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Premier League Matches Return Sets Lagos Agog

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It is no longer news that
Lagos used to be the Mecca of Nigeria football in the past due mainly to the number of clubs that once participated in the nation’s thriving league scene.
At the height of football splendour in Lagos, colourful sides like Stationery Stores FC, NEPA FC, ACB FC, Julius Berger FC and First Bank FC at one time or the order held their football fans spellbound with their magical displays.
But eventually the eminent status that Lagos had in Nigerian football petered out because of challenges culminating in poor performance that saw the high flying Lagos clubs relegated to the lower rung of the Nigerian league.
Fans hostilities during national football team matches and national league matches also aided in dousing the flame of football in the state.
Because of the unruly nature of the football fans, the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) now known as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), had to stage matches involving the Super Eagles in Port Harcourt and elsewhere.
The ensuing development gradually turned the National Stadium Surulere into a “Ghost Town’’ of sorts, in addition to the relegation of the once flamboyant clubs like Stationery Stores et al into obscurity.
But the impending campaign of Mountain of Fire and Miracle FC and Ikorodu United FC in the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League NPFL will no doubt reignite the passion for league football in Lagos.
It will be germane to note that football fans around the country are already re-cultivating the attitude of storming league matches to cheer their teams to victory.
As tge NPFL matches resume this month, opes are currently high among fans as they anticipate the re-emergence of league matches in football-starved Lagos ahead of the kick-off of the upcoming season in 2016.
The Chairman of Lagos State Football Association (LSFA), Seyi Akinwunmi, said that the promotion of the two Lagos sides to the NPFL would once more ignite league followership in the state.
Akinwunmi said that the remarkable development would spur the growth of grassroots football in the state, adding that LSFA would assist in preparing the clubs ahead of the new league season.
“I keep on telling people that if you allow me to jump and roll and scream, I will.
“This is because I have been hounded for the past four years by the press over the absence of Lagos clubs from the Nigeria Professional Football League.
“I told people that when the time comes, it will happen and it has happened in a big way and we’ve been proven right.
“The important thing is that Lagos clubs are prepared.
“When we were talking about that, all we wanted was for them to run the clubs properly.
“And as the season begins, we are going to do a lot in terms of preparing them.
“In terms of teaching the people about what to do and I am sure that football is back home,’’ he said.
In the same vein, a former Super Eagles midfielder, Friday Ekpo, said that the return of Lagos clubs to the Nigeria top league would spice up football in the state.
Ekpo, who plied his trade for the defunct Abiola Babes FC in the late 1980s, noted that it would redeem the image of football in Lagos.
“It is a great development and also good for football growth in Lagos. I vividly remember as a player, how fans usually troop out to watch league matches in the past.
“Football is back to its main arena and I know Lagos fans are happy with the development,’’ he said.
Nduka Ugbade, who played for the defunct Niger Dock FC of Lagos, said that the newly promoted teams should be given the much needed support to thrive in the league.
Ugbade said that the task ahead of the clubs went beyond gaining promotion to the NPFL, adding that the sustenance of the clubs in the league was vital.
“There was a time when we had more clubs from Lagos State in the league before everything went bad for most of the clubs.
“The promoted clubs will only remain in the league if they are adequately prepared and well funded.
“By so doing, more clubs from Lagos will gain promotion to the league and reignite passion for football in the state,’’ he said.
Also,  a board member of LSFA Falade Oyekan, said that the clubs’ promotion will boost football momentum in Lagos.
Oyekan said that it would also impact on the grassroots development of soccer, adding that the league had returned to its place of prominence.
“Lagos used to be the home of league football in the past and for a very long time we were starved because of the absence of clubs from Lagos.
“We are happy with this development and we know it will have positive impact on football in Lagos,’’ he said.
On the part of the teeming football fans in Lagos and its environs, expectations are high but the fans must learn to curb their unbridled exuberance and to make the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere a veritable Mecca for NPFL matches.
Ajayi writes for News Agency of Nigeria.

 

Kemi Ajayi

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CAF Mulls Super League Idea

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The Confederation of African Football [CAF] is discussing the idea of introducing an African Super League, a continental competition which would likely replace the current CAF Champions League and hopefully boost revenue for the organising body.
The revelation was made as CAF President Patrice Motsepe issued a statement outlining the changes and reforms the new leadership is making to ensure African football is globally competitive and self-sustaining.
The idea has taken shape even despite the disastrous European Super League [ESL] proposal earlier this year, which caused major controversy before being banned after most founding member clubs bowed to fan pressure and pulled out.
“ExCo [the CAF executive committee] may have to discuss and consider new CAF competitions which may generate additional funding or income for CAF, its member associations and bodies and also contribute to African football becoming globally competitive and self-sustaining,” Motsepe was quoted as saying by Tidesports source.
“In this regard, we are assessing and [are] in preliminary discussions to start an inclusive and broadly supported and beneficial CAF African Super League. We have been following the attempts by some top European clubs to form a Euro Super League and will learn from their experience and pitfalls.”
CAF is looking to boost income after recent forensic auditing revealed that the organisation has been beset by financial irregularities.

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NPFL: Rivers United’s Coach Praises Players

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The Chief Coach of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Ndubuisi Nduka, has praised his players after a 1-0 win over Katsina United FC in the match day 28 of the Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) in Port Harcourt.
He stated that his boys (players) gave all their best  to ensure they secured the maximum three points for the team, and described the encounter as very tough. 
Nduka, said this on Sunday, during a post match interview with sports journalists, after the Pride of Rivers, defeated their opponents  1-0, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
According to him, what made the match more difficult for his players was that they failed to utilise goal opportunities they created in the first half of the game.
The only goal of the game came in the 77th minute by home boy, Malachi Ohawume, who made his goals four for this league season.
“It was a tough game; I think our boys gave it all.
What made it more difficult for us was the chances we lost especially in the first half, “ Nduka said.
He explained that the second round of the league is always difficult because every team is fighting to be at top and some are fighting not to be relegated.
“At this point and time of the league, the second round, we are stretching to the finishing point.
“It is always difficult and if you remember the position of Katsina United, they are not safe so they are looking for where to pick points, so I gave kudos to my boys as they secured three points for us, “ he stated. 
Rivers United is now 4th on the log after 28 matches with 48 points.

By:  Kiadum Edookor

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Hockey Championship: Team Rivers’ Performance Excites Coach

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The Head coach of Team Rivers State, (female) hockey, Comfort Nya, has commended her players after they defeated team Edo, 3-1 in the ongoing, 2021 Mabisel National Hockey Championship (MNHC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 
She, described the match as one of the toughest games they have played, saying that the calibre of players she saw in the team Edo lineup was intimidating.
Nya said this on Monday in her post match interview with sports journalists, after their first victory in the championship, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports in Port Harcourt. 
According to her, their first game in the championship was difficult because of the heavy downpour, adding that they could not play well but today they are awesome.
“It was a tough one, honestly speaking I would not tell lies, and the players I saw in team Edo lineup are old and good players and my girls are just upcoming.
“I was thinking of draw or let them just play but with this result I am so happy with their performance, “Nya said. 
The coach further explained that their next outing will be against team Kaduna, they are going to do more better.
“Our first game was disturbed by heavy rainfall, they could not play well but today they have performed well.
“In our next game against team Kaduna, we are going to do better,” She stated..

By: Kiadum Edookor

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