Rivers State Director of Sports, Evangelist Ezekiel Ordu, has lauded Rivers athletes for making the State proud as they qualified in almost all the team sports, at the just concluded zonal elimination competition, in Asaba.
He stated that Team Rivers are the winners of the zonal elimination tournament following their impressive performance, as they are to represent the zone in six sports out of the nine sports they registered for the competition.
Evangelist Ordu made the commendation in an exclusive interview with Tidesports, shortly after they came back from Asaba, at the weekend, saying that the athletes are quite impressive.
The South South zonal elimination competition was held last week in Asaba, Delta State, he said pointing pointing e aim is to select team sports that will represent the zone, at the forthcoming 19th National Sports Festival (NSF), in Abuja, December this year.
Reacting to insinuations that there were crisis between management of the State Sports Council and athletes, Evangelist Ordu said there were no crises as been rumoured.
According to him, there were no serious issues apart from the fact that some athletes decided to rent hotel apartment on their own to enable them meet up competitions, as the camp was far from the competition venues.
“There were no serious issues apart from the fact some athletes demanded to be paid their allowances immediately after the competition, in Asaba, but they were told at the beginning that allowances will be paid in Port Harcourt, through their coaches, before the journey was made.
It was mostly Rivers athletes that came out mounting pressure on us to pay them immediately, in spite of the fact that they were told allowances will be in Port Harcourt, through their coaches “ Ordu said.
He used the opportunity to thank the State commissioner for Sports, Hon. Boma Iyaye for providing logistics for the zonal elimination as the director of sports further expressed confidence on the Team Rivers will be one of the top contenders in the NSF.
RSG Unveils Real Madrid FC Football Academy
Rivers State Government at the weekend unveiled the state-owned Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, which was constructed to promote professional football.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, while inaugurating the academy, also unveiled the ultra-modern football training facility.
This was done in the presence of officials of Real Madrid Football Club and Rivers Government at the occasion.
Makinde, while speaking, said the Academy would groom the next generation of stars.
He said: “this project will allow the early discovery and harnessing of football talents in Rivers.
“There has always been great football talents from Rivers. Great players like Taribo West, George Finidi and Joseph Yobo. This project will create more stars”
Makinde said sports remained one of the greatest unifying factors in Nigeria, adding that by developing the Real Madrid Academy, the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike was promoting national unity.
He commended Wike for his commitment to the development of Rivers State.
In his address, Governor Wike said the unveiling of the Real Madrid Academy was one of the happiest events of his life as it marked the beginning of a new football era.
“Today is one of the happiest days of my life. Today, our dream has come to fruition by the help of God,’’ he said.
The governor said the state government resolved to construct a school and hostel in addition to current facilities at the Academy.
Wike said that 70 per cent of the students of the Academy would be from Rivers, while other Nigerians would form 30 per cent of the school’s intake.
“The money used to execute this project is from Rivers State. Therefore, Rivers money is for Rivers people. Seventy per cent of the students will be indigenes of Rivers, while the remaining 30 percent will be from other states.
“All Rivers indigenes to be trained in the Academy will school here free of charge,’’ he said. Wike said the people of Rivers deserved the best, and this was why his administration was committed to initiating and executing quality projects for the people.
Area Manager of Real Madrid Foundation for Africa and Middle East, Inigo Vallejo, assured the state government that the club would continue to support the Academy’s sustained development. He said after series of engagement with Governor Wike on the Academy, the club has keyed into it and would help drive the project.
Women’s Olympic Qualifiers: Nigeria Advances, S’Africa Crashes Out
It was a hard-fought win in Lagos as Nigeria secured a 1-0 victory over Algeria in their Women’s Olympic qualifying encounter early this week.
A flash of individual brilliance from Asisat Oshoala was enough to ensure Thomas Dennerby’s ladies claimed a 3-0 aggregate win, courtesy a lone goal victory on Tuesday.
Ghana built on a 3-0 first-leg lead at Stade Augustin Monédan in Libreville as they earned a 2-0 win over Gabon in Accra.
With the second leg win at Accra Sports Stadium, the Black Queens have advanced to the third round on a 5-0 aggregate win.
At Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, Malawi crashed out of the qualifying series after a 3-0 defeat to Kenya.
The East Africans lost the first leg 3-2 but bounced back at home to secure a passage to the next round after a 5-3 win on aggregate.
In Harare, Zimbabwe failed to honour their second leg meeting with Zambia as players boycotted the tie in a protest over their unpaid allowances from the 2019 Cosafa Women’s Cup.
The unsavoury development saw the Shepolopolo, who won 5-0 in the first leg in Blantyre, advance to the next phase after getting a walkover against the Mighty Warriors.
Elsewhere, Cameroon were held to a 0-0 draw with Ethiopia in Yaoundé but they squeezed past the East Africans on the away goals rule after a 1-1 first-leg draw in Bahir Dar.
For DR Congo, they booked a ticket in the next round without kicking a ball following the withdrawal of Equatorial Guinea, having been expelled from the Tokyo 2020 Women’s Olympics by Fifa.
At Stade Mamadou Konate, Mali could not overturn their 3-0 first-leg deficit as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Cote d’Ivoire.
The result means the 2018 African Women’s Cup of Nations semi-finalists are out of the qualifying race after a 3-0 loss on aggregate.
In Soweto, South Africa became the biggest casualty of the second round as the 2019 Women’s World Cup side crashed out at the expense of Cosafa rivals Botswana.
Huge season in La Liga for Nigeria duo
With Europe’s major footballing leagues gearing up for the 2019/20 season – some of which have already started – the next few months will be a crucial period for two of Nigeria’s brightest stars.
For Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze, their performances in Spain will be closely scrutinised by all Nigerian football fans – and it is still uncertain what opportunities await this duo in La Liga this season.
Simon is probably the more settled of the two, as he embarks on a second season with Levante.
The Valencia-based club avoided relegation from Spain’s leading division last season, finishing 15th in the table and seven points clear of the dreaded drop zone.
The 24-year-old striker played 24 first-team matches for Levante during 2018/19 and is viewed as a long-term prospect at the club, having joined on a five-year deal.
Simon’s international career is also on an upslope having played in five of Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations matches during the summer – including the country’s narrow 1-0 victory over Tunisia in the third-place play-off match.
This made up, in some part, for his disappointment the previous year when he was named in Nigeria’s preliminary 30-man squad for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia. However, injury meant he was unable to make the final 23.
Simon’s chances of collecting silverware with Levante this season is highly unlikely and, according to La Liga betting, the club are currently 2,500/1 with bet365 to lift the title.
Once again their main target will be to finish inside the top 17, so escaping relegation to tier two.
Around 40 miles north of Valencia is Villarreal, where Chukwueze is also embarking on a second campaign in La Liga.
The 20-year-old winger enjoyed a successful debut campaign in 2018/19, having completed a promising season for the club’s ‘B’ team in the Spanish Third Division.
Chukwueze netted eight times for Villarreal in all competitions, including one in a 2-0 Europa League victory over Spartak Moscow in December.
He also scored the opener in their memorable 4-4 draw with Barcelona during April, when the Catalan giants rescued a point thanks to last-minute goals by Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Chukwueze went on to feature in six of Nigeria’s seven games at the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring the opening goal of their 2-1 win over highly-fancied South Africa in their quarter-final encounter in Cairo.
He had made his debut for Nigeria’s senior team on November 20th, 2018, when he was named in the starting line-up ahead of their 0–0 friendly draw against Uganda.
Chukwueze was later selected in Nigeria’s squad for the Under-20s World Cup but Villareal said he could not play in both this competition and the Africa Cup of Nations during the same close-season period.
As for his chances of winning a medal this forthcoming season; they are certainly better than Simon’s but still an unlikely prospect.
Villareal are ranked as the sixth-best bet for the La Liga title in 2019/20, rated 250/1 with bet365, but, once again, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid head the market by quite some distance.
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