The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be aiming to build on their strong start to the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers when they host Sierra Leone at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.
The Eagles head into back-to-back matches against the Leone Stars having accumulated a maximum of six points from their opening two Group L matches. The three-time Afcon champions followed a 2-1 win over Benin in Uyo with a 4-2 thumping of Lesotho in Maseru last year.
Head coach Gernot Rohr said that he and his wards will not be underestimating their opponents and is hoping for a good game from his troops at the newly renovated stadium in Edo State.
“We are expecting a tough match because our opponent, Sierra Leone have quality players too. It will not be an easy game because they have professional players,” said Rohr.
“My work is to first explain to the players that this will not be an easy game. We cannot underrate this Sierra Leone team.
He continued: “I see that it’s a new stadium but the most important for the players is to have good grass and then to see a good football game. We want to give joy to Nigerians in this very special period and we want to be happy with a good win.”
Sierra Leone sits bottom of the group after two rounds of fixtures. A 1-1 draw at home to Lesotho was followed by a 1-0 defeat away to Benin in their most recent outing but the Leone Stars have received a timely boost with veteran forward Kei Kamara having confirmed his return to the senior national team.
His presence will add another dimension to John Keister’s team’s attack as they prepare for a Super Eagles side that boasts a plethora of attacking talent.
The teams will meet again in Freetown on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Victor Osimhen has stressed that they would give their all to emerge victorious in the encounter but conceded the Leone Stars will be tough.
In AFCON qualifiers, the Napoli striker is the joint-leading scorer alongside Sao Tome and Principe’s Luis Leal, Senegal’s Famara Diedhiou and Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri scoring three goals in two outings.
He returns to the Super Eagles fold having missed October’s friendlies against reigning African kings Algeria and Tunisia as he was excused to settle down at his Serie A outfit.
“It’s really a good feeling to be back to the squad, I’m really happy and I think the squad is ready to go today,” Osimhen told NFF media.
“To be realistic, the game will never be easy so we have to prepare well – which we have been doing, we are all ready and we will give our all for this win.”
Nigeria’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development had announced that the fixture billed for the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City will be played without fans, as per the directive from the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
Organisers Explain 2021 NSF Postponement
The 21st edition of National Sports Festival earlier scheduled for November 2 to 15, 2022, in Asaba, Delta State, will now hold from November 28 to December 10, 2022.
According to a statement by the Festival Secretary, Peter Nelson, and addressed to all Commissioners of Sports and Directors of Sports, the postponement was at the request of the host, Delta State.
“I wish to convey the request of Delta State Government to shift the date of the 21st National Sports Festival earlier scheduled to hold from November 2 to 15, 2022.
“It is now shifted to start on November 28 to December 10, 2022.
“The reason for the postponement is to give Delta State more time to complete some of the facilities needed for the festival,” the statement reads.
It will be recalled that the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival held in Benin City, Edo State, which was tagged: “Edo 2020,” also suffered several postponements until it finally held from April 2 to 14.
Nigeria Must Embrace Grassroots Sports Dev – Amusan
Women’S 100 metres hurdles world record holder, Tobi Amusan, believes that grassroots development programmes and top-notch training will help the country discover more athletics world champions.
Speaking in Lagos at a dinner organised in her honour by The Plug, an entertainment firm, tagged ‘Tobi Amusan’s Homecoming,’ she blamed the exodus of the Nigeria’s top athletes to other countries to what such nations offer the athletes.
“Grassroots sports development is something we lack here and the reason we often lose our top athletes to other countries of the world.
“From my experience training in the United States, if we can have such development here, we can groom young talents and unearth more Tobi Amusans,” she said.
On the recent ratification of her record by World Athletics, Amusan said: “That my world record was ratified by the world body means that I am drug free and that I am clean. I feel great about it. Every time I am on the track, my eyes are always set on how to win and I execute it by winning.”
She also spoke on the recent reception by the Federal Government, saying, “It is great feeling that we were recognised by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In as much as we did the work, it was an honour that they took into account and they recognised the fact that we did the nation proud. It is such a great feeling getting the national honour.”
She acknowledged the support she got after her world record feat, with her followers on Twitter rising from 3000 to 150,000 under 24 hours, saying it showed that people appreciate what she is doing.
On the criticism by men’s 400 metres world record holder, Michael Johnson, after her record breaking race in Oregon, U.S, Amusan said she was not bothered. “Honestly, I kept doing my thing because after the World Championships, I had other competitions to attend. I don’t dwell on negativity… I look on the bright side of the sport.”
At the event, Flutterwave, which used the occasion to declare it has signed a multi-year partnership deal with Amusan, said: “It is very difficult to find athletes who embody our core values the way Tobi does.”
YSFON : Academy Coach Begs For Assistance
The Head coach of the De Kings International Football Academy (DKIFA) of Port Harcourt Okpaleke Chika King is begging the Rivers State ministry of Sports, private and corporate individuals and all lovers of football for financial support to assist his team represent the state in Youth Sports Federation Of Nigeria (YSFON) competition.
He said that his team was representing Rivers state at the ongoing Chief of Naval Staff National (YSFON) Competition in Ilorin, Kwara State. He said he had written a letter to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals for assistance.
King made the assertion on Saturday in an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt before leaving for Kwara state.
According to him he had nothing to do than to borrow money for the journey believing that when the State’s Commissioner for Sports sees the letter he would not fail to respond to it.
“ As you can see, my boys are ready for the competition but we lack support.
“ I have written to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals to assist us but I have not gotten any reply, yet.
By: Kiadum Edookor
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