UCL: Efe Ambrose’s Celtic to face Barcelona tonight

Nigeria international, Efe Ambrose was amongst the players of Scottish Premier League champions; Celtic who flew to Camp Nou from Glasgow airport yesterday for today’s showdown against Catalan giants Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League round which will resume today.

Celtic currently sit second in Group G behind Barcelona.

The Nigerian international has been in top form in preparation for the Scottish side’s Champions League encounter and it would also be recalled that Ambrose’s goal was part of what sealed the AFCON 2013 for Nigeria against Liberia after the latter was beaten 6-1 in the final round in Calabar  and after the National showdown his form continued as he his debut goal for Celtic in the 5-0 thrashing of St Mirren during the last weekend.

The former Bayelsa United has reiterated his interest in the games against Barcelona as he believed that his form will be tested further to know where he is lacking.

Super Eagles recall not my focus right now – Victor Anichebe

Everton striker and Nigerian International Victor Anichebe has been in fine form for his English club and has opened up that to keep this recent form which he has found is his priority and Super Eagles recall as many may be thinking.

Known to be going in and out of the injury list in club football, Anichebe has confirmed his high fitness this season, proving his worth to his Toffees team as he has already bagged three goal this season for the club.

As at last week before the Super Eagles victory against Liberia in the AFCON 2013 qualifiers, Coach Stephen Keshi said for Anichebe he is in the cooler that he’s got plans for the striker ahead of African Nations Cup.

And in response to this statement the Nigerian international insists that he owes his allegiance right now to his Everton manager David Moyes has he has stood by him and had a lot of faith in his game so he wants to repay that back first.

Anichebe said the National team aspect of football has not struck him right now as he prays for them to do well because there are a bunch of very talented players ready to move the Super Eagles forward.

He said further on his decision that he owes Everton so much for the team actually stuck by him during his trying times which made him get back on his present fitness level so he needs to claim a permanent spot on the squad this time.

Everton face struggling QPR at the weekend and Anichebe has warned about a possible backlash from the bottom-placed Londoners.

Sport Minister says he’s impressed with the Eagles performance

The Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi has said he will ensure that adequate materials needed to excel in the fourth coming 2013 Africa Cup of Nations holding in South Africa are provided for the Super Eagles.

The minister said he was impressed with the team’s performance by qualifying for the tournament.

“Congratulations to Nigeria because we are all happy particularly for the fact that we were not in the last edition of the Nations Cup. All hands are on deck to ensure we get a good team at the end of the day.

“I have been in a meeting with the NFF since morning all to ensure we put our plans for the team’s preparation.

He said that he will be meeting with the NFF today to discuss what is required by the teams to make a good performance at the Nations Cup.

The National Sports Commission boss said the team’s preparations would not be hampered by administrative hiccups as all arrangements would be made to ensure there was an uninterrupted supply of all that will be required for the team’s preparation.

According to him, “Now that we have qualified and the tournament proper is not a matter of playing Liberia or any such weaker teams, we want to prepare well and win the tournament”.

“The boys played very well and showed the kind of commitment we have not seen in a very long time. I think what they need to improve upon is the job of the technical crew.”

Eagles trash Liberia 6-1, qualifies for Nations Cup

The city of Calabar went agog with celebration as Nigeria’s Super Eagles emerged winner of the much awaited, much talked about and the much strategized game between them and the Lone Stars of Liberia this evening after walloping the Liberians 6-1 in the second leg of the 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifiers billed to hold in South Africa.

With this evening’s match outcome, Nigeria has successfully booked its ticket to feature in the finals of the AFCON 2013 with an aggregate of 8-3 after the first leg in Liberia produced a 2-2 draw.

A double from Chelsea new signing Victor Moses sealed victory for the Super eagles while goals from Efe Ambrose, Ahmed Musa, Mikel Obi and Ikechukwu Uche made sure Nigeria held onto the pathway of victory from kick-off.

Bitter memories of the Super Eagles’ dismal performance which denied them the ticket to the last edition of the Nations Cup held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea early this year will be a thing of the past as football pundits can be rest assured that a Super Eagles squad that will produce impressive results has once again emerged as the evening’s game was the first game since Nigeria- Ethiopia match that the Super Eagles were able to produce a swell score line against an opponent.

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

Strong jersey contention in Eagles camp as Liberia clash looms

Ahead of the crucial Nations Cup qualifiers against the Lone Stars of Liberia on Saturday at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, so much excitement has been recorded as players kept trooping into the Metropolitan Hotel where the Super Eagles camp has been slated to serve their fatherland.

Foreign -based players that were invited started arriving in bits not to watch the local players but to pick up first team jerseys, not on preference but to go headlong with other players equally vying for same positions as a lot of them and all 19players in camp right now are bent on picking first team shirts which are just 11 in number and the training will be taking place at tourist attracting south south city.

The 10 foreign-based players who joined the seven home-based for Tuesday’s evening training are Austin Ejide, Vincent Enyeama, Nosa Igiebor, Ikechukwu Uche.

Others are Elderson Echejile, Ahmed Musa, Obiora Nwankwo, Efe Ambrose, Brown Ideye, and the three exciting youngsters, Ogenyi Onazi of Lazio of Italy, Inter Milan’s Joel Obi and Chelsea’s new acquisition Victor Moses.

The task at hand which entails for all hands to be on deck was crystal clear to everyone as the players responded well, who expressed their delight over the full compliance of the players.

 

Super Eagles in Calabar for Liberia showdown

To conclude the journey to the 2013 Africa Nations Cup, the Super Eagles of Nigeria players have started arriving in bits for the make-or-mar clash with the Lone Stars of Liberia which will be held in Calabar and it stands to decide the Super Eagles’ fate for the AFCON 2013.

One of the officials of the Super Eagles confirmed the arrival after they touched down at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar some minutes before noon.

The squad left the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja Arik Airline flight billed for 10.30 a.m. and the squad were also billed to camp at the Metropolitan Hotel in the heart of Calabar.

And in order to be sure that team is leaving no stone unturned in the bid to get the desired win for the nation, the technical crew has however scheduled a training session for Monday evening at the Abraham Odia Sports Complex, the University of Calabar.

Goalkeepers, Vincent Enyeama arrived at Calabar this morning to join the squad and Austin Ejide, and Nosa Igiebor of Real Betis of Spain is among the foreign-based players expected to arrive the Eagles camp on Monday.

Keshi at the weekend, named seven home-based players who are to join the 15 foreign-based footballers announced earlier for the qualifier and they are Chigozie Agbim of Warri Wolves, who is captain of the home-based team and his teammate, Azubuike Egwueke, Godfrey Oboabona, the captain of Sunshine Stars’ FC of Akure; Henry Uche of Enyimba FC of Aba, Benjamin Francis of Heartland and Kano Pillars’ central defender, Umar Zango as well as Rangers winger Ejike Uzoenyi.

The Super Eagles head coach; Stephen Keshi said the Ejide and Igiebor will be joined by the rest of the squad on Tuesday.

Keshi said that most of the foreign-based players, including Mikel Obi, were due to arrive in Calabar on Tuesday because of the problem they had in securing their visas.

He also said that others who had late league matches on Sunday were expected to arrive in the camp on Tuesday.

Stanley Okoronkwo promises to shine against Liberia

With a late call-up by the Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi, Sharks midfielder; Stanley Okoronkwo has promised to shine for the Super Eagles of Nigeria saying even though it was an unexpected invitation, he is going to take his chances with the National Team also.

The Sharks Midfielder said he was surprised by the call which came across Monday as he was in Enugu when he was called that he has been selected to join National Team (Super Eagles) and he was very elated with the news as he joined his teammates at the national team today towards the preparation to face Liberia in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on October 13.

Okoronkwo said his hard work has paid off because it I what he has long been praying for as he commented on the all-important match where by present standing Nigeria’s chances on claiming the ticket can go as low as playing a draw with Liberia.

The midfielder said the lone stars of Liberia are a good team judging by the score line of their last meet which is the first leg but he believes that Nigeria will claim the much desired ticket to proceed to the AFCON finals.

Nigeria will clash with the Lone Stars of Liberia on October 13 at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar with a victory guaranteeing the Super Eagles a place at the 2013 African Cup of Nations as Okoronkwo concluded that the mission of the Super Eagles is to get a desired result which will make Nigerians happy and the Super Eagles will do their best to make that happen come October 13th in Calabar.

Coach Stephen Keshi,Osaze to end rift

Super Eagles forward Osaze Odemwingie will be flying into Abuja to meet with Super Eagles Coach Stephen Keshi, for the two to sit and resolve the issues causing friction between them.

Thanks to Aminu Maigari the Nigeria Football Federation President (NFF) for his intervention and after several telephone calls between Maigari and the parties, is intervention yielded some positive results prompting the West Bromwich forward to agree to a reconciliation meeting.

The reconciliation process however will involve not only Coach Keshi, Osaze and  Aminu Maigari but the ‘who is who’ in the football federation.

It would be recalled that the West Bromwich player who moved to from Lokomotiv Moscow has not laced his boot for National colours since the former Super Eagles Captain under Clemence Westerhof took over as the coach of the Super Eagles for almost a year now.

Issues between the two is not yet known but Coach Stephen Keshi’s claim was that Osaze refuses to return calls even after getting to see missed calls, he said this during the preparation for the qualifiers against Liberia last month, a likely reason for Osaze’s long exclusion from the Super Eagles build-up. Initially, the West Bromwich striker was ruled out due to injury.

Liberian president challenges Lone Star with N22m bonus

With preparations for the 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers between  Nigeria and Liberia coming up in October in Calabar taking serious shape, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has challenged the Lone Star to beat the Super Eagles and get $140,000 (about N22m) as bonus.

The president praised and presented the Liberian team a reward amount of $75,000 for thrashing the Black Stars of Ghana, for a friendly game which took place in Monrovia and afterwards made the promise of the N22m reward if the Lone Stars can wallop the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

According to table standing, for Liberia to have a slot in the South Africa 2013 Nations Cup, the Lone Stars will to beat Nigeria squarely or salvage a 3-3 draw as the first leg which was hosted in Monrovia ended in a 2-2 draw.

The team was dubbed to have been gingered by the defeat of the Black Stars to believe that they can perform the same feat against the Super Eagles come October 13th.

Liberia has only appeared twice in the Nations Cup and that was in 1996 and 2002.

Johnson-Sirleaf warns of grave security situation along Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire border

The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has warned that the unstable security situation along the country’s border with neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire was “grave” and could threaten regional security if not handled through concerted regional action.

During a brief visit to the ECOWAS Commission on Friday, on the margin of a visit to Nigeria, Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf affirmed that it was in response to the gravity of the situation that the country has reinforced security along the border but warned of the possibility that the situation could overwhelm the country’s nascent security services with implications for both countries.

Apparently referring to roaming bands of armed elements that have recently attacked neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire from Liberia, the President suggested that “ECOWAS pay attention to the situation to ensure it does not escalate,” during a meeting with the Vice President of the Commission, Dr Toga Gayewea McIntosh and Commissioners who were around to receive the visitor.

She said the region was confronted with the twin problems of security and humanitarian disaster in the area and praised the management and staff of ECOWAS for their service to the Community.

The president noted however that because of the paucity of development in the region, the Community needed to be more aggressive in its strategy for exploring available services to mobilize resources to develop the region’s infrastructure. This, she said, would help stimulate intra-Community trade and the economies of Member States.

The ECOWAS Vice President and the management used the opportunity to brief Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf on regional programmes being implemented for Liberia including a $2.5 million study to integrate the country into the West African Gas Pipeline Project under which gas from Nigeria is transported through a 450-kilometre pipeline to help meet the energy needs of neighbouring countries. The first phase of the programme covers Benin, Togo and Nigeria.

Another study is also being undertaken to explore the possibility of integrating Liberia into the West Africa Power Pool Project which enables Member States to undertake energy trading, thereby promoting the efficient utilization of the region’s energy endowments.

A third infrastructure project being proposed for the country would link it with Dakar as part of the Trans Africa highway project.

Vice President McIntosh had, while welcoming the Liberian president, on behalf of President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, briefed the visitor of the efforts being made by the new management to revitalize the organization in line with the mandate of regional leaders in order to make it more responsive to the needs of the citizens and the dynamics of the international economic environment.

Defence Academy to honour Liberia’s President at graduation ceremony

The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) will on Saturday honour the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, and the Liberia’s President Helen Johnson Sirleaf at its graduation ceremony, the commandant said.

The Commandant, Maj-Gen. Chukwuemeka Onwuamaegbu, said in Kaduna on Friday that the two personalities would be honoured at the graduation ceremony of 262 cadets of the NDA 59 Regular Course.

Gen Onwuamaegbu disclosed this when Gov. Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State paid visited the academy, explaining that the graduands comprised cadets from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force and two cadets from Liberia.

He said that Vice President Namadi Sambo would represent President Goodluck Jonathan on the occasion.

He said that security measures had been put in place to ensure a successful ceremony.

President Jonathan had on Friday held a closed door meeting with the Liberian President at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport Abuja.

The details of the meeting were not disclosed to journalists.