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Nigerian Football

CHRISTIAN MADU, EX RANGERS FOR BURIAL FRIDAY

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The remains of former Rangers and Super Eagles midfielder, Christian Madu, will be buried this Friday, at his home town Ndiama Oka –Ugiri in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State.

Madu who was popularly known as Gabu in his hay days died on August 19, after a protracted illness.

Madu, according to an interview he granted The Guardian 13 years ago narrated the story of his early football days in Ghana, why he changed his surname from Madumere to Madu and how he joined Rangers from Ghana.

He revealed that he had to change his surname, Madumere to Madu in order to remain in Ghana and continue his career, since the atmosphere then was not conducive for Nigerians living in Ghana.
“When I was in Ghana, the then government decided that Nigerians were the main reason their economy had problems and told all Nigerians to leave their country.
“I was playing for Accra Hearts of Oak then. So I had to change my surname from Madumere to Madu. That made it sound Cameroonian. And not only that, an official of the club helped me to spread it around that I was Cameroonian. So, I managed to secure a resident permit as a Cameroonian, and continued playing for Hearts of Oaks.
“This thing happened around 1969. I played for Oaks for 12 years before I joined Great Olympics. I played for Great Olympics for five years before I joined Rangers,” Madu said.

He was a member of the Great Olympics team beaten by Enugu Rangers in the 1975 edition of the African Cup of Champions Clubs. The next season, he switched from the Ghanaian club to Enugu Rangers and had his first Nigerian cap starting the Nigeria’s 6-2 defeat of Sierra Leone ahead of the regular midfielder, Muda Lawal.

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His contributions in Rangers were quite magical as the Antelopes sensationally won the 1977 Africa Cup Winners Cup now CAF Confederation Cup.  Skills and amazing ball control did not go unnoticed as Super Eagles coach, Father Tiko invited him to the Green Eagles team and  he along others were bedecked with a bronze medal in the 1978 African Nations Cup in Ghana. He was one of the few players who played for both Nigeria and Ghana before FIFA ruled that a player could not play for different countries any longer.

In their tributes, Madu’s erstwhile team mates described the late soccer star as a team player whose aim was victory all the time. The former Rangers players did not mince words in ascribing Madu’s death to negligence.

Harrison Okagbue, who joined Rangers at its formation in 1970 and who later handled the Cranes of Uganda noted that the death of Madu and other ex international players who have died “would have come later if they were taken better care of in the light of how they used their youthfulness to make people happy”.

Arthur Ebunam, the Chairman of Ex-Rangers Association in Anambra, lamented that Madu and indeed other Nigeria’s national team players died because “they never not got what they deserved in the Nigerian society”.

It must be noted that former Iwuanyanwu Nationale player Ramson Madu who incidentally is the Owerri side’s coach is the younger brother of Christian Madu.

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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

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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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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