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Nigerian Football

Rivers May Compound Shooting Stars’ Woes

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BY SAMMY WEJINYA.

 

Struggling Shooting Stars will attempt to swim ashore without sinking as they face Rivers United in their natural habitat.

In an earlier reversed fixtures in Ibadan last February, Rivers United played probably their worst game in the NPFL this season and the oppositions on the day were the Shooting Stars.

United lost 1-2 that day but that result, more than anything else, flattered the boys from Port Harcourt as only a shocking display of profligacy by the Shooting Stars forwards, good fortune and some extraordinary goalkeeping performance right out of the top drawer by Rivers United Femi Thomas kept the score line respectable.

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This time, Shooting Stars arrive in Port Harcourt on Saturday with the hopes of going for an encore but will certainly meet a Rivers United side high on confidence after recently putting their CAF Confederation Cup campaign back on track with a crucial win against KCCA last Tuesday.

A possible win for United will see them climb four places to 13th on the NPFL log while Shooting Stars, currently mired in relegation trouble will leave the drop zone if they become the first side to inflict defeat on the ‘Pride of Rivers’ at their stately patch.

Head coach of Shooting Stars, Fatai Amoo, is full of respect for the opposition and does not expect any display of complacency from the hosts.

“I don’t think they (Rivers United) will be distracted as a result of their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup,” Amoo told Rivers United official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.

“You don’t just stumble on (qualification to play) on the continent. There were four Nigerian clubs on the continent but today, only Rivers United is left so it means they have all it takes (to play at that level).

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“It is an advantage for them but it will also motivate us. We respect them,” he said.

Lukman Mohammed scored for Rivers United in the reverse fixture at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan just over four months ago and he also spoke to us ahead of Saturday’s contest.

“The fans cannot write the team off for now; we ask for their support as it is still possible for us to have a good season,” he said on fans’ discontent over United’s underwhelming displays in the NPFL this term.

Saturday’s contest will be a compelling one with both sides desperate for points that will guarantee gradual, if not steady progress, towards the top half of the table.

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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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