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Nigerian Football

Remo Stars owner, Kunle Soname bags National Award

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Avid sports promoter and owner of Nigeria Premier League football team, Remo Stars, Hon. Adekunle Soname has been rewarded for his commitment to human capital development.

He is one of those honoured with National Awards and he is conferred with the award of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR)

The Ikenne-born business man and member of the Interim Management Committee of the Nigerian Premier League has made a success in virtually all endeavours and he is well known for his cheerful disposition, humility and generosity. 

He is also known as a game-changer whose support is not limited to football.

Last year, through his Bet9ja outfit which is easily the most popular in the gaming business, he sponsored the South East Bet9ja Badminton Championship where close to 60 players featured. 

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The championship brought up budding badminton players some of who later made marks at the last National Sports Festival in Asaba.

Before then, the self effacing sportsman through his ValueJet airlines which was then in its formative period,  sponsored an international road race in Ogun State in 2019. 

In an era where private ownership of football clubs is becoming a high risk, he raised the bar with his Remo Stars which has become a model football club in Nigeria. 

Equipped with its own all-covered stadium, the club boasts of easily the best turfs in Nigeria. He piloted the club to international level, featuring in the 2022/23 CAF Confederation Cup.

That was the first time in more than 30 years that a one-man owned football club featured in a continental competition

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His club structure features a football academy which is the nursing ground for Nigeria’s football stars. The 1998 Africa Footballer of the Year, Victor Ikpeba was full of awe when he made a tour of the facilities of the academy where players of Beyond Limits are housed at two per room.

The residential buildings at Kunle Soname’s outfit have 56 rooms for junior and senior players accommodating 112 footballers.

It has five semi-detached blocks of 10 units, two bedroom coaches accommodation, a restaurant for players and officials as well as an administrative block comprising of offices, conference room, training classroom and reception. 

The block is equipped with panoramic lift to first-floor which is the table tennis centre.

Others are sports centre block of the Remo Stars Stadium facility comprising of a gym, clinic, swimming pool, hydrotherapy chamber and a 30-room hotel with panoramic lift. 

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Also at the model arena is a tournament pitch with 10,000 capacity covered pavilions, three training pitches, 2,000 capacity car parks and good internal road.

Soname is possibly the only Nigerian that runs two clubs locally and in Europe, as he is also the owner of Portugal’s Clube Desportivo Feirense which is commonly known as CD Feirense.

He  remains one of the silent billionaires in Nigeria who has contributed immensely in promoting sports in the country. He has touched the lives of many youths. 

Four months ago, one of the products of his Beyond Limit team,  Ebenezer Akinsanmiro signed for Italian giants, Inter Milan.

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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

Relief for continental ticket-seeking Enyimba

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Enyimba FC who are desperately seeking a return to the continental fixtures next season have been relieved of a little financial burden by the Disciplinary Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation.

 The initial N10 million fine imposed on the team has been reduced almost by half.

 In the ill-tempered match with Enugu Rangers three weeks ago, the Nigeria Premier League fine Enyimba N5 million as part of the disciplinary measures taken, claiming that Enyimba disrupted the live telecast of the match.

The NFF committee disagrees with the decision and therefore set aside the fine imposed.

Enyimba will this Sunday host Plateau United in a potentially volatile match as both teams have varying chances of picking continental ticket to feature in either the CAF Champions League or the Confederation Cup.

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Nigerian Football

All eyes on Aba, Ibadan and Ikenne as battle for continental tickets goes down to the wire!

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A stroll in the park to be followed by victory parade are the anticipated spectacles in Jos when Enugu Rangers face ‘home’ sides, Gombe United this Sunday.

But elsewhere, it could be ‘thunder and blood’ battle as four eligibles fight for two obtainable continental tickets in three venues of Ikenne, Ibadan and Aba.

Remo Stars, Shooting Stars, Enyimba and Plateau United are aspirants jostling for continental tickets.

On the other side of the struggle is also the battle to evade relegation. Coincidentally, Ibadan  provides the venue for both dreams where the hosts, Shooting Stars, will be hoping to pick a ticket to any of the two CAF inter-clubs competitions while the debuting Premier League sides, Sporting Lagos are expected to play the game of their life.

Coincidentally, Shooting Stars were expected to give the Lagos sides the succour last weekend when they faced Bayelsa United.

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 Had Shooting Stars won the match, Sporting Lagos which upstaged Enyimba 2-1, would have been in comfort zone, making Sunday’s duel at the Lekan Salami a ‘merry-making’ venture for both sides.

But a twist of fortunes which saw Bayelsa fighting back to a 2-1 win means Shooting Stars will have to spare no weapon on Sunday to beat Sporting Lagos.

The visitors on the other hand have a mountain to climb to avoid the looming drop.

 Ikenne provides another battle ground, though with lesser gravity than what is expected in Ibadan and Aba. A win of any margin secures CAF Champions League ticket for Remo Stars as they host Katsina United who stay without threat in the middle of the league log.

But the battle will be fiercer in Aba where both hosts, Enyimba and visiting Plateau United have arithmetical and conjectural chances of making the top three and obtaining a continental ticket.

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While the battle at the top of the log is for two teams to join Enugu Rangers in getting continental ticket, so also it is at the bottom as both Gombe United and Heartland await the two others that will escort them to the lower league.

 Battling to avoid the drop are Sporting Lagos, Doma United, Akwa United and Bayelsa.

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Nigerian Football

Coronation day for champion-elect, Enugu Rangers

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Enugu Rangers can afford to lose 56-0 this Sunday to Gombe United and erase the record negative goal difference of the already relegated side. Such a scoreline will not change the destiny of both sides as Rangers will merely enter the pitch to fulfill the fixtures for formality sake. They will be more interested in the post match event – their coronation as the new king of Nigerian league.

 A win will only add icing to the celebration cake, taking their points to 70, just three short of 73 obtained by the defunct Dolphins in the 2010/2011 season.

 But it is taking nothing away from Enugu Rangers who will be presented with the league trophy this Sunday by the NFF president, Ibrahim Musa Gusau.

The NFF chieftain headlines a choice list of eminent guests expected at the occasion, which will see the champions, who will be crowned for the eighth time since a national football league was introduced in 1972.

Their success this season was confirmed last weekend when they beat Bendel Insurance 2-0 at home while their three rivals – Remo Stars, Shooting Stars and Enyimba lost their respective away games with identical scorelines of 2-1.

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