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Nigerian Football

Asamoah turns the corner at Rivers United

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Godbless Asamoah is an attacker who knows his way to goal.

During his days at Dolphins FC of Port Harcourt, he almost single-handedly saved the side from relegation in his first season with crucial goals on a consistent basis.

It was no surprise that the Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma, his coach at Dolphins, saddled him with the responsibility of leading the line for the ‘Pride of Rivers’ in the NPFL and Federation Cup last season.

It was a poor season for the Ghanaian marksman as he failed to hit the heights for the Port Harcourt club.

Injuries slowed him down and he was restricted to a handful of substitute appearances last term.

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Eguma did not lose faith in the striker and gave him another chance to prove his worth this season.

He made his first league start of the season on Wednesday, February 22 and showed he had lost none of his sharpness with a cracking goal on the stroke of half time against Kano Pillars at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.

It was a goal of exceptional quality and the moment the ball left his foot, it was clear it was destined for the top corner, as the Pillars goalkeeper, Danladi Isah watched on in consternation.

It was however a sad day for the attacker and his teammates as United dropped points following Amos Gyang’s stunning headed equalizer for the visitors in the second half.

“I was very happy to have scored that goal. I have a good goal scoring record against Pillars.

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“In my first season at Dolphins, I scored three times against them home and away.

“Before the game in Port Harcourt last Wednesday, I prayed to God to give me the grace to score against them and when I did, I was very happy,” he said to www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.

 

Lofty dreams and big predictions 

From his days at Ghanaian side, Medeama Sporting club, Asamoah had a dream to pull the storied strips of the Black Stars of Ghana.

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Playing for the country of his birth at the Africa Cup of Nations and the Fifa World Cup is a dream the attacker believes can still be achieved.

“On several occasions, I was invited by the national selectors for the country’s U17 and U20 teams but I never made the final squads.

“In 2014, I finally got the chance to represent my country at international level.

“I was invited to play at the 2014 Africa Nations Championships (Chan) in South Africa but I got injured on the eve of the tournament.

“I cried so much because I honestly felt that was the moment to make my mark at the big stage.

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“I travelled with the team to South Africa and stayed on till the end of the tournament but my place was taken by Kennedy Boateng; my teammate at Medeama Sports club,” he recounted.

 

The Champions League and Rivers United

Asamoah has rediscovered his best form and believes it is only a matter of time before he achieves set objectives.

He believes that success with Rivers United will translate to even bigger rewards in the long term and has predictably set his sights quite high.

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“I am still hopeful of playing for my country (Ghana) at the highest stage and I believe it is still possible.

“Rivers United is a big club playing in the Caf Champions League and I believe that if I continue to do well here (at United), I will get the call to represent my country.

“I may have scored just once in the league but I am still very confident of finishing the current NPFL season as top scorer because Rivers United still has 31 more matches to play,” he said.

To achieve this, he must first win a regular spot in the United first team – a side teeming with extravagant attacking talent like Bolaji Sakin, Bernard Ovoke, Emeka Ogbugh, Lukman Mohammed, Guy Kuemian and Maduabuchi Okereke.

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Asamoah however has implicit confidence in his abilities and insists he can keep his place in the star-studded squad.

“Everybody knows Rivers United has one of the strongest squads in Nigeria today but I have no fear over getting a regular spot in the team.

“The competition is intense, no doubt but I am certain that if I am fit, I will get a fair chance to prove myself,” he said.

 

Story: Courtesy Sammy Wejinya        

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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

Manu Garba, U17 World Cup winner, returns as Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach

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The Board of Nigeria Football Federation has appointed former U17 World Cup winner Manu Garba as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

Garba had, in the same role, led the Golden Eaglets to win the FIFA U17 World Cup for Nigeria in the United Arab Emirates in 2013 – Nigeria’s fourth triumph at that stage.

Garba’s world-conquering squad in 2013 included Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success, Musa Mohammed, Chidiebere Nwakali and goalkeeper Dele Alampasu.

The squad, which finished as runners-up at the African U17 Championship in Morocco after a penalty shootout defeat by Cote d’Ivoire, defeated Mexico 6-1 in their opening game, drew 3-3 with Sweden and hammered Iraq 5-0. In the Round of 16, they ran Iran ragged 4-1, dispatched Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter-finals and trounced Sweden 3-0 in the semi-finals, before they dislodged Mexico by the same margin in the final to lift the trophy.

The former Nigeria international will now immediately resume the role and take charge of the team’s preparations for next month’s WAFU B U17 Championship, taking place in Ghana.

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Nigerian Football

Kano Pillars on  the verge of relegation again?

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BY NURA GARBA SABONSARA

As the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) 2023/2024 season enters the home stretch, Kano Pillars find themselves in a precarious situation, despite being in the 8th on the league table.

They have 41 points in a close-packed league in which no situation below the top eight can be regarded as safe now.

On the surface, the eighth position occupied by Kano Pillars might seem a decent position, but beneath lies a series of crises that is threatening the club’s stability.

Kano Pillars, a team deeply entrenched in the hearts of the people of Kano, holds a unique status in Nigerian football. Yet, recent events have cast doubts on their future in the league.

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Despite a promising start to the season where they occupied the third position, the team has encountered a harsh reality check.

For the first time in its history since establishment in 1990, Kano Pillars faced back-to-back home losses in a single season, a stunning defeat against Abia Warriors followed by a recent upset against Shooting Stars of Ibadan on Monday, 8th April, 2024.

These losses, coupled with a humiliating 5-0 defeat by Enyimba, paint a troubling picture.

While some attribute these setbacks to the challenges of Ramadan fasting affecting the players, others argue that this explanation falls short because the team has been playing in this situation for many years.

Why now?. The root of Pillars’ problems lies deeper, starting from the inability to secure key signings and a lack of strong financial backing.

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Recruitment primarily from local talent pools received mixed reactions.

While some praised the emphasis on nurturing grassroots talent, others feared the consequences of inexperience, a concern that seems to be materializing now.

Moreover, the team’s financial woes, compounded by fines imposed due to fan misconduct, further exacerbate the situation.

Similarly, some close government allies and individuals are forcing the technical crew to recruit their players irrespective of whether they are competent or not, a development that has angered many fans of the club.

Many players seem motivated solely by personal career advancement rather than team success, raising questions about commitment and morale.

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Additionally, scheduling matches during Ramadan, though a long standing practice, has never before yielded such dismal results.

With relegation looming just eight points away, urgent action is imperative.

The government, alongside club officials, must step in decisively to address these issues. Ignoring the plight of Kano Pillars risks tarnishing the state’s football legacy irreparably.

In conclusion, Kano Pillars stand at a critical juncture. Without swift intervention and a concerted effort to rectify underlying problems, the club faces the grim prospect of relegation once again.

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Nigerian Football

Shooting Stars rally from behind to clinch a rare victory in Kano

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Shooting Stars continue to press for the top three slot in the Nigeria Premier League as they clinched a rare 2-1  victory in Kano on Monday evening.

Before now, they have always been battered with basketful of goals in their away duels with Kano Pillars.

In some instances, the score lines were as wide as 6-0. But on Monday, Shooting Stars continued their chase of the frontrunners. It initially looked a continuation of the past when in the opening two minutes, Shooting Stars were already a goal down.

Rabiu Ali shot the hosts ahead and held on till half time. Three minutes into the second half, Taiye Murtala levelled up for Shooting Stars before serial scorer, Christian Pyagbara scored the winner in the fourth minute of the added time.

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