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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

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

Nigerian women coaches conclude first module of CAF C-License course

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NFF President Gusau and GS Sanusi with NFF Management and the coach educators and participants at the commencement of the course on Monday last week.

A total of 30 women coaches have concluded the first of a three-module CAF C-License program in the Federal Capital, Abuja and are expected to commence a two-week internship with different teams in a few days.

Peopled largely by former Nigerian internationals and other serving coaches, the group was taken through a full week of rigorous classroom and practical sessions by a team of coach educators and resource persons, in a baptism of what the next two modules are likely to entail,

NFF Technical Director, Coach Augustine Eguavoen, told thenff.com that the first module has shown that the women coaches are actually desirous of learning.

“I am very much impressed with their attitude, mannerisms and conduct through the first module. They impressed everyone, and the coach educators also told me they were impressed, and are looking forward to having them back for the second and concluding modules.

“We are grateful for the leadership of the NFF for the support and encouragement for coach-education programmes all the time.”

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The participants will return to Abuja for the second module that is scheduled for 12th – 20th August, after which they will go on another two-week internship, 23rd August – 4th September. The third module, which comes with examinations for the participants, will take place 9th – 19th September.

Dr. Terry Babatunde Eguaoje, NFF’s Head of Education, is among the coach educators’ team, which also includes Coaches Isah Ladan Bosso, Wemimo Olanrewaju and Lanrence Ndaks.

Among the 30 participants are former Super Falcons’ stars Precious Dede, Joy Jegede, Esther Michael, Maureen Eke, Otas Ogbonmwan, Vera Okolo, Cecilia Nku, Taiwo Ajobiewe, Gloria Ofoegbu and Amenze Aighewi. There are also Barr. Victoria Nlemigbo and retired FIFA referee Folusho Ajayi.   

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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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