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Nigerian Football

NFF pays tribute to Titus Davis Okere, the ‘last of the firsts’

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Titus Okere admires his first pair of soccer boots in February 1953 - Courtesy Titus Okere family album

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has paid tribute to the last member of the pioneering UK Tourists to pass away, Titus Davis Okere, whose remains were interred at Bluebell Hill Crematorium in Kent, United Kingdom on Wednesday.

Okere, a dazzling left winger, was the last surviving member of the first-ever Nigeria National Football Team, which travelled to the United Kingdom in 1949 to play nine friendly matches, out of which it won two, drew two and lost five.

 

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, said: “The Nigeria Football Federation mourns the passing of Titus Davis Okere. As a member of the UK Tourists, who played with bare feet yet showed great spirit in the nine matches they played, he was a pioneer Football Ambassador of our great nation.

 

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“Even though we did not watch him play, we read accounts of his exceptional skills and hard work on the pitch for the country and for the English clubs he played for – Swindon Town FC and Chippenham United. We pray that Almighty God will grant him eternal rest and grant his family and close ones the fortitude to bear the loss.”

 

Swindon Town FC, for which Okere played 70 years ago, did a moving tribute to the departed player. His contract with Swindon Town in February 1953 made him the first Nigeria footballer to sign a professional contract.

 

The UK Tourists arrived in England on 29 August 1949. On arrival, an Englishman, John Finch was attached to them as coach. They played barefooted and won two, drew two and lost five of their matches against Marine Cosby, Bishop Auckland, Leystone FC, Isthmian League XI, Corinthians League XI, Dulwich Hamlet, South Liverpool, Bromley and Athenian League XI.

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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.

Nigerian Football

Enugu Rangers are Nigerian champions!

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Enugu Rangers re-enacted their glorious old days and now the new Nigerian champions after defeating Bendel Insurance 2-0 and Remo Stars losing 2-1 to Sunshine Stars.

 The trio of Remo Stars, Shooting Stars and Enyimba who were on the heels of Enugu Rangers all lost their away games with 2-1 scorelines.

With the result, Enugu Rangers attained an unassailable lead with just one match day to end the Nigerian league season. Despite their pedigree in Nigerian football, this is just their second title since the Nigerian top league changed status to professionalism in 1990.

  Rangers, who are the only Nigerian club never to be relegated since the Nigerian national league began in 1972 won their only professional league title in 2016.

 In the pre-professional football era, they were Nigerian champions in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981 and 1982.

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This time,  Remo Stars who who have delayed Enugu Rangers’ coronation lost  in a western derby, but retained their second position when Shooting Stars conceded  late goals to Bayelsa United and lost 2-1 after leading 1-0 for the greater part of the match. They dropped to the fourth position giving Enyimba a respite.

 Shooting Stars who got rejuvenated midway in the season can still hold on to their continental ambition when they host relegation-escapee, Sporting Lagos on the last match day.

  Rangers have a dead rubber away duel to Gombe United whose visa to the lower NNL has been issue. They possibly hold the record for the worst goal difference in the Nigerian league as they have a deficit of 56 goals.

 Results

  • Sunshine Stars 2-1 Remo Stars
  • Sporting Lagos 2-1 Enyimba
  • Bayelsa United 2-1 Shooting Stars
  • Enugu Rangers 2-0 Bendel Insurance
  • Abia Warriors 2-0 Akwa United
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Nigerian Football

Behold, Finidi George’s resignation letter and why he quit the job

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The decision of the Nigeria Football Federation to engage a foreign technical adviser is the main reason why Finidi George resigned from his appointment as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

This is contained in the letter of resignation which copy Sports Village Square has. In the letter dated June 14, 2024 and addressed to the NFF President, Finidi wrote:

 “I am writing to inform you of my decision to step down as the head coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s men senior team. This decision is in light of recent decision to effect changes in the team’s rechnical crew.

  “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you, the entire leadership of the federation, the sports ministry and the people of Nigeria for the opportunity to serve as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

“Although, our recent results in the qualifying matches were not as desired, I remained committed to getting our World Cup qualification campaign back on track.

“However, with the recent changes to the technical crew, I believe it is time to vacate my position.

“Please be assured of my continued support for the team, and I wish us all the best for the future.”

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Nigerian Football

Enugu Rangers may emerge Nigeria’s league champions this Sunday

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

The 2023/2024 Nigeria Premier League is undoubtedly the most keenly contested in recent time as there is everything to play for till the last match day.

The battle for the title looks open and sweeping. So also is the struggle for the drop as two teams can still avoid the drop despite being deep in the relegation waters while others are within the drop zone.

For the title, it is a four-horse race equally separated along rivalry and geographical divides.

From the East are front-runners, Enugu Rangers and Enyimba who are also fierce rivals. From the West are the emerging Nigerian sensations, Remo Stars and traditional war lords, Shooting Stars.

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 Like Enugu Rangers and Enyimba, Remo Stars and Shooting Stars are regional rivals. Thus the four teams chase three continental tickets and the ultimate Nigerian title.

  Arithmetically, the four have chances of picking the title, but the odds tilt more in Enugu Rangers’ favour. If they win their match this Sunday against medium ranked Bendel Insurance and take their haul to 67 points, the Nigerian league title could be theirs irrespective of results elsewhere.

 That theory will be validated if any of the trio of Remo Stars, Enyimba and Shooting Stars should drop points in their respective duels with Sunshine Stars, Bayelsa United and Sporting Lagos.

 But if Remo Stars  beat Sunshine Stars and Enyimba also do the same against relegation prone Sporting Lagos, the title race will be thrown wide till last match day.

  Then, all the three teams chasing Enugu Rangers will be at their comfort zones at home, while the leaders will be away to already relegated and no-hoppers, Gombe United whose entry visa to the second tier NNL has been granted.

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Remo Stars, hardy known to drop points at home will face Katsina United. Shooting Stars who are having their best run in close to 30 years will be at their fortress against relegation candidates, Sporting Lagos.

Enyimba, though at home, may face stiffer oppositions as they will face Plateau United – a team that could upset the cart if they win their penultimate duel with Kano Pillars.

Key Matches

Enugu Rangers v. Bendel Insurance

Bayelsa United  v. Shooting Stars

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Sunshine Stars   v. Remo Stars

Sporting Lagos   v. Enyimba

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