Nigeria’s Eagles and England’s Three Lions in Glamour Encounter at Wembley

Nigeria and England go toe-to-toe in what promises to be a thrilling Russia 2018 preparatory game for both teams at the Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday.

England hosted and won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, but have only gone as far as the semi finals since then, when Bobby Robson steered a squad including Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne to the last four in Italy 28 years ago.

Just like the Three Lions, the Eagles are dreaming of big things to come in Russia, despite both teams being ‘blessed’ differently with intricate opposition in the group stage.

Wembley Stadium
photo credit: Jbmg40
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Nigeria must negotiate the obstacles offered by two-time world champions and reigning world vice champions Argentina, hard-as-nails eastern Europeans Croatia and an Iceland squad that stunned England and world football in the Round of 16 at the 2016 European Championship in France. England must sort matters out with strong African opponents Senegal, Japan and Panama.

They have never won the FIFA World Cup, have never even managed to proceed beyond the Round of 16 at the quadrennial tournament, but the Three Lions must beware of a supremely motivated Nigerian squad aiming for the heights in Russia.

A proactive, diligent and equally ambitious NFF leadership signed a landmark agreement with the team on FIFA World Cup funds as far back as November last year, and the process is on to credit the account of the players with what is due to them, more than two weeks before their first match against Croatia in Kaliningrad.

“The most important thing about the World Cup is not the money. But I must admit that the fact that the money is there and we know is there gives us extra energy, extra motivation in the preparations,” forward Kelechi Iheanacho told thenff.com.

Defensive stalwart Kenneth Omeruo, midfielders Ogenyi Onazi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi and forward Odion Ighalo also admitted this much in separate interviews with thenff.com.

On Thursday night, at a brief event at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, Senate President Bukola Saraki spurred the team on with a cash gift of $50,000, and with a pledge of ‘special package’ for every unreplied goal at the World Cup finals in Russia.

On Friday morning, the contingent met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Federal Council Chambers, and his words that they should go and fight with their spirit as the whole nation is behind them, are still ringing in the players’ ears.

After bidding President Buhari farewell, the delegation was flown to London aboard a luxury jet, and will train for the big match at the Wembley on Friday, between 5pm-6pm.

2018 FIFA World Cup International Friendly Match between Nigeria vs DR Congo on May 28th 2018 at Adokiye Amasimeka Stadium
©Kabiru Abubakar/fotodezamora

Skipper Mikel John Obi told thenff.com: “We are in England, a terrain most of us know too well. I was here and won several trophies with Chelsea, including the Champions League. It will be an interesting encounter on Saturday.”

In truth, a high percentage of the travelling Nigeria party are familiar with the United Kingdom. Wingback Victor Moses recently won the FA Cup with Chelsea FC, the west London club where Mikel Obi achieved great things; Wilfred Ndidi is reverred at another side Leicester City where he won the Young Player of the Year for the second successive season; Iheanacho is also at Leicester City; Alex Iwobi is with north Londoners Arsenal FC; Olaloluwa Aina is with Hull City; Ahmed Musa only recently left Leicester City; Odion Ighalo was a star at Watford FC before leaving for China last year and; Kenneth Omeruo is officially with Chelsea even though he has been on loan in Turkey.

Iheanacho said simply: “England’s players know us and we know them. It will be a good match.”

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IAAF CONTINENTAL CUP OSTRAVA 2018 SET TO BE A BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS – 100 DAYS TO GO

In 100 days’ time, hundreds of the world’s best athletes will descend on the Czech Republic for the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018.

The two-day event, held on 8-9 September, will be the first senior global track and field competition held in the Czech Republic. With many medallists from this year’s continental championships likely to compete in Ostrava, the local organising committee has dubbed the event a ‘battle of the champions’. This year’s edition will also welcome some tweaks in the competition format.

“The best of the best will come to Ostrava,” said Libor Varhanik, president of the LOC. “The new competition format will mean more drama, not only for the individual events but also in the team competition. It should also bring more fun for the spectators at the venue as well as the TV viewers.”

Format changes

Captains and jokers

Each team will have a legendary athlete as an honorary captain:

Africa: Nezha Bidouane, 1997 and 2001 world 400m hurdles champion
Americas: Mike Powell, 1991 and 1993 world long jump champion and world record-holder
Asia-Pacific: Jana Pittman, 2003 and 2007 world 400m hurdles champion
Europe: Colin Jackson, 1993 and 1999 world 110m hurdles champion

Part of a captain’s duty will be to play their ‘jokers’. Each team has two jokers to be used each day – one for a men’s event and one for a women’s event. If the team wins the event in which the joker is used, double points will be awarded to that team.

© IAAF

Scoring

In vertical jumps and track events up to and including 1500m, athletes will be ranked according to their finishing position (places 1-8). Teammates’ finishing positions will be added together to determine a team ranking, and then points are awarded with eight points going to the first team, six points to the second team, four points for third and two points for fourth.

Elimination events

In the 3000m and 3000m steeplechase, the athlete crossing the finish line in last position on designated laps will be eliminated, leaving four athletes to complete the last lap. A team ranking will then be determined by adding the finishing position of each athlete, and points will be awarded as above.

In the horizontal jumps and throws, every athlete will have three attempts. The fourth attempt will be given only to the best athlete from each team. The top two performers from the fourth round will each have one more attempt. The performance in that fifth and final round will determine the winner.

Relay

The two-day programme will conclude with a mixed 4x400m relay.

IAAF

Pieter de Villiers Released From South Africa Rugby Contract

SA Rugby confirmed on Wednesday that Pieter de Villiers has been released from his contract with the union to take up an opportunity in France.

De Villiers, a former Test prop for France, joined SA Rugby in 2012 as a consultant and served on the Springbok team management until the end of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

He was appointed Springbok assistant coach earlier this year under Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, but De Villiers has requested a release from this position, and subsequently from his SA Rugby contract, due to family commitments.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA RECEIVE SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT THROUGH ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP COMMUNITY FACILITY FUND

The International Cricket Council (ICC), Cricket Australia (CA), and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) in partnership with the Australian Government have made a significant investment into cricket in Papua New Guinea through the ICC Cricket World Cup Community Facility Fund where 48 community cricket facilities will be built in eleven provinces.

The Cricket World Cup Community Facility Fund is a joint legacy project by the ICC, CA, and NZC following the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to help address the need for more facilities and significantly boost participation rates in cricket.

A total of $400,000 was put into the Fund by CA ($200,000), NZC ($100,000) and the ICC ($100,000) which will result in $800,000 of investment into facilities in the East Asia-Pacific region through fund matching for all projects. To date more than $80,000 has been invested in community facility projects across the region to aid the development of cricket with yesterday marking the roll out of the biggest project yet.

The ‘Cricket Facilities Enhancement Project’ is a collaborative project that will see 48 community cricket facilities built in eleven provinces across Papua New Guinea over the next two years.

The ICC’s General Manager – Development, William Glenwright believes that facilities are crucial in the growth of cricket and that it will provide a significant base for new participants to play the game and that projects like these highlight the power of successful partnerships.

“I am delighted to see the significant investment into one of our High Performing Members. This joint project between two Full Members, the ICC and the Australian Government shows the commitment across the cricket fraternity to grow the game.

“It also shows the importance of ICC events and their role in the development of the game across all 104 Members of the ICC,” said Glenwright.

Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive James Sutherland is proud to support the project in PNG because it demonstrates the positive legacy of hosting major ICC events in Australia. “This project complements Cricket Australia’s strong support for the Australian Government’s Sports Diplomacy Strategy and sport for development initiatives in the Pacific.

“We are committed to supporting the long-term growth of cricket in as many countries as possible, as shown by our strong support for this region over the last 15 years,” said Sutherland.

New Zealand Cricket’s Chief Executive David White was delighted to see such a significant legacy project from the jointly hosted ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 paying such rich dividends.

“NZC supports wholeheartedly the philosophy of growing the world game, and connecting countries and regions through the spirit of cricket. This initiative should go a long way towards boosting cricket in PNG – in terms of both participation and resourcing.”

Currently Cricket PNG has over 190,000 boys and girls, men and women involved in cricket programs around the country with a vision to make cricket PNG’s favourite family sport. While the sport is proving immensely popular among school children, the lack of dedicated cricket facilities has made access to cricket competitions difficult in many areas.


[[File:Wicket at Lewes Priory Cricket Club.jpg|Wicket at Lewes Priory Cricket Club]]

For Joe Arua, a 14-year-old school student from Central District province there is potential, passion and love for cricket in the school and community. “One thing that prevents us from playing more cricket is an oval without a cricket pitch. It would be great if we had a cricket pitch in our school to be used by the community as well,” Said Arua.

Cricket PNG hopes the project will result in more than 20,000 Papua New Guineans participating in regular cricket competitions.

Cricket PNG Chairperson Helen Macindoe believes this is arguably the biggest infrastructure project that Cricket PNG have been involved in since Cricket PNG was formed in 1973. “Last year we were able to upgrade the Amini Park facilities but this project will help with the development of cricket nationwide, in line with our vision to be PNG’s favourite family sport,” Macindoe concluded.

Construction on the ‘Cricket Facilities Enhancement Project’ will begin immediately in the National Capital District with the first pitches expected to be ready for communities in the second half of the year.

Ghana Rugby Welcomes Nigeria Back to International Participation

Mr. Herbert Mensah, President and Board Chairman of Ghana Rugby sent a letter to the President of the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF), Mr Kelechukwu Mbagwu, in which he congratulated the Federation on the lifting of the suspension on the Federation by Rugby Africa.

Mensah said, “I would like to congratulate you personally and on behalf of Ghana Rugby on the lifting of the suspension and we welcome the NRFF back to participating in international tournaments and matches.

Kelechukwu Mbagwu

Ghana Rugby and the NRFF have a long history of building the Game in the sub-region, and we are excited to join hands with you and the NRFF to pick up on that history and positively move forward to continue building character in West Africa, in Africa and the greater world of Rugby.

May your return to the international Rugby scene write a story of great achievements that will bring joy to the larger Rugby Family.”

Although the breaking news has not been broken by Rugby Africa yet, it was announced in The Guardian in Nigeria on Wednesday 30 May 2018.

According to The Guardian, Nigeria was suspended from all international activities following a leadership crisis that trailed last year’s election into the board of the federation. The suspension stopped Nigeria from featuring in some international engagements in 2017.

Nigeria Black Stallions

The Guardian further reported comments from the NRFF President as follows, “I am happy to see that Nigeria is back to the international scene. On assuming office as the president of (NRFF), I stated that it would not take too long for Nigeria to be back in the international scene. The journey had not been easy, but I thank God Rugby Afrique understood the need to develop rugby in Nigeria by lifting the ban.”

“We are grateful. This recent development would make the NRFF redouble its efforts and keep working hard to reposition the national rugby team (The Black Stallions), the female team, Nigerian domestic clubs and grassroots development programmes.”

World Rugby’s member section states that the NRFF was founded in 1998, five years before Ghana Rugby, and affiliated to World Rugby in 2001.

Nigeria last played in the 2016 Africa Cup – Division 1C when it beat Mauritius 31 to 12 but was beaten by Morocco 53 to 10.

Ghana Eagles Lifts 2018 Rugby Africa Bronze Cup

According to official statistics from World Rugby, Ghana and Nigeria have not faced each other in a Men’s 15s competition since 2013. With Ghana Rugby’s promotion to the Rugby Africa Silver Cup, it may be some time before the Ghana Eagles and Nigeria Black Stallions face each other in an official Rugby Africa competition.

ENYIMBA COME UNDONE IN THE RAIN IN RESCHEDULED NPFL MATCHDAY 20 GAME AGAINST AKWA

Enyimba put up a strong showing, but it proved inadequate in a 2-1 loss to Akwa United in Uyo on Wednesday.

For the rescheduled Week 20 fixture, Paul Aigbogun rang the changes, rewarding Maxwell Effiom for improved performances in training. Benjamin Francis returned, having recovered from a lengthy injury absence, while Uche John and Ernest Governor started together at the heart of the defence for the first time.

A torrential downpour prefaced what proved to be a thoroughly entertaining spectacle, with the hosts settling quickest. Akwa had two efforts from range which were comfortably kept out by Afelokhai, before taking the lead in the 17th minute.

Enyimba FC VS Akwa United FC

Enyimba, with two players down on the turf, reacted a tad slowly to Gabriel Wassa’s low cut-back, allowing Michael Ibe to run onto it first time and send a tame effort past Afelokhai.

Effiom had a presentable chance to level the scores in the first period, but he sent his shot wide after great work from Joseph Osadiaye down on the right flank. Chinonso Okonkwo then had a header saved from a Dare Ojo free-kick.

Osadiaye would himself come close to an equalizer early in the second period, as he made a great back-post run, but the cross to him from Francis was slightly too high.

A raft of substitutions turned the tide in the hosts’ favour once again, as Victor Mbaoma, fresh off the bench, twice tested Afelokhai. The hosts would then double their lead, as Dennis Nya rose highest to head home a corner by Aniekeme Asuquo in the 68th minute.

Enyimba pulled one back with 10 minutes to play, as forward Wasiu Alalade gratefully tapped home from close range, following an outstanding passage of play involving Andrew Abalogu and Chinonso Okonkwo on the right. There would, however, be no rousing comeback, as the hosts held on for all three points.

FINAL: Akwa United (Michael Ibeh 17′, Dennis Nya 68′) 2-1 (Wasiu Alalade 79′) Enyimba

Enyimba FC

Enyimba Starting XI: Theophilus Afelokhai, Andrew Abalogu, Uche John, Ernest Governor, Benjamin Francis, Dare Ojo, Austin Oladapo, Chinedu Udeagha (Wasiu Alalade 73′), Joseph Osadiaye (Freedom Omofoman 64′), Maxwell Effiom (Gabriel Orok 75′), Chinonso Okonkwo.

Unused subs: Friday Achimugwu, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Emeka Obioma, Tofic Omar.

Akwa United Starting XI: Ojo Olorunleke, Etim Matthew, Gabriel Wassa, Kelly Kester, Emmanuel Ariwachukwu, Dennis Nya, Asuquo Aniekeme, Michael Ibe, Ifeanyi Ede (Victor Mbaoma 62′), Ubong Essien (Nanen Imenger 60′), Paul Obata (Ubong Friday 83′).

Unused subs: Ismaila Shagari, Otobong Effiong, Godspower Igudia, Cyril Olisema.

Yellow cards: Omofoman, Oladapo (ENY); Essien, Aniekeme (AKW)

Egypt’s Boys and Girls Volleyball Teams Qualify For 2018 African Youth Games

Egypt’s Boys and Girls Volleyball Teams have grabbed Zone 5 gold medals at the 2018 African Youth Games Qualifying tournament which held in Kampala, Uganda. The Egyptian teams also booked their tickets to the 2018 Youth African games finals coming up in Algeria next July.

Egypt’s girls volleyball team

Egypt Boys’ team beat Uganda 3-0 and Kenya 3-0 in the three-nation tournament to win the tournament. Kenya beat Uganda after the most thrilling match 3-2 to capture the silver medals leaving Uganda winless.

In the girls’ tournament, Egypt also beat both Kenya and Uganda in straight sets to claim the qualification ticket leaving Kenya in the second position after they Defeated Uganda 3-2

Egypt’s boys volleyball team

The African Youth games will be held in the Algerian capital from July 19 to 28, 2018 with 8 boys and 8 girls teams representing the 7 zones plus the host nation Algeria.