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2019 AFCON Qualifiers: S’Eagles Aim To End On High

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The race to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) comes to an end this weekend, with the battle for qualification slots in the 12 groups getting to an interesting climax.
The Super Eagles, after an inauspicious start when they lost 0-2 at home in Uyo to South Africa in 2017, are now looking to end the qualifiers on a high note.
The three-times champions have moved on from that disappointment however, and they are now Group E leaders with the qualification ticket in the bag.
On Friday, they are up against the Pirates of Sychelles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba as from 4 p.m.
The group’s other fixture has the Mediterranean Knights of Libya against Bafana Bafana of South Africa at Sfax in Tunisia on Sunday.
Nigeria’s encounter against Seychelles is not more than an academic affair, and the Eagles may be seeking to maintain reputation and also use the game to kickstart preparations for the AFCON.
While Nigeria have already qualified, the big question in focus now is who will be joining them from the group.
As South Africa and Libya try to figure that out, Seychelles are just meeting obligations by playing the final qualifying match.
Their campaign has seen them earn just a single point, scored only twice and concede 22 goals, the qualifiers’ worst record.
Nigeria, meanwhile, have conceded only five goals throughout their campaign to go along with an impressive 11 strikes.
Three of those goals came in the first half when both sides met in Victoria.
Ahmed Musa, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo were all on the scoresheet on that day.
Ighalo in particular will see this as an opportunity to add to his haul of six goals in the qualifiers, the leading figure
He leads the goalcorers’ race by two goals going into the final round of matches.
Tidesports source reports that the Changchun Yatai striker leads Red Star Belgrade’s forward El Fardou Ben Nabouhane and Knowledge Musonad of Anderlecht who both have four goals.
While the Super Eagles would be back at Africa’s showpiece for the 18th time in the history of the competition, they haven’t been quite able to confirm themselves as Group winners just yet.
Bafana Bafana of South Africa on the other hand are in a do-or-die situation.
The South Africans are second in the standings with nine points, just two ahead of the Mediterranean Knights of Libya.
They will be looking to avoid defeat as they need at least a draw to join Nigeria as the top two sides from the group.
Failure to qualify would naturally be considered a disaster for the South Africans, considering how they had started their campaign on a bright note.
Libya are on seven points with two wins, one draw and two losses, and they will aim for nothing but an outright win when they host the South Africans in Sfax.
Both sides played to a goalless draw the last time they met at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in September 2018.
Libya controlled the first half and the South Africans rallied in the second, but could not break the big physical, well-organised North Africans down.
The result threw the group’s second qualification spot open, thus setting the stage for a nervy and mouth-watering encounter which could swing either ways when it is all said and done.
The draw for the biennial men’s football championship of Africa will take place on April 12, at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) headquarters in Cairo.
The 24 qualified teams from the 12 groups will be seeded into four pots based on the CAF National Team Rankings with the teams drawn into six groups of four teams.

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D’Tigress’ Onyemere Celebrates X Billboard Appearance

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Stunning Nigeria D’Tigress forward, Michaela Onyemere recently celebrated her appearance on the X (Twitter) billboard campaign, describing it as a dream come true.
The Chicago Sky player, who is part of the D’Tigress roster for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, shared her excitement on Instagram, advising her fans not to give up their dream but to work towards their realisation.
She wrote, “If you tweet it, you can be it. I am so honoured to be a part of this Twitter billboard campaign alongside so many other influential people. Chase your dreams to the fullest extent, no matter how crazy people think you might be. I was 13 when I tweeted this, and eight years later, here we are! If you can believe it, I promise you can be it. Dream big always.”
According to her, the billboards are located in New York at 7th Ave and 49th Street, 42nd Street and 8th Ave, Times Square, Bryant Park Subway Station, and newsstands throughout Midtown; San Francisco in Kearney WS and Montgomery Muni Station; Los Angeles in the Hollywood Roosevelt and Sepulveda WS.
Onyemwere was selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2021 WNBA Draft, and she got off to a flying start with the New York Liberty; her average of 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, plus 37 three-pointers made, was the highest among all rookies in her class.

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OlympAfrica Chess Competition Holds In PH …Boy Six Performs Excellently

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OlympAfrica University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT)  Centre recently held Schools Chess Competition, at Professor Ken Anugweje building UNIPORT Sports complex.
The competition was between some selected primary and secondary schools in Rivers State, which attracted huge attendance , including some professional Chess players.
The Director of OlympAfrica UNIPORT centre in Nigeria, Dr. Chukwuemeka Agi in different fora has said the purpose of the competition was to help children build their career and encourage them.
“The reason why OlympAfrica organise various sporting tournaments and competitions was to assist the young ones build their career in any sport.
“You know is better we catch them young and direct their footsteps to enable them become useful to themselves and the nation”, Dr. Agi said.
Speaking with Victor Ayanwale,  the youngest player age six, in the competition, from King Amachree Sports Academy, in Harry’s Town, Rivers State, said his dream was to become one of the best Chess players in the world.
According to him, he started playing Chess at the age of five, mentored by his father, saying that he enjoys playing the game as it helps him to reason help.
“ I  started playing Chess at the age of five, it was my father that was teaching me. I want to become number in one Chess in this country.
“I enjoy playing Chess because it makes me happy and think well. I want other children to play Chess because it is good”, Ayanwale said.
Highlight of the event was presentation of medals, certificates and trophies to winners.

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Female Athletes Are Nigeria’s Olympic Hopefuls – NOC 

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The Secretary-General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Tunde Popoola, has said that Nigeria’s medal hopes at the Paris Olympics largely rest on female athletes such as Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume.
Despite participating in the Olympics since 1952, Nigeria has only secured a total of 27 medals, including just two gold medals, both won in 1996 in Atlanta.
This remains the country’s most successful outing, with Chioma Ajunwa winning gold in the women’s long jump and the football team, led by Kanu Nwankwo, clinching the second at the expense of super powers Argentia and Brazil.
“The men dominated previously, but this time, it’s all about the women. They qualified for the football event and almost every single event in athletics. It’s a good thing, and we appreciate their growth,” he said in an interview with Tidesports source.
“The women have done more because they are more committed. I’m not saying the men aren’t, but women are more dedicated, and that’s the reason they are doing well.”
Ajunwa’s achievement in 1996 stands out as Nigeria’s only individual Olympic gold medal, highlighting the persistent trend of Nigeria’s female athletes consistently outperforming their male counterparts.
This trend continued at the 2000 Sydney Games, where Gloria Alozie secured a silver medal in the women’s 110-metre hurdles, salvaging Nigeria’s presence on the podium.
In the most recent Tokyo Games, Team Nigeria won two medals, both from women: Brume, who claimed bronze in the women’s long jump, and Blessing Oborududu, who won silver in wrestling.
With the Paris Games only weeks away, it appears hopes are once again pinned on the women to bring home medals.
Nigeria’s female athletes are world-class, while many of their male counterparts, particularly in athletics, are less experienced.
Taiwo Popoola, Vice President of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, echoed these sentiments, attributing the women’s success to their dedication.
“The women have done more because they are more committed. I’m not saying the men aren’t, but women are more dedicated, and that’s the reason they are doing well,” he said.
To put the NTF VP’s statement in perspective, Elizabeth Anyanacho, another female athlete, is the only qualified taekwondoist for the Paris Olympics. She was also Nigeria’s only representative in the sport at Tokyo 2022.
Nigeria’s medal hopes in Paris largely rest on the shoulders of athletes like Tobi Amusan, Brume, wrestlers Oborududu, and Odunayo Adekuruoye.
Amusan, in particular, is a standout athlete. She set a world record time of 12.40 seconds in the women’s hurdles in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 2024.

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