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Nigerian Football

Rivers United eye Champions’ League Group Stage

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Rivers United which will face perennial continental competitors, Al-Merrikh of Sudan in the next round of the CAF Champions League are confident of retaining the form that saw them pummel Malian side, Real Bamako last Sunday.

According to the Media Officer of the club, Sammy Wejinya, midfielders:  Bernard Ovoke and Esosa Igbinoba have both spoken about their happiness following starring roles in Sunday’s CAF Champions League defeat of AS Real Bamako.

The duo helped themselves to braces as United outclassed the Malian side 4-0 in the second leg, preliminary round clash at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.

Ovoke explained that the weight of expectation as he prepared to take a 35th minute penalty which saw him open the scoring never weighed him down.

“I was not nervous before I took that spot kick. I am never nervous in such situations.

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“All I was thinking about was making sure I hit the ball as hard as I could.

“It is a privilege to be the first ever Rivers United player to score in the CAF Champions League,” he told the club’s official website, www.riversunitedfc.com

Igbinoba also spoke about his goal scoring contributions.  The midfielder said it was pleasing to score while adding that the big win over the Malians was not as easy as the score line suggested.

“I wasn’t happy that I had not scored for the club in my previous matches so to score twice in such an important match means a lot to me.

“It was a big win but the match was very difficult for us, especially in the first half.

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“The turning point was our second goal. I think they gave up after that,” he said.

Rivers United will face Sudanese club, Al-Merrikh, over two legs, in the first round of the competition.

The first leg will be played in Port Harcourt on March 12 with the return fixture taking place at the Al-Merrikh Stadium, Omdurman a week later. The winner of the tie will qualify for the group stage of the competition.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Former Nigeria international, Onye recommends  Amuneke-Siasia combo for Super Eagles

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Kingsley Onye, the left sided defender who was a member of the first Flying Eagles side to have a podium finish at the U-20 World Cup has suggested the employment of Emmanuel Amuneke as the coach of the Super Eagles.

He wants him to be assisted by Samson Siasia when the ban on the latter lapses in August. Alternatively, Onye pointed to Sylvanus Okpala as alternative to Siasia.

The Super Eagles are in dare need for a head coach as the clock ticks down to the Match day 4 and 5 of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in which the team is trailing at the third position.

The two matches in early June are crucial for the Super Eagles to bounce back into reckoning as the team can not afford to drop any of the available six points in the duels with South Africa at home and away to Benin.

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From this Monday, it is 41 days to the potentially challenging tie with South Africa, but the Nigerian national  team has been without a coach since the expiration of the contract of Portugal’s Jose Peseiro shortly after the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.

Without mincing words, Onye remarked: Emmanuel Amuneke is the right man for the job of the coach of Super Eagles. He has been there before.

“He tasted it and had been fantastic with the Nigeria youth team, the U-17 by assisting Manu Garba to win the U17 World Cup in 2013 and as head coach, led the Golden Eaglets to win the cup again in 2015.”

Onye who played for the Enugu Rangers in Nigeria before venturing to the UK but had his career scuppered by freak injury  pointed out that the solution to Super Eagles’ technical deficiency is the appointment of an indigenous coach and that Amuneke is the man.

In buttressing his assertion, he declared: “As a senior team coach, Amuneke qualified a long standing absentee team, Tanzania  for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

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“His record as a player is also very impressive. He played and won with the Super Eagles, the AFCON 1994. He played at the Olympic Games and was also the first Nigerian to score two goals at the World Cup.

“He has played at the African Games and also for top clubs in the continent as he was a member of the Egyptian giants, Zamalek. In Europe, he played for Sporting Clube de Portugal and then Barcelona before injury ended his playing career.”

Onye also looked at the personality of Amuneke in recommending him for the Super Eagles job.

His record as a player is also very impressive. He played and won with the Super Eagles, the AFCON 1994. He played at the Olympic Games and was also the first Nigerian to score two goals at the World Cup.

He has played at the African Games and also for top clubs in the continent as he was a member of the Egyptian giants, Zamalek. In Europe, he played for Sporting Clube de Portugal and then Barcelona before injury ended his playing career.

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Nigerian Football

GTI enlarges coast…spreads from League fund-raising to Federation Cup

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Strategic partners of the Nigeria Football Federation, GTI Asset Management and Trust Ltd has expanded their scope of operations from fund sourcing for the Nigeria Premier League to adding the responsibility of getting the national cup competition back into its glamorous days.

The MD of the company, Abubakar Lawal at the unveiling a revamped Federation Cup which has been renamed President Federation Cup remarked that his company decided to take a bold step to support the national cup.

“I am the happiest man today, he said in the opening remark of the rebranding of the national cup through signing of Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Sports and the NFF.

“Our company is also strategically involved in ensuring that the President Federation Cup is given necessary attention to thrive using The Nigeria Football Fund (TNFF) as our vehicle to actualise this dream.

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“Therefore, it is our vision that the oldest domestic football event becomes one of the best organised football events in the world in no distant future.”

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Ikenne’s Beyond Limit Football Academy top goal chart as NNL releases vital statistics

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The secretariat of the Nigeria National League has released the match statistics of the four conferences of the 2024 season.

With 198 matches so far played in Conferences A and B, 426 goals were scored, with 125 home wins and 26  away wins, representing 63.1%, & 26% respectively. There were 47 draw matches, representing 23.7% of matches. 299 home goals were scored, and 127 home goals.

Beyond Limit FC scored the highest goals  of 33 goals, with Stormers FC and Ekiti United conceeding the least goals  of 28 goals. Tradesafe and Solution FC scored the least numbers of goals of 11 goals and Osun conceded the least numbers of goals of 8.

In group C & D, 209 goals have been scored in the 106 so far played, with 70 home wins and 14 won away  representing 66. 3% and 13.1% respectively.

 Teams drew 31 matches representing 29.2% of the matches played. Wikki Tourists scored the highest numbers of goals, with 23 goals, while EFCC FC conceded the least numbers of goals. They conceded 18 goals. Nasarawa United’s 8 goals conceded  made them the team that conceded the lowest numbers of goals, while ABS scored the least number of goals of 5 goals.

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