBOL Convention Centre in Asuncion. Sixteen teams are participating.

Drawn into Group A, the hosts will play Japan in their tournament opener at 21:00 local time on Thursday, November 21. Switzerland and USA are the other two sides in the group.

Five-time competition winners Brazil kick off their campaign a day later against Oman.

Runners-up at the last two world finals, the ever-entertaining Tahiti will kick off against Italy, while two-time world champions Russia will do likewise against Senegal.

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Nigeria to face Brazil in Beach Soccer World Cup

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Nigeria to face Brazil in Beach Soccer World Cup

Nigeria will face Brazil, Oman and Portugal as the draw for the FIFA Beach Soccer Paraguay 2019 is conducted. The Nigerian side and the opponents are all drawn in Group D.

The Draw was conducted at the CONMEBOL Convention Centre in Asuncion. Sixteen teams are participating.

Drawn into Group A, the hosts will play Japan in their tournament opener at 21:00 local time on Thursday, November 21. Switzerland and USA are the other two sides in the group.

Five-time competition winners Brazil kick off their campaign a day later against Oman.

Runners-up at the last two world finals, the ever-entertaining Tahiti will kick off against Italy, while two-time world champions Russia will do likewise against Senegal.

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CAF CC: Ibenegbu confident of Rangers’ victory against AS Pelican

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CAF CC: Ibenegbu confident of  Rangers’ victory against AS Pelican

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angers International midfielder, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, is confident that the club will secure victory in their CAF Confederation Cup opening match against Gabonese side, AS Pelican.

 

The seven-time Nigeria Professional Football League champions were drawn bye in the first round after getting to the group stages of the competition last year.

 

Speaking with our correspondent before the team’s departure, Ibenegbu said they are battle ready for the game and want to get a good result in Libreville.

 

“We are not going to Libreville to watch the beauty of the city but to ensure we get a good result that will make the return leg in two weeks’ time a mere formality,” the former Enyimba midfielder said.

 

“As a new player in Rangers, I hope to bring my experience of playing on the continent for over a decade to bear, if selected by the coach, to help us achieve our set target for the season.

 

“Rangers are a very big team on the continent and my joining them is to contribute my little quota towards making it a continental champion again after over four decades.”

 

Rangers departed the country on Thursday for the Gabonese capital, Libreville, for the first leg, first round encounter with competition’s first timers and runners-up of 2019 Gabon Championnat National Division 1.

 

Also speaking about their chances, caretaker manager, Coach Benedict Ugwu, who was in the coaching crew last season, said club has their work cut out at Stade D’Angondje, Libreville, Gabon.

 

After winning 11 and losing one in pre-season friendly games as well as a weeklong close camping exercise in Anambra state, the squad seem to have blended well.

 

Coach Ugwu said on the fixture; “I have a strong belief that with the talents at our disposal and the training regime we have gone through in the pre-season, we shall come back with a good result by God’s grace.

 

“We don’t know much about our opponent but our preparations have always been to play against any opponent.”

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I’M READY FOR NOLLYWOOD ROLE –AG GOLD MEDALIST, Enekwechi

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I’M READY FOR NOLLYWOOD ROLE  –AG GOLD MEDALIST, Enekwechi

Nigeria and African record holder in men’s Shot Put, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, told CHARLES OGUNDIYA that it was not a difficult decision for him competing for Nigeria despite been born and raised in America. Excerpts…

 

It was another podium finish for you at your first African Games, how does it feel winning the gold medal in Morocco?

 

I feel great, I didn’t think I was in the best shape to achieve what I did but if you look at the series, every time I kept on improving on my last throw, so I don’t know where it came from but sometimes it is mental. At times you will be physically ready or at times unprepared, but if your mind can take it, then you will have a performance you could be proud of.

 

 

You won the athletics championships in Asaba last year by setting Championship Record of 21.08m, and now the track and field event of the African Games with a new Games record of 21.48m. Should Nigerians expect similar performance at the World Championships and the Olympic Games?

 

 

I can’t predict something like that but definitely I am working towards doing well at the World Championships, and also at the Olympics.

 

 

It has been a tough year for you taking part in several competitions, how have you been able to keep yourself fit all these while?

 

 

I don’t know really, but I pray a lot and like you said, this is the ninth month of competitiveness, it’s been pretty difficult, but somehow I have not had any major injury and so I am happy. I do a lot of things day to day, I make sure I eat well, a lot of strength, speed and I do a lot of technical work, I try to give myself the best opportunity to do well in each competition and still come out better in the next.

 

You were not happy despite setting a festival record at the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja last year, what really happened?

 

 

The long story short, the competition started without me knowing I took a taxi and rushed to the competition arena for my first throw in round one and there wasn’t a schedule printed out for the tournament which shouldn’t have been the case.

 

 

 

So how did you achieve your target despite the obstacles?

 

 

For the festival I didn’t achieve my goal. I wanted to throw well over 21m in December to set me up well for the larger meets like the Diamond League in the New Year, but at the end of the day it didn’t help me well as far as my rankings for the year.

 

What has 2019 given you as an athlete?

 

 

I will say it has been quite an experience, I know how to travel better and compete better even when I am not in great shape like I threw 21.8 two weeks ago and I was not picking, but I don’t crucify myself. So far in 2019, I have had about 15 competitions, and with each one I learn something new, there was a time when I had problems throwing 21m but I knew what to do once I went back home and back to training. I changed my diet, changed my lifting and it has been a learning experience for me all the way.

 

 

How easy or difficult has it been competing for Nigeria?

 

There are many challenges that people have never seen before, that Nigerian athletes will face regularly, but at the end of the day, there is a kind of family aspect to it that I love, there is kind of camaraderie about being part of Team Nigeria, I have seen some good days and some bad, but I am still here doing well for the country.

 

Was it a case of trying hard to convince you to compete for Nigeria?

 

 

I have always wanted to compete for Nigeria, the reason I wanted to do that was not far-fetched. Been born and raised in America, I still wanted to have that link with Nigeria my country, and I feel that the best way to do that would be doing something for the country in terms of athletics, something I am good at. So as to bridge that gap of been born in America, I always wanted to be a Nigerian athlete. I actually wanted to represent Nigeria at the World University Games in 2015, but I had a serious back and groin injury that ended my season early, then my next opportunity was the Olympics in 2016, I didn’t qualify and the next year was 2017, I have been trying since 2015 but it finally worked out in 2017.

 

 

Are you fulfilled competing for Nigeria?

 

 

It has been quite a success but I have not done it alone and I’d love to say thanks for the opportunities. Yes I will say there have been some successes, there have been mishaps, but we have to focus on the positives.

 

How did you come into athletics?

 

 

I wanted to do a sport in High School, so when in my last three years, I decided I wanted to do individual sport; wrestling or track and field but the track and field coach found me first, he gave me the medical form and I filled it, gave it a trial and since then I loved it.

 

 

You said wrestling or track and field, have you been involved in wrestling before?

 

 

No, but I was going to try then.

 

 

What interests you in wrestling?

 

I just loved how the great athletes in the sport were well rounded. I love the head tail of the sports, been alone in the ring by yourself, it is kind of the same thing with throws, you are all alone in the ring by yourself and the results depend on you alone, your passion and also it is a points system, I just fell in love with the sport, but fortunately, I found myself in track and field.

 

 

What has been the support from your parents?

 

 

They have been really supportive, although now that I am 26 and i don’t really rely on them for finances and stuff like that, they speaks to me regularly, give me encouragement. When I was in Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, there were 12 to 14 hours’ time difference, my mother was the first one to text me after I won the silver medal, so despite being in New York, she was watching and following my progress. Also before I joined track and field, they were not fans of the sports, but it has been a massive support from them.

 

 

Did they in anyways raise objections when you decided to compete for Nigeria?

 

 

They backed me and supported my decision. I explained it to them and it wasn’t even too much of a discussion; it was just that they wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing and they were very supportive of that decision.

 

 

Do you always look forward to competing for Nigeria?

 

 

It is always a big reunion whenever we have a competition anywhere in the world. That’s what I always look forward to, not just because there is going to be monetary rewards or getting a standard, I always look forward to seeing my friends again. It is a good experience for me.

 

 

Do you relate with the foreign-based athletes more than those back at home?

 

 

We have similar struggles, similar desires and goals, we are all here for the same reason, so I don’t think there is a big gap at all between the foreign-based and home-based. Maybe there might be a difference of expression, because we grew up in different environments, but we are all focussing on one goal, we all practice all together and sports is one thing that unites us all.

 

 

Apart from been part of the country’s track and field, do you engage yourself in other activities like taking Nigerian cuisine and other things like that?

 

 

The region I am in, the Midwest, there is not a very big Nigerian presence, so it’s kind of difficult finding Nigerian cuisine, but I do partake in Nigerian music and if i get the Nigerian food i grew up with I eat. My parents raised me that way. Foods like garri, egusi soup, moin moin, which is one of my favourites; those are the foods I grew up with.

 

 

How has the struggle been since you stopped depending on your parents?

 

 

I wouldn’t call myself wealthy perse, but I have been able to make an honest living through track and field, I am earning my living now and I hope it continues like this. It is a job for me at this point and I know I am doing a good job.

Are you planning to come back and set up something to give back to the country, especially the younger ones still trying to make it in the country?

 

 

I am already thinking about that but not at the moment because I am still kind of building. This is just my third year as a professional, I have not really put too much thought into it but it is something I would love to do in the future, grassroots, get the kids involved and probably some funding if I could be in a position to do that.

 

What is your advice for the athletes back home in Nigeria?

 

 

The word speaks for itself, there is nothing special about those in America, people have been painting pictures that America is a place flowing with milk and honey, but nothing much like that. The talents are abound in Nigeria and if you look at someone like Divine Oduduru, he was a great athlete before coming to America, they just polished what was already golden and he started exploding like a mega star. If it works for him, it can also work for others. The way I look at it, Nigeria is full of talents, it’s just for those talents to discover themselves, make themselves available for the coaches, get that exposure and they can be great. I think it is possible for them to excel back at home in Nigeria.

 

 

What do you think of your co athlete, Mike Edward, going to the Big Brother Nigeria House?

 

 

I was very happy for Mike when I heard about it, I actually sent him a text when I heard about the BBN thing, I think it is a big exposure for him. He is planning for 2020 season and doing Big Brother is a big thing for himself, the sport, and for entertainment as well. It is now known that athletes can be public figures apart from someone that just runs, jumps or throws. I love what he has achieved in the house so far.

 

 

Do you think other athletes can try their hands on maybe going into music, movies and so on, and personally will you try that?

 

 

I do think about it at times and if anybody is reading or listening to this interview, you can scout me, recruit me for a Nollywood movie, I can act some movies. People are more entertaining than they think; all you need is an opportunity. I think I like the fact that Mike is taking advantage of that opportunity and I’d love more athletes to do that.

 

 

How do you manage women?

 

 

For me it is very easy and that’s why I have some success in track and field. I am very goal oriented, I don’t get distracted easily by anything, drugs, alcohol, wild girls, I just remain focused and that has been helpful going forward.

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Africa Games: How Lagos athletes propelled Team Nigeria to success in Morocco

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Africa Games: How Lagos athletes propelled Team Nigeria to success in Morocco

 

 

W

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.

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