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Europe’s Loss, Africa’s Gain

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While Africa is getting excited about next month’s kick-off of the African Nations Cup in Angola, many clubs in Europe are dreading the start of the competition.

For them it will mean that a number of important players from the countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria will be away on international duty.

Every two years the ‘club vs country’ issue comes to the fore at this point, and both sides have valid arguments when one considers their differing perspectives for a moment.

The clubs want to hold onto players whose wages they pay on a weekly basis, as they do not want to be paying for a player to go and take part in an international tournament while domestic leagues, cups and competitions go on as normal.

Another major issue is that a number of players return from such competitions with injuries, and once again the player receives wages whilst having injured himself in the colours of his national team, rather than that of his club side.

The player must then recover from the injury, meaning the club loses the player for an extended period of time.

From the national team’s side it is also fair that these countries benefit from the use of their best players based throughout Europe and the world, as this is their premier continental championship, determining the champions of Africa every two years.

The pride of playing for one’s country is something that should be respected by the clubs, but they are the entities who stand to lose the most during and after the January tournament.

Many people have called for the tournament’s timing to be changed to the end of the season, with some saying that playing it every four years instead of two, like the World Cup, would allow for the players to go to the competition with the blessing of the clubs, while giving the players some much-needed rest from the congested calendars of modern football.

The Nations Cup is traditionally staged in the first two months of the year because of the continent’s unpredictable weather conditions in the summer months. The rainy season hits western and central Africa in June and July, while the weather in South Africa, which will be hosting the 2010 World Cup in those two months, is usually cool.

The competition is staged in different countries every two years to make it fair and to allow the whole of Africa to benefit from the tournament, so changing the timing does not seem to be a viable option.

The second reason why changing the tournament to June or July would be unlikely is the fact that the World Cup takes place at that time every four years, and this would force the African tournament to revert to a four-yearly affair, or change to alternate years, avoiding the World Cup as a result.

Coaches of the top European sides containing African players are becoming increasingly irritated with the damaging consequences of the Nations Cup being staged in the middle of the season, but there is little chance of it being moved to accommodate the rich clubs spending millions on some of Africa’s finest.

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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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