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Nigerian Football

WENGER, MIKEL’S WIFE, ODEMWINGIE SALUTE SUPER EAGLES

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BY BOLAJI OKUNOLA.

 

In apparent appreciation of the massive supporters that English Premiership side, Arsenal FC draws from Nigeria its manager, Arsene Wenger has congratulated the Super Eagles for qualifying for the World Cup 2018.

He is even more thrilled for the fact that one of his players, Alex Iwobi delivered the goal that earned Nigeria the ticket.

On Thursday, Wenger in a 22 second statement on Arsenal Facebook account remarked that he was very proud to see one of his players Iwobi playing a major role in Nigeria’s success in the round of matches.

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Wenger remarks: “”Good morning. Congratulations to all our fans in Nigeria. I know that there are very, very, very many of you and we are very proud that you have qualified for the World Cup.”

Continuing, he said: ”On top of that, our player scored the goal for you and that makes us ever prouder.
”Well done, and see you in the World Cup. I am sure you will have a great, great trip there.”

There has been globalization of the messages of congratulation that the Super Eagles have received. Apart from those from FIFA and CAF, Zambia’s football legend, Kalusha Bwalya, despite his country being a victim of Nigeria’s success was one of the earliest personalities to congratulate Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Russia based former player, Osaze Odemwingie also last Saturday sent similar congratulatory tweet.

Also, Mikel Obi’s Russian heartthrob, Olga Diyacheko, sent the Nigerian skipper a congratulatory message.

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Olga, who is the mother of Mikel Obi’s twins, on Instagram celebrated her lover’s leadership performance that gave Nigeria the right to play at the finals in her country of birth next year.

In her Instagram message on Thursday she wrote: “well done @Mikel_John_Obi and welcome to Russia Nigeria”. The post shortly after the post has attracted several comments from Mikel Obi’s in laws who are looking forward him to lead the country to a good outing next year. Over 2,188 likes was attracted less that few hours of the post.

 

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

Remo Stars add fuel to the fire as title chase turns East – West battle

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Added time-goal specialists, Remo Stars pulled off one of their now familiar traits, chalking up a valuable point as Skipper Nduka Junior scored in the 90+4 minute to scuttle an impending victory by Doma United on Wednesday evening.

When all-hope seemed over, Remo Stars had scored hope-reviving goals as they did against Lobi Stars, Insurance and a host of others in the Nigeria Premier League.

Getting a valuable point take them from fifth position to fourth their haul to 50, just a point below that of second and third placed Enyimba and Lobi Stars respectively.

The 1-1 scoreline also changed the complexion of the league table as their South West rivals were pushed down from their initial fourth position.

As it is, the struggle for the title is taking regional colouration as the top two- Enugu Rangers and Enyimba are from the South East while fourth and fifth – Remo Stars and Shooting Stars are from the South West.

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Lobi Stars from the middle belt, stand in-between the South East and South West in the power struggle.

 Remo Stars at the fourth position however still have an outstanding home game against Rivers United and that could still change the positions of the top six teams when the match is played.

Attention will now shift to match-day 31 as the league embarks on its home stretch.

 On Friday, relegation-bound Heartland will be hosting rejuvenated Shooting Stars who have suddenly discovered they could return to continental competition next seasons after 25 years.

They have lately been having unbeaten runs. On Saturday, Kwara United will host desperate Akwa United who are struggling to avoid dropping into the lower league.

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On the same day, Abia Warriors will be at home against Bayelsa United.

  On Sunday seven matches are on the card. They are:

Kano Pillars v. Gombe United

Katsina United v. Sporting Lagos

Lobi Stars v. Bendel Insurance

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Niger Tornadoes v Doma United

Plateau United v. Remo Stars

Rivers United v. Enugu Rangers

Sunshine Stars v. Enyimba

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Rangers tenaciously hold on at Nigeria League top position

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Enugu Rangers are holding on firmly at the top of the Nigeria Premier League after getting a hard 3-2 victory over visiting Abia Warriors.

The win consolidated their top position as the 2016 Nigerian champions now have 54 points, three points ahead their oriental brothers, Enyimba who are currently second on the log.

But the keen battle this season sees Lobi Stars who lost 2-0 to a rejuvenated Shooting Stars in Ibadan.

 The victory has seen the Shooting Stars climbing up steadily and now placing fourth on the log. But their fellow western rivals may bounce back into reckoning and could leapfrog into second position if they obtain full points in their away duel on Wednesday with Doma United.

Just as the battle at the top is tough, so also it is at the backwaters. Probably Gombe United are the first confirmed for relegation. Heartland, Akwa United, Rivers United and borderline candidate, Sunshine Stars are in fierce battle.

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Rivers United however still have six outstanding matches and could still leapfrog into safety zone. But Akwa United continued to their struggle to swim out of the relegation zone as they hammered Niger Tornadoes 4-1.

Tuesday results

Shooting Stars 2-0 Lobi Stars

Sporting Lagos 1-0 Sunshine Stars

Rivers United 3-1 Plateau United

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Gombe United 1-2 Kwara United

Enyimba 1-0 Heartland

Enugu Rangers 3-2 Abia Warriors

Bendel Insurance 2-1 Kano Pillars

Bayelsa United 1-1 Katsina United

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Akwa United 4-1 Niger United

Wednesday Fixture

Doma United v Remo Stars

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Manu Garba, U17 World Cup winner, returns as Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach

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The Board of Nigeria Football Federation has appointed former U17 World Cup winner Manu Garba as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

Garba had, in the same role, led the Golden Eaglets to win the FIFA U17 World Cup for Nigeria in the United Arab Emirates in 2013 – Nigeria’s fourth triumph at that stage.

Garba’s world-conquering squad in 2013 included Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success, Musa Mohammed, Chidiebere Nwakali and goalkeeper Dele Alampasu.

The squad, which finished as runners-up at the African U17 Championship in Morocco after a penalty shootout defeat by Cote d’Ivoire, defeated Mexico 6-1 in their opening game, drew 3-3 with Sweden and hammered Iraq 5-0. In the Round of 16, they ran Iran ragged 4-1, dispatched Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter-finals and trounced Sweden 3-0 in the semi-finals, before they dislodged Mexico by the same margin in the final to lift the trophy.

The former Nigeria international will now immediately resume the role and take charge of the team’s preparations for next month’s WAFU B U17 Championship, taking place in Ghana.

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