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Nigerian Football

Nigerians Take to the Field as UEFA Leagues Enter Group Stage

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As the 2017/2018 UEFA Champions League  and Europa League gather momentum across Europe from this Tuesday, Sports Village Square presents the Nigerians who will be showcasing their skills across the various fields in Europe.

Victor Moses, Chelsea

Leading the pack of Nigeria’s ambassadors to the most followed continental league in the world is the mercurial Victor Moses. He is expected to take the splendid form he exhibited at the back-to-back World Cup encounters with Cameroon to the Group C UEFA Champions League home tie with Qarabag of Azerbaijan.

It is the first ever encounter that Chelsea will be having with the Azerbaijan opponents. It is also Qarabag’s debut in the UEFA Champions’ League Group stage while Chelsea is having its 15th entry.

Aaron Samuel Olanere, CSKA Moscow

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Aaron Samuel Olanere, the 23 year old Super Eagles player may not have had ample playing time with Nigeria recently since his scoring debut against Sudan on October 15, 2014, this Tuesday will enable him display his talents when his CSKA Moscow side take on Portugal’s Benfica in Lisbon.

He was called up as an unused last minute replacement for injured Alex Iwobi of Arsenal for the recent Nigerian World Cup qualifying matches with Cameroon.

Sports Village Square gathered from UEFA that Olanere took full part in the training by the Russian side and therefore in contention to start the league duel with Benfica.

If featured, he will be wearing the unfamiliar shirt number 99. He will not be the first Nigerian in the CSKA UEFA Champions League side as Olanere will be treading the path earlier taken by Ahmed Musa.

Henry Onyekuru, Anderlecht

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Sports Village Square recalls that Henry Onyekuru will be walking the path previously taken by the late Nigerian former captain and coach, Stephen Keshi as he laces his boots for Belgium’s Anderlecht in UEFA Champions’ League Group B away clash with Germany’s Bayern Munich.

Onyekuru took full part in the training by the Belgian side and therefore in contention to start the match at Fußball Arena München.

It is the first time that Onyekuru’s club will be in the group stage since the 2014/15 Season.

Nura Abdullahi, AS Roma

Unlike Victor Moses and Onyekuru who will likely play key roles for their clubs in the Champions’ League opening games, Abdullahi is almost a confirmed absentee. The Rio 2016 Nigerian footballer did not take part in the most recent training sessions for his Italian club, AS Roma which will be hosts to Atletico Madrid in Group C.

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In fact, he is yet to feature in the two-week old Serie A matches.

Sunny  Omoregie, N.K Maribor, Slovenia

In the same situation with Abdullahi is Sunny Omoregie of Maribor which faces Spartak in Group E on Wednesday. The Nigerian is not listed in the club’s squad for this season’s Champions League.

                                                                     Theophilus Solomon, FK Partizan

Partizan Belgrade forward, Theophilus Solomon who joined the Serbian giant on August 12 2017 on a long season loan deal with the option of permanent transfer at the end of the season.

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May likely feature when the club takes on Young Boys of Switzerland on Thursday. Sports Village Square gathered that the Nigerian who will be putting on jersey number 77 took part in all training session ahead of the game and is in contention to start the game.

Alex Iwobi, Arsenal

Arsenal has found a new domain in the less European league, the Europa Cup. But it will be without Alex Iwobi who appears not registered for the competition. In a similar situation is another player of Nigerian origin, Tolaji Bola whose name, like that of Iwobi is asterisked as belonging to the Arsenal FC Academy.

Imoh Ezekiel, Konyaspor, Turkey

But when Turkey’s Konyaspor take on Marseille on Thursday, Nigeria’s Imoh Ezekiel will likely be listed. Sports Village Square gathered from UEFA that Ezekiel participated in all training sessions ahead of the Europa Cup encounter.

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His club however has a huge mountain to climb in Marseille as Konyaspor is yet to win a match in six outings in the continent. In previous outings, the Turkish side lost five and drew one.

Segun James Adeniyi, KF Skënderbeu

Segun Adeniyi is another Nigerian to watch out for when Albanian club, KF Skënderbeu take on Dynamos Kiev on Thursday in the Europa Cup Group B tie. If featured, he will wear shirt number 78. Sports Village Square can confirm that the Nigerian who scored 23 goals last season took paprt in all training session leading to the match.

Adeniyi will lock horns with fellow Nigeria, Theophilus Solomon when the Ueropa league Group B battle begins.

Samuel Adeniyi Adegbenro, Rosenborg F.C

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Samuel Adegbenro is expected to feature for Rosenborg BK of Norway when the club face Real Sociedad in a Group L Europa Cup duel on Thursday. The native of Osogbo plays as centre forwaed and had score three goals in two outings or the club

 

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

Enugu Rangers hold on grimly at the top as Nigerian league gets to home stretch

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Enugu Rangers may have broken loose from the pack following their comprehensive  3-0 victory over Bayelsa United on Sunday.

As if to aid Rangers’ hold of the top position, their closest rivals, Remo Stars who were initially just a point behind fell like  papers blown by the huricane, losing 3-2 to Kwara United. Their loss dealt a big blow on their title aspirations as they are now four points behind Enugu Rangers and had also narrowed their goal difference.

They are now third having been overtaken by Enyimba who have better goal difference even though both are with 56 points.

Shooting Stars who suddenly peaked in the second half of the season are fast pacing up, getting to the fourth position and three points behind Remo Stars.

They were dealt a blow in the added time as Katsina United’s Michael Okoro got an added time goal against to stalemate scores at 2-2.

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Just as Enugu Rangers are at the cusp of the championship, the fates of Gombe United and Heartland appear already decided as the second tier Nigeria National League are already waiting to welcome them next season.

Akwa United may have navigated their ways out of relegation waters following their 2-1 away win over Lobi Stars. Akwa United are now 15th on the log. In Jos, former champions, Plateau and Niger Tornadoes played uninspiring goalless while relegation-troubled Heartland of Owerri spanked Gombe United 3-0 just as Kano Pillars dimmed Doma United 3-1.

All the results:

Sunshine Stars 0-0 Bendel Insurance

Rivers United 4-1 Sporting Lagos

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Lobi Stars 1-2 Akwa United

Kwara United 3-2 Remo Stars

Katsina United 2-2 Shooting Stars

Kano Pillars 3-1 Doma United

Heartland 3-0 Gombe United

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Enugu Rangers 3-0 Bayelsa United

Abia Warriors 0-1 Enyimba

Plateau United 0-0 Niger Tornadoes

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Finidi deserves our support, says former international, Kingsley Onye

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NFF Confirms Finidi George

Ahead of the first press parley that Super Eagles’ new manager, Finidi George is going to have on Thursday in Lagos, former Nigeria international, Kingsley Onye has canvassed for full support for the new coach.

 To him, the time of politicking and pushing for a particular candidate was over. “It is time for all of us to back the chosen one, Finidi George”, remarked Onye who was a left rearguard player in the 1985 class of Flying Eagles who against all odds, upstaged hosts,Soviet Union to clinch the third place in the then World Youth Championships that is now called the U-20 World Cup.

  “Although I canvassed for Emmanuel Amuneke’s candidature, am still happy that an equally good Finidi George got the job”, he said in a phone conversation from his base in the United Kingdom.

  “The fact that some players complained after Nigeria’s second friendly match in March shows that Finidi is a man of his class and cannot be influenced by players’ sentiments.

  “I believe he will take Nigeria to an enviable height, the same way Amuneke too would have done.”

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 Continuing, Onye who played for Enugu Rangers while he was in the country in the 1980s also remarked that he was on the same page with Victor Ikpeba who has asked that Finidi’s assistants should always back him in team selection  and tactical formations.

 “We should be more than 100 per cent behind the coach. If we do, he will perform wonders. He has his own philosophy which we must allow to flourish. He did it will Enyimba, leading the club to success last season and was at the brink of repeating the success before his appointment as Super Eagles’ coach.”

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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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