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Nigerian Football

3SC, Crown in Sixth Straight FA Cup Final

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BY JUBRIL AROWOLO
For the sixth consecutive year, Shooting Stars and Crown FC will play in the final of the Oyo State FA Cup final. The two state owned club sides have stamped their authorities on this competition by making it impossible for other rivals to break their authority.
But the pendulum swings more to Crown of Ogbomosho who have won in three of the last five final matches since the 2012 that the rivalry began.
The more popular Shooting Stars won in 2012 and 2015. Will Crown FC crown their dominance with yet another victory this year? That is left for answer on Sunday when both meet on the familiar turf of Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan.
The Spartan turf of Lekan Salami Stadium which had been the battle ground for many well fought football wars has almost become ‘a no-man’s land’ for the two contending sides having served as the venue for all the participating club sides since the beginning of this competition.
This is the background of this epic final and both teams are not toying with the outcome of the encounter, giving all the attention it deserves.
For the Shooting Stars, it is a tie they want to win going by the available records of trailing their Ajilete brothers with two wins out of five in their past meetings. Determination was almost visible on the faces of Shooting Stars players who are more than determined to turn around the spate of bad results they have had in the first stanza of the Nigerian league.
Even the coach is not left behind in the strong resolve to overcome Crown FC. Technical Adviser, Fatai Amoo was in charge during the 2013 loss to the Ajilete Boys and seems to be wary of history repeating itself!
“It is a big match for us; Crown FC has won more than us in our five meetings. My last time here could still be remembered when they beat us via penalty shootout. Gbolahan Salami and Kabiru Alausa (one of my assistant coaches now) lost theirs”, Amoo said to www.3sc.com.ng.
Toeing the same line of thought is the head coach, England-trained Edith Agoye who believes that the game will bring out the best in his players in preparation for the league resumption.
“Anytime, any day Crown FC is a serious opponent and we can’t take them with kid’s glove. I have told the players and my coaches about the seriousness of this match, we shall give it our best and it’s going to be interesting “, he remarked.
“We are always ready and considering the fact that Crown FC has been winning the FA Cup that’s something that gives us extra motivation.
“And as well, this might probably be the last competitive match before the resumption of the second and players are vying for shirts and they know it’s a big opportunity to pick a place when the second round comes. So, all hands are on deck”, he concluded.

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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