Rivers United FC of
Port Harcourt yesterday boosted their chances of effectively contesting for the spoils of 2016 Nigeria professional football league, NPFL, season after beating Shooting Stars Sports Club, 3SC in a week 27 encounter at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
It was the second game of a double header at the venue, where seven time champions, Enyimba International FC had edged four time winners and close rivals, Kano Pillars FC 2-1.
In an epic encounter that lived up to its classic billing, Enyimba and Pillars had thrilled spectators at the stadium with quality football that proved a good advertisement for the domestic league.
Enyimba had shot into the lead in the 10th minute of the game through Ifeanyi Anaemena only for Pillars to draw level barely 60 seconds later.
It became even exchanges local with exciting exchange of passes and pressure by both sides until the 73rd minute when Enyimba earned and converted a penalty kick to claim all the points at stake. They have now moved into fourth place on40 points with two games in hand.
For Rivers United, they had the privilege of being cheered by their number one supporter Chief Nyesom Wike, Executive Governor of Rivers State and most members of the state executive council for the first time their season.
As if motivated by the Governors presence, United moved in for the kill right from the blast of the whistle and was able to score two quick goals to go into recess on a comfortable note.
In the second half, a combination of near-misses and improved defending by 3Sc restricted them to half chances as they failed to add to their tally.
With the victory, Rivers United shot to the second position on the log with 44 points, two shy of leaders, Rangers International of Enugu.
Super Eagles’ Future Very Bright -Rohr
Nigeria national team coach, Gernot Rohr, believes that the Super Eagles have ‘good future’ after they played out a 1-1 draw against Brazil in last Sunday’s international friendly in Singapore.
The 66-year-old German tactician paraded a young team against the five-time world champions, following a spate of withdrawals by some of his experienced players, including Captain Ahmed Musa.
The team, however, gave a good account of themselves with Joe Aribo, making his second appearance for the Super Eagles, scoring the opening goal in the 35th minute before Casemiro’s second-half effort saved the South American champions from defeat.
The draw is the second in a row for the Brazilians after they were held by Senegal in last week’s friendly outing.
Rohr is impressed with the performance of his side but admitted the three-time African champions still have to improve.
“It was tough for us as the second game because Brazil would not have wanted to leave Singapore without winning, and it feels very good to know that we can play so well against some of the biggest names in football,” Rohr said in a post-match press conference.
“We didn’t have our best team here, but our wingers gave Brazil a lot of problems on the counter-attack and I am proud of our players. They can have a good future.
“We can still improve in defending set-pieces. We have height, with players as tall as two metres, but we have to be better in the air.
“It is not enough just to have good size, they need to jump well with good timing.”
Rohr believes African football is improving after both Nigeria and Senegal avoided defeat against the world number three.
“These results are good for African football when Senegal and Nigeria did not lose to Brazil, one of the strongest teams in the world,” he added.
Nigeria will hope to secure good results when they take on Benin Republic and Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games in November.
Federer Still After Elusive Olympic Gold
Roger Federer has confirmed he intends to play in next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo as he chases an elusive gold medal in the men’s singles.
The Swiss great, who turns 39 during the Games, is one of the sport’s most decorated players but he has never won the Olympic singles title.
Federer won silver at London 2012 after losing to Britain’s Andy Murray.
“At the end of the day, my heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again,” Federer said.
Federer, who missed Rio 2016 through injury, did win a gold medal at Beijing 2008 in the men’s doubles alongside Stan Wawrinka.
In the singles, 20-time Grand Slam champion, Federer finished fourth at Sydney 2000, lost in the second round at Athens 2004 and reached the quarter-finals in Beijing.
“I’ve been debating with my team for a few weeks now, months actually, what I should do in the summer after Wimbledon and before the US Open,” added Federer, ranked third in the world.
“I carried the flag twice for Switzerland in Athens and Beijing, I’ve got a gold and a silver, and I would love to play again, so I’m very excited.”
Minister Moves To Give National Stadium, Lagos Facelift
Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has embarked on a bid to give the National Stadium, Lagos a facelift.
Dare embarked on an inspection tour of the decaying edifice alongside Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Femi Hamzat at the weekend.
In a series of tweets, the sports minister is keen on refurbishing the sporting facility ‘to the glory it deserves’.
Built in 1961and expanded in 1972, the hallowed ground for Nigeria’s sporting glory hosted the 1973 All-Africa Games. On the ground, the country lifted her first Africa Cup of Nations title in 1980.
However, it has gone into disrepair since the Abuja National Stadium was constructed to host the 2003 All African Games.
The 2004 LG Cup Four Nations Tournament was the last football championship hosted inside the stadium’s main bowl. In the stadium, Senegal silenced Nigeria 1-0 thanks to Papa Khalifa Sangere’s 25th-minute strike to mark the country’s last outing at the imposing edifice popularly called sportscity.
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