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Badminton: Nigeria’s top players begin battle for Olympic points

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Badminton: Nigeria’s top players begin battle  for Olympic points

Nigeria and Africa’s top players – Dorcas Adesokan, Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Godwin Olofua – will begin their quest for Olympic qualification today at the 2019 Egypt International tournament.

The tournament serves off today but the trio will join the action tomorrow in the main draw in the round of 32. The competition ends on Sunday, October 20.

Adesokan (Africa’s number one female player), Opeyori (Africa’s number one male players) and Nigeria’s second best men player, Olofua, will all play in the Singles event, while Opeyori and Olofua will also do battle in the Men’s Double.

After the Cairo tournament, the Nigerian stars will move to Algiers to take part in the 2019 Algeria International Championship holding from October 24 to 27 after which they will return home.

The quest continues with a tight and physically demanding schedule to the Cameroon International November 14 to 17), Scottish Open (November 20 to 24), Zambian International from November 28 to December 1) and a host of other meets in South Africa, Italy, Sweden among others.

According to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, this drive is to ensure that the players garner as much ranking points as possible to stay in contention in the race for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The players, who have expressed preparedness for the rigorous and demanding tasks ahead, have assured the BFN of their determination to give their best at the tournaments.

Opeyori stated that they were ready for the task ahead while commending the BFN for believing in the players to deliver the goods. He said that playing and doing well in many tournaments would help them garner enough points to hopefully make it to Tokyo.

“I am hopeful that the three of us will make it to Tokyo. We are prepared for the task ahead and we have trained hard. All we need do is give our best at these tournaments,” Opeyori stated.

The BFN is leaving no stone unturned in the all-important mission of securing spots in the Tokyo Olympics.

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United players organise Dubai training camp

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United players organise Dubai training camp

Several Manchester United players have organised their own training camp in Dubai during the forthcoming international break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given players not on international duty some time off and a group have taken it on themselves to organise the trip, taking a couple of members of United’s coaching staff with them to lead sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,reports Skysports.

Some of the squad will remain in Manchester and train at Carrington during the break, so whether it’s the wind and rain of the Aon Training Complex or the blue skies of Dubai, the idea is to build on the industry of the last international break, which resulted in a spirited performance against league leaders Liverpool.

Dubai has become an important base for United this season with Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Luke Shaw all undergoing fitness and rehab programmes there in recent weeks.

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Arsenal insist Unai Emery is ‘the right man for the job’

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Arsenal insist Unai Emery is ‘the right man for the job’

Arsenal have given Unai Emery a public vote of confidence, backing him to turn their fortunes around but adding a clear caveat that the team’s form must improve.

Emery’s position has come under scrutiny after a turbulent start to the season that has brought a run of one win in six Premier League games. They are eight points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and nine short of Leicester, who beat them 2-0 on Saturday and sit in second place.

There is an appetite at boardroom level to give Emery, who replaced Arsène Wenger in May 2018, significantly more time but concern is growing that Arsenal risk falling well out of the running for Champions League qualification and it is unlikely the slide would be allowed to continue indefinitely, reports The Guardian.

On Monday the club’s head of football, Raul Sanllehi, and the managing director, Vinai Venkatesham, told a meeting of 200 club staff at the Emirates Stadium that the manager retains their faith.

“We are as disappointed as everyone else with both our results and performances at this stage of the season. We share the frustration with our fans, Unai, players and all our staff as they are not at the level we want or expect,” read a precis of their comments, circulated by the club and issued in both men’s names.

“Things need to improve to meet our objectives for the season and we firmly believe Unai is the right man for the job, together with the backroom team we have in place. We are all working intensively behind the scenes to turn things around and are confident we will.”

The implication is that Emery, who spent Monday at a UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum in Nyon, must get a tune out of his players soon if the club’s tone is not to shift. Successive matches against the bottom two, Southampton and Norwich, after the international break offer scope for at least a short-term upturn, as did an improved first hour at the King Power Stadium. But the atmosphere among fans is tense and those at the meeting, which was planned and not a reaction to recent events, also heard an appeal for unity.

“We never take our fantastic support for granted,” the statement attributed to Sanllehi and Venkatesham said. “We hope we can all stick together and get behind the team in this challenging period, as together we are stronger.”

Those words could be interpreted as an appeal directed towards, among others, the fans who jeered Granit Xhaka off the pitch during last month’s draw with Crystal Palace.

Xhaka’s reaction led to a chain of events that have included the midfielder being stripped of the captaincy and effectively declaring himself unavailable to play. He has largely kept his counsel since but told the newspaper Blick, in his native Switzerland, that he is now happy to come back.

“I feel that the incident has been dealt with and I’m ready to return,” Xhaka said. He also made clear his views on the reaction inside the stadium that led him to gesture and swear towards the crowd. “It was very hurtful and frustrating,” he continued. “I can’t understand a reaction like it even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me.

“If the team and I don’t play well, we have to listen and work on it. But insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting. That makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.

“Let’s face it, we’re talking about football and a captaincy. I know that means the world to a lot of people here in London. But we’re at a point now where I have to say clearly that we ought to take stock and make sure things are not getting completely out of hand.”

Xhaka will spend the next week with Switzerland, who face Georgia and Gibraltar. On his return Emery, who last week suggested the midfielder might not play for Arsenal again, will have to decide whether his reintegration is a realistic prospect.

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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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