EMMANUEL Amuneke, coach of the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria, is on the lookout for fresh talents for the national U-17 team. The search became necessary following a mix-bag of performance of the Eaglets at the West African football union, WAFU, tournament in Lome, Togo recently, where the team won a bronze medal.
Amuneke said: “The tournament in Togo gave us the ample opportunity to gauge the players’ response to competition as well as their general attitude and conduct. But, efforts will be geared towards getting a pool of 50 talented players who will be registered for the qualifiers, as well as the 2015 CAN Under-17 Championship in Niger. We will use the next two weeks to look at new players because we need to reinforce the team as it were.”
According to the coach, having a pool of good players would enable him to select good players from time to time. The Eaglets are to play the second round of the qualifiers and will meet the winners of the first round clash between Burundi and Congo DR. The first leg match is billed to hold between July 18 and July 20, while the second leg match is between August 1 and August 3.
The Golden Eaglets were runners-up at the 2013 edition of the championship in Morocco, after losing to Cote d’Ivoire 4-5 on penalty kicks.
Osaze, Yobo, Agbim, Others on World Cup List
AHEAD of FIFA’s May 10, deadline for the submission of final list of players selected to represent their countries at next month’s World Cup in Brazil, the Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday May 6, released a provisional list of 30 Super Eagles players for the competition. The list comprised of four goalkeepers, namely Vincent Enyeama, Austin Ejide, Chigozie Agbim and Daniel Akpeyi.
The team’s defenders selected for the Brazil 2014, were Elderson Echiejile, Juwon Oshaniwa, Efe Ambrose, Godfrey Oboabona, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kenneth Omeruo, Joseph Yobo and Kunle Odunlami.
Also in the team were John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Ramon Azeez, Ejike Uzoenyi Sunday Mba, Gabriel Reuben, Nosa Igiebor, Joel Obi and Michael Uchebo. Others were Ahmed Musa, Shola Ameobi, Victor Moses, Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Nsofor, Osaze Odemwingie, Babatunde Michael, Uche Nwafor and Nnamdi Oduamadi.
The list which was read out by Stephen Keshi, head coach of the team, was released after a three-hour meeting between Keshi and the NFF technical committee members at the Glass House in Abuja. According to the coach, the final list of 23 players to represent Nigeria at the World Cup in Brazil would be released on June 2.
Before releasing the list, Keshi had insisted that he was not arm-twisted by members of the Nigeria Football Federation to include or drop any player in the list. He insisted that he had a free hand from the NFF to select the best players for the World Cup, but he was not averse to taking advice from well-meaning Nigerians on squad composition. “The NFF is our parent body and should be concerned about team composition for the World Cup, because the body is made up of well-meaning Nigerians. But to be honest to Nigerians, nobody in the NFF has come to me to say pick player A or B. They respect my job as the head coach and I respect them as my employers and there is no clash of interest,” he said.
Ethiopians Sweep the Stakes
ETHIOPIAN duo of Teshome Asafan and Wuday Ayalew emerged the men and women’s champions at the Second Okpekpe 10km road race in Okpekpe, Edo State last week.
Asafan broke Moses Masai of Kenya’s 29 minutes, 49 seconds one-year-old course record with the race’s first sub 29 minutes performance, 28 minutes 36 seconds to win the men’s title and the accompanying $25,000 cash prize.
He raced home first ahead of Kenyan duo of Amos Mitel (28 minutes, 53 seconds) and Cornenius Kangogo (29 minutes,01 seconds) who came second and third respectively.
Ismael Yero of Cross River State placed 10th in 31 minutes, 18 seconds to emerge the fastest Nigerian man at the race. He got N100,000 prize for his effort. Lawrence Osheku also received N100,000 for emerging Edo State’s fastest man.
It was, however, a clean Ethiopian sweep in the women’s category as Ayalew, Genet Yalew and Berhane Dibaba, former Obudu mountain race champions, emerged the top three podium finishers. Ayalew ran 32 minutes, 41 seconds to race home first to collect $25,000 prize made possible by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, who added $10,000 to increase the top prize on offer from $15,000 to $25,000. Compatriots Yalew, the 2012 Obudu mountain race winner and Dibaba placed second and third respectively. Deborah Pam emerged for the second successive year the fastest (38 minutes, 06 seconds) Nigerian woman at the race. She placed 10th in the race. Oshiomhole competed in the VIP race alongside Isa Aremu, Nigeria Labour Congress vice-president and Raufu Ladipo, president-general of the Nigerian Football Supporters and other sport supporters’ clubs.
Yusuf Ali, Okpekpe race director, was excited by the performance of the elite athletes. “I think the race can only get better judging by what happened here today. We have two athletes running a sub 29 minutes while the top seven finishers in the men’s race all bettered Masai’s winning time of last year,” he said.
Westerhof Predicts Nigeria Success at Brazil 2014
CLEMENS Westerhof, former coach of the Nigerian national team, is confident that the Super Eagles will reach the second round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “I strongly believe Nigeria will qualify for the round of 16 before their match against Argentina,” Westerhof said, adding: “For me, Iran and Bosnia are no worries for the Super Eagles. We will always beat them.” The Nigerian team will lock horns against Iran then Bosnia-Herzegovina before their final group match against favourites Argentina.
Westerhof also disclosed that he had kept in regular contact with Stephen Keshi, Nigerian Super Eagles coach, who was his captain for many years. “I’m in constant touch with Keshi and I always offer him my advice. I tell him to look out for players who are ready to fight on the pitch for the nation.” Westerhof steered the national team to its first ever World Cup finals in 1994.
— May 19, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT