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Nigerian Football

HUGE EXCITEMENT, AS AKINWUNMI CHARITY BALL ROLLS AGAIN

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There is a high level of excitement and infectious ecstasy as the fourth edition of the Seyi Akinwunmi Charity Mini-Tournament comes to a climax at the Lagos Campos Mini-Stadium on Friday.

Sponsored by the 1st Vice President of Nigeria Football Federation, Seyi Akinwunmi, the show –stopping event has over the years attracted leading administrators, top –drawer artistes and ex-international footballers to the finale, while a number of promising talents have been unearthed during the youth competition.

The competition’s main objective is provision of scholarships for smart but indigent children and support for ailing ex-international players.

Over 200 children have been supported through the Courage Education Foundation, which has chosen the game of football to bring people together and raise funds for the Foundation’s goals.

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Thorough, deliberate and averse to doing things in half measures, Akinwunmi, who has been Chairman of Lagos State Football Association for more than six years now, has driven the mini-tournament and the Foundation with a touch of class, charisma and consistency.

A well –thought partnership with Greensprings International School, Lagos has provided the perfect station for star discoveries to combine first –education with sport, which ultimately makes for a better athlete.

This year, Musa Alli and Elvis Onyenze, who have shone for Nigeria’s U15 squad and look good enough to be considered for the next Nigeria U17 squad, graduated from Greensprings International School.

“Our goal is to provide the perfect platform for the gifted but indigent child to fulfil his dream, through combining good education with a career in sport. Alli and Onyenze are examples of what we set out to do and they are still going strong, but there are many more on the way.

“The finale which we hold at the Campos Mini-Stadium is a spectacle for both good youth football and fun, with administrators and ex-internationals taking part in the novelty game. Here, we raise funds for the goals of the Foundation,” Akinwunmi told thenff.com.

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This year, NFF President Amaju Pinnick is leading a team of Pinnick and Friends against Family United By Sports, with names like Festus Keyamo (SAN), Ayodeji Tinubu (SA to Lagos State Governor on Sports), Olusegun Odegbami (former Nigeria captain), Taiwo Ogunjobi (former Nigeria international and former NFF GS and Executive Committee Member), Chris Green (ranking member of NFF Executive Committee) and Imama Amapakabo (NPFL title –winning coach with Enugu Rangers last year) already signed up for FUBS.

They will be coached by Nduka Ugbade, who captained Nigeria’s first cadet team to win the FIFA World Cup and was an assistant coach when the U17 team won it for the fourth time in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.

Popular stand-up comedian Gbenga Adeyinka will be referee of the match.

“The truth is that talents abound in the nooks and crannies of our country. They are waiting to be discovered and nurtured. Most are from poor homes and need support to climb that ladder to get close to their dreams.

“I want to really appreciate Greensprings International School for the hand of partnership they have lent to the Foundation. Together, we believe we can take this project very far and in a way that would be great for Nigerian Football development,” Akinwunmi added.

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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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