D’Tigress Head Coach, Otis Hughley is confident that his team has chances of successfully defending their FIBA AFROBASKET title when the competition gets underway on August 9, 2019.
Following the team’s draw against Tunisia and Cameroon at the official draw ceremony held in Dakar, Senegal, Otis said the team can mount a strong title defence with the talents at his disposal.
Having led the team to a historic eighth place finish at the 2018 World Cup in Spain, Otis is aware of the buzz already created around D’Tigress ranked number 2 in Africa.
The team will hope to bury the ghost of their 2015 misadventure where they narrowly lost to host-Cameroon 70-71 in the semifinal under Coach Scott Nnaji.
“I know Cameroon has a good history against us. They beat Nigeria in the 2015 semis. At this level, anybody can be beaten any day, so we are taking all the teams as the same. No matter who they are, we are going to play them hard and tough”.
Despite exuding confidence about their chances at the AFROBASKET holding in Dakar, Senegal, Otis cautioned that winning the title for the fourth time will not come cheap.
“It is a round ball, no matter what, it is still going to bounce. We are still going to worry about health and how the chemistry is going to pan out this year because we have not had a lot of time to train together”.
The reigning African Champions went 8 games unbeaten to clinch the 2017 title in Bamako, Mali defeating Senegal, 65-48 points to win the title.
Nigeria (Defending Champions), Senegal (host), Mali and Angola have been tipped as favourites by bookmakers.
US trained football coach, Gboyega Adeyemi Olutade has described his recent appointment into the Ekiti Football Association Ad-Hoc Committee on Research, Planning and Strategic Development, as a huge honour.
While speaking with the media in a telephone interview, the highly rated youthful but vastly experienced soccer tactician and educator, stated that the appointment came as a surprise though he was looking forward to working with the newly elected Ekiti FA board led by Bayo Olanlege.
“I am indeed grateful and feel honoured by this appointment,” he said. ” And I am earnestly looking forward to working with other members of the committee to help meet the desires of the Ekiti FA,” he added.
Buoyed by his over 20 years of sound playing and coaching experience that spanned across six countries including Nigeria, Dubai (UAE), Bahrain, Ghana, Thailand, and the USA, Coach Tade, as he is fondly called, was enthusiastic about his desires to contribute his quota to the growth and development of football in Ekiti state and Nigeria, in general.
The widely travelled and award winning football coach who is presently working with Ado- Ekiti based Nationwide league side Phoenix Athletic Sports Club, also remarked that he is sure that Ekiti football shall soon regain its pride of place in the comity of football playing states in Nigeria.
“Ekiti state is blessed with educated and highly resourceful citizens. And with the positive vibes presently pervading all sectors of the state, particularly, football, the state shall soon regain its pride of place in Nigeria football,” he enthused confidently.
Super Falcons captain, Desire Oparanozie has asked that the women’s senior national team be paid the same amount of money paid to the men’s national team, the Super Eagles. She made the call at the 2019 Ladies In Sports (LIS) Conference held on Friday, July 26 at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos.
“I think we deserve equal pay. We are the most successful female team in Africa. We have done the nation proud. I believe we will get there, one step at a time,” Oparanozie said.
She also advocated for the Nigeria Women’s Football League to be televised. “The Nigeria Football Federation must work on getting the women’s league on TV. With that, there will be more eyes on the league and sponsors can come in,” said the En Avant Guingamp striker.
With the theme “Keeping the barriers down”, athletes, journalists, administrators, coaches and many more witnessed the fourth edition of the annual conference founded by ace sports broadcaster, Tega Onojaife.
The NFF 1st Vice President, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi opened the discussions on the importance of girls and women in sports, highlighting that sports women have to work harder to get recognition in today’s society.
“One of the things that can help Nigeria reach its potential is to give women opportunities in every area,” Akinwunmi said.
During the first panel session, Kenyan 800m World Champion, Janet Jepkosgei, 2017 Afrobasket Champion, Nkechi Akashili and Athletics blogger, Funmilayo Fameso discussed their journey in sports, the challenges they have faced and more.
Jepkosgei talked about taking a break from sport to have her first child, returning and plans going forward. “Being a mother is the best thing to have ever happened to me,” she said. “It has been a long way coming for me in athletics. I took a three year break and I just won my first race last year.
“Biologically when you come back from a break, you become stronger. It’s the best thing to do but make sure you do it at the right time.” Jepkosgei said.
The second panel session had Ghana Women’s National team coach, Mercy Tagoe, Super Falcons forward, Desire Oparanozie and former Banyana Banyana midfielder, Amanda Dlamini discuss keeping the barriers down in football.
Oparanozie addressed the issue of equal pay while Coach Mercy Tagoe talked about her journey from being a footballer to a referee and a coach. Amanda Dlamini urged footballers to prepare for retirement, as that made it easier for her to transition into sports broadcasting after she hung up her boots.
“Football is not your whole life. You need to get yourself ready for retirement. I had to go to the university to ensure I could do something after I retired,” Dlamini said.
As it was done in previous editions of the conference, five athletes were given grants as a reward for excellent performances in their different sports in 2018. Rivers Angels goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, young Judoka, Adijat Azeez, Wrestler, Sunmisola Balogun, Track and Field athlete, Rosemary Chukwuma and Powerlifter, Esther Onyema were the recipients.
The Head of Human Resource and CSR of Bet9ja, Kikky Boboye and law firm Aluko & Oyebode’s senior associate, Nta Ekpiken and many more spoke during the conference.
The conference was supported by Bet9ja, Zaron Cosmetics, Smooth FM 98.1 FM, IR Digitals, Travel Trilz, Smice Technologies and the Busy Buddies.
AS part of the table tennis fiestas igniting Lagos, 12 teams have already been confirmed for the African Club Championships which begin on Thursday August 1 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
Defending champion – Ahly Club of Egypt has been listed as the number one seed in the women’s event while ENPPI of Egypt will be heading the men’s event at the two-day championship.
According to the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), host country – Nigeria will be represented by SOJ TT Club of Lagos and Remo Stars TT Club of Ogun in the men event while G20 of Abuja and Cannan Queen of Calabar will hoist Nigeria’s flag in the women event.
The Ahly team will be led by African women champion – Dina Meshref while the best two players in the continent – Aruna Quadri of Nigeria and Egypt’s Omar Assar will dorn the colours of ENPPI of Egypt.
Congo DRC, Togo, Ethiopia, Benin Republic, Senegal, and Rwanda will also be represented in the continental club championship.
For the President of ATTF, Khaled El-Salhy, the tournament would help the players to tune up for the ITTF Africa Cup.
For the ATTF boss, the tournament would also add glamour the table tennis fiesta holding in Lagos being the first time any African nation would stag three prestigious tournaments at a stretch.
“The tournament is a good test for the African players and a good preparation for the main event “ITTF Africa Cup, which is the qualifying event for ITTF World Cups. We have a good number of entries and I hope ITTF can consider staging a World Clubs Championships in which the Champion in Africa can compete with the champions of others continent,” the ATTF chief said.
Dalilah Muhammad broke the world 400m hurdles record* on the final day of the US Championships, clocking 52.20 on Sunday (28), the final day of action in Des Moines.
The Olympic champion, drawn in lane four, went out hard and quickly made up the stagger on the athletes outside her, including 2015 world silver medallist Shamier Little and world U20 record-holder Sydney McLaughlin.
Unfazed by the rain, Muhammad had a clear lead as she entered the final straight with Little, McLaughlin and Ashley Spencer locked in a battle for the runner-up spots. There was no catching Muhammad, though, as she charged through the line in 52.20, taking 0.14 off the previous world record set in 2003 by Yuliya Pechonkina.
McLaughlin finished second in 52.88, just 0.13 shy of her lifetime best, with Spencer finishing strongly to take third place in 53.11, equalling her PB.
“My coach kept telling me it was there,” Muhammad told NBC after the race. “I just had to trust that and go for it. I wanted it so bad, I knew I had to go out there and prove myself.”
In less than one week, the best players from 15 African countries will converge in Lagos for the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup, which serves off on August 3 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri and Egypt’s Dina Meshref are defending champions of the tournament and they are expected to battle against other players for their places in the 2019 ITTF World Cups.
Aside host – Nigeria, countries expected in Lagos for the three-day championship include Algeria, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.
Also, since establishing himself as Algeria’s best male player, Sami Kherouf has been making frantic efforts to halt the dominance of Aruna Quadri and Egypt’s Omar Assar (EGY) in Africa. But all his efforts have not materialised.
Again, the Algerian star will be heading to Lagos, in his bid to fulfil his dream of becoming the first Algerian to conquer the continent.
As a realist, Sami Kherouf admitted that it will take an extra-ordinary performance to rule the continent.
“At present, we are training together as a team in Algiers with the aim of using the Africa Cup in Lagos as a good preparation for the All African Games,” he said.
On the possibility of dethroning the defending champion – Aruna Quadri, he said: “To win the title is super hard with the presence of the best African players like Omar Assar and Aruna Quadri as well as other good players too.
“I must admit that to win the title will require a lot of work and at the moment it seems hard to win. It is hard because you have to compete with top players, who ply their trade in big leagues and who devote most of their time to the game as their main job,” he added.
Sami Kherouf cannot wait to come to Nigeria. “I cannot wait to come to Nigeria because I have never visited the country before. I know it is a country that loves sports and especially table tennis,” the Algerian number one star said.
In his modest ambition, Sami Kherouf said: “I am aiming to win a bronze medal and I would have loved to become the first Algerian to qualify for the World Cup but it is very hard for everyone except Omar Assar and Aruna Quadri.”
The Nigeria Basketball Federation has advised stakeholders to focus more on the positives being recorded in the sport rather than expending unnecessary energy on the few challenges encountered by the AFROCAN team due to lack of funds.
The board said due to the peculiarity of sports budgeting and how funds are released, the only option was to travel by road to enable Nigeria to participate in the inaugural edition of the event.
Reacting to the recent social media campaign, NBBF President, Engr. Musa Kida said travelling by road within the same geographical location is not a strange thing for any professional sportsman.
“We all did it when we played. Mali is not a very far distance by road. Some officials (NBBF Board Members) themselves have done it in the past when players were flying to Cote d’Ivoire for the last window of the World Cup qualifiers.”
Kida said that the road trip was a reflection of the financial state of the federation considering when FIBA Africa announced the introduction of the championship.
“For us, it is not an issue per se, it is a way of calibrating to the means that we have right now and making sure that the home based players were properly represented in Mali for the AFROCAN. Even if there was a professional that was taken for AFROCAN, he would have gone by road because that was what we could afford at the time to ensure our players participated.”
In his own reaction, the International Representative on the NBBF board, Col Sam Ahmedu (rtd) said the report of players being stranded at the Niger border was an attempt to confuse Nigerians who were already dissatisfied with the team’s performance in Mali where they lost all their four games.
“No one was stranded at the Nigerian border. The team got to the border late and by then the immigration service had already closed for the day.”
Ahmedu said before the trip, players were properly briefed about the arrangements put in place by the NBBF and they all agreed that donning the National colours was far more important.
He stressed that with Nigeria participating in 4 major international events (U16 Boys in Cape Verde, AFROCAN, AfroBasket Women in Senegal and FIBA World Cup Men in China) within a short period, there was need to think outside the box.
He reckoned that some of the players on this trip were in Australia for the Commonwealth Games and in Cote d’Ivoire under the same leadership and they can testify to the importance the federation placed on their welfare.