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Nigerian Football

NFF/ZENITH BANK TOURNEY: THE FUTURE IS HERE SAYS AKINWUNMI

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NFF 1st Vice President and Chairman of the NFF Youth Football Committee, Seyi Akinwunmi was full of elan and elocution on Tuesday, after another successful and highly inspiring conclusion to the NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championship.

This year’s event was concluded at the Agege Stadium. Five days of exciting youth football in Kano came to an exciting finale in Lagos with South East U15 boys emerging champions after a 5-2 spanking of their North West counterparts.

   Midfield action in the final match of the NFF/Zenith U-15 Tournament

  Yet, there were so many talents on display on both sides that Akinwunmi, who is also Chairman of the NFF Football Committee, was much delighted: “I am very happy at what I am seeing here. We can safely say the future is here. I had no doubt when we started this programme that we were on to a great thing.

“Indeed, in the next two years or thereabout, we would have no reason to go outside this competition to pick our U17 National Team.

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“We are also emphasizing the importance of combining academics with football. Any player who is unable to do this will be dropped.

“You can never compare the ball sense and guile of a player who is combining education with football career with that of one who is unable to.”

Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer of this year’s competition, Divine Nwachukwu netted a hat –trick to steer the South Easterners to glory. His goals came in the 32nd, 43rd and 53rd minutes.

Franklin Eneh had put South East ahead in the 21st minute, with Oluebube Oguduba sealing victory for them in the 75th minute. Ibrahim Saifulahi netted both goals for equally impressive North West in the 52nd and 60th minutes.

South West emerged champions of last year’s edition. “Football is about catching them young and this is what we are doing.

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“Talented players abound everywhere in this country and you only need look for them to get enough. We will not relent but will even intensify the programme to bring the best from all the zones.

“My joy is that the sponsors (Zenith Bank) are also happy with this and have expressed immense joy at how this is turning out.

“With the raw talents that we have, all that is left is for us to find ways of exposing them, and we will work very hard at that. We will also ensure we bring the selected players to camp periodically to nurture their talent and add finesse to their game,” Akinwunmi added.

NFF President Amaju Pinnick, Executive Committee members Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Yusuf Ahmed Fresh, Sharif Rabiu Inuwa, Babagana Kalli and Chidi Ofo Okenwa, NFF Youth Committee members Busari Ishola, Dotun Coker and Edema Fuludu, Emmanuel Iba (Chairman of Akwa Ibom FA), members of the Lagos State FA and an array of the nation’s top sports editors/managers were among dignitaries at the finale.

North Central had earlier emerged champions of the U13 competition after defeating South West 4-2 on penalties following a 0-0 draw in Kano at the weekend.

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The NFF U15 National Team had earlier wowed dignitaries and spectators with eye –catching performance in a 3-0 defeat of Pepsi Academy in an exhibition match that preceded the final match.

 

HONOURS

 

  • Best Coach award – Jude Agada (South East)

 

  • Best Goalkeeper – Anthony Okoronkwo (South East)

 

  • Golden Boot Award – Divine Nwachukwu (South East: 6 goals)

 

  • MVP – Divine Nwachukwu (South East)

 

ALL THE RESULTS

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(U13 COMPETITION)

South South 3 North East 0 (W/O)

North Central 2 North West 1

North East 0 South West 3 (W/O)

North West 3 South East 0 (W/O)

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South West 0 South South 0

South East 0 North Central 3 (W/O)

South West 2 North West 1

North Central 2 South South 1

 

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FINAL

South West 0–0 North Central  (2-4 after penalties)

 

(U15 COMPETITION)

North East 2 South South 3

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South West 0 South East 2

South South 2 North West 4

South East 4 North Central 0

North West 1 North East 0

North Central 1 South West 3

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North West 4 South West 3

South East 4 South South 1

 

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

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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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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