Ebonyi, State Governor, David Umahi and other soccer fans in the state yesterday congratulated Enugu Rangers FC for winning the 2018 AITEO Cup (formerly known as Challenge Cup).
Umahi, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Uzor, said the victory, which he described as lovely, was for all Igbo citizens.
The governor, who is the Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum noted that the cancelling of a three-goal deficit by Rangers had further rejuvenated the fighting spirit of the Igbos.
The Tidesports source reports that Rangers defeated Kano Pillars FC, 4-2 on penalties after cancelling Pillars 3-0 lead in the final played at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on Wednesday.
The victory, which is Rangers sixth triumph in the 73-year-old competition, saw the club going home with N25 million prize.
Rangers, which last won the cup in 1983, will represent the country in the 2019 CAF Confederation Cup final.
Umahi said: “Such fighting spirit has propelled the Igbos to excel in various endeavours.
“The victory testifies that they have bounced back to their rightful place in the nation’s polity,” he said.
Umahi urged the team not to be complacent but approach future challenges, especially in the CAF confederation cup, with utmost dedication, to make the zone proud.
“I, however, promise Ebonyi soccer fans that such news would soon emanate from the state as its teams would be participating once again in national football competitions.
“Our robust grassroots sport development policies would ensure that only talented and professionally-minded footballers are recruited into the teams.”
Mr Charles Akpuenika, the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, also commended Rangers for the victory and urged their fans to continuously offer unwavering support to the club.
“Rangers is an institution in the Igbo race and this victory, coming after a long time, has brought tremendous joy and hope to the entire race.
“The disbandment of the two Ebonyi-owned football teams by the preceding government made fans lose touch of such fanfare but we assure that the teams will soon bounce back,.
This is courtesy of the sports-loving Gov. David Umahi,” he said.
James Nwaneri, a soccer historian and Rangers fan, said his joy knew no bounds with the victory having witnessed all the botched attempts by the team to win the cup since 1983.
“The 1990 final against the disbanded Stationery Stores of Lagos was most painful, because Rangers dominated the match but lost on penalty kicks.
Mrs Stella Ngwu, a businesswoman and an Enugu indigene, noted that the victory was a further confirmation of the luck attracted to the team by the Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led administration.
“Under Ugwuanyi administration, Rangers won the Nigerian premier league in 2016 after its last triumph in 1984 and won the AITEO cup in 2018,”she said.
Infantino Reveals How Nigeria Can Host FIFA Competitions
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino last Thursday, in Abuja, revealed how Nigeria can be made a destination for top Grade A football matches and FIFA competitions.
Infantino gave the insight when the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare took him on a tour of the renovated main bowl of the MoshoodAbiola National Stadium.
The FIFA boss, who was visibly happy with the re-grassed pitch at the stadium, said well-maintained stadia with good pitches were key to hosting grade A matches.
He said FIFA was ready to work more closely with Nigeria to develop the game and host more grade A matches in the country.
“We (FIFA) have to make sure when a country, when a government with the President, the minister and private persons are investing in football, in stadia, we work with them to give something back.
“It’s obvious that stadiums like this (MoshoodAbiola stadium) and others in Nigeria deserve the best quality games.
“They deserve top national team games, top club games and it’s not just about Nigerian football or African football, it’s about global football.
“We are working together to see what kind of new opportunities, competitions we can bring for men and women to fill this stadium and make the heart of the stadium beat for the fantastic spectacle that all of the Nigerian love, which is football,” he said.
Earlier, the minister said the Federal Government will continue to invest in sports development and facilities.
Tidesports source reports that the FIFA President, in the company of the minister, had earlier visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Statehouse, as part of his engagement.
Why NFF Must Offset Rohr’s Salaries, Bonuses – Aikhomogbe
Former Nigerian goal keeper, Andrew Aikhomogbe has called on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to resolve every outstanding salaries and bonuses owed to the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr before the next World Cup qualifiers against Central Africa Republic (CAR).
Aikhomogbe made this known on the backdrop of the football body’s recent deal with Baba Ijebu.
Although the financial details of the deal was not disclosed, Aikhomogbe in an interview with Newsmen from his base in Cairo, Egypt, stated that the NFF should use this platform to offset Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“It’s a big delight to know that the Nigeria Football Federation have signed a deal with Baba Ijebu and this will serve as an opportunity for them to use part of the money to pay Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“There is no better time to motivate him than now before Nigeria’s next 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Central Africa Republic (CAR) on October,” he said.
Enyimba Players Vow To Support Finidi
Enyimba FC Goalkeeper, John Noble has stated that the players of the People’s Elephants will be key to the success of the newly appointed coach of the team, Finidi George.
Finidi, signed a two-year deal with Enyimba and oversaw his first full training session with the team on Thursday after a cameo appearance on Wednesday.
Speaking in a chat with Tidesports source, Noble gave his assessment of the coach in his first session under the manager and believes the former Super Eagles winger has what it takes to lead the team to the next level.
He added that the Enyimba players will be the ones to hand Finidi George his success at the club.
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