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Nigerian Football

ROHR’S FEAR OF BACKLASH HOLDS BACK EJIDE’S SUPER EAGLES’ RECALL

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BY BOLAJI OKUNOLA.

 

Super Eagles’ manager, Gernot Rohr is still having headaches over the last line of his World Cup-bound squad. The goalkeeping department is still a source of worry for him. In the five World Cup qualifying matches he guided Nigeria to, the Franco-German coach made use of three goalkeepers.

Ikechukwu Ezenwa featured lately and most prominently in three of such matches while the duo of Carl Ikeme and South Africa based Daniel Akpeyi had a match each and conceded a goal in each of the encounters.

Ezenwa in three consecutive matches conceded just a penalty kick goal, away from home in the encounter with Cameroon in Douala.

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While Ezenwa is just warming himself into Rohr’s heart, the coach admits he needs strong back up for the World Cup and also for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series which resume in March.

His desire to bring back a seemingly unwilling self-retired Vincent Enyeama appears doomed as feelers indicate that the Nigeria Football Federation is not inclined to the goalkeeper’s recall.

Yet, it is almost generally agreed that the Super Eagles do not have a goalkeeper that can grace the esteem stage of the World Cup. The team must have three goalkeepers in its final 23-man squad.

A source in the Super Eagles technical crew informed Sports Village Square that Rohr was thinking of recalling World Cup’s negative record holder, Austin Ejide. But the possible backlash from pundits has held him back.

Austin Ejide has been to three World Cup finals in 2002, 2010 and 2014 without seeing a minute of action.

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After almost two years of layoff, he is currently back with an Israeli club, Hapoel Hadera. He last kept the goal for Nigeria in a goalless outing with South Africa in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in September 2014.

The inside source told Sports Village Square that Rohr was aware of Ejide’s experience but he was also worried by the goalkeeper’s lack of action which will possibly draw a lot of criticism that may also affect Ejide’s composure.

Independent sources told Sports Village Square that Ejide’s weight and increased size are additional worries.  Last January, while featuring in a Joseph Dosu organized novelty match at the Julius Berger ground in Lagos,  Ejide told Sports Village Square that his not getting a national call-up was due to his not featuring for any club side since he left Hapoel Be’er Sheva of Israel in 2015.

As at January, he still nursed a possible return to the Super Eagles’ fold if he was able to secure a contract with a club which he has since done.

His contract for the Hapoel Hadera is for three years. Before, Vincent Enyeama, Ejide was the first choice goalkeeper when the 2002 squad was disbanded after the turmoil that afflicted the Super Eagles at the Mali 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.

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Ejide debuted for the Super Eagles on June 16, 2001 when he came off the bench as a substitute for Sunday Rotimi in an away 0-2 win for Nigeria against Namibia in an Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifier.

He was looking like a possible permanent holder of the number one shirt having featured in the pre World Cup friendly matches under Coach Adegboye Onigbinde.

However, Vincent Enyeama stamped his authority as a goalkeeper the moment he debuted on May 4, 2002 in a 3-0 defeat of Kenya in a friendly match in Lagos.

But in 2008, Ejide was preferred by Germany’s Coach Berti Vogts ahead of Vincent Enyeama at the Africa Cup of Nations.

But is he ready to bounce back again? In the encounter with him months ago, he told Sports Village Square: “I still wish to keep for the Super Eagles. All goalkeepers must be in top form before getting a national team call up. I am not under a contract with any club for now.

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“No one knows what tomorrow or the nearest future will be. As soon as a get signed with any club then I will certainly be battle ready for the Super Eagles gloves. Nigeria is my country and I derive pleasure in staying between the sticks whenever I am called upon.”

Has the time come? The Super Eagles source said while Rohr seemed inclined towards, Ejide, the foul aroma over his inactivity may make the NFF to kick against his invitation.

 

 

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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

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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Nigerian Football

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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Nigerian Football

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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