The 2019 WAFU Cup of Nations gets underway in Senegal this weekend, with 16 teams looking to be crowned the kings of the West African region.
This year marks the fifth full edition of the WAFU regional tournament, which was first founded in 2002 (though that year’s tournament was abandoned due to the civil war in the Ivory Coast).
Tournaments in 2010 and 2011 were held in Nigeria and won by the host team and Togo respectively, while Ghana have both hosted and won the last two tournaments in 2013 and 2017.
As the tournament falls outside of FIFA’s international windows, it does not feature senior national team regulars. Instead, federations use the WAFU Cup of Nations as a testing ground for their most promising up-and-coming locally-based youngsters, making it a window into the future of some of the continent’s top teams.
This year, the competition moves to Senegal, with the Stade Lat-Dior in Thies set to host all of the matches, while a guest team, Morocco, is also present. The North Africans replaced Sierra Leone, who were banned from internationals by FIFA and has only recently returned from their sanction.
The tournament opens with a last 16 round from 28 September to 1 October in which the field will be divided in two: the winners advance into the full Cup competition, while the losers drop into the Plate competition. It is a straight knockout format from there on.
Hosts Senegal will open the finals on Saturday when they face Guinea-Bissau, while the other match scheduled for that day sees defending champions Ghana take on Gambia.
Sunday features a clash of former champions as Nigeria takes on Togo, before guest side Morocco tackles Liberia.
Monday 30 September sees Mali and Ivory coast take on Niger and Cape Verde respectively, before the first round of matches wraps up on Tuesday 1 October with Burkina Faso versus Mauritania and Guinea versus Benin.
The Cup final will be played on Sunday 13 October.
LG Football Councils Appoint Chairman, Secretary
Rivers State Local Government Football Councils(RSLGC), has appointed the Chairman of Gokana Football Council, Martins Giadom as it’s Coordinator and Chinasa Elekwachi of the Onelga FC as Secretary.
In a meeting held in Port Harcourt last week, the 23 Football Councils in Rivers State agreed that the election of Martins Giadom and Chinasa Elekwachi as Chairman and Secretary, respectively will serve as a clearing house for a formidable grassroot sports development to support the good works of the State FA Board led by Barr. Christopher Green.
The LG FCs resolved to be proactive in their dealings with the Executive Chairmen of Council such that their impact will be felt as partners in progress
The LG Football Councils further agreed to regularly present major issues and challenges before the State FA Board for consideration.
It called for the resuscitation of the moribund Rivers State Governor’s Cup, urging relevant authorities to take action on the matter in the interest of football development in Rivers State.
The body stressed the need for all LGA FCs to be encouraged to run Football related activities within their jurisdiction, report and restrain non stakeholders from setting up political football committees who will further usurp the duties of LG Football Councils at the various Local Council Areas in the State.
Navy To Sponsor Team In NPL
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Eastern Naval Command, Olusola Oluwagbire, has disclosed plans by the Navy to sponsor a football team in the Nigeria Football League.
Oluwagbire said this at the opening of the maiden edition of FOC Eastern Naval Command Intra-Command football competition in Calabar at the weekend.
Oluwagbire said the essence of the competition was to re-engineer the physical fitness and inspire a sense of comradeship in the personnel.
“This competition is to bring together officers, civilian staff and corps members with us together to re-engineer their physical fitness.
“It is also aimed at strengthening the relationship among the personnel and also to maintain their mental alertness.
“It has been long in coming and we are thankful that we finally got it off today,” he stated.
Oluwagbire who was elated with the turnout of teams for the competition, said it would be sustained.
In a remark, the Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly, Elvert Ayambem, called for the sustainability of the competition, adding that the state governments have plans to revive sports.
More Nigerian Wrestlers Will Qualify For Olympics –Comptroller General
The acting Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Adewale Adeniyi, has expressed optimism that more Nigerian wrestlers will qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
He stated this on Saturday in Abuja after the inauguration of the ‘Work-Life Balance’ initiative which is a routine 5km brisk walk exercise meant to keep officers and men of the NCS physically and mentally fit.
Adeniyi who is also a board member of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) said this against the backdrop of only one Nigerian female wrestler securing Olympic qualification in the just concluded World Wrestling Championships in Serbia.
The tude source reports that only three-time Commonwealth Champion, Odunayo Adekuoroye, secured a bronze medal in the women’s 57kg category at the just concluded Championship, to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics Games.
Team Nigeria was represented by six female wrestlers at the championships.
The customs boss however maintains there is no cause for alarm, as there are still two more pre-Olympics qualifiers, where he hopes more Nigerian male and female wrestlers will qualify.
“I am not disappointed with the performance of the wrestling team in Serbia.
“The competition in Serbia is one of the various competitions lined-up to get slots at the Paris Olympics, there are still one or two championships.
“I am very sure there will be one (championships) in March in Egypt and those of our athletes who did not get the ticket, would have the opportunity to do so,” he said.
Adeniyi said with the quality of wrestlers in camp and the continued training and exposure being given to them, the sky is the limit.
“What we had in Serbia was just our women team, we also have our men in camp and they are in top condition.
“I believe our male and female teams stand a very chance with the level of preparation and exposure we are going to give them ahead of the outing in March,” he said.
On the ‘Work-Life Balance’ initiative, the Customs CG expressed optimism that the initiative will lead to better wellbeing and productivity for officers and men of the NCS.
The theme for the Saturday’s Walk/ exercise is: “balancing for better tomorrow “ and it had participants from other para-military agencies.
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