Obafemi Martins Nets Cracker As Shanghai Shenhua Win FA Cup

Shanghai SIPG's Shi Ke (L) fights for the ball with Shanghai Shenhua's Obafemi Martins during their Chinese FA Cup football match in Shanghai on November 19, 2017.  STR / AFP
Shanghai SIPG’s Shi Ke (L) fights for the ball with Shanghai Shenhua’s Obafemi Martins during their Chinese FA Cup football match in Shanghai on November 19, 2017. STR / AFP

 

Veteran Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins scored a cracker as Shanghai Shenhua stunned rivals Shanghai SIPG to win the Chinese FA Cup final on away goals 3-3 on aggregate on Sunday.

They did it in thrilling fashion and without Argentine forward Carlos Tevez, whose disastrous 11-month spell in China looks to be over after he failed to appear in either leg of the final.

Shenhua went into the two-legged tie as underdogs against an expensively assembled SIPG side featuring the Brazilians Hulk and Oscar, Asia’s most pricey player at 60 million euros.

Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas, whose future in China is also unclear having failed to lead SIPG to silverware this season, paid the price for a lack of ambition in the 1-0 first-leg defeat at Shenhua a week earlier — Martins the scorer.

At least SIPG went out fighting, winning 3-2 on an enthralling night at Shanghai Stadium.

Former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas refused to be immediately drawn on his future, saying: “It’s not the time now to speak about this.

“SIPG know my decision and soon you will know about it.”

Chinese media say that Villas-Boas had to lift at least one trophy in his first season to stay in the job, but SIPG came second in the Chinese Super League (CSL) behind Guangzhou Evergrande and went out in the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League.

“For us it’s a pity, we were close to three trophies this season but we couldn’t achieve them,” added Villas-Boas.

“I think we are more ready now to face the challenges that lay ahead of us for the future.

“We had three knockouts and we failed them all, that’s my responsibility, I was the one that made the promise for this team to achieve success and I failed in this bid.”

– Martins hits beauty –

Hulk and international winger Wu Lei both tested out the away goal and on 15 minutes SIPG took the lead.

Oscar crossed and Lu Wenjun was on hand at the far post to steer the ball back across goal.

Both sides had half-chances and three minutes before the break a moment of controversy.

Shenhua, with former manager Gus Poyet watching from the stands, though they had scored through Cao Yunding.

The away players wheeled away in celebration, failing to spot that the referee had blown up for an infringement by Martins.

The 33-year-old forward had given the side now coached by Wu Jingui a slender lead from the first leg, but he was adjudged to have impeded SIPG goalkeeper Yan Junling.

But on the stroke of half-time Shenhua did score and it was Cao again, swiveling inside the box to fire the ball past Yun for 1-1 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.

Martins, once of Newcastle United and Inter Milan, looked to have won the tie when he cut in from the right and curled the ball beautifully into the top corner from well outside the box.

But Hulk buried a penalty four minutes later, then on 76 minutes SIPG took the lead on the night 3-2 when Shenhua captain Giovanni Moreno put the ball into his own net, setting up a frenetic finale during which SIPG’s Fu Huan was sent off.

It was Shenhua’s first FA Cup triumph since 1998 and earns them a place in next season’s Asian Champions League.

AFP

Obafemi Martins Joins Chinese Club Shanghai Shenhua

Obafemi MartinsNigerian striker Obafemi Martins has moved to China.

The 31-year-old joined Shanghai Shenhua in a multi-million dollar deal from Seattle Sounders.

Obafemi Martins joined the MLS club from Spanish side Levante in March 2013 scoring 43 goals and adding 23 assists in 84 appearances.

Martins was named the Sounders’ team MVP each of the past two seasons and was the runner-up for the league MVP in 2014.

The Sounders will open the MLS regular season at home against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, March 6.

He scored 18 goals in 41 international appearances for the Super Eagles and was voted Africa’s most promising talent in 2003 and 2004.

Super Eagles Beat Swaziland 2-0 In World Cup Qualifier

EaglesThe Super Eagles of Nigeria on Tuesday kept their hope of a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup alive by defeating Swaziland 2-0 in Port Harcourt.

It was the second leg of the knock out duel between the two countries, after the first leg had ended in a goalless draw in Swaziland on Friday.

The Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, made three changes to the team that drew 0-0 in Swaziland. Sunshine stars’ Paul Onobi replaced Mikel Obi; Sharks’ Chima Akas came in for Elderson Echiejile and Austin Oboroakpo from Abia Warriors replaced Godfrey Oboabona.

The first half ended goalless with pressure mounting among the fans at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium but Moses Simon’s well taken free-kick in the 51st minute gave Nigeria the lead and calmed the nerves.

In the 75th minute, Obafemi Martins came in for captain Ahmed Musa and Ogenyi Onazi took the captain’s band as Nigeria went in search of more goals.

The Eagles’s improved attacking play eventually paid off but not from the expected source. Defender Efe Ambrose made it 2-0 for Nigeria in the 87th minute to send the Port Harcourt fans into jubilation.

Asides throwing open the gates of the stadium to encourage fans to fill the venue and cheer the Nigeria team to victory, the Eagles were also boosted by the Rivers State Government’s $20,000 per goal promise.

With the victory, Nigeria has now qualified for the group stage of the African qualifiers along with 19 other countries, who will be drawn into five groups.

The five group winners will represent Africa in Russia 2018.

 

 

 

Martins, Ambrose Confident Eagles Will Beat Swaziland

super eagles-Obafemi MartinsSuper Eagles striker, Obafemi Martins and defender, Efe Ambrose, are confident that the team will advance to the group phase of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Both players told Channels Television in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital that the team had put behind them, the disappointing goalless draw against Swaziland in Lobamba.

They expressed optimism that the Eagles will go all out for victory in Tuesday’s return leg clash.

Martins said his side was ready to do their best as a team, adding that they do not want to lose or draw again on Tuesday.

“We do not want to play 0-0 and we do not want to loose. We are all ready to do our best as a team first and the attackers will do their best scoring goals as well. We are ready to win on Tuesday”, Martins said.

Ambrose also expressed confidence that the team would win the return game, playing hosts to Swaziland.

“When we are at home, I think with the fans, with everybody behind us, there is nobody that can stop us right here,” the defender said.

Oliseh Invites Iheanacho For Swaziland

IheanachoCoach Sunday Oliseh has invited Manchester City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, for the Super Eagles’ 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture against Swaziland.

With Iheanacho’s inclusion, the list of invitees now has 24 names, including in-form USA–based Obafemi Martins and six home–based professionals.

Oliseh had maintained that invitation to the Eagles would be based on current form and ability.

Martins has not featured for the Super Eagles in two years but has been in great form in the Major League Soccer.

The two–legged fixture will take place over four days with the first leg in Lobamba on Friday, November 13 and the return leg at the Adokiye Amiesiamaka Stadium in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, November 17.

Oliseh has directed that all the players arrive at the Bolton White Apartments, Abuja on Sunday, November 8 as training commences same day by 7pm.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Sunshine Stars); Dele Alampasu (Club de Sportivo Feirense, Portugal)

Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao da Madeira, Portugal); Kalu Orji (Enugu Rangers FC); Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France); Chima Akas (Sharks FC); Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz, Germany); Godfrey Oboabona (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Austin Oboroakpo (Abia Warriors)

Midfielders: Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Paul Onobi (Sunshine Stars); John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Rabiu Ibrahim (AS Trencin, Slovakia); Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium); Sylvester Igbonu (FC UFA, Russia)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Odion Ighalo (Watford FC, England); Ezekiel Bassey (Enyimba FC); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders, USA); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England)

Robbie Keane Beats Obafemi Martins To MLS MVP Award

Obafemi MartinsRepublic of Ireland striker, Robbie Keane, has been named Major League Soccer 2014 Volkswagen Most Valuable Player after he had a brilliant season in which he led LA Galaxy to the MLS cup final.

Keane 34, had a fantastic season and scored 19 goals and gave 14 assists contributing to half of his team’s 69 goals making them the league’s most potent club moving forward

The former Tottenham striker is used to success in LA. Since his arrival in 2011 he has won two titles with the Galaxy – and could win a third as LA Galaxy prepare for the cup final against Revolution.

He is the third LA Galaxy player to be named MLS MVP after Carlos Ruiz in 2002 and Landon Donovan in 2009.

Lee Nguyen of New England Revolution and the Seattle Sounders and Nigeria’s Obafemi Martins were the other finalists for the award.

DC United’s Bill Hamid was named goalkeeper of the season ahead of Nick Rimando, the choice of many MLS fans. Pedro Morales of the Vancouver Whitecaps was named newcomer of the year.

According to Lagalaxy.com, Robbie Keane has scored 53 goals and added 35 assists in 84 MLS appearances, with 15 game-winning goals and assists apiece. In postseason matches, he has scored eight times and added six assists in just 16 appearances while leading the Galaxy to MLS Cup titles in 2011 and 2012. He has been named to the MLS Best XI three consecutive times and an MLS All-Star for two straight seasons.

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.

Repairing Nigerian Football Is A Major Task – Pinnick

Nigerian FootballThe 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.

Keshi’s Contract

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.Nigerian Football

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.”

 

Keshi To Play 2014 World Cup Qualifiers With Lean Squad

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is to maintain a small squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, just as he prepares to tackle the Harambee Stars of Kenya

The Nigeria Football Federation said this is due to the financial constraint plaguing the federation even though the chief coach of the Super Eagles had earlier declared his interest to add more quality players to the team that claimed the Afcon 2013 trophy.

Keshi had shown interest in players such as Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins and others.

According to Punch Newspaper, an official of the federation said: “Of course we will look at the list from Keshi as in the past but the key thing may not be the type of players he needs but largely on how the Federation can also accommodate his plans. In this time of lean purse, we don’t expect to see 35 players called up for the game.

“The encouragement now is that Keshi already has his core players and so he is zeroing in on exactly those he wants for this game and a few others he wants to give another opportunity to prove their worth,” the official said.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles will host the Harambee Stars of Kenya in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match on March 23.

Ben Alaiya, an official of the Federation also claimed that Stephen Keshi will be releasing his list of the squad to face the Harambee Stars soonest.

 

I Skipped Eagles Superstars Due To Personality Problems – Keshi

Coach Stephen Keshi has opened up on West Brom and Nigerian International Osaze Odemwingie, saying he skipped the player’s name from his squad selection because Osaze had personality problems which he felt cannot be permitted in the squad.

A lot of uproar was generated between the coach and the West Brom player before the Afcon 2013 tournament due to Osaze’s non-inclusion in the provisional squad to the Nations Cup in South Africa.

To a lot of football-loving Nigerians, it appeared as if Keshi didn’t have an idea of what he was doing. This perception continued into the tournament especially in the face of the abysmal performance by the Super Eagles in the group games, giving rise to many questioning why players like Osaze and others were dropped from Keshi’s provisional squad.

“We decided not to take some of these superstars to the Nations Cup because it is a long period of time and for the long period of time, you need characters that go together,” the former Super Eagles captain explained in an interview with Daily Trust.

“And if you have one or two who do not get along, forget about the superstars, the team will fall apart. I can bring a player in for a game. We can manage some of these players with a little bit of character problems, but when it comes to a long period of time, that’s difficult.

“Odemwingie is a very good player, a player I love to have in the team, but he wants to do what he wants to do.

“In the national team, where I was captain for 14 years, you are nothing but an individual in the team as you are not bigger than Nigeria. If you are not ready to give the green-and-white shirt the due respect, you are walking out of my team.

“We talked on the phone, I told him what I wanted from him, but he had his own notion and I said for now, I will skip you.”

Keshi also revealed that Obafemi Martins was not ready for the Nations Cup, but he has not shut the door against the Levante striker.

“He is still part of the group. If his name is in the next call-up, if he wants to come, we will see how it goes,” he said.

The Eagles coach admitted he missed Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi at the African Nations Cup, whose presence in the dressing room would have improved his team.

“Honestly speaking, I missed Shola Ameobi because in the game against Venezuela, he has a different presence in the locker room, he came in with this coaching ability and togetherness, when he talks to these boys they listen. This was the first time he was coming.

“This was what I was looking for on the pitch, somebody who could talk for me on the field, because I know what I did as a captain on the pitch.

“He was really, really ready to come, but his contract denied him from coming.”

Keshi’s Star Players

Keshi also said he will stick with Efe Ambrose at right back despite concerns the Celtic star is being played out of position.

Ambrose is best known as a central defender, but was played at right during the 2013 AFCON in South Africa with many raising concerns over his suitability in that position.

Keshi said the versatile Ambrose grew as a right back during the AFCON.

“He was growing during the tournament; he loves to play in the position. With every game Ambrose was just marching forward with a lot of confidence. If he were not growing, then that’s a different thing,” Keshi remarked.

“He is a very technical player. He loves playing this position and so we said go ahead.

“He can also play in central defence, as a defensive midfielder and at right back; same goes for Oboabona, Kenneth (Omeruo) and Onazi.

“An emergency could come up and we are blessed to have players who can play different positions. It’s a wonderful gift.

“This is what we are looking for in a team, like when Onazi came in and played right back for Efe Ambrose when he was suspended.”

Obagoal scores winning goal for Levante on debut

Obafemi ‘Obagoal’ Martins came into his new Spanish side Levante in style as he showed why he is worth being bought as the out of favour Nigerian striker scored the winning goal on his debut for the La Liga club against another Spanish side Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Before he finally recorded a goal, the former Rubin Kazan hit-man’s effort was disallowed in the 64th minute as it was faulted as an offside.

Martins who came in as a substitute in the 46th minute and was on with much aggression  standing a threat to defenders till the 87th minute when he finally sealed the victory for Levante  after he received a brilliant pass from Ballesteros.

After the game Obagoal as he is fondly called back home said he couldn’t ask for a better debut than what happened in the game today.

Obafemi Martins joins Levante from Rubin Kazan

Former Super Eagles striker; Obafemi Martins has moved to Spanish club Levante dumping his Russian club Rubin Kazan as he agreed to terminate his contract with the Russian club.

Martins who left inter Milan to Wolfsburg before he moved to Rubin Kazan is expected to earn an annual wage of around €600,000 every season.

Obafemi Martins was entitled to a wage of €2.2 million at Rubin Kazan after signing a deal worth €9 million from German Bundesliga side, Wolfsburg.

Martins signed a two-year deal with Levante on Tuesday and will be unveiled today.