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Odemiwingie Makes 1st Round Xi

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Almost all of the expected names made it-just-into the knockout stages of this year’s African Nations Cup. The same can barely be said of the stars who were expected to light up the stage.

Instead, it is some unexpected faces who stormed to the forefront to make their mark, before heading home  Osaze Odemwingie is the only Super Eagles to receive a mention in the first round. First round best players include:

GK: Ovono Ebang (Gabon)

Gabon stunned many at this tournament. Not expected to do much but make up the numbers, they caused the first big shock of the competition by handing Cameroun a 1-0 defeat in their opening game, and then went on to draw 0-0 with Tunisia. Ovono was the foundation on which they built those solid performances.

RB: Samuel Inkoom (Ghana)

Ghana’s rookie right back only got the chance for a starting place because of a last minute injury to John Paintsil. How the Fulham man will rue that injury, as his place in the first team is now under serious threat. Inkoom defends with a maturity that belies his 20 years, and can also be counted upon to deliver inch-perfect offensive crosses.

LB: Siaka Tiene (CIV)

In an Ivorien team so far struggling to live up to their reputation, Siaka Tiene stands out as one of the best left backs in the tournament. Mali’s Adama Tamboura also comes to mind here.

CB: Danny Shittu (Nigeria)

Nigeria’s defence looked all over the place in the opening day defeat to Egypt. But the introduction of Shittu brought stability, and two clean sheets.

CB: Wael Goma (Egypt)

Only one goal allowed in three games is not a stat to sneeze at, and Goma has been key to Egypt’s near perfect defensive record.

CM: Josephy Kamwendo (Malawi)

The 23-year-old Orlando Pirates midfielder raised a few eye-brows in Malawi’s win over Algeria with his dominating performance, he didnt slow down in the next two games either. Shame has forwards couldnt quite keep up.

CM: Rainford Kalaba (Zambia)

Strength, speed, skill and strength. Kalaba will be a big miss for Zambia against Nigeria.

LM: Osaze Odemwingie (Nigeria)

Is it just coincidence that Nigeria’s fortunes changed when he returned to the side? He was actually deployed at right midfield but is equally adept on the other flank, as he showed in scorching a daisy-cutter home from there against Mozambique.

RM: Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso)

He is the reason I moved Odemwingie to the left. Moumouni Dagano was the name on everyone’s lips when Burkina Faso came into the tourney, but Pitroipa is the one who showed skill, strength, endless running and an ability to almost carry the team on his own.

FW: Mohammed Zidan (Egypt)

Very technical player who made things happen for Egypt with his touch, awareness and ability to make the right choices in front of goal.

FW: Flavio (Angola)

The former Al Ahly man’s three goals show just how much of an effect he has on the team. Mark him all you will, he will still find a way to score.

Coach: Hassan Shehata (Egypt)

Mastermind of the only perfect record in the first round. It could have been even better if Chinedu Obasi had not struck that wonderful goal to soil Essam El Hadary’s copy book.

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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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