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Qatar 2022 W/Cup: S’Eagles Fall Short

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The Super Eagles last night at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja added to the frustration and disappointment of Nigerians, especially football fans as they came short in their quest to secure one of the tickets to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup scheduled to hold later this year. The Eagles, under the tutelage of Augustine Eguavoen lost out to perennial rivals, Black stars of Ghana 1-1 aggregate on away goal rule. The first leg had ended scoreless four days before in Kumasi, Ghana.
It was a huge blow to the expectations of many Nigerians who were already looking forward to seeing the nation fly her flag in Qatar among other top footballing nations in the Asian country. Indeed, the Super Eagles have themselves to blame for their inability to scale the Ghanaian hurdle. The match in Abuja was delicately poised after a barren draw in the first encounter and coach Eguavoen and his lieutenants knew what was at stake and exactly what to do to berth in Qatar.
However, a vapid and lethargic team performance played into the hands of the Black Stars as they out foxed a disjointed and lackadaisical Eagles team. Interestingly, the Nigerian team got all they asked and wished for the game as Nigerians turned out in their numbers to support them. The Federal Government even had to declare a half day holiday and tickets were purchased and distributed to people to ensure that the stadium had the desired atmosphere. But the team failed to keep its own side of the bargain.
The Super Eagles had come off the starting blocks in a blast, giving a false sense of hope that they were in mood for business only to fizzle out even before the game took shape. Barely 11 minutes into the game, another keeper howler gifted the Black Stars the lead and precious away goal as Francis Uzoho allowed Thomas Partey’s shot from the edge of the box to beat him. Though the lead lasted for 10 minutes before Skipper William Troost Ekong pulled the Eagles level from the spot via the VAR penalty decision, the Super Eagles only flattered to deceive from then on.
It was indeed a display that lacked cohesion, urgency, leadership, strategy, tact and technique from the players and bench of Nigeria. Even a raft of substitutions failed to change the tide and eventual outcome with the Ghanaians digging in to secure what they have. In their defensive setup, the Black Stars were a far better sight to behold when they attacked and showed that they were a unit that wanted the game more.
In the end, the Super Eagles and indeed Nigerians would rue the missed opportunity to be at the 2022 world cup and what might have been. Again, the performance and not necessarily the result has exposed the deficiency of the country’s bench and other missing ingredients the national team needs to weave a formidable unit, despite abundance of talent.
Elswhere, Mohammed Salah and Egypt will join Nigeria to watch the 2022 world football fiesta on television after Senegal once again proved too difficult for them. Sadio Mane netted the decisive penalty in the shootout as African champions Senegal defeated Egypt 3-1 on penalties following a 1-0 victory in Dakar and a 1-1 draw on aggregate, to reach their third World Cup finals.
Just over three weeks after netting the winning spotkick as the Teranga Lions defeated the Pharaohs on penalties in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Yaounde to win their first continental crown, Mane sent Senegal to Qatar, with Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah missing his penalty in the shootout.
As at press time, it was looking good for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, who was leading Algeria 1-0 to be at 1-1 aggregate.

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FG’s Basketball Ban Primitive, Shameful – Kienka

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The Director, International Tennis Academy and author of the recently published book, ‘Sports in Nigeria – Going Round In Circles,’ Godwin Kienka, has described Nigeria’s withdrawal from international basketball activities for two years as “very primitive and shameful sports politics.”
Last Thursday, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), gave the approval following the crisis that rocked the factionalised Nigeria Basketball Federation in over a decade.
Kienka, in a statement said, “The Ministry of Sports hiding behind the Presidency to make that decision makes it even more odious. It just confirms what we have exposed in the book that most of those who run sports in this country do not care about the athletes, the coaches and the promotion and development of sports in the country.
“At a time when the national women’s basketball team qualified for the world championships and the men are on the way to making it a double, how does their participation or non-participation impede a grassroots or local league programme in Nigeria?”
He added, “If the decision was from the Presidency, why did the statement not come from the Presidency?”
Kienka lamented the decision, saying it denied the home-based players, who would have been a part of the two teams, the opportunity of being scouted by agents from across the world.
“We had the same mix-up and confusion in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria before the last Olympics, leading to the ban of several athletes essentially because of utter negligence of drug procedures by the ministry and the federation. It is said that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

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CAFCC Final : Okpara, Ndah Storm Uyo With Pirates

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Ahead of tomorrow’s final of the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup 2021/2022, former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Willy Okpara and defender, Olisa Ndah  arrived late last night with their South African team Orlando Pirates to Nigeria.
The Soweto-based side who  will face  Morocco’s RS Berkane at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo for Africa’s second club football prize, touched down in Port Harcourt about 11:45pm last night before arriving  Uyo.
In their third appearance in the Confederation Cup, Pirates are playing the final for the second time, and first since 2015 when they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia.
Okpara made his debut for the Nigeria national team in 1996 and was selected for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad. He was capped five times and after he retired, became a goalkeeping coach for Orlando Pirates.
Meanwhile, RS Berkane  breezed into Uyo earlier yesterday aboard a chartered  Air Maroc flight.
Our correspondent gathered  from aviation sources  yesterday  that on board  the Moroccan national carrier were six crew members along  with   96 strong RS Berkane ‘s contingent including players, officials  and  fans  ahead of tomorrow’s final.
The flight that departed  the Oujda Angads Airport in the Oriental region in Morocco  landed in the Akwa Ibom State capital by 3:55 pm Nigerian time for their decisive tie against  Orlando Pirates..
The Orange Boys as the Moroccan side are called, were Confederation  Cup   runners-up (to Zamalek of Egypt) in 2019   and emerged winners in 2020 after beating Egyptian side, Pyramids Egypt  courtesy of a  solitary goal by  Burkinabe  defender ,  Issoufou Dayo at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.
In a related development,   Umbro, the CAF technical sponsors, yesterday revealed the official match ball , FIFA Quality Pro, for the eagerly awaited  fixture .
Based on Umbro’s renowned Neo Pro ball model, the official match ball is “FIFA Quality Pro” certified for use at the highest levels of the professional game and utilises the latest in structural and fabrication technology with a unique graphic that draws on the structural elements of the tournament’s trophy.

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F’Eagles Qualify For 2023 Africa U-20 Cup Of Nations

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Nigeria’s national under-20 male football team, on Tuesday overpowered Cote d’Ivoire in the first semi-final match to reach the final of the ongoing WAFU B Under-20 Championship in Niamey.
The 2-1 victory not only gave them a ticket to Saturday’s final match but also came a ticket to next year’s Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations scheduled for Egypt.
Midfielder Daniel Daga put Nigeria in front after only five minutes, when he cleverly escaped the attention of the Ivorian defenders to nod in from a well-weighted pullout.
The seven-time African champions then launched onslaughts after onslaughts on the Ivorian goal but failed to add to the tally.
It was rather the Ivorians who equalised just before half-time from an intelligently-taken free-kick at the edge of Nigeria’s penalty box.
Neither team could find another goal to gain upper hand before the end of regulation time inside the Stade General Seyni Kountché in Niamey, and the game went into extra time.
Forward Ibrahim Yahaya got the winner for Nigeria in the 111th minute of play when he tucked in from the penalty kick spot to make it 2-1.
The Tidessports source reports that Nigeria will now square up against neighbours, Benin Republic in Saturday’s final match.

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