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Odegbami Unfulfilled Not Playing In W’Cup

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Ex-international, Segun Odegbami, says he feels unfulfilled not playing at football’s showpiece event, the FIFA World Cup, despite getting close to qualification twice.
Odegbami, regarded as one of Africa’s best footballing talents, guided the country to its first-ever Africa Cup of Nations triumph in 1980 and emerged the tournament’s joint-top scorer with three goals.
He also won three Nigerian Premier League championships (1976, 1980 and 1983), two FA Cup titles (1977 and 1979), and one African Cup Winners Cup medal in 1976.
However, amid the successes, the Mathematical, as he is fondly called, has over the years silently nursed the agony of not attending a single World Cup tournament.
“Missing out of the World Cup and not featuring at that level is very painful,” the 68-year-old, Odegbami said.
“It is even more painful because we had the opportunity twice, but on both occasions, we couldn’t.
“We knew it was important to go to the World Cup, but if we had realised the enormity the way we know today, we would have done everything possible to ensure that we went.”
Truly, Odegbami and his teammates were close to qualifying for the 1978 and 1982 World Cups but inexplicably failed on both occasions in the final qualification games.
In the first instance, the Green Eagles, as the national team was then known, needed a draw versus Tunisia in Lagos in their last qualification game to seal a spot at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.
Having held the Tunisians 0-0 in their first fixture, expectations were high.
But it was the North Africans that triumphed 1-0 courtesy of defender Godwin Odiye’s 61st minute own goal in front of stunned fans inside the National Stadium, Lagos.
On the second occasion, the Eagles were battered 4-1 on aggregate by an Algerian side inspired by mercurial duo Lakhdar Belloumi and Rabah Madjar.
More shocking was the Eagles 2-0 defeat in the first leg in Lagos.
Odegbami said poor decisions by the administrators and the coaching crew cost the country and the players the chances of featuring at football’s biggest event on both occasions
“Failure to qualify for the 1978 World Cup had nothing to do with the performances of the players, but with the administrators, whose last-minute decisions did not favour the team,” the former Shooting Stars forward added.
“They increased the gate fees for the last match against Tunisia and there were less than 3,000 people inside the stadium following a massive protest against the administrators.
“For the first time ever, our own fans booed us and supported the Tunisians. We ended up losing that game 1-0 and there was silence everywhere because all we needed was a draw.
“Also in 1981, with just a match to go, the coach allowed the administrators to influence his decision and took the game for granted by replacing the bulk of the players that had taken us that far.”
Odegbami believes his inability to feature at the Mundial also cost him the opportunity to be crowned the CAF African Footballer of the Year during his playing days.
“I feel unfulfilled not to have played at the World Cup. If I had gone to either of the two or both World Cups or played in the final of the CAF Champions League, I would have been named Africa’s best player very easily, but those two events stopped that in my career.”

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ICC U-19: Nigeria Battles Big Wigs In Abuja

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Nigeria was presented the tough task of battling with Rwanda in the opening game of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) U-19 Men’s World Cup Africa Division 2 Qualifiers, which began at the twin-ovals of the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, yesterday.
The One Day International (ODI) format championship also had in contention such tough nations as Kenya, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana and Sierra Leone. They were all trying to be among the top-three nations to move from the qualifiers to the next level.
Ahead of the competition, Ghana and majority of Bostwana’s team arrived late Thursday night, which development caused slight changes in the tournament fixtures.
According to the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Ogbonnaya Okogeri, the big win for Nigeria is being able to put up the standard required for hosting this international event.
“This is the second ICC event that Nigeria will host, but this is unique in that it is on a higher level because of the quality of facility and personnel required to pull it off.
“So far, we have been able to meet up on so many fronts and as the event gets off the ground formally, our joy will be to coast home smoothly with a successful hosting.”
ICC Global Developmental Manager, William Glenwright, who was around earlier in the week, had said the country’s feat in cricket developmental index has been impressive and has earned a look in from the global body for more support.
Nigeria between 2018 and 2019 scaled the U-19 World Cup ticket for her maiden appearance on the global stage at the World Cup in January 2020 in South Africa, an achievement Nigeria’s team handler, Daniel Gim, has assured they have set as benchmark.
“We have put in the hard work and I am sure, as a team, we are hungry to scale to the next stage and above all return to the World Cup,” he ahead of today’s opener. The tournament will end on October 9.

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Globacom Unveils Amusan As New Ambassador

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Telecommunications services provider, Globacom, has unveiled current African, Commonwealth and World 100m hurdles champion, Tobi Amusan, as its latest brand ambassador.
Tobi became the first Nigerian world champion in an athletic event, when she won the gold medal in metres hurdles at the 2022 World Athletics Championships. She set a new world record of 12.12 seconds in the semifinal, and followed this up with 12.06 seconds (wind aided) in the final to take the gold medal.
Speaking at the event, Globacom’s Regional Manager, Sales, Lagos, Lawrence Odediran, said the company’s decision to make Amusan its ambassador was not just to reward her for her sterling accomplishments, but also to help the growth of sports in Nigeria. Odediran also said the endorsement would encourage the country’s teeming youths to aspire toward realising their dreams by looking up to the new ambassador as mentor.
“At Globacom, we are very proud of what Tobi Amusan has achieved in her athletics career. She is an embodiment of the Nigerian spirit of resilience, hard work and enterprise, which enabled her to excel irrespective of the enormity of the challenges she encountered in her quest for success. These are qualities that Globacom identifies with,” Odediran stated.
He explained that Amusan has become a testimony to the famous saying by Malcolm X that “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today,” adding, “she prepared very hard in the previous years and today belongs to her.
“Tomorrow is also waiting for other determined Nigerian and African youths who begin their preparations today. We, therefore, urge them not to be discouraged by present challenges, but to continue to strive to realise their dreams.”

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Gusau Emerges NFF President

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Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau has been elected the new President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
He was elected yesterday at the NFF’s 78th Elective Congress in Benin, the Edo State capital.
In the first ballot, Gusau polled 21 votes to finish first ahead of former Ist Vice President, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi who got 12 votes while the erstwhile League Management Committee (LMC) Chairman, Shehu Dikko got just six votes. Peteside Idah and Abbah Yola got one vote each.
While the trio of Akinwunmi, Dikko, Yola opted out of a possible rerun since Gusau did not get the mandatory 22 votes to win in the first ballot, Idah pressed for a rerun and it was conducted by the electoral body.
In the ensuing rerun, Gusau polled 39 votes while Idah got one vote, while one was voided.
With that, the former Chairman of Chairmen in the last board led by Amaju Melvin Pinnick becomes the 40th man to lead Nigerian football.

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