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At Half-way Mark Lobi Stars Lead The NPF As Enyimba Beat 3SC In Ibadan –

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At Half-way Mark Lobi Stars Lead The NPF As Enyimba Beat 3SC In Ibadan -

Lobi Stars’ ambition to return to the continental scene seems to remain alive as the club has held tenaciously to the top spot of the Nigeria Premier League which hit its halfway mark this weekend.

 

It has been the most competitive season ever as the top position has been held by as many as seven clubs from MatchDay I and the gaps separating the teams are very narrow.

Former champions, Lobi Stars of Makurdi who have led in the past two match days maintained the top spot after a lone-goal win over Plateau United on Sunday evening at the township stadium.

 

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It was Suur Kumaga’s lone strike in the 23rd minute that cancelled Remo Stars’ momentary lead at the top following an early-minute goal against Abia Warriors at the Ikenne stadium in the 8th minute.

 

The win by Lobi Stars takes the team to 36 points with a goal difference while Remo Stars who also won 2-1 at home against Abia Warriors are on 35 points with 10 goal difference.

 

At the Lekan Salami Stadium, Enyimba recorded the biggest win of the night with a last-minute win over the home side with a 2-1 win.

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The massive away win shot the team to the third position on the log with 32 points.

 

Chijioke Mboama silenced the Ibadan crowd with a 56th-minute penalty but Ademola Kareem restored parity in the 83rd minute but attempt to go for the winner backfired when the visitors scored in the injury time to leave the scoreline at 2-1.

 

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In the other matches, Gombe United played a 1-1 draw at home with Bayelsa United while Akwa United continued their resurgence with a lone-goal win against Enugu Rangers.

 

Two goals from Idris Suleiman and Ali Rabiu assured Kano Pillars maximum points against visiting Heartland of Owerri with a 2-1 scoreline.

 

Niger Tornadoes and Katsina United played a goalless scoreline.

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Matches resume for the second stanza this weekend with reverse fixtures of the just concluded week matches.

 

Meanwhile, two outstanding matches will come up mid-week with Enugu Rangers at home to River United while Heartland will host Kwara United in Owerri.

 

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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 face tough defence as Burkina Faso lie in wait at U17 WAFU B AFCON qualifiers

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Defending champions Nigeria have been handed a difficult path to the 2025 U17 Africa Cup of Nations finals after being drawn in the same group as Burkina Faso for next month’s WAFU B qualifying tournament in Ghana.

The Golden Eaglets, who won the last edition of the regional championship in 2022, will also face Togo and Niger in Group B of the competition which runs from 15-28 May.

Hosts Ghana find themselves in Group A alongside Cote d’Ivoire and Benin in a tough-looking section of the competition to be played in Accra.

The draw was conducted by 1970s Ivorian football legends Kobenan Kouman and Die Foneye at the Ivorian FA headquarters in Abidjan on Friday.

Nigeria claimed their WAFU B U17 AFCON title by defeating Burkina Faso 2-1 in the regional final in Ghana two years ago.

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However, they will need to overcome some familiar foes if they are to defend their crown and with the Burkina Faso finishing third at the last TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations, some exciting matches are expected.

Arch-rivals Nigeria and Ghana are among the two favourites and could meet in the final in Accra on 28 May, should they top their respective groups and make it through the semi-finals.

Ghana also have pedigree at this level, having the World Cup in 1991 and 1995 as they bid to reach the U17 AFCON finals on home soil.

The top two teams from the WAFU B tournament will qualify for next year’s  U17 Africa Cup of Nations.

Groups:

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Group A: Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin

Group B: Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Togo, Niger.

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Nigerian Football

Former Nigeria international, Onye recommends  Amuneke-Siasia combo for Super Eagles

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Kingsley Onye, the left sided defender who was a member of the first Flying Eagles side to have a podium finish at the U-20 World Cup has suggested the employment of Emmanuel Amuneke as the coach of the Super Eagles.

He wants him to be assisted by Samson Siasia when the ban on the latter lapses in August. Alternatively, Onye pointed to Sylvanus Okpala as alternative to Siasia.

The Super Eagles are in dare need for a head coach as the clock ticks down to the Match day 4 and 5 of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in which the team is trailing at the third position.

The two matches in early June are crucial for the Super Eagles to bounce back into reckoning as the team can not afford to drop any of the available six points in the duels with South Africa at home and away to Benin.

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From this Monday, it is 41 days to the potentially challenging tie with South Africa, but the Nigerian national  team has been without a coach since the expiration of the contract of Portugal’s Jose Peseiro shortly after the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.

Without mincing words, Onye remarked: Emmanuel Amuneke is the right man for the job of the coach of Super Eagles. He has been there before.

“He tasted it and had been fantastic with the Nigeria youth team, the U-17 by assisting Manu Garba to win the U17 World Cup in 2013 and as head coach, led the Golden Eaglets to win the cup again in 2015.”

Onye who played for the Enugu Rangers in Nigeria before venturing to the UK but had his career scuppered by freak injury  pointed out that the solution to Super Eagles’ technical deficiency is the appointment of an indigenous coach and that Amuneke is the man.

In buttressing his assertion, he declared: “As a senior team coach, Amuneke qualified a long standing absentee team, Tanzania  for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

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“His record as a player is also very impressive. He played and won with the Super Eagles, the AFCON 1994. He played at the Olympic Games and was also the first Nigerian to score two goals at the World Cup.

“He has played at the African Games and also for top clubs in the continent as he was a member of the Egyptian giants, Zamalek. In Europe, he played for Sporting Clube de Portugal and then Barcelona before injury ended his playing career.”

Onye also looked at the personality of Amuneke in recommending him for the Super Eagles job.

His record as a player is also very impressive. He played and won with the Super Eagles, the AFCON 1994. He played at the Olympic Games and was also the first Nigerian to score two goals at the World Cup.

He has played at the African Games and also for top clubs in the continent as he was a member of the Egyptian giants, Zamalek. In Europe, he played for Sporting Clube de Portugal and then Barcelona before injury ended his playing career.

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Nigerian Football

GTI enlarges coast…spreads from League fund-raising to Federation Cup

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Strategic partners of the Nigeria Football Federation, GTI Asset Management and Trust Ltd has expanded their scope of operations from fund sourcing for the Nigeria Premier League to adding the responsibility of getting the national cup competition back into its glamorous days.

The MD of the company, Abubakar Lawal at the unveiling a revamped Federation Cup which has been renamed President Federation Cup remarked that his company decided to take a bold step to support the national cup.

“I am the happiest man today, he said in the opening remark of the rebranding of the national cup through signing of Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Sports and the NFF.

“Our company is also strategically involved in ensuring that the President Federation Cup is given necessary attention to thrive using The Nigeria Football Fund (TNFF) as our vehicle to actualise this dream.

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“Therefore, it is our vision that the oldest domestic football event becomes one of the best organised football events in the world in no distant future.”

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