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Nigeria’s Falcons, Cameroon’s Lionesses in fierce battle in Douala –

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Paris 2024: Nigeria’s Falcons, Cameroon’s Lionesses In Fierce Battle In Douala -

Giants of African women football, Nigeria and Cameroon will be taking no prisoners when they clash in Douala on Friday for a place in the final round of the African qualifying series for this year’s Women’s Olympic Football Tournament.

 

The Super Falcons, rated top in Africa and still walking with springs in their steps after reaching the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Down Under, exiting the finals without losing a match in regulation time, will remember at kick-off that the Indomitable Lionesses stopped their march to the London 2012 Olympics.

 

On their part, the Lionesses have grouses of their own, having been bumped by Nigeria in several major events including being denied the Women Africa Cup of Nations title in front of their own fans in 2016, and being shoved out at the quarter-finals of the last Women AFCON tournament in Morocco.

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Coach Randy Waldrum has recalled fabulous defender Ashley Plumptre, now based in Saudi Arabia, and Halimatu Ayinde, Toni Payne and Christy Ucheibe will get to play together in the middle again after a stirring outing at the World Cup in Australia. There’s also the talented youngster Deborah Abiodun.

 

Nigeria’s goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie is one of the most respected safe hands globally, and in forwards Asisat Oshoala, Rasheedat Ajibade, Uchenna Kanu, Gift Monday and Esther Okoronkwo, the Super Falcons boast one of the most stellar attacking ensemble in women’s football.

 

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Captain Ajibade scored two of the five goals that eliminated Ethiopia in the second round of the qualifiers, with Oshoala also scoring, and Okoronkwo and Kanu were on fire as Cape Verde were put to the sword in the final round of qualifiers for this year’s Women AFCON championship.

 

Veteran defender Osinachi Ohale is peerless on her day, and younger stallions Tosin Demehin and Rofiat Imuran have grown to become true fighters whenever the occasion called for such.

 

Cameroon, who edged Uganda 3-2 on aggregate in the second round, will be missing star player Ajara Njoya Nchout. Yet, it will be dangerous to underestimate what the Lionesses can come up with right in their own den.

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Both teams will join the same flight to Nigeria’s administrative capital, Abuja for Monday’s return leg at the MKO Abiola National Stadium.

 

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana will take on Tanzania the same weekend, with the winner over two legs to clash with the winner of Nigeria/Cameroon for one of the African tickets to Paris in July.

 

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Tunisia clash with Morocco in an all-North African affair while Ghana host Zambia in Kumasi. Winners will face off for the second African ticket to Paris.

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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Nigeria picks another Paris 2024 slot in table tennis

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The number of Nigerian table tennis players heading to Paris 2024 Olympic Games increased to three after Fatimo Bello defeated Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi 4-2 in the final of the second stage of the African Olympic Qualification Tournament at bK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.

Bello failed to qualify through the first stage of qualifiers after losing 4-1 to Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou but she returned stronger to win the sole slot in the second stage of qualifiers of the women’s singles.

Bello will join her compatriots – Olajide Omotayo and Offiong Edem to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Also, Algeria’s Mehdi Bouloussa who missed out from the first stage of the qualifiers atone for his defeat to pick the last slot in the men’s singles of the qualification tournament.

The qualified players from Kigali qualifiers include Nigeria’s trio of Bello, Omotayo and Edem while Cameroon’s Sarah Haffou picked her tickets to third Olympics appearance while Fabio Rakotoarimanana became the first Madagascan table tennis player to qualify for the Olympic Games after picking the second slot in the first stage of the qualifiers. Mehdi Bouloussa of Algeria secured the final slot in the men’s singles.

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Bouloussa, who narrowly lost 3-4 to Wassim Essid of Tunisia in the quarterfinal round of the first stage, returned to winning ways to pick the final ticket in the men’s singles of the qualification tournament.

To win the second stage of the qualifiers, Bouloussa defeated Saheed Idowu of Congo Brazzaville. (16-14, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4) to pick his maiden ticket to the Olympic Games.

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Nigeria all set for Olympic Day celebrations

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"Engaging in exercises promotes health fitness" Popoola highlights. Pictured is Nigeria's Tobi Amusan in the women's hurdles in Tokyo. GETTY IMAGES

Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Secretary General Babatunde Popoola says the committee, in collaboration with the Nigeria Sport For All Commission, is set for the country’s 2024 edition of Olympic Day celebration on 29 June.

Olympic Day is an annual international event that takes place in the month of June that is aimed at people of all ages and abilities to experience the magic of the Olympic Games in their own communities. Popoola says the event highlights the benefits of physical activity and for people to learn about Olympic values and practise them in their everyday life.

“Engaging in exercises promotes health fitness for individuals; jogging and walking burns calories, tones muscles, shapes your body and helps de-stress the mind.” NOC’s Secretary General stated. 

“Olympic Day has always been celebrated by NOC with fanfare nationwide and this year’s programme will not be an exception as many states are already preparing to organise the programme. 

“The states that have so far registered to participate are Anambra, Gombe, Taraba, Bayelsa, Imo, and Ondo, while others are still being expected to indicate their interest in the programme,” he continued.

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Opeyori becomes Nigeria’s first back-to-back qualifier as Badminton Olympic qualifiers are finalised

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Anuoluwapo Opeyori is one of the 173 badminton players who have qualified for a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. His qualification means that he is the first Nigerian player to qualify for two Olympic Games. He featured at the delayed Tokyo 2020 and will thus made a back-to-back appearance.

The list of qualifiers has been released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). This includes 166 regular quota places (83 men and 83 women), three universality places from the IOC Tripartite Commission (two men and one woman), plus an additional place for IOC Refugee Olympic Team athlete Dorsa Yavarivata,  whose participation was confirmed earlier this month in a special announcement by the IOC

Opeyori dominated Africa in the men’s singles from 2019 till date winning four African Championship titles and two African Games titles.

An elated Francis Orbih, President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN)  remarked on Saturday that Anuoluwapo Opeyori has broken the jinx in Nigeria badminton by making it to the Olympic Games in Paris.

Orbih said Opeyori’s qualification shows that the current leadership of BFN’s target of producing world class players is beginning to manifest.

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He revealed that BFN will leave no stone unturned in supporting the dreams and aspirations of the young players in making podium finishes.

Orbih said, “History has been made in badminton as Anuoluwapo Opeyori has secured a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with the release made by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

“I am excited and full of joy because Anuoluwapo Opeyori is the first Nigerian badminton player to feature in the men’s singles at the Olympic Games and also the first Nigerian to attend two Olympics and back to back.

“Three years ago, it was Dorcas Adesokan in the women’s singles and Opeyori with his partner Godwin Olofua in the men’s doubles that made it to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Today, Anuoluwapo Opeyori will represent Nigeria in the men’s singles; the leadership of BFN and Nigeria are proud of him”.

Orbih charged Anuoluwapo Opeyori not to relent but continue to train and attain top form ahead of the Olympic Games.

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He said, “I want to urge Anuoluwapo Opeyori to continue training hard for the Games; we are going to ensure he attends training tours before the Olympic Games”

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