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Chukwu, Others Give Lagerback’s W/Cup List Pass Mark

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Some soccer enthusiasts in Enugu have commended Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Lars Lagerback, for his fairness in the final selection of players for the World Cup in South Africa.

But some believe that the non-inclusion of home-based players does  not reflect the contributions of the national league to the development of players and soccer in the country.

Those who spoke on Tuesday in Enugu said the selection was good but complained over the non-inclusion of at least a home-based player.

A former Super Eagles Chief Coach, Christian Chukwu, said: “Lars Lagerback’s final list is the best the country could have for the tournament.

“We have players scattered all over the world and even locally, but there is no time to harness them,” Chukwu said.

“The injection of new players now may be dangerous because the old ones have played together and they understand themselves. They just need to blend.

“It has not been possible to exhaust our talents and that is why the ones referred to as tired legs still remain our best.

“It is hard to drop players at this last hour. I am fully in support of his list. I appeal to Nigerians to give Largerback the needed support,” he said.

Chukwu, popularly called Chairman, urged the Eagles not to underrate any team because their group was tough.

He, however, said the Eagles could go far if they qualified from the group stage.

Chukwu also called for a total overhaul of the team after the World Cup to give younger players the opportunity to prepare ahead of other major competitions.

Ernest Ufele, an ex-Rangers player, said Lagerback did his best by selecting only experienced players.

Ufele said the coach could not do selections based on recommendations and appealed to Nigerians to pray for the Eagles to qualify from the preliminary stages.

“We know that their performance in friendly matches so far have not been satisfactory to face the World Cup test, but we hope that they will excel,” Ufele said.

Dominic Nwobodo, another ex-Rangers player, said there was no difference in previous selections by Shaibu Amodu.

He said the coach had done his best but the players must be committed because they are going to face very tough opposition.

“I think the selection was done based on experience and that is why the home-based players were not considered.

“We definitely need experienced players for the World Cup,” Nwobodo said.

Edwin Eze, Director of Sports (Information), Enugu State Sports Council, appealed to Nigerians to accept the final selection.

“As an experienced coach, Lagerback should be allowed to use his discretion to lead the team to the world Cup,” Eze said.

Chukwuka Udensi, an Enugu-based businessman, suggested that Lagerback should have at least included a home-based player.

“We have good players in this country who can match the professionals.

“I think the non-inclusion of home-based players did not take into account the contributions of local clubs to the growth of our soccer,” Udensi said.

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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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