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Nigerian Football

Akwa United Targets Away Win

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BY MFON PATRICK.

 

The 2016/2017 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL, season is increasingly looking brighter for Akwa United FC following their impressive performances in recent league matches.

With five victories, four draws and four defeats in their opening 13 games of the season, the Promise Keepers who were bottom of the table after Match Day 5 have steadily moved up to 6th position on the league table and are six points behind leaders Plateau United.

Buoyed by their new found form, Akwa United arrived in Lokoja, Kogi State with renewed confidence to engage Niger Tornadoes of Minna in one of the Match Day 14 fixtures of the NPFL scheduled for Sunday 19th March, at the Lokoja Confluence Stadium.

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Coach Abdu Maikaba has named 18- man strong squad for the match and the return of Alhassan Ibrahim from suspension will be seen as a big boost for the Uyo based side.

Alhassan has scored five goals in twelve matches for the Promise Keepers and much will be expected from the midfielder and his teammates when they face Niger Tornadoes on Sunday.

Coach Maikaba has revealed that his team is in Lokoja on a Special Mission which according to him will see them go for all three points.

“An away win here will be the turning points of our season.

We have established the understanding we needed and our ball play has improved greatly, so our mission is to pick as many points as possible away from home.”

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“The league is very competitive and for us to stay in contention, we need to fight for every available point irrespective of the venue of the match”.

Akwa United is yet to win an away game this season and facing their host at a neutral venue presents a good opportunity for team to record their first win away from home this season.

In their previous six away matches, the Promise Keepers have drawn two and lost five, scoring two and conceding seven goals.

Niger Tornadoes who are placed 10th on the log will be hoping for a repeat of last season’s result which saw them humbled their visitors at the same venue but the new Akwa United under coach Maikaba looks more than capable of picking all three points at the end of 90 minutes on Sunday.

The Promise Keepers could further consolidate their position in the top six on the log if they avoid defeat in Lokoja.

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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

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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