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Nigerian Football

Hammer Falls on Clubs, Players in Bet9ja League

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Bet9ja Nigeria National League campaigners, Yobe Desert Stars, Osun United and UNICEM Rovers of Calabar will play their next three home matches in the league under strict closed doors for assaults on match officials and crowd encroachment.

The Bet9ja National League is the second tier of club football in Nigeria.

The three teams are also to pay fines for various degrees of offences and violation of the league’s rule book.

Official report indicted UNICEM Rovers of Calabar for assault on match officials that handled their match day nineteen encounter with Warri Wolves at the U.J Esuene Stadium, Calabar.

The officials received bodily harm of different proportion following the attack by the supporters of the UNICEM Rovers during and after the match.

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UNICEM are to also pay N1, 000,000.00 (one million naira) for violating Article 27 on misconduct and N750, 000.00 (Seven hundred and Fifty thousand naira) for the treatment of the match officials.

Jimmy Okotu Assistant secretary of UNICEM Rovers has been handed an indefinite suspension and is to stay away from all NNL matches pending a scheduled compliance with the unit in the NNL.

Another official, Ushie was charged for complicit act that led to the heartless beating of the Match officials while Okotu reportedly slapped the centre referee and led a group of fans of UNICEM Rovers to assault the match officials.

UNICEM Rovers are also to pay N137, 500 being the estimated cost of items reportedly damaged and lost by the match officials in the process of assault on them.

The sum of N1, 887, 500.00 (One million, eight hundred and eighty seven thousand, five hundred, is to be paid to the league body by UNICEM Rovers for violations of rules and regulations.

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Yobe Desert Stars of Damaturu  aside playing their next three home matches without their fans are to also pay the sum of N2, 000.000.00 ( Two million naira) for assault on match officials and encroachment, for contravening other sections of the league rules in their match day sixteen with Abuja based FRSC at the August 27 Stadium in Damaturu.

It was also reported that Supporters of Yobe encroached into the field of play descending on the match officials and throwing various objects at them, and equally stated that the fans of Yobe celebrated the only goal of the game on the pitch while holding the Game up.

The report further stated that Yobe fans prevented match officials from entering the dressing room at half time.

In the summary jurisdiction Osun United, UNICEM Rovers and Yobe Desert Stars have been given one week by the NNL management to identify and produce the assailants.

Osun United duo of Victor Okeji and Obasi Chigozie summarily has been placed on a year ban for assaulting the centre referee after their match day nineteen (19) at the Osun Township Stadium, Oshogbo.

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Osun United are to equally pay the sum of N1million for assault on the referees in accordance with article 26 and 27 of the League rules.

Official report confirms that supporters of Osun United ran into the field and assaulted the match officials.

The officials were held hostage for over twenty minutes in the field of play before entering the dressing room

The football associations in Cross River, Osun and Yobe States were charged by the NNL to face its responsibilities squarely.

Victor Okeji and Obasi Chigozie are mandated to appear before the Compliance Unit of the NNL on Monday.

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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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