Category Archives: Football

U20 AFCON: Flying Eagles Lose Third Place On Penalties

Once more, penalty shoot–out proved the undoing of Paul Aigbogun’s Nigeria U20 squad as South Africa’s Amajita picked up the bronze medals of the 2019 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Niamey on Saturday.

Failure to put away a number of opportunities that came their way proved fatal for the seven –time champions, who endured the humiliation of finishing outside the medals’ range at the tournament for the first time.

Peter Eletu, who was starting for the first time as the Nigerian camp tried to lift the morale of the boys following Wednesday’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Mali in the semi finals, fluffed what was a good opportunity in the 32nd minute when the ball fell invitingly to him just outside the Amajita’s eighteen –yard box during an onslaught. He instead hooked the ball listlessly over the bar.

The unflattering features of poor passes, aimless shots and pathetic lack of marksmanship that saw the Flying Eagles end up with the wrong end of the stick on Wednesday were again in full flow, and the encounter was a stinging reminder of the fact that Aigbogun and his assistants have to re-jig the squad before the World Cup finals in Poland in three months’s time.

Flying Eagles

Alhassan Adamu, who scored the goal against host nation Niger Republic that made the Flying Eagles finish at the top of Group A and earn a place at the World Cup, fluffed Nigeria’s first kick in the shoot –out, following a dismal show by both teams in regulation time.

South Africa scored all their kicks to pocket the bronze medals and of course the bragging rights after both teams finished their Group A clash scoreless on Matchday 2.

On Sunday, the impressive Lionceau du Teranga will lock horns with Mali’s Junior Eagles in the final match of the championship.

Advertisements

Ogunbote: Professionalism Key To Rangers Good Run

That Enugu Rangers have hit the ground running since the start of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup competition has left not a few followers of the game expectant.

In a chat with the press, Chief Coach of the Flying Antelopes, Gbenga Ogunbote has attributed the impressive run of the team so far in the competition to high- level professionalism, particularly, on the parts of the players.

“Firstly,I want to thank God for His love and protection. And I must also state that this team is filled with players who have consistently shown true professionalism so far. That has impacted positively on the team’s performances,” Ogunbote noted.

On the recent CCC tie against CS Sfaxien in Tunis which ended 1-1,he disclosed that the team was never under pressures even when they were trailing by a goal to the host in the game.

Rangers FC, Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote dishes out instructions to his players, Solomon Okpako and Christian Madu

“Tactical discipline and professionalism of the players came to the fore as they rallied to get the equaliser. They fully understood our targets did the needful to get the important point,” Ogunbote fondly called the ‘Oracle’, remarked sweetly.

He further stated that the team would bring the positive mindset to their domestic games in the NPFL.

“We shall prosecute our domestic games with the same fervour. And at the end of the season, hopes to finish on both fronts on a high,” he enthused.

Akeem Busari

U20 AFCON: Mali Edge Nigeria On Penalties To Reach Final

The lottery of penalty shootout panned out in favour of Mali as Aniekeme Okon blasted his effort against the crossbar and El Bilal Toure converted his to send the Malians into the final of the 2019 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Niamey on Wednesday.

Group A winners Nigeria started brightly, imposing their preferred short passing approach on the match and eventually finishing the regulation time with 63 per cent of the possession in their favour. But the penalties favoured Mali as Nigeria lost two kicks and the Junior Eagles of Mali lost only one.

The Flying Eagles wore black armbands in honour of former Secretary General and Board Member of the Nigeria Football Federation, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi who passed away on Monday, and the match started with a one –minute silence in honour of the departed football administrator as the Confederation of African Football acknowledged the stature of the former Nigeria international defender.

Nigeria’s romance with the crossbar started in the 3rd minute, when Abubakar Ibrahim’s pull –out was diverted to the Malian crossbar. A minute later, Alhassan Adamu’s free kick was tipped over and then, Jamil Muhammed’s teasing pull –out was headed over the bar by Yahaya Nazifi.

In their determination to accomplish a second target of winning the championship trophy, after a first objective of earning a World Cup ticket was achieved with a place in the semi finals, the Flying Eagles launched onslaught after onslaught and created opportunities, but lacked that vicious marksman who takes no prisoners.

Mali goalkeeper Youssouf Koita was also in inspired form, stopping shots and headers, most notably an incredible double save in the 43rd minute when the Nigerians thought they had beaten him.

Mamadou Traore gifted Mali the opener in the 78th minute, lashing home from a swift counter attack as goalkeeper Olawale Oremade went to the ground too early.

Flying Eagles

Substitute Pascal Onyekachi restored parity, blasting home from a loose ball. There were no clear –cut opportunites in the extra time of 30 minutes.

Lassana N’Diaye, Hadji Drame, Abdoulaye Diaby and El Bilal Toure made good from the spot for Mali, while Valentine Ozornwafor and Aniekeme Okon lost their kicks.

Nigeria will take on the loser of the second semi final between Senegal and South Africa in the match for third place on Saturday, while Mali clash with the winner in Sunday’s final.

Egypt 2019: Amapakabo Invites 33 To Camp Ahead of Libya Fixture

Head Coach Imama Amapakabo has called to camp 33 players ahead of next month’s Africa U23 Cup of Nations qualifying fixture between Nigeria and Libya.

The first leg, to be hosted by Libya in Tunisia (as the Libyans still cannot host international matches in their country) will hold between 20th – 22nd March, with Nigeria able to choose between 25th and 26th March for the return leg.

Already, the Nigeria Football Federation has opted for 25th March for the return leg, with the expectation that the Libya Football Federation will opt for either 20th or 21st March for the first leg.

The invited players resumed camping in Abuja on Wednesday.

Nigeria is the defending champion of the Africa U23 Cup of Nations, having defeated Algeria in the final of the second edition of the championship staged by Senegal in December 2015. That triumph earned the Olympic Eagles a ticket to the Men’s Football Tournament of the Rio 2016 Olympics, where they won the bronze medal – Nigeria’s only medal at the Games.

Former Nigeria international goalkeeper Amapakabo has called four goalkeepers, nine defenders, 10 midfielders and 10 forwards for the assignment. He is to be assisted by Kennedy Boboye (Assistant Coach), Fidelis Ilechukwu (Assistant Coach) and Etta Egbe (Goalkeepers’ Trainer).

Imama Amapakabo
photo credit: Sammy Wejinya

Egypt will host the 3rd Africa U23 Cup of Nations, 8th – 22nd November 2019.

THE INVITED PLAYERS

Goalkeepers: Amos Benjamin (Bayelsa United); Makanjuola Adewale (Ekiti United); Anozie Chinedu (FC IfeanyiUbah); Stanley Nwabili (Enyimba FC)

Defenders: John Lazarus (Lobi Stars); Chidera Eze (Rangers International); Anumudu Udochukwu (Lobi Stars); Austin Ugochukwu (Kano Pillars); Chinedu Ajana (Katsina United); Kehinde Adeyemi (Sunshine Stars); Ndah Olisah (Remo Stars); Chinwendu Ali (Yobe Stars); Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars)

Midfielders: Ayobami Junior (Shooting Stars); Isah Ndala (Nasarawa United); William Ukeme (Wikki Tourists); Olatunji Matthew (Enyimba FC); Seth Mayi (Plateau United); Yusuf Maigoro (Kano Pillars); Iwuala Anayo (Kada City); Cletus Emotan (Rivers United); Chigozie Obasi (Sunshine Stars); Chukwudi Agor (ASJ, Owerri)

Forwards: Etiboy Akpan (Akwa United); Anas Mohammed (Shooting Stars); Chijoke Alaekwe (FC IfeanyiUbah); Shamman Tanze (Kano Pillars); Agboola Joshua (Katsina United); Wari Williams (Nasarawa United); Ebuka Okeke (Lamray United); Tolu Ojo (Remo Stars); Wasiu Alalade (Enyimba FC); Solomon Nsude (FC IfeanyiUbah)

Nigerian League Is getting Better – Okagbue

The standard of the eight week old new NPFL season has been rated as impressive so far by followers and stakeholders of Nigerian football.

This new found fervour for the NPFL was further confirmed by the Chief Coach of table topping Ifeanyi Ubah fc, Uche Okagbue in a chat with the press over the weekend.

“I want to state that I have been impressive by the standard of play in the league so far,” said Okagbue.

The former handler of Remo Stars who also once plied his trade with defunct Works Golden Stars of Kano, was also quick to attribute the improved standard in the league to what he describes as ‘commendable’ officiating by match officials.

“This season, teams have been going away to win or draw games. And of course, it points to the level of officiating at the games.

FC Ifeanyi Ubah Coach Uche Okagbue

“We need to commend the NRA and its officials for doing a good job, so far, ” the diminutive, but highly rated tactician enthused sweetly.

With his team currently topping group B of the abridged league, Okagbue opined this year’s league is set to throw up more exciting and shocking results in the coming weeks.

He however, stopped short of declaring his young team as possible winners, as he refrained once again that his team is a work in progress.

Akeem Busari

Ejidike Commiserates With NFF On Ogunjobi’s Death

Nigeria’s Pillar Of Sports, Chief Donatus Agu-Ejidike has joined other Nigerians to commiserate with the Nigeria Football Federation on the death of its former secretary general, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi who died Monday in Ibadan after a brief illness.

In a statement released by the office of the Pillar Of Sports, he regretted the unfortunate demise of the Osun State FA boss, whom it described as a strong pillar of Nigerian football.

Osun Football Association Chairman, and Former NFF Secretary General Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi

“It is painful that Nigerian football have lost yet another giant. This is a critical moment for Nigerian football. And we deeply regret this death.

“I remember with fond nostalgia the playing days of the Ogunjobi as the captain and eventually, as sole administrator of 3SC. His love and passion for the game was infectious,” he remarked.
He went on to pray that God grant his family and friends the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

Akeem Busari

FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019: Top Football At Affordable Prices

Since its inception in 1977, the FIFA U-20 World Cup has attracted more than 13 million fans from around the globe to its stadiums. From 23 May, supporters will once again be able to catch a glimpse of the most talented young players on the planet when the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 kicks off in Bielsko-Biala, Bydgoszcz, Gdynia, Łódź, Lublin and Tychy.

Tickets for the first-ever FIFA competition to be hosted on Polish soil will be available on 26 February in two categories and start at PLN 10. The only official platform on which to secure these tickets will be FIFA.com/tickets/U20WC.

Ticket prices:

Category I

GROUP MATCHES (1 TO 36): PLN 20

ROUND OF 16 (37 TO 44): PLN 20

QUARTER-FINALS (45 TO 48): PLN 30

SEMI-FINALS (49 TO 50): PLN 30

MATCH FOR 3RD PLACE (51): PLN 30

FINAL (52): PLN 40

Category II

GROUP MATCHES (1 TO 36): PLN 10

ROUND OF 16 (37 TO 44): PLN 10

QUARTER-FINALS (45 TO 48): PLN 20

SEMI-FINALS (49 TO 50): PLN 20

MATCH FOR 3RD PLACE (51): PLN 20

FINAL (52): PLN 30

(Current exchange rate: PLN 4.3 = EUR 1)

“I was blessed to be able to play in both the opening match and final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 1987 in a full stadium. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that really shaped my career. Poland is a country with a big football tradition and Polish fans will provide the appropriate setting for an exciting competition. Celebrating this tournament in Poland in the year of the Polish FA’s centenary and with a legend like Zbigniew Boniek as the Polish FA President is definitely something very special,” said FIFA Deputy Secretary General (Football) Zvonimir Boban.

Polish Football Association President Zbigniew Boniek commented: “We are just 100 days away from the opening of a true football feast in our country. The FIFA U-20 World Cup is one of the largest football events in the world. Previous tournament editions paved the way for many superb players. It was during those tournaments that the world became aware of such names as Messi, Maradona, Iniesta, Griezmann, Salah and Piqué. Top players of the young generation will arrive in Poland from all continents. Some of them are, without a doubt, the international stars of tomorrow. This is a great opportunity for football fans to see these players for themselves, and become enchanted with their talent and already very high level of skill.

We want the stands of our stadiums to be filled with fans. Attractive ticket prices will surely contribute to a high attendance. In less than two weeks, we will be hosting the official draw ceremony in Gdynia, and ticket sales is due to kick off soon afterwards. We encourage all fans to mark the dates of the tournament in their calendars and before that, of course, go ahead and buy tickets. You simply cannot miss such an event in Poland!”

Following the FIFA U-20 World Cup draw, which will take place in Gdynia on 24 February 2019, Visa cardholders will have an exclusive opportunity to secure their tickets during the Visa presale phase from 26 February at 00:01 CET until 5 March at 23:59 CET.

Fans will also be able to apply for tickets on a first-come, first-served basis from 7 March at 00:01 CET until the day of the final, 15 June. Visa, the Official Payment Services Partner of FIFA, is the preferred payment method for all FIFA ticket sales.

Supporters will be able to “print at home”, meaning that everyone who has successfully applied at FIFA.com/tickets/U20WC will receive their tickets electronically and be able to print them at home in A4 format. Each ticket will include a unique barcode that will be checked and validated at the stadium gate. No tickets will be sold at the stadiums.

Football enthusiasts interested in the corporate hospitality programme for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 can opt for skybox packages in the following four stadiums: Bielsko-Biala, Łódź, Lublin and Tychy. Further details on FIFA U-20 World Cup hospitality are available here.

Besides hosts Poland, the following countries have qualified for the tournament:

AFC: Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar and Saudi Arabia

CAF: Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa

CONMEBOL: Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay

Concacaf: Honduras, Mexico, Panama and the USA

OFC: New Zealand and Tahiti

UEFA: France, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Ukraine

Further details on FIFA U-20 World Cup ticketing are available at FIFA.com/tickets/U20WC.