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NYG: ‘Medals Or No Medals, We’ll Still Be Happy’

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An Akwa Ibom State government official, Paul Bassey says winning or not winning medals is not a problem for the state’s contingent to the ongoing 5th National Youth Games (NYG).
Bassey, the Special Assistant on Sports to Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, said yesterday in Ilorin that discovery of new athletes was rather their target.
“We will still be happy if we win no medal by the end of the Games. Our target here is not to win medals but to discover athletes for the state,’’ he said.
Bassey said they were more concerned with the state’s youths being exposed and to be nurtured into stardom later by the state.
“We really do not have a target here in Ilorin, and by that I mean in terms of winning medals. But I thank our state governor for the opportunity given to the youths since he came on board.
“He has emphasised the need for grassroots development, because those of us who are old enough to know what happened 20 to 30 years ago knew that Nigeria had stars in all spheres.
“But now, during international competitions one hardly hears about Nigeria.
“So, he (Udom) has laid emphasis on youths and sports development, and this is what led to the State Sports Festival which we hold every year,’’ he said.
Bassey pointed out that making an appearance at the Games in Ilorin was itself a big opportunity.
“For us to come here, first of all, we have exposed the youths, and then we can nurture them afterwards.
“What I am saying now is that even if we don’t win a gold, silver or bronze at the end of the games, we are still happy because the youths that we brought here would have learnt something.
“Then after the whole thing, we will have so much back home to develop them on,” the former sports journalist said.
He however did not fail to point out out that they were still going to pose some challenge to other athletes from other states.
“Nonetheless, Team Akwa Ibom are here (in Ilorin) to compete and also discover athletes to be nurtured.
‘We are here to compete in the spirit of competition and secondly to see how we can help to produce golden athletes that would in the next five or six years represent this country in international competitions.’’
Bassey disclosed that the state had put in place a number of post-Games programmes for the athletes.
“We have post-Games programmes for them, since they are in schools. We bring them together during holidays to train them.
“Now, we have three athletes who are on scholarship, schooling in the U.S. That’s developmental on its own.
“So, we track them and also develop the coaches so that they will be well trained.
“There is no youth that will win here or at the state sports festival that we won’t be encouraged to train.
“We are not all meant to be doctors or professors. Some will feed through sports, and the state has to support them,’’ he said.
It would be recalled that Akwa Ibom placed fifth on the medals table at the end of the Games’ fourth edition held in 2018.

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Falcons Needs Overhauling – Ex-NFF Players

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Following the Super Falcons embarrassing 4-2 defeat to South Africa at the recently concluded Aisha Buhari Invitational tournament, former players of the team have unanimously agreed that the team needs an overhaul.
Two penalties and an own goal by defender Michelle Alozie handed the Banyana Banyana a famous win in the final played at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos on Tuesday.
Speaking with Newsmen Stella Mbachu who starred for the Falcons from 1999 to 2014 and won six Africa Women Cup of Nations titles with the team said Randy Waldrum’s team lacked fitness and were out of sort in the finals.
“That was not a good game, it was obvious the Falcons were not in their right frame of mind,” she said. 
“The game was a bad one that is not the team I know. The entire team didn’t play well.
“They need to put this behind them and work harder to perform better during the Africa Women’s Qualifiers.
“They need to overhaul the team and reassemble a new team. The Falcons need to be worked on. They lacked fitness as a coach in my own opinion and that was why the South Africans out ran them.
Tidesports source reports that on Waldrum’s tactics, Mbachu said  she does not know his pattern since he arrived maybe he needs more time with the team. He needs to study the players more particularly those playing in the Nigeria Women Football League.
The Nigerian Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick also agreed that the Falcons needs a rejig as the defeat to South Africa exposed the weakness of the team.
“We are all disappointed by the performance of the Super Falcons, especially on a day we claim to be celebrating the Girl Child,” he said.
“The whole essence of this competition for us as NFF has been achieved. We have a qualifier against Ghana in the next few weeks so we needed these matches to test the readiness of our players for the task ahead.
“The Banyana Banyana team has exposed the weaknesses in our team. They came to Lagos with so many young players and gave our girls some football lessons on the day.
“For me, the lesson here is that, we need to inject more players from the NWFL into the team. As you can see, the outstanding players in Nigeria’s two matches against Mali and South Africa are home based players and that is the more reason why we must invest more in the Nigeria women’s football league to expose more of these hidden talents.”
Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Austin Eguavoen, also agreed on the overhaul but added it must be gradual.
“The whole crowd was shocked with the result. They are not playing well and that is why it is tagged the Aisha Buhari International friendly and it is an opportunity for the coach and the entire Nigeria especially football stakeholders to start looking inward.
“But we cannot wipe these girls out completely, it is impossible and that’s why it has to be a gradual process,” he added.

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Akwa United Boss Rues Elimination From CAF Champions League

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Head Coach of Akwa United Football Club Kennedy Boboaye has admitted that his team were eliminated from the CAF Champions League by the Algerian Champions CR Belouizdad, who were more technically superior.
Tidesports source reports that the Nigerian champions crashed out at the preliminary stage of Africa’s premier competition after losing the second leg 2-0 in Algiers last Sunday and are out of the competition on a 2-1 aggregate score.
In a reaction to his team’s defeat and elimination from the competition, Coach Kennedy Boboye said “The moment we won by just one goal in Uyo on September 12th, I knew it will be difficult for us to get a favourable result in Algiers, but at the same time it wasn’t an impossible task for us. 
After a careful study of the first leg, I realized that our opponents (CR Belouizdad) were technically better than us and that was why we came to Algiers with a game plan which, unfortunately, didn’t work for us.
“Two of my players Charles Okafor and Marshal Johnson had passport issues, one player Denis Nya sustained an injury during the warm-up and that altered the plans we had. We needed to move Dare Ojo to the centre back position, which he did very well but we missed his experience in the midfield and it affected our game plan.
“Having won the first leg, we knew that they (CR Belouizdad) will come out to attack us so our plan was to get at least a goal in the first half but we came up against a very good team. The way they played, one can tell that they have been playing together for a very long time. The first goal they scored was a good goal but the penalty against us wasn’t a good one, but that is football.
“We have to go back and start preparing for the new NPFL season and I think that the exposure and experience we have garnered from these two games will help the coaching crew and the players in subsequent outings both in the league and at the continental level” Boboye assured.
The Promise Keepers who won the Nigeria Professional Football League title for the first time in their history returned home on Tuesday.

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FIFA Confirms Venue For S’Eagles, CAR Double-Header

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FIFA has confirmed venues for the 2022 World Cup qualifying double-header between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Les Fauves of the Central African Republic.
The Super Eagles will host Raoul Savoy’s men in a matchday three encounter at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on October 10.
The reverse fixture will take place three days later at the Stade De Japoma, Douala, Cameroon.
The Super Eagles started their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win against the Lone Star of Liberia last month.
Gernot Rohr’s charges then defeated the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde 2-1 four days later in Mindelo.
The three-time African champions top Group C with six points from two games.
The top team in the group will proceed to the final play-off for the final round.

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