Goal Nigeria Player Award Nomination Excites Udoh

Goal NigeriaMfon Udoh is over this world given the inclusion of the his name on short-list for the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year Award for 2014 in recognition of his impressive performances for Enyimba.

He set a new and an all-time goal record of 23 in a season surpassing the previous 21, and scored his 26th goal of the season to help the Nazi Millionaires retain the Federation Cup title and scored 41 goals in two successive league seasons with two different clubs (Akwa united and now Enyimba).

The Nigerian league star would have to slug it out with four foreign-based stars – Vincent Enyeama, Ahmed Musa,, Obafemi Martins and Ikechukwu Uche for the third edition of the award.

The award was won by Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi in 2012 and 2013.

While appreciating the support from his teammates, coaches and fans, the former Akwa United forward admitted he never dreamt of achieving so much as a player in a league season.

“Wow! I’m excited being nominated from the domestic league for the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year award. I’m very happy being listed and contesting among great players for the best Nigerian player in 2014. I’m really happy for the recognition,” Udoh told Goal.

“Well, I must tell you that in my last game of the season in the Federation Cup final against Dolphins, I was dancing all sorts of dances to show how excited I was because the season was so amazing for me.

“Honestly, I never believed I could have a great impact like that last season. It was a great season for me and my career.

“I want to give kudos to my coaches, team-mates and fans around the world for encouraging me by their support and prayers to help me achieve so much this season.'”

The 22-year-old lauded the football site for giving consideration to the domestic league players to make the list of nominees for the coveted award.

“I will say big kudos to Goal for recognizing a local player in our local league and in a local team. At least giving reports of activities of what is happening in our domestic league which shows something good is happening here,” he concluded.

Udoh follows in the foot steps of former Kano Pillars midfielder, Reuben Gabriel and former Sunshine Stars captain and defender, Godfrey Oboabona, players from the Nigerian league that have been nominated for the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year award.

Keshi’s Sack Is Not Alien To Football – Olopade

KeshiFormer Sports Commissioner in Ogun State, Bukola Olopade, believes that the decision to relieve former Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, of his appointment was a normal decision expected in football.

“When the heroics of Stephen Keshi came out after he won the Nations Cup, he was praised by the whole world and if the performance indicators are now showing that there is diminishing returns from his performances and contributions to the national team, every reasonable body anywhere in the world will sit back to reevaluate,” he said.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, Mr Olopade explained that such decisions in sport is to reinvigorate the team, and usually the injection of new personnel galvanizes teams to do better.

Avoiding the use of the word ‘sack’, he noted that Nigerians should not forget that Keshi was not the only one asked to leave his positions, as the backroom staff were also asked to leave, with the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, offering the opportunity for them to go on refresher courses.

This, according to Olopade, shows that the decision made was in the interest of all parties involved, adding that it further means that Keshi “would always come back”.

“There is no other position you can attract Stephen Keshi with than the job of the Chief Coach of the Super Eagles,” he said.

“We should not shout about Keshi alone, This is not alien to football. The law of the game is hire and fire and once it has happened I don’t think we should be crying too much.”

Keshi’s Faults

The non-inclusion of some of Nigeria’s best performing players in the Super Eagles has been highlighted as a major wrongdoing of Coach Keshi.

Olopade berated Keshi for putting personal sentiment ahead of national interest by leaving players like in-form Ikechukwu Uche, and Kalu Uche out of the Super Eagles despite apologies and appeals from the players themselves.

He said that although, there had been allegation that both players were arrogant, their patriotism can not be questioned.

Foreign Manager

Olopade also threw his weight behind the idea of hiring a foreign technical head for the national team.

He said that several Nigerian coaches engage in activities that are counterproductive because of their closeness to players or financial inducement, especially as regards player selection.

He noted, however, that having a foreign coach does not necessarily mean hiring an European coach, expressing joy that the NFF led by Amaju Pinnick had shown that they would not be deceived into hiring just any coach.

The Sport Entrepreneur said that having heard names like that of Egyptian man and former Coach of the Pharaohs, Hassan Shehata, being mentioned meant that the NFF wants to make an understanding of African football and Nigerian players their priority.

Olopade also had good words for interim coach, Amodu Shuaibu, whom he referred to as “the only coach you can call from within Nigeria that will just get into the national team and get things working. He has gone through this two times successfully.

“Unfortunately for him, on both occasions he got us to Eldorado and he was dropped.”

AFCON 2013: Burkina Faso claim late draw against Nigeria

Alain Traore stabbed in with the last kick of the game to give Burkina Faso a 1-1 draw against Nigeria in a Nations Cup clash on Monday night.

The Super Eagles controlled the opening exchanges but did not go on to break the deadlock until the 22nd minute. Brown Ideye managed to flick the ball on for Spartak Moscow striker Emmanuel Emenike, who in turn poked it into the net from close range.

While Nigeria continued to be the dominant force, they failed to add to their tally before the half-time whistle.

Ikechukwu Uche had a good chance to claim a second for the Eagles after the restart, but he shot wide from just two yards out with 65 minutes on the clock.

Then, eight minutes later the Greens found themselves a man light when Celtic’s Efe Ambrose was handed a second yellow card for a challenge on Paul Koulibaly.

Despite the fact that they were at a numerical disadvantage, Nigeria still looked the more likely to score the game’s second goal. However, poor finishing, particularly from John Obi Mikel, meant that they failed to find the net.

Their failure to do so was punished four minutes in stoppage time when Auxerre’s Traore found himself unmarked 10 yards from goal and he responded by rolling the ball into the net.

The result leaves Group C all square, after Zambia and Ethiopia also drew 1-1 earlier on in the day.

Keshi not disturbed with Yobo’s absence

Super Eagle’s Coach, Stephen Keshi, said there is no cause for alarm at the absence of skipper Joseph Yobo just as Chelsea’s midfielder John Mikel Obi joined the team earlier on Wednesday.

Keshi revealed that the medical team at Turkish side Fernabahce have ruled Yobo out of the match against Liberia with a torn cruciate ligament and have put him on medical examination to determine whether he could travel to Nigeria to cheer the team to victory.

Yobo’s knee is reported to have swollen after he played 70 minutes for his Turkish side over the weekend

According to the Eagles Coach, Yobo, spent over one hour on phone with him to confirm he will not be available for this weekend’s crucial tie against the lone star of Liberia.

Yobo played in last month’s 2 all draw in Liberia but was later replaced by Efe Ambrose in the second half.

In June, he missed all three of Nigeria’s Nation’s Cup and World Cup qualifiers against Rwanda, Malawi and Namibia also on account of injury.

Meanwhile Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi arrived the Metropolitan Hotel camp of the Eagles Wednesday afternoon, after his protracted battle to get a Ukrainian visa for his side’s UEFA Champion’s League game next week.

Mikel said he is fit for the encounter against Liberia to cool off speculations surrounding his availability.

The camp of the Super Eagles in Calabar is bubbling with activity as most of the invited Europe-based players have arrived ahead of the weekend’s 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Spokesman of the team, Ben Alaiya, confirmed to Channels Sports that Ambrose Efe, Brown Ideye, Ahmed Musa, Joel Obi, Victor Moses and Ikechukwu Uche have all arrived the training camp. Other are Elderson Echiejile, Obiorah Nwankwo and Onazi Ogenyi have showed up in camp

Alaiya confirmed that only 3 players are still being expected.

Earlier goalkeepers Austin Ejide and Vincent Enyeama as well as Nosa Igiebor joined up with the 7 players from the Nigeria Premier League in a training session