The Super Eagles of Nigeria will tomorrow at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja open their bid to qualify for the 2023 African Cup of Nations billed for Ivory Coast with their first Group A fixture against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone. The Eagles under the tutelage of nascent Nigeria’s new coach, Jose Peseiro, would be aiming to return to the African championships with a bang, especially, after flattering to deceive in their last outing, where they were stopped by the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in the second round in Cameroon.
However, they must first of all, negotiate their way past the Leone Stars, who only few months ago stared them in the eyes without blinking, home and away. On paper, the Super Eagles may appear as the favourites to open this Group A account with victory, but nothing is guaranteed. This is because, in the last two meetings between the two, the Eagles were in the ascendancy at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, racing to a 4-0 lead before contriving to concede the lead and played out an unbelievable 4-4 draw. The return leg offered no better tale for Nigeria as it ended scoreless.
It is on this background that tomorrow’s clash would certainly be set. While the Super Eagles should be motivated to prove a point and show that they are a class above the opponents, the visitors would be buoyed by their last experience in standing up to the Nigerian team. The Leone Stars arrived Nigeria early and have been perfecting their strategy to take a major scalp in the group.
The Super Eagles on their part are just coming from a tour of the United States, where they took on Mexico and Ecuador in friendlies. Though the two games ended in defeat for coach Peseiro and his wards, they must have afforded the coach ample opportunity to see his team in competitive action from close quarters. It is expected that he should work to fix the lapses noticed in the games as they go for the real thing, beginning with Sierra Leone tomorrow before other dates with Sao Tome and Principe and Guinea Bissau for the tickets available from the group.
The facts are ominous for the Super Eagles though. They are winless in five games on the trot and the fact they conceded the first goal in four of those four encounters is telling. Coach Peseiro must, therefore, ensure that he gets his personnel and tactics spot on in order to begin the race on the front foot. After experimenting with Cyriel Dessers and Terem Moffi against Mexico and Ecuador, the return of Victor Osimhen is expected to add more verve to the attack, while Leon Balogun in defence and a tweak of the midfield should give the Eagles more balance and teeth to attack tomorrow’s opponents.
The plucky Leone Stars will certainly be aiming for an upset as coach John Keister would want see early advantage in the race go to his side. They may not possess as much individual quality as may be ascribed to the Super Eagles, but they have proven to be a stubborn and resilient unit. It this notion, that is expected to guide Coach Peseiro and his team as they file out tomorrow to battle the visitors.
Unfortunately, home comfort will count for little as the game billed for 5pm will be without fans, Nigeria, serving the sanction for fans’ misdemeanor last time out versus Black Stars of Ghana at same venue.
By: Gabriel Nwanetanya
How Day Six Lifted Rivers At NYG
Team Rivers added six more medals to their total haul on Day 7 of the National Youth Games in Asaba, Delta State. The medals include two gold and four bronze.
In 4×400 metres male, the quartet of Michael Aniche, Benjamin Progress (both 13), Willngton Majesty and Daniel Caleb (both 14) returned a time 3 mins, 26 secs to pick the gold medal.
In 4×400 metres girls, four 14-year-olds Osinachi Miracle Sunny, Queen Nwika, Esther Barasin and Valerie Amapakagbo, came third behind Delta and Anambra to get bronze.
Still in the relays, this time in the 4×100 metres for boys, 14-year-old Itoemugh Kingsley teamed up with Daniel Caleb, Michael Aniche and Gauis Expensive for yet another bronze medal performance.
Gaius Expensive, a 14-year-old SS3 student of Community Secondary School, Ogan-Ama narrowly surrendered second place to his Akwa Ibom counterpart to land his second bronze of the day, in the 200 metres boys, while age-mate Honest Dike of Baptist Vocational College, Ahoada also landed bronze in the 800 metres boys, behind Taraba and Gombe.
The second gold medal of the day for Team Rivers came in the final of baseball for boys. The team found themselves one run down before rallying to beat Kwara by 4 runs to 3.
The game which was almost marred by trouble was disrupted when the crowd, solidly behind the Rivers side perceived some fowl officiating.
However, the team, which according to Coach Fineface Fate and manager, Shaibu Adamson has been together for about a year, came from behind to win, with runs from Abdulkadiri Idowu, Yusuf Sodiq, Abdulfatai Abdullahi and Matthew Ayoola.
The games ended yesterday with the closing ceremony.
Bakery Worker Secures Gold For Anambra In Asaba
Anambra State Karateka, Goodluck Njoku defeated Joshua Ehiozubue from Lagos State with 7-0 points on Friday to win a gold medal in the 50kg boys karate event at the ongoing National Youth Games in Asaba, Delta State.
The newly crowned 50kg champion revealed that he works in the bakery to support himself and to avoid social vices.
The 13-year-old said that it was while he was on his way to work that he met Sensei Godwin Okoro who introduced him to karate. Making his debut at the 2023 Youth Games,
Njoku promised not to disappoint the state in future national championships, noting that this is just the beginning.
“I want to thank God Almighty for his goodness and mercies in my life. In my category, I was the shortest, and I still won the gold medal. During the holidays, I work in the bakery to support myself and my parents because I do not want to remain idle.
“I attend Okpoko Community Primary School, and after closing hours, I still go to the bakery to make a little money. One day, Sensei Godwin Okoro saw me and decided to introduce me to karate. I do not know what he saw in me, but I thank God he took me in.
“The state has given me the necessary exposure at the National Youth Games, and this is an opportunity to give back to the state via winning medals. I want to assure you that this is just the beginning of the success story,” he said.
Squash Top Seeds Show Class At Classics
Top seeds, Onaopemipo Adegoke and Rophiat Abudulazeez showed class after winning the maiden edition of the Bolatito Adeyemo Squash Classics held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium at the weekend.
Top 16 players made up of eight men and eight women competed at the two-day tournament.
Adegoke who recently won his first Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournament, defeated Gabriel Olufunmilayo 3-2 to clinch the men’s trophy.
Abudulazeez defeated Jadesola Olatunji 3-0 to reach the finals, while Adegoke defeated Kehinde Samuel by 3-0 to advance into the finals.
Abudulazeez defeated Mistura Durosinlorun 3-1 as she maintained dominance in the women’s category.
For her feat, Abudulazeez went home with N100,000 while Durosinlorun took N60, 000 home while Olatunji and Isaac humbly went home with N30,000 each.
“My trip to Namibia really got me tired but we can’t just ignore this tournament. My game in Namibia also helped but I’m really fagged out,” she said.
Adegoke said that training hard and having played in highly competitive tournaments in recent times have helped to keep him in form.
“Winning my first PSA title in Namibia was a dream come true, there was minus zero support from the audience but with God’s grace and a healthy mental strength I was able to keep it together,” he said.
Prize money for the men’s category is N130,000 while the second position goes home with N80,000 while the third position and fourth position goes home with N40,000 and N20,000 respectively.
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