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Nigerian Football

NFF Shifts AITEO Cup Final

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

 

The final match of the maiden edition of the AITEO Cup originally slated to hold next week Sunday has been postponed by one week. The AITIO Cup which is the replacement for the previous Federation Cup, the successor to the previous Governor’s Cup, the Challenge Cup and later the FA Cup has reached the semi final stage.

The final day was to be October 8 which co-incidentally would have been the 50th anniversary of the first time that crowd pulling and fanatically supported Stationery Stores first won the national cup.

But more importantly, it would have also marked the 68th anniversary of Nigeria’s first international match when the returning UK Tourists beat Sierra Leone 2-0 in Freetown on October 8, 1949.

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It would have also marked the 24th anniversary of Nigeria’s first qualification for the World Cup, a feat that was achieved on October 8, 1993 following a 1-1 draw with Algeria in Algiers in the race for USA ’94.

An inside source informed the Sports Village Square that the AITEO Cup final match had to be moved by a week for logistic reasons. On the eve of the original date, Nigeria has a crucial World Cup qualifying match to play against Zambia in Uyo.

A win by Nigeria seals the Super Eagles’ sixth World Cup appearance. The situation therefore assumed the status that prevailed during the World War II when a General Order was issued and all activities by the colonialists in Nigeria were geared towards prosecuting the World War II.

Although Sports Villages Square gathered that the final match of what will be the 71st national cup edition is postponed, the NFF is yet to come out with the venue.

The Teslim Balogun Stadium has held the final matches since 2011. The national competition only failed to hold once in 1973 since it started in 1945 as Governor’s Cup which changed to “All Nigeria Challenge Cup” following changes in the Nigerian constitution. So, at the Annual General Meeting of the then NFA on February 28, 1955 the new name was adopted.

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The then General Secretary of the NFA Reginald Banham Allen, announced the new name which it bore until the first title sponsorship agreement changed the name to Coca-Cola FA Cup in 1996.

On June 3, 2009, following the withdrawal of the title sponsors and the change of name by the football governing body from NFA to NFF, the competition changed to Federation Cup.

For the fourth time, on June 28 this year, Nigeria’s oldest football competition changed name to ‘AITEO Cup’.

 

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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

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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