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Nigerian Football

Life Line For Shooting Stars

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BY JUBRIL AROWOLO.

Shooting Stars got a lifeline in their Week 28 encounter in Enugu after forcing a 1-1 draw that could see the struggling club navigate its way out of murky waters of relegation. It took Abu Azeez’s 76th minute goal for Shooting Stars to survive the onslaught of Rangers at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, Enugu.

Rangers’ petit striker, Godwin Aguda had capitalized on goalkeeper Charles Tambe’s error to jab in after a corner kick by the home side on the 29th minute mark.

Before the error, the Cameroonian international goalkeeper had made some daring saves from rampaging quartet of Bobby Clement, Godwin Aguda, Chiamaka Madu and Bright Silas whose runs kept our defence line on their toes.

The goal notwithstanding, Shooting Stars threw in the trio of Ajani Ibrahim, Abu Azeez and Nonso Mbakwe to poke the opponents’ area with occasion incursions.

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Also, pulling the strings were Shile Adebayo and Ayobami Junior from the midfield.

Their efforts forced some defensive errors in Rangers vital areas but no goal. That was the situation until the time for recess.

On resumption of the second half, Rangers mounted more pressure to double their lead but Tambe Charles and his covers were resolute.

Shooting Stars’ Moses James on one occasion had to come in for a timely clearance to safety after Itoya’s solo effort left Osawe, Samuelson and Omololu on his trail.

Rangers FC changed Bobby Clement for Omoh Johnson and Godwin Aguda for Ifeanyi George to sustain the tempo with more daring incursions and more free kick advantages.

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However, the tide changed when Olukokun Najeem came in for Nonso Mbakwe on 60th minute. He his change added more pep into our attacking bites with glaring control of the game.

Merenini Junior came in for Ibrahim Shile Adebayo and his third time involvement saw him beating two defenders from the left with a final pass rightly connected into the net via a powerful volley by Abu Azeez.

The score line was even at 1-1 and the coaches brought in defensive conscious Adebayo Abayomi to replace Ajani Ibrahim in a bid to protect the precious equalizer until the final whistle.

While speaking with 3SC.com.ng in his post match interview, Shooting Stars Technical Adviser – Fatai Amoo was philosophical and credited the result to hard work and good fortune. “My boys worked for it and I appreciate their fighting spirit. But the battle is still on”. He went further that his team “must keep working and keep our head up while thinking about our next match”.

His counterpart from Rangers International Chukwuma Agbo blamed his wards for not converting their chances. He told 3SC Media that “we expected Shooting Stars to give a good fight. We learnt our lessons by dropping two points in the encounter”.

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Shooting Stars goal scorer Abu Azeez was happy he got his first goal for the team which also proved vital to the team relegation survival. He went further that “the goal really boosts my reason for joining the team, helping to survive the drop and gladdens the heart of our teeming fans”.

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

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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