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Nigerian Football

NORTH WEST, SOUTH EAST CLASH IN NFF/ZENITH BANK U15 FINAL

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A week of exciting youth football in the ancient city of Kano will witness the grand finale in Lagos on Tuesday with the U15 final of the NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championship at the Agege Stadium.

Tuesday will be exactly a week on one year that the finals of the inaugural edition of the competition (U13 and U15) took place at the Onikan Stadium, with South West emerging champions in the U15 category with a 2-0 defeat of South East, while South East defeated South South 4-2 in the final of the U13 category.

This year, an enterprising North Central squad overcame equally ambitious South West team 4-2 on penalties in Kano to emerge champions of the U13 category.

North West and South East take to the Agege Stadium turf on Tuesday afternoon for the intermediate honours, with last year’s runners-up South East determined to take the step up to the champions’ podium this time.

Following last year’s inaugural competition that took place in Ijebu-Ode and Lagos, NFF Technical Director, Bitrus Bewarang told thenff.com: “I am delighted with the entire good job done by the NFF Youth Football Committee, headed by the NFF 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi.

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“I saw excellent football by young, talented and ambitious kids. On the evidence of what I saw in Ijebu-Ode and Lagos, I believe that in the nearest future, we would be making use of very young players, in the mould of Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi, for the Super Eagles.”

The former Super Eagles’ Assistant Coach also hailed competition sponsors Zenith Bank International PLC, assuring the bank that its name would be etched in gold once the prodigies start making waves in the NPFL, Super Eagles and top Leagues overseas.

“The bank has put its money in the right place, and I am using this opportunity to call on other big players in Corporate Nigeria to embrace sports, because by embracing sports, they are assuring the future of the youth.

“Certainly, the NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championship is a welcome development. I want to implore the bank not to rest on its oars, but rather guarantee that the competition has come to stay as an annual carnival for the young and determined boys from the grassroots.”

Zenith Bank’s chieftains are enamoured at the essence and glamour of the competition, and will again storm the Agege Stadium in full force on Tuesday.

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NFF President Amaju Pinnick, 1st Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi (who is the Chairman of the NFF Youth Football Committee), a number of NFF Executive Committee members, NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, some top officials of the Lagos State Government, a couple of NFF Management officials, as well as members of the NFF Youth Football Committee will also be in attendance.

 

RESULTS (U13)

South South 3 North East 0 (W/O)

North Central 2 North West 1

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North East 0 South West 3 (W/O)

North West 3 South East 0 (W/O)

South West 0 South South 0

South East 0 North Central 3 (W/O)

South West 2 North West 1

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North Central 2 South South 1

 

FINAL

South West 2 North Central 4 (after penalties)

 

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RESULTS (U15)

North East 2 South South 3

South West 0 South East 2

South South 2 North West 4

South East 4 North Central 0

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North West 1 North East 0

North Central 1 South West 3

North West 4 South West 3

South East 4 South South 1

 

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FINAL

North West Vs South East

 

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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