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Nigerian Football

VIDEO: Warrior, Asiegbu Wins VAT Wonder Goal 6

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In what may have been the tightest race so far for the VAT Wonder Goal Award, Abia Warriors Shedrack Asiegbu fought off stiff challenges from league’s top scorer, Stephen Odey of MFM and Musa Newman of Akwa United to emerge winner of the Match Day 25 edition.

Goals scored by the three were shortlisted out of the total 18 goals of the Match Day and at the end of voting, a total of 731 fans voted on the website while another 361 voted on the twitter platform.

Asiegbu’s goal was the favourite for 335 voters on the website and was followed by Newman who polled 209 with Odey getting the nod from 187.

However, of the twitter voters, Odey ran far ahead with 184 of the 361 while Asiegbu had 90 and Newman picked 87 of the total votes.

Asiegbu thus polled a cumulative 425 votes to edge Odey on 371 with Newman receiving the least combined votes of 296.

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The Abia Warriors forward had netted twice in the fixture against league leaders, Plateau United at the Umuahia Township Stadium but it was the first of his two goals that caught attention.

It was a perfect ending to a move that began with a throw-in on the right channel of Abia Warriors’ attack when Yakub Hammed threw the ball to Sunday Adetunji who shielded it nicely at the edge of Plateau United’s box before cushioning it to Uche Ihuarulam whose intended cross took a deflection off the back of Plateau United’s Jimmy Ambrose.

The ball then fell kindly to Asiegbu who controlled with his chest towards his left foot and struck sweetly into the top corner beyond Plateau United goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye for the first of his two goals on the day.

Asiegbu becomes the 6th Wonder Goal winner joining the rest that includes Ayo Saka (Rivers United), Ubong Friday (Akwa United), Salefu Ochowechi (Remo Stars), Pascal Seka (FC IfeanyiUbah) and Ahmed Usman of Wikki Tourists.

The award carries a reward of N150, 000 half of which will be donated to a charity to be nominated by the player from within the state where the club is based. The VAT Wonder Goal is an initiative of the League Management Company (LMC) and supported by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) as a social investment to drive tax education and deepen clubs and community engagement.

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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

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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