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Our Olympic qualifier against Banyana Banyana is fight to finish vow Super Falcons –

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Our Olympic qualifier against Banyana Banyana is fight to finish vow Super Falcons -

Spectators who will troop into the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday are guaranteed a game for the vintage memory as nine-time African champions Nigeria and reigning champions South Africa clash in a highly explosive and no-holds-barred encounter with the Olympics ticket at stake.

 

Both countries, with stellar talents in the women’s game, are arguably among the best in the world at the moment, and a terrific advertising of the best of women’s football is at hand as from 5pm Nigeria time.

 

The Super Falcons were Africa’s best team at last year’s FIFA World Cup, but the Banyana Banyana were not far behind as they also made it to the Round of 16 in Down Under.

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To underscore their seriousness about giving the Super Falcons a good fight for the ticket, the delegation of Banyana Banyana to the encounter arrived in Abuja on Sunday, and have been training for the big match since that day.

 

On Monday, the South African High Commission started active mobilization of South Africans living in Nigeria to come and support the reigning African champions.

 

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On Wednesday, NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi called on residents of Abuja and environs, and even in the neighbouring States, to storm the MKO Abiola Stadium in their thousands to cheer the Falcons to victory.

 

The above means that a sizeable crowd is guaranteed inside Nigeria’s largest football temple on Friday evening.

 

Coach Randy Waldrum is most likely to stick to his tested-and-trusted World Cup rearguard, including goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie and defenders Michelle Alozie and Osinachi Ohale. In the absence of the injured Oluwatosin Demehin and Ashleigh Plumptre, Alozie could move to left back to give returnee Chidinma Okeke the space on the right, with youngster Shukurat Oladipo likely to pair Osinachi in the centre.

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Hard-as-nails Halimatu Ayinde and Christy Ucheibe will spearhead the midfield, with Captain Rasheedat Ajibade and the slippery Deborah Abiodun providing the guile and flamboyance. Uchenna Kanu, Esther Okoronkwo, Jennifer Echegini, Rinsola Babajide, Gift Monday, Asisat Oshoala and the returnee Chiwendu Ihezuo are all options in the attack.

 

For sure, Coach Desire Ellis also has dependable weapons in her armoury, not least of them the nimble-footed Thembo Kgatlana, as well as Jermain Seoposenwe, both based in Mexico. There’s also the crafty Hildah Magaia, as well as midfielders Linda Motlhalo, Jane Refiloe and Nomvula Kgoale.

 

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“We want our people to come to the stadium and support us. The Super Falcons do not fear any team. With their support, we will play with total confidence and overcome,” said goalkeeper Nnadozie.

 

The return leg will take place at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Tuesday evening.

 

 

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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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Olympics

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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