With the sanctions on Russian businesses biting harder, the quest for a new Chelsea owner has been ramped up. This time, tennis icon Serena Williams and F1 great Lewis Hamilton, are the ones pushing to own a stake in the Premier League club.
The Super Eagles also knew their opponents for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers just as the team’s former coach Gernot Rohr awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack. These and more are some of the top sports stories covered in First 11 this week.
We kick off from England where torrents of condolence messages have been poured in for Cristiano Ronaldo following his son’s death. The former Real Madrid star and wife confirmed their baby boy’s demise in a social media post.
Manchester United, his former clubs, players, and fans thronged social media to comfort the multiple Champions League winner over the sad incident.
The Portuguese star was excused from United’s tie with Liverpool earlier in the week. He, however, was available for selection as the Red Devils lost to Arsenal on Saturday.
Maguire Gets Bomb Threat
Still in Manchester United. Team captain Harry Maguire received a bomb threat but it was unknown who was behind it.
Cheshire Constabulary swept the 29-year-old’s home to ensure his safety. Maguire was up for selection against the Gunners.
The English defender, who stays with his fiancee and two kids, is having a turbulent campaign and has been the subject of stinging criticism from pundits and jeers from fans.
Man United Name Coach
Meanwhile, Manchester United has appointed Erik ten Hag as their manager next season.
The 52-year-old, who has signed a three-year contract, faces a huge task to revive the Red Devils’ fortunes after a fifth consecutive trophyless season. The Dutchman becomes the fifth permanent manager at Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 sent the 20-time English champions into decline.
Drogba, Others Inducted Into EPL Hall of Fame
Equally, Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes was in the news this week. The Englishman joined Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero as the latest inductee into the EPL Hall of Fame.
Vincent Kompany, Ian Wright, and Peter Schmeichel alongside Wayne Rooney and Patrick Vieira are also in the “Class of 2022” inductees.
Serena, Hamilton Join Chelsea Bid
For Man United’s rivals, Chelsea, the sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich over Russia’s war with Ukraine are set to cause major changes in the team. The club has been up for sale and tennis icon Serena Williams as well as Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton have expressed interest in having a stake in the London side.
They will be investing about £20m into a consortium to buy Chelsea and both are part of a group of investors backing the European champions’ takeover offer spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton.
Serena and Hamilton have each pledged £10m to the bid. Lord Coe is believed to be part of the British-led consortium.
Russia, Belarussian Players Banned From Wimbledon
Aside from football, the Russian-Ukraine war is creating ripples in other sports. Earlier in the week, Russian players were barred from Wimbledon. Belarussian players were also affected, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) said.
US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev; Aryna Sabalenka, and women’s four Victoria Azarenka are some of the top players affected. The move drew wide criticism from players, fans, and others stakeholders in the tennis world.
But Russian officials have rejected the ban, describing it as “unacceptable”.
Nigeria Paired For AFCON Qualifiers
In Nigeria, the Super Eagles were paired with Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and either Sao Tome or Mauritius in the qualifiers for next year’s AFCON. The draws were held in Jo’burg, South Africa, and qualifications for the tournament will start in May.
The Super Eagles, who failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, will also be aiming to make amends for their early exit at the last AFCON. The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions and won bronze in Egypt in 2019.
Rohr Awaits FIFA Verdict
The development came as a former coach of the team, Gernot Rohr, awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack. Rohr had reported the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to the football body for breaching contractual terms.
Reports suggest that FIFA had concluded their investigations and are set to deliver judgment on the $1m claims being made by former Niger Republic gaffer. The Franco-German had met all conditions in his contract but was sacked with one year left in the deal. While the NFF said it would pay Rohr his salary until the end of his contract, the ex-Niger boss took the NFF to FIFA. He is seeking compensation for his ‘unfair’ dismissal.
Kano Pillars Sanctioned, Banished
On the local scene, Kano Pillars were sanctioned for fans’ hooliganism. The former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions were fined N9m and banished to Abuja for the rest of the season following the incident which took place last weekend. The club’s fans have, however, condemned the attack which led to the destruction of the visiting team’s bus.
Pele Hospitalised Again
Away from Nigeria, football great Pele was hospitalized in Sao Paulo as part of his treatment for colon cancer.
But the clinical condition of Edson Arantes do Nascimento is “good and stable, and he should be discharged from hospital in the next few days,” the Albert Einstein Hospital said on Tuesday.
Before his diagnosis of colon cancer, which led to Pele being hospitalized for a month last year, the former star of Santos and the Brazilian team was hospitalized in Paris in 2019 and transferred to Sao Paulo to have a kidney stone removed.
Five years before then, he was in intensive care due to a urinary tract infection that forced him to undergo dialysis on his left kidney. The right one was removed in the 1970s due to an injury when he was still a player.
Maradona Shirt Auction Opens
The auction for the jersey worn by Pele’s late friend, Diego Maradona, when he scored twice against England in the 1986 World Cup, including the infamous “hand of God” goal, kicked off with a bid of over $5 million.
Sotheby’s is selling the blue number 10 Argentina shirt in an online sale that runs until May 4. Hours after bidding opened, the site showed that the first offer of £4 million ($5.2 million) — matching the low end of the auction house’s pre-sale estimate — had been registered. That would set a new record price for a football jersey at auction.
The record for a game-worn shirt from any sport is $5.6 million, set in 2019 for a jersey Babe Ruth wore while on the New York Yankees.
The League Management Company (LMC) has fined Kano Pillars N9 million and also banished the team to the MKO Abiola Stadium following a fans’ violence that erupted in their game with Katsina United.
A statement by the LMC on Monday said the Kano-based club violated the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Framework and Rules in the encounter at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano.
“Kano Pillars have been fined N1 million for the throwing of objects onto the pitch by their supporters,” the league body said in the statement.
“The Kano club will also pay a fine of N5 million for encroachment of the pitch by their supporters leading to the discontinuation of the match.
“For failing to provide adequate security, Pillars will pay a fine of N1 million & will pay another N1 million fine for allowing unauthorized persons access to restricted areas.
“The club are further fined N1 million for the unsporting behaviour of their supporters.”
“Kano Pillars will also play their remaining home matches for the current season at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja while the Sani Abacha Stadium is closed down indefinitely to league games,” said the LMC.
The sanction comes hours after the match was abandoned when Kano Pillars’ fans gained entrance to restricted areas during the game. They assaulted match officials and the away team.
“Some supporters of the club further encroached onto the pitch leading to the match being discontinued,” the LMC explained.
A Katsina United team bus was damaged in the violence with the LMC mandating Kano Pillars to “repair and/or replacement of the damaged bus of Katsina Utd as well as certified belongings (of players & officials of the away team) either damaged or lost in the bus.
“Kano Pillars supporters have also been suspended indefinitely from league matches & the club will ensure full compliance with this order.
“Kano Pillars have 21 days to pay all the fines & repair/replace the damaged bus as well as replace certified damaged/lost belongings of Katsina Utd, their players & officials.”
In addition to this, three points will be deducted from the former NPFL champions. The match will be continued from the 79th minute on a yet-to-be-announced date.
“Pillars will bear the costs for concluding the game including that of the away team as determined by the LMC,” the statement further read.
The incident is happening as the Sai Masu Gida returned to their home ground for the first time in two years after being banned for a similar infraction.
Kano Pillars have reduced Akwa United’s lead at the top of the Nigeria Professional Football League table to just two points after beating Lobi Stars 3-0 at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on matchday 31.
Umar Hassan, who is returning to the starting line-up for the first time since the league’s first stanza, opened the scoring for the hosts. It’s Hassan’s second goal of the season. Sai Masu Gida took the 1-0 lead into the break.
Kano Pillars have been formidable at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium and they proved it when the second half commenced. Lobi Stars were just trying to get their rhythm when David Ebuka doubled the lead for Pillars with a header from a corner kick.
In the 63rd minute, charismatic captain, Rabiu Ali scored the third goal and his 12th of the season to seal victory for Coach Ibrahim Musa’s team who are finely placed now to compete for the league title.
Precious Points For Akwa Utd, Sunshine Stars
At the New Jos Stadium, league leaders showed good character to hold Plateau United to a goalless draw. The Promise Keepers will keep the precious point as they chase for the league title heats up.
Coach Abdul Maikaba’s team lost 3-1 to Rivers United on matchday 30 and were in desperate need of a win but his former team defended so well to stop them. The brilliant goalkeeping by Adewale Adeyinka also deserves commendation. In the 68th minute, Nasiru Jibril was booked for a late challenge, free-kick to the hosts. The dangerous free-kick was saved by goalkeeper Adeyinka. In the final minutes of the match, goalkeeper Adeyinka also produced a triple save to deny the hosts.
Sunshine Stars of Akure confirmed their determination to stay in the league with a hard-fought 0-1 win over Heartland FC at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri. Ifegwu Ojukwu’s gave the Akure Gunners the precious win and the second away victory of the season as they continue the fight to avoid relegation.
Another team fighting relegation, Warri Wolves, also put up a good show to consolidate on their good performance in Aba against Enyimba on matchday 30. The Wolves were so close to winning in Aba, a late goal by Austin Oladapo rescued a point for Enyimba.
Their matchday 31 fixture against Abia Warriors was a rush. Under 10 minutes, they scored two goals and held on to it to record their 8th win of the season. For Abia Warriors, things are going from bad to worse, the last time the Warriors won a match was on matchday 27, a 2-0 win over Lobi Stars. With today’s result, Abia Warriors have lost five matches in a row now.
At the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina, Katsina United continued their fine form with a 3-0 win over struggling FC Ifeanyi Ubah. This is the third win in a row for the Changi Boys who have been on fire since stopping Akwa United’s unbeaten run on matchday 29.
The hosts completed the job in the first half. Samuel Kalu opened the scoring in the 25th and got his brace in the 30th. Five minutes later, the in-form Joseph Atule sealed victory for the Katsina-based team. They now have 40 points and secured 12 victories so far. This is the 14th defeat of the season for FC Ifeanyi Ubah and the Anambra Warriors have now dropped into the relegation zone.
In Ilorin, Kwara United continued their home dominance with a 2-0 win over Rangers International Football Club. It was a cagey affair in the first half with both sides creating chances but failed to score.
FThe game was still till the 63rd minute when Kabiru Balogun found the back of the net to give the hosts the lead. With four minutes of regulation time remaining, Farayola Olawale doubled the lead with a classic goal for the Harmony Boys. They held on to record their 15th win of the season and still look good to compete for the league title.
In Bauchi, Wikki Tourists ended the 4-game unbeaten run of Dakkada FC with a 2-1 victory over the Uyo based team. Nazifi Yahaya and Ibrahim Sale scored the goals for the hosts to seal their 9th win of the season.
In Aba, Enyimba failed to win again. In their last game, they played 1-1 with Warri Wolves. Against Rivers United, it finished 1-1 again. Malachi Ohawuma gave the pride of Rivers the lead in the 33rd minute while Sadiq Abubakar equalized for the hosts in the second half. This is the 9th draw of the season for the People’s Elephant.
At the Pantami Stadium in Gombe, MFM FC of Lagos fought from a goal down to play 1-1 with Adamawa United. As early as 4 minutes into the game, Bolaji Michael’s goal gave the hosts the lead and it stayed that way till the 72nd minute when Izuchukwu Chimezie equalized for the Olukoya Boys.
On Monday, Nasarawa United, the highest goalscoring team in the league so far will host Jigawa Golden Stars in Lafia. The Solid Miners have gathered 52 points from 30 matches and if they win, they will return to second on the league table.
Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, made a winning return to Kano Pillars, providing an assist for Rabiu Ali to score in Sai Masu Gida’s hard fought 1-0 victory over Adamawa United on matchday 21 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Asides from the dazzling run Musa made in the opening minutes, and Fahad Usman’s curled free-kick in the 15th minute, the first-half action at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna failed to produce talking points.
Adamawa United showed Pillars no respect. They contested aerial balls, chased the game, and took it to their opponents. The first half ended goalless.
Pillars doubled their efforts in the second half. In the 70th minute, they cracked the walls of Adamawa United when Rabiu Ali was brought down in the box and a penalty was awarded to Pillars.
Ali stepped up to the task and sent the ball to the heavens. Relief for the visitors. That’s the first time the reliable Ali will be missing from the spot this season.
Ten minutes later, he made amends for his miss when he received a fine pass from Musa to score his eighth goal of the season. That goal meant so much to Pillars league ambition.
Sai Masu Gida have now recorded 12 wins this season, they are third on the log. It’s the 13th defeat for Adamawa United and they are still bottom of the log.
Unstoppable Akwa United
Akwa United extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches with a 2-0 victory over Dakkada FC in the Uyo derby. Man on fire, Charles Atshimene scored both goals for coach Kennedy Boboye’s team.
As early as 10 minutes into the match, Atshimene received an assist from Etim Matthew to smash Akwa United into the lead from 15 yards.
When the second half resumed, Atshimene wasted no time in securing his brace. Assisted by Akarandut Orok, he curled in the ball from 20 yards to score his 6th goal of the season. The win ensured Akwa United stays unbeaten with 40 points now and retain the top position on the log.
Akwa United’s next match is a home fixture against Rangers International Football Club.
Kwara United returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Plateau United. Coach Abdullahi Biffo’s team lost top spot position after losing to Nasarawa United on matchday 20. Still the surprise team of the season, the Harmony Boys are second on the log, they are still unbeaten at home and yet to drop below the top four.
Away Teams Prevail
Matchday 21 produced a tale of away victories. Four!
In Ozoro, MFM Football Club of Lagos stunned Warri Wolves 0-2 to keep their season’s hopes alive.
First-half goals from Ifeanyi Onyebuchi and Clement Ogwu secured the 7th win of the campaign for the Olukoya boys who are now 13th on the log. The hosts had a chance to pull one back in the 68th when they were awarded a penalty but Mark Daniel failed to score from the spot.
He sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, but his effort went wide. Warri Wolves were condemned to an 11th defeat this season, they’ve won just 5 games and dropped to 17th on the log.
Nasarawa United travelled to Bauchi to secure a crucial 1-2 win over Wikki Tourists. The Solid Miners needed to consolidate on their 2-1 victory over Kwara United on Matchday 20 and they did just that. Same guys who got the job done in Lafia, continued their fine form in Bauchi.
It was the home side that opened the scoring in the 22nd minute through Manu Garba. It didn’t take long before Anas Yusuf leveled up for the visitors. Silas Nwankwo scored the winner in the opening minutes of the second to seal the 6th spot on the log for coach Bala Nikyu’s team.
In Enugu, an early goal scored by Godwin Aguda from close range was good enough to give Rivers United victory over Rangers International FC. It is the 6th defeat of the season for the Flying Antelopes who were hoping to consolidate their chase for the top spot. The win shot the Pride of Rivers into the top four.
The Struggles of Sunshine Stars, FC Ifeanyi Ubah
FC Ifeanyi Ubah struggles continued with a 2-0 loss to Lobi Stars in Makurdi. Ossy Martins and Monday Akile goals gave coach Kabiru Dogo’s team their 9th win of the season.
In Owerri, Heartland FC made it back-to-back wins in the league with a 2-0 win over Katsina United.
The first half by Bright Onyedikachi and Kelechi Chimezie secured maximum points for coach Fidelis Ilechukwu’s team and shot them to 7th on the table.
In Akure, the winless run of Sunshine Stars continued after they played a goalless draw with Jigawa Golden Stars. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote’s team have failed to record a win since their matchday 7 victory over Rangers International. It’s now 14 games without a win and they are comfortably in the relegation zone.
“Free agent Ahmed Musa has agreed to a contract until the end of the Nigerian league season in June.”
The four-time Nigerian champions expressed their joy at having their export back at the club, promising their continuous support for the 28-year-old.
“Ahmed Musa is our own and Kano Pillars welcome him back and will continue to support him,” Pillars said.
Also welcoming the move by the 3-time Russian professional league champion to his former side was Senator Shehu Sani in a tweet, who lauded it as the “best strategy” to improve local football in the country.
Ahmed Musa’s return to Kano Pillars is one of the best strategy to improve and attract interest in our local football teams and National league.After global come local.Its better than hanging and idling in Europe.There will always be a place for you at home.@thenff
Godwin Obaje scored his fifth goal of the season in Abia Warriors 4-1 victory over Kano Pillars on matchday 15 of the Nigeria Professional Football League at the Okigwe Township Stadium.
Obaje scored the first goal of the encounter as The Warriors continued their fine league form. Obioma Chukwuemeka doubled the lead in the 34 minute before Nyima Nwagua pulled one back for the visitors.
Chukwuemeka secured his brace in the second half. Fatai Abdullahi provided the assist. In the 83rd minute, Daniel Wotlai scored a beautiful goal from 25 yards out to wrap a fine performance for Coach Imama Amapakabo’s team. This is the fifth win of the campaign for The Warriors and they have gather 20 points so far.
In Akure, there was drama. Centre referee Joseph Ogabo could not continue with the game after half-time due to fans trouble. Referee Ogabo cited threat to life as major reason why the match was halted. The encounter was goalless at halftime The second half of the match will be played tomorrow by 8am.
In Makurdi, Austin Ogunye scored a brace as Lobi Stars held on to 3-2 victory over Plateau United.
The game stayed goalless at half-time, but when action commenced in the second half, Austin Achiv wasted no time in scoring the opener. Ogunye doubled the lead from the spot in the 57 minute and secured his brace in the 66th.
Muhammad Zulkifilu scored two late goals but it was too late to stop the Pride of Benue from recording their 6th win of the campaign.
In Uyo, Dakkada FC consolidated their league position with a 1-0 win over Katsina United. Christian Ekong’s goal in first half made the difference as the Chosen Ones secured their 7th win of the season and have gathered 23 points so far.
In Enugu, Rangers International FC had to dig deep to beat Adamawa United 1-0. The Flying Antelopes were almost out of ideas on how to tame the stubborn visitors until Chinonso Ezekwe’s goal broke the deadlock in the 85th minute. The victory also shot Coach Salisu Yusuf’s team to second on the table with 27 points.
In Ilorin, the match between Kwara United and Heartland ended goalless. Though, the Harmony Boys remain unbeaten at home this season, a win in this fixture would have strengthened their position at the top of the log. They still lead the standings but tied on 27 points with Rangers. The Naze Millionaires will definitely relish the vital away point.
In Nnewi, FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Rivers United played a goalless draw while Wikki Tourists beat Warri Wolves 1-0 in Bauchi.
The match between Jigawa Golden Stars and Akwa United was postponed due to the accident The Promise Keepers experienced on their to Kaduna for the match while the match between MFM and Enyimba didn’t take place because of Enyimba’s continental engagement.
NIGERIA PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Matchday 15 Results
Abia Warriors 4 Kano Pillars 1
Lobi Stars 3 Plateau Uninted 2
Dakkada FC 1 Katsina United 0
Rangers Int’l FC 1 Adamawa United 0
Wikki Tourists 1 Warri Wolves 0
Kwara United 0 Heartland 0
FC Ifeanyi Ubah 0 Rivers United 0
Sunshine Stars *0 Heartland 0* (Match to resume tomorrow by 8am)
Caption: Sunshine Stars warming up before the match against Nasarawa United
Picture 2: Abia Warriors and Heartland in action on matchday 14
Kano Pillars are the new leaders of the Nigeria Professional Football League after beating Sunshine Stars 1-0 at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna.
The midweek matchday 12 fixture had so much to offer both sides. Kano Pillars lost their last match 1-0 to Lobi Stars while Sunshine Stars played 1-1 with Heartland in Akure.
Nyima Nwagua’s goal in the 9th minute made the difference and also shot Sai Masu Gida to the top of the league table. It also secured a 7th win of the season for Coach Lionel Soccia team who are in a good position to compete for the league title.
For Sunshine Stars, it is the fifth defeat in 12 matches, one that will send Coach Gbenga Ogunbote into deep thinking on how to turn things around for the Akure Gunners.
In Aba, the spoils were shared as Enyimba and Akwa United played 1-1. In the first half, the visitors showed more intent to win the contest with Ndifreke Effiong, Charles Atshimene and Seth Mayi missing clear chances to score.
A major talking point happened in the 43rd minute when Charles Atshimene was hacked down by Abiodun Adebayo. Referee refused to book a penalty, instead, he booked Atshimene for simulation.
The first half ended goalless.
In the second half, the People’s Elephant showed more purpose going forward and it paid off in the 53rd minute when Austin Oladapo received a sweet pass from Cyril Olisema and finished calmly to put Enyimba in front.
Akwa United got close to getting the equaliser in the 79th minute. Etim Matthew sent in a cross, Atshimene connected with a fine header but goalkeeper John Noble produced a superb save to keep Enyimba’s lead.
In the last minute of extra time, Akwa United got their equaliser from an unlikely source. Left full back, David Philip followed the ball from a freekick and slot it home to score his first goal for the Promise Keepers and a vital away point.
In Ilorin, there was also late drama. Kwara United denied Abia Warriors their first away win of the season to secure their unbeaten home record. The Warriors took the lead in the 66th minute through Mustapha Jibrin and held on to it till the last minute of the match Alao Danbani scored to rescue a point for the Harmony boys.
In Jos, returning striker, Ibrahim Mustapha scored a brace for Plateau United in their 3-0 win over Jigawa Golden Stars.
Mustapha, who is making a return after a six-month stint in the United Arab Emirates, scored in the 21st and 43rd minutes of the match. Oche Ochewechi scored the opening goal in the 6th minute, displacing his markers and finished brilliantly from 35 yards. This is the 4th win of the season for coach Abdul Maikaba’s team.
Rangers of Enugu dropped to fifth on the log after losing 2-1 to Wikki Tourists in Bauchi. Mohammed Guda scored from the spot to give the hosts the lead. Israel Abia’s goal in the 60th minute put the Flying Antelope back into the contest.
Despite losing Peter Ambrose, the Tourists kept pushing for the win and got it in the fifth minute of added time through Ibrahim Sale. They showed Rangers the never say die attitude.
In Lafia, Nasarawa United beat FC Ifeanyi Ubah 3-0. Adamu Hassan bagged a brace as the Solid Miners recorded their fifth win of the season and moved to 7th on the log.
In Ozoro, Warri Wolves returned to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Rivers United. Emeka Udo’s goal made the difference.
Matchday 12 action will continue tomorrow with Katsina United taking on MFM FC, Adamawa United will host Lobi stars while Heartland FC will clash with Dakkada FC at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri.
Kano Pillars and Nigeria Customs Service will lock go against each other in the men’s final of the ongoing Nigeria Volleyball SuperCup today at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.
Kano Pillars outclassed Nigeria Security Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) 3-1 (19-25, 27-25, 27-25, 26-24) in the first semifinals of the men’s event while Nigeria Customs Service spanked Sunshine Spikers 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 27-25) in the men’s second semifinal event.
Kano Pillars head coach, Musa Babamusa said his only obstacle to the Super Cup trophy was the NSCDC team and praised his players for playing according to instructions and the reward of tactical discipline was achieved.
“First and foremost, I want to give glory to Almighty God for giving my team this grace to play this game. When we came here, I told you that my mission is to take this trophy and God scaled me through the hurdles of the NSCDC team; they are the obstacle I have to the trophy here in Ilorin,” Babamusa said.
“The game plan we deployed was simple; we know them very well and we came out to beat them. I know my boys so I do not need to shout on my boys during the game; whatever we need to do, I do it at home during training sessions.’
“One thing that I am happy for is that my boys always play according to instructions; yes they are young players and sometimes experience matters but I thank God my boys recovered.
“The truth is that we have outclassed the NSCDC team in the past and we will continue to outclass them. I am here to take the trophy and nothing will stop me.”
Meanwhile, last year’s league champions, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) will rekindle their rivalry with Nigeria Customs Service as they compete in the women’s final.
The third-place matches will be between Kada Emeralds and COAS Spikers in the women’s category while Sunshine Spikers and NSCDC will battle for third place in the men’s category.
Kano Pillars v NSCDC 3-1 (19-25, 27-25, 27-25, 26-24)
Nigeria Customs Service v Sunshine Spikers 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 27-25)
Nigeria Customs Service vs COAS Spikers 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-14)
Defending champion, Kano Pillars failed to take a chance to consolidate their ambition of retaining their title on matchday 11 of the Handball Premier League taking place at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
In a clash with Lagos Seasiders, the Kano based team lost 30-24. The encounter exposed the champions’ inability to handle pressure and show character when needed.
COAS Shooters had to produce something special to defeat Kada Stars 31-30 while Rima Strikers beat Borno Spiders 32-27.
In the women’s category, Edo Dynamos extended their winning streak as they defeated Desert Queens 30-19 while reigning champions, Safety Babes secured a much needed 36-28 victory over Benue Queens.
Imo Grasshoppers and Defender Babes wrapped up the day’s proceedings with an entertaining 26-26 draw.
Lagos Seasiders Dikko Ibrahim and Abdullah Favour of Defender Babes received the most valuable player awards.
The Prudent Energy Handball Premier League 2020 kicked off in Abuja with defending champions Kano Pillars (male team) and Safety Babes (female team), facing stiff competitions as they started their title defense.
Kano Pillars struggled to beat former champion Niger United 20-19 in a game that was termed the “battle of champions”.
For the women, Safety Babes weren’t that lucky as they lost 29-27 to Edo Dynamos who showed no respect for the champions.
Other matches in the men category witnessed Rima strikers inspired by their player Anas Muhd defeating Plateau Vipers 30-26 despite Promise Akpan efforts with vital goals which weren’t enough while Yahaya Owolabi inspired Lagos Seasiders trounced Kada Stars 34-24.
Safety Shooters had to work hard to defeat De Defenders 24-21 while Confluence Stars scored three goals in less than a minute to the end of the match to defeat Delta Force 25-24. It was an entertaining encounter between the two rivals.
Meanwhile, COAS Shooters did not sweat to earn opening day points as they walked over Borno Spiders 10-0 who as at the time of the match, haven’t arrived at the venue of the event.
In the female category, Seasiders Babes showed resilience to get a well-deserved victory as they defeated Defender Babes 28-26 while an experienced Imo Grasshoppers beat Kada Queens 27-19.
Plateau Peacock achieved easy 30-11 victory over Desert Queens while new girls Adorable Queens made a big statement of intent to stay in the league beating Benue Queens 38-25.