Atletico Madrid Youth Team on Saturday beat the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) U-17 All-Stars 2-1 to emerge winners of the 2017 edition of Gauteng Future Champions tournament.
Alberto Salido opened scoring for the Spanish side in the 22nd minute.
Moments into the second half, Nazifi Yahaya equalised for the Nigerian team from the penalty spot.
Adrian Luque produced a fine header to restore Atletico’s lead in the 60th minute, which was good enough to secure the victory for his team.
The Nigerian team, led by former Super Eagles coach, Austin Eguavoen, did not lose any game before the final.
The young lads, however, failed to convert most of their scoring chances and lost the trophy to a more determined and disciplined Spanish team.
The Gauteng Future Champions tournament is a project of inspiration and development that has been staged in countries across the globe to utilise the power and popularity of football as a catalyst for growth.
With 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.
Richi struck an opportunistic goal, deep into second half added time to achieve a share of the spoils for Spanish club, CD Roda in a cracking pre-season friendly match against Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club, Rivers United.
The tight contest which finished 3-3 at the Estadio Ciudad Deportivo Pamesa was the second in Rivers United’s fifth and final phase of the pre-season campaign in Spain.
Emeka Ogbugh gave the Port Harcourt based team a deserved lead inside the opening 10 minutes but the hosts battled back and equalized moments later after Festus Austine, under pressure, bundled the ball past Abiodun Akande in goal for United.
The Spaniards began the second half on the front foot and got due reward when Charly Garcia smashed home to put them 2-1 up, six minutes after the break.
Stung into action, the Pride of Rivers reacted gamely and turned the game on its head following excellent goals from Godbless Asamoah and Nzebe Anaezemba.
With Coach Stanley Eguma’s team seemingly cruising to a second successive win in Spain, Richi popped up late to plunder a barely-deserved equalizer for the home side.
Scorer of United’s second goal, Asamoah spoke about his goal-scoring contribution which temporarily left the scores at 2-2.
“We started well by getting an early goal which set the tone for our third goal.
“I was happy to score because as a striker, I always want to score as it helps with confidence.
“For me and the team, it was never about the result but about the performance and the lessons to be learnt”.
Another United striker, Elvis Wike, also refused to be crestfallen and outlined the positives of the game and the club’s tour to Spain.
“The game against Villarreal was a lot slower in terms of the pace and intensity as opposed to the game against CD Roda which was also very physical.
“But we gave as good as we got and almost won in the end.
“We have learned a lot so far in Spain and we know the lessons will serve us well in the coming days,” Wike explained.
Rivers United beat Villarreal B team 1-0 in their first pre-season game in Spain last week.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Club Owners, Mr Alloy Chukwuemeka, says about eight corporate bodies are currently jostling to sponsor the Nigeria Premiership League for the next season.
Mr Chukwuemeka hinted reporters of the development on Wednesday during an interactive session with journalists in Osogbo, at the monthly Sport Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) stakeholders forum tagged “SWAN Platform”.
He said the NPFL Club Owners had received a proposal from the League Management Company (LMC) that the league would begin by first week of December tentatively.
The NPFL Club Owners Executive Secretary further explained that the proposal would be considered at the Annual General Meeting of the Club Owners.
The General Manager, Abubakar Bukola Saraki Football Club, Ilorin commended the LMC for turning the league around, saying “it is now attractive with many firms lobbying to be part of it.
“The LMC has turned around the league in Nigeria. The league is now attractive, and there are eight firms lobbying to be part of LMC. The LMC has set a standard and that is why lots of firms want to be part of the Nigeria Professional Football League”.
The football administrator while responding to questions on moving football and sports generally forward in the state, insisted that a return to school sports was the only way to identify exceptional talents.
He revealed that the Kwara Football Academy gave ABS FC 10 of its best players every season through a partnership between the two clubs.
The ABS FC Director of Football also recommended community ownership of football clubs, as practiced in other climes based on what he learnt from the LMC organised LaLiga Tour in Spain earlier in the year.
He said: “Immediately I came back from Spain, I went to my village (Ehime Mbano) and I met with my Local Government Chairman and we formed Mbano United. I bought jerseys and balls for the team, because in Spain their clubs are built on their culture. Football community ownership is very important.”
“I will recommend that for us to develop the sporting sector, it is imperative that we re-introduce sports in our schools. This way, new talents can be encouraged and assisted to get to higher heights in this profession”
On the controversy trailing the final Nigeria National League (NNL) match between ABS FC and Gateway FC, Mr Chukwuemeka countered claims that there were few security men at the stadium, maintaining that there were about 78 policemen at the stadium that day.
He condemned the action of the Ogun State Commissioner of Sports who he said ordered Gateway FC players not to play the match, stressing that it contravened the rules guiding the game and operations of the NNL.
Mr Chukwuemeka also expressed the belief that the Nigeria Football Federation would put in everything to ensure that the Super Eagles qualify for the World Cup.
He said not qualifying for Nations Cup back-to-back was still painful and applauded the efforts and impact of Super Eagles coach, Genart Rohr.
Mr Chukwuemeka, who is also a National Officer of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, thereafter commended Osun SWAN for the Monthly Stakeholders Forum and promised to take the programme to other states across the federation.
Enyimba Striker, Mfon Udoh, is happy to emerge the top scorer in the just concluded 2016 CAF Champions League.
He also expressed delight at simultaneously being shortlisted for the African Player of the Year (based in Africa) award.
The footballer netted nine goals ahead of Wydad’s Reda Hajhouj who had six goals to emerge top scorer in the CAF Champions League.
The Peoples’ Elephant had struggled in the group stage and managed just a win over eventual champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.
Udoh wants to savour the moment just like two years ago when he emerged the highest goals scorer in the Nigerian local league, becoming the first player to score 23 goals in a single season in Nigeria.
He is also the first to score over 35 league goals in two seasons in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).