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Nigerian Football

Nigerian businessman set to take over English club,  Sheffield United

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Daily Mail in the UK has reported that a Nigerian billionaire, Dozy Mmobuosi is about to buy Sheffield United in a deal worth £90million.

This will be the second a prominent Nigerian would be linked to takeover of a football club in England after a botched bid of Arsenal by richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, some years back.

Shefield United are pushing for promotion back to the Premier League  this season but were hit by a transfer embargo last month amid financial difficulties.

However, their problems are reportedly about to be eased by the takeover by Mmobuosi, a Nigerian tech entrepreneur whose company Tingo has been valued at around £7billion.

They say that the embargo, which prevents them buying a player for the next 18 months unless they win promotion, was imposed because the Blades failed to keep up payment instalments on signings.

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This included payments to Liverpool for forward Rhian Brewster, who was signed in October 2020 for £23.5m but has failed to live up to expectations or his price tag.

The 22-year-old, part of the England team to win the Under-17 World Cup back in 2017, failed to break into Jurgen Klopp’s first-team plans and left for Bramall Lane in search of regular first-team football.

But he’s only managed 63 appearances for the Blades due to various hamstring problems and has registered a meagre five goals and one assist. 

United are also reportedly trying to renegotiate the structure of payments to Swedish club Malmo for the Bosnian defender Anel Ahmedhodzic, who moved last summer.

The embargo was imposed as Prince Abdullah, the club’s present Saudi owner, was close to selling the South Yorkshire club.

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The uncertainty over finances led to reports the Blades would be forced to sell star midfielder Sander Berge during the January transfer window to raise funds.

The Norwegian was linked with a £20m move to either Newcastle or Fulham but the fact United held on to him is regarded as a sign their financial issues will be resolved imminently.

Sheffield United are also in the possibly perilous position of losing 15 players for nothing this summer when their contracts expire. 

Oliver Norwood, Wes Foderingham, Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp are among the big names set to leave the club for nothing this summer.

The American Henry Mauriss was close to buying the club last year only for the takeover to collapse after he failed the EFL’s test.

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However, The Times report the latest bid for the club is much more viable.

Paul Heckingbottom’s side are on course to win promotion back to the Premier League automatically after they were beaten by Nottingham Forest in last season’s play-off semi-finals.

Currently second in the Championship table, they trail leaders Burnley by five points but have a 12-point cushion to Middlesbrough in third with a game in hand.

The club last played in the top-flight in 2020-21 and there would need to be squad investment in order to stay in the Premier League should they win promotion.

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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

Osimhen’s outburst was a moment of madness, says Amaju

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President and a  FIFA Council member, Amaju Pinnick has expressed shock at last month’s outburst by Super Eagles’ striker, Victor Osimhen against Finidi George.

“It is very unfortunate”, Amaju Pinnick remarked on an Arise Television programme. The former NFF president said he had put a call to Osimhen who was very remorseful while the telephone conversation lasted.

  “I told him he has to apologise, and I am sure he will if he has not yet done so.” Amaju remarked that he could not comprehend what went wrong as Osimhen was the most cool-headed player in the national team.

He went on to remark that Finidi George was not a personality to be disregarded like that. He has won virtually every honour available during his playing days and was a member of the Super Eagles at their peak when Nigeria ranked fifth in the world.

“I believe players should learn to respect their coaches”, said the former NFF boss.

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I prefer a foreign coach for the Super Eagles, says Amaju

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Nigeria’s FIFA Council member, Amaju Pinnick has told the world that he has always been an advocate of foreign coaches for the Super Eagles. He spoke on Arise Television while fielding questions with Reuben Abati, Rufai Oseni and Ayo Mairo-Ese. 

His reason for being averse to indigenous  coaches stemmed from lack of respect for them by the players.

“Yes, the Nigerian coaches have the requisite knowledge and the technical ability, but modern football is beyond that in managing players.

“Will the national team players respect the coach? The sad thing is that they don’t”, said Amaju Pinnick.

 He however revealed that he supported the appointment of Finidi George owing to the circumstances that the NFF found itself after the exit of Jose Peseiro.

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 The NFF, he revealed, had no money to hire a foreign coach. The body therefore went for the most available option, Finidi to ensure a smooth transition.

 “Finidi was part of the coaching crew of Peseiro and it was therefore logical to ask him to continue.

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Nigerian Football

NFF to train referees on VAR

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Application of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR)  may soon be introduced into Nigeria’s domestic football competitions.

This is deduced from the statement of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Ibrahim Gusau while addressing the annual general meeting of the Nigeria Premier League.

He also disclosed plans by the federation to train Nigerian referees on the application Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Gusau revealed that  NFF had already secured the communication gadget that the referees will use during matches.

“We have to train the personnel that will manage the VAR now. We have selected some of the referees that we are to start training.

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It is not a training of one day, one month or two months; it is a training that will take a little bit of time. After the training they have to go on practical training on the VAR system by going out while some matches are ongoing to see how they can manage it. But when we are sure we have the personnel that can manage it in the next one or two years, we will start to see how we can use VAR in our system,” Gusau said.

He also said that the federation intends to make the league attractive by discouraging Nigerian players from joining other lesser glamourous African clubs without established football pedigree.

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