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Nigerian Hotshots Move To North Africa

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Three strikers who shone
in the Nigeria premier league last season have joined top clubs in the Maghreb this month.
Emem Eduok after a transfer controversy joined Esperance of Tunisia, Ighodalo Osaguona sealed a four and half year deal with Raja Casablanca (Morocco) and Peter Ebimobowei joined Al Ahly(Egypt).
The leagues in these countries are better organised and pay players better than what obtains in Nigeria, and this may well explain why these Nigerian talents cannot resist the lure.
Having fulfilled their dreams of playing outside Nigeria, do they have what it takes to excel in those countries with mounting expectations from fans, the media and even the clubs?
Tidesports source x-rayed their chances to excel as they face a new challenge in their career.
Ighodalo Osaguona
The big striker proved to be a prolific goal scorer at Enugu Rangers last season after he struggled for goals at 3SC the previous campaign.
He netted 16 goals in the Nigeria top flight league and has been capped at full international level by Nigeria.
Osaguona is a direct striker with power and aerial prowess. He has good techniques for a big man and will therefore be expected to do well in Morocco.
The tempo of the game is higher in Morocco and he will face tougher defenders, who have more experience than those he faced in Nigeria as most of their players are better exposed.
Osaguona’s showing for the Super Eagles has underlined the fact he has what it takes to also shine in Morocco especially if the club play to his strengths.
Emem Eduok
After the controversies, he has inked a deal with Tunisian giants Esperance. Emem equaled Jude Aneke’s 20-goal record in a season in the colours of Dolphins.
The left-footed Emem is an all-round forward who could play from the wings or as top striker.
He is strong, quick, has good positioning and he is one of the most dangerous strikers in Nigeria league around the box.
The former Flying Eagles star, who was the first player to score six goals in a league game in history of Nigeria in Dolphins 6-1 win over Nembe City, will be the hottest bet of the other Nigeria strikers off to the Maghreb to shine as Esperance has proved to be a favourite hunting ground for the lies of other Nigeria stars like Garba Lawal, Michael Eneramo and Julius Aghahowa.
Peter Ebimobowei
He has been a consistent goal scorer in the Nigeria league, but joining the best club in African football history Al Ahly of Egypt will come with added pressure.
How well and quickly he copes with this pressure will define his time at the Cairo Red Devils.
Al Ahly are a massive club and the Bayelsa United star must adapt quickly as there won’t be much time for him to do that going by the high demands from the club’s fans.
He has joined a team who are undergoing a major transition following the exit of some of their ageing top stars like Wael Goma and Mohamed Aboutrika.
He is a powerful striker with good techniques, who has proved clinical in front of goal.
He scored 18 goals last season to help Bayelsa United escape relegation.

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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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