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Nigerian Football

Relegation-haunted Stars head to East for points

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As the Nigerian Premier League enters its Week 11, perennial strugglers, Shooting Stars go hunting in Calabar where they face stronger Enyimba now being handled by Gbenga Ogunbote, the coach who steered the Ibadan side out of relegation waters last season.

Shooting Stars, former continental strong side are noted to be bad travellers and hardly pick points away from home. They are 19th on the log of 20 teams.

For Enyimba, noted for its ruggedness, it is a tie looked up to for ascendancy to the summit of the table where they are currently ninth.

Over the seasons, this fixture has always been huge on paper, generating so many talking points thus; this season’s first instalment will not be different.

Shooting Stars’ coach, Fatai Amoo will be looking to get a positive result from the neutral ground owing from the recent of not-so-good results the team has been getting from its home and away fixtures.   According to the club’s media officer, Jubril Arowolo, Amoo said it will be ‘inexcusable’ not to take this game seriously.

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“The team is in top spirit ahead of the game and will have a full complements of the players available for selection” remarked Fatai Amoo.

He stressed that the team knew the importance of getting points from away games and this should not be an exception.

“We are in Calabar for a good game and hopefully get a positive result from here. The players know the important of this match and thus would be ready for the task. We have corrected some of our lapses from Saturday and we should hope for a better performance versus Enyimba.”

Interesting point to note is that Enyimba’s Head Coach, Gbenga Ogunbote was with Shooting Stars last season. As in the past, he had always left the Ibadan side at the close of seasons.

According to Arowolo, “this in its usual nature will also afford some sorts of reunion for the coach and some of our former players that crossed from Shooting Stars to Enyimba at the beginning of the season”.

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Tayo Adebogun, David Ojukwu and Ibrahim Salau if listed, will be facing their former team in this important fixture.

“With all the excitements and flair that this game portends to offer, we expect a good match and a good result for the Oluyole Warriors as well” remarked Arowolo.

 

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

A three-horse race for two continental ticket is set up after Enugu Rangers league win

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Enugu Rangers have broken loose from the pack as title contenders – Remo Stars, Enyimba and Shooting Stars all blew their chances in the penultimate match days as all lost with identical scorelines of 2-1 in their respective away games.

  The title is gone, now resting in Enugu who are having their second league celebrations in over 30 years. They win the jackpot N150 million prize for their title.

  But the battle is not over for the initial aspiring trio. At best they have the second CAF Champions League ticket to battle for. One of the three will win that on the last match day. The second placed team gets the CAF Champions League slot while the third gets the Confederation Cup ticket.

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Coincidentally, the trio will be at their familiar home ground. As it is, second placed Remo Stars are at advantage to pick a ticket if they can pick a point from their home game with Katsina United. It will be their third consecutive adventure in the continent.

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 The fierce battle will therefore be between third placed Enyimba and fourth placed Shooting Stars.  Both badly need a win to get either the Champions League ticket or that of the Confederation Cup.

  However, Plateau United are lurking and an away win by the Jos team in Aba will not only upset Enyimba, it could land the Plateau United a continental ticket should Shooting Stars lose or draw with Sporting Lagos.

On the other side of the divide, the battle to escape the drop has taken a dramatic twist. As the Sunday matches were on, Sporting Lagos initially thought they had escaped the drop.

 But a turnaround by Bayelsa United who came from behind to beat Shooting Stars change the weather condition for the worst for the Lagos sides.

  They now face an herculean task next weekend in their duel with continental ticket chasing Shooting Stars. The confirmed teams for relegation are Gombe United and Heartland.

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Nigerian Football

Enugu Rangers are Nigerian champions!

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Enugu Rangers re-enacted their glorious old days and now the new Nigerian champions after defeating Bendel Insurance 2-0 and Remo Stars losing 2-1 to Sunshine Stars.

 The trio of Remo Stars, Shooting Stars and Enyimba who were on the heels of Enugu Rangers all lost their away games with 2-1 scorelines.

With the result, Enugu Rangers attained an unassailable lead with just one match day to end the Nigerian league season. Despite their pedigree in Nigerian football, this is just their second title since the Nigerian top league changed status to professionalism in 1990.

  Rangers, who are the only Nigerian club never to be relegated since the Nigerian national league began in 1972 won their only professional league title in 2016.

 In the pre-professional football era, they were Nigerian champions in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981 and 1982.

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This time,  Remo Stars who who have delayed Enugu Rangers’ coronation lost  in a western derby, but retained their second position when Shooting Stars conceded  late goals to Bayelsa United and lost 2-1 after leading 1-0 for the greater part of the match. They dropped to the fourth position giving Enyimba a respite.

 Shooting Stars who got rejuvenated midway in the season can still hold on to their continental ambition when they host relegation-escapee, Sporting Lagos on the last match day.

  Rangers have a dead rubber away duel to Gombe United whose visa to the lower NNL has been issue. They possibly hold the record for the worst goal difference in the Nigerian league as they have a deficit of 56 goals.

 Results

  • Sunshine Stars 2-1 Remo Stars
  • Sporting Lagos 2-1 Enyimba
  • Bayelsa United 2-1 Shooting Stars
  • Enugu Rangers 2-0 Bendel Insurance
  • Abia Warriors 2-0 Akwa United
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Nigerian Football

Behold, Finidi George’s resignation letter and why he quit the job

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The decision of the Nigeria Football Federation to engage a foreign technical adviser is the main reason why Finidi George resigned from his appointment as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

This is contained in the letter of resignation which copy Sports Village Square has. In the letter dated June 14, 2024 and addressed to the NFF President, Finidi wrote:

 “I am writing to inform you of my decision to step down as the head coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s men senior team. This decision is in light of recent decision to effect changes in the team’s rechnical crew.

  “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you, the entire leadership of the federation, the sports ministry and the people of Nigeria for the opportunity to serve as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

“Although, our recent results in the qualifying matches were not as desired, I remained committed to getting our World Cup qualification campaign back on track.

“However, with the recent changes to the technical crew, I believe it is time to vacate my position.

“Please be assured of my continued support for the team, and I wish us all the best for the future.”

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