Lagos, April 15, 2019 The Technical Director of Lagos Junior League (J-League), Tunde Disu (OFR), on Monday bemoaned the continued postponement of the competition which, he said, had not been held for the past four football seasons.
Disu told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that the continued absence of the grassroots development football competition had continued to rob the state off of new talents.
NNN reports that the once vibrant grassroots football league has produced many great footballers for the national teams at the age grade and the senior team.
Some of the players include, Sporting Charleroi of Belgium ace goal poacher and Super Eagles forward, Victor Osimhen, and Leicester City and Super Eagles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi
Others are Feirense FC of Portugal and Super Eagles goal tender, Dele Alampasu, former MFM FC highest goal scorer and FC Zurich highest goal scorer, Stephen Odey, and Sikiru Olatunbosun among others.
It is worthy of note that Lagos J-League has produced more stars for the national team than any other grassroots football tournament in Nigeria, yet it has been overlooked for the last four years.
However, that league is the inactive is giving the man at the helm of affairs of the league, Disu, a serious concern as he appealed for sponsorships from government and private sector.
He said that the league with its reputation as the best grassroots league in the country had been left in the doldrums for too long, adding that he would stop at nothing to revive it.
“J-League is the best organised grassroots league in Nigeria because the records are there for everyone to see. The league has its reputation as the best where scouts do come to make discoveries.
“The prolonged absence of J-League is due to some factors beyond our capacity because it involves all the Local Government Councils (LGCs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) the original co-owners.
“Some of the reasons are the delay in the election of the council chairmen which was done two years ago, then, this year as an election year again.
“After the election, we tried to get the attention of the chairmen to the importance of this league and we got a favourable response; on our own part, we’re making frantic efforts technically,” he said.
Disu said that the management of the J-League was considering other options for getting the league back to the field, adding that the marketing department was working assiduously on it.
“We understand how difficult it is for government alone to run a competition like this, so, we on our won part with the marketing department are considering other options.
“We have set out to reach some companies for partnership and sponsorship. Sponsorship proposals has been sent to some private companies, while we hope to have good responses.
“We have also reached out to some sports betting company because most of the youths are now involved in sports betting which is good for their business.
“The gains of J-League are much because it is the only recognised grassroots league that has produced many players in the age-grade national teams.
“The league has discovered many talented players that have graduated from the age-grade teams to senior national team players like Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Osimhen, Stephen Odey, Dele Alampasu, and the CNN Goal of the Month recipient, Sikiru Olatunbosun,” he said.
Disu said that football was a rewarding venture for potential investors, noting that opportunities abound in the sport because it involved youths that form the largest chunk of the population.
“Football is a big business with high returns; countries that take it serious are already reaping its rewards because it does not come with a loss.
“Football can absorb as many youths as it can because of its passionate appeal to many. Looking at the population, one will find out that youths constitute the largest chunk.
“We can also latch unto this opportunity that we have to effectively engage our teeming youths in sports and also the investors smiling to the bank for the reward on their investment,” he said.
Salah at the double as Liverpool dispatch Arsenal at Anfield
Liverpool made it three wins out of three as Mohamed Salah scored twice in a convincing 3-1 victory over Arsenal on Saturday to take control at the top of the Premier League.
Salah turned on the style after the break at the expense of Arsenal’s close-season signing David Luiz.
The Brazilian’s decision to pull the shirt of the Egyptian gifted Liverpool a penalty to make it 2-0 and turn the game decisively in favour of the hosts.
It was the 12th consecutive Premier League victory for Juergen Klopp’s side.
And it was also their best winning streak in the competition and equalling their record run in the league, matching the streak of victories under Kenny Dalglish in 1990.
“It was a brilliant game from my side so early in the season. It was outstanding,” said Klopp.
“It was a performance full of power, energy, greed and passion, which I think you need to have against a team like Arsenal,” he said.
It was not the mauling Arsenal suffered in their 5-1 loss at Anfield in December.
However, it was certainly an indicator that Unai Emery’s side remain in construction mode and are still a good way behind the elite.
“We are disappointed we lost 3-1 but watching some (of our) players we can be optimistic,” said Gunners manager Unai Emery.
“We have to be realistic but we could fight closer to them. For me today, without the result there were some good periods we showed,” he added.
Emery’s team arrived in positive mood after winning their opening two games and the Gunners’ record signing, winger Nicolas Pepe, could have opened the scoring three times.
After Adrian had raced out of his area and failed to clear, Pepe’s attempted lob from distance fell just wide and shortly after the former Lille winger’s curling shot was not far away.
The Ivory Coast international robbed Jordan Henderson and showed his pace to race goalwards but his shot was well saved by Liverpool’s Spanish keeper.
Four minutes after the re-start however, and not for the first time in his career, Luiz pressed the self-destruct button, blatantly and needlessly pulling Salah’s shirt in the box.
There was little need for VAR to be activated even though the Egyptian didn’t go down under the challenge.
With little protest Salah got up and hammered home the resulting spot-kick.
Luiz’s bad day continued when he was left for dead by Salah on Liverpool’s right flank, and he watched the forward burst goalwards and superbly bury the ball in the far bottom corner.
Substitute Lucas Torreira pulled a goal back for Arsenal in the 85th minute, but the damage had been done. (Reuters/)
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola
La Liga: Real Madrid held to frustrating draw by Valladolid
Real Madrid’s early optimism was punctured by an 88th-minute equaliser by Real Valladolid as Zinedine Zidane’s side stumbled to a 1-1 draw in their first home game of the La Liga season on Saturday.
Karim Benzema looked to have fired Madrid to a second straight win after last week’s confidence-boosting 3-1 victory at Celta Vigo when he scored in the 82nd minute with a splendid piece of skill.
The Frenchman, Madrid’s top scorer last campaign, controlled a pass with his back to goal and swivelled before striking his finish into the far corner to give the home side a deserved lead.
Serbian striker Luka Jovic had gone close to breaking the deadlock earlier in the game when he headed against the crossbar barely a minute after coming off the bench.
Valladolid had offered little in attack but grabbed a shock equaliser with only their second shot on target when Sergi Guardiola struck through the legs of Thibaut Courtois.
The goal plunged a happy Santiago Bernabeu crowd into silence and left Madrid with four points after two games.
“I’m left with a bitter taste because we did the hardest thing, which was to score in a second half where we did not produce our best performance,” Madrid coach Zidane told a news conference.
“It’s a bad feeling when you concede an equaliser so soon after scoring. We played well in the first half, but we were unable to find the net.”
Real were without suspended midfielder Luka Modric but Rodriguez made his first appearance in a Madrid shirt for over two years.
After a strong start in the unforgiving summer heat of the Spanish capital, Madrid struggled to maintain their intensity after the interval.
But they found a breakthrough when it looked least likely due to the quick thinking of Benzema.
They were powerless to deal with the speed of Valladolid’s counterattack which saw Guardiola level six minutes later,
However, Zidane said the draw was not down to his side’s waning energy levels.
“We were less convinced of ourselves in the second half.
“We did not play with fluidity and when we lack that we run into problems. But we cannot blame our result on the heat, our problems today were not physical ones,” he said. (Reuters/)
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola
NBA Global Basketball Championship: Okowa hails Merit Atebe for making African team
The governor hailed her inclusion in the Africa team at the second edition of the NBA Global Basketball Championship in Florida, U.S.
Okowa’s commendation was conveyed in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olise Ifeajika, on Saturday in Asaba.
He noted that the 13-year-old Atebe-Innocent, who hails from Oyede in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta was among the Africans that participated in the junior world tournament between Aug. 6 and Aug. 12.
He said although they lost at the semi finals to the Latin America side we commend her for making Nigeria and Africa proud.
He said that the state government would continue to support the youth to excel in sports in order to curb crime in the society.
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I congratulate an illustrious daughter of the State, Miss Merit Atebe-Innocent, on her inclusion in the Africa team that participated at the second edition of NBA Global Basketball Championship in Orlando, Florida.
“Her exploits in the tournament justified her inclusion and we are glad that she lived up to expectation by adding seven points and 10 rebounds in the African team’s semi-final 36-44 loss to the Latin American girls.
“As a leading state in sports, it is a thing of joy that a Deltan was among the four selected from Nigeria to represent Africa in the global championship.
“As we build on our Stronger Delta vision, we will continue to encourage our youths to take to sports as a means of livelihood and as a way out of vices, poverty and unemployment,” Okowa said.
Atebe-Innocent and Bisola Badmus were the Nigerians in the African girls’ team at the tournament while Hassan Amer and Emmanuel Owonibi made the boys team.
Bayer Leverkusen ease past Fortuna to maintain winning start
Bayer Leverkusen scored three times in the first half to ease past hosts Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-1 on Saturday.
The victory put Leverkusen alongside leaders Borussia Dortmund with maximum points from their first two Bundesliga matches.
A sixth-minute own goal from Lewis Baker put the visitors ahead and Charles Aranguiz added another goal in the 33rd.
His effort was initially ruled out for a suspected handball but following a video replay the goal stood.
Kevin Volland, who was also involved in the first goal, set up Karim Bellarabi for their third goal six minutes later.
Fortuna cut the deficit in the 82nd with Alfredo Morales.
Freiburg are also on six points after coming from a goal down to beat promoted Paderborn 3-1.
Borussia Moenchengladbach, on four points, did the same for a 3-1 victory at Mainz 05.
Dortmund beat Cologne 3-1 on Friday to lead the standings on goal difference. Champions Bayern Munich, on one point, take on Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen later on Saturday. (Reuters/)
Haller double gives West Ham United 3-1 win over Watford
Record signing Sebastien Haller scored a tap-in and a superb bicycle kick for West Ham as they beat Watford 3-1 in the Premier League at Vicarage Road on home this Saturday.
The defeat was the home side’s third straight league loss of the season.
On the 15th anniversary of his West Ham debut, Mark Noble put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot.
Manuel Lanzini was crudely chopped down in the box by Abdoulaye Doucoure in the opening minute to earn the visitors the spot kick.
Andre Gray scored Watford’s first goal of the season to put the home side level in the 17th minute, latching on to a Will Hughes pass and lashing the ball home first time.
After a superb attacking display in the first half, Watford started the second period brightly but the wheels came off when Hughes missed from point-blank range after more good work by Gray.
That mistake was to prove costly in the 64th minute as Felipe Anderson got free down the left before angling a pass in to the feet of Haller.
The sign new man, who reportedly cost the Hammers 45 million pounds from Eintracht Frankfurt in July, fired home with ease.
The 23-year-old French striker sealed the Hammers’ first win of the season with an acrobatic overhead kick nine minutes later after Michail Antonio’s header was palmed on to the crossbar by Ben Foster. (Reuters/)