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NFF, CAF Mourn Yekini

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The Nigeria Football Federation at the weekend expressed sadness and sorrow at the death of Nigeria’s record goalscorer Rashidi Yekini.

Yekini, who scored 37 goals in 58 appearances for the Super Eagles between 1983 and 1998, died after a brief illness in Oshogbo, Osun State on Friday.

In London, United Kingdom for the launching of a foundation by another former international, John Chukwudi Utaka, which took place yesterday, NFF President Aminu Maigari said that Yekini’s death was “very, very sad”.

By a mile the most outstanding striker Nigeria has ever produced, Yekini loomed large in 15 years of meritorious and unconditional service his to country, during which he won the Africa Cup of Nations gold, silver and bronze and played at two World Cups.

The country’s football family was thrown into tremendous shock as news filtered in on Friday evening about Yekini’s death, as the man kept completely away from the spotlight and would only relate to only a few people, and therefore details of his sickness were shrouded in secrecy.

Nicknamed ‘Goalsfather’, the lanky striker’s first major tournament for Nigeria was at the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire. He then played at the 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994 finals, his five goals in the 1994 tournament in Tunisia earning Nigeria the gold medal and trophy for only the second time.

His sterling all-round performance in 1993, which ensured Nigeria qualified for the World Cup for the first time, earned Yekini the African Footballer of the Year award in 1993. He was awarded the trophy inside the Hotel Abou Nawas, Tunis, on the margin of the Cup of Nations finals; the first to be organised by CAF.

In 1994, Yekini became the first Nigerian to score at the World Cup, when he connected a pass from Finidi George to put Nigeria in front against Bulgaria inside the Cotton Bowl, Dallas, United States of America.

Yekini also played for Nigeria at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, during which he scored Nigeria’s only goal in the tournament – in the 1-3 loss to Yugoslavia.

The Nigeria Football Federation was represented at his burial in Ira, Kwara State on Saturday by member of the Executive Committee, Barrister Olaleye Adepoju, Chairman of the Kwara State Football Association, Alhaji Busari Ishola, the Chairman of NFF Match Commissioners’ Appointment Committee and former Kwara FA Chairman, Chief Kunle Adesiyun, and the Executive Secretary of Nigeria National League Ayo Rahaman.

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Aiteo Cup: Diri Hails Bayelsa Finalists

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has lauded the feat of the state-owned football teams who reached the finals in the male and female categories of the 2021 Aiteo Cup.
Diri, while congratulating Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens for their outstanding performances, praised their indomitable spirit and resilience in surmounting the odds to qualify for the last stage of Nigeria’s oldest football competition.
Bayelsa United, who plays in the second tier Nigerian National League, on Friday defeated Premier League neighbours Rivers United 1-0 in the semi-finals, while Bayelsa Queens crushed perennial rivals Rivers Angels 5-0 to reach the women’s final.
The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, on Saturday, described Bayelsa United as “giant killers” for defeating Premier League sides Enugu Rangers, Lobi Stars and Rivers United on their way to the final.
“The excellent run of Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens in this year’s Aiteo Cup is very heartwarming. Both teams reaching the finals is no mean feat. I congratulate them for making the state proud and setting a record of teams from the state playing in the finals of the male and female categories of the same competition for the first time,” Diri stated.
“By their outstanding performance, Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens have shown that the sporting revolution of our Prosperity Administration, which resulted in Bayelsa placing third in the last National Sports Festival in Edo State for the first time, is on course. I therefore urge them to complete their excellent run in the competition by bringing home the trophies.

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D’Tigress To Play Mozambique In Afrobasket

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Nigeria’s senior basketball team, D’Tigress, have been drawn to face Mozambique and a yet to qualify team in Group B of the 2021 Women’s Afrobasket, which holds from September 17 to 27 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The draw was held in Yaounde last Saturday.
D’Tigress will be hoping to retain the title they won two years ago in Senegal, where they defeated the hosts in the final. A win in Cameroon will mean they have won the last three editions of the tournament.
The Nigerians will know their final group opponent when the FIBA Zone 6 qualifiers take place from August 16 to 22.
In Group A, hosts Cameroon will face Cape Verde and Kenya, while Senegal, the most successful team in the competition’s history with 11 first-place finishes, will slug it out with Egypt and Gabon in Group C.
Mali, Ivory Coast, and a team to be decided via wild card will fight for a slot in the next round in Group D.

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Ebonyi Football Fans Celebrate Nwankwo Kanu At 45

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Football fans in Ebonyi State yesterday, celebrated the birthday of formerNigerian international and Arsenal legend, Nwankwo Kanu.
The former Super Eagles skipper turned 45 yesterday.
Tidespoets source gathered  that the 1993 FIFA U-17 world cup winner, fondly called “Papillo’’ by his fans had 86 caps for Nigeria.
The former Iwuanyanwu Nationale Football Club of Owerri’s talisman scored 13 goals for Nigeria in an enviable career that spanned from 1994 to 2010.
Kanu is a recipient of the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), an Olympic Games football gold medalist and had illustrious club careers with Ajax Amsterdam of Holland, Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion of England.
Defunct Ebonyi Angels FC of Abakaliki Defender, James Onele, said that Kanu thrilled soccer fans across the world with sublime skills and trademark passes.
“Kanu won two African Footballer of the Year awards, an AFCON silver medal, four AFCON bronze medals among other honours.
“He was the first Nigerian, alongside Finidi George to win the prestigious UEFA champions league trophy with Ajax in 1995,” said Onele.
An Arsenal FC supporter, Ejike Okoro, said the club’s fans were proud of Kanu’s achievements during his time with the English Premier League side.
“Kanu played 197 times for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals and was part of the club’s invincible team that did not lose any match in the 2003-04 EPL season.
“He was instrumental in endearing Arsenal to millions of Nigerian soccer fans, despite later dropping to lowly-rated clubs such as Portsmouth and West Bromwich Albion,” Okoro said.
A banker and football enthusiast, Chief Barry Ogoh, told active footballers to emulate Papillo in investing adequately for the ‘rainy day’.
“Kanu, Augustine J.J. Okocha, among other ex-internationals are still financially stable as many ex-internationals have become bankrupt.

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