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Iwobi Apologises To Nigerian Fans

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Nigeria’s midfield stalwart, Alex Iwobi has apologised to all the Super Eagles fans after they suffered an exit from the Africa Cup of Nations at the knockout stage in Cameroon.
After a good run in the group stage which saw Nigeria win all three of their matches, the only team to do so at the 33rd edition of the competition, they could not get past the Round of 16 after losing 1-0 to Tunisia at Roumde Adjia Stadium on Sunday.
It was Youssef Msakni who notched the all-important goal in the 47th minute to end the Super Eagles’ fairy tale run in the competition. The 25-year-old Iwobi, who currently features for Everton in the Premier League, was also red-carded seven minutes after coming on by Senegal referee Maguette N’Diaye.
“Moments of joy can quickly turn into pain and anguish. As much as it’s a part of football, we came for more,” Iwobi wrote on his Instagram. “Our fans, who shared these moments with us both in Cameroon and across the world, deserved more.
“The beauty of the game is the next moment of jubilation is never too far around the corner. We will be back to fight for our nation, stronger. We owe it to you, and I owe it to myself.
“Thank you for all the words of support and encouragement, It doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Iwobi’s apology comes just a day after Nigeria legend Jay-Jay Okocha supported the decision by the referee to send off Iwobi. Okocha, who is Iwobi’s uncle said the former Arsenal player deserved the red card whether it was intentional or not.
“As a player, we always try to retain possession especially when you’ve had a bad touch but also the referee dished out yellow first because he realized that it wasn’t dangerous play until the VAR called him,” Okocha noted.
“And when they look at replays, sometimes they tell a different story and when we saw that replay I said it that he’s off, whether it was intentional, whatever, he was a bit dangerous on the Tunisian player but that wasn’t his intention.
“I mean these referees play to the book. We’ve had a bad day and when it rains it pours.”
Okocha’s verdict contradicts that of interim coach Augustine Eguavoen, who defended Iwobi by stating his foul was not intentional.
“It’s a little bit difficult, I don’t like to talk too much about referees because they are the masters but there’s nothing wrong if one makes his observations,” Eguavoen told reporters.
“Iwobi’s red card I don’t think was the first foul and it wasn’t intentional also but we have to look at the VAR later and see.
“However, first offense I don’t think demands a red card, it wasn’t dangerous play, and then right in his face, I can see one of the most gentlemen in the team Wilfred Ndidi got smashed right in front of the referee.
“Normally in the game of football when there’s a foul and there’s an advantageous position you let it run so that’s just the only thing I see but again you know the referee is a gentleman and he should be able to control his emotions once the game is on.
“Everywhere is tensed up, it has happened there is nothing we can do about it.”

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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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