Controversies have continued to trail the recent appointment of the new Technical Adviser of Heartland FC Owerri, Coach Emmanuel Deutsch.
The chairman of Heartland Football Club, Mr Goodfaith Etuemena, says the appointment of Deutsch was done without his knowledge and the appointment did not also follow due process.
He insisted that appointment of a new technical adviser is uncalled for and unwarranted as the club still has a standing head coach in Mr Ramson Madu.
He argued that the club’s self-acclaimed supervisor, in person of the Deputy Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr Ugonna Ozuruigbo, has no power to unveil a coach without his knowledge.
He said that since the club went on relegation last season, the management has been doing everything possible to ensure that the club bounces back stronger and with the new development, Heartland FC might be seeing a big setback especially with the role of the supervisor who is trying to usurp the office of the Chairman of Heartland.
“Whatever my supervisor is doing, I wasn’t informed. Nobody informed me. I don’t think we need a technical adviser now (because) we already have one in the person of Coach Ramson Madu, and he’s comfortable.
“If we need a technical adviser, it is something we have to sit down and discuss, considering the state of the club at the moment.
“I’m trying to make sure we succeed. We are doing all we can to ensure we get back to premiership, (and) we have started screening and it’s been successful, so I don’t know where the appointment of new technical adviser comes in,” Etuemena said.
Heartland Football Club finished 18th in the just concluded season making the club go on relegation for the first time since its creation.
The Minister for Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, has charged managers and users of sporting facilities in Nigeria to develop a good maintenance culture.
According to the Minister, the poor state of infrastructure in the country is getting worse because those in charge of the facilities do not take proper care of them and when they go bad, they are abandoned.
While conducting a facility tour of the National Stadium in Lagos, Dalung expressed deep disappointment at the dilapidated state of the nation’s sporting facilities.
”As a people, our maintenance culture is very poor. We have no good reasons to explain why these structures are in the state they are. If fully maximized, those facilities could have generated good revenue and other benefits for sports development.”
The Minister expressed disappointment at the level of rot at the National Stadium and hopes to bring the structure back to life if given the chance to stay on with a long term plan.
One project he wants completed is the swimming pool. He gave a strict order to the contractor executing the project.
“If you tell me that this project will be completed in 100 years, I will wait. But if after that I come and you provide excuses why it is not completed, you will need God and the angels to intervene for you.
“If we release funds for you, we will follow you to the touchline. I don’t allow contractors to be paid and they use our money to change their fleet of cars and woo new girlfriends.
“My position is that before the end of the first quarter, people should be swimming in this pool. If it’s too difficult for you to meet up, I’ll help you but make sure that this pool is completed before the end of first quarter.”
Solomon Dalung also confirmed that there were plans to improve the welfare of national team players and coaching crew. According to him, it is important to take care of the athletes so they can give their best when representing the country.
”We are addressing the issue of non-payment of wages to players and the coaching crew. After giving the country a good representation, denying them of their benefits is totally unacceptable.
”The president has also approved the rewards of athletes who have made this country proud and have not been rewarded. These include the first team that won the Fifa U-16 Championship in 1985, we have sorted them out and the President has approved a date which will be announced this month for a celebration to appreciate the players including those who have done well recently.”
The Minister said that he believes a good reward system will sustain the skills, zeal and patriotism of Nigerian athletes whenever they are representing the country.
The General Manager of Dolphins FC, Joe Johnson, who was abducted on Sunday, October 11 by gunmen in Port Harcourt the Rivers State capital, has been rescued by men of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Rivers State Police Command.
Joe Johnson told Channels Television that he was ambushed on his way to the airport to honour a scheduled match against Giwa FC by his assailants.
According to him, while members of his family were negotiating ransom in the range of 15million naira, he was confident that he was going to get out alive.
His optimism paid off when men of the Rivers State Police Command stormed the uncompleted building where he had been held hostage on Thursday evening.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Ahmad Mohammad, said that the rescue operation was part of the command’s onslaught against kidnapping in the state.
The board of the Nigeria National League (NNL) has read the riot act to clubs participating in the league saying an assault on match officials will now attract a fine of one million naira to be paid within 14 days in addition to the banishment of such teams.
Chairman of the Nigeria National League (NNL), Mr Emeka Inyama, who announced this in Abuja, said that the board can no longer tolerate the increasing assault on match officials by some football clubs and their fans.
In a communique made available to journalists, the board resolved that in view of the pending disciplinary matters, inspection of stadia with defects and to allow for the rescheduling of outstanding matches, the second phase of the league will now kick off on July 25.
The board further warned all clubs indebted to the league in any manner to clear such indebtedness before the resumption of the second round or risk been barred from further participating in the Nigeria National League.
Nigeria Premier League champions Kano Pillars were on Thursday attacked by armed robbers along Abaji-Lokoja road, leaving five players seriously injured.
The incident occurred at about 1.15pm Nigerian time on Thursday, March 5th when Kano Pillars were on their way to Owerri for their opening league game against Heartland on Saturday, March 7th.
Kano Pillars’ spokesman Idris Malikawa revealed that the gunmen shot sporadically in a way that left Sai Masu Gida with no escape route.
The five players injured during the attack are Gambo Muhammed, Eneji Otekpa, Adamu Murtala, Reuben Ogbonnaya and Ubong Ekpai.
Malikawa confirmed the injured players are in a Lokoja hospital receiving treatment.
“We were attacked by armed robbers, in which five of our players were injured by the thieves and as I’m talking to you, these five players are now at the Federal Medical Centre in Lokoja and are responding to treatment. The attack happened around 1:15pm and the rest of the team are still in fright following the incident,” Malikawa told Channelstv.com.
Meanwhile,the League Management Company [LMC] has postponed the opening game of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) between champions Kano Pillars and Heartland.
Heartland were scheduled to host the champions this Saturday, but the game is now off after the Kano club were attacked by armed robbers along Abaji-Lokoja road on Thursday (March 5th) afternoon.
Five key players – Gambo Muhammed, Eneji Otekpa, Adamu Murtala, Reuben Ogbonnaya and Ubong Ekpai — were those left injured from the incident.
“The League Management Company has expressed shock at the news of the armed robbery attack on the Kano Pillars Football Club contingent along the Abuja-Lokoja Road and consequently ordered an indefinite postponement of their Match Day 1 fixture in Owerri against Heartland FC,” a statement from the league body said.
The LMC revealed that the other nine matches of Match Day 1 will proceed as scheduled.
Dolphins will play hosts to Kwara United in the early kickoff of the opening day, while Sharks face Sunshine Stars in the second match on Saturday, March 7th.
The Kwara State Governor, Mr Abdulfatah Ahmed, has advocated for Public-Private Partnership in the sports sector to harness the opportunities therein.
Governor Ahmed made the call while receiving board members of the Nigeria National League (NNL), led by its Chairman, Mr Emeka Inyama, at the Government House, Ilorin, Kwara state capital.
He also emphasised the need to create a sustainable entertainment world that would allow interface between football and business and called for investments in that sector for the growth of the round leather game.
Governor Ahmed, who identified sport as a unifying factor for national cohesion, stressed the need to use football in molding youths in Kwara and Nigeria at large, to shape their mental capacities, for the growth and development of the nation.
The Governor further said the state had positioned itself at both sub-national and national levels, assuring the gathering that the state would continue to host more competitions for the mental strength of players and spectators.
Earlier in his remarks, the Board Chairman of the NNL, Mr Inyama, explained that the NNL had been re-branded with enhanced credibility and integrity, calling for sponsors to further promote the league.
Mr Inyama commended the state government for its investment in sports and for the promotion of the Kwara United Football Club to the elite division; the Nigeria Professional Football League.
Veteran Sports Journalist, Kayode Tijani, says the solution to the crisis that has continued to rock Nigerian Football and its administration is for the Nigerian Government to embrace total withdrawal from Nigerian football.
Speaking on the Friday edition of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, Tijani said that the reason why the National Sports Commission, NSC, would always want to lord it over the Nigerian Football Federation is because there is so much money in the federation being put in by the government.
Nigeria escaped yet another FIFA ban as it beat the deadline set by the world football governing body for it to resolve the leadership tussle it has been embroiled with, although some Nigerians have frowned at FIFA’s seeming disregard for Nigerian laws and administrative peculiarities.
This view, Tijani disagreed with, saying that Nigeria having agreed to belong to FIFA had agreed to abide by the rules of the body.
“A lot of people are getting it wrong. Germany, during the first war and the second war left FIFA because to FIFA ‘you can’ t be here because of all your problems’. The same thing happened to South Africa, even England at a time (when) they had some disagreement.”
He, however, also took a swipe at FIFA because of their many threats, “I am not saying FIFA is this squeaky clean (organisation), they are not.
“FIFA is one of the most corrupt organisations in the world but when they do their thing they do it very well.
“So for me, it is the (Nigerian) Government’s problem from time immemorial. The Act for the NFF has been there for the past eight years, why don’t you pass it to solve all these problems?”
A ban by FIFA would ensure that Nigeria loses the opportunity to appear at international football competitions both at club and country level and Tijani believes this would not have been a loss but would rather ensure that monies are not wasted.
Local League Development
While Tijani expressed happiness that the country was able to resolve its issues, he noted that the fear of being banned by FIFA should not be Nigerians’ concern but how to develop the game within the country.
He noted that the Nigerian league should be more important to Nigeria and not the fear of losing spots at FIFA’s international competitions.
He highlighted a number of factors militating against the growth of Nigerian football leagues as well as the challenges Nigerian clubs were facing, including the situation whereby several players were not being paid their salaries.
Kayode mentioned some European leagues, as well as the South-African league as examples of places where governments have no hand in the management of their leagues.
“In Germany, the only involvement of government is infrastructure,” he said, maintaining his earlier stance that the Federal Government of Nigeria has to withdraw its direct involvement with the management and funding of the game.
Tijani also had some words for the players and handlers of the Super Eagles as Nigerians look forward to the team’s next African Cup of Nations qualifier.
“Are we going to win? I don’t know. Stephen Keshi to me is a hero, he’s done so much but…why holding us to ransom with players who are not going to perform? The likes of Mikel, I don’t know why.
“Muda Lawal in midfield? Mikel? I can never compare a Mikel or some of these players who are holding us to ransom.
“I was in Sudan with them, they were talking about playing on synthetic (pitch), I am in shock! Rashidi Yekini scored in Sudan in 1993 and that was not even a pitch!” he said passionately.
The new NFF Executive Committee has approved the hiring of the services of world–famous Pricewaterhouse to audit the accounts of the Federation.
This was part of the resolutions reached at the meeting of the Executive Committee which took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Wednesday night.
Related to this is the approval given to hire the services of Financial Derivatives, another much respected firm, to act as financial consultants of the NFF, and Ben & Co to act as Management Consultants.
“This is all part of our vision to drive the engine of Nigeria football differently but energetically and to let the world know that we are determined to be transparent and accountable. All these decisions are being taken in the best interest of Nigeria football,” explained NFF President, Amaju Pinnick.
According to a statement by the NFF Assistant Director (Communications), Ademola Olajire, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande was, also on Wednesday night, named the Chairman of the Match Commissioners/Assessors Sub-Committee, which will work under the Referees Committee.
The Vice Chairman is Abel Ehigie, and members are Jamila Buhari, Abdulkadir Magaji Kabaka, Manzo Mohammed, James Odeniran, Mohammed Alkali, Emma Ochiaga, Bola Abidoye and Dave Egho.
The Executive Committee opted to constitute the Internal Audit Committee at a later date.
The fabulous run of the Senior Women National Team, Super Falcons, also got the attention of the Committee, which commended the maximum points garnered by the girls in their first two matches of the 9th African Women Championship in Namibia.
The Falcons have sailed into the semi finals of the competition ahead of their final match of the group phase against the host nation, having scored 10 goals and conceded only two.
The Super Eagles also received praise for their fighting spirit in the 3-1 defeat of Sudan in Abuja on Wednesday; a feat that keeps alive hopes of qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The President of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, Mr Amaju Pinnick says his election was divinely scripted and he would therefore depend on the Almighty for the task of fixing the game.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Pinnick noted that identifying the problems in the Federation and creating an environment of peace and stability would be the first task to embark on.
He stated that he was aware of how bad things were in the organisation before venturing into leading it and therefore did not expect to have things easy but he was ready for the challenge.
“I came at a time when there is so much turbulence, bickering, animosity, hatred in the system. So its not going to be something very rosy or easy, but prayerfully, tactfully we are going to do what we want to do.”
He revealed that one of the major sources of problems in the NFF, asides the deep seated emotional bitterness, is the politics of exclusion.
He, however, expressed joy that some top people have started extending hands of fellowship to him including those who ran against him in the race to the NFF Presidency, like Amanze Uchegbulam.
“Repairing Nigerian Football is a major task,” he said.
Pinnick also emphasized the need to create an environment for potential partners to wish to identify with the Federation, noting that it would be important for the NFF to build trust especially among corporate organisations.
“We are going to create a platform for them to see that we are very serious.”
Pinnick itemised a number of steps his team would take in order to build the confidence in corporate organisations, “where people know that their brand name will not be tainted”.
Sustainable football culture is Pinnick’s priority and he warned that this would mean Nigerians have to make sacrifices as regards their constant quest for winning trophies, as there must be long, medium and long term goals.
He explained the plan to create a technical study group under the NFF technical department, which would go round the country to select genuinely young and talented players quarterly for transfer to developmental leagues abroad.
He explained that this would not be for them to be put under the pressure of winning at all cost for the Golden Eaglets or Flying Eagles but they would be trained to have the mentality of seeing themselves as future Super Eagles.
Pinnick linked the successes recorded by Germany in recent years to a similar approach with he said also gives him the assurance that “Germany is going to dominate for the next eight years.”
Pinnick also noted that his strategy was based on a similar template which he has worked and succeeded with, citing the Blessing Okagbare success as an example of how to build sustainable development which he assured would eventually yield results.
He also played up his experiences working at the world football governing body, FIFA, and the progression from that and rising gradually to the top of football administration in Delta State as quality antecedents that give him the confidence that same successes can be achieved with the NFF.
On the employment status of Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, Pinnick noted that the Eagles Coach remains a hero who must be accorded the respect of one, having won the African Cup of Nations as a player and as a coach.
He noted that although he had made comments in the past that “Keshi has reached his limit and he needs to build his capacity” the recommendation of the technical arm of the NFF would be considered.
“I believe in due diligence, going through a due process. The technical department will come up with a comprehensive report about Keshi, submit it to the technical committee, they look at it and give it to the board.
“The board will now make a decision based on those reports, but I can assure you we are not going to do anything that is against the interest of Nigerians.”
Pinnick would not give a categorical statement on the future of Keshi with the Super Eagles, but hinted that “if Keshi is going to stay we will help him” explaining how he intends to do this.
He also noted that the priority of the board would not just be Keshi but also the training of other Nigerian coaches and referees, as improving the level of officiating in Nigeria, and having a Nigerian referee feature at the next World Cup is one of his targets.
He appealed to Nigerians to be patient, promising, “We are going to give you what you’ve never seen before.”
Nigeria face yet another ban and the possibility of expulsion from the African Nations Cup if they continue to uphold the results of disputed elections last week, FIFA warned on Wednesday.
Nigeria have until Monday to restore to power Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Aminu Maigari, deposed in an election last week while he was detained by police in a second attempt to oust him from office since the World Cup.
FIFA said in a statement it had sent a letter to the NFF confirming that Nigeria will be suspended “should there still be persons claiming to have been elected to NFF positions on 26 August 2014 and occupying their offices on Monday, 8 September 2014 at 07.00.
NFF elections last week saw Chris Giwa take over as president but his election has been widely disputed within Nigerian football and rejected by FIFA.
Maigari was arrested at the same time as the poll, in an unsubtle attempt to keep him from the vote, and held by police but not questioned and later released.
The involvement of security forces led Nigerian media to speculate the giant west African country’s government were seeking to unseat Maigari but wary of FIFA’s policy of no government interference in the running of its member associations.
Maigari had also been held for a brief period after arriving home from Brazil in July following Nigeria’s elimination in the World Cup last 16 when a first bid to sweep him from power was made by rivals.
A court order was obtained by a rival faction ordering an immediate election in July but world football’s governing body rejected this too, suspending Nigeria for seven days before the status quo was restored.
FIFA’s latest threat means Nigeria could be stopped from playing their scheduled Nations Cup qualifier in South Africa next Wednesday which would effectively see them out of the competition and unable to defend the title they won in 2013.
They can however go ahead with the opening Group A qualifier against Congo in Calabar on Saturday.
“Should the new deadline not be respected, the NFF will be automatically suspended until the board claiming to be elected vacates the premises of the NFF and the NFF General Secretary is able to perform his work without interference,” FIFA said.
“The NFF Executive Committee as it was composed on 25 August 2014, meaning under the presidency of Aminu Maigari, should then convene as soon as possible a first extraordinary general assembly to elect the members of the electoral committee and a second extraordinary general assembly in the shortest time possible allowed by law in order to proceed with the elections of new NFF office-bearers.”
African Champions, Nigeria, have called up 23 players for the 2015 Nations Cup qualifying matches against the Red Devils of Congo and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.
The list released by the Nigeria Football Federation features goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama; defenders, Kenneth Omeruo and Efe Ambrose; midfielders, Ogenyi Onazi and John Mikel Obi, and forwards, Ahmed Musa and Emmanuel Emenike.
Monaco of France defender, Elderson Echiejile, who missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup due to injury, Nosa Igiebor and Schalke 04’s Chinedu Obasi are all back for the qualifiers.
Home–based quartet, Chigozie Agbim, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kunle Odunlami and Gbolahan Salami, who were part of Nigeria’s third place finish at the African Nations Championship in South Africa earlier in the year, would be making a return to Capetown.
Enugu Rangers’ topman, Christian Osaguona also add to the number of players from the domestic league.
Nigeria starts its AFCON qualifiers with Congo in Calabar on September 6, and later leave for Cape Town to take on the Bafana Bafana on September 10.
THE FULL LIST
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille OSC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United, Nigeria)
This is the Friday edition of ‘Sports This Morning’ on your award winning Channels Television.
Yemi Adebayo takes us on a trip starting with top stories in the world of sports.
The countdown to FIFA World Cup, Brazil 2014 continues with 69 days to the biggest football event on the planet; we look at the readiness of Brazil to host the world and also focus one of the teams that the world would be expecting to make clear statements at the tournament, the Azzurri.
Meanwhile, the question on everybody’s lips is who wins the Women’s FIFA U-17 World Cup? Is it going to be Japan or Spain? You may have found out the winner but the analysis on this edition of the show would be a delight.
In the Nigerian Glo Premier League, the League Management Company has granted Nembe City FC provisional admission into the league after the club met conditions set by the body.
We also bring you some analysis of the great boxing match-up that promises to be a classic. Timothy Bradley says he is ready to prove doubters wrong by beating Filipino boxer Manny Pacquaio in their scheduled rematch.
Let’s also take you to South America, Argentina to be precise, as Boca Juniors takes on River Plate.