Nigeria’s midfield stalwart, Alex Iwobi has apologised to all the Super Eagles fans after they suffered an exit from the Africa Cup of Nations at the knockout stage in Cameroon.
After a good run in the group stage which saw Nigeria win all three of their matches, the only team to do so at the 33rd edition of the competition, they could not get past the Round of 16 after losing 1-0 to Tunisia at Roumde Adjia Stadium on Sunday.
It was Youssef Msakni who notched the all-important goal in the 47th minute to end the Super Eagles’ fairy tale run in the competition. The 25-year-old Iwobi, who currently features for Everton in the Premier League, was also red-carded seven minutes after coming on by Senegal referee Maguette N’Diaye.
“Moments of joy can quickly turn into pain and anguish. As much as it’s a part of football, we came for more,” Iwobi wrote on his Instagram. “Our fans, who shared these moments with us both in Cameroon and across the world, deserved more.
“The beauty of the game is the next moment of jubilation is never too far around the corner. We will be back to fight for our nation, stronger. We owe it to you, and I owe it to myself.
“Thank you for all the words of support and encouragement, It doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Iwobi’s apology comes just a day after Nigeria legend Jay-Jay Okocha supported the decision by the referee to send off Iwobi. Okocha, who is Iwobi’s uncle said the former Arsenal player deserved the red card whether it was intentional or not.
“As a player, we always try to retain possession especially when you’ve had a bad touch but also the referee dished out yellow first because he realized that it wasn’t dangerous play until the VAR called him,” Okocha noted.
“And when they look at replays, sometimes they tell a different story and when we saw that replay I said it that he’s off, whether it was intentional, whatever, he was a bit dangerous on the Tunisian player but that wasn’t his intention.
“I mean these referees play to the book. We’ve had a bad day and when it rains it pours.”
Okocha’s verdict contradicts that of interim coach Augustine Eguavoen, who defended Iwobi by stating his foul was not intentional.
“It’s a little bit difficult, I don’t like to talk too much about referees because they are the masters but there’s nothing wrong if one makes his observations,” Eguavoen told reporters.
“Iwobi’s red card I don’t think was the first foul and it wasn’t intentional also but we have to look at the VAR later and see.
“However, first offense I don’t think demands a red card, it wasn’t dangerous play, and then right in his face, I can see one of the most gentlemen in the team Wilfred Ndidi got smashed right in front of the referee.
“Normally in the game of football when there’s a foul and there’s an advantageous position you let it run so that’s just the only thing I see but again you know the referee is a gentleman and he should be able to control his emotions once the game is on.
“Everywhere is tensed up, it has happened there is nothing we can do about it.”
RSFCA Holds Coaching Clinic In PH, Today
The Rivers State Football Coaches Association (RSFCA) has concluded arrangements to organise a coaching clinic tagged: “Continuous Professional Development Coaching (CPD),” aimed at developing football coaches in the state.
Chairman of the local organising committee (LOC), Coach Raphael Akunna revealed that the coaching clinic is being organised in conjunction with Bright Stars Sports Agency United Kingdom which will hold at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium starting from tomorrow, and last for two days.
Wuga Birabe, Co/Director MW Sporting World Limited London, England, United Kingdom and other invited instructors are expected to deliver key note lectures.
Dignitaries expected at the opening ceremony today include Sir Honour Sirawoo (Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Sports and President of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria), Barr Chris Green (Special Adviser to Rivers State Governor on Real Madrid), Mr Benjamin Akubor (RSFA), Sarah Davids (Chairman Sports Writers Association of Nigeria Rivers State), Chairman Nigeria Referee Council Rivers State) and other invited guest.
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Football Coaches Association (RSFCA) has conducted a number of coaching courses over the past three years.
The latest was the NFF/NLO/Berackiah Football Grassroots Coaching Clinic course that took place March 7 – 11, 2022 and attracted about 40 participants
Super Six: Why Nasarawa Walked Over Ratels – Chairperson
Chairperson, Nigeria Women’s Football League, Aisha Falode, says Naija Ratels were walked over at the ongoing NWFL Super Six tourney in Benin City, the Edo State capital, after they failed to respect the sponsorship deal for the event.
New girls Ratels were scheduled to clash against former champions Nasarawa Amazons at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Monday before they were walked over.
The NWFL had sealed a N16m sponsorship deal for the championship, with all six teams to wear shirts branded by the sponsors.
But Naija Ratels reportedly flouted the rule book, preferring to wear their own jersey branded by another sponsor.
“We walked them over for flaunting the rule of being the club that has not worn the official jersey. We will work on the fixtures and move on, this is what the rule is all about,” Falode said.
“We told them (clubs) each team would get N1m each, while there would be N5m for the winners, N3m for the runners-up and N2m for the second runners-up, meaning N16m was going back to the league.
“This man (Ratels owner), who just qualified for the league for the first time, who is playing in the Super Six for the first time, has come to disorganise what we have done. We have a responsibility; we have a duty to the organisation and those who appointed us to manage this league.”
Falode added, “If you have a shirt sponsorship, you are supposed to write to the league board and as a matter of fact, a percentage of the sponsorship is supposed to come to us but we are not aware they have any sponsorship deal.
When asked if there would be stiffer punishment aside the walkover, the ace sports journalist added, “one step at a time.”
Also, the NWFL Chief Operating Officer, Modupe Shabi, noted that Paul Edeh, Ratels proprietor, contravened the NWFL Statutes on sponsorship.
“Article 7.8 states that all rights contracts to be entered into by any club shall first is subject to the writing and approval of NWFL, before execution,” she said.
Ban On Basketball Bad For Nigeria – Chairman
The Chairman of Retired Basketball Players in Port Harcourt, Fubara Fibika has said that the ban of basketball in Nigeria from international competition by the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, would cripple the game at the grassroots.
According to him, the best thing to do was to formulate a programme on how to develop the game instead of the ban.
Fibika said this on Monday in an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt, saying that basketball is one of the fastest developing games in the country.
The veteran explained that he has respect for the Sports Minister for his initiative on sports development, but his recent action is not fair at all.
“Bringing politics in Sports will cripple the industry.
What we should think of now is how to promote and develop the game in our locality” Fibika said.
He advised the Sports Minister to rescind his decision, narrating that the ban is not good for the game.
By: Kiadum Edookor
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