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Nigerian Football

AGAIN, 13 IS NIGERIA’S WORLD CUP LUCKY NUMBER

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Nigeria on Saturday became the 13th team to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after those of hosts, Russia and four other European countries, four Asian teams, two from CONCACAF and Brazil in CONMEBOL.

And so, the figure 13 which often is considered an unlucky number has again played a significant role in Nigeria’s World Cup fortunes.

Sports Village Square recalls that the Super Eagles’ path to the Russia 2018 World Cup began on a 13th day, November 13, 2015 in Lobamba, Swaziland with a goalless draw with the hosts.

The Super Eagles, in beating Zambia 1-0 on Saturday attained a total of 13 points which is insurmountable in Group B of the African qualifying group.

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What is more, the qualifying goal scored by Alexander Iwobi was the 13th Nigeria netted in the entire 2018 World Cup qualifiers which Nigeria began with a goalless outing with Swaziland on 13th November 2015.

Nigeria won the reciprocal match 2-0 in Port Harcourt to qualify for the draw for the third round in Africa in which eleven more goals have been scored to bring the total to 13.

What then is the myth surrounding figure 13 that it is always attached with unlucky association? Thirteen is so disliked that many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue.

Many high-rise buildings avoid having a 13th floor, some hospitals avoid labelling rooms with the number 13 and many airports will not have a gate 13.

In support of the myth around figure 13, reference is often made to the Bible where Judas Iscariot, the 13th guest to arrive at the Last Supper, was the person who betrayed Jesus Christ.

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 Apolo  13 was the only unsuccessful moon mission has also been cited to support the myth around number 13. The myth is also stronger when it has to do with date, especially if it is a Friday.

It was on Friday the 13th of February in 1976 that Nigeria’s Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammad was killed by mutineers.

  Also, Friday, October 13, 1972, was a bad day in the history of aviation. That’s the day that Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 infamously crashed in the Andes, killing 29 people. On the exact same day, 174 people were killed when a Soviet Aeroflot crashed in a lake about a kilometre from the runway.

In November 13, 2015, a Friday, is infamously remembered for the series of coordinated Paris terrorist attacks including that of the famous Stade de France where a scheduled friendly international match was to hold. Close to 150 people were killed.

But for Nigerian football, 13 has been a lucky number. Sports Village Square recalls that Chisom Chikatara, Nigeria’s hero at the 2016 African Nations Championship wore jersey number 13 when Niger Republic was demolished by four goals to one.

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  • Chisom Chikatara in shirt number 13 salvaged a point for Nigeria in a 2016 CHAN encounter with Tunisia. Earlier, his three goals played crucial factor in 4-1 defeat of Niger Republic in the opening match.

In the process, the number 13 shirted Chikatara became the tournament’s second player to score a hat trick.  In also drawing 1-1 with Tunisia in the tournament, the man with the ‘unlucky number’ was Nigeria’s saviour.

Chikatara is not the only Nigerian having 13 as magic number. Sunday Oliseh does, just as Tijani Babangida.

Oliseh is the 13th Nigerian to be appointed the coach of the national team. As a player, he led the Super Eagles to become the first qualifier, outside the hosts, for France ’98 World Cup. One significant fact of the qualification was the role of figure 13.

Like in the current Russia 2018 series,  Nigeria qualified for France ’98 amassing 13 points even with a match at hand in the qualifying series.

The Super Eagles got launched into qualification mood through a 13th minute goal from an unlikely scorer, Sunday Oliseh. It was his first ever goal for Nigeria after over 20 caps since his debut in the 6-0 defeat of Ethiopia in 1993.

His next goal for Nigeria, perhaps Nigeria’s most spectacular World Cup goal, was scored 13 minutes to the end of the Nigeria’s opening game with Spain. The Super Eagles beat Spain 3-2.

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With 13 minutes to go, Sunday Oliseh scores with a blistering shot to give Nigeria a 3-2 win over Spain at France ’98 World Cup.

Significantly, Nigeria’s total World Cup goal-haul stood at 13 at the close of the France ’98. That 13th goal was scored by Tijani Babangida, wearing shirt number 13. It came 13 minutes to the end of the 4-1 loss to Denmark.  Significantly too, the total number of goals Nigeria conceded at the World Cup stood at 13 at the close of France ‘98.

  • Shirt number 13, Tijani Babangida shapes up to score Nigeria’s 13th World Cup goal 13 minutes to end the match with Denmark at the 1998 World Cup.

The magic of shirt number 13 is not peculiar to Chikatara and Babangida in the national team. Former Lagos ACB forward, Godwin Iwelumo was famous for the shirt number 13.

He scored in his debut for Nigeria in a 1978 All Africa Games qualifiers against Benin Republic on February 14, 1977.  Subsequently,   Iwelumo was famous for always scoring Nigeria’s goal number two. Who says 13 is an unlucky number?

 

 

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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

Sikiru Alimi is Nigeria’s leading scorer as NPFL’24 strikers net 708 goals in 330 Games

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Sikiru Alimi hits Nigeria Premier League milestone of 50 goals -

Data released by the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Competitions Unit indicate an average of +2 goals per match after Matchday 33 as a total of 708 goals were recorded in the 330 games so far played by the 20 clubs.

The data has Remo Stars Sikiru Alimi as the leading scorer with 14 goals and Rangers International as the team with the best attack with 49 goals. Bendel Insurance are listed as the side with the least conceded goals having let in 25 in 33 games while Gombe United have conceded the most goals at 61.

A total of 1268 yellow cards have been issued with 43 players sent off.

A further analysis of the records show that teams have won 251 games at home with 25 winning away from home and 79 fixtures ending in a draw. In the home wins, 512 goals were scored while teams have scored 196 goals on the road. Of these, there were 13 own goals.

The season has recorded a total of 85 penalties awarded with 65 successfully converted and 20 missed.

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THE STATS

Total No. of Matches Played: 330

Total No. of Wins: 251

Total No. of Home wins: 226

Total No. of Away Wins: 25

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Total No. of Draws: 79

Total No. of Goals Scored: 708

Average Goals/Match: 2

Total No. of Home Goals: 512

Total No. of Away Goals:196

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Total No.of Penalty Awarded: 85 

Total No. of Penalties Scored: 65

Total No. of Penalties Missed: 20

Total No. of Own Goals: 13

Highest Goal Scorer: Sikiru Alimi of Remo Stars;14 goals.

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Total No. of Yellow Cards:1268

Total No. of  Red Cards: 43 

Top of the Log: Enugu Rangers: 60pts, 49 goals for, 31 against 

Best Attacking Team: Enugu Rangers: 49 goals.

Best Defensive Team: Bendel Insurance 25 goals conceded.

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Worst Defense:Gombe United with 61 goals against.

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Nigerian Football

We are not owing bonuses and allowances, says NFF

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The Nigeria Football Federation has released a refutal that players and officials of the national team are being owed of the money released to the team before the last Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.

 The NFF issued a press release that the Presidency had, late last year, and following a process supported and personally followed-through by the Minister of Sports John Owan Enoh, released monies to the NFF for payment of outstanding bonuses and allowances of players and officials of the various national teams.

The NFF in its released reported that there was a publication on Monday which a senior administrative official of the Super Eagles described as “tissues of lies” and challenged the writer to come forward with evidence of his claims.

“The report is absolutely false, in every ramification, and we challenge the owner of the website and writer to come forward with proof of the claims. We want him to name the players who spoke to him, because these are all tissues of lies.

“Players and officials of the Super Eagles have been paid for all matches played at the AFCON, yet he claimed the team was paid for only three matches. His outlandish claim of the team being owed for 25 matches is the biggest lie ever concocted by any writer.”

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The writer also falsely claimed that only members of the NFF Board and staff of the Secretariat have been paid their outstanding allowances from the government money.

“This story is a shame. No player of the Super Eagles spoke to the writer. It is all pure fabrication,” a senior player told thenff.com.

Another senior official of the Super Eagles added: “The story is absolute bunkum. People should make an effort to verify whatever they hear from anywhere before going to the press. It is clear that this writer did not even hear anything; he simply brought forth something from his own imagination.”   

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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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