HUGE TURN–OUT AT EAGLETS SCREENING

The eagerly awaited screening of budding talents into the U-17 National Team, Golden Eaglets started on Tuesday at the NFF\FIFA Goal Project in Abuja with large turn-up of players from nooks and crannies of the country. Though 40 players were officially invited, over 3000 players actually turned up on Monday and Tuesday.

Ikegwuonu Ebuka Stanley who came from Imo State said it was his desire to feature for the Golden Eaglets in order to start his football career on a good note. “I want to play for my country and I know this will be a stepping stone if I can make it,” said Stanley, a player with Owerri-based Jahrule Academy. “I’m proud of the last two teams that won the World Cup and I’m also looking forward to an opportunity to represent my country at this level.”

Speaking on the same note, Tomiwa Durotoye, a Year 10(SS1) student at famous Daywaterman College in Abeokuta, said he was passionate about playing for Nigeria. “I was part of my school’s team that recently won the AISEN Competition in Lagos but playing at the national team level will be a dream come true for me,” said the light-skinned lad who is an academy player at Clique Sport.

Yet, Coach Manu Garba has warned that it would take more than enthusiasm on the part of the players to make the team, warning the players to be of good conduct during the screening exercise.

Huge turn–out at Eaglets screening
Huge turn–out at Eaglets screening

“We are going to give all of you equal opportunity but you have to be disciplined and do your best when you are given the opportunity to show what you can do on the pitch,” said the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup–winning coach. He continued: “Please, don’t let anyone fool you and collect any money from you; you will be judged by what you can do on the pitch as well as sound proof that you are within the age bracket.”

The on going screening exercise is part of the Golden Eaglets’ preparations towards qualification for the 2017 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations to be hosted by Madagascar. The Golden Eaglets would be away to Niger on the first weekend of August 5-7 with the reverse fixture in Nigeria a fortnight later.

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From One Olympic Venue To The Next

Weymouth and Portland, the London 2012 sailing venue, will play host to the final big hit out before sailors make their way to Marina da Gloria in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.

From 6-12 June, Weymouth and Portland will host 380 sailors from 44 nations across the ten Olympic fleets for the next instalment of the Sailing World Cup.

Many of the sailors racing on the British waters will be crowned an Olympic champion in just 66 days’ time. Weymouth and Portland will offer all the final opportunity to fine tune their technique and test themselves against their rivals in a formal regatta environment before Rio 2016.

The 25-boat Nacra 17 fleet will be one of the most competitive in Weymouth and Portland with no fewer than nine of the world’s top ten set to compete.

Copyright onEdition 2015© credit: onEdition Jason Waterhous and Lisa Darmanin, AUS, Mixed Multihull (Nacra 17)
Copyright onEdition 2015©
credit: onEdition
Jason Waterhous and Lisa Darmanin, AUS, Mixed Multihull (Nacra 17)

Whenever Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) set sail in a Nacra 17 regatta they are viewed as favourites by the sailors, spectators and the media and that is unlikely to change for Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland. The duo have dominated the Rio 2016 quadrennial, becoming one of the first teams to win all four World Championships in an Olympic cycle. Their feat was matched by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) in the 49er.

Following their victory at the 2016 Nacra 17 Worlds in Clearwater, USA they took a further gold at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Just two weeks later, at Sailing World Cup Hyères, they showed they were human after all, only managing a sixth place.

It will be the first time that Besson has competed on the London 2012 Olympic waters but for Riou, the surroundings will be all too familiar. Riou campaigned for and competed at London 2012 in the Women’s Match Racing event. The 2016 edition of Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland will be her sixth event on the waters so her experience and knowledge will prove vital if the French pair are to walk away as champions.

Copyright onEdition 2015© credit: onEdition Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos Moro, ESP, Women's Skiff (49erFX)
Copyright onEdition 2015©
credit: onEdition
Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos Moro, ESP, Women’s Skiff (49erFX)

Australia’s Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin took the Weymouth and Portland Sailing World Cup gold medals away in 2015 and make a return to the venue. The Australians, currently ranked World #2, sealed victory in the Medal Race, overcoming Switzerland’s Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger. The Swiss team will be back in 2016 aiming to go one better.

The World #1 Nacra 17 team Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) will be in amongst the front runners as will Sailing World Cup Hyères gold medallists Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco (ESP) and Sailing World Cup Miami winners Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning (NED).

In the 49erFX, Spain’s Tamara Echegoyen will make a return to the venue where she was crowned an Olympic champion in Women’s Match Racing. Soon after London 2012 she switched to the 49erFX to sail with Berta Betanzos. After a slow start to the campaign they found their legs in the Women’s Skiff and secured their first Sailing World Cup podium finish at the 2015 edition of Weymouth and Portland. Their rise through the ranks continued and at the 2016 World Championships they walked away as victors and remain a mainstay at the front of the fleet.

Joining them in the 19 boat 49erFX fleet in Weymouth and Portland will be 2013 World Champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL), Sailing World Cup Hyeres gold medallists Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE) as well 2016 European Champions Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov Iversen (DEN).

The World Sailing TV YouTube Channel will be showing Sunday 12 June’s Medal Races live. A URL and code for embedding into your website is below:
URL – https://youtu.be/DljxrjNTyLo
Embed Code –

The 49er will welcome 40-boats in Weymouth and Portland. The World #1 crew Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) will lead the charge with Delta Lloyd Regatta and Sailing World Cup Miami victors Diego Botin and Iago Lopez (ESP) alongside them. Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta winners Ryan Seaton and Matthew McGovern (IRL) will also be within the fleet.

The Men’s and Women’s RS:X fleets will welcome 20 and 10 sailors respectively. London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nick Dempsey (GBR) will spearhead the Men’s RS:X fleet and he will be joined by Olympic Test Event gold medallist Aichen Wang (CHN), World #2 Tom Squires (GBR) and World #10 Daniele Benedetti of Italy. Two-time Youth Worlds gold medallist Stefania Elfutina (RUS) and 2015 Women’s RS:X World Champion Peina Chen (CHN) will go in the Women’s fleet.

Racing kicks off on Wednesday 8 June and will conclude on Sunday 12 June with the Medal Races which will be broadcast live on the World Sailing TV YouTube Channel.

Daniel Smith
World Sailing

Kunlunshan Becomes Snooker’s Official Water Partner

World Snooker is delighted to announce Kunlunshan as the new official water partner for several of the sport’s biggest tournaments for the next three years.

Kunlunshan (Kunlun Mountain Water) will be snooker’s official water partner at the UK Championship, the Masters, the Welsh Open and the World Championship for the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons.

Branded water, glasses and ice buckets will be displayed on set next to the players and during post-match interviews at each of these tournaments.

Kunlunshan is China’s leading brand of natural mineral water and is taken from an area over 6,000 metres high in the Kunlun Mountains.

Kunlunshan will also be the title sponsor of the annual Fans Player of the Year award, voted for by fans on social media on Twitter as well as Weibo and WeChat in China. This award was won this year by Ronnie O’Sullivan.

World Snooker director Jason Ferguson was in Beijing today to announce the partnership and said: “We are thrilled to announce a strategic partnership agreement with a major Chinese brand in Kunlunshan.

“The UK Championship, the Masters, the Welsh Open and the World Championship are broadcast here in China and all around the world and produce staggering viewing figures, with this year’s World Championship watched by 210 million people on CCTV in China alone.

The partnership with Kunlunshan Water was announced at a  press conference in Beijing
The partnership with Kunlunshan Water was announced at a press conference in Beijing

“So this new partnership will provide maximum opportunity for our sport to show just what it can do for a major Chinese brand. And it will display the World Snooker brand alongside Kunlunshan Water, showing just how high a mountain our sport has climbed.

“The timing of this strategic partnership is perfect, as the World Snooker Tour continues to grow, events are getting bigger and bigger, more and more people are tuning in.

“Kunlunshan Water is a brand we are very proud to be associated with. I know we will be great partners and I welcome them officially to the World Snooker family.”

I DIDN’T CRITICIZE THE REFEREES, INYAMA

Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia Chairman, Chief Emeka Inyama has described as mischievous and misleading, a report credited to him in one of Nigeria’s respected all-sports National tabloids, where he was quoted as saying that Referees are killing the Nigerian League.

Chief Inyama who angrily reacted to the publication, questioned the authenticity of the story since the so called reporter could neither state where nor when the interview took place.

“You can see that this story was simply fabricated to tarnish my image. That is why it is not credited to anybody and the so-called reporter who hid his name could not state when or where the interview took place. In the first place, I never granted any interview to anybody concerning officiating of the Nigerian Professional Football League. So, this is just an imagination of the writer”, he clarified.

Chief Inyama said having been in the business of football administration for more than two decades, he is aware of the vast improvement in the officiating of the Nigerian League as demonstrated with the fact that teams can now win, draw or lose at any venue even at home.

Chairman of Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia, Chief Emeka Inyama Chairman of Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia, Chief Emeka Inyama[/caption

“Even the worst critic would admit the good work the League Management Company has done in the last couple of years. The positive changes and innovations have made the teams to be more confident that they can get good result at any venue if they played well and it is what makes the league thick”, the Abia Warriors Chairman said.

Chief Inyama, who disclosed that he has always been an architect of good and fair officiating, called on the various sports editors to ensure they verify sources of stories filed by their reporters before publication in order not to bring the image of their organization into disrepute.

GOV. WIKE APPOINTS YOBO AS SPECIAL ASSISTANT By Akeem Busari

Coming quickly on the heels of his well attended testimonial game, the former captain of the Super Eagles, Joseph Yobo has been appointed by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, as the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on sports development.

According to Simeon Nwakadu, Special Assistant to the governor on electronic media, the appointment takes immediate effect.

Joseph Yobo photo credit: @jyobo234
Joseph Yobo
photo credit: @jyobo234

Yobo who is credited with over a 100 caps for the Super Eagles, had his official testimonial game last Friday in Port Harcourt, with former colleagues and friends like Samuel Eto O’Fils, Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Vincent Enyiama and several other distinguished ex footballers in attendance.

FCT INAUGURATE SWIMMING ASSOCIATION BOARD

The board of FCT swimming association was inaugurated today at (Tuesday May 31st) at the FCT sports council secretariat in Abuja.

Speaking at the occasion, Director of Sports, FCT State Sports Council, Chief, Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedima charged the new chairperson and the board members to be up and doing and ensure that they live up to expectations in the discharge of their duties.

Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedima said that the board must ensure that the association’s secretary, head coaches and other staff carry out their duties in order to improve sports in the state.

“I am expecting the board to give its best at all time. I wish you the best in the discharge of your duties,” she said.

The newly appointed chairperson of FCT swimming association, Mrs. Maryam Damisa expressed her delight for being elected as chairman of the association.

Mrs. Maryam Damisa said that she would leave nothing to chance to ensure that swimming sport is taken to the next level in the FCT.

The FCT Director of sports Chief, Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedima performed the inauguration ceremony in the presence of FCT deputy director of sports, Mallam Musa Kantagora and with some sports administrators, athletes and journalists.

Director of Sports, FCT State Sports Council, Chief, Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedima
Director of Sports, FCT State Sports Council, Chief, Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedima

The newly appointed board members are ….

1. Mrs. Maryam Damisa – Chairperson
2. Mrs. Nana Gbolahan – Vice Chairperson
3. Mrs. Jumai Oloyede – Member
4. Dr. Mrs Nnenna Oduwusi – Member
5. Mrs. Nkonye Duru – Member
6. Mr. Akinkunle Bolarinwa – Member
7. Mr. Jimmy Celio – Member

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) believes the new board of the swimming association would help drive its sports developmental programmes for the next four years.

Green Excited As Eagles thrash Luxembourg 3-1

Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green was happy with the Super Eagles’ 3-1 win over Red Lions of Luxembourg in an international friendly at the Stade Josy Barthel on Tuesday.

After Arsenal FC’s Alex Iwobi fluffed a one-on-one chance with goalkeeper Anthony Morris in the 11th minute and Brown Ideye fumbled with an opportunity eight minutes later, Ideye himself opened the scoring nine minutes from half time when he tucked home after Morris dropped a scorching Ogenyi Onazi shot from the edge of the box.

Manchester City starlet Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored the only goal in the defeat of Mali in Rouen, France on Friday, was a constant threat throughout, and had a shot blocked in the 24th minute before Morris was lucky to get a hand to his screamer on the dot of half time.

After a ding dong stretch in the opening period of the second half, Iheanacho tucked home Nigeria’s second in the 69th minute after Moses Simon capitalized on an error by Morris to run free of the home defence and square to the England –based forward.

Four minutes later, an audacious Moses Simon free –kick went narrowly off target, and then substitute Odion Ighalo missed a sitter with 10 minutes to go.

Errors by Raheem Lawal and Kenneth Omeruo let in the impressive Vincent Thill on the dot of time, with a goal that gave real joy to the home crowd. However, the Eagles would have the last word, with Ighalo shooting in from close range after good work by Iheanacho.

It was the first international goal for Thill, who plays for Metz in France and is courted by German champions Bayern Munich.

“I can say that now, we have a young and ambitious group that we can be proud of. With the exception of two or three people, this is the Super Eagles’ team going forward. I am happy at the output of the squad in these two matches.

“I am also happy about the technical crew. The changes they made in both matches turned both games around. The NFF will ensure that the coaches get good exposure and necessary education to become even better managers,” said Green, who watched the match alongside NFF Executive Committee members Ahmed Yusuf Fresh and Sharif Rabiu Inuwa.

Green added that the focus of the NFF is now on the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying series starting in October. “Yes, we see this team as the nucleus of the squad that will prosecute the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. For sure, the NFF will ensure that we make good use of the FIFA windows before then.”

Respected Belgian tactician, Tom Saintfiet (a household name in Africa), who watched the game at the Stade Josy Barthel, told thenff.com: “Certainly, it is always more difficult to play the so–called smaller teams. They go all out at you because they really don’t have much to lose.

“The Super Eagles had a great game in the second half because they made good use of space and created several chances. It was a bit tight in the first half because Luxembourg refused to come out to play and concentrated on frustrating Nigeria. I think these matches (including the one against Mali in France) were good for the Super Eagles.”

Super Eagles
Super Eagles

Also at the match were officials of the Embassy of Nigeria in Belgium, which oversees the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Head of Chancery, Ahmed Sulu Gambari and Isiaka Abdulkadir, administrative attaché, expressed their joy over the Eagles’ performance.

“We heard of the victory over Mali in France and came here with a lot of expectations. We are very happy the Eagles responded immediately after Luxembourg scored, to leave the scoreline respectable. This young team has shown a lot of promise,” said Sulu Gambari.

The sentiment was shared by the leaders of the 350 –strong Nigerian community in Luxembourg, as expressed by the Chairman, Mr. Kayode Oke and the secretary, Alhaji Babatunde Otukoya.

“I can tell you we are happy because of this result,” stated Oke. “We told the people of Luxembourg before the match our country is very big and much stronger in football. Now, the Super Eagles have proved us right.”