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Ex-international commends LMC for improving NPFL standard




Ex-International Mutiu Adepoju on Thursday, commended the League Management Company (LMC) on the body’s dedication toward improving the standard of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Adepoju gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

The former Shooting Stars FC (3SC) of Ibadan noted that the beginning of the league was shaky because of violence in some clubs.

“Truth must be told. The LMC has come a long way, and it keeps getting better, compared to what it was like 10 years ago.

“Although violence in the beginning of the season made it look like the league was in disrepute, but as the league progresses, we haven’t had cause for violence.

“I believe there is still much to be done, in so many important areas that affects the league, and I believe that as the league progresses it will only keep getting better,“ he said.

Adepoju said he was positive that the second stanza of the league would be better than the first.
NNN reports that the 2018/2019 football season kicked off Jan. 13 across the nation.


Turkey qualify for Euro 2020 with draw against Iceland, France also secure spot



Turkey qualified for the Euro 2020 finals with a goalless draw in a Group H against Iceland on Thursday, with the result also ensuring France a place in the championships.

They join Belgium, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain and Ukraine as the teams who have already qualified for the tournament that will be staged across 12 European countries from 12 June to 12 July 2020.

Turkey lead Group H with 20 points although France can overtake them at the top if they beat Moldova later on Thursday.

Third-placed Iceland are out of the running as they have 16 points with one qualifier remaining.

Both teams struggled to make an impact with Turkey striker Burak Yilmaz failing to find a way past Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson.

The hosts pressed harder in the second half but Iceland’s defence kept them from scoring.

Midfielder Ozan Tufan came close to scoring in the 63rd minute but his effort brushed past the crossbar.

Iceland also missed a chance to score in the closing stages when Hordur Magnusson’s header was blocked by Turkey defender Merih Demiral on the line.

Before kickoff, Turkish fans whistled as Iceland’s national anthem was played.

Edited by Felix Ajide

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NPFL: Rangers pips Sunshine Stars 1-0 in Enugu



Rangers International FC of Enugu on Thursday, beat visiting Sunshine Stars FC of Akure 1-0 in a rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) match played in Enugu.

Nnamdi Egbujuo’s 54th minute goal gave victory to the home team.

Though the first 45 the minutes ended goalless as the visitors had the upper hand but could not break the deadlock in spite several attempts.

Speaking after the match, Rangers coach, Benedict Ugwu expressed joy over the outcome of match and said that the two teams played well.

” I Thank God we won and the most important thing is the three points and not the score line,” he said.

Ugwu said that he fielded new players for them to have a test of the league.

” You know we started the league late so that is why I am fielding the new players now to identify those who can play at the continental championship.

” With time we will get the new players glued together and the goals will start coming,” he said.

Sunshine Coach, Kabiru Dogo admitted losing to a better side.

He said that the players did well in spite of playing two matches in the league with the same players.

” You know we are working with only 17 players and we are trying to rotate them so that they will not brake down before time.

” It is a good match with good officiating and the better team won so we are going home to work more on our game.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Ali Baba-Inuwa

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IOC President tasks FG on grassroots development, infrastructure



President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Dr Thomas Bach, has urged the Federal Government (FG) to strengthen grassroots sports development and infrastructure in order to produce more Olympic champions.

Bach gave the advice on Thursday in Abuja during an interactive session with Nigerian Olympians as part of his two-day working visit to Nigeria.

He said the visit was part of efforts to support the country’s Olympic preparations and further boost the ideals of the Olympics.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the IOC boss, thereafter, toured the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, and visited an NOC partner-school as part of his working visit.

Bach rounded off his engagement for the visit with the inauguration of the National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA) headquarters building in Abuja.

He said the inauguration of the building would automatically transform Nigeria to the capital of Olympic sports in Africa.

Earlier, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, described the event as a great landmark in the development of sports in Africa.

“It is a day that the entire black race should be proud of. And as Nigerians, we are proud to be a major contributor to the actualisation of this day.

“Aside the obvious fact of the commissioning of the building that would, from today, be the administrative and technical hub of sports administration on the continent, we also have in our midst, the leaders of the world governing body for sports, ably led by the president of the International Olympic Committee, Dr Thomas Bach,” he said.

He recalled that the journey to the commissioning started about 13 years ago when Nigeria, alongside six other African countries, bided to host the headquarters of ANOCA.

“With the selection and signing of the Headquarters Cooperation Agreement on Feb. 21, 2007, the ANOCA Secretariat, hitherto in Yaoundé, Cameroon, was moved to Abuja, Nigeria,” he added.

The minister also revealed that “After 10 years of trying to get approval for the domestication of the anti-doping bill, the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the domestication of the convention.

NAN reports that Bach, a German lawyer and former Olympic fencer, is the ninth and current president of the IOC.

He had arrived Abuja on Wednesday on a two-day working visit as part of tour of selected African countries ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Edited by Moses Solanke/Sadiya Hamza

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Squash: Junior players improving with each edition, says coach



Seun Peters, Secretary, Squash Coaches Association, says junior players at the ongoing U-13 and U-16 categories of the Ex-Squash Pros Diaspora tournament has shown tremendously development since the inception of the games.

Peters said this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Thursday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium,Lagos.

The third edition of the competition serves-off from Thursday, Nov. 14 to Saturday Nov.16.

NAN reports that the Ex-Squash Pros Diaspora, was established by former professional players who came together to give back to the sport that has given them so much.

“The spectators will agree with me that there has being tremendously improvement, if you look at the categories when we started two years ago, there was a difference.

“Right now they know what it takes to be a professional, they have grown a lot and it’s commendable; in the next five years, it will be explosive because these upcoming have so much to give.

“ In the nearest future we will witness a big turnaround in the squash, we are sowing seeds that will yield fruits in the future,” he said.

Asked if the junior players are well acquainted with rules of the game, the former player said the players were catching up fast with the rules and regulations of the game.

“ They are learning fast, it will amaze you what they know, when you see them on the court they play like pros, because they know where their feet should be, they know how to drop their balls.

“I believe with regular competitions, they will keep improving, and I  believe that before they get to 19 years of age, their game will be top notch,” he said.

NAN reports that in the U-13 category for boys Ibrahim Abdulazeez defeated David Olaniyi 3-1, Dominon Utukpe defeated John Ukan 3-0.


Edited by Joseph Edeh/Wale Ojetimi

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OSOPADEC developing sports to curb youth restiveness – Chairman



The Chairman, Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Mr Gbenga Edema, on Thursday said the commission was developing sports in its mandate area to curb youth restiveness.

Edema made this known when the executives of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Ondo State Chapter paid him a courtesy visit in Akure.

He said that incidents of kidnapping and restiveness had reduced in the area because the present government was giving attention to issues affecting the people in riverine areas.

Edema said OSOPADEC Football Club did not have a player above 22 years of age, because the commission was focussing on catching young talents to have a prolonged career at the national level.

“We have a lot of youths that we manage but to the glory of God, for some years back now, we have not had issue of kidnapping in the area. It is because we decided to engage them in sports.

“It is not that they desire those things (restiveness); it is as a result of neglect, environmental problem, environmental degradation over the years.

“With intervention through the amnesty programme and implementation of sporting activities under this government, they will soon be stars.

“That you (SWAN) are identifying things we are yet to achieve, means we are doing it right. Our goal is about developing the young people and pushing them to the next level.

“We don’t have players that are above 22, so our goal is to catch them young. Soon we are proposing school sports competition among schools in the region,’’ he said.

The Commission’s boss, however, promised the executives of sports writers in the state a partnership that would engender development of sporting activities in the riverine areas and the commission in general.

Edema noted that it was the first time the commission would be hosting members of SWAN since inception.

The state Chairman of SWAN, Wahab Bankole, applauded Edema for keying into sports as an avenue to develop youths in the area.

Bankole said the association was ready and committed to partnering the commission in promoting all sporting activities.

Edited by Adeleye Ajayi

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VAR cannot work in Nigerian football competitions for now, sports enthusiasts say



Some sports stakeholders in Nasarawa state on Thursday observed that the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in local football fixtures in the country would fail due to certain obvious reasons.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that VAR is a match official in Association Football who reviews decisions made by the head referee.

The VAR works by using video footage and a headset for communication, and was first used for a major competition at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

NAN reports that Morocco recently became the first African country to introduce VAR in its competition, while several league competitions have since the 2018/2019 season adopted its usage.

VAR was used in Morocco on Saturday in a match between TAS Casablanca and Difaa El Jadida.

Eche Amos, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Nasarawa State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, said he could not see how VAR usage would succeed in Nigeria.

He said this was because the issue of uninterrupted electricity must first of all be adequately taken care of.

“We still have electricity problem in Nigeria, which makes it difficult for the VAR to work, because the technology needs uninterrupted electricity.

“Again, we don’t even have efficient sound system and electronic score boards in most stadiums for the VAR yo be effectively applied.

“Jumping into it will make it easy for us to jump out of it and that is why I honestly believe that, for now, I don’t see VAR working in the Nigerian leagues,” Amos said.

Richard Ajegena, the Media Officer of Nasarawa state Football Association (FA) also expressed reservations about the use of VAR in local leagues in Nigeria.

Ajegena said modalities on the maintenance of the electronic device and the problem of insecurity in the stadium, especially that of violence on match days, must be adequately addressed.

“I don’t think even in the next 10 years VAR will work in Nigerian local leagues with the way we run football in the country. But when more sponsorships are secured, we can succeed.

“However, for now, it will take a while for it to work here,” he said.

Nehemiah Gwammna, a sports journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Lafia, said corruption was another issue that would hamper the introduction and use of VAR in Nigeria.

He said the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) must work closely with the League Management Company (LMC) and private investors for a blueprint on how to introduce and sustain it in the Nigerian league competitions.

Yusuf Luka, a football enthusiast, also said there was a need for adequate funding, training of referees and public enlightenment before the introduction of VAR in the country.

“This VAR we are talking about is not as cheap as people think. Aside that, our referees must understand how to work with it and the local fans must be sensitised to the workings of VAR.

“If we don’t take care of all that, I am afraid we will be deceiving ourselves because, as of now, we cannot compare ourselves with Morocco which has started using it.

“Our league is not like theirs and we still have many issues to sort out before introducing it (VAR). If not, it will not succeed,” he said.

(Edited by Joseph Edeh and Olawale Alabi)

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