Exhilaration was the pervasive feeling at the Yabatech Sports Complex on Sunday as fans of corporate football witnessed endless entertainment at the grand finale of the 2019 Remita Corporate Champions Cup (RC3), where Unilever edged Nestle to the trophy.
The match, which was enjoyed by a near-capacity crowd, was as tactical as it was exciting. Four converted penalty kicks by the Unilever team deprived former champions, Nestle, of the dream to lift the new Koenig Trophy for the first time after a goalless draw in regulation time.
Unilever defeated FrieslandCampina and IHS Towers en route the final while Nestle bested First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Union Bank to make the final of the RC3, a tournament regarded by pundits as the Champions League of corporate football due to eligibility granted to winners and runners-up of sectoral championships.
The event was graced by the presence of dignitaries and senior executives including the Managing Director of SystenSpecs, John Obaro; Managing Director of Wema Bank, Ademola Adebise; Executive Director of SystemSpecs, Deremi Atanda; legendary former goalie of Nigeria’s Super Eagles and tournament ambassador, Peter Rufai; Chief Operating Officer of Media Vision Limited, Jimmy Shogbesan, Ola Ehinmoro, HR Director, Ghana & Nigeria, Unilever; Sola Akinsoye, Country HR Manager, Nestle and an array of Ex-Super Eagles and Falcons Internationals.
Reacting to the quality of football on display throughout the course of the competition and the commitment of his organisation to promoting worthy CSR causes around the nation, Managing Director of SystemSpecs, the tournament sponsors, John Obaro said: “We are committed to the promotion of a productive workforce capable of accelerating advancement in Nigerian, African and global economies as a whole.
“Through RC3, for five seasons we have reinforced our commitment to provide a fun-filled platform for workforce across various brands in diverse industries in Nigeria to relax and bond in a way that ensures work-life balance, without official duties coming in the way”
Also remarking on the tenacity of both teams to arrive at the final and put up a strong showing of themselves, Tournament Ambassador and Ex-Super Eagles International, Peter Rufai noted: ’’The quality of football seen so far has been great and I will like to applaud all the teams for putting so much effort in ensuring a great tournament. I will also like to thank SystemSpecs and Media Vision for hosting such a tournament”
Unilever and FCMB competed for third and fourth places in the tournament, with the bankers defeating its on-field adversary 1-0 in a fast-paced game.
Eagles’ blow, Uzoho out for six months
The injury that Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, had in Sunday’s friendly match with Brazil has ruled him out for six months.
The Nigerian goalkeeper in an attempt to save a cross in the 60th minute landed awkwardly and thus got his ligament torn.
He was subsequently replaced by Germany-based Fortuna Düsseldorf goakeeper, Maduka Okoye who thus made his debut for Nigeria.
Of late, since the international retirement of Vincent Enyeama and the illness of his replacement, Carl Ikeme who also had to retire, Super Eagles have had to contend with goalkeeping headaches.
Ikechukwu who stepped in in a World Cup qualifying match with Cameroon two years ago turned to be a mere flash.
Daniel Akpeyi has not also fared better as a substitute to either Enyeama or Ikeme.
Theophilus Afelokhai who sidelined Ezenwa in Enyimba and subsequently forced his exit from the club has also not proven a major contender for Nigeria’s number one spot.
The four times he had to pick the ball from his net in the African Nations’ championship duel with Togo last month put serious doubts on his credentials in the national team.
Aribo has great Eagles’ future, says Aghahowa
Former Nigeria international, Julius Aghahowa, has made glowing remarks about Glasgow Rangers midfielder, Joe Aribo, saying he is a promising player that needs all the support and backing to excel for the Super Eagles.
Aribo scored a fantastic goal in the first half of the friendly against Brazil on Sunday and Aghahowa believes the former Charlton Athletic central midfielder has a bright future with the Super Eagles only if he gets the required support to excel and shine.
“Aribo did very well against Brazil from his central midfield position. I believe he has what it takes to wear the number 10 jersey and do well. He scored a brilliant goal which was his second in as many games for Nigeria. He has the heart to go very far representing Nigeria,” Aghahowa said.
Aghahowa also gave kudos to the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen and Alex Iwobi who didn’t disappoint in the game, pointing out that the future is very bright for Nigeria with this array of wonderful talents.
Tokyo 2020: Team Nigeria kick-starts preparation today
…to camp for five months across various centres
- Minister meets with federation bosses
Team Nigeria will kick-starts their preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games today according to the Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare.
The Minister, who was in Lagos on another working visit where he visited the training of a private track and field club, the Making of Champions, said his ministry was ready administrative wise to begin preparations.
“The journey from the administrative aspects starts on Tuesday (today), when we bring all the key stakeholders together,” he said.
“The preparation for the Olympics actually starts immediately after the completion of one, so beyond what we see in Morocco and Doha, these athletes have been going for different tournaments and competitions.
“Individually, they have been training so hard, that’s the preparation, they only come to championships as a group to compete and from what we saw in Morocco, which is a benchmark, same thing as what happened in Doha.
“It took us seven years to get another medal at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, but there were lessons learnt from the competition. This time around, we are not starting too late and not so early, we have about nine months to go, and we will be ready.”
The minister also revealed that there would be at least five months of camping as the country looks forward to winning medals.
Dare said he was optimistic of the athletes competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in various sports at the Olympics.
He added: “We are going to start that process;we are going to have camping in three or four different locations depending on the sports.
“We are going to be focusing on sports that we can really compete and then we go there and do well.
“Basically, if we have the funds, we are going to have six months of camping, in the past we usually have three months, but this time around we are looking at five.”
Meanwhile, the minister said he would be meeting with all the federation presidents so as to be on the same page ahead of the Tokyo 2020 preparations.
“I have a meeting with the NOC (National Olympic Committee) and all the federation presidents and the secretaries in Abuja on Tuesday so that we all will be on the same page.
“We are going to be professional about this, so Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Nigeria will not be going there to try, but we are going there to compete for the gold, bronze and silver.”
Stage friendlies with African teams, Lawal tells NFF
Ex-Super Eagles midfielder Dimeji Lawal has advised the Nigerian Football Federation to organise friendly matches with African teams for the Super Eagles.
The former international however prefers the team to play more African opposition than teams from other continents.
He was speaking after Nigeria was forced to a 1-1 draw by Brazil in an interesting friendly encounter decided in Singapore on Sunday.
Lawal , 48 is of the opinion that the Eagles will benefit from playing with neighbouring countries as they still have a lot to learn from confronting such opposition.
“Now that we have learnt something from Brazil, we should go to another continent and see what their football is like and maybe we should come back to Africa and see what we can benefit from playing against our counterparts,” he told New Telegraph.
“it’s not about the names alone sometimes you play against a team that you think is low in category but they give you things to learn. For people to think that after playing against Brazil they should fix a friendly match with another big team like Germany is wrong , football doesn’t work that way; a team should learn from every cadre.”
GOtv Boxing Night Mini debuts
A mini version of the hugely successful GOtv Boxing Night, tagged GOtv Boxing Night Mini, is set to start. The inaugural edition will hold on November 16 at the Rowe Park, Yaba, Lagos. This was announced yesterday by the organisers, Flykite Productions, at a media sit-in in Lagos.
Jenkins Alumona, CEO Flykite, explained that GOtv Boxing Night Mini was conceived to provide more frequent opportunities for boxers as a means of ensuring that they get requisite number of fights to make them eligible for sub-regional, continental and international title bouts.
“Our boxers have, despite the best efforts of GOtv Boxing Night, inadequate opportunities to fight and build their fight records, which they need to become eligible for international titles. GOtv Boxing Night Mini, which will be staged with more frequency than the main event, will address this challenge,” he said.
Alumona also explained that the 20th edition of GOtv Boxing Night, which was planned to hold last Saturday, has been fused into the mega edition of the event slated for December. The development, he said, was imposed by the injury suffered in training by Oto “Joe Boy” Joseph, African Boxing Union (ABU) lightweight champion, who was scheduled to defend his title against Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, West African Boxing Union champion in the much-anticipated headline bout.
He added that hopes that the injury would heal on time proved misplaced, as sports medicine experts advised that the injury-a shoulder breach-be allowed a longer recuperation period to avoid aggravation.
Some of the other boxers slated to fight at GOtv Boxing Night 20 will, however, feature at GOtv Boxing Night Mini. These include Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi and Cynthia “Baby Girl” Ogunsemilore. Also lined up to be in action is Waheed “Skoro” Usman, former ABU featherweight champion.
Rohr predicts good future for Eagles
Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr believes the Super Eagles have ‘good future’ after they played out a 1-1 draw against Brazil in Sunday’s international friendly in Singapore.
The 66-year-old German tactician paraded a young team against the five-time world champions, following a spate of withdrawals by some of his experienced players, including captain Ahmed Musa.
The team, however, gave a good account of themselves with Joe Aribo – making his second appearance for the Super Eagles – scoring the opening goal in the 35th minute before Casemiro’s second-half effort saved the South American champions from defeat.
Rohr is impressed with the performance of his side but admitted the three-time African champions still have to improve.
“It was tough for us as the second game because Brazil would not have wanted to leave Singapore without winning, and it feels very good to know that we can play so well against some of the biggest names in football,” Rohr said in a post-match press conference.
“We didn’t have our best team here, but our wingers gave Brazil a lot of problems on the counter-attack and I am proud of our players. They can have a good future.
“We can still improve in defending set-pieces. We have height, with players as tall as two metres, but we have to be better in the air.
“It is not enough just to have good size, they need to jump well with good timing.”
Rohr believes African football is improving after both Nigeria and Senegal avoided defeat against the world number three.
“These results are good for African football when Senegal and Nigeria did not lose to Brazil, one of the strongest teams in the world,” he added.
Nigeria will hope to secure good results when they take on Benin Republic and Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games in November.
Barca target Osimhen as Suarez’s replacement
Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen’s rising profile has caught the attention of European giants Barcelona who have viewed him as a long term replacement for their talismanic forward Luis Suarez.
According to a report by Spanish sports newspaper AS which was monitored by our correspondent, Osimhem top the list of youngsters that have been scouted as ideal replacements for the Uruguayan striker.
Osimhen has set Europe on fire after netting seven league goals for Lille in his debut season in the French Championat. The former Wolfsburg forward also scored his first UEFA Champions League goal against Chelsea last month.
The striker has also solidified his place in the Nigerian team after great showing against Ukrainse and Brazil.
Other players on the shopping list of Barcelona are Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Donyell Malen (PSV) and Rafael Leao (AC Milan).
Lille sports director Campos has already hinted that Osimhen is poised for “a big move” soon.
Osimhen has a contract with Lille till 2024.
He has previously been linked with a transfer to AC Milan before he finally joined Lille from Belgian club Sporting Charleroi.
2019 ANOC Beach Games: Gumel charges Team Nigeria’s athletes
The President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Habu Gumel, has charged Team Nigeria athletes participating at the 1st edition of 2019 ANOC Beach Games in Doha, Qatar to be worthy ambassadors.
Gumel, an IOC member, gave this charge at the weekend during the opening ceremony of the games stating that good name is better than gold.
“It is a thing of joy that Nigeria is participating at the 1st edition of this Beach Games just like we participated at the Winter Games last time out but the most important thing is for you to compete and win well because a good name is better than any silverware won unjustly. Our great nation is proud of you and solidly behind you on this great task as we wish you well here in Doha,” the ANOCA Treasurer concluded”.
The World Beach Games which is scheduled to end October 16, 2019 is an international beach multi-sport event organised by the Association of National Olympic Committees and Nigeria is competing in Beach Volleyball and Beach Wrestling in 70 and 50kg respectively.
Meanwhile, the board and the executive members of the NOC felicitate with the President, Nigeria Judo Federation, Prince Timothy Nsirim, on his appointment as the Chairman, Rivers State Road Maintenance Agency by His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike.
Ikoyi Club thanks sponsors after tennis meet
Team Lekki have emerged the winners of the EKODC Team Tennis Championship which was rounded off at the weekend at the Ikoyi Club 1938 following a 10-7 win over Team Anifowoshe.
Both teams who are from the Blue Group set up a final meeting having triumphed over Team Ikate and Team Ademola in the semifinals and it was Team Anifowoshe that seemed to be coasting home to victory following the 6-2, 6-2 doubles win by Ishmael Nwokocha and Sesan Dada over Labisi Abayomi and Chizoba Onuoha.
With the scores tied at 7-7, it was left for Kayode Awokoya and Tochukwu Adino to decide whose side the pendulum of victory swings and it was Adino, who trailed for most part of the decisive tie break, that carried the day 10-8 to clinch the priceless three points at stake for team Lekki who also have Sule Mustapha, Kola Alawaiye, Kunle Ajayi, Steve Ezeagu and Toyin Leo Olagbegi.
EKODC MD, Engr Adeoye Fadeyibi, expressed delight at the successful completion of the tournament stressing it’s a great privilege to be the spo0sor of one of the biggest tournament at the elite Ikoyi Club.
Fadeyibi, who was represented by Joseph Esenwa,, the Chief Financial Officer of EKODC, noted that Ikoyi club is part of the EKODC network promising better services in the coming years.
Ikoyi Club Chairman, Yomi Orenuga ,pointed that the Tennis Section continue to be the major light in the Club stating it is never a dull moment at the tennis section while section chairman, Bimbo Okubena, thanked the sponsor for enhancing the camaraderie and togetherness of members.
Ijora Causeway, Badagry Expressway, Fowler and Igbo-Efon are the other teams that featured in the 64- player nine-day tournament.
Pillars raise the alarm over unpaid prize monies
Several months after winning this year’s Aiteo Cup and runners up of the last Nigeria Professional Football League Kano Pillars Football Club are disturbed that the prize monies are still being withheld by the Nigeria Football Federation.
Pillars spokesman Rilwanu Malikawa said that several months after Pillars beat Niger Tornadoes to win a first-ever Aiteo Cup, the club are yet to receive N25m prize money.
“We have not received the prize money and we have no information on when the NFF will pay this money,” Malikawa disclosed.
“We hope we can get this money soon.”
The Pillars spokesman said the same is the case with the prize money due to the club for emerging runners-up in the NPFL behind champions Enyimba last season.
Three years ago the League Management Company paid the NPFL champions 40 million Naira.
“We hope we can get this money before the new NPFL season kicks off,” he said.
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