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African Challengers In Tough World Cup Draws

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With six representatives, including South Africa which qualified as host, expectations prior to last Friday’s draws were high regarding the performance of African teams in South Africa 2010.

A heavy dose of reality, however, crashed down upon African hopes of a maiden FIFA World Cup title after the draw pitched the continent’s most-fancied teams in challenging groups.

Before the draws, through the qualifiers for 2010 Mundial, most arguments were centred on Ghana and Ivory Coast leading Africa’s onslaught in South Africa.

For Nigeria given their on impressive and unconvincing run through the qualifiers, despite their unbeaten record little attention was given to the Super Eagles.

Following the grouping, however, the largest black-African country will surely be happy with their Group B opponents Argentina, South Korea and Greece, who they defeated 2-0 when both countries met at USA ’94.

Nigeria had also had the upper hand in their meetings with Asian teams, so they know that the only team they should be bothered about is the Argentines who came off 2-1 victorious in their tie at USA ’94.

The pre-draw feelings seemed to have turned around for the Black Stars of Ghana who landed among Germany, Australia and Serbia in Group D, while the Ivorians will face Brazil, Portugal and North Korea in Group G.

There is thus the possibility that two of Africa’s leading football countries may take exit after the first round of matches.

The Ivorian and Ghanaian misfortune, as it were, means that the need to start looking for another potential African winner is inevitable, and Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon immediately comes to mind.

The 1990 World Cup quarter finalists will fancy their chances against Denmark, Japan and Netherlands, and should they miraculously top Group E, they stand the chance of having an appealing second round tie with any of New Zealand, Paraguay or Slovakia.

 

Making up the numbers are Algeria, and of course hosts South Africa.

English eyes will be focusing on Algeria and January’s Nations Cup participation in war-ravaged Angola is going to be the subject of close scrutiny.

In truth, the Fennecs are a limited side, short on quality up front, and with only the lively Karim Ziani, buzzing around with any danger.

Last but by no means least, the second round hopes of hosts South Africa dimmed ever more when drawing two former World Cup winners  France and Uruguay – and the experienced Mexicans.

Bafana Bafana, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, have scored once in seven games, won once in 11 games, but must now overcome three sides in Fifa’s top 20.

 

Yet it’s a fallacy to say the World Cup will be over if Carlos Alberto Parreira’s men crash out early because football fans in the host country have long been salivating at the thought of seeing their favourite players in South African stadiums.

With the draw having shown the planet what South Africa can do, overjoyed locals are finally realising that all talk of Plan B is now truly obsolete.

“The world is watching us and the world is coming,” Capetonians screamed with delight. And if Friday’s festival in the Mother City is anything to go by – street performers, oversized puppets and endless vuvuzelas to the fore – the 2010 World Cup is going to be as colourful as it is memorable.

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Okowa Lauds Athletes Ahead Olympics Trials

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President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Tonobok Okowa, has once again mandated all athletes looking to represent the country at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to attend the Nigerian Trials, which hold from June 16 to 18 inside the main bowl of Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin-City.
Making his stance clear in Monday’s release by the athletics body, Okowa commended the athletes for their determination to qualify for the Olympics.
He said, “The athletes have shown commitment, determination, and desire to succeed in their careers by picking Olympic qualifications. They deserve our collective appreciation.”
He added, “The athletes would be picked in accordance with their performances at the trials because it would largely determine who goes to Paris for the Olympics.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission, Yusuf Alli, says the state is waiting to welcome athletes for the trials.
He said, “We are the hosts of the national trials, and athletes and spectators are welcome.”
The trials are expected to throw up the best of Nigeria’s athletes based at home and abroad for the Olympic Games in Paris in July.

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Emerging Star Eyes Olympics Place For Nigeria

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Nigerian track and field star, Favour Ofili, has set her sights on the upcoming national Olympics trials after she pulled off a stunning victory in the women’s 100m at the New York Grand Prix, defeating a stellar field that included Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica last Sunday.
The 21-year-old clocked a season-best 11.18secs to take the win, America’s Morolake Akinosun was second in 11.20secs while her compatriot Aleia Hobbs ended in third place in 11.21secs.Thompson-Herah, the Tokyo Olympics 100m and 200m gold medalist, could only manage ninth place in 11.48secs as she continues to search for her best form this season.
“Just like practice, stay calm and just go, finish your transition because that’s the issue, and whatever happens will happen. I wanted to get the standard here and I give God glory for the win,” Ofili told Tidesports source after the race.
“For the trials, stay calm and just do what I know how to do, go back and do some training before I go back home for the national trials.”
The Olympic trials are scheduled to hold in Benin City, Edo State from June 16 to 18. The trials will serve as the selection of the nation’s athletes for both the Senior Africa Athletics Championships, holding between June 21 and 28 in Douala, Cameroon and the Paris 2024 Olympics, which hold from July 26 to August 11.

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Olympic Day Celebrations Hold June 29

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The Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), at the weekend, said the annual Olympic Day celebrations would be held on June 29 across the country.
The Olympic Day is a global event that commemorates the birth of the modern Olympic Movement, founded by Pierre de Coubertin in 1894.
Speaking with news men, the Secretary-General of the NOC, Babatunde Popoola, said this year’s celebration holds special significance as it precedes the highly anticipated Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
It’s where Nigerian athletes will compete and inspire the world with their achievements.
“Olympic Day is a chance for people of all ages and abilities to experience the magic of the Olympic Games in their own communities.
“It is an ideal platform to highlight the benefits of physical activity and the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect,” Popoola said.
Popoola said that NOC had received positive responses from various states and stakeholders, and preparations were well underway for the nationwide celebration.
He added that no fewer than 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory have indicated their plans to organise activities for the event.
The states are: Abia; Anambra; Bayelsa; Delta; Edo; Enugu; Ebonyi; Lagos; Kogi; Gombe; Jigawa; Kebbi; Kano; Kwara; Taraba; Imo; Ondo; Plateau; Rivers; Nasarawa and Osun
Also speaking, the Chairman of the NOC Sport For All Commission, Abdul Ibrahim, said that Olympic Day was a special day to come together, move together, and learn about the Olympic values.
“We encourage everyone to participate and experience the joy that only sport can bring,” he said.
According to him, a series of activities have been lined up in Lagos, with fitness clubs at the National Stadium Complex and the general public gearing up to take part in the global event.
“The celebration will conclude with the presentation of diplomas signed by the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach.
The President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr. Habu Ahmed Gumel and other dignitaries will officially flag off the event in Abuja,” he added.

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