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First 11: Ex-Nigerian Player Turns Bus Driver + Biggest Sports Stories This Week

Emmanuel Egobiambu  
Updated February 19, 2022

 

 

Another action-packed week is rolling by and sports fans will look back to relish the beautiful and at other times, sad memories of the past seven days. 

Like previous editions, First 11, captures some of these moments, helping you make sense of the ever-busy sporting world!

Olympic Gold Medallist Turns Taxi Driver

Obiekwu played alongside former Arsenal star, Kanu Nwankwo. [email protected]://twitter.com/EmedosiN

 

Former Nigerian defender, Kingsley Obiekwu, made headlines during the week after news broke that he had become a taxi driver. Obiekwu was part of the U-23 side that won Africa’s first football gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games.  Social media was on meltdown as the news made it to the internet. Many lamented the current state of the former defender.

In the wake of the discovery, Super Eagles skipper, Ahmed Musa, reportedly donated N2m to the ex-player who now lives in Enugu State. The Olympic gold medallist said he opened up on his condition so he could get help. Aside from Kanu Nwankwo, Obiekwu said he has had limited interactions with his former teammates. According to him, he picked up the driving job to augment his football management duties.

FG Settles Athletes

Enoch Adegoke and Usheoritse Itsekiri

 

Earlier in the week, the Federal Government paid the medical bills of two athletes injured during the Olympic Games last year. Enoch Adegoke and Usheoritse Itsekiri suffered hamstring injuries while competing at the Games. The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development confirmed the payment of two million, one hundred and seventy thousand naira each to the athletes.

Okagbare Banned

Blessing Okagbare tests positive for human growth hormone and EPO that forces her to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics
A file photo taken on July 30, 2021, shows Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

But there was also bad news for the country’s athletics as the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) slammed a 10-year ban on 2008 long jump silver medallist, Blessing Okagbare.

“The Disciplinary Tribunal has banned Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare for a total of 10 years,” the AIU said.

The 33-year-old was earlier expelled from the 2020 Olympics. The dismissal was just before the women’s 100m semi-finals after she tested positive for human growth hormone at an out-of-competition test in Slovakia on July 19.

D’Tigress Seals World Cup Qualification

The Nigerian girls are the African champions. Photo: FIBA.

 

But the female basketball team gave Nigerians more reasons to cheer after they sealed their qualification for the 2022 World Cup. The D’Tigress defeated Mali in their final qualification game on Sunday to hoist the country’s flag at the championship billed for September in Australia.

The Nigerian side had bounced back from defeat to China in their first game before stunning France to keep their qualification hopes alive in Belgrade, Serbia.

A ‘Non-Negotiable’ Deal

Nigeria take on Ghana for the World Cup playoff. Credit: [email protected] Pinnick.

 

The Super Eagles are also aiming to replicate the D’Tigress feat when they take on Ghana in a 2022 World Cup play-off next month.

During a meeting with UK-based players, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, maintained that qualification for the tournament is sacrosanct.  The football chief, who visited the players alongside the coaching crew, assured that the NFF will support the team in their quest for a ticket to Qatar later in the year. The players also expressed optimism that the three-time African champions will make it to the competition.

Mbappe Steals Show

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP

 

Moving away from Nigeria, the UEFA Champions League returned midweek as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)’s game with Real Madrid headlined the latest round of matches. Youngster, Kyrian Mbappe, stole the show in Paris, outshining Lionel Messi as the French team defeated the former European champions. Mbappe grabbed a late winner in the last 16 tie as the clash ended one nil in PSG’s favour.

Barcelona’s Struggle Continue

Barcelona's Spanish defender Gerard Pique (L) vies with Napoli's Nigeria's forward Victor Osimhen during the Europa League football match between FC Barcelona and SSC Napoli at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 17, 2022. Josep LAGO / AFP
Barcelona’s Spanish defender Gerard Pique (L) vies with Napoli’s Nigeria’s forward Victor Osimhen during the Europa League football match between FC Barcelona and SSC Napoli at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 17, 2022. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

After Mbappe’s masterclass, attention turned to the Europa League where Barcelona and Napoli battled for supremacy. The Catalan’s poor run, however, continued as they struggled to hold the Italian side to a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp. Thursday’s draw will be a major concern for Xavi who is rebuilding the team following the departure of Messi.

Manchester United’s Captaincy Row

A file photo of Manchester United’s Captain, Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo

 

Former winners of the competition, Manchester United, are in the news over a captaincy row between Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire. Multiple reports had suggested that the duo is at loggerheads over the team’s leadership. Interim coach, Ralf Rangnick, is, however, not ready to stripe the England international of the armband despite calls for that. The player himself dismissed reports of a dressing room row at the Old Trafford.

Robinho’s Wanted!

Italy's highest court has upheld former Brazil forward Robinho's nine-year sentence for the gang rape of a young woman
Photo Credit: Gistmattaz

 

On Wednesday, Italian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for former Brazillian player, Robinho. The move followed the confirmation of the former AC Milan player’s conviction for rape. The Italian Ministry of Justice has also asked Interpol to enact the warrant.

A Milan court had in 2017 found Robinho and five other Brazilians guilty of gang-raping a lady after plying her with alcohol in a discotheque. The conviction was confirmed by an appeals court in 2020 and validated by Italy’s Supreme Court in January. Brazil, however, does not extradite its nationals, meaning the former Manchester City star faces arrest when he leaves his country.

Djokovic Eyes Comeback

In this file photo, Novak Djokovic of Serbia takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 13, 2022. Mike FREY / AFP

 

Serbian star, Novak Djokovic, is eager to return to the court and is eyeing a comeback in Dubai. The World number one was at the centre of a vaccine row which pushed him out from defending his Australian Open crown.

Djokovic, who was deported from Australia over his vaccination status and toured the Serbian pavilion at Dubai Expo, said he missed the game.

“I am excited to go back and play on Monday,” he said, referring to the Dubai ATP tournament during brief remarks to the media. “I miss tennis after all that has happened.”

West Ham Drop Zouma

West Ham United’s French defender Kurt Zouma warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between West Ham and Watford at the London Stadium, in London on February 8, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

In England, West Ham coach, David Moyes, said Kurt Zouma was dropped for the 2-2 draw with Everton due to illness. The defender was listed in the squad for the clash despite criticisms over a viral video showing him abusing his cat. West Ham had earlier fined the player for the act, days after the former Chelsea player apologised for the incident.