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Nigerian Football

Nigeria Women Premier League Super 4 Kicks off on 9/11

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

Nasarawa Amazon will square it up with Bayelsa Queen when the Nigerian Women Premier League (NWPL) Super 4 contests get underway next month in Benin City. In a tournament to be played in double-header format, Delta Queen will immediately face Rivers Angel on the Day 1 of the tournament being bankrolled by the Edo State Government.

That was the high point of the brief, but colourful draw ceremony held Wednesday afternoon at Protea Hotel, Ikeja Lagos. The ceremony was graced by the NFF president Amaju Pinnick as well as three of the prominent women footballers in Nigeria: Precious Dede, Rasheedat Ajibade and Onome Ebi.

At the end of the six-round robin contest, the winning team will get a reward of N3 million while the runners-up get N2 million.

It is the first time that women football teams in Nigeria will be so heavily  rewarded. Before now, winning teams merely got tokens of appreciation which were not even regular.  It was so gratifying for the chairperson of the Nigerian Women Football League (NWFL), Aishat Falode that he remarked that the league will be going places in the years to come.

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Even though this season, the NWFL had to opt for an abridge league owing to logistics, Falode was happy that the season ran well unlike in the past when the fun was soiled by spate of walkovers, which curiously also involved clubs that were supposed to play at home.

Falode thanked the NFF president for his efforts at assisting the women’s football league. “He was the chief marketer of the league and he carried me along in all efforts made at getting sponsorship for the league”, said Falode who added that part of the results of the efforts was the N10 million that the winners of the maiden women’s edition of the AITEO Cup will get.

The NWPL Super 4 will kick off on September 11 and run through to the 16th. The draw opened with Amaju Pinnick being called upon to make the first pick from the glass jar. Surprisingly, it was his home state team, Delta Queens that he picked.  He followed up picking number two to designate Delta Queens as the Team 2 in the draw.

Next to pick from the glass jar was former Super Falcons’ goalkeeper, Precious Dede. She picked Rivers Angels and figure 3 to so designate the team. Nasarawa Amazons name was picked from the glass jar by Onome Ebi and the team was designated as Team 1. The last to pick from the glass jar was Rasheedat Ajibade who expectedly picked the only team remaining in the jar, Bayelsa Queen.

Unlike the conventional method of picking the winner in a league styled four team competitions, there will be a final match in the NWPL 4.

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This will be contested by the top two teams, meaning that a club that ranked second in the six-match series can still be the Super 4 champions. This match will be contested on match day four.

 

The Full Fixtures

Match Day 1                       Nasarawa Amazons vs. Bayelsa Queens; Delta Queens vs. Rivers Angels

Match Day 2                       Rivers Angels vs. Nasarawa Amazons; Bayelsa Queens vs. Delta Queens

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Match Day 3                       Nasarawa Amazons vs. Delta Queens; Rivers Angels vs. Bayelsa Queens

Match Day 4                       Leaders vs. Runners-up

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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