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Pundits Allay Fears On Nigeria’s Friendly Losses

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Soccer pundits at the weekend in Lagos said that there was no cause for alarm in Nigeria’s two national teams’ losses recently in international friendly matches.

The Flying Eagles lost 0-1 to Rwanda in its preparation for the African Youth Championship (AYC) qualifier against Tanzania scheduled for July 29 in Dar-er-Salam.

The Falconets also lost 2-3 to Ghana in a tune-up match in preparation for FIFA U-20 female World Cup in September in Japan.

A sports analyst with Masters Sport International, Ejiro Omonode, said the matches were only to keep the two teams ready for the championships ahead.

“It is not by these matches we judge our teams, their friendly matches were just to test their skills and further sharpen their game plans to perfection.

“This showed that the two teams still need to work hard. The two competitions are not meant for unprepared countries. Every country in the two competitions is hungry for glory.

“So, my advice to their handlers is for them to use the loss to note areas they need to seriously work on,” Omonode said.

An ex-international, Okey Emordi, urged Nigerians not to allow the two losses to bother them, rather they should see them as challenges.

Emordi described the losses as wake up calls, saying he believed that the losses would tune up the teams.

“The handlers of the two teams should wake up to their responsibilities, the two Nigeria sides are well exposed; there is no ordinary opposition anymore.

“They should use these two losses to know that they are not invincible,” Emodi added.

Ex Super Falcons player, Okunwa Igunbor, however, said that the two teams’ losses proved that there was still more work to do.

“We cannot be losing to teams we should beat easily. Although the Ghanaian national female opposition is always a tough opposition, we still have that edge as African champions over them.

“This just proved that the teams need to work harder because we cannot afford to lose in the Africa qualifying competition having lost the Olympics tickets,” Igunbor said.

Igunbor, however, added that since FIFA does not use friendly matches to rate teams, Nigerians should not see the losses as set back.

She added that notwithstanding, the handlers of the two teams should not rest on their oars and must be well prepared for the international competitions ahead.

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‘I Can Discover Ballon d’Or Winners In Nigeria’

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Ex-Nigeria international Usman Abdallah has declared that he can help the country groom future Ballon d’Or winners if he is handed the U20 job.
Abdallah, who led Enyimba to win the 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League and a Confederation Cup semi-final finish, is favourite to replace Paul Aigbogun for the Flying Eagles’ head coach role.
His outstanding CV features a Uefa A license, a degree in football coaching and team management (France) and a Strength and Conditioning level 1 coaching certificate in Australia.
According to reports, the Nigeria Football Federation will announce the Franco-Nigerian in the coming days, a claim the tactician is unsure of when quizzed by newsmen.
“Just like every other person, I applied for the job but I’m yet to get confirmation if I was picked or not.
“Nigeria is my country and it will be nice if I eventually get this role because it will be a big chance to serve. Also, I have what it takes to discover future Ballon d’Or winners for the country.
“Without sounding immodest, I strongly believe that I will excel in this position not only because of my wealth of experience but because of my closeness to grassroots football.
“As I have always said, this level deserves a lot of serious work because players picked at this level form a pivot of future Super Eagles,”he told newsmen.
After a failed expedition at the 2019 Fifa U20 World Cup in Poland, Nigeria will be hoping to qualify for Indonesia 2021 through the Africa U20 Cup of Nations scheduled for Mauritania.

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Champions, Europa Leagues Finals Likely For August

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The Champions League and Europa League look increasingly likely to be played exclusively in August after more talks about the remainder of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday.
Uefa told the 55 associations on Tuesday there was still the possibility of the competitions being played throughout June, July and August.
But Tidesports source understands that the latest discussions revolved almost exclusively around a plan to complete the domestic leagues by 31 July, with European competition following after that.
Nothing definitive has been agreed but Uefa is keen to leave all options on the table for as long as possible given the general uncertainty across Europe and in the knowledge there is no guarantee the season will be finished.
However, there is a view that travel restrictions are more likely to have eased in August, which would be necessary for a cross-border competition.
The scenario envisaged would be for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the respective European competitions to be played as two-legged ties between 11 and 22 August, although these could yet become one-off games.
In the plans now being discussed, there would be some flexibility for domestic fixtures to be played in August, should a July conclusion prove impossible.
The Premier League has nine rounds of fixtures remaining but in Spain and Italy, two countries that have been badly affected, there are still 11 and 12 rounds left respectively – although both have fewer cup games to fit into their schedules.
Uefa hopes the situation will become clearer in the next fortnight but completing the season in this way would cause the least disruption to its qualification competition for the 2020-21 season, which was supposed to start at the end of June but has been delayed indefinitely.

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S’Eagles’ll Miss Mikel, Ighalo -Etebo

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John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo would remain a big miss for Nigeria, concedes Oghenekaro Etebo, with the Super Eagles still coming to terms with their retirement.
After the Super Eagles clinched third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the duo drew the curtains on their international careers.
Mikel, 32, was the first to bow out before Egypt 2019 top scorer Ighalo followed the path of the former Chelsea star.
Coach Gernot Rohr is prepared to put faith in the likes of Joe Aribo, Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen as replacements for the duo.
The Getafe man said it was clear that the three-time African kings would miss Mikel and Ighalo for their leadership attributes, but believes Osimhen can fill the vacuum left by the Manchester United striker.
“They are leaders who we are going to be missed in the dressing room,” he stated.
“Mikel was a leader; I recall how he helped us during the Olympics when we had issues during our preparations for the Games. Not because I played with him but for the impact he had on me as a player.
“They helped the team make vital decisions during tough times and I guess it was just time for them to move on.
“Ighalo on his part is a goal poacher that we also miss but thank God that we have another goal poacher in [Victor] Osimhen, but we have to be patient with him to settle in well into that role.”
After the coronavirus pandemic, Rohr is expected to begin life without the retired players as Nigeria would be hoping to qualify for the 2021 Afcon billed for Cameroon.

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