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Nigerian Football

Battle Against Relegation in Akure

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After the drama of last week that threatened the possibility of Sunshine Stars versus Rivers United Match Day 10 fixtures, it is now certain the duel goes ahead as the host team has called off the threat to forfeit the match.

Rivers United’s media officer, Sammy Wejinya previews that  Sunshine Stars and his team will be the two sides that will go head to head in search of crucial points as they seek to leave the wrong end of the table.

“The Stars are currently in the relegation zone and United are not too far away from the murky waters either.

“Sunshine Stars have not won an NPFL game in their last five attempts with their last victory recorded over a month ago, specifically on January 25 against Kano Pillars in Akure.”

Sunshine Stars’ build up to this game has been anything but straightforward with players of the football club embarking on protests in the week to press home demands over the non-payment of their financial entitlements.

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Head coach of the Akure club, Kayode Olujohungbe however insists his plans for the game against United went according to script and predicts an easy win on Sunday.

“My boys never went on strike this week. They merely went on protests.

“Each time they went on those protests under their captain, Abe Sunday, they sought for our permission.

“We could not stop them (from protesting) because they need to get the monies owed them.

“They never missed training and we are ready for the game on Sunday.

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“Rivers United is a very strong side but the statistics show that they don’t usually pose much problems for us when they play in Akure.

“Last season, we took four points off them in the league and I see something similar happening again this season,” Olujohungbe said to the Rivers United official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.

Olujohungbe will choose between two exceptional goal keepers, Henry Ayodele and Olorunleke Ojo for Sunday’s game while Kehinde Adedipe, Ambrose Onyema, Kelechi Ogoh and Nojeem Raji will be favourites to start in defence for the Owena Whales.

Sikiru Alimi, Samad Kadiri and Oke Oghagotewho are other important personnel Olujohungbe will be relying on to deliver the goods against the Pride of Rivers who have the odds heavily stacked against them.

United’s form domestically has been patchy. The Port Harcourt club have never beaten or scored against Sunshine Stars and are winless in their last four NPFL games.

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United were beaten 1-0 the last time they visited Akure with veteran, Dele Olorundare firing in a peach of a free kick which left Sunday Rotimi with no chance.

Technical manager of the Port Harcourt club, Stanley Eguma remembers that defeat vividly and knows his charges will have to be up for the challenge on Sunday to avoid a repeat of last season’s reverse.

“Sunshine Stars have a good team and we respect them a lot.

“We know we have to be strong as a team and try to take our chances when we get them,” he said.

 

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Form guide (last five NFL matches) 

Sunshine Stars:  Lost; Lost; Draw; Draw; Draw

Sunshine Stars 0-2 Gombe United (A)

Sunshine Stars 0-1 MFM FC (H)

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Sunshine Stars 1-1 Abia Warriors (A)

Sunshine Stars 2-2 ABS FC (H)

Sunshine Stars 1-1 Nasarawa United (A)

 

Rivers United: Win; Draw; Draw; Lost; Draw

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Rivers United 1-0 Niger Tornadoes (H)

Rivers United 0-0 FC Ifeanyiubah (A)

Rivers United 0-0 Lobi Stars (H)

Rivers United 1-2 Shooting Stars (A)

Rivers United 1-1 Kano Pillars (H)

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Previous meetings in competitive matches (Head-to-head)

Matches: Two (2)

Sunshine Stars wins: One (1)

Rivers United wins: Nil (0)

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Draws; One (1)

Goals for: Sunshine Stars (1); Rivers United (0)

Goals against: Sunshine Stars (0); Rivers United (1)

Points accumulated: Sunshine Stars (4); Rivers United (1)

 

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Details (Specific breakdown)

Rivers United 0-0 Sunshine Stars (NPFL: Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on March 23, 2016).

Sunshine Stars 1-0 Rivers United (NPFL: Akure Township Stadium on July 23, 2016).

Story: Courtesy Sammy Wejinya              

 

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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’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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