Coach Maikaba Appeals to Akwa United Fans To Be Patient

Akwa-UnitedWith just one point from a possible six in their opening two matches of the 2016/2017 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season, coach of Akwa United Football Club Abdul Maikaba, has appealed to the management and fans of the club to be patient with the team, promising that better results will come in subsequent matches.

Coach Maikaba made the appeal after his team were forced to a 1-1 draw by last season’s league runners up, Rivers United of Port Harcourt on match day two at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State.

Akwa United lost their first match of the season against ABS in Ilorin and coach Maikaba in his first match at home since his appointment made five changes to the team that lost in Ilorin, dropping to the bench, goalkeeper Olufemi Kayode, left back Shittu Lawal, central defender Laidi Semiu, midfielders Moses Ebiye and Chigozie Chilekwu.

New signing Emmanuel Iwu made his debut in goal while Kodjo Dadzie, Ariwachukwu Emmanuel, Cyril Olisema and Ubong Friday all made their first start of the season.

Playing in front of their home fans, the promise keepers piled pressure on their opponents and it paid off 9th minutes into the game when Babangida Hassan and Christian Pyagbara combined neatly to set up Cyril Olisema who scored from close range to the delight of the home fans.

But the visitors got their equaliser following a counter attack, as Bernard Ovoke levelled up the scores in the 24th minutes of play.

All efforts by the 2015 Federation Cup champions to score the winning goal was unsuccessful as the two teams shared the spoils at the end of the encounter.

Coach Maikaba admitted that a draw at home was a poor result but maintained that he had quality players that would soon produce positive results.

“We are very disappointed that we dropped two points at home. We lost our first match away in week one and we were hoping to win our first home match against Rivers United but that didn’t happen. I am happy that our play is gradually improving. We created lots of goal scoring chances but we couldn’t score. We have to work on that.

“We appreciate the management and fans of this club for the love and support they have given us, but we want them to be patient with us and we will give them the result they need,” he promised.

The former Wikki Tourists of Bauchi tactician continued: “I am very happy that we have a very good squad with quality and experience players. The beginning of the season may appear to be difficult with us, but I can assure everyone that we will soon make us proud with positive results.

“This league is a marathon, we still have 36 more matches to play. So, I am confident that the points we have dropped at home we shall pick even more on the road”.

Akwa United’s next match is a trip to Bauchi to engage Wikki Tourist on match day three which is scheduled for Sunday 22, January 2017.

Invest In Sports, Ekiti Govt Begs Corporate Organisations

NasarawaCorporate bodies, Private organisations and interested individuals have been asked to get involved in the development of sports particularly football at the grassroots.

The Chairman of Ekiti State Football Association, Mr Ayodeji Alabi, who made the appeal, said that the desired results would be difficult to achieve if the running of football and other sports generally was seen as sole responsibility of the government.

He pointed out  that full involvement of both private organisations and individuals through huge investment in grassroots football development would help in the discovery and identification of raw talents that could be nurtured to stardom.

The Ekiti FA boss spoke in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend during a get-together organised by the management of Phoenix Athletic Sports Limited for members of the Ayodeji Ogunsakin-led state chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN).

He said the association was ready to support organisations as well as individuals with genuine interest to developing the youths of the state through the instrumentality of the game of football.

“It takes discipline and determination to make things work. It will interest you to see how best we can develop the game of football from the grassroots. Every genuine agenda geared towards youths and football development at the grassroots will get our support as the body that is saddled with the administration of the game in the state,” he stated.

He, however, stressed the need for the stakeholders to ensure that the game be runned the way it should.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Athletic Sports, Mr Bayo Olanlege, commended the sports journalists for their contributions towards the development of sports in the state.

Mr Olanlege, who bankrolled a national league side, Phoenix football Club stated that the mandate of the organisation was to hunt for young sports talents and groom them for national and international meets.

While noting that the support of the state FA was pivotal to generating ideas for football development in the state, he disclosed that plans were on by his organisation to float a basket ball team.

Mr Ayodeji expressed SWAN’s readiness to support the organisation in its efforts at revolutionising and developing sports in the state and the country at large.

Cristiano Ronaldo Is UEFA Best Player In Europe

Cristiano-Ronaldo-Best-Player-in-Europe-2015-2016Portugal’s forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been named the UEFA Best Player in Europe for 2015/2016.

Ronaldo was named on Thursday at a ceremony that also produced the draw for the group stage of the Champions League.

After he was named winner, Ronaldo said: “My team-mates are the key. They are the key every year.

“I work hard myself but without the help of my team-mates this would not be possible.

“Thanks to my team-mates from Real Madrid and Portugal”.

The Real Madrid striker also said that it was a great honour to have been voted.

“It’s a great honour and thanks to the journalists for voting for me!

“I have to mention Portugal because it was the first in their history.

“It was different because I’ve won the Champions League three times. To win something with Portugal was the highlight of my career,” he said.

He had last month led his team to win the European Nations Cup, in a final that he was pulled out due to an injury.

Man City Sign Claudio Bravo From Barcelona

Claudio Bravo moves to man cityEnglish club Manchester City has announced the signing of Chilean goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, from Spanish side, Barcelona on a four-year deal.

This is according to a statement on the club’s official website which said: “City are delighted to announce the signing of Claudio Bravo.

“The Chilean goalkeeper joins the Blues from Barcelona after signing a four-year-deal”.

On his decision to leave Barcelona, the shot stopper said he couldn’t refuse the opportunity to work with new boss, Pep Guardiola.

“I’m very proud to be joining Manchester City. I know the Club is building something very special and I hope I can be part of many successes in the coming years.

“I have followed City’s progress in recent years and obviously know some of my new team-mates from the Copa America, he said.

“It is not easy to leave a club like Barcelona where I had two fantastic years, but the opportunity to work with Pep Guardiola was too good to refuse.

“Now I will challenge the other great goalkeepers the Club has and together I hope we can win many trophies,” he stressed

James Milner Retires From International Football

James-MilnerLiverpool Midfielder, James Milner, on Friday, confirmed his retirement from international football.

“I would like to thank Sam for taking the time to come and see me in person and have the conversation face-to-face, regarding my international future and role within the England set-up,” Milner told TheFa.

“I think the decision we have reached is all about common sense. I wish Sam, the players, staff and supporters success in the future.”

Meanwhile, the new England Manager, Sam Allardyce, said he respects the decision of the midfielder and wished him well as he continues his club career.

“James has had the chance to reflect on his international career in recent months and consider his next steps, particularly with a young family at home and having allowed himself little free time away from the professional game in the past 15 years,” Allardyce said.

“After we had a lengthy conversation with him earlier this week, he has decided to take a step back from international duty; a decision I fully respect.

“James can be proud of his seven-year career as a senior England player and has never let his country down when called upon. His club career, already glittering, has many years ahead and we wish him well with Liverpool this season and beyond.”

Milner, 30, made 61 appearances for England, including being a squad member at two World Cups and two European Championships.

President Buhari Receives FIFA President, Infantino

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, Muhammadu BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will pay keen interest to accountability and transparency in order to fast-track football development in the country.

The President said this at a meeting with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, and the Secretary-General, Fatma Samoura, at the State House.

For about an hour, both men rubbed minds on how to develop the game of football in the country.

Mr Infantino also met with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and members of the National Assembly and also highlighted the need for football development on the continent.

The Senate President assured the FIFA delegation of the support of the National Assembly. He, however, appealed to the Nigerian Football Federation to put its house in order.

 

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, Muhammadu Buhari
L-R: President of Nigeria Football Federation Mr Amaju Pinnick, FIFA President Mr Gianni Infantino, Secretary General of FIFA Ms. Fatima Samoura and Minister of Sports and Youth development Solomon Dalung at the State House

Gianni Infantino was led to the Presidential Villa by the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr Amaju Pinnick as part of Infantino’s two-day official visit to Nigeria.

He was in company of FIFA Secretary-General, Fatma Samoura, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung and executive board members of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

In a press conference afterwards, the FIFA President said that Nigeria should be a model for the rest of the world in football development.

He said that the football federation needs to work with relevant authorities in order to achieve its goals.

The FIFA President said that his visit to Nigeria has given him a chance to meet with 18 presidents of African football associations who converged on Abuja to meet with him on how to develop football in Africa.

The 40-year-old assured Nigerians of his support for the growth and development of the round leather game in Nigeria.

The NFF Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, has described the visit of the FIFA President, which is also his first in Africa as an epoch event.

He says it also shows the hard work the NFF has put in place in developing football especially at grassroots level.

Football Administrators Should Learn To Accept Defeat – Saraki

Football administratorsPresident of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki on Monday admonished football administrators to learn to accept defeat in the interest of the immediate environment and larger society, and not engage in ‘pull-the-house-down’ syndrome when things do not go their way.

Nigeria’s number three man spoke at the Senate President’s Conference Room at the National Assembly when he received visiting FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samoura, alongside NFF President Amaju Pinnick, FA presidents from other African countries and members of the NFF Executive Committee and Management.

“The kind of global recognition we have today, as a result of this historic visit, challenges us to learn to allow peace and stability in Nigeria football. If people lose election, they should learn to accept defeat.

“People used to blame politicians for do-or-die attitude; politicians have moved; it is now football administrators who have this attitude! When you lose an election, you should be prepared to wait for the next poll.

“I call on those who are fomenting trouble or trying to divide the house to stop their act. The National Assembly is united in moving to restore peace in Nigeria football, and creating an enabling environment for the game.”

Saraki, who owns a football club (ABS FC, in the Nigeria National League), acknowledged the passion and love of Nigerians for football as incredible. “Football is a big unifying factor in our country. As governor of a state, I set up a football academy because there are so many talents out there waiting to be nurtured.”

Earlier, the FIFA boss called Nigeria ‘a great country in a great continent,’ adding: “I was impressed coming from the airport on Sunday and seeing so many kids playing football on both sides of the road. That shows Nigerians not only love football, they live football.

“There is great passion and great tradition, but there is need for unity and stability. I was elected on pledges of reforms, transparency and to develop the game. I am happy that Ms Samoura accepted to be Secretary General and the Executive Council endorsed her, because her choice said something for inclusion, gender equality, diversity and the future that we promise.”

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, reiterated that the visit, the first time that both the FIFA President and Secretary General would travel together on a non–football competition assignment, confirmed that Nigerian football commands respect globally.

He acknowledged the role of the National Assembly in re-defining Nigeria football development, saying that peace is key to true growth.

He also recalled that months ago, the first football match was played in Maiduguri after a long time, with a huge crowd at the stadium boldly proclaiming the power of football to enable ceasefire even in war situations.

In attendance were Senators Obinna Ogba, Philip Aduda, Shuaib Abdullahi, Barau Jibrin, Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai, Monsurat Sunmonu, David Umaru, Mao Ohuabunwa, Tijjani Kaura, Albert Bassey and Mohammed Hassan, and Honourables Goni Bukar Lawan and Danburam Abubakar.

Also on the visit were the FA presidents of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Somalia, The Gambia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia and South Sudan.

NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi; NFF vice presidents, Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko; NFF Board members: Ibrahim Gusau, Yusuf Ahmed Fresh, Babagana Kalli, Sunday Dele-Ajayi, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Sharif Inuwa and Chris Green.

Other are former NFF vice president, Amanze Uchegbulam, former NFF Board member Ahmadu Kawu and Deputy General Secretary Emmanuel Ikpeme.

Earlier in the day, the FIFA President and Secretary General inspected the new NFF headquarters (Sunday Dankaro House) located at the Package B of the National Stadium.

Infantino‎ To Support Nigeria On Football Development

FIFA President, Gianni InfantinoFIFA President, Gianni Infantino, has given the assurance that he will work with Nigeria to achieve football development.

In an exclusive interview with Channels Television, Infantino said that Nigeria already has a framework that can be worked upon for long term success.

The FIFA President affirmed that he will use his visit to establish a productive working relationship with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) that will be geared towards sustainable development.

Infantino also believes it is about time African football leaders get fully involved in international football politics.

Mr Gianni Infantino and the Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samba Samoura, arrived in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja on Sunday on a two–day working visit.

The FIFA officials were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, members of the NFF Board and some football club owners in the country.

The objective of the visit is to renew FIFA’s commitment towards developing football in Africa and promote corporate support for the sport in Nigeria.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino Arrives Nigeria

FIFA President, Gianni InfantinoPresident of football’s world governing body, FIFA, Mr Gianni Infantino and the Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samba Samoura, have arrived in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja on a two–day working visit.

The FIFA officials were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, members of the NFF Board and some football club owners in the country.

The objective of the visit is to renew FIFA’s commitment towards developing football in Africa and promote corporate support for the sport in Nigeria.

About 20 football federation presidents from Africa are in Nigeria for this event and will be meeting with the FIFA President and Secretary General later on Sunday.

On Monday, Mr. Infantino and Ms Samoura, led by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung and NFF President Pinnick will pay a courtesy call on President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.

He will leave Nigeria on Monday after meeting with personalities of corporate Nigeria and potential sponsors of football.

De-Royals FC To Represent Nigeria at World Five-A-Side Championship

De-Royals-FC-Five-a-sideDe-Royals FC from Lagos will represent Nigeria at the 2016 Five-A-side World Championship finals in Bangkok schedule for March 2 to 6 in Bangkok, Thailand.

At the final of the National Football Fives tournament, which was played at the Campos Mini Stadium in Lagos Island, defending champions De-Royals successfully retained the title they won last year after beating Ago FC of Ogun State via penalties.

Over 1,000 teams from different parts of the country registered to compete in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and from the regional qualifiers 16 teams qualified to compete in Lagos for the title and the winner ultimately picked to represent Nigeria at the 2016 F5WC.

The Lagos team was stunned early on in the first half when Ago FC opened scoring against the run of play, But De-Royals levelled up the score a few minutes before the end of first half.

The Second Half was a delight for the neutrals, as both teams gave it their all, but it eventually ended 1-1 and it was down to penalties which was won by the De-Royals FC.

Mr Bayo Akande of FiveSports, the organisers of the event said: “Our plan is to grow football fives in Nigeria, We intend to take it to such lofty heights that it would become the most popular form of football in the world.

“We brought the Amputee Soccer players here today for an exhibition game just so we can show the world a snippet of what we have planned for five a-side football”, the Lagos FA under 13 boys and girls and the under 15 boys have also shown to the world what they are capable of, this is just a tip of the iceberg as we reveal our long-term plans for five-a-side football going forward.

“We also would like to thank our friends in the media who have been of immense help to this Fives tournament since hit the road last in search of the The best Five A-Side team in Nigeria. We must commend all the state FA’s we have worked with on this project,” he said

Akande Also used the opportunity to thank the Nigeria Football Federation and the Office of the Senior Special Adviser On Sports for backing the Football Fives Initiative.

Kabiru Nasiru of De-Royal FC was voted the Most Valuable player and his seven goals at the National finals was good enough to also give him the Golden Boot award.

FIFA: Eight-year Ban For Sepp Blatter And Michel Platini

FifaThe President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter and UEFA boss, Michel Platini, have been suspended for eight years from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation.

They were found guilty of breaches surrounding a $2 million “disloyal payment” made to Platini in 2011.

The FIFA ethics committee said that Blatter and Platini had demonstrated an “abusive execution” of their positions.

Addressing a news conference after the decision was reached, Blatter, 79, said: “I will fight for me and for FIFA”.

The BBC quoted Platini as saying that the decision was a “masquerade” intended to “dirty” his name.

Both men continue to deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Swiss Blatter and 60-year-old Frenchman Platini have also been fined $40,000 and $80,000 respectively.

FIFA boss since 1998, Blatter had already announced he was quitting with a presidential election in February.

Platini was tipped as a future leader of football’s world governing body and is a three-time European Footballer of the Year.

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa – European football’s governing body – since 2007.

Blatter was in defiant mood at a news conference he had called in advance of the punishments being made public.

Segun Odegbami Declares Interest In FIFA’s Presidency

NFFAfrican ace football legend and one of the greatest Nigerian players of all time, Segun Odegbami, has declared his interest run for the presidency of the world football governing body, FIFA.

Mr Odegbami made his interest known in a statement released on Tuesday by his campaign team.

The election is scheduled to take place on February 26, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland.

The position of the President of FIFA is now vacant since the current President, Sepp Blatter, resigned his appointment in June 2015.

New Era Of Leadership

According to Mr Odegbami, also known as ‘Mathematical Odegbami’, a label he was given because of his masterful exhibition of engineered dribbles, technical control of the ball and goal-scoring skills during his footballing era, “the current scandal at FIFA is the organisation’s worst crisis in its 111 years of existence.

“Moving forward, FIFA thus require a new era of leadership that can restore the dignity of the noble sport and that of this esteemed international institution with global followership”.

Odegbami believed that “to address the issue will demand that FIFA purges itself, launders its image, restores its reputation and reinstates integrity into its activities and operations”. this he said would require a new form of leadership with a renewed vision.

He said: “Times like this call for all concerned members of the global football family to contribute to the actualisation of renewed objectives for FIFA by electing a deserving and qualified person, with the right character that can achieve the desired goals and restore confidence and integrity to the organization and its activities. The world is very interested in who becomes the next President of FIFA, considering the present image and state of this institution and I see myself fitting into this role”.

A statement by the spokesman for his campaign team, Dr. Ade Adeagbo, said Odegbami had already conveyed his intention to the Nigeria Football Federation, as required by the electoral guidelines and FIFA Statutes, as well as to the Federal Government seeking their support.

“The process for the attainment of the position of President of FIFA is a long and tedious journey, which Segun Odegbami is prepared to travel,” the statement read.

Mr Odegbami also sought the support and prayers of all Nigerians, the African continent and the whole world.

The deadline for candidates to formally present their nominations through their home football federations, with other supporting documents, is October 26 October 2015.

Candidates will also undergo an integrity test, through FIFA’s ad-hoc election committee.