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Battle in Katsina for soul of Nigeria football

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Katsina State is a frontline state as far as politics in Nigeria is concerned.

The state has its fair share of history, producing two presidents for the country in the late Musa Yar’adua and Muhammadu Buhari.

However, when it comes to football matters the state obviously takes a backseat as none of the football clubs from the state is yet to make any meaningful impact nationally let alone in Africa and globally.

It is not to say that the northern region of Nigeria has not produced world acclaimed stars in football like Dan Amokachi, Tijani Babaginda and lately Ahmed Musa, but no ‘big name’ footballer has come from Katsina; at least in recent times.

That said, Katsina is now on the verge of making history as it is set to host the 2018 Nigeria Football Federation Elective Congress.

Simply put, the state has the honour of deciding the future of football in Nigeria as the success or otherwise of Thursday’s Elective Congress will go a long way in deciding the fate of football in Nigeria going forward.

The elective congress is a ritual performed every four years and it is usually used to usher in individuals that would administer football for the next four years in the country.

Though the generality of Nigerians have their minds fixed on the 2019 elections, the NFF elections is equally an important poll and it is understandably generating a lot of interest.

There is no gainsaying that football is very important to Nigeria and Nigerians, hence whoever gets the nod to be the president of the Nigeria Football Federation and by extension, the other executive positions, will be held in high esteem even beyond the borders of the country.

While there has been ‘less tension’ leading to this year’s Elective Congress, it is will be perilous to assume that all is well and there will be no intrigues in Katsina on Thursday (September 20).

Already, four individuals have registered their intention to vie for the presidency of the NFF; including the incumbent, Amaju Pinnick, who is seeking to do what no other person has done in the post-independent NFF.

Mr Pinnick is seeking to rewrite history as the first back-to-back head of the football body in 61years after that of Father Slattery in 1957/58 in the then NFA.

Also seeking a comeback is Aminu Maigari, the head at the Glass House from 2010 to 2014.

Another man throwing in his hat to contest is Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former NFF general secretary and later board member as chairman of chairmen.

He is also a former footballer.

The last candidate is a relatively unknown Chinedu Okoye but who is confident of ruffling shoulders in Katsinaon Thursday.

He is also a former footballer, referee and the proprietor of Nigeria National League club, Bimo FC.

Aside from the NFF Presidency, there are also considerable interests shown in other elective positions on the NFF Executive Board.

As expected, the contestants have been waxing lyrics about what they will be bringing to the table if given the mandate to administer football in Nigeria from 2018 till 2002.

Mr Ogunjobi has made public his agenda to improve the fortunes of football in the country.

He promised that he would, among other things, be a bridge-builder should he win the race.

The Osun State FA boss who is often tagged as “The Oracle of Nigerian Football” has put forward an eight-point agenda to be implemented if he gets the top job at Glass House.

Top on his action agenda is “immediate reconciliation of all football stakeholders to come together as one happy football family”.

He has made a promise to establish an arbitration tribunal for the NFF to resolve internally generated conflicts “through transparent processes”.

Also, the former NFF scribe has promised to enhance the marketing and sponsorship departments of the football body.

Other programmes for implementation under an Mr Ogunjobi presidency include restructuring of welfare infrastructure, improvement of the standard of welfare of players and staff in the federation through newly devised means, grassroots’ development, the introduction of more youth-oriented competitions and also an improvement on current age grade competitions, to name a few.

For Mr Okoye who many see as an outsider in the race, the ex-Footballer with the Swiss League as well as a former Referee of the Swiss Regional League for almost a decade said he is the most qualified for the post.

Mr Okoye prides himself as the only Presidential candidate in the forthcoming NFF elections with an investment in the Nigeria Football Industry with his pet club-Bimo SC.

He has outlined a six-point agenda to stop bad officiating and match-fixing in Nigeria football, stop doping (Drug Use), stop corruption in NFF, enthrone transparency and accountability in NFF as well as develop facilities and competitions (especially Age Grade) across the States of Nigeria.

“I have the Passion, Vision, Mission, and the Drive to reclaim our Football from the graveyard where it is currently buried. I will make the desired CHANGE in our Football and bring some “Swissness” into Nigerian Football.

“Nigerian Football needs a BRAND NEW NFF PRESIDENT. Nigerian Football needs an NFF PRESIDENT that will NOT STEAL our FOOTBALL MONEY. We need an NFF PRESIDENT that will CARRY ALL FOOTBALL STAKEHOLDERS” Mr Okoye said in his campaign document sent to PREMIUM TIMES.

For Mr Maigari, he said he is not happy with how the good works he did in his first four-year tenure is being allowed to go down the drain hence he is looking for a return to right the wrongs and take football higher.

On his part, the incumbent, Mr Pinnick who is the 1st Vice President of CAF, he said he came out for a second term to steady the transformation of Nigerian football in terms of vision, youth development and more importantly to actualize the drive for the NFF to be self-reliant.

“There is a need for continuity for Nigerian football to prosper. There is this uncommon relationship between the Corporate World and our executive built on transparency and integrity. Before now, this relationship was non-existent. It is all for the good of the game that we want to show the light so that others coming after us will find their way. Once a structure is established, it becomes easy to manage”, the NFF president said.

There are two candidates vying for the first vice president’s position.

The incumbent, Seyi Akinwunmi, will be up against another South West chieftain, Sunday Dele-Ajayi.

The incumbent, Ibrahim Gusau will battle club proprietor, Patrick Ubah for the slot of chairman of chairmen on the board.

For other positions on the executive committee, Rabiu Inuwa, a member of the present board, is the only candidate from the North West.

The battle in the North Central has been somewhat narrowed with the withdrawal of FCT FA chairman, Musa Talle.

However, Ahmed Yusuf ‘Fresh’ and honourable Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, ranking members of the board, have to contend with Busari Ishola, chairman of Kwara State FA.

Similarly, incumbents Babagana Kalli and Musa Duhu from the North East have to contend with Farouk Yarma Adamu.

In the South East, Chidi Ofor Okenwa (presently Chairman of the Nigeria National League), will vie with Enyimba FC chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu (ranking Member of Board); Jude Obikwelu (Vice Chairman, Anambra State FA); Emmanuel Ochiagha (Vice Chairman, Imo State FA) and; Emeka Inyama (former Chairman of the NNL and former Chairman of NFF Marketing and Sponsorship, and also Chairman of NPFL side Abia Warriors).

From the South West, only Ganiyu Majekodunmi, chairman of Ogun State FA, is seeking an Executive Committee member position. From the South-South, Oswald Atuake from Cross River State is up against Emmanuel Ibah, chairman of the Akwa Ibom State FA.

Elections into the NFF Executive Committee 2018-2022 will hold as scheduled on Thursday, September 20 in the city of Katsina.

World football –governing body, FIFA as well as the Confederation of African Football has both named their observers to Thursday’s elections.

If neither Amaju Pinnick nor Aminu Maigari wins, the Nigerian football governing body will be having its 36th leader since its foundation in 1933.

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Lagos set for ‘King Of The Ring’ boxing show

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Lagos set for 'King Of The Ring' boxing show

Boxing fans in Lagos and its environs are set for a bumper festive season as top boxers across the world will be storming the Center of Excellence for the King of the Ring Boxing Show.

Organised by Monarch Events and Promotions, boxers from the United Kingdom, Ghana, Australia and Mexico are top on the list of those expected in Nigeria for some world title bouts.

The fights, which will be held at the Landmark Event Center in Victoria Island, Lagos on December 22, will also accommodate some of Nigeria’s boxers.

The CEO of Monarch Events Promotions, Stanley Williams, who also organised the BoxFest which was staged earlier this year, said he is sure the King of the Ring Show will even be more spectacular.

Emeka Onele, who spoke on behalf of the organisers said all the necessary arrangements are in top gear to stage another epic Boxing show that would further help portray Nigeria as a force to reckon with in the boxing world.

“This December will definitely be exciting for boxing lovers. We bring to you King of the Ring, an unprecedented boxing event in Nigeria and Africa.”

In some of the already confirmed big fights, Tasif Khan from the United Kingdom will be squaring up against Mexico’s 30-year-old Sammy Reyes in a 10-round bout.

Australia’s Mark De Mori will step into the ring against Mathew Elis, while Nigeria’s Tony Salam, who is the current WBF cruiserweight African champion, is up against Ghana’s Kwesi Tutu.

There will also be a world title bout between Sule Olagbade and Gyorgy Mizsel Jnr and the fight is expected to stretch to 12 rounds.

The King of the Ring being organized by Monarch Events and Promotions is sanctioned by the World Boxing Union (WBU) and the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control (NBBofC).

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U-15 Champion beats experienced athletes to win 400m finals

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National Sports Festival: 'New' athletes win 100m men, women

Imaobong Nse Uko, the current National U15 Champion, gave a breathtaking performance to finish ahead of the other experienced athletes all lined up in the Women’s 400m final, in yet another surprise performance at the 19th National Sports Festival ongoing in Abuja, on Thursday.

Nse came from the fourth position to heroically win at the finish line at 52.35s, thus winning gold for Team Akwa Ibom.

In the men’s race, Orupe Erayokan was the winner as the Team Rivers star finished with a time of 46.52 to win gold ahead of Team Akwa Ibom’s Shedrack Akpei who finished in a time of 46.78.

Another youngster, Emmanuel Ojei, added to the medals won by Lagos State by finishing third in the final of the men’s 400m.

Speaking after his race, Emmanuel said he came to the festival to enjoy himself and it was a big plus for him to win a medal.

“While coming to Abuja, I was not thinking of winning any medal,” he said.

“Even when I got to the final, I decided to execute my race and not to put myself under any pressure. So I am happy winning a medal for my efforts.

“It has been a lot of hard work and total dedication and for God to crown my efforts with a medal, I am very happy.

“I will have to go back now and start proper preparation for the new season as there are a lot of competitions to look forward to in 2019.”

Precious Okoronkwo won the Lagos State’s first medal in athletics on the opening day of the festival when she won the silver medal in the women’s long jump.

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Alex Iwobi tops list for African best player

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Alex Iwobi tops list for African best player

Super Eagles star, Alex Iwobi, is top on the list of 10 players shortlisted for the prestigious Africa Player of Year Award.

The Confederation of African Football on their official website on Friday released a trimmed list of nominees as the CAF Awards 2018 gathers momentum.

Aside from Iwobi who is the only Nigerian in the race, premier league stars, Riyad Mahrez, Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all in the race for Africa’s biggest individual award.

Unfortunately, Ahmed Musa, as well as Nigeria’s national team coach, Gernot Rohr, have both dropped out in the race for honours in the 2018 CAF Awards.

While Musa was initially shortlisted for the prestigious Africa player of year accolade, Rohr was pencilled down in the best coach category.

That notwithstanding, Nigeria still has some form of representation as two players, Onome Ebi and Asisat Oshoala, are in the run for the women’s player of the year.

The Super Falcons’ coach, Thomas Dennerby, is being nominated alongside two others in the Women’s Coach of the Year category.

Also, the Super Falcons who only recently won their ninth African title, have been nominated for Women’s National Team of the Year.

CAF explained that the shortlisted nominees were decided by votes from the members of the CAF Technical & Development Committee.

The final phase will involve votes from CAF Media Experts, Legends, Coaches of the quarter-finalists of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup, and Coaches & Captains of the 54 Member Associations.

The Awards Gala, to honour footballers and officials who distinguished themselves during the year under review, will be held on Tuesday, 8 January 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.

See The Full Shortlists for CAF Awards 2018

African Player of the Year

1. Alex Iwobi (Nigeria & Arsenal)

2. Andre Onana (Cameroon & Ajax)

3. Anis Badri (Tunisia & Esperance)

4. Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)

5. Mehdi Benatia (Morocco & Juventus)

6. Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Liverpool)

7. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon & Arsenal)

8. Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Manchester City)

9. Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool)

10. Walid Soliman (Egypt & Ahly)

Women’s Player of the Year

1. Abdulai Mukarama (Ghana & Northern Ladies)

2. Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria & Dilian Quanjian)

3. Bassira Toure (Mali & AS Mande)

4. Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa & Houston Dash)

5. Elizabeth Addo (Ghana & Seattle Reign)

6. Francisca Ordega (Nigeria & Washington Spirit)

7. Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene (Cameroon & CSKA Moskow)

8. Janine Van Wyk (South Africa & Houston Dash)

9. Onome Ebi (Nigeria & Hekan Huisanhang)

10. Raissa Feudjio (Cameroon & Aland United)

11. Tabitha Chawinga (Malawi & Jiangsu Suning)

Youth Player of the Year

1. Achraf Hakimi (Morocco & Borussia Dortmunmd)

2. Franck Kessie (Cote d’Ivoire & AC Milan)

3. Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria & Leicester City)

Men’s Coach of the Year

1. Aliou Cisse (Senegal)

2. Herve Renard (Morocco)

3. Moine Chaabani (Esperance)

Women’s Coach of the Year

1. Desiree Ellis (South Africa)

2. Joseph Brian Ndoko (Cameroon)

3. Thomas Dennerby (Nigeria)

Men’s National Team of the Year

1. Madagascar

2. Mauritania

3. Uganda

Women’s National Team of the Year

1. Cameroon

2. Nigeria

3. South Africa

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