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Nigerian Football

NPFL 2017: Plateau United On the Edge of History

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By Andrew Randa

Plateau United’s fairytale in the Nigeria Professional Football League would be complete if they get the job done over Rangers International of Enugu on the final match-day at the Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos.

Not many gave Kennedy Boboye and his wards a chance at the start of the season but after putting in the leg work, the Jos-based side is unarguably the stand-out team of the season.
Needing a point to lay their hands on a first ever Nigeria Professional Football League(NPFL) title, they
will do all they can to put smiles on the faces of Jos fans who have had to endure almost two decades of heartbreak.
No major title has come to the North-central state since the 1999 Federation Cup (now Aiteo Cup) when Donatus Iloka’s solitary goal crowned Plateau United winners of the cup.
Npfl.ng went around Jos to feel the pulse of the fans as the final game of the season looms on the horizon. The frenzy and ‘noise’ decibels have stepped a notch as a lot of fans are already in a celebration mood. 

Plangkat Milaham, Jos-based Pharmacist

“It was exhilarating to see Plateau United promoted to Nigeria’s top-flight league in 2015.
Fans were also elated that there were great strides towards improving the club. The appointment of Coach Zachary Baraje particularly brought me great joy. At that moment, I knew the club was ready to play ball and it wouldn’t be long before we clinched the League title.
“The 2016 season was a great one. Our home record was amazing, it was beautiful seeing Plateau United trounce visitors on home ground. We didn’t make the top four as we finished sixth but we were excited.
“Life as a Plateau fan even got more exciting when Coach Kennedy Boboye took over. We expected more from the team this season and the boys didn’t fail to deliver. Soon we will make history and be crowned Champions of Nigeria.
“I love the team and the excitement they bring but my personal favourite player is Daniel Itodo. I love him for his long throws. It’s always a delight seeing him provide assists with long throw-ins from
every part of the pitch.
“Hopefully, winning the league will be just the beginning because I believe our best years are still to come.

—Shuaibu Umoru, Financial Expert, Jos.

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“Watching Plateau United surge to the top of the table and at the cusp of victory is a feeling I can’t explain. Personally, I wasn’t sure we were going to be in the top three teams this season but the team has done quite well to get to this level.
“I grew in Jos playing football for local teams and we all had dreams to play for either Highlanders (as Plateau United was called then) or Mighty Jets and win titles with them.
“That didn’t happen for me but I’m still overjoyed that by God’s grace the Nigeria Professional Football League will be coming to Jos.
“I watched Plateau United defeat Iwuanyanwu Nationale to win the FA Cup in 1999 and I thank God that I will see another title triumph with my beloved United. I want to plead with the government to invest more in sports and youth development because that is the future of any state
or country.
“Plateau United’s success this season should show the government that sports and the youth can bring glory to them.
“For me and my friends, we will be in at the stadium in Jos where hopefully we beat Rangers International to win the title. I’m very excited right now”.

Mary Dalyop. Student, Plateau State Polytechnic
“My joy is so much that I cannot express it right now. I’m very sure the team will do us proud and win the league. I’m a student but I always make out time to go and watch the team play. I have been a fan
of the team for the past four years now and the journey has been remarkable I must admit.
“One thing that has really made me happy is that there is little or no rivalry now between Plateau United and Mighty Jets. Everyone has come to support the team unlike last season and a few seasons back when fans of Mighty Jets will come to the stadium to cheer away teams.
“We do not see that again and I believe that is one of the reasons why the team has been successful this season. I’m very happy and I hope the government will continue to support the club when the CAF
Champions League starts”.

Yohanna Ibrahim, Businessman, Jos.
“I was happy when Plateau United appointed Kennedy Boboye as the coach but I never thought we will be in this position as we are right now.
“To be candid, I will be lying if I said I knew the league might be heading to Jos. We only need to draw the last game to win the title but I never saw it coming.
“Kudos to the management of the team, the players and the Governor for supporting and motivating the team. You just need to go into town to see how people are excited about the prospect of a first ever title for Plateau State.
“One thing that is happening without many people knowing is this success is generating a lot of interest among the youths. If you go to many football fields in Jos, you see young kids wanting to be Elisha Golbe or a Benjamin Turba.
“I also saw a few last time I went to watch a local training practicing how to throw the ball like Daniel Itodo does for Plateau United. Our impending victory has made more young people to take football and
training more serious.
Hopefully, the government will key into this. I can’t wait for the final game of the season and I hope the boy will make us proud”.
                                         Sunday Longbap. Chairman, Plateau State Football Association.

“It has been a very tough season for the team but I’m glad we are in a position to celebrate and say we have done well for ourselves.
“I must give kudos to the management of Plateau United for all they
have done to get the team to this level and top of the league.
“The players too have given their all and I must commend them for making Plateau State proud. They gave their all on the pitch and have done Plateau State proud.

“We had a mission this season and God had blessed us to be top of the league and on the verge of winning the league. I and my board are extremely happy that during our tenure, we were able to lead Plateau United to glory.
“I want to specifically thank his Excellency, the Executive Governor of Plateau State Rt. Hon Simon Lalong for his unflinching support for the team. He has motivated the boys to do well and you know that nothing beats motivation. His Excellency has shown that he is a man of his words and always fulfils his promises. Youth development and sports have always been on top of his agenda and this impending success is a testament to that.
“I want to thank him and the entire government for all they have done for the team this season and by God’s grace on Sunday, we shall deliver the title and trophy to him”.

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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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