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Nigerian Football

EKEJI DELIGHTED TO FEATURE IN WORLD CUP SEMINAR

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

One of the best sports technocrat to have come from Nigeria, Chief Patrick Ekeji has confirmed his participation in the landmark World Cup seminar that The Sun Publishing Limited has put together.

The seminar with a general theme: “That Super Eagles may excel in Russia 2018 and beyond” is holding in Port Harcourt on May 22.

Chief Ekeji spoke from the United States to confirm his participation at the seminar. His contribution is bound to add to the robust deliberations expected at the epoch-making seminar.  Ekeji’s profile speaks volumes.

Perhaps, apart from the Great Zik, Ekeji is the only other person that had been involved in all facets of sports, especially football.

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He was a footballer for clubs and national team having played for both the Vasco da Gama FC and Enugu Rangers as well as the national team, the Green Eagles with which he made a winning debut on July 13, 1975 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo in Brazzaville.

Ekeji was also a coach for both clubs and the national team. Ten years after his Green Eagles debut in Brazzaville, he mounted the saddle as the national team coach in 1985.

Before handling the Green Eagles, he had coached ACB of Lagos where Henry Nwosu was one of his star players.

The University of Nigeria Nsukka graduate of Physical and Health Education later became a lecturer at the Nigeria Institute of Sports teaching football as a discipline and helping to breed another generation of coaches.

He was a sports journalist, writing column for The Punch newspapers in the early 1980s. He administered sports at the state level in Imo before coming to the national level.

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At the national level, Ekeji rose through the ranks heading various departments – Research and Documentation, Facilities, etc. – before getting to the zenith as Director General. The novel idea in creating Team Nigeria is one indelible mark that he made on Nigerian sports. It is also on record that it was during his tenure as the Director of Sports that Nigeria eventually topped the medals’ table at the All Africa Games after previous seven attempts.

According to the Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Eric Osagie, Ekeji will discuss the paper that the lead speaker, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde will present.

“The seminar is timely”, remarked Ekeji. “Baba Onigbinde is a man that has seen it all in our football. Danladi Bako is a veteran broadcaster that has been involved with football for over three decades. I think we are in for a good event,” Ekeji said.

 

 

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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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