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Nigerian Football

RIVERS UNITED GOALKEEPER, AKANDE BACK IN ACTION AFTER HORRIFIC LEG INJURY

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BY SAMMY WEJINYA   

On Sunday, July 23, 2017, Rivers United goalkeeper, Abiodun Akande woke up with one thought at the back of his mind – inspire the ‘Pride of Rivers’ to a resounding victory over Wikki Tourists in the Nigeria Professional Football League, later that day.

 

Akande’s wish was granted as United won that game, 3-1 (the club’s biggest home win in the league in 11 months) against the Tourists but that win was soured by a shocking incident of monumental proportions.

 

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Late in the second half, a freak incident involving a Wikki Tourists attacker and Akande culminated in a collision that left the latter with a multiple fracture of the right leg.

 

“The pain I felt at that moment was unbelievably excruciating,” Akande recounted in an exclusive chat with the official Rivers United FC website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.

 

“I thought my career was over at that instant. I recall that the Rivers State Commissioner (Boma Iyaye) ran towards me, with several other officials assuring me, while I was in tears, that the sponsors of the club would not abandon me.

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“He assured me that I would get the best possible care and that my financial entitlements would still be paid for as long I was sidelined.

 

“Psychologically that was a big boost and it aided my complete recovery,” he said.

 

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Akande fractured/broke the bones (tibia and fibula) of his right leg and had to undergo a special procedure to correct the damage.

 

It was a slow and painstaking process but there was light at the end of the tunnel with the club doctor, Chukwuemeka Agi confirming that the player has now been medically certified fit to return to competitive action.

 

“Akande was operated on by a foremost orthopedic surgeon in Rivers State, Dr. Bob Yellowe and metals (implants) were inserted in his leg,” Dr Agi said.

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“It took quite a while to rehabilitate him and bring him back to his previous level (before he sustained the injury) after the metals were removed from his leg.

 

“The sponsors of the club, the Rivers State Government must be commended for the role they played in helping this young Man return to full fitness,” Dr Agi concluded.

 

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Akande made his return to action for Rivers United on Wednesday, November 8, 2018 (16 months after his initial injury) in a 0-1 reverse to Cynosure FC at the ongoing South East/South South pre-season football tournament in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

 

He played all 90 minutes of the encounter and was outstanding between the sticks.

 

The goalkeeper was understandably pleased to return to action.

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“I want to thank the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike for his help in making this a reality and also a big thank you must be said to the Commissioner of Sports in Rivers State, Boma Iyaye.

 

“I thank everyone involved with Rivers United for helping me return to football.

 

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“Without their support, my career would have been over,” he said.

 

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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