Super Sand Eagles in Semi-Finals

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Amaju Pinnick, president, NFF

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NIGERIAN Super Sand Eagles progressed to the semi-finals of the 2015 Confederation of African, CAF, Beach Soccer Championship in Seychelles with a 7-6 win over Ivory Coast in their last group game on Thursday, April 16. The win meant that the Nigerians won all their three matches in the group stage of the tournament.

Unlike the previous matches the Nigerians were made to work for the win by the Ivorians as the game dragged into overtime after it was tied at 6-6 after three periods of intense play.

That, perhaps, could be blamed on the dismissal of Godspower Igudia, a Sand Eagles player, in the first period, which handed IVory Coast the numerical advantage.

In two previous meetings in beach soccer competitions, the Ivorians had edged Nigeria 5-4 at the last edition of the African tournament and then repeated same feat with same scoreline at last year’s edition of the Copa Lagos.

But determined not to falter for a third time to the Ivorians, the Sand Eagles stepped up to the plate despite their numerical disadvantage.

Nigeria had Isiaka Olawale, captain of the team, Abu Azeez, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, Emeka Ogbonna and Taiwo Adams to thank for their goals. Olawale scored twice inside full time when the score stood at 6-6.

However, it was the free-scoring Ogbonna who broke the hearts of the Ivorians by scoring the winning goal in overtime to see off the resistance of their West African neighbours.

Nigeria finished top of Group A and have now scored 21 goals in three games with Ogbonna hitting six of them.

The Sand Eagles will confront Group B’s runners-up in the semi-finals on Saturday, April 18.

Odemwinge Returns, Moses Out

Odemwingie
Odemwingie

IT IS an irony for the Nigerians footballers in Stoke City, England. While Osaze Odemwingie, a striker, is set to return to the field of play, it appears the playing season is over for Victor Moses. Odemwingie, who has been suffering from serious knee injury, is on track to play for Stoke again this season.

The Nigerian striker made a significant impact during the second half of last season after joining the club in a swap deal with Kenwyne Jones, Cardiff forward in January 2014, but has been sidelined with cruciate knee ligament damage since the end of August.

“I’m joining the team (in training) again and it’s a big step in my rehab,” Odemwingie, 33, told Sky Sports.

“It’s just a bit over six months and I’m really pleased because it’s a bit earlier than some players. I hope to be mentally right but it looks okay. I’m not scared and hopefully I can get one or two games before the end of the season.”

Moses
Moses

But Moses, a winger, looks set to miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. The Nigerian suffered a recurrence of the problem in the 1-1 draw at West Ham and is unlikely to appear again this term, according to Mark Hughes, Stoke manager.

Despite the injury, Hughes is reportedly keen to make Moses’ stay at the Britannia Stadium permanent. The 24-year-old is currently on loan at Stoke from Chelsea. “It may well be that Victor’s season is over unfortunately because of the type of injury he has got,” Hughes told the club’s official website. “He might get back but at the moment we’re probably thinking that he won’t make it. It’s a shame because Victor has done really well since he’s been with us.

“He was our shining light in the early part of the season and then unfortunately he got a couple of quite serious injuries that held him back, and in the end he hasn’t been able to finish the season with us.

“He’ll look back on his time with us and think he’s made an impression and done well and we’d agree with that because he’s been a really important figure for us this season.”

NCF Builds Two New Pitches

Onyeama
Onyeama

THE Nigeria Cricket Federation, NCF, is planning to construct two international standard cricket pitches at the Abuja National Stadium. Emeka Onyeama, president of the NCF, who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Abuja on Thursday, April 16, promised that work on the project would begin on Friday, April 17.

According to Onyeama the aim is to provide conducive playing pitches to boost Nigeria’s chances of securing the hosting rights for the 2016 Cricket World Cup. He disclosed that the N200 million for the project would be provided by Montage Cable TV, the NCF’s new sponsors. “We want to be able to host cricket World Cup and invitational tournaments from countries all over the world because Nigeria is a very big market.

“We want to use this ground to commercialise the game in Nigeria and reach out to many countries to ensure quality matches are played here on weekly basis.

“Television stations will be expected to buy broadcast rights and we cannot do this if we do not have an international standard ground, that is why we are working hard to have these pitches in place,’’ Onyeama said.

He said work on the pitches, covering 22.5 hectares, would be completed in three months ahead of the National Cricket Club League in September.

Klopp Keeps Everyone Guessing

Klopp
Klopp

JURGEN Klopp, charismatic Borussia Dortmund manager, who announced his exit from the German club at the end of the season, has succeeded in keeping everybody guessing about his future career. Klopp, who has long been considered one of European football’s most charismatic and coveted coaches, shocked his admirers when the club announced that he would end his seven-year management of Dortmund football club at the end of the season. But the hugely admired tactician said he was not going on sabbatical which has caused some speculations about where he would be heading hereafter. Part of the speculations is that he might take over Manchester City, but the German had been quoted in the past that he did not fancy a big spending club the English club. “I don’t want the most money for a team because that brings problems. I don’t want these problems,” he said. Reports, however, revealed that the City management could still be interested in him after the recent failures of Manuel Pellegrini, current City manager.

In an interview last November, Klopp made it clear that he was interested in working in England. “It’s the only country, I think, where I should work, really, next to Germany, because it’s the only country I know the language a little bit and I need the language for my work.” But for now all the big clubs in the country such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United fully out of the running, it remains to be seen if his destination would actually be England.

Although Arsenal admires Klopp and the German admires the club, but his chance replacing Arsene Wenger this summer looks slim.

However, bookmakers believe his chances of replacing Carlo Ancelotti at the Real Madril is very high. This was because at a recent news conference staged to deny the sacking Ancelotti, Florentino Perez, president of Real stated Ancelotti would be in charge for “days and weeks” ahead – but refused to commit himself further than that.

But observers said the major stumbling block could be Zinedine Zidane, a Real legend, who is being groomed as a future manager by Perez and is currently gaining experience in charge of the club’s reserve team.

— Apr. 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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