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Nigerian Football

Shooting Stars Seek Redemption in Makurdi

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BY JUBRIL AROWOLO.

The Oluyole Warriors suffered a huge defeat at home last Sunday as FC IfeanyiUbah clinched three points at Adamasingba, but their opponents this weekend, Lobi Stars, continued their march up the Nigeria Professional Football League table by recording an away 1-0 win over Sunshine Stars in Akure.
The 0-3 home loss to FC IfeanyiUbah in the Week 20 fixture was still an unimaginable dream for an average Shooting Stars’ supporter.
But in the actual sense, it is the bitter reality and also very obvious as the team languishes in the 19th position on the log and swimming in the relegation waters.
Perhaps, the heat in the relegation zone is becoming quite uncomfortable. This has prompted the teams’ top hierarchy to give the coaches a wakeup call to reassess their approach and strategy and find a way out of danger.
This sets the tone for the Match Day 21 fixture as Shooting Stars Sports Club heads to the 15,000-seater Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi to face Lobi Stars on Sunday afternoon.
This fixture is the one the team must take with all seriousness knowing that a further decline might plummet their position and chances of surviving the drop thus, in getting a good result; they must be in their best elements.
Shooting Stars’ last visit to Aper Aku Stadium was a 1-2 loss to Lobi Stars but an emphatic 2-0 win in Ibadan on the opening day of the season in January might serve as a motivation for the lads in grinding out a good result on the road. Also, our good precedence at away matches will also come into play and be a great factor on the outcome of the match.
The lads are already in Makurdi with a squad which consists of some of the mid-season signings and they are optimistic about the upcoming fixture. 3sc.com.ng touched base with the experienced Ajani Ibrahim before heading off and he told us that the “team has moved past last week’s result and working really hard to change its fortune’’.
He continued, “3SC is not supposed to be in this kind of situation, we have resolved that all hands must be on deck and we can only prove that on the pitch, that starts on Sunday, we hope for a good result’’.
Fatai Amoo was positive in his pre match interview and offered that he is upbeat and still believe the team will survive the drop as the Technical Crew has figured out a few lapses and corrected them ahead of the fixture.
Lobi Stars’ Kingsley Eduwo will hope to continue where he stopped last week as his 15th minute goal was all Lobi needed to sink Sunshine Stars in front of their fans in Akure.
All said and done, we hope to start the drive of surviving relegation and also putting the team in a rightful position with the Lobi match. Hopefully the team will be able to grind out a good result on the road.

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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