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Nigerian Football

Nigeria: El Classico Turned Bloody At Viewing Centre

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Barely three days after tragedy befell a public viewing centre in Calabar, South East Nigeria, another calamity resulted in another football viewing centre in Abakaliki,  the capital town of Ebonyi State in eastern Nigeria,

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, dare-devil cultists, in an American-styled Hollywood movie fashion, on Sunday night, stormed the centre during the telecast of Spanish League’s El Classico match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona El-Classico.

One of the victims was critically wounded. The sportsvillagesquare.com gathered that the viewing centre is located at Onuebonyi area of the town. The attackers reportedly stormed the centre about 7.30 p.m., midway into the match’s first half and sat down like other viewers enthralled by the captivating encounter.

Thereafter, they struck leading to severe injuries to a second-year student of the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.

Another witness and the viewing Centre Operator, John Otubo, noted that the attackers were magnanimous for reducing the impact of their attack considering the number of arms they brandished.

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“I watched them brandish two short guns, axes and knives as they simply went for their target, dragged him out and started using the weapons on him.

“No one can explain why they did not shoot him as they concentrated on him without attacking any other person or shooting sporadically to elicit stray-bullet incidences,’’ he said.

Otubo, however, said that several viewers were injured during the ensuing stampede while they scampered for safety as the viewing was abruptly halted.

“Pandemonium set forth as viewers ran in different directions and with the centre having only one entrance, most viewers pulled down the zincs used as makeshift walls at the centre.

“Several viewers were injured in the process, including those who were trampled upon during the stampede as the attackers felt their prey was dead and hurriedly left the scene.

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“I and other sympathisers met him motionless and in his pool of blood with the severe cuts on different parts of his body inflicted by the attackers.

“We immediately took him to a hospital which I cannot disclose presently as doctors said his condition was critical,’’ he said.

He said that he was undecided whether to report the matter to the police, adding that he would suspend viewing activities temporarily.

Mark Onu, National President of Akubaraoha Youth Assembly gave cultists in the state an immediate ultimatum to cease their nefarious activities or face dire consequences.

Onu, who is also the governor’s Senior Technical Assistant on Youth Mobilisation and Empowerment, urged youths to collaborate with security agencies in the state to fish out cultists wherever they reside or operate.

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“We will not allow any person or groups to disrupt the prevailing peace in the state which is being complemented by the governor’s developmental strides in all sectors,’’ he said.

According to NAN reports, the town has witnessed renewed cult activities involving three cult groups in Ebonyi State University which resulted in the confirmed death of a final year student, Theophilus Onele.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Jude Madu who is the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, said on Monday that he had not received the report of the incident but that manhunt on cultists had been intensified.

“The command arrests suspected cultists terrorising the town on daily basis and after our investigations, they are duly prosecuted to deter others.

“We will continue to appeal to the government, parents, religious bodies and youths among other stakeholders to intensify their campaign against cultism to make the society safe and habitable for all,’’ he said.

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Sources within EBSU and the town disclosed that there had been several cult-related killings in and around the town which had not been made public by the police

 

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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

Enugu Rangers hold on grimly at the top as Nigerian league gets to home stretch

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Enugu Rangers may have broken loose from the pack following their comprehensive  3-0 victory over Bayelsa United on Sunday.

As if to aid Rangers’ hold of the top position, their closest rivals, Remo Stars who were initially just a point behind fell like  papers blown by the huricane, losing 3-2 to Kwara United. Their loss dealt a big blow on their title aspirations as they are now four points behind Enugu Rangers and had also narrowed their goal difference.

They are now third having been overtaken by Enyimba who have better goal difference even though both are with 56 points.

Shooting Stars who suddenly peaked in the second half of the season are fast pacing up, getting to the fourth position and three points behind Remo Stars.

They were dealt a blow in the added time as Katsina United’s Michael Okoro got an added time goal against to stalemate scores at 2-2.

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Just as Enugu Rangers are at the cusp of the championship, the fates of Gombe United and Heartland appear already decided as the second tier Nigeria National League are already waiting to welcome them next season.

Akwa United may have navigated their ways out of relegation waters following their 2-1 away win over Lobi Stars. Akwa United are now 15th on the log. In Jos, former champions, Plateau and Niger Tornadoes played uninspiring goalless while relegation-troubled Heartland of Owerri spanked Gombe United 3-0 just as Kano Pillars dimmed Doma United 3-1.

All the results:

Sunshine Stars 0-0 Bendel Insurance

Rivers United 4-1 Sporting Lagos

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Lobi Stars 1-2 Akwa United

Kwara United 3-2 Remo Stars

Katsina United 2-2 Shooting Stars

Kano Pillars 3-1 Doma United

Heartland 3-0 Gombe United

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Enugu Rangers 3-0 Bayelsa United

Abia Warriors 0-1 Enyimba

Plateau United 0-0 Niger Tornadoes

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Nigerian Football

Finidi deserves our support, says former international, Kingsley Onye

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NFF Confirms Finidi George

Ahead of the first press parley that Super Eagles’ new manager, Finidi George is going to have on Thursday in Lagos, former Nigeria international, Kingsley Onye has canvassed for full support for the new coach.

 To him, the time of politicking and pushing for a particular candidate was over. “It is time for all of us to back the chosen one, Finidi George”, remarked Onye who was a left rearguard player in the 1985 class of Flying Eagles who against all odds, upstaged hosts,Soviet Union to clinch the third place in the then World Youth Championships that is now called the U-20 World Cup.

  “Although I canvassed for Emmanuel Amuneke’s candidature, am still happy that an equally good Finidi George got the job”, he said in a phone conversation from his base in the United Kingdom.

  “The fact that some players complained after Nigeria’s second friendly match in March shows that Finidi is a man of his class and cannot be influenced by players’ sentiments.

  “I believe he will take Nigeria to an enviable height, the same way Amuneke too would have done.”

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 Continuing, Onye who played for Enugu Rangers while he was in the country in the 1980s also remarked that he was on the same page with Victor Ikpeba who has asked that Finidi’s assistants should always back him in team selection  and tactical formations.

 “We should be more than 100 per cent behind the coach. If we do, he will perform wonders. He has his own philosophy which we must allow to flourish. He did it will Enyimba, leading the club to success last season and was at the brink of repeating the success before his appointment as Super Eagles’ coach.”

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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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