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Nigerian Football

Rookie Ejike Ugochukwu Dreaming Big With Enugu Rangers  –

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Rookie Ejike Ugochukwu Dreaming Big With Enugu Rangers  -

BY HARRY IWUALA.

 It may be his first season in the top league but Ejike Ugochukwu has been quite outstanding in the defensive midfield position which has hugely contributed to Enugu Rangers competitive run in the 2023/2024 season of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL).

For the opportunity to be part of a potentially successful season for the Flying Antelopes,  Ugochukwu is full of appreciation for the coaches, management, and his teammates for the good run thus far which he is attributing to discipline, determination and hard work in the team.

The gifted midfielder joined Rangers from Uyo based F.C One Rocket where he was the captain and in a chat with Rangers Media, spoke glowingly about the squad which he said is in perfect shape to end the season amongst the top finishers.

For him, a major plank in their impressive performance has been the motivation they enjoy from the club management and the savvy approach to matches by the coaching crew led by Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu. Before FC One Rocket, Ugochukwu had stints with amateur side, F.C Betel in Lagos.

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In a tribute to his team mates on how he has been made to speedily integrate in the first team. Ugochukwu, said, “I am thankful to God for making my coming to Rangers a success and I also would want to thank my team mates for making it possible for me to adapt to the playing philosophy of the club. It has been success all the way.”

For a player who just moved from the lower league to the NPFL,  Ugochukwu has been a ground breaker, starting and completing all 90 minutes in 24 of the 27 fixtures played so far.

He also considers wearing the Rangers badge a privilege,  noting that “Playing top-flight football with a club like Rangers is the best thing to have happened to my career. I owe a lot to the management, coaches, and players I met in the team for allowing me to exhibit my God-given talent even though, it has not been an easy task.”

Asked to evaluate his side’s chances of clinching another league title six years after their first win in 32 years, Ugochukwu who hails from Oji-River in Enugu State, declared,  “I believe that we have all it takes to be crowned champions but we are taking the matches one at a time as there are no two matches that are the same”.

“We respect every team in the premiership but we don’t fear any. I believe that with the discipline, determination, and hard work from everybody in our team, I am very optimistic that we will end the season well.”

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A match he would want to forget is the home game against  Kwara United, which he considers as “one of the hardest I featured in and not being at my very best. I regret the missed opportunities in that fixture that ended goalless”.

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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