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Nigerian Football

AKWA UNITED SEEKS DIVINE HANDS IN 2018

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With the 2018 season in Nigeria kicking off this weekend, continental hopefuls, Akwa United have sought divine guidance as set eyes on continental title as well the two domestic titles of the league and the Aiteo Cup.

At The Apostolic Church, Ukana Onuk Area Headqurters, Ikot Ekpene Field where the club went for thanks giving service for last season’s accomplishments and divine guidance in the new season, the players and officials were admonished to abide by the rules.

“Any football team that lacks discipline, respect for constituted authority, rules and regulations and above all hope in the Almighty God and His capabilities cannot go far”.

That was the remark by Apostle G. Umanah, Area Superintendent of the church. Continuing, he told the club: “For you to succeed, you need to be very disciplined and level headed, you must obey and play according to the rules and regulations of the sport and most importantly should have the fear God and hope in His limitless capabilities”

Taking his sermon from Romans 10:11 Pastor Umanah said he was delighted to see the team return to thank God for their exploits in the 2017 season, and that whosoever believeth in God shall not be ashamed.

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“I am so delighted to have heard the chairman of the club ascribe the success of his team to God. I remember that before the start of the just concluded season, you came here and handed this team over to God and God promised you victory. All of you here are living witnesses to what God did for His name sake.

“We told you last year that it will not be easy. We said you will pass through a lot of trials and temptations but that at the end you will triumph and it has come to pass.

“With the wisdom that you have to come back and thank God, and rededicate the club to Him, I prophesy that you will do exploits this year. Go and conquer” The man of God declared.

“In his speech, the state sports commissioner Sir Monday Ebong Uko gave thanks to God for a season that had a lot of positives since the club was formed twenty years ago.

He recounted instances in the season that the club encountered challenges yet God triumphed even at a time that they had lost hope, particularly during the Aiteo Cup final when it seemed as if all was lost, only for the club to gain the upper hand and the slot of representing the country in the continent.

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For the current season, he enjoined all the supporters of the club to close ranks and work in unity towards the success of the club.

“…It will be wrong for you to say that perhaps because you do not like the face of the commissioner or that of the chairman, you should then wish the club bad. This club is an institution, a unity vehicle as far as Akwa Ibom state is concerned so we should come together to make sure it succeeds” He pleaded.

Chairman of the club, Paul Bassey in an earlier remark was grateful to God, His Excellency the executive governor of the state, his principal the state sports commissioner, the media, supporters club and all the fans who stood by them in the season.

“We will be ingrates if we do not actualize this Thanksgiving aimed at giving God all the glory for the success of the team in placing fourth in the league and winning the Aiteo Cup.

“Governor Udom Emmanuel, sports governor of the year 2017 stood by us and made sure we did not lack,” he informed.

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Other guests and dignitaries included the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong and his wife, chairman of the state FA Emmanuel Ibah and his board members, the permanent secretary ministry of youth and sports, Aniedi Dickson and his directors.

Also in attendance were the past chairmen of the club including Isong Isang and Akparawa Nse Ubeh, Coach Charles Bassey (MON) Chief Ebito, Hon Saturday of the PDP, the chairman of the NUJ in Akwa Ibom State, Solomon Bassey, the Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria chairman as well as the hierarchy of the supporters club and other well wishers.

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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