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Nigeria`s Football administration needs overhauling, says Elegbeleye



A former Director-General of the National Sports Commission, Gbenga Elegbeleye, has called for a thorough examination of football administration in Nigeria as a response to the national teams’ dwindling fortunes.

Elegbeleye told Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday.

“Age-grade and women’s football have always been our strength and we particularly do well in those tournaments. But here we are not booking qualification for international age-grade and women’s competition,“he said.

He alleged that football administrators these days bring in their clients, cronies and kinsmen to manage the affairs of the country`s national teams.

“I am not happy about the tragedy that befell our national teams this year,” he said.

NAN reports that the most recent football under-performance by Nigeria came when five-time champions, the Golden Eaglets, failed to go beyond the round of 16 at the U-17 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Before then, the home-based Super Eagles also failed to qualify for the  Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in Cameroon in January 2020.

The national U-23 team, the Olympic Eagles, also failed to book a Tokyo 2020 ticket, as they could not go beyond the group stage at U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.

The women’s national teams haven’t fared better either. The Super Falcons didn’t qualify for the Olympics, as they were beaten to the ticket by Cote D’Ivoire in Oct.

Elegbeleye, who was a member of the 2011 Ministerial Committee on Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria, said only a careful and complete overhaul of the system would curtail further underachievement.

Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, had on Monday met with the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The minister demanded a written explanation over the “dismal” exit of the country’s teams from four football tournaments.

But Elegbeleye stated that the minister should go beyond demanding an explanation.

“We need a complete overhauling of football administration in Nigeria.

“With all due respect to the current board of the NFF – I do not have any problem with the board – football is not Nollywood.

“It takes effective and efficient football administration to deliver success in every aspect of the football value chain.

“Football matches are won on the pitch by players through the input of the technical crew, but football successes are engineered and recorded in the boardroom.

“We need to sit up and tell ourselves some hard truth that football is not a showbiz. Grandstanding and showmanship can’t earn us success in the game,” he said.

He, however acknowledged that the men’s senior national team, the Super Eagles, were at the heart of whatever went well for Nigerian football in 2019.

“Yes, the Super Eagles are about the only success story in Nigerian football this year.

“They got to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations and have so far recorded 100 per cent success rate in the 2021 qualifiers.

“However, they have only played Benin Republic and Lesotho.

“For me, their true test comes when they play fellow African powerhouses such as Senegal, Ghana and Algeria. Benin and Lesotho victories are routine,” he said.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Sadiya Hamza


Imeh, Emmanuel power into quarterfinals of Rainoil Tennis Open



Two tennis players, Joseph Imeh and Sylvester Emmanuel, have qualified for the quarterfinals in their respective games in the ongoing Rainoil Tennis Open, men single defending champion.

Christian Paul, who was seeded 13, Imeh had to dig in deep to win at 7/6 (3), 5/1 to move closer to the title race.

It was at a tight first set, and Paul’s level tailed off in the second set as he retired due to injury.

Imeh’s opponent in Friday’s quarterfinal fixtures will be Godsgift Timibra, who advanced at the expense of Clifford Enosoregbe.

Enosoregbe had carved out an early break against Timibra in the third game of the first set at 1-2.

While serving in the fourth game, the former national champion double faulted for 40-40 and reacted quite angrily, hitting the ball to the other side of the court where it met Timibra.

It was a different ball game for Emmanuel as he had an easy game playing against Paul Emmanuel, who he outplayed in two straight sets of 6/3, 6/2, to keep his hope of adding the Rainoil Tennis Open crown to the CBN title he won in June.

Also, through to the quarter-finals are Chima Michael and Thomas.

Chima rallied sensationally from a set down to knock out 3rd seed, Uche Oparaoji, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4, while 4th seed, Otu outclassed Joseph Iyorovbe 6-0, 6-2 to remain in the title chase.

In the ladies’ singles, tournament number one seed, Oyinlomo Quadre, produced a near-perfect performance to beat Loveth Donatus as she moved into the quarter-finals.

Bidding for her third straight national title, the 16-year-old Quadre surrendered just a game in a comprehensive 6-0, 6-1 victory.

The talented youngster will next take on 5th seed, Patience Onebamhoin, who advanced following a 6-1, 3-1 (rtd) win over Bukola Olowu, who retired due to injury midway through the second set.

Fourth seed, Christie Agugbom defeated youngster, Oiza Yakubu, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals.

The contest- a repeat of their quarter-final encounter which Agugbom won- began with Yakubu breaking in the opening game of the first set, but Agugbom broke back immediately for 1-1.

Both players would again trade breaks, before staying on serve until the 10th game, where Agugbom broke to take the set.

Second seed Aanu Aiyegbusi kept up her fine form as she eased past Toyin Asogba 6-3, 6-0 to also join the quarter-final train, while Ibironke Oladipo made light work of Amala Nwokolo, winning 6-1, 6-0.

Edited & Vetted By: Olagoke Olatoye

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AFN will unravel all past corrupt practices- Acting President



Olamide George, Acting President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), says a fact-finding committee will work diligently in line with the law to unravel all past corrupt practices in the federation.

George made this known on Thursday in Lagos.

He said in a statement that all the atrocities that bedeviled the federation in the past few years would be looked into.

According to him, there is need for the federation to rebuild its image and the confidence of athletes and officials by remaining committed to promoting its founding objectives.

“AFN is still a member of the National Sports Federation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and will continue to act in line with the Code of Governance.

“The Athletics Federation of Nigeria Constitution in Article 6.13 states An Ordinary Congress is held every year as stipulated by the National Sports Federation Code of Governance.

“The AFN ordinary elective congress is held every four years in line with the Olympic circle subscribe to.

“The purported Awka, Anambra State Congress is illegal and of no effect.

” It contravenes Article 6.1.4 which states that convening of the Congress shall be sent to the Secretariat of each member association by the AFN Head Office.

“It should be done at least 60 days prior to the date of the Congress of the Constitution of Athletics Federation of Nigeria,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Olagoke Olatoye

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LOC hails standard at Ebonyi veterans football competition



The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the on-going Ebonyi Veterans Football competition has hailed the standard of play being displayed by participating teams.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the competition has two teams each from the three senatorial zones of the state and features players above 40 years.

Mr Emmanuel Utobo, the competition’s LOC Chairman, told NAN on Thursday that the players had exhibited high tactical and technical knowledge of the game not expected of individuals of their ages.

“The fans can attest to it that such standard has eliminated the tag of ‘novelty’ which such competition is usually associated-with.

“People were expecting to see the players going against the sport’s rules and parrying the ball for instance instead of kicking it.

“We have instead seen encouraging levels of fitness, accurate and incisive passes, and cohesive play by the teams among other positive attributes.

“This can however be attributed to the parading of ex-footballers by the teams especially former players of the defunct Ebonyi Angels Football Club (FC) and clubs across the country and abroad,” he said.

Utobo who is the Director of Sports in the state, however expressed displeasure with the low-level of conduct exhibited by some of the participating teams.

“We expected high level of maturity from the teams even after softening on the rules to accommodate their conduct.

“We are however effectively managing the situation to ensure that the competition ends successfully,” he said.

The LOC Charmian noted that such unsavory behaviour was displayed by the Ebonyi central zone’s team ‘A’ which failed to appear for its best losers decider against Ebonyi South team ‘A’.

“The match was to determine the competition’s best loser that could join the three already qualified teams for the semi finals.

“The Ebonyi central team ‘A’, however, failed to turn-up after the officials ‘graciously’ waited for about one and half hour instead of the stipulated 30 minutes,” he said.

He announced that the semi finals which were originally slated for Sunday, Dec. 8 had been postponed due to a religious programme at the Pa Ngele Oruta stadium, Abakaliki on that day.

“A new date will be announced for the semi finals and would be duly communicated to the affected teams,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Donald Ugwu

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FCT set for maiden ECOWAS-Abuja Int’l Marathon



No fewer than 500 international and local athletes will participate in the maiden ECOWAS-Abuja International Half Marathon scheduled to hold on Dec. 14.

Mr Francis Njoaguani, Director, ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on preparations, said the event is open to athletes outside West Africa.

Njoaguani said the race with the theme “Run for Unity and Integration” is being organised in partnership with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and would see athletes win cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

According to him, adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure a hitch free race expected to cover about 22km.

“As ECOWAS, we don’t believe that Abuja has a problem with security; we are convinced that the Federal Government is equal to the task.

“The Minister of FCT is part of the process and we believe that they will put in place all the necessary mechanisms to ensure safety of all the athletes.

“The proof that we have today is that International athletes have already registered because as at now, we have four athletes from Ethiopia and Kenya who have indicated interest to be part of the process.

“We have also got confirmation from some Cameroonian athletes that they will be part of the event and all these are evidences that Abuja is a good enough place for the race.

“There is no difference in security situation in Nigeria compared to any other part of the world; every day we hear incidence of attack but that doesn’t stop life from going on.

“So, security agents and authority in Nigeria are fully capable of ensuring not just the safety of athletes but all other people that will come out to cheer athletes to the finishing line,” Njoaguani.

On her part, Director of Sports, FCTA, Mrs Dilichukwu Onyedinma said although the competition would involve participants outside the shores of ECOWAS member States, the sole purpose is to foster unity among members of the sub African region.

“This event is going to involve international athletes; athletes from ECOWAS countries and four athletes from East Africa.

“We also have a theme; ECOWAS is for integration and Abuja is for unity, so we came up with a theme, Run for Unity and Integration and it is important we make people realise this,” she said.

Edited & Vetted By: Ismail Abdulaziz

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UEFA president criticises VAR use, says football needs uncertainty




Nyon, Switzerland, Dec.5, 2019 Football needs uncertainty, the head of European soccer body UEFA said, as he criticised the way the Video Assistant Referee  (VAR)  technology had changed the character of football matches.


UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during the press conference REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Aleksander Ceferin said that UEFA would propose soccer’s rulemaking IFAB make changes to the way the VAR system, officially introduced in 2018, was being implemented, though he did not want to give more details.

The use of system, where match officials use video replays to check decisions by the referee on the pitch and flag possible mistakes, has been surrounded by controversy over the last few months.

Critics say the system goes far beyond its original remit and that decisions are taking too long.

“The game is changing and we are afraid that it is changing too much,” Ceferin told reporters following a UEFA executive committee meeting, adding that the search for refereeing perfection was futile.

“Football needs uncertainty because the players make mistakes and the referees on the pitch have to take responsibility, not some people hidden in a van or a building 500 kilometres from the venue,” he said.

“I can live with the fact that referees are human beings who make mistakes but now when technology makes a mistake, that is a problem,” he said.

Ceferin said he was not against VAR in principle but said that “we have to make it clearer, we have to make it faster, we have to make it less invasive — but it will stay.”

One of the biggest sources of controversy has involved offside decisions where VAR officials use gridlines superimposed on the screen, leading to goals being disallowed because a player’s toe or armpit was offside.

“The line is very thin and it’s drawn by the VAR so it’s the subjective line of an objective fact which is a bit strange,” said Ceferin.

Other sources of confusion include the new handball rule and how far back in a move VAR officials should go when checking for infringements.

“Do we check five minutes, do we check 15 minutes?” he said. “The referee never said in the past that we had to go back to a foul seven minutes ago.”

“We still don’t know which handball is handball, who is drawing the lines, how thick the lines are…..there are many questions ahead.”

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Okara/Sadiya Hamza

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Govt should encourage private sector participation in sports



Government at all levels should provide enabling environment and facilities to encourage private sector operators to go into sports for the much needed development to take place.

Chief Joseph Okeke, a former Commissioner for Youth Development and Sports in Anambra,  gave the advice in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Awka on Thursday.

“It is the duty of government at the federal, state and local levels to offer incentives in the form of patronage, waiver, etc to individuals, corporate organisations that promote sporting activities.

“Government should as well build sports facilities such as stadia, indoor sports halls, swimming pools and others at catchment locations.

“Then, motivated sports philanthropists will move to schools, towns to attract participants that are numerous, but not knowing how to start, to showcase their talents,” he said.

Okeke said that the country was losing huge resources by not producing sportsmen and women that would win laurels for us.

“Go to our primary, secondary schools, you will see a lot of budding young talents that are growing with nobody wooing them into sports.

“There are lots of benefits to be derived from being a sports person which include monetary reward, fame, scholarships and expense-free international travels which will make the fellow a household name,” he said.  

Edited & Vetted By: Tajudeen Atitebi

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