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Nigerian Football

REACTIONS TRAIL AGU’S COMMENTS ON ENYEAMA’S POSSIBLE RECALL

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Super Eagles’ goalkeeper trainers’ opposition to a possible recall of Vincent Enyeama to the World Cup-bound Nigerian squad has drawn varying comments.

Alloy Agu, a former Nigerian international and goalkeeper trainer in the Super Eagles had spoken to Sports Village Square about his opposition to the possible return of Vincent Enyeama to the Nigerian team.

The Nigerian goalkeeper trainer had hinged his opposition to the return of Enyeama on a possible ignition of crisis in the team as Enyeama may want to reclaim the captaincy and the possible pushing aside of those who laboured to see Nigeria pick the World Cup ticket.

But most are inclined to give Agu a knock for his views. Football aficionado, Godwin Dudu-Orumen wants Agu to provide an answer to whether the return of Goalkeeper Rufai brought crisis to the World Cup-bound team of USA ’94.

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“And can he beat his chest and say the goalkeepers in camp now are anymore than his own average ability which wasn’t even tested in the World Cup?”, asked Dudu-Orumen.

“I commend the guy (Ikechukwu Ezenwa) who has been between the posts in the last three games or so. His mistakes are very elementary.  Hopefully those weaknesses would have corrected in nine months before the World Cup”, remarked Dudu-Orumen.

He wants Alloy Agu to name two other goalkeepers than can bench Enyeama today in a fair contest.  “If not, he should stop confusing the equation”.

Another enthusiast , Wisdom Agboola-Oluwa responding to Sports Village Square on facebook remarked: “Alloy Agu should know better than to say such much as he was not to be in the Super Eagles until he came as a replacement for injured David Ngodigah in the 1989 Yaoundé duel of World Cup qualifier. We eventually lost as he too lost a pair of frontal teeth.

Enyeama too would not have been if Coach Onigbinde had not insisted on taking a green horn like Vincent to the 2002 World Cup.

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The return of Enyeama to the World Cup bound squad will do the team real good like our need to restart rather than restructure Nigeria, the thoughts of a truly patriotic Nigerian and football fraternity and confraternity member that remember the past.

Another Nigerian journalist of international repute, Osasu Obayiuwana commenting on the issue in a popular Nigerian Whatsapp platform, Nigeria Football Support Platform, remarked that Gernot Rohr is more than competent to make a decision about who makes the team. “If he picks Enyeama, it will be because he is still good enough. If he doesn’t pick him, it will be for the same reason”.

He however wants the self-exiled goalkeeper to do two things before his return. “Find a new club and regain match fitness. And after that, he has to make up his mind if he is ready to join the team on Rohr’s conditions, should the coach follow-up on his initial desire to have him back in the team”, Obayiuwana wrote.

He remarked further that “some of Rohr’s staff are apprehensive that his return could upset the harmony in the team. This has been the first time, for a very long time, where the Super Eagles players seem to share a common sense of purpose.

“As long as Vincent (Enyeama) is ready to accept the role and functions given to him by Rohr, which maintains the harmony the team currently has – and he is able to regain match fitness before May, having him as one of the three World Cup goalkeepers is just plain common sense” remarked Obayiuwana.

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Continuing he wrote: “If Essam El-Hadary were a Nigerian, some of you will toss him into the bin. But he will be Egypt’s number one in Russia 2018”.

Even though Coach Gernot Rohr is hoping for speedy recovery of Carl Ikeme, Obayiuwana is of the view that he is highly unlikely to go to the World Cup in a playing capacity.

“He cannot recover from Leukaemia, resume his career and regain match fitness before May. But I hope Nigeria will take him to the tournament still, all-expenses paid.

But not everyone blames Agu for his views. Kola Daniel commenting on Nigeria Football Support Platform wrote: “enough of this Enyeama return… To come and do what in the team? Where was he when the team qualified?”

Another commentator on the platform, Muhammad Mansour Ibrahim wrote: “I don’t think we need Enyeama or any other (new) goalkeeper for now except for injury on the others on the bench.

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“Enyeama has played his role over the years, let’s have another person…Ezenwa has shown that he too has come of age. Let’s allow the present guys to do us proud”.

 

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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Nigerian Football

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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