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Nigerian Football

Ten-man Akwa Disunited in Jos

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BY MFON PATRICK.

 

Ten-man Akwa United suffered a 3-0 defeat to league leaders Plateau United at the Rwang Pam Stadium in Jos on Sunday in one of Match Day 28 games of the Nigeria Professional Football League.

Ariwachukwu Emmanuel’s clearance inside the box bounced off Ifeanyi Ifeanyi but referee Jonathan Zakariya adjudged it to be a hand ball and awarded a penalty to the home team in the 20th minute which was converted by Emmanuel James.

Moments after the restart, Musa Newman was harshly tackled from behind, but it was Ubong Friday that got involved in an argument with Ogene Elijah. The incident fetched Friday a yellow card but further argument with the referee resulted in the winger being sent off in the 24th minute.

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In a tactical move to contend the home team, Coach Abdu Maikaba replaced Cyril Olisema with Christopher Lolo in the 36th minute.

Despite the poor pitch, the midfielder was able to combine with Ifeanyi and Aremu to supply Musa Newman and Gabriel Okechukwu with some decent passes but their attacking moves were continuously repelled by Plateau United’s defence as the host went into the break with 1-0 lead.

On resumption, the league leaders enjoyed the numerical advantage and mounted pressure on the visitors, playing long balls and making long throws into the vital area.

In a bid to capitalise on the aerial balls, Coach Kennedy Boboye introduced Kabiru Umar and the tallest player in the league Emeka Umeh into the game.

Both Umeh and Umar put their height into good use towards the closing stages of the match, as Umeh headed in Daniel Itodo’s long throw in the 86th minute before Umar headed in a free kick deep into stoppage time to give the home team a comfortable 3-0 win.

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The result ensured Plateau United remained on top of the log with 51 points from 28 matches while Akwa United slipped to 4th position on the log with 43 points from 27 matches and with one outstanding match against Rivers United.

The 3-0 defeat is Akwa United’s biggest defeat this season and the Promise Keepers will next face Gombe United at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Sunday.

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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