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Nigerian Football

JIM NWOBODO HAILS UGWUANYI FOR RANGERS’ REVIVAL

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The former Governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo who about 40 years ago was also a chairman of Enugu Rangers  has applauded Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State for his commitment and contributions to the remarkable feats recorded by the Rangers International Football Club.

The club in one of the most remarkable come-back in Nigerian football history overturned a three goal deficit to win Nigeria’s national cup, the Aiteo Cup last month in Asaba.

It was also the club’s first victory of the national cup in 35 years. Rangers won the old Challenge Cup after defeating the defunct DIC Bees of Kaduna in 1983.

Two years ago, the Enugu side also won the national league for the first time in 32 years.

Senator Nwobodo, who narrated how he became Governor of old Anambra State through his passion and support for Enugu Rangers, expressed delight that after 32 years the club has now won a trophy, “Gov. Ugwuanyi whose name is also Ifeanyi” came in and opened the door of victory for the club.

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Speaking at the grand reception for the 2018 AITEO Cup Champions, the former governor, described the club’s recent feat as “the miracle of Asaba” made possible because Gov. Ugwuanyi’s entrustment of Enugu State into the hands of God.

He said that football is a unifying factor for all segments of the society and  stressed that Rangers’ outstanding performance under Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has united everybody in the state, saying: “I am here because of Rangers and Gov. Ugwuanyi”.

Describing Gov. Ugwuanyi as his “younger brother”, Senator Nwobodo stated that he was happy with his style of leadership and commitment to God, maintaining that the AITEO cup won by Flying Antelopes in Asaba was a Miracle and “only God performs Miracle not Satan”. He therefore congratulated the new Champions for doing the state proud.

In his address, Gov. Ugwuanyi, who dedicated the trophy to God, stated that the event was “in thanksgiving and praise to the merciful Lord for yet another prayer that He has answered, and for all that He has been doing for us in Enugu State”.

According to him, “for 35 years, the club had labored in vain for victory in the National Football Challenge Cup having won its last trophy in the competition in 1983. Again, by the special grace of God, that jinx was however broken on the 24th of October, 2018 when, in what is now popularly referred to as the “Miracle of Asaba”, the club came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Kano Pillars Football Club and win this year’s edition of the completion now known as the AITEO Cup”.

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The governor, who disclosed that he was “profoundly grateful and humbled” that the remarkable achievements were happening under his watch as Governor of Enugu state, also expressed gratitude to the management, coaching crew and players of the club for their sacrifices, hard work and commitment.

He equally thanked all stakeholders and teeming supporters of Rangers across the country and beyond, including the people of Enugu State for their fervent and unceasing prayers “for this day of glory as well as the overall success of our administration”.

Gov. Ugwuanyi further stated that his administration has resolved to restore the legacy of Enugu State as a centre of sports excellence and breeding ground for sporting talents in the country, noting that “as a government, we have always believed that sports offers tremendous opportunities for economic growth, empowerment, employment generation, poverty alleviation as well as progressive youth and social development”.

He therefore, reassured Rangers fans and the people of the state of his administration’s unwavering support and assistance to the club as it continues to pursue both national and international glory next season.

 

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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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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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