A renowned retired grade one football referee in Rivers State, Barrister Innocent Wigodo has dismissed insinuations that referees kill joy in Nigerian football.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt, Wigodo said that Nigerian football referees deserve to be commended for doing their best in ensuring that the game is played according to the rules. He however noted that soccer fans were misconstruing them as being biased in their officiating during matches.
“It is high time people understand that referees are human beings and are prone to mistakes, and should not be crucified for being unable to oversee every infringement during the course of a game,” he said.
Speaking on the poor turnout of soccer fans to the stadium, the one time treasurer to the Rivers State Referees Council attributed it to poor quality of play exhibited by players in most matches.
“Honestly, I can assure you that most Nigerian soccer fans often prefer staying on Television than going to the stadium to watch Nigerian league that could not boast of quality stars” he remarked.
He stated that the chances of the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, were huge.
The Eagles, according to him, would qualify for the mundial considering the new spirit in the team and the array of tested players in the squad.
“The Eagle players would not like the episode of 2006 to repeat itself. They know how important the World Cup is to Nigeria and would be the greatest beneficiaries if at the end of the day Nigeria qualifies for the mundial in South Africa.
The retired referee would not be surprised the Eagles throw everything they have into the remaining matches to ensure that they overhaul Tunisia and grab the sole World Cup ticket available in Group B.
Wigodo advised the national team to be cautious in their approach to the home match against Tunisia and away to Kenya.
He called on Nigerian soccer lovers to remain steadfast in their support of the Super Eagles and continue to check them despite the shaky note on which they started the final World Cup qualifying campaign.
Qatar 2022: Stakeholders, Fans Tip African Teams For Glory
Reactions have started to trail the performances of African teams at the ongoing World Cup in Qatar, which started on Sunday.
The african continent has five representatives in the World biggest Football tournament, with the African Champions being Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana and Cameroon.
So far, no African country has gone beyond the quarter final stage in the tournament but only Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana had secured the quarter final ticket but crashed out at that stage.
In recent times, many countries have improved in football as no country can be described as total underdogs.
Consequently, some upsets have already been recorded at the ongoing World Cup, where you see Saudi Arabia beat number one Football nation Argentina, while Japan beat another Football giants Germany.
In the continent, football enthusiasts have tipped any of the African teams to go beyond quarter finals and probably win the World Cup.
Former Super Eagles Captain, Sunday Oliseh, has earlier expressed confidence in Senegal and Ghana, saying that they will make Africa proud in the tournament.
According to him, their commitment, pattern of play and the quality of players have convinced him that they will go far.
“ I have confidence in Senegal and Ghana, they are committed and play good football, so I tip them to go beyond quarter finals and perhaps win the trophy,” Oliseh said.
Former African Footballer of the Year, Samuel E’to, has also said that his country Cameroon, will lift the World Cup.
According to him, his country has the potentials to win the tournament following the quality of players in their team.
“ We are going to this World Cup with the intention to win the trophy, because we have good players and determined to win all our games”, E’to said.
Former defunct Sharks FC player, Ibe Orlu, said despite the fact Senegal lost 2-0 in their opening game against Netherlands he is still optimistic that they will surprise the World.
“I believe that African teams at the ongoing World cup will perform better than they did in the previous editions. For me, Senegal and Morocco will be exceptional in their second games,” he said.
In his reaction, Manager of a popular viewing Centre, at Hospital Road, Old Port Harcourt township, Ibiba Harry, said looking at North African teams’ performance in Qatar 2022, he believed that they will give good account of themselves in the competition.
“ The North African teams will surprise people in this World cup.
“I watched Senegal and Morocco teams and saw them going beyond quater finals of the competition,” Harry said.
A strong football fanatic, Prince Emmanuel, also said that African teams will dominate as the tournament progresses.
He said in spite of the fact that the Super Eagles did not qualify for the World Cup, he has so much confidence in the five countries that are representing the continent.
“Even though my country (Nigeria) did not qualify for the competition, I will support the other Africa teams in the tournament,” Emmanuel said.
Head coach Shining Stars Football Club in Oyigbo Local Government Area, Rivers State, Gift John, said he did not expect any good performance from the african teams.
“I do not really see any African team putting up an impressive performance at the World Cup.
“We can see that most African players are representing various countries in Europe instead of their countries in Africa, take the likes of Bakayoko Saka, Tammy Abraham and many others. These players are expected to make impact in their countries, so I do not really see any African team going beyond the knock out stage “, John said.
A sports enthusiast, Ekene Nwachukwu, disagreed with Gift John. He said, African teams will do well in the 2022 edition of World Cup, holding in Qatar.
He noted that from the recent friendly matches played between African teams and European teams, it is apparent that they will perform impressively in the tournament.
“I believe that the African teams will reach the finals or even become the World Champions, because they have quality players that will win the world Cup,”Nwachukwu said.
By: Tonye Orabere with reports from Kiadum Edooko & Ogolo Alali
Kanu, Amokachi Preach Grassroots Sports Dev
Refrigeration and Air-condition Dealers Association (RADA), at the weekend, defeated Adams International Market 6-5 on penalty shoot out to win the maiden Ndigboamaka All Markets Football Championship held at the Legacy Pitch, National Stadium, Lagos.
The championship, which was organised to unify traders in Lagos State and also unearth talents from the grassroots, ended 1-1 in regular time and had to be settled via a penalty shoot.
Speaking at the end of the final game, grand patron and sponsor of the championship, Obiora Okonkwo, commended the players and coaches for making the event a success.
Okonkwo said that the now yearly Igboamaka Championship will, from 2023, be organised as a football league to lift its standard.
“The 2022 Igboamaka Championship was successful and we give thanks to God for a successful tourney.
“In the game of football, everybody is a winner. The final of the championship was so competitive that the ex Super Eagles stars, who graced the occasion, Kanu Nwankwo and Daniel Amokachi have discovered talents that they would help to expose their skills in their football career. “
“We thank the Lagos State government for their support and assure that the Igboamaka Football Championship will continue to progress. More teams will participate in the championship next year,” he said.
UNICEF Advocates Sport Opportunities For Kids
Nigeria, at the weekend, joined the rest of the world to celebrate Children’s Day with the United Nation’s International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), urging governments, at all levels, and parents to create an enabling environment for children to participate in sports and other activities.
Speaking after a five-a-side football championship held at AstroTurf 2000, Ikoyi, Lagos, to mark the day, Nigeria’s UNICEF representative, Christian Monduate, said the theme of this year’s World Children’s Day, which is inclusiveness of children in every activity, was projected to enlighten people that the country’s children should be given equal opportunities with their counterparts round the world to aspire for quality education and engage in sports to become better citizens in the future.
“UNICEF is celebrating World Children’s Day with the vision of giving hope to every Nigerian child.
“Our goal is to ensure every child is given equal opportunity to get to any level they can attain. Making children express themselves by taking part in this football activity is another platform to educate government at all levels and parents to allow children play and hone their skills.
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