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Amodu Explains Choice Of Players To Face Tunisia

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Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu has taken the unusual step of explaining the reasoning behind his omission of certain players for next month’s 2010 World Cup qualifier against Tunisia in Abuja.

Although reaction to his current squad has been less vitriolic than the past, Amodu has seen his non-selection of Obafemi Martins criticised, as well as his inclusion of John Utaka and Obinna Nwaneri.

“No national team list can be comprehensively correct. We expect criticism whenever we release a team list. We listen to that criticism and take it into consideration when we draw up the next list. In this case, I will say that overall the reaction has been good.”

The exclusion of Martins has raised the most eyebrows, but Amodu explains: “In drawing up this list, Martins was in my head throughout. But I also considered that he had just joined a new club and would need time, not only to settle down, but also to change his orientation from the English style to the German style.

“I tried to call him, but his phone was turned off. I then sent someone to Germany to see him and Ogbuke with instructions to call me up on the phone so I could speak to them. I spoke with Ogbuke, but the day the person was to go to Martins’ club, he said he was travelling to Italy to see his doctor. What that told me was that he was either not ready psychologically to be part of this team, or he was not fully fit and needed time to recover before joining us.

“After we came out with the list, he called me and said he wanted to play. I asked him if he was fit, and if I called him up between then and Monday, if he would come. He said he was ready to get on a flight and join up as soon as he is called.

“I considered including him, but at the same time I recalled that we had written to his club when he joined them, congratulating them on signing him and informing them that he was one of our key players.

“We also told them that we would like to give him some time to settle in before we called him up. So I decided that it was better to let him stay, and then call him for the next one, when he would be raring to go.”

Amodu also explained the thinking behind the selection of Nwaneri and Utaka, saying: “We tried to strike a balance, to pick two players for each position. After the initial plotting, we saw we had two deficiencies, one in attack and one in central defence.

“Our options in central defence were Sodje, Shittu and Nwaneri. At the moment, Sodje is still trying to sort his club position out and we need him to focus on that. Shittu is almost in the same position, but we tried to reach him to ascertain if he was in the right frame of mind to play. We could not reach him on the phone, and he did not respond to emails. Nwaneri, on the other hand, was in contact with us throughout, and we decided to pick him.

“In attack, it was between Utaka and Akpala. Akpala’s commitment cannot be faulted. In fact, I can guarantee it. But we also needed someone who was versatile and experienced for such a crucial match. Utaka can play on the right, in the centre and in the midfield, so we decided to go with him.”

Amodu added that he was confident he had the players to claim all three points on the day, suggesting that he did not expect to leave the stadium with a job if he failed to win

“We are focused on winning that match. If we don’t win, I may be sacked on that day. So it is important for me to take the decisions that will see us qualify for the World Cup.”

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2021/2022 NPFL Season  Starts, Dec 17

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The 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season  is expected to  kick off on December 17th across 10 centres.
Defending champions, Akwa United, will start their title defence  at home in a Match Day 1 fixture against Kano Pillar at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo
Elsewhere,  Gombe United hosts Shooting Stars Sports Club to the Pantami stadium in Gombe in both teams’ first game of their returned season to the top flight.
The Pride of Benue, Lobi Stars, will host Rivers United at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi with the club’s Manager, Eddy Dombraye, leading his side against his state for the first time in many years.
The first oriental derby match of the new season is among the opening fixtures with Enyimba FC playing host to their arch-rivals Abia Warriors in Aba, while Enugu Rangers travel to Katsina to face the Changi boys, Katsina United.
Niger Tornadoes will welcome Plateau United at their temporary home ground in Kaduna while there will be a reunion, sort of in Akure when Sunshine Stars face their former manager, Kabiru Dogo and Fuad Ekelojuoti who are now with Wikki Tourists at the Ondo Sports Complex, Akure.
Another matchday one fixture will see Kwara United host Dakkada in Ilorin. Kwara United almost won the league title last season, before Akwa United secured the title with seven points gap, while the Olukoya boys, MFM FC, will host regional rivals, Remo Stars, at the Agege Stadium.
The Solid Miners, Nasarawa United will travel to Owerri to face Heartland in another opening day tie.

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Delta Principals Cup: Sponsor Splashes Goodies On Finalists

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The sponsor of the on-going Delta State Principals’ Cup football competition, Zenith Bank, has promised that loads of goodies will be given to the finalists of the annual event.
The competition,  now in its 5th edition, is a developmental football competition organised for all secondary schools in the state.
Zenith Bank’s Group Managing Director, Ebenezer Onyeagwu,  said that the last four teams will be rewarded with various ranges of gift items as part of the final day activities.
“We are very committed to developmental pro-grammes in various ways. For sports, we believe in our catch them young initiatives, of which the Delta Principals’ Cup is one of them.
“I congratulate all the finalists for the 2021 event and wish to show that they are all winners, all of them will go home with attractive gift items on final day next week,” Onyeagwu said.
Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, will host the final match between Osadenis Mixed Secondary School and  School of Com-merce  on November 30.
Alaka Grammar School, Ozoro and Ovwor Mixed Secondary School will clash in the Third Place match billed to be the curtain raiser before the final match involving the defending champions, School of Commerce and Osadenis Mixed School.

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US-Based Okorie Plans Maiden South-East Sports Festival

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United States-based Nigerian former athlete, Victor Okorie, is planning to stage a maiden Southeast Sports Festival in 2022 to prepare athletes in the region for the national sports festival billed to hold in Asaba, Delta State.
Okorie, who is the Performance Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), said he would meet with governors and some stakeholders in the region soon, as part of his arrangements for the event.
Before his emergence as the Southeast zonal representative on the AFN board during the elective congress held in Abuja on June 14, Okorie had sponsored a competition for track and field athletes through his pet project, the South East Sports Foundation.
The competition, which held in Enugu, saw athletes from Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi compete for prizes in sprint events, throw and jump.
The foundation also plans to organise competitions for the physically challenged athletes in the zone in line with Okorie’s view of taking physically challenged athletes in Southeast away from the streets, as well as integrate athletes in volleyball, handball, wrestling, and other sports on the same level with their foreign-based counterparts.
Speaking with newsmen, from his base in Tennessee, USA, Wednesday, Okorie, who won a silver medal for Nigeria at COJA 2003 All Africa Games in Abuja, said that the maiden Southeast Sports Festival would give the states chance to raise formidable squad for Asaba 2022.
“Sports are one major avenue governors in the southeast states can use to empower youths in the region,” Okorie said.
“I will meet with them and other stakeholders soon, on how we will stage a successful Southeast Sports Festival, which will serve as selection ground ahead of Asaba 2022 National Sports Festival. There is the need to re-awake sports campaign in the Southeast zone. Maybe, the next host of the national sSports festival will come from the Southeast after Asaba 2022,” he added.

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