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World Cup experience helped me at African Games –Falconets’ goalkeeper

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World Cup experience helped me at African Games –Falconets’ goalkeeper

 

Super Falcons and Falconets’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, at the just concluded African Games in Rabat, Morocco,  in an interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA in Morocco, has said she already lost hope of winning the gold medal after her teammates lost two kicks during the penalty shootout against Cameroon in the final of the football match. Excerpts:

 

 

How do you feel winning the African Games football gold medal for women?

 

 

I feel so good, it was a big thing and also privilege for me as well as a player.

 

 

You had a fantastic game in the final against Cameroon, making about three one-on-one saves, what gave you so much confidence in the game?

 

 

One thing about goalkeeping is whenever you are under pressure, you just have to keep calm. If you are tensed you won’t get it right. We played against them in the group stage and that gave us the opportunity to know their pattern of play and what they could do. We knew that they were going to come out at us and the best thing for us was to keep our calm which was what we did that gave us the result.

 

 

After your team mates missed two kicks during the penalty shootout, did you at a point think you might be losing the game?

 

 

To be honest, I lost hope after we missed the second kick, I was like ‘so this is how we are going to lose the gold’, but I so much believe in God and I kept on telling myself that such thing  woukdnt happen again, I was reminding God that He used me in WAFU, He should use me again, that was what happened. I kept on encouraging myself and was able to stop the remaining three kicks by our opponents.

 

 

After saving the first kick, I guess your confidence increased?

 

 

When I saved the first one, it boosted my morale and I was like we can do it. So I continued to go for the remaining kicks and we won the gold.

 

 

Do you see yourself as a penalty specialist?

 

 

Nobody is perfect but I practice a lot. One of my senior goalkeepers always advise me that as a goalkeeper, you don’t stand at a spot,  you have to choose a place and dive, if you get it fine, and if you don’t,  it’s all good, so I have been practising that and I use my training to perfect that.

 

 

There was an incident at the World Cup as per penalty leading to you receiving a yellow card, was it a case of you not knowing the new rules, or normal goalkeeper instinct?

 

 

I was aware of the rule prior to the game that my leg must not leave the line, but one thing about goalkeepers,  you don’t stand at a spot waiting for the ball and putting into consideration that it was a new rule just taking effect, so it was normal instinct that led me to jumping out of line. But in Morocco, the referee reminded me of the rules before the kicks, and because I had been working on such, I was able to correct all my mistakes and stayed on my line.

 

 

What’s the future like for you after attending the World Cup and winning the African Games at your age?

 

 

The World Cup  taught me a lot of things; the experience increased my confidence, although I am not there yet, so I will continue to work hard. My goal and ambition is to become a professional goalkeeper abroad.

 

 

Often difficult for goalkeepers to get contract abroad compared to outfield players, what are you working on to help you achieve your goal?

 

 

I think I have gotten all I needed as a goalkeeper and all I need now is to get the grace. All we are praying for is the grace of God.

 

 

How did you come into football?

 

 

It runs in the family. All my siblings, my cousins all play football although they didn’t take it to a professional level. Whenever they are playing,  I always join them because I am the youngest girl of the family, I started as a player and later started developing interest in goalkeeping. I used to hear people saying someone can make it big through football, so I decided to stick to it.

 

 

What was the reaction from your parents when you decided to take football as a career?

 

 

I didn’t really get much support from home apart from my mother who said whatever I know could make me happy, I should go for it.

 

 

Was it a right decision for you?

 

 

Yes it was a right one because if I had stopped, it would have affected my life. I think among all my mates, I am the only one still standing and playing football because I stood by my decision and I vowed not to give up no matter what.ss

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Nigerian Armed Forces shine at international sports

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Nigerian Armed Forces shine at international sports

The contingent of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) have emerged victorious in the recent international sporting events in South Africa and Republic of Guinea.

The Acting Director of Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

Nwachukwu disclosed that the Nigerian military contingent emerged winners of the recently concluded Military Skills Competition in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

He added that they also clinched 3rd position at the maiden edition of the International Military Sports Council – West African Liaison Office (CISM – WALO) Boxing Championship held in Conakry, Guinea.

“In the Military Skills Competition held in South Africa, the AFN participants comprising male and female personnel from the Nigerian Army, Navy and the Airforce bagged a total of six Gold, four Silver and one Bronze medals.

“The team also carted away the award for best participating country at the event. “During the military sporting events, the AFN emerged first, second and third positions in both the male and female categories of the 8 km combat race.

“In the Obstacle Crossing event, the team also emerged 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions, while in Combat swimming (Male category), the team took the 1st and 3rd positions, as well as 1st and 2nd positions in the female category.

“At the WALO – CISM Boxing championship in Conakry, AFN Boxing team won a total of six Silver and four bronze medals to clinched 3rd position, queuing behind Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire teams who emerged first and second positions,” he said.

The Defence spokesperson said that the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin had commended the team for their outstanding performance and conduct at the international event, describing them as worthy ambassadors of the AFN and the nation.

According to him, the AFN under the current leadership had leveraged on sporting activities as a veritable tool and rallying point to foster unity and synergy among security agencies in Nigeria and the ECOWAS region.

He added that this was part of efforts to foster peace and security in Nigeria and the west African Sub region, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“Notable among the sporting events so far organised and sponsored by the DHQ are the Chief of Defence Staff, Armed Forces and Security Agencies Half Marathon Championship, the CISM Day Run and Security Agencies Route Match,” he said.

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Cameroon 2021: Senegal start well as other African heavyweights struggle

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Cameroon 2021: Senegal start well as other African heavyweights struggle

Senegal showed their teeth on the opening day of qualifiers for the 2021 African Cup of Nations but other continental heavyweights struggled to find form on Wednesday.

Nigeria could only scrape a 2-1 home win over tiny neighbours Benin while Cameroon were held to an embarrassing home draw by the Cape Verde Islands.

Cameroon are hosts of the next finals but are also participating in the qualifying competition, reports Reuters.

Assan Cessay scored two goals in two minutes for the Gambia, who went onto cause an upset by winning 3-1 in Angola to secure their first away victory in a Cup of Nations or World Cup qualifier.

There were also wins for the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Namibia and Sudan and a potential valuable away point for the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho, who drew 1-1 in Sierra Leone.

Senegal, runners-up in this year’s Nations Cup in Egypt, beat Congo 2-0 at home with first-half goals from Sidy Sarr and Habib Diallo as Sadio Mane provided an assist.

Nigeria went behind after nine minutes in Uyo where Stephane Sessegnon scored for Benin but a penalty from Victor Osimhen and the winner from Samuel Kalu ensured a narrow win.

It is the fourth time in five games that goal-shy Cameroon have played out a goalless draw in a stuttering start for new coach Toni Conceição.

Angola were ahead after two minutes through Wilson Eduardo but were hit by a double from FC Zurich striker Cessay before Sulayman Marreh added a third for Gambia on the stroke of fulltime.

Gambia had not won in 39 previous away qualifiers, including losing in Luanda two months ago in the 2022 World Cup preliminaries.

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Ex-Super Eagles player,Dickson Etuhu, found guilty of match-fixing

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Ex-Super Eagles player,Dickson Etuhu, found guilty of match-fixing

A Swedish appeals court has found former Nigeria international Dickson Etuhu guilty for attempted match-fixing.

The Court of Appeals in Stockholm said in a release on Wednesday said that it was clear that Etuhu and an unnamed former player tried to influence AIK keeper Kyriakos “Kenny” Stamatopoulos to fix a match in Sweden’s top division in 2017, reports the BBC.

Etuhu, who played for several English clubs including Manchester City, Sunderland and Fulham, escaped a jail sentence but was instead fined and sentenced to serve probation, without further details being made public.

The 37-year-old, who left AIK Solna in 2016, says he will be appealing against the ruling at the Supreme Court.

The court said that “the content of what the men submitted to the player (Stamatopoulos) was so clear that it should be considered a criminal offer of bribe.”

Etuhu had intially been acquitted by a court last year but that was appealed by prosecutor Johan Lindmark, who told local Swedish newspaper ‘Expressen’ that he was satisfied with today’s outcome.

“It was with satisfaction that I received the verdict today,” Lindmark said.

“I had appealed on the grounds that I thought the court of law would change and was not surprised when I saw the verdict.”

Etuhu played 20 times for the Super Eagles including at two Africa Cup of Nations in 2008 and 2010 as well as the World Cup in South Africa.

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Rohr vs NFF: Much ado about nothing

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Rohr vs NFF: Much ado about nothing

It is obvious, even if they will not admit it, that the Nigeria Football Federation hierarchy and Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr are not on the best of terms. The two parties cannot seem to agree on anything these days: from salary payments to contract renewal and squads, the two parties have been knocking heads lately. The once chummy relationship between Rohr and NFF President Amaju Pinnick is apparently on the rocks and it looks inevitable that the two will soon ‘file for divorce’.

At first, the noise was about Rohr’s salaries. While the German insisted that he was owed several months in back wages, the NFF claimed they owed only one month. After some back and forth, the arrears were cleared and everything seemed to be back on track. But then came the issue of Rohr’s contract which expires in June next year. Normally this should not be a big deal: the contract is either renewed or not. However, speaking about it on television recently, Pinnick opened another can of worms.

The NFF boss announced new terms for a contract extension, with a key condition that the coach must focus more on the Nigeria Professional Football League and spend more time in Nigeria. Notably, this had not been an issue in Rohr’s first two years in charge and Pinnick had appeared to be satisfied with the coach’s work. “Rohr’s contract is due for renewal in June and we don’t have any issue with him right now,” Pinnick said in a Channels TV interview last week.

“(If we’re to offer a new contract) we’ll strengthen the clauses that domesticate Rohr himself in Nigeria and to our leagues. He needs to go round, watch some of the leagues.” Pinnick has played the perfect politician’s game right there, claiming there is no issue while clearly highlighting that it is no longer business as usual with Rohr.

The German, never one to back down from any battle even if it’s one which he cannot win, in typical fashion stood his ground when confronted with Pinnick’s quote on the eve of his team’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Benin Republic. Rohr denied knowledge of any contract talks as he spoke to the press in Uyo ahead of Wednesday’s fixture against the Squirrels. “No he (Amaju Pinnick) did not speak about it at all. But I know that he has sometimes a different opinion like me,” Rohr said.

“But that is football. I never accepted to make a choice coming from the officials. My choice is to take the best players. “Unfortunately, we could not take more players from the league because they did not play (the NPFL went on a long break). So it was difficult for them to be fit.

The CHAN team also did not qualify. This is also proof that perhaps they missed competition. “I am sure that they have good players here. One of them is Ifeanyi Anaemena from Enyimba who replaces (Bryan) Idowu who could not come. Instead of searching out a player from Europe we picked this young boy. “We try all the time to give the best.

I know that some people may not be happy about my choice but it is my choice and it is always honest.” The key bone of contention here appears to be the need to have more NPFL players in Rohr’s squad going forward, although there is probably a lot more to it than meets the eye. Squad selection should not be a problem since it is the coach’s prerogative. The buck stops at his desk and he gets to get the credit or blame depending on results.

If Rohr and his assistants have not seen players in the NPFL good enough to be in his plans for now, so be it. He is the head coach and he knows the quality of players he needs to get results. A lot has been said about including home-based players in the Super Eagles regularly, but the truth remains that senior national teams are meant for a country’s best players. It’s common knowledge that Nigeria’s best players are based in Europe, the Mecca of world football. Almost every single footballer on earth with ambition wants to take his career to the big leagues of Europe (the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, the Spanish LaLiga, the German Bundesliga and the French Ligue 1), including players currently in the NPFL.

It is from these championships that Rohr regularly draws his squad from. Where is the problem? Of course if an exceptional talent emerges in the NPFL, Rohr should give him a shot but it remains the coach’s call. Personally, I do not believe Rohr has been a raging success with the Super Eagles.

I felt the team should have done better at both the World Cup in 2018 and AFCON this year, the two tournaments he has attended. But he has his good sides: he has brought a lot of young players through and his squads are not usually filled with players who got in through the back door.

His press conferences and interviews are usually open, engaging and enlightening too. For the sake of the national team and the whole of Nigerian football, the NFF and Rohr should sheathe their swords and work together in harmony.

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Why I make late substitutions in games – Rohr

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Why I make late substitutions in  games – Rohr

Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr has lifted the lid on why he makes late substitutions in games.

Most of the substitutions by the German tactician often take place towards the end of the match.

The Super Eagles boss, however,  slated that his decision was to ensure he does not make mistakes and gives ample time for the players in the starting XI to make an impact.

“I always try to give the starting XI enough time to express themselves,” Rohr told the media.

“I also have to be very sure that the player I want to take off has done all he can during his time on the field of play.”

Nigeria will take on the Republic of Benin in their opening Group L Africa Cup of Nations qualifying game at Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Wednesday.

The three-time African champions will thereafter travel to Setsoto Stadium to slug it out with Lesotho in their second group match on Sunday.

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AFCON 2021: Eagles pip gritty Squirels

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AFCON 2021: Eagles pip gritty Squirels

…as Osimhen, Kalu shoot Nigeria to Group L lead

 

Super Eagles started their 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign on a winning note after they defeated the Squirrels of Benin republic at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Wednesday.

The victory moves the Super Eagles top of Group L after one round of fixtures, with Sierra Leone and Lesotho having played out a 1-1 draw in Freetown at the same time.

Striker Victor Osimhen scored a second half penalty to cancel out Stephane Sessegnon’s early goal  and Samuel Kalu produced a sublime efforst later in the game to earn the Eagles the victory.

Gernot Rohr made four changes to the side that executed the last international game versus Brazil, with Daniel Akpeyi, Wilfred Ndidi, Ola Aina and Samuel Kalu afforded starting spots in Uyo.

Nigeria suffered a blow after just three minutes in when some sloppy defending allowed Sessegnon to slot past  Akpeyi and put the visitors ahead.

Gernot Rohr’s troops were stunned following Benin’s goal, and they struggled to regain their composure in the aftermath of their West African neighbours going in front.

The Super Eagles only settled as half-time approached with Samuel Chukwueze hitting the frame of the goal in the 40th minute.

The three-time African champions weren’t to be denied, though, as Victor Osimhen dispatched a penalty on the stroke of the break after Ola Aina was fouled.

Rohr’s men started the second-half the brighter of the two sides without really making Fabien Farnolle work in the Benin goal.

The hosts completed the comeback just after the hour mark. Bordeaux wideman Kalu beat a couple of defenders and shot past Farnolle, who had no chance as the effort was cleanly struck and well-placed.

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Eagles still lack cohesion – Sodje

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Eagles still lack cohesion – Sodje

Ex-international Sam Sodje has said the Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr still has a lot of work to do on his team following their performance in their 2-1 win over Benin Republic in a 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying match on Wednesday.

The former West Brom of England defender told our correspondent after the game that the team struggled in all departments and lacked cohesion in the encounter.

He said although there were no minnows in African football anymore, the Eagles should have asserted their authority on their opponents with their performance.

“Of course the team needs to improve in so many areas; it is difficult to mention a particular department but they need to play more as a team. We saw that there were no enough communication and cohesion and they were generally scrappy but I am sure the coach has noticed some of the mistakes and will work on them going forward,” he said.

However, the former Reading star hailed the players’ mentality, praising them for coming from behind to record the victory.

“We didn’t start the game very well but credit must be given to the team for overcoming that setback to record victory. In football, result is what that is matter not the way you play and it is good that they were able to defeat Benin Republic today,’ he said.

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Qualifying for OQT is not negotiable – Otis

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Qualifying for OQT is not negotiable – Otis

As Nigerians eargerly anticipate the commencement of the FIBA Africa pre-Olympic qualifiers, head coach of senior women national team, Otis Hughley says the team is fully focused on the task ahead. After masterminding the team to the 2019 Afrobasket title which has seen the D’Tigress climb to the number one spot in Africa according to the latest FIBA ranking, Otis said qualification for the 2020 Olympics Qualifying Tournament (OQT) is not negotiable. Speaking from the team’s base in Maputo, Hughley confirmed that preparation is going on as planned with all invited players ready to give their best when they start their pre-qualifiers campaign.

“We are aware of the task ahead of us. The culture of basketball is fast growing in Nigeria and the people are expecting us to win everytime we file out. These expectations have continued to spur us to want to give our all and represent the country the best that we can.”

Speaking further, Hughley said, “We must continue to show the world that we deserved to be the best in Africa and also become one of the best in the world.” According to him, the team ranked 16th in the world can get better and climb higher while achieving greater things as a group.

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini: Boxers talk tough

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini:  Boxers talk tough

Boxers billed to fight at the maiden edition of GOtv Boxing Night Mini have been speaking of their preparations ahead of the event billed to hold on Saturday at the Rowe Park Sports Complex, Yaba, Lagos. Typically, the boxers’ comments have been marked by boasts about their abilities and how such would swing things in their way.

Some of the boxers scheduled to be in action are Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, reigning West African Boxing Union (WABU) lightweight champion; Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, West African Boxing Union (WABU) welterweight champion, Waheed “Showmax” Shogbamu, Ola Adebakin and Cynthia “Omo Bobby” Ogunsemilore.

Oladosu, who is billed to take on  Adebakin in a national lightweight challenge, declared himself ready, willing and able to see off his opponent without fuss.

“ I am unstoppable. Tell Adebakin that he will see hell. I don’t even need to exert myself. I’m sufficiently prepared and he’d feel the full force of my preparation,” he said.

The lesser known Adebakin, however, responded that while he is an underdog, he will show Oladosu that underdogs can bite and dangerously, too. He bragged that he will inflict on the WABU champion his first defeat as a professional.

“Real One might be better known, but that will count for nothing when we step into the ring. He isn’t familiar with me, but did know him well, including his weaknesses. I’m ready to exploit this and put him where he belongs: on the canvas,” he bragged.

WABU welterweight champion, Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, is also in war mood,  issuing a strong warning to his opponent, Dennis “The Range” Mba.   He said he has seen media reports quoting Mba as threatening him with defeat, something for which he would make him pay. “I’ve seen him boast in media reports, but he’ll be sorry at the end of the fight. He’d be treated like every other opponent who’s been foolish enough to face me,” he said.

Waheed “Showmax” Shogbamu and Semiu “Jagaban” Olopade have similarly swapped boasts, with the former vowing to leave his opponent in tears and blood.

Also, Ogunsemilore, who is billed to take on take on Omowunmi “Mummy’s Pet” Akinsanya in a national super featherweight challenge, said she expects to win the bout and improve her fight record.

“I am well prepared for this fight and I am primed to ensure Akinsanya continues to remain a “Mummy’s Pet” in the ring. I really need the win in order to show that my nascent boxing career is really progressing,” she said.

Also on the bout card is a national cruiserweight challenge between Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi and Tunji “Germani” Olajide.

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Abuja J5 ITF tennis:Abua, Ibrahim secure slots in second round

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Abuja J5 ITF tennis:Abua, Ibrahim secure slots in second round

Nigeria’s Canice Abua advanced to the second round of the NTF International Junior Championships Wednesday following a straight-sets victory over Ghanaian 6th seed, Desmond Ayaaba, in Abuja.

Abua, who surprisingly claimed the ITF Junior title last week is bidding for a back-to-back successes  thus stretched his win streak to six matches at the Nigerian capital. Up next for the star prospect is Rubi Toba, who outclassed Bulus Bulus 6-2, 6-0 in an all Nigeria clash.

Elsewhere, 2nd seed, Assil Boussayri of Morocco, brushed Kumabo Kundams of India 6-1, 6-0 to set up a meeting with Nigeria’s Gabriel Friday. 5th seed, Joshua Aji, eased past Ghana’s Ivan Wularu 6-2, 6-2, while Wilson Igbinovia defeated Musa Sani 6-2, 6-3.

Also, homeboy Suleiman Ibrahim, a qualifier, was in superb form against Habila Haggai, of Morocco dropping just a game in a comprehensive 6-0, 6-1 victory to also advance to the second round, while Ojo Fredrick was rock-solid against Friday Ismaila, winning 6-4, 6-4.

India’s Siddharth Tirupati suffered his second straight first round defeat, as he was beaten 6-3, 7-5 by Nigerian qualifier, David Dawariye

In the girls field, 3rd seeded Ivorian, Blanche Minet began her campaign on a good note, as she defeated Nigeria’s Joy Samuel in straight sets 6-0, 7-5 So also was French teenager, Iantsatiana Ratovondrahona made light work of Naomi Samuel for the second consecutive week, winning 6-0, 6-2 to stretch her head-to-head superiority over the Nigerian to 2-0.

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