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.”
Sports Development Subject to Economic Performance – Consultant
A golf consultant, Sam Emetelu, has said that golf like any other sport cannot thrive when a nation’s economy is unstable.
Emetelu said this in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos.
According to him, the state of a country’s economy plays a vital role in the development of other sectors.
In view of this, he said, there had been little activities for golfers in both the amateur and professional categories.
“Sports in recent time has been struggling, it’s not just peculiar to golf. So, the backlash is that activities have been slow, because it is an election year.
“When the economy thrives, other sectors thrive too; it’s not rocket science.
“The only thing that has been sustaining golf is committed individuals who are lovers of the game who invest their money in because of their love for the sport,” he said.
He, however, predicted that the last quarter of the year would take a more positive turn as companies and individuals would have started regaining momentum.
“With the ember months, most corporate organisations are taking stock and probably thinking of how to structure their Corporate Social Responsibility, maybe then they’d think of sponsoring golf tournaments.
MTN To Co-Sponsor Nigerian Football League
MTN Nigeria has entered into a partnership with the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), GTI Investment Ltd. and Propel Sports Africa to sponsor the Nigerian league.
Media Officer of GTI Investment Ltd., Andrew Ekejiuba, said this in a statement this week in Lagos.
He said following the recent announcement of the joint venture between the NPFL, GTI and Propel Sports Africa to stream NPFL games live, Propel Sports was delighted to announce that it had entered into a deal with MTN Nigeria for the exclusive broadcast of the league.
He said the sponsorship would cover eight live games each weekend, which would translate to over 300 games per season.
Chairman of Propel Sports Africa, Basil Kabbani stated: “The engagement with MTN has been amazing, from the Digital VAS, to the Marketing and Commercial team, their approach has been consistently professional.
“The enthusiasm for the NPFL content has been infectious. From the very start of our negotiations, we knew MTN was the right partner to give our great content, the platform it deserves.”
The deal, concluded by Propel Sports Africa president, Edward Simons, and MTN Chief Operating Officer, Hassan Jabar, would include in-and-post-game highlights delivered in real time to MTN subscribers through the NPFL Live OTT platform.
Osimhen Can Win Ballon d’Or – Peseiro
Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro believes Napoli forward Victor Osimhen can win the Ballon d’Or in the future.
Osimhen is among the 30 players nominated for the 2023 Men’s Ballon d’Or as well as one of the 12 nominees for the 2023 FIFA The Best Men’s Player Award.
He is the first Nigerian male footballer in 24 years to get nominated for the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
Peseiro believes the 24-year-old has the potential to win the Ballon d’Or award in future even if it seems unlikely for him to achieve the feat in 2023 as he is set to compete with a star-studded cast of nominees.
Pesiero is optimistic that Osimhen can claim the award in future as he does not lack any potential to do it.
“He (Osimhen) can surely win the Ballon d’Or in the future. He’s not lacking anything to do it,” Peseiro said in an interview with Tidesports source.
“He has different characteristics than other players that are at the top at this moment, but he scores a lot as well.”
Osimhen had a stellar 2022–23 season with Napoli, leading the club to their first Serie A title in 33 years, and also won the golden boot.
The Napoli striker scored 26 Serie A goals last season to guide the Partenopei to the Scudetto for the first time in more than three decades.
He also becomes the 7th Nigerian male footballer and 8th Nigerian player to earn a Ballon D’Or award nomination after Finidi George (1995), Austin Jay-Jay Okocha (1995), Daniel Amokachi (1995), Nwankwo Kanu (1996, 1999), Victor Ikpeba (1997), Sunday Oliseh (1998), and Asisat Oshoala (2022, 2023).
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