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Obafemi Still Missing In China League

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Nigeria’s Obafemi Martins was an absentee in the 10-man Shanghai Greenland Shenhua 1-1 home draw with Fabio Cannavaro’s Tianjin Quanjian in Saturday’s Chinese Super League contest

Tianjin’s Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato had the chance to win three points for the visitors but fluffed his penalty close to the end of the match.

Shanghai, the team Obafemi Martins registered for, was a man down after midfielder Qin Sheng was sent off in the 24th minute for stamping on the foot of Tianjin’s Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel. Despite playing with 10 men, it was Shenhua that went ahead through Colombian Giovanni Moreno, who received the ball in front of the Tianjin’s box in the 74th minute, and blasted in the opener.

But Tianjin came back in the 84th minute when Wang Yongpo’s corner kick found Witsel in the box. The Belgian volleyed the ball past Shenhua goalie Li Shuai for the equalizer.

Two minutes later, Tianjin won a penalty after Wang Xiaolong’s pass in the box hit the hand of Shenhua defender Wang Lin. Pato stepped up to take the penalty but could only manage to blast it over the bar.

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Odion Ighalo’s Changchun Yatai which lost 1-5 to Shanghai SIPG last week will on Sunday host Guangzhou R&F. Last Friday, Mikel Obi’s Tianjin Teda played goalless with Jiangsu Sainty.

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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New dawn expected as Nigeria sports ministry partners with Yanga Games

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Towards creating a new dawn for Nigerian Sports,  the Federal Ministry  of Sports has signed a landmark  agreement with  top lottery  company Yanga Games to raise the revenue profile of the Ministry  and ensure a new deal for the welfare of athletes. 

Speaking during the unveiling  of the partnership between  the Ministry  and  Yanga  Games in Lagos on Friday,  Chairman/CEO of Yanga Games  Derrick  David Kentebe  said: “we are so super excited by this opportunity to work  with the Ministry  of Sports Development to change the narrative about Sports in the country. 

Continuing, he remarked: “We see opportunity for marketing our athletes  and sports generally . We shall avail ourselves  the best use  of this unique and  special partnership. We shall pursue this mandate with vigour, passion and unrivaled  commitment  to bring benefits to all the critical stakeholders.”

The agreement  according  to Kentebe  will provide  support for retired athletes, enhance grassroot  sports Development and advance the potentials of  special athletes.

He assured that ” Yanga Games has the capacity to  raise funds on behalf of the Ministry  of Sports for athletes  Development, endorsement and sponsorship deals for athletes”. 

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Minister of Sports Senator John Owan Enoh assured that the Ministry has total and absolute  confidence  in Yanga Games to deliver on the given mandate.

“Gone are the era when we depended solely  on government  to fund sports  development.  We are partnering with  Yanga Games to bring maximum  benefits  to the athletes and all critical stakeholders.

“We shall give institutional encouragement and support to the Management of  Yanga Games to succeed in this onerous task of rebuilding our sports sub sector.”

Speaking further, Kentebe  said ” We shall raise about 34 Billion in the next four years to assist athletes and improve sports in the country.

“We shall help to develop  grassroot  sports and  sustain youth involvement  through raffle draws, fund raiser and other avenues.

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Iheanacho and Ndidi on course for return to Premiership as Leicester will not lose points for rule breaches

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Leicester City cannot be deducted any points in the second-tier Championship if they are convicted of any violations of the Premier League’s spending rules, the English Football League (EFL) said on Friday.

Nigeria duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi are Leicester players yearning for the club’s return to the English Premiership.

Leicester, who were relegated from the top flight last season, were referred to an independent commission by the Premier League last month for alleged violations of the league’s spending rules.

The Championship’s governing body EFL wrote to the Premier League saying they would apply any sanction handed down on Leicester while they are still in the second tier, a move Leicester opposed.

However, the EFL said they later changed their position in a letter to the English FA’s League Arbitration Panel (LAP).

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“EFL has confirmed to all parties that… it does not have the power under the Regulations as currently drafted,” the EFL said in a statement.

Leicester said they will continue to co-operate with Premier League and the EFL with regards to the charges against them.

“Any charges against the Club should be properly and proportionately determined, in accordance with the applicable rules, by the right bodies, and at the right time,” Leicester said.

The LAP said that the Premier League Disciplinary Commission’s proceedings against Leicester will not be expedited to conclude by May 4 due to any possible points deductions not being applicable this season.

Leicester are top of the standings in the Championship with 88 points from 41 matches as they seek a promotion back to the Premier League.

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-Reuters

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Super Eagles’ kids fly to Spain for UEFA Tourney

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Future Eagles confront Morocco’s U15 boys in Kenitra

Nigeria’s U15 boys, nicknamed Future Eagles, will fly into Spain on Tuesday afternoon for a UEFA U16 Development Tournament to which the African giants have been invited.

The special invitation has come as a result of Nigeria’s pedigree in youth football, in which she has won five world titles at U17 boys’ level and reached the FIFA World Cup final on two occasions at U20 level.

As part of its preparation for the tournament, the Future Eagles trained for a week at the Remo Stars’ Sports Institute in Ikenne, during which it played two matches against the Remo Stars’ U16 boys (Beyond Limits FC), winning one and losing the other.

Only last month, the Future Eagles, coached by Patrick Bassey, also won one and lost one against their Moroccan counterparts on a two-match tour of that North African country. Their first game ended in a 2-3 defeat, but they buckled up to win the second game 5-3 in the city of Kenitra.

The UEFA U16 Tournament, which brings warm memories of the UEFA-CAF U17 Meridian Tournament that started in 1997 but was discontinued a decade after, will take place at the Pinatar Arena Football Centre in San Pedro del Pinatar.

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It can be recalled that the UEFA-CAF Meridian Tournament was part of a cooperation agreement between UEFA and CAF, and Nigeria won the inaugural tournament in 1997. The Eaglets defeated the Spain U17 team 3-2 in the final in Lisbon, Portugal.

Spain won the next three tournaments hosted by South Africa (1999), Italy (2001) and Egypt (2003) before France broke their run by winning the 2005 edition hosted by Turkey. The tournament was abolished in 2007.

At this new tournament, the Future Eagles will play against Belgium on Friday, 12th April (8pm), face Italy on Sunday, 14th April (8pm) and square up to England on Wednesday, 17th April (1pm). Other games will see England against Italy on Friday, 12th April 5pm), England against Belgium on Sunday, 14th April (5pm) and Italy against Belgium on Wednesday, 17th April (11am).

The Future Eagles’ delegation to Spain, inclusive of 20 players, will be led by Zannah Mohammed Malah, a member of the NFF Technical and Development Committee. 

 

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