Sunshine Stars’ Sikiru Alimi Yearns For More VAT Wonder Goal Honours

Sikiru Alimi has the typical build of an active athlete and spots the scraggly beards that is trendy amongst contemporary youths globally. But his appearances does not give a hint of his push and drive on the pitch, a monstrous chase that covers almost every blade of grass on the field in pursuit or possession of the ball.

Sunday, April 29 was his moment at the Akure Township stadium where he was formally presented the award plaque for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) VAT Wonder Goal Award following his overwhelming selection by fans who cast votes for nominees including his closest rival, Chijioke Alaekwe of FC IfeanyiUbah. Incidentally their goals came off the match between their clubs, though FC IfeanyiUbah won 3-1 on the day.

Sunshine Stars Players pose with Sikiru Alimi, VAT Wonder Goal winner

Done with the presentation made by Mr. Ishola Akingbade, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Coordinator for Kwara, Ondo and Ekiti States but who was represented by the Ondo State Tax Controller, Lawal Bashir, the player joined his mates for the business of Match Day 19 against league leaders, Lobi Stars.

The fixture last season produced sparks and some controversy that led to Sunshine Stars sanctioned by the League Management Company (LMC). This time, the hosts spared nothing to chance and while the gates were thrown open for fans, security was heightened with stern looking operatives barking out queries to persons deemed to be going into prohibited areas.

The first half was delightful as both sides played good passing games, seeking to breach the other’s backline. While possession may have been near even, it was Sunshine Stars that made the most effort at breaking the deadlock with three direct attempts at goal that were thwarted by goalkeeper Olukayode Femi who ended up the man of the match.

Match Day 16 VAT Wonder Goal Award 16 winner,Sikiru Alimi of Sunshine Stars receiving his award from Lawal Bashir, FIRS Ondo State Tax Controller (2nd left)

Alimi was in the thick of all offensive play by the hosts, running back on occasions to tackle, receive passes and at other times fending off markers to provide or lay passes to mates. He was rewarded with a penalty midway into the second half when a defender clattered into him inside the box.

Brave Heart
Alimi picked himself up, grabbed the ball and took the spot kick. It wasn’t a poor kick but Olukayode was having a good day and guessed right to dive and parry out the ball. The match would end 1-1 thanks to added time equaliser by Sunshine Stars after they were taken for dead following Samad Kadiri’s goal that put Lobi ahead about ten minutes to the end.

“We have seen big players all over the world miss penalties”, offered Alimi with no hint of regret even as he added, “naturally, I feel bad not scoring that penalty but it happens in football. My kick was good but the goalkeeper timed it right”.

On the VAT Wonder Goal Award, he let a smile slip and wiped off sweat from his forehead as he spoke of the motivation that comes from being honoured.

“It is the reason I work hard besides trying to help my club win. The award is very motivating and I will continue to perfect my game to make sure I win more for my club and for the opportunity to support charity”, continued Alimi who also chipped in that he has always supported charity personally.

Sikiru Alimi of Sunshine Stars, winner of Match Day 16 VAT Wonder Goal

“I am happy the FIRS and the League is helping us do charity work which is something I have always done in my own little way. I want to thank the organisers and also promise to do my best to fight for the award”.

On a last note, Alimi would not end without expressing worries for his club which he insisted is playing far better than the result they have obtained so far. “We have a very good team, the players are doing their best but we are not where we are supposed to be on the table and we will continue to work to get there, which is the top or near the top|”.

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Snooker Shoot Out Here To Stay As Eurosport And Quest Agree To Take Over As Host Broadcaster

Snooker’s Shoot Out event will be televised live by Eurosport and Quest for the first time next season.

The world ranking tournament, which has been running since 2011, has a unique set of rules, with matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes and a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

Broadcast of the event has now been incorporated into World Snooker’s long-term partnership with Eurosport and Quest, which runs until 2026. The Shoot Out brings the total number of events broadcast by Eurosport to 19 (17 in the UK) with qualifying rounds and other events available on Eurosport Player.

The 2019 Shoot Out will run from February 21-24, at the Watford Colosseum, with Eurosport and Quest as the host broadcaster.

The tournament features 128 players in a flat draw, each needing to win seven matches to take the title. Michael Georgiou captured the trophy for the first time in 2018, beating Graeme Dott in a dramatic final.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to be working with Eurosport and Quest on the Shoot Out for the first time. We have established a fantastic partnership with them in recent years. Eurosport really is the Home of Snooker, broadcasting to 137 million homes in 54 countries. We have also seen incredible viewing figures on Quest since they first televised snooker in 2016.

“The Shoot Out is a wonderful event which has become one of the highlights of the season for fans who enjoy the fast and furious pace of play. The 2018 Shoot Out was the best I have ever seen, with so many matches going down to the last few seconds, including the final which was a great moment for Michael Georgiou. It’s a chance for up and coming players to make a name for themselves.

“I’m sure snooker fans will be thrilled that the Shoot Out will stay on the calendar and will be televised both on Eurosport and free-to-air on Quest.”

The agreement to broadcast the Shoot Out supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker throughout the season. The pan-European broadcaster already screens in excess of 800 hours of live snooker action throughout the season.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

Laurent Prud’homme, Senior Vice President Rights Acquisition and Syndication at Eurosport, said: “The idea of making snooker quicker and more appealing to a wider viewership through the Shoot Out concept aligns neatly with our own objective to appeal to new and younger and audiences.

“We’re delighted to secure the rights to showcase the Shoot Out on Eurosport and Quest in the UK and are already looking forward to seeing the best players in the world go toe-to-toe – not only playing against esteemed opponents, but also playing against the clock.

“The agreement supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker, where we already offer fans in excess of 800 hours of live action from around the world throughout the season.”

Ticket details for the 2019 Shoot Out will be released soon.

Stephen Keshi Under17 Tourney Gets Trophy, NFF Endorsement

The maiden edition of the Stephen Keshi U17 tourney, scheduled to hold in the month of June 2018 in Benin City, the Edo State Capital, has been receiving support from all and sundry.

The organizers of the event and the umbrella body of Nigerian Footballers, past and present, National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers (NANPF), said the event will be a big one and have already gotten a trophy sponsor for the event in the mould of Hon.(Dr), Omorogie Ogbeide Ihama, representing Oredo Constituency in the Federal House Of Representative.

The lawmaker, who is the Chairman, House Committee Culture and Tourism, has already donated a trophy for the championship and has promised to do more in memory of Nigeria’s longest serving national team captain, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi.

Stephen Keshi

The trophy will be presented to NANPF in conjunction with the Stephen Keshi Football and Vocational Training Centre, will be presented to the players’ union during the National Football Seminar, holding from May 3rd, 2018 at the Conference Hall, Wesley Hotel, Benin City, according to the release signed by Comrade Danladi Musa for NANPF.

Danladi also brandished a letter from the Nigeria Football Federation, endorsing the tournament, which he said is meant to discover new talent that will take Nigerian football from grass to grace. “Keshi, Henry Nwosu and a lot of the players that you adore today were discovered when they were still at their young ages and that is what we can use the spirit of the legendary Stephen Keshi to achieve”, declared Asutin Popo, NANPF Secretary General.

Rangers Find Range Against Wikki Tourists F.C In NPFL 2018 Match Day 19 Fixture

Players of the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C shrugged off what could be termed lethargic performance in the last four NPFL fixtures without a single goal to fire three past a determined and enterprising Wikki Tourists F.C in a match day 19 fixture in Enugu.

The visitors were the better off the block as the referee signalled the start of hostilities and could have shot into the lead as early as the 7th and 10th minutes but Femi Thomas, who was between the sticks for the seven time Nigerian league champions proved his mettle to push out a Shammah Tanze and Manu Garba’ efforts.

Pius Ibrahim of Wikki Tourists is beaten for the first goal

Sensing trouble, former Super Eagles winger, Felix Ogbuke, Tope Olusesi and Tayo Fabiyi upped their games and took the battle to the half of the visitors with Tope forcing Pius Ibrahim to make a point blank save on 22 minutes but there was no stopping the host from taking the lead on 35 minutes as Godwin Aguda scrambled home a perfectly weighted free kick from Felix Ogbuke.

Efforts from both sides to score more goals could not materialize as a combination of good goalkeeping and wasteful attitude ensured both teams retired to their dressing rooms with only one goal to show for their efforts.

The visitors upped their game as the second stanza got underway and could have levelled scores on 67 minutes as lone striker, Tanze was freed by a delightful pass from Victor Alegbe only for Rangers shot stopper, Femi Thomas to deny the effort from hitting the net.

Midfield maestro, Christian Madu increased the tally for the host as his long range effort took a wicked deflection off a Wikki defender to nestle inside the net on 70 minutes and it could have been worse for the visitors two minutes later as substitute, Kelvin Itoya reacted late to a spilled ball by their goalkeeper.

Itoya, however, made up for his miss earlier with a sublime free kick from the edge of the box after goal bound Tope Olusesi was upended and the former Warri Wolves midfielder curled the ball past the six man wall of defence set by Pius Ibrahim to hit the net for the third goal in the 75th minute.

Abdullahi Musa of Wikki Tourists challenges Tayo Fabiyi of Rangers

The visitors thought they had found a way past the defence line of the host on 90 minutes but left back, Isaac Loute, who did well all through the game, was alert enough to make a goal line clearance after Thomas found himself in no-man’s land.

Coach Famous Ogbe who spoke after the match said, “It was a good game with plenty of goals for our team even though, the visitors gave us some anxious moments in the game. We continue with our re-building process as we continue to chase our target at the end of the season. We thank our fans for standing solidly behind us in our last four matches when the results did not come as expected.”

Bala Nikyu, gaffer of the Bauchi side, said, “Well, nobody would expect this kind of result in a match having started well. In the first ten minutes when we threw away two glaring chances, I knew something will happen. Football is a very funny kind of sports. There are times you will play badly and still win and sometimes, you play well and lose. I am not disappointed with the performance of my players today. I believe it was destined to happen this way.”

Tope Olusesi of Rangers is challenged by Pius Ibrahim of Wikki Tourists

RANGERS TEAM LIST: Femi Thomas, Chidera Eze, Isaac Loute, Christian Madu, Okey Odita, Pape Ousmane, Tope Olusesi (Richard Jonathan -86th Min.), Godwin Aguda, Tayo Fabiyi (Godwin Zaki -80th Min.), Solomon Okpako, Felix Ogbuke (Kelvin Itoya -75th Min.). SUBS NOT USED: James Aiyeyemi, Adun Osamudiamwen, Chibuzor Madu, Chiamaka Madu.

GOALS: Godwin Aguda -35th minute, Christian Madu -70th minute, Kelvin Itoya – 75th minute.

WIKKI TOURISTS TEAM LIST: Pius Ibrahim, Bala Zakka (Mustapha Ibrahim -77th Min.), Waziri Christopher, Abdulkareem Chindo, Peter Ambrose, Audullahi Musa, Abbe Umar (Abubakar Umar -60th Min.), Shammah Tanze, Manu Garba, Emmanuel Agwu, Victor Alegbe (Kalu Samuel -77th Min.). SUBS NOT USED: Emeka Onyia, Giwa Isaac, Hassan Abubakar, Elijah Ani.

NFF Takes Note Of Supreme Court Verdict, Says No Cause For Alarm

The Nigeria Football Federation said at the weekend that it had taken note of the decision of the Supreme Court to refer back to the Federal High Court, to start afresh a case brought before the apex court by two football stakeholders against the NFF leadership.

NFF 1st Vice President/Chairman, Legal Committee, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, said the NFF Board appreciated the reasoning of the apex court in refusing the prayers of the appellants, which if granted would have accord them some kind of legitimacy, against the backdrop of an ongoing administration of Nigerian Football which is at the cusp of taking Nigeria to the world’s greatest football event, the World Cup. He disclosed that the NFF’s lawyers are confidently prepared to argue the case afresh and look forward to finally putting the matter to rest, and to prove to the world that Nigerian football can continue to be run in its orderly manner. He referred to the case as a mere distraction for Nigerian Football which ought not to have been instituted in the first place given the convention for resolution of football disputes.

The 1st Vice President said: “We are law-abiding citizens of this great country, and we have no qualms about starting the case afresh. The Supreme Court did the right thing in the circumstances, and while we must be careful not to discuss matters which are subjudice, we must note that the appellants have within the norms in sporting disputes, actually exhausted all legitimate channels in this matter, including arguing their position, and failing, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Globally, the convention of football is that football matters should not be taken to civil courts. Instead, it should be taken to Arbitration as the appellants have already done in this matter with no success. That ordinarily should have been the end of the matter. However, as law-abiding citizens, the NFF is ready to follow this through, vindicate ourselves and continue with the peaceful and enormous progress that has come to define Nigerian Football in the past few years.”

Akinwunmi assured all stakeholders of the game in Nigeria and lovers of Nigerian Football elsewhere that there is no cause for alarm, noting that the case starting afresh is an opportunity to firmly and formally reiterate the tenets of good governance and order in local and international football administration which has been tenaciously adhered to by the present leadership of the NFF.

“It is important to assure our partners and sponsors, football players, service providers and CAF and FIFA that there is nothing to worry about. We are preparing for the biggest football extravaganza in the universe which starts in a few weeks, and we do not want our players to be unnecessarily disturbed or distracted.

Seyi Akinwunmi 1st Vice-President NFF

“We also want to assure the Senior Women Team (Super Falcons) and the U20 boys (Flying Eagles), who are starting qualifying campaigns for continental competitions very soon, as well as the U20 (Falconets) who have qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup finals taking place in France in a few months, that there is nothing to panic about.

“We appreciate the Members of the Congress, CAF and FIFA for their support and confidence in the NFF leadership and assure them that this matter will be put to rest shortly.”

NPFL 2018 Match Day 19: DAUDA RED CARD LEADS TO STALEMATE

Ten-man Enyimba dominated proceedings, but could not find the breakthrough, drawing 0-0 against Akwa United on Sunday.

The two-time African champions were forced to play the entirety of the second half a man light, following the sending-off of goalkeeper Fatau Dauda five minutes before the break.

The Ghana international was one of a number of returnees to the team, with Isiaka Oladuntoye also returning after serving a three-game ban.

Enyimba United FC Vs Akwa United FC

In a game which started slowly, it was the visiting goalkeeper who was first called into action, as both Joseph Osadiaye and Chinonso Okonkwo tested him from free-kick situations. Ibrahim Mustapha then headed over an inviting cross, before the game’s entire dynamic changed.

Ifeanyi Ede called Dauda into a smart low save, but from the ensuing corner, the former Enyimba man seemed to get into an altercation with the goalkeeper, and went down off the ball. After consultations, the referee produced a red card to reduce Enyimba to 10 men.

This saw reserve Theophilus Afelokhai make his first league appearance of the campaign, but he had precious little to do, as the People’s Elephant came out fired up after the break.

Ifeanyi Anaemena had the ball in the net 10 minutes after the break, but was adjudged to have handled the ball, then Mustapha passed up a chance to score after Shagari flapped at a cross.

However, the best chance fell to Abdulrahman Bashir. The striker was out through one-on-one with the goalkeeper by Mustapha’s deft flick, but improbably poked his finish over the top.

The visitors then might have stolen the points late on, as substitute Daniel Ekpo’s shot, from the edge of the area, came back off the crossbar and ricocheted off Afelokhai to safety.

Enyimba United FC

FINAL: Enyimba 0-0 Akwa United

Enyimba Starting XI: Fatau Dauda, Andrew Abalogu, Nasiru Sani, Tofic Omar, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Abdulrahman Bashir, Ibrahim Mustapha (Gabriel Orok 90′), Chinonso Okonkwo (Freedom Omofoman 48′), Austin Oladapo, Joseph Osadiaye (Theophilus Afelokhai 45′)

Unused Substitutes: Ernest Governor, Chinedu Udeagha, Dare Ojo, Leonard Ugochukwu.

Akwa United Starting XI: Ismaila Shagari, Etim Matthew, Gabriel Wassa (Daniel Ekpo 85′), Kelly Kester, Denis Nya, Godspower Igudia, Jamiu Alimi, Michael Ibe, Haggai Katoh (Victor Mbaoma 71′), Cyril Olisema, Ifeanyi Ede.

Unused Substitutes: Emmanuel Iwu, Otobong Effiong, Ayobami Asekunowo, Christopher Lolo, Gabriel Okechukwu.

Yellow card(s): Tofic Omar, Ibrahim Mustapha, Ifeanyi Anaemena (ENY); Ismaila Shagari, Etim Matthew, Kelly Kester, Victor Mbaoma (AKW)

Red card(s): Fatau Dauda

Henri Demesmaeker and Frederique van Eupen (BEL) Win 2018 Nacra 15 Worlds

Over the last week in Barcelona, 60 eager Nacra 15 youth teams representing 18 Nations and four continents sailed their inaugural Nacra 15 World Championship. Competitors from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Spain, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, US Virgin Islands, Holland, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.

Catalonian weather conditions although beautiful, were difficult with Monday and Tuesday leaving the fleet ashore without a breath. After a long wait afloat on Wednesday, when it did fill for three races it was shifty and puffy suiting the tactical and lighter teams. 19 races were scheduled for the championship and the race committee did well to run a total of 10. Thursday saw maximum effort to get the race count in with a scheduled 8.15am start seeing the fleet prepare at dawn. Unfortunately after two attempts to get the fleet away the light northerly gave out slowly swinging to the east and after a very long wait, finally giving the fleet a further 3 races again in light wind conditions.

Photo credits : Laurens Morel – saltycolours.com

Saving the best until last, on the final day Barcelona delivered. Friday brought excellent conditions with the building breeze testing the sailors and giving the older more powerful sailors the opportunity to push on, twin trapezing and really getting the best from the exciting Nacra 15. The breeze built in the first three races and dropping again for the fourth of the day. Although a predominantly light regatta, there was something for everyone giving a balanced, hard earned result.

Winners Nacra 15 World Championships 2018:
1, Henri Demesmaeker & Fredrique van Eupen (BEL)
2, Doran Gouran Le Rich & Kenza Coutard (FRA)
3, Thomas Proust & Martineau Clement (FRA)

The best team under 16 was the French team Thomas Proust (11 year) & Martineau Clement (14 year). After the first 2 days they were leading the fleet, but could not consolidate this during the final racing day with more wind. We expect a lot from this team in the future!

This championship was also important for the qualification of 7 further countries to participate in October 2018 during the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina. The goal, to be one of the fourteen Nacra 15 teams representing their respective countries who will participate during these Youth Olympic Games. The teams must be mixed teams in the age born between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2003.

The qualification system to participate the Youth Olympics is based on four qualification events: In October 2017 in Medemblik Switzerland and Tunisia qualified; in November in America the USA and Uruguay qualified and in January in Australia the Australia and Singapore qualified. Host Nation, Argentina has a wildcard to participate the Youth Olympics. following the Nacra 15 Worlds in Barcelona 7 more countries have qualified: Belgium, France, Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Germany to complete the 14 allowed countries/teams.

Photo credits : Laurens Morel – saltycolours.com

The Nacra 15 class, originating in 2016 has grown quickly, now approaching almost 200 boats distributed Worldwide. The Nacra 15 is the smaller non-foiling version of the Olympic Nacra 17. Nacra 15, complementing the C foil fleet with a fully foiling option potentially available over 2019. The Nacra 15 is the perfect to have maximum fun whilst being a pathway for the youth to Olympic Sailing.

It’s so enthusing to see such a wide range of young sailors and athletes embracing Nacra 15, racing hard whilst making friends across the globe. For young sailors the Nacra 15 is really very exciting to sail. Sailors are predominantly coming from Optimist, Topper, 29’er or 420 and are sailing the Nacra 15 now for only 6 – 12 months. For some it’s been a big transition but teams have learned very fast which has made it so competitive, with tight racing right across the fleet with multiple boats finishing just meters from each other. Total high performance sailing at an impressive level, that’s Nacra 15.

The Nacra 15 Worlds has taken place at Barcelona International Sailing Center and is organized by Federació Catalana de Vela, Real Nautical Club, Reial Club Maritim Barcelona and the International Nacra 15 Class Association. The event is sponsored by the Government of Barcelona, Forward WIP, Island Tribe sun protection, Code Zero, Harken, PEGA trailers and Nacra Sailing.