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Eagles Begin Training, Committed to Victory over Bafana

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The Super Eagles are confident that their unbeaten record in competitive matches with South Africa will not be altered when they face Bafana Bafana again on Saturday.
According to press statement from the NFF Communications Department, the team is more committed than ever to sustain their records in encounters with South Africa.
Accordingly, the 21 of the 24 invited players, alongside technical crew and backroom staff, arrived at their familiar Le Meridien Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo ambience, and training sessions began in earnest on Tuesday ahead of the big encounter.
The South African Football Association has confirmed that the Bafana Bafana delegation will fly into Lagos on Wednesday and then immediately connect a flight to Uyo, as both teams looked forward to a pulsating game on the turf of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
Although the Bafana Bafana have never beaten the Super Eagles in a competitive game, Nigerians would remember that a 2-2 draw at the same venue between both teams in November 2014 meant the Eagles missed the cut for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Tokelo Rantie scored both goals, before left –sided midfielder Sone Aluko also replied with a brace – something that is a usual occurrence in matches between both nations.
Sports Village Square recalls that scoring of brace has almost become a familiar happening in Nigeria- South Africa clashes. Before Rantie and Aluko, Rashidi Yekini pacy wingers Tijani Babangida and Osaze Odemwingie and forwards Uche Nwofor and Ejike Uzoenyi had bagged braces in matches between both nations at senior level.
Midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, who will lead out the Super Eagles on Saturday in the absence of recuperating captain Mikel John Obi, toldthenff.com on Tuesday: “It is a big game, and we are one for the big occasion.
“I have confidence in the group that we have now and the ambition oozing in the camp. We want to go to the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. Starting well on Saturday will be key to our aspiration.”
Winger Ahmed Musa, who netted a brace in a 3-0 defeat of Togo in a friendly in Paris on Thursday, alongside defender Kenneth Omeruo and newly –wed wing back Elderson Echiejile were the only squad members given until Tuesday to arrive camp.
Nigeria’s army on Saturday will include former junior international Kelechi Iheanacho, who has scored in seven of his last eight matches for the Super Eagles, as well as record scorer in the FIFA U17 World Cup, Victor Osimhen. There are also this season’s top scorer in the Austrian Bundesliga, Olanrewaju Kayode, the pacy Moses Simon and the nimble –footed Alex Iwobi.
The last outing between both teams was a friendly match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit two years ago, which ended 1-1. Ahmed Musa scored a late goal in a game in which Daniel Akpeyi (likely to start in goal for Nigeria on Saturday) saved a penalty, but there was still time for the Bafana Bafana to draw level.

Nigeria versus South Africa: Head-to-Head
• October 10, 1992, Lagos: Nigeria 4-0 South Africa: Brace by Rashidi Yekini
• January 16, 1993, J’bourg: South Africa 0-0 Nigeria
• February 10, 2000, Lagos: Nigeria 2-0 South Africa: Brace by Tijani Babangida
• January 31, 2004, Monastir: South Africa 0-4 Nigeria: Brace by Osaze Odemwingie
• November 17, 2004, J’bourg: South Africa 2-1 Nigeria
• June 1, 2008, 2008, Abuja: Nigeria 2-0 South Africa
• September 6, 2008, Port Elizabeth: South Africa 0-1 Nigeria
• August 14, 2013, Durban: South Africa 0-2 Nigeria: Brace by Uche Nwofor
• January 19, 2014, Cape Town: South Africa 1-3 Nigeria: Brace by Ejike Uzoenyi
• September 10, 2014, Cape Town: South Africa 0-0 Nigeria
• November 19, 2014, Uyo: Nigeria 2-2 South Africa: Brace by Tokelo Rantie (South Africa), Sone Aluko (Nigeria)
• March 29, 2015, Cape Town: South Africa 1-1 Nigeria

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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Manu Garba proud of Eaglets as team countenances Niger Republic

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Coach Manu Garba has asserted that he is proud of the Golden Eaglets after Thursday’s scoreless encounter with their Burkina Faso counterparts in the Group B opener of the WAFU B U17 Championship.

 Five-time champions Nigeria created several scoring chances particularly late in the game at the Accra University Stadium, but failed to utilise even one that could have earned them the three points and handed them early leadership of the pool.

 However, Garba said the boys played a cohesive game in their first-ever international outing and deserve credit for their display.

 “We are proud of our team’s performance. Although we didn’t secure the win that we hoped for, our players showed great teamwork and sportsmanship. We look forward to our next match and the opportunity to continue growing and improving.

 “The boys will get better with experience and exposure.”

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 Against the Burkinabes, the Eaglets showed flair and fluency, but a heavy downpour in the final 15 minutes of the game disrupted the general flow of play, with the pitch waterlogged and effective control and passing impossible.

 The Golden Eaglets go up against their counterparts from the Niger Republic on Sunday evening (6pm Ghana time; 7pm Nigeria) with renewed hope and vigour to pick up the three points that will enhance their chances of a place in the last four.

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Paris to face major disruption ahead of Games opening ceremony, says police chief

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Paris will face major disruption ahead of the Olympics opening ceremony along the Seine on July 26, as organisers ramp up security measures to safeguard the event, the city’s police chief said on Thursday.

Organisers hope the opening ceremony, in which 160 boats carrying athletes from around the world will travel a 6 kilometre route along the Seine river towards the Eiffel tower, will deliver a jaw-dropping spectacle. Some 300,000 spectators will watch from the banks of the Seine as a global audience tunes in on TV.

But the ceremony is also a major security headache, taking place against a backdrop of wars in Ukraine and Gaza. French President Emmanuel Macron has already floated the possibility of scrapping the river ceremony and reverting to at least two back-up plans if the security risks become untenable.

Paris residents with a view of the Seine can invite friends to watch the opening of the 2024 Summer Games from their balconies, but should prepare for heavy traffic and limited movement, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said at a press conference.

Adjacent metro stations, most river crossings and all water traffic will be halted in the week before the open-air ceremony, Nunez said, adding that some bridges will remain open “in order not to cut Paris in two halves.”

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Everyone who wants to access the immediate surroundings of the Seine in the week before the Games will need to sign up on an online platform, Nunez said. Local residents hoping to access their homes, which are among the most prestigious addresses in France, will need to do the same.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, who also spoke at the event said the disruption would impact around 20,000 residents and business owners.

Asked about Macron’s comments earlier this month, Nunez said his teams were still working on the ‘Plan A’ of the river ceremony.

“As of today, we have no reason to be worried,” Nunez said.

-Reuters

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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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