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Nigerian Football

Life Line For Shooting Stars

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BY JUBRIL AROWOLO.

Shooting Stars got a lifeline in their Week 28 encounter in Enugu after forcing a 1-1 draw that could see the struggling club navigate its way out of murky waters of relegation. It took Abu Azeez’s 76th minute goal for Shooting Stars to survive the onslaught of Rangers at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, Enugu.

Rangers’ petit striker, Godwin Aguda had capitalized on goalkeeper Charles Tambe’s error to jab in after a corner kick by the home side on the 29th minute mark.

Before the error, the Cameroonian international goalkeeper had made some daring saves from rampaging quartet of Bobby Clement, Godwin Aguda, Chiamaka Madu and Bright Silas whose runs kept our defence line on their toes.

The goal notwithstanding, Shooting Stars threw in the trio of Ajani Ibrahim, Abu Azeez and Nonso Mbakwe to poke the opponents’ area with occasion incursions.

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Also, pulling the strings were Shile Adebayo and Ayobami Junior from the midfield.

Their efforts forced some defensive errors in Rangers vital areas but no goal. That was the situation until the time for recess.

On resumption of the second half, Rangers mounted more pressure to double their lead but Tambe Charles and his covers were resolute.

Shooting Stars’ Moses James on one occasion had to come in for a timely clearance to safety after Itoya’s solo effort left Osawe, Samuelson and Omololu on his trail.

Rangers FC changed Bobby Clement for Omoh Johnson and Godwin Aguda for Ifeanyi George to sustain the tempo with more daring incursions and more free kick advantages.

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However, the tide changed when Olukokun Najeem came in for Nonso Mbakwe on 60th minute. He his change added more pep into our attacking bites with glaring control of the game.

Merenini Junior came in for Ibrahim Shile Adebayo and his third time involvement saw him beating two defenders from the left with a final pass rightly connected into the net via a powerful volley by Abu Azeez.

The score line was even at 1-1 and the coaches brought in defensive conscious Adebayo Abayomi to replace Ajani Ibrahim in a bid to protect the precious equalizer until the final whistle.

While speaking with 3SC.com.ng in his post match interview, Shooting Stars Technical Adviser – Fatai Amoo was philosophical and credited the result to hard work and good fortune. “My boys worked for it and I appreciate their fighting spirit. But the battle is still on”. He went further that his team “must keep working and keep our head up while thinking about our next match”.

His counterpart from Rangers International Chukwuma Agbo blamed his wards for not converting their chances. He told 3SC Media that “we expected Shooting Stars to give a good fight. We learnt our lessons by dropping two points in the encounter”.

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Shooting Stars goal scorer Abu Azeez was happy he got his first goal for the team which also proved vital to the team relegation survival. He went further that “the goal really boosts my reason for joining the team, helping to survive the drop and gladdens the heart of our teeming fans”.

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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