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Nigeria Rev Up For Another Titanic Battle With Cameroon As Super Falcons Reassemble –

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Paris 2024: Waldrum Invites Ajibade, Oshoala, Nnadozie, 19 Others For Banyana -

After the Super Eagles overcame Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions at the Round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations, the women too are stepping up for a potentially titanic battle.

At stake is a qualification ticket for the final round to the Paris 2024 Olympic women football event.

 

To this end, Nigeria have called up 21 players, among them captain Rasheedat Ajibade and goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.

In the Nigerian arsenal is also  the five-time African Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala and free-scoring forward Esther Okoronkwo.

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They are all shaping up  for next week’s 2024 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament qualifying fixture against the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon.

 

This fixture is the third round of the African qualifying series, and the penultimate round of the series before the continent’s flag-bearers to the 2024 Olympics are known ahead of the Games in five months’ time.

 

Goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi, defenders Osinachi Ohale and Oluwatosin Demehin, midfielders Deborah Abiodun and Christy Ucheibe, and forwards Toni Payne, Uchenna Kanu and Omorinsola Babajide are also called.

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Versatile defender Ashleigh Plumptre makes a return to the fold since the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Australia last year summer.

 

Fierce rivals Nigeria and Cameroon will battle it out in the first leg of the fixture at the Stade de la Reunification in Douala, Cameroon on Friday next week (23rd February), with Ugandan official Shamirah Nabadda as referee. Her compatriots Lydia Nantabo, Jane Mutonyi and Diana Murungi will serve as assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively. Khadija Rezzag from Morocco will be the referee assessor while Lukusa Kanjinga from Democratic Republic of Congo will be the commissioner.

 

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For the second leg match in Nigeria, taking place at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Monday, 26th February, CAF has appointed Namibian official Ndemugwanitha Twanyanyukwa as referee, with her compatriots Eveline Augustinus, Olivia Amukuu and Vistoria Shangula in the roles of assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively.

 

Alice Wangari Kimani from Kenya will serve as referee assessor while Christine Ziga from Ghana will be the commissioner.

 

SUPER FALCONS TO BATTLE CAMEROON:

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Goalkeepers: Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC); Tochukwu Oluehi (Shualat Alsharqia FC, Saudi Arabia); Linda Jiwuaku (Bayelsa Queens)

 

Defenders: Osinachi Ohale (Pachucha Club de Futbol, Mexico); Ashleigh Plumptre (Ittihad Ladies, Saudi Arabia); Oluwatosin Demehin (Stade de Reims, France); Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash, USA); Akudo Ogbonna (Remo Stars Ladies); Rofiat Imuran (Stade de Reims, France)

 

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Midfielders: Deborah Abiodun (University of Pittsburgh, USA); Halimatu Ayinde (FC Rosengard, Sweden); Christy Ucheibe (SL Benfica, Portugal); Jennifer Echegini (Juventus Ladies, Italy); Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid FC, Spain); Toni Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain)

 

Forwards: Omorinsola Babajide (Coasta Adeje Tenerife Egatesa, Spain); Esther Okoronkwo (Henan FC, China); Ifeoma Onumonu (SLC Utah, USA); Asisat Oshoala (Bay FC, Spain); Uchenna Kanu (Racing Louisville, USA); Gift Monday (Coasta Adeje Tenerife Egatesa, Spain)

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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Nigeria picks another Paris 2024 slot in table tennis

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The number of Nigerian table tennis players heading to Paris 2024 Olympic Games increased to three after Fatimo Bello defeated Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi 4-2 in the final of the second stage of the African Olympic Qualification Tournament at bK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.

Bello failed to qualify through the first stage of qualifiers after losing 4-1 to Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou but she returned stronger to win the sole slot in the second stage of qualifiers of the women’s singles.

Bello will join her compatriots – Olajide Omotayo and Offiong Edem to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Also, Algeria’s Mehdi Bouloussa who missed out from the first stage of the qualifiers atone for his defeat to pick the last slot in the men’s singles of the qualification tournament.

The qualified players from Kigali qualifiers include Nigeria’s trio of Bello, Omotayo and Edem while Cameroon’s Sarah Haffou picked her tickets to third Olympics appearance while Fabio Rakotoarimanana became the first Madagascan table tennis player to qualify for the Olympic Games after picking the second slot in the first stage of the qualifiers. Mehdi Bouloussa of Algeria secured the final slot in the men’s singles.

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Bouloussa, who narrowly lost 3-4 to Wassim Essid of Tunisia in the quarterfinal round of the first stage, returned to winning ways to pick the final ticket in the men’s singles of the qualification tournament.

To win the second stage of the qualifiers, Bouloussa defeated Saheed Idowu of Congo Brazzaville. (16-14, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4) to pick his maiden ticket to the Olympic Games.

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Nigeria all set for Olympic Day celebrations

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"Engaging in exercises promotes health fitness" Popoola highlights. Pictured is Nigeria's Tobi Amusan in the women's hurdles in Tokyo. GETTY IMAGES

Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Secretary General Babatunde Popoola says the committee, in collaboration with the Nigeria Sport For All Commission, is set for the country’s 2024 edition of Olympic Day celebration on 29 June.

Olympic Day is an annual international event that takes place in the month of June that is aimed at people of all ages and abilities to experience the magic of the Olympic Games in their own communities. Popoola says the event highlights the benefits of physical activity and for people to learn about Olympic values and practise them in their everyday life.

“Engaging in exercises promotes health fitness for individuals; jogging and walking burns calories, tones muscles, shapes your body and helps de-stress the mind.” NOC’s Secretary General stated. 

“Olympic Day has always been celebrated by NOC with fanfare nationwide and this year’s programme will not be an exception as many states are already preparing to organise the programme. 

“The states that have so far registered to participate are Anambra, Gombe, Taraba, Bayelsa, Imo, and Ondo, while others are still being expected to indicate their interest in the programme,” he continued.

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Opeyori becomes Nigeria’s first back-to-back qualifier as Badminton Olympic qualifiers are finalised

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Anuoluwapo Opeyori is one of the 173 badminton players who have qualified for a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. His qualification means that he is the first Nigerian player to qualify for two Olympic Games. He featured at the delayed Tokyo 2020 and will thus made a back-to-back appearance.

The list of qualifiers has been released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). This includes 166 regular quota places (83 men and 83 women), three universality places from the IOC Tripartite Commission (two men and one woman), plus an additional place for IOC Refugee Olympic Team athlete Dorsa Yavarivata,  whose participation was confirmed earlier this month in a special announcement by the IOC

Opeyori dominated Africa in the men’s singles from 2019 till date winning four African Championship titles and two African Games titles.

An elated Francis Orbih, President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN)  remarked on Saturday that Anuoluwapo Opeyori has broken the jinx in Nigeria badminton by making it to the Olympic Games in Paris.

Orbih said Opeyori’s qualification shows that the current leadership of BFN’s target of producing world class players is beginning to manifest.

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He revealed that BFN will leave no stone unturned in supporting the dreams and aspirations of the young players in making podium finishes.

Orbih said, “History has been made in badminton as Anuoluwapo Opeyori has secured a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with the release made by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

“I am excited and full of joy because Anuoluwapo Opeyori is the first Nigerian badminton player to feature in the men’s singles at the Olympic Games and also the first Nigerian to attend two Olympics and back to back.

“Three years ago, it was Dorcas Adesokan in the women’s singles and Opeyori with his partner Godwin Olofua in the men’s doubles that made it to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Today, Anuoluwapo Opeyori will represent Nigeria in the men’s singles; the leadership of BFN and Nigeria are proud of him”.

Orbih charged Anuoluwapo Opeyori not to relent but continue to train and attain top form ahead of the Olympic Games.

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He said, “I want to urge Anuoluwapo Opeyori to continue training hard for the Games; we are going to ensure he attends training tours before the Olympic Games”

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