It was with mixed reactions that soccer buffs in Nigeria welcomed the rating of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) as the strongest in Africa.
The International Federation History and Statistics (IFHHS) in a recent report ranked the league as number one in Africa and 24th worldwide.
While some noted that it had properly situated the position of the league in Africa, others said that it left gaps which the organisers could work on to put it among the top 20 best leagues.
Spokesman for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Ademola Olajire said that the federation was happy with the rating.
“We are happy that the little we are doing is being appreciated; it means that we have to strive to make it bigger,’’ he said.
Mitchell Obi, the Vice-Chairman of Mastersports International, a Lagos-based sports marketing outfit, said the rating merely showed the NPL as the most competitive in Africa.
He said that from the current placement on the league table, it was obvious that the competition among the top five teams in the league had been tough.
“Even the previous champions, Enyimba is not certain of their final placing.
“The current league leaders are also uncertain of the eventual outcome of the league as they are locked in a tough competition to win the league.
“Indeed, any mistakes among them can trigger drastic changes in position among the top five frontrunners,’’ he said.
However, Obi said that the rating had not really added real value to the league.
“There are a lot to be done to improve the quality and content of the league; it is not yet paying its way.
“The league has yet to attract sponsors; it has yet to fill the spectator stands. It should be able to have good commercial padding as well as offer a variety to the viewing public,’’ he said.
Obi said that the league should also be in a position to provide a retirement opportunity for the country’s top flight players after their careers in big leagues abroad.
He contended that the only good thing about the league was that it was now being played in quality pitches across the country, with a measure of quality officiating.
“There is some hope for improvements in future,’’ he said.
Joe Erico, a former Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles, described the rating as a plus to the NPL as they were achieving what they set out to do.
“Our league is one of the best in Africa, no doubt about that. I am not surprised that we are rated as the strongest; we are very passionate about the sport and we try to make the best out of it.
“We pray that we grow from strength to strength, and one day we will be rated one of the best in the world.
“I would say here that we should work more on the day to day running of the league as it would help us to improve in our performance,’’ he said.
The General Manager of 3SC of Ibadan, MutiuAdepoju, said that the NPL’s ranking as the most competitive was a good encouragement to strive for the best.
“This goes a long way to show that the league is strong, and we should continue to strive for the best and not relent in our efforts.
“But we still need to improve in our performance, most especially in the African Championships and other major events,’’ he said.
Tokyo 2020: Nigerian Wrestlers Are Medal Hopefuls -Coach
National wrestling coach Akuh Purity, has stated that Nigerian wrestlers going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have real medal chances this time, compared to the 2016 Olympics with less than a month to the games in Tokyo.
Purity, speaking in a chat with Tidesports source stressed that better exposure and competition experience already put the Nigerian wrestlers as medal prospects.
He added that the wrestlers had actually competed against the very best in the world in the run-in to the Tokyo Olympics and have an idea of almost whatever anyone of the top guns will offer.
Ex-D’Tigers Player Becomes NBA Head Coach
Former D’tigers player Ime Udoka has been appointed the new coach for Boston Celtics in the NBA.
Udoka had been considered a front-runner for the job, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last Friday that Udoka was among the candidates who received second interviews.
Udoka, 43, spent seven years on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio, including the 2013-14 season, when the Spurs won the NBA title.
He joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 and was with the Nets last year.
Udoka was a member of the Nigerian national team, for whom he played at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
B/Volleyball: Nigeria Defeats Kenya In Olympic Qualifiers
Nigeria beat Kenya 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-13) in the golden match to record their first win in the men’s category of the Tokyo Beach Volleyball Olympic Qualifiers in Morocco.
Nigeria Team A (Obayemi Ogunshina and Hilary Simon) lost to Kenya Team B 0-2 (15-21, 13-21) in the first encounter before Nigeria Team B consisting of Emenike Ezike and Emmanuel Chidebere defeated Kenya Team A (21-16, 21-16) in the second encounter.
The head coach of Nigeria beach volleyball team, Francis Imoudu commended the players for putting all their effort against Kenya.
Imoudu stated that Kenya gave Nigeria a good fight but the better side won the game.
He said, “This win is an indication that the men’s team is ready for their remaining opponents. I must commend the fighting spirit of the team because bookmakers had given the game to the Kenyans but we shocked Africa.
“Kenya is a good side but Nigeria did not show them any respect on the court. We will take each game as they come and all we need is the support of Nigerians home and abroad for these boys to succeed”.
Reacting to the victory, the Chairman Caretaker Committee of Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Engineer Musa Nimrod lauded the players for recording their first win of the beach volleyball Olympic qualifiers.
He said the Federation will continue to support the team adding that the players should show no respect to their remaining opponents in the qualifiers.
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