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Nigeria, Ghana To Battle For W/Cup Ticket

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West African rivals Nigeria and Ghana will play each other for a place at the 2022 World Cup, in arguably the pick of a number of dramatic-looking ties following the deciding draw at the weekend for Africa’s five places in Qatar.
The two powerhouses were paired up just days after Ghana finished bottom of their group at the Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a 3-2 defeat against first-time qualifiers Comoros.
Former Liverpool forward El-Hadji Diouf was one of the people performing the draw and commented that one of Liverpool’s current star strikers Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah will be guaranteed a place at the tournament after Senegal were paired against Egypt.
Cameroon, the hosts of the ongoing Nations Cup, was drawn against the current holders, albeit already eliminated from this year’s tournament ,Algeria.
DR Congo, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1974 when the country was known as Zaire, has a tough challenge if they are to make it to a second tournament, as they will face Morocco.
Meanwhile Morocco’s neighbours, Tunisia will get through if they overcome the only team in the draw to have never been at a World Cup in any form, Mali.
Meanwhile, ex- international, Mutiu Adepoju has said that Ghana’s failed expedition at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations can play into Nigeria’s hands when both teams meet in the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-off. The Super Eagles are hoping to qualify for the global football showpiece for the seventh time in their history, albeit, they must negotiate their way past their cross-country rivals.
For the Black Stars, they are still fresh from a disastrous outing in Cameroon where they crashed out of the group stage without recording a win after three matches.
The aftermath saw the Ghana Football Association show Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac the exit door as the West Africans are expected to name a replacement in the coming days.
Assessing Nigeria’s chances towards qualifying for the World Cup billed for Qatar, the La Liga ambassador, who represented the senior national team for 12 years, was asked if the state of football in Ghana could mar the Black Stars’ hopes, and Adepoju answered.
”Sure! that can play into the Super Eagles’ advantage and it is good for us, but we should do our homework well and the players must be ready and prepared for the big game.
“However, having disappointed at the Africa Cup of Nations and following their absence from the 2018 edition in Russia, the Black Stars will do all it takes to return to the big stage.
“Even at that, the quality in our team and with a positive mindset, I strongly believe that Nigeria will triumph.”
To some, pairing either DR Congo or Mali would have been an easier matchup, but the former Real Madrid star did not agree with that assertion, insisting the teams that made the play-offs are of equal strength.
“Any team that we are paired with would not have been easy because all the countries worked so hard to reach this stage,” he continued.
“That being said, the rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria has been very strong over the years and I don’t expect the Super Eagles to have it all smooth.
“If we get our act right and prepare very well, we will beat them to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.”
Ghana will hold the first leg while the Teslim Balogun Stadium is likely to host the reverse fixture, also in March.

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Okowa Lauds Athletes Ahead Olympics Trials

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President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Tonobok Okowa, has once again mandated all athletes looking to represent the country at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to attend the Nigerian Trials, which hold from June 16 to 18 inside the main bowl of Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin-City.
Making his stance clear in Monday’s release by the athletics body, Okowa commended the athletes for their determination to qualify for the Olympics.
He said, “The athletes have shown commitment, determination, and desire to succeed in their careers by picking Olympic qualifications. They deserve our collective appreciation.”
He added, “The athletes would be picked in accordance with their performances at the trials because it would largely determine who goes to Paris for the Olympics.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission, Yusuf Alli, says the state is waiting to welcome athletes for the trials.
He said, “We are the hosts of the national trials, and athletes and spectators are welcome.”
The trials are expected to throw up the best of Nigeria’s athletes based at home and abroad for the Olympic Games in Paris in July.

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Emerging Star Eyes Olympics Place For Nigeria

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Nigerian track and field star, Favour Ofili, has set her sights on the upcoming national Olympics trials after she pulled off a stunning victory in the women’s 100m at the New York Grand Prix, defeating a stellar field that included Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica last Sunday.
The 21-year-old clocked a season-best 11.18secs to take the win, America’s Morolake Akinosun was second in 11.20secs while her compatriot Aleia Hobbs ended in third place in 11.21secs.Thompson-Herah, the Tokyo Olympics 100m and 200m gold medalist, could only manage ninth place in 11.48secs as she continues to search for her best form this season.
“Just like practice, stay calm and just go, finish your transition because that’s the issue, and whatever happens will happen. I wanted to get the standard here and I give God glory for the win,” Ofili told Tidesports source after the race.
“For the trials, stay calm and just do what I know how to do, go back and do some training before I go back home for the national trials.”
The Olympic trials are scheduled to hold in Benin City, Edo State from June 16 to 18. The trials will serve as the selection of the nation’s athletes for both the Senior Africa Athletics Championships, holding between June 21 and 28 in Douala, Cameroon and the Paris 2024 Olympics, which hold from July 26 to August 11.

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Olympic Day Celebrations Hold June 29

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The Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), at the weekend, said the annual Olympic Day celebrations would be held on June 29 across the country.
The Olympic Day is a global event that commemorates the birth of the modern Olympic Movement, founded by Pierre de Coubertin in 1894.
Speaking with news men, the Secretary-General of the NOC, Babatunde Popoola, said this year’s celebration holds special significance as it precedes the highly anticipated Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
It’s where Nigerian athletes will compete and inspire the world with their achievements.
“Olympic Day is a chance for people of all ages and abilities to experience the magic of the Olympic Games in their own communities.
“It is an ideal platform to highlight the benefits of physical activity and the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect,” Popoola said.
Popoola said that NOC had received positive responses from various states and stakeholders, and preparations were well underway for the nationwide celebration.
He added that no fewer than 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory have indicated their plans to organise activities for the event.
The states are: Abia; Anambra; Bayelsa; Delta; Edo; Enugu; Ebonyi; Lagos; Kogi; Gombe; Jigawa; Kebbi; Kano; Kwara; Taraba; Imo; Ondo; Plateau; Rivers; Nasarawa and Osun
Also speaking, the Chairman of the NOC Sport For All Commission, Abdul Ibrahim, said that Olympic Day was a special day to come together, move together, and learn about the Olympic values.
“We encourage everyone to participate and experience the joy that only sport can bring,” he said.
According to him, a series of activities have been lined up in Lagos, with fitness clubs at the National Stadium Complex and the general public gearing up to take part in the global event.
“The celebration will conclude with the presentation of diplomas signed by the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach.
The President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr. Habu Ahmed Gumel and other dignitaries will officially flag off the event in Abuja,” he added.

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