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Nigerian Football

Rangers, Shooting Stars in Titanic Battle for Points

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BY JUBRIL AROWOLO

 

Some years past, it would have been the match of the day. But how time changes. The Enugu Rangers versus Shooting Stars is almost relegated to the realm of anonymity.  Both sides are virtually struggling for recognition this season.

Old football rivalry may just be rekindled as Rangers International FC hosts Shooting Stars FC on Sunday afternoon at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, Enugu.

No one can forget in a hurry, the dramatic end of their first leg clash in Ibadan when Shooting Stars scored a late minute goal to punish the Flying Antelopes who lost a penalty kick in 87′ of the exciting encounter!

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This is the background of Sunday’s tie and fans cannot wait to see how it pans out.

The visiting Shooting Stars are hard hit just having 32 points from 27 games played and are dangerously placed in the 18th position.

Right now, the fortunes of   these two old club sides in the country are nothing to write home about on the current league log.

As such, the Oluyole Warriors must up the ante and start winning some crucial points on the road to complement recent victorious home runs.

This, the club’s Technical Adviser, Fatai Amoo expressed in a chat with www.3sc.com.ng on Saturday evening after the team’s training session.

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“We have to start winning from tomorrow. It’s about making up our minds that other teams are winning away, why are we not? I think it has to do with our psyche!

However, Amoo sees the game as a big battle of old rivals with the belief that it could go either way.

“It’s a battle of two arch rivals and whoever stands up to be counted will win that’s why my players have to raise their game”.

Camp checks reveal a loaded, determined side with experience players in the likes of Ajani Ibrahim, Najeem Olukokun and Nonso Mbakwe and company.

For Rangers FC, it is a game they are not toying with to reaffirm their recent resurgence after a turbulent period that consumed their league winning tactician, Imama Amamakpabo.

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With just 35 points from 27 matches in 12th position, they need to put up a spirited fight against the visiting Oluyole rivals who are bent on repeating or surpassing last year’s share of the spoils in a 1-1 score line.

Meanwhile, Rangers Spokesperson, Foster Chime says not this time round will the visitors survive it, as the Flying Antelopes would not loose its guard.

“Shooting Stars should look elsewhere for points. What happened last session will not repeat itself and our players are ready to give a fight”, Foster said.

 

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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

Beyond reproach: NFF denies banning Victor Osimhen  

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From Victor Moses To Victor Osimhen, Super Eagles Hope For Another Victorious Ending To Afcon Group Stage  -

The Nigeria Football Federation has described as outright falsehood, reports in some online publications on Wednesday that the football-governing body has slammed a ban on Super Eagles’ forward Victor Osimhen from the team, for his social media outburst few days ago.

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi expressed amazement at the reports, saying the Federation has neither instructed a process nor has a process been concluded to ban the player from the National Team.

“The NFF hereby implores the media to join hands with the body to positively resolve issues and then focus on the big picture all the time, rather than needlessly escalate certain matters.

“There was no official communication from the NFF, yet some persons have gone to town to talk about a ban on Osimhen from the National Team. This is not good at all.

“Our focus presently is to resolve all matters around the Super Eagles and be able to look ahead with confidence to the 2025 AFCON qualifiers and the remaining six matches of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification series.

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“This is not the time to spread falsehood and foul the public space the more.”

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Nigerian Football

NFF racing against time to meet up CAF deadline for inter-clubs’ registration

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The final match of the President Federation Cup will hold on 29th June as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) races to meet up with the Sunday 30 June CAF deadline to submit the names of Nigeria’s four representatives for the continental inter-clubs competition.

  Only league winners, Enugu Rangers are definitive as at now. They will feature in the CAF Champions League.

Two more representatives, likely from the trio of Remo Stars, Enyimba and Shooting Stars will emerge after Sunday’s league matches.

  The league’s first runners-up will join Enugu Rangers in the Champions League while the second runners up picks one of the two tickets for the CAF Confederation Cup.

 The second ticket will go to the President Federation Cup winners.

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  According to a media release by the NFF, its General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, explaines that the 29 June date was agreed to by both the NFF and GTI in view of the fact that Nigeria have until midnight of Sunday, 30 June to submit to the CAF, the names of the representative clubs in next season’s continental club competitions.

“Having looked closely at our programmes, the stage the men and women competitions are at the moment and the need to submit the names of all our representative clubs to CAF for African Club Competitions next season, ourselves and GTI have reached a consensus for the grand finale of the men and women finals of the President Federation Cup to take place on Saturday, 29th June.

“The venue is the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja. The women’s final will begin at 1pm while the men’s final will commence at 4pm, as has been the tradition for so many years now. NFF and GTI are committed to putting up a great show of this year’s grand finale.”

Meanwhile, the quarter-finals of the women’s competition will take place on Wednesday, 19th June, with Benin City, Asaba and Enugu as host centres.

The semi finals of the men’s competition will take place on Thursday, 20th June, with Abuja and Lafia as host centres.

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A three-horse race for two continental ticket is set up after Enugu Rangers league win

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Enugu Rangers have broken loose from the pack as title contenders – Remo Stars, Enyimba and Shooting Stars all blew their chances in the penultimate match days as all lost with identical scorelines of 2-1 in their respective away games.

  The title is gone, now resting in Enugu who are having their second league celebrations in over 30 years. They win the jackpot N150 million prize for their title.

  But the battle is not over for the initial aspiring trio. At best they have the second CAF Champions League ticket to battle for. One of the three will win that on the last match day. The second placed team gets the CAF Champions League slot while the third gets the Confederation Cup ticket.

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Coincidentally, the trio will be at their familiar home ground. As it is, second placed Remo Stars are at advantage to pick a ticket if they can pick a point from their home game with Katsina United. It will be their third consecutive adventure in the continent.

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 The fierce battle will therefore be between third placed Enyimba and fourth placed Shooting Stars.  Both badly need a win to get either the Champions League ticket or that of the Confederation Cup.

  However, Plateau United are lurking and an away win by the Jos team in Aba will not only upset Enyimba, it could land the Plateau United a continental ticket should Shooting Stars lose or draw with Sporting Lagos.

On the other side of the divide, the battle to escape the drop has taken a dramatic twist. As the Sunday matches were on, Sporting Lagos initially thought they had escaped the drop.

 But a turnaround by Bayelsa United who came from behind to beat Shooting Stars change the weather condition for the worst for the Lagos sides.

  They now face an herculean task next weekend in their duel with continental ticket chasing Shooting Stars. The confirmed teams for relegation are Gombe United and Heartland.

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