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Amodu Explains Choice Of Players To Face Tunisia

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Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu has taken the unusual step of explaining the reasoning behind his omission of certain players for next month’s 2010 World Cup qualifier against Tunisia in Abuja.

Although reaction to his current squad has been less vitriolic than the past, Amodu has seen his non-selection of Obafemi Martins criticised, as well as his inclusion of John Utaka and Obinna Nwaneri.

“No national team list can be comprehensively correct. We expect criticism whenever we release a team list. We listen to that criticism and take it into consideration when we draw up the next list. In this case, I will say that overall the reaction has been good.”

The exclusion of Martins has raised the most eyebrows, but Amodu explains: “In drawing up this list, Martins was in my head throughout. But I also considered that he had just joined a new club and would need time, not only to settle down, but also to change his orientation from the English style to the German style.

“I tried to call him, but his phone was turned off. I then sent someone to Germany to see him and Ogbuke with instructions to call me up on the phone so I could speak to them. I spoke with Ogbuke, but the day the person was to go to Martins’ club, he said he was travelling to Italy to see his doctor. What that told me was that he was either not ready psychologically to be part of this team, or he was not fully fit and needed time to recover before joining us.

“After we came out with the list, he called me and said he wanted to play. I asked him if he was fit, and if I called him up between then and Monday, if he would come. He said he was ready to get on a flight and join up as soon as he is called.

“I considered including him, but at the same time I recalled that we had written to his club when he joined them, congratulating them on signing him and informing them that he was one of our key players.

“We also told them that we would like to give him some time to settle in before we called him up. So I decided that it was better to let him stay, and then call him for the next one, when he would be raring to go.”

Amodu also explained the thinking behind the selection of Nwaneri and Utaka, saying: “We tried to strike a balance, to pick two players for each position. After the initial plotting, we saw we had two deficiencies, one in attack and one in central defence.

“Our options in central defence were Sodje, Shittu and Nwaneri. At the moment, Sodje is still trying to sort his club position out and we need him to focus on that. Shittu is almost in the same position, but we tried to reach him to ascertain if he was in the right frame of mind to play. We could not reach him on the phone, and he did not respond to emails. Nwaneri, on the other hand, was in contact with us throughout, and we decided to pick him.

“In attack, it was between Utaka and Akpala. Akpala’s commitment cannot be faulted. In fact, I can guarantee it. But we also needed someone who was versatile and experienced for such a crucial match. Utaka can play on the right, in the centre and in the midfield, so we decided to go with him.”

Amodu added that he was confident he had the players to claim all three points on the day, suggesting that he did not expect to leave the stadium with a job if he failed to win

“We are focused on winning that match. If we don’t win, I may be sacked on that day. So it is important for me to take the decisions that will see us qualify for the World Cup.”

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Finidi George Begins  Tenure On A Winning Note

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Super Eagles legend Finidi George began his tenure as the coach of Enyimba Football Club of Aba on a winning note.
The former Nigerian international was appointed as the coach of Nigeria’s most successful club, Enyimna FC last month, and he could not have hoped for a better start.
Finidi had revealed in his press conference that he was at the club to win, and that was what he did in his first match in charge.
The former Real Betis winger led his boys to a 1-0 win over ASC Diambars in the first leg of their second round qualifying match of the CAF Confederations Cup in Senegal.
It was not an easy victory, though, as Enyimba had their goalkeeper to thank for making vital saves to keep the away side in the game.
Substitute Cyril Olisema’s late penalty ensures the Peoples Elephants go into the second leg in Aba with a slight advantage.
It was Enyimba’s first game in the competition after they were drawn in the first qualifying round. Finidi will now hope his side can finish the job at home and seal a place in the playoff round.

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‘I Remain One Of Africa’s Best Strikers’

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Former Super Eagles striker, Yakubu Aiyegbeni believes he ranks among the best strikers out of Africa.
Tidesports source reports that Aiyegbeni sits fifth on the list of all-time African goalscorers in the Premier League with 95 goals, just behind Togolese striker, Emmanuel Adebayor’s 97 for Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Crystal Palace.
The Nigerian featured for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn Rovers over a nine-year period, and believes his record stacks up favourably considering his club’s comparatively lower standings.
“I’ll still remain one of the top strikers from Africa, no matter if those guys score more than 100 goals,” he said. “Don’t forget they played for some of the biggest clubs in England.
“To score 15, 17 goals in Portsmouth, Middleborough, Everton and Blackburn is big as well. If you can get 15 goals in a season as a striker in England, it’s a great season for you.
“For me, it’s an honour to score that many goals. I got injured and didn’t play for one year. If I had, I would have scored more than 100. I had chances to do it, but the time was right for me to leave, so I went to China.”
As for current players, Manchester City’s Algeria international, Riyad Mahrez (67), sixth on the list, and Arsenal’s Gabonese striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (66), seventh, still have some way to go to trouble the top five.

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Whyte Ogbonda Satisfied With Team’s Performance

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Manager of Osun Babes Whyte Ogbonda has commended his players’ performance at the on going 2021 edition of the Flying Officers Cup Tour name ng and tasked them to be more determined when they face Royal Queens in their next encounter.
Ogbonda made the commendation during a telephone chat with Tidesports at the weekend.
The Ogbonda led side played a goalless draw against Bayelsa Queens on Fridau to book a place in the quarters finale of the major Women Football preseason Championship in Africa.
According to the former Ibom Angels manager, rhe game against Bayelsa Queens was a great test and it really helped them(Osun Babes FC), as they continue to build a team for the new season.
“Truly, our preparation was not ideal before now, but I told my players before the match that it is very important that we go past the first round and qualify for the next round.
‘It was very tough out there and you could see that we needed to work together more because at times we were pushed beyond limits.
‘We are happy to be in the next round of this tournament and with more hard work, I believe we will get better as a team.”
Osun Babes will play in the quarter-finals against Royal Queens Today at the Area 10 Sports Complex, Abuja.

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