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Nigerian Football

Onigbinde Looks Forward to MMM Saving Nigeria

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BY BOLAJI OKUNOLA.

 

As Nigeria prepares for the destiny-shaping tie with Cameroon in the countdown to the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, former two-time Nigeria’s manager, Adegboye Onigbinde believes that the quick recovery of the injured duo of Mikel Obi and Victor Moses and the rediscovery of form by Ahmed Musa will be of great benefit to the Super Eagles.

The three ‘M’s will certainly form a potent strike force against Nigeria’s next competitive opponent, Cameroon in two month’s time.

Musa’s form has dipped in recent time as he had to play as substitute in the Super Eagles while not getting considerable match time in his Premiership club, Leicester.

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Mikel and Moses last featured for Nigeria in the 3-1 defeat of Algeria last November in the World Cup qualifier. Incidentally, all goals for Nigeria were scored by the duo, with Chelsea’s Moses scoring twice.

Sports Village Square recalls that injury has been a major concern in the Super Eagles of late. First choice goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme was last in action for the team last October and had missed five matches in a row on account of recurring injury.

No reliable back up had been found for him. Victor Moses had been on and off in the Super Eagles for the same reason. Even though he featured prominently for Chelsea in the season just ended, he is reported to have been playing with injured toe and had to take strong analgesic injections to be able to play.

He therefore opted for an operation ahead of the coming English football season. Nigerians will only hope he recovers before the back-to-back World Cup encounters with African champions, Cameroon.

Reliable central defender, Leon Balogun missed the last Super Eagles’ fixture with South Africa also owing to injury, just like the captain of the squad, Mikel Obi who had to be operated on in London last April.

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Chief Onigbinde told the Sports Village Square that Nigeria’s home loss to South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers was largely due to the absence of key players. He singled out that of Mikel Obi and Victor Moses.

Hear the chief: “Nigeria’s loss to South Africa was due to the absence of Mikel and Moses. I am not saying other players are not good enough to play for the national team, but the experience, the inspiration and leadership qualities of Mikel and Moses would have made the great difference.

“I noticed we lost due to lack of experienced players who can create chances with ease. I believe both Mikel and Moses can save Rohr’s job if they are available in the next match.

“I am confident that the Super Eagles will beat Cameroon, at least in the first fixture.”

A win in the match will give Nigeria a nine-point head start before going into the reverse fixtures of the World Cup qualifying draw.

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“Rohr will certainly get more pressure should he lose his next game against Cameroon. I only pray he snubs inexperienced players who claim to ply their trade in Europe. He needs the hungry and adventurous players who can take on any opposition, especially a team that is very physical like Cameroon”, Onigbinde told Sports Village Square.

 

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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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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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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