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Nigerian Football

Big Boys Scramble for CAF Confederation Cup Ticket

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BY GEORGE AKPAYEN.

With MFM and Plateau United already assured of CAF Champions League spots, two of the big hitters are now left scrambling for what looks like crumbs from the table – a place in the less-fancied CAF Confederation Cup.

Rangers, Rivers United and Kano Pillars initially tipped to finish in the top-three have found the going tough while the fight for third place is now between Akwa United and Enyimba with the former having their tails between their legs going into the final day.
The Peoples Elephant are favourites to land the final place in the top-three ahead of Akwa United as they have a point superior over Abdu Maikaba’s team.

Nevertheless they have to prove that when they face relegation-threatened Katsina United at the UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar where they have won their last 13 home games.

The Promise Keepers will only hope Katsina United do them a favour while they aim to pull off a win over Kano Pillars as the race for third place is out of their hands to determine.

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THE BOTTOM-FOUR

Remo Stars and Gombe United do not have their fate in their hands any longer as they have been relegated. Two spots are now left to be confirmed to complete the quartet that will drop to the second tier at the end of this campaign.
Mathematically, 13 clubs – from sixth to 18th position on the league table – could end up being relegated.

In 18th-place ABS FC have 50 points and Lobi in sixth have 53 but it will take the Ilorin club a huge Cricket-like score line to usurp Lobi depending on results elsewhere as they play on the road.
For ABS, Wikki Tourists and Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC), it looks like a touch-and-go situation as a slip-up by any of them in their games on the road at Nasarawa United, Gombe United and Niger Tornadoes could mean the tolling of a bell.

However, Abia Warriors, Tornadoes, Sunshine Stars, Katsina United, Rivers United, El-Kanemi, Rangers, FC IfeanyiUbah and Nasarawa United complete the roll call of the 13 still in the battle for survival.

                      INDIVIDUAL BATTLES

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Lobi Stars, still statistically in the race for survival will look up to their leading scorer Anthony Okpotu to help them in the final day game at FC IfeanyiUbah.

Okpotu will also look to finish top scorer in the league this term. He needs just a goal to do so, and at the same time reach 70 goals in the NPFL especially with MFM’s Stephen Odey on same 18 goals with him now in Switzerland to tie up a deal with a club.
The battle for the gloves is already done and dusted with Nasarawa United goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso on 15 clean sheets, two more than Mustapha Aliko of Tornadoes and Akwa United’s Olorunleke Ojo. Aliko and Ojo can only finish with 14 clean sheets apiece if their teams do not concede on Saturday.
After 237 calendar days (as at  September 7) of 370 league matches that produced 741 goals averaging two goals per game, the NPFL meanders into one last matchday this term with a new champion waiting to be crowned.

 

 

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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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