The CSK Moscow player,
Ahmed Musa, 21, lost words in describing how happy he was at contributing two goals in Super Eagles 2-3 loss to Argentina in the ongoing World Cup in Brazil.
The loss still took the African champions to the Round of 16 of the tournament.
Musa, Born on October 14, 1992 in the Plateau capital, Jos, expressed his joy at a post match news conference at the end of the last Group F game, at the Estadio Beira-Rio, in Porto Alegre.
Responding simply to a comment that as the most criticised player in Nigeria, what his feelings were realising that his contribution had stood him out, he said: “I am happy I have proved my critics wrong”.
Part of the criticisms was that Musa in many cases would always out run his opponents only to fail to create chances or fail to properly utilise chances created for him to score goals.
But on a day that mattered most, against Argentina in order to qualify for the Round of 16, Musa rose to the occasion for the first time.
He slotted two vital goals that set the country toward almost breaking the jinx of getting past Argentina in a World Cup.
His equalising goal in the fourth minute after Lionel Messi scored in the third minute forced Argentina to temporarily slow down their attack.
“It was a win-win situation for both Argentina and Nigeria,’’ whipped Duro Ikhaziagbe, a Lagos-based journalist who is in Brazil to cover the World Cup as players and fans of both countries ended up back slapping each other.
“This is the third time Musa will make the Eagles’ squad against Argentina, two of which were in friendly games.
“On two of the previous games, he failed to lift, but had reserved the best for the last — in a World Cup situation — with the crucial goals that helped the Eagles to make the round of 16’’.
Another, Nigerian journalist, Munini Alao, the General Manager of Complete Sports also in Brazil to cover the Mundial, used the occasion to acknowledge the sterling contributions of the player.
Alao apologised to the player and Nigerians that he had once been one of the critics of Musa.
“Accept my apologies,’’ Alao said, a rare gesture from a journalist.
“The Argentines have always beaten us at the FIFA World Cup, though narrowly each time.
“We also need to show our true strength as the champions of Africa,” Aminu Maigari, President of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) had told the players before the match.
Nigeria met Argentina first at USA ’94 World Cup, losing 1-2 in Boston on June 25, 1994, and was again pipped 1-0 courtesy of a Gabriel Batistuta goal in Ibaraki, Japan on June 2, 2002.
When both sides met in South Africa four years ago, an early goal by Gabriel Heinze condemned the Eagles to a 1-0 defeat.
However, at the Olympic Games, the story was not the same, in Atlanta ’96 in the U.S., Nigeria beat them to the gold medal — a victory that left the Argentines flustered for many years.
Argentina U-23 team to the 2008 Olympic Games in China had evened-up the Olympic record with 1-0 victory over Nigeria at the final.
However, it is sweet to recall fond memories of the 4-1 defeat the Eagles handed down to Argentina in a friendly in Abuja on June 1, 2011.
But importantly, the 3-2 defeat by the U-23 team that gave Africa the first Olympic football gold in Atlanta, 18 years ago.
However, in the match in Porto Alegre, the Argentines were more or less “playing having entered Brazil, its neighbours.
The Argentines fans had occupied every available space and virtually drowning the voices of a pockets of Nigerian fans that managed to traverse almost 10 hours across the Atlantic Ocean, to be part of their national team’s outing at the quadrennial soccer extravaganza.
Musa deserved his pay. Indeed, he earned it through hard work., utilising his chance off a pass by the now injured, Michael Babatunde to send a solid strike that stretched the Argentine goalkeeper who dived full length but failed to stop the goal from going past him.
The player, who is 1.70 metres tall and currently weighs 62 kg, began his football career in 2008 and now plays a striking role in PFC CSKA Moscow.
However, it was Musa, Emmanuel Emenike and Peter Odemwingie playing up were instrumental to the Eagles’
Eguavoen, Lawal Call For Better Pitches Across Nigeria
The Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Austin Eguavoen, and former Super Eagles midfielder, Garba Lawal, have lauded the new pitch of the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, venue of the ongoing Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Football Tournament in Lagos.
The duo, who spoke on the sidelines of the competition, want the stadium’s turf, which was constructed by Monimichelle Group, replicated across Nigeria.
“I remember playing in this stadium in the 1980s, but you can’t compare then and now because the turf is now completely refurbished, well planned with a great synthetic pitch of FIFA standard. We thank the government of Lagos State for this effort and we want more of this in different locations so that we can develop our football,” Eguavoen said.
Tidesports source reports that the former Super Eagles coach also commended the organisers of the Aisha Buhari Cup, saying it was a good test for the Super Falcons.
“I congratulate the person who came up with this idea. The organisation is very smooth, but it is quite unfortunate that all the teams will not play with each other. They are confined to play only two matches each according to the FIFA rules and regulations. But it is a good test for our girls and it affords Lagos residents the opportunity to see other countries play. It will be nice for our football if we can see more of this. It is a wonderful innovation.”
Another ex-international, Garba Lawal, said he would also like to see pitches like the one at the remodelled Mobolaji Johnson Arena turf across Nigeria.
“The pitch is fantastic, superb. The contractor did an excellent job and it is a good atmosphere for players to showcase their skills. I want to see more of this across Nigeria to fast track our football development,” Lawal stated.
Ministry Will Reward Paralympians – Edoreh
Athletes, who represented the country at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics have been promised rewards for their exploits at the games.
Speaking with newsmen, para-sports promoter and former Chairman, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (Lagos State Chapter), Fred Edoreh, said the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development was working on rewarding them.
Tidesports source reports that the paralympians, who came back from Tokyo with 10 medals – four gold medals, one silver medal, and five bronze medals, demanded that they be treated like the olympians.
At the olympics, Blessing Oborududu and Ese Brume got instant cash rewards of $10,000 and $7,500 respectively after winning silver and bronze medals respectively.
“I will advise the athletes to just exercise some patience. The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, is hugely committed to the welfare of our para-athletes and it is not imaginable for him to disregard them nor discriminate against them nor renege on the promise of government. They all will remember how the minister used his initiative to provide for the welfare of the athletes during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 without anybody prompting,” Edoreh said.
“I am aware that while in Tokyo the Chef de Mission met with the athletes and assured them that they would be rewarded with the same amount of money as was promised and given to their olympic counterparts.”
He also added that the ministry didn’t want the athletes to go through the stress of changing their money from different currencies.
“The government meant well by not sending the money to them in Tokyo because the Japanese government would have insisted on receiving it in Yen and then they would convert back to dollars, before exchanging to Naira. All that would have reduced the value for them.
“Besides, the ministry would normally wait for the games to end to be able to ascertain the number of medalists.
and how much requisition to make for the reward,” he added.
Sports Minister Pledges Support For Tennis Youngsters
Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, has promised to put the Yakubu sisters, Oiza and Ohunene, and Marylove Edwards on the ministry’s sponsorship list and also reach out to the governors of Oyo and Ekiti states to send the two most outstanding junior tennis talents in the country, Ganiyu Mubarak (Oyo) and Seun Ogunsakin (Ekiti) to tennis academies abroad.
Dare stated this after watching the junior players wow the crowd at the maiden Sapetro Futures Tennis Championship at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.
Tidesports source reports that Edwards, 16, and Oiza, 16, are already ranked No.2 and No.5 in the seniors, and have been precluded from playing in the ITA Junior Tennis Circuit.
Dare, who watched Ohunene, 13, overcome the spirited challenge from 14-year-old Success Ogunjobi to win the Girls 16s event 9-2, commended the partnership between the sponsors Sapetro and the International Tennis Academy adding, “This sponsorship, if it continues, will have tremendous impact on the development of tennis in Nigeria.”
The minister’s wish was immediately granted by the Vice Chairman of Sapetro, Senator Daisy Danjuma, represented by the company’s General Manager, Finance, Amos Garga.
Also at the event was former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odein Ajumogobia.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the matches,” Ajumogobia said. “I’m amazed at the skill level of these junior players. If we can find a way to send the best 10 to academies abroad, Nigeria will make significant impact in the tennis world in the near future.”
Seun Ogunsakin had turned his match against Damilare Awe from Oyo State in the Boys 14s into an exhibition of his prodigious talent as he completely overran his opponent 9-0, while Mubarak, 14, promoted to play the 16s, met the expectation of the organisers by beating his older opponent Basit Ajao from Lagos 9-6.
In the other finals, Khadijat Mohammed (Abuja) beat Mary Iorlumun (Benue) 9-1 to win the Girls 14s; Ndidi Osaji (Lagos) defeated Vanessa Inyang (Lagos) 9-7 in the Girls 12s. Onyekachi Ogumjiofor (Oyo) triumphed over Seyi Ogunsakin (Ekiti) 9-3 in the Boys 12s and Murewa Egbeyemi (Lagos) continued his domination of an emerging rival with Malcolm Osaji (Lagos) winning 9-4 in the Boys 10s event.
The Sapetro Futures Championship is now part of the ITA Junior Tennis Circuit, which provides the platform for juniors from all over the nation to showcase their talents.
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