A more determined and coordinated Sunshine Stars of Akure, Wednesday made things happen late in each half to see off a wasteful Jigawa Golden Stars with a 2-0 victory.
The hosts began their dominance of the match from the blast of the whistle and were almost rewarded as early as the third minute when Timileyin Ogunniyi’s free-kick forced Kenneth Christopher to a great save.
The home fans were left in anguish one minute later when they expected the centre referee to allow Mohammed Suleiman to play on as an advantage but the referee sounded his whistle before the striker scored a goal, which was later ruled out.
In the 15th minute, Seun Olulayo won a free kick for Sunshine in a dangerous position, Jigawa Stars defended brilliantly with a defender heading out the resultant free-kick from his goal line.
The Akure fans were on their feet again in the 25th minute when Fuad Ekelojuoti from the left-hand side of the field found an unmarked Jide Fatokun whose shot narrowly went off target but received an applause from the crowd. On the half-hour mark, Jigawa Stars would have been ahead when a split pass dividing the Sunshine Stars’ defence with only Ojo Olorunleke to beat in the process but they wasted the opportunity with a poor finish in front of goal.
Two minutes later, Sunshine Stars forward Mohammed Suleiman benefited from a poor Jigawa Stars clearance inside their goal area and responded with a fantastic bicycle kick but Kenneth Christopher made what would contend for a save of the season to deny the hosts. With one minute left before the break, Suleiman broke the deadlock following a loose ball from Ekelojuoti, helping the winger (Ekelojuoti) to register an assist in the game.
Sunshine Stars’ players showed that they responded well to the half time team talk when Fatokun laid the ball before Hillary Ikenna who dragged the chance in front of the Jigawa Stars box three minutes into the restart. In the 51st minute, Sunshine Stars head coach, Kabiru Dogo, introduced Sadeeq Yusuf for wasteful Uche Ihuarulam, his introduction added bite to the hosts’ front line and helped peg the Jigawa defenders to their half.
The hearts of Sunshine Stars’ fans were in their mouths in the 58th minute when Jigawa broke from a poor orchestrated corner kick leaving Olorunleke to come off his line in the process but Samuel Agba slipped with only a tap in required to ensure the ball landed in the net. Jigawa were presented with occasional opportunities to level the scores but their poor showing in front of goal won’t let them score.
Former Nigeria U-20 International, Wasiu Jimoh, who replaced Ekelojuoti in the 74th minute, put the icing on the cake for Sunshine in the 82nd minute when Ogunniyi’s brilliant pass found the winger on the left-hand side of the field and beat the offside trap to tip the ball over onrushing Kenneth Christopher for the second goal.
Speaking after the match, Kayode Julius, Sunshine Stars Chief Coach, said the new target for everyone in the team was to win more matches since their game against Lobi Stars in Makurdi irrespective of where they are playing.
“There is improvement in the team now and we are scoring goals, I hope we can keep this up” Julius said. The Sunshine Stars chief coach allayed fear that the team won’t score goals with continuous absence of in-form striker, Israel Abia. “We have many experienced players in our striking position, we have one of the best teams this season and in every positions, we have two or three players.
Interference: South-South Threatens To Boycott NFF Activities
Miffed by the steps taken by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in Delta State Football Association (DFA), the chairmen of Football Associations in South-South zone have threatened to boycott the activities of NFF.
It will be recalled that the NFF set up a Normalisation Committee chaired by Henry Nkeki that has three months mandate to organise a fresh election in Delta.
But in a statement signed by the FA Chairmen of Rivers (Christopher Green), Cross Rivers (Atuake Oswald), Bayelsa (Poubeni Ogun), Delta (Edema Fuludu) and Edo (Henry O. Asemota), the body faulted the setting up of the Normalisation Committee, which has created an artificial crisis where there was none.
“It has come to our attention that the President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick, the Chairman of Chairmen Ibrahim Gusau and the South South zonal Coordinator Emmanuel Ibah relying on Article 8 (2) of FIFA Statutes 2019 has set up a Normalisation Committee to manage the affairs of the Delta State Football Association.
“It is our firm view that in the absence of any crisis in Delta State Football Association prior to the constitution of this Normalisation Committee and in addition to the fact that the said Article 8 (2) has not been adopted by the Congress of the Nigeria Football Federation, their reliance on the said Article 8 (2) of the FIFA Statutes is misplaced.
The body added: “As far as we are concerned, what the aforesaid persons have done is create, an artificial crisis, which they then relied on to constitute the Normalisation Committee with the sole design of installing Tony Okowa the executive chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission as the chairman of the Delta State Football Association.”
They however, described the steps taken as a dangerous precedent that could lead to undermining the supremacy of Congress.
Arming themselves with the statutes of NFF, the body said: “Relying on article 13 (1) (f) of the statutes of the NFF, we request the NFF to immediately constitute an arbitration panel to resolve this dispute between the aforementioned persons and the Delta State Football Association.”
“Pending the resolution of this issue, we the undersigned Chairmen of the Football Associations in the South South Zone of Nigeria shall boycott all NFF events.
They expressed disappointment with the actions by the zonal coordinator Emmanuel Ibah in the handling of this matter, adding that he has abdicated his duties and responsibilities as the representative of the zone.
They therefore passed a vote of no confidence on Ibah. “Henceforth he (Ibah) ceases to represent the South South geopolitical zone in the NFF executive committee,” they said.
Ikpeba Backs Nigeria For World Cup
The 46-year-old believes the Super Eagles have all it takes to reach the final play-off round with ease following Tuesday’s draw
Victor Ikpeba has thrown his weight behind Nigeria to progress from their 2022 World Cup qualifying group effortlessly.
The three-time African champions have been drawn along with Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia in Group C, with the Super Eagles being the highest-ranked side.
Ikpeba, who featured for the West Africans at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, is confident Gernot Rohr’s men will have a good qualifying outing, although he warned Cape Verde may pose a big threat to their qualification target.
“Nigeria will win all their home matches, Cape Verde can cause some problems but they cannot stand on the way of the Super Eagles,” Tidesports source.
“CAR and Liberia are not a match but Super Eagles cannot afford to underrate them. The coach is very good and Nigeria has some of the best players in the world
“They can beat any team in the world and why not win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?”
The winner of the group is guaranteed a place in the final play-off round, where the five teams to represent the African continent will be decided.
Meanwhile, former Nigeria international Yisa Sofoluwe has warned the Super Eagles to be wary of Cape Verde when hostilities begin in the second round phase of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Super Eagles were drawn in a seemingly easy second round Group C that houses Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia during the 2022 World Cup qualifying draw held in Cairo on Tuesday but Sofoluwe who earned 40 international caps during his heyday with the national team has called for caution.
He disclosed that there were no small teams again in football and that with only the group leaders making it to the final round of the qualifiers, Cape Verde who played at the quarter final stage in their debut appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in 2013 as well as President George Weah’s Liberia could pose great threats to the Super Eagles ambition of qualifying.
“We are in a group that we should easily qualify from but knowing the unpredictability of football, I want to appeal to the Super Eagles to take every game seriously,” said Sofoluwe who scored a goal in his impressive career with the Super Eagles.”
“We must prepare very well and respect our opponents if we are to qualify. Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia are not in Nigeria’s class but they can shock us if we underrate them.
“Cape Verde surprised many at the AFCON (South Africa 2013) where they got to the quarter final before get narrowly lost out (to Ghana). We cannot joke with a nation like that,” warned Sofoluwe who was nicknamed the ‘Dean of Defence’ during his days with the Super Eagles.
Sofoluwe, who appeared at two AFCON in 1984 and 1988 during his glittering football career but now a coach still tipped the Eagles to pick the ticket ahead of their Group C rivals but noted that Nigeria must do the right thing for that to be possible.
Minister Begins Payment Of Athletes’ Allowances
Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Dare Sunday , has fulfilled his promise to pay Nigeria’s youth and junior athletes to the CAA U-18/U-20 championships in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire last April allowances owed them by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
The athletes competed in the competition under the harshest of conditions, travelling by road for three days and were denied their allowances even after the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development released N13m for the competition.
The athletes, through their acting representative on the board of the AFN, Charles President of the Federation, Olamide George appealed to the Sports Minister to look into the athletes’ predicament.
The sports minister, who revealed at the start of the new year that athletes welfare will be one of his focus in his sports development policy made good his promise and ordered that the athletes should be paid part of their allowances.
“We are very grateful to the Honourable Minister for coming to the rescue of the athletes who were subjected to indecent treatments just because they wanted to represent their country, Nigeria,’ said the factional president who confirmed that the athletes started receiving bank alerts last weekend.
Meanwhile, Sports Philanthropist, Alhaji Ahmed Ahedjo Kaita has replaced Solomon Ogba on the board of the federation.
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