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Nigerian Football

TITLE-EYEING MAIKABA TRAINED HIS BOYS TO ADAPT TO ONIKAN-TYPE SMALL PITCH

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BY KINGSLEY OYERO.

 

Akwa United boss, Abdul Maikaba, is eyeing his first major title when his side faces Niger Tornadoes in the final of the AITEO Cup on Sunday.

The former Wikki Tourists gaffer has finished in the top four in the league for the last three seasons and has won titles at the state level but a national title has eluded him.

Maikaba stated ahead of the game: “No two games are the same. We know it’s going to be a winner takes all.

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“We’ve made our plans and I believe the team that puts its act together on the day will go home with the trophy.”

The Promise Keepers defeated Shooting Stars and Sunshine Stars on the way to the final, while Tornadoes beat NPFL Champions, Plateau United, 4-2 on aggregate in the quarter-final before defeating the last winners of Federation Cup, FC IfeanyiUbah in the semi finals.

“Tornadoes are a very good team; they’ve improved so well especially in the AITEO Cup.

“They beat the defending Champions and league champions. That shows they are a very good side.”

Maikaba also hinted that he’s been preparing his boys on ways to cope with playing at the 5,000 capacity Agege Stadium.

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“We’ve tried to formulate ways to play at the stadium. We reduced the size of our practice pitch to be like the Agege Stadium and the players have been reacting well.”

Akwa United have five players that started their career in Lagos and are accustomed to playing at the ‘Soccer Temple’, but Maikaba claims that won’t be a factor when deciding his line up.

“I don’t think I would approach the game like that. If a Lagos boy works his way into my team, for sure, he will play.

“I can’t use a player just because of that reason, but most of the Lagos boys in Akwa United are having a first team shirt recently.

“It would be an advantage to us, because their fans would come and support Akwa United.

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Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Musa Newman, Godswill Igudia, Afeez Aremu and Gabriel Okechukwu all started their career in Lagos.

“The fans should pray for the team, as we need luck to win the title,” Maikaba concluded.

Maikaba and his lads will go home with N25 million and represent Nigeria in the 2017/18 CAF Confederations Cup if they lift the 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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