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CAF League:Sudan Holds Enyimba to Goalless Draw in Aba

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Enyimba International Football Club of Aba were held to a disappointing goalless draw by 10-man Al- Hilal FC of Sudan in Sunday’s CAF Champions League Second Preliminary Round first leg clash in Aba.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Peoples’ Elephant were dominant all through the duration of the match, but lacked the cutting edge on the final third.

Enyimba fired an early warning to Al-Hilal FC when Nelson Ogbonnaya planted his headed effort from Stanley Okorom’s free kick into the side netting just five minutes after the start.

The visitors heeded the warning and applied caution in their defensive approach, absorbing all that the hosts threw at them at the end of a one-sided first half.

Enyimba again came close to breaking the deadlock two minutes later when Okorom hit the side netting from a free kick almost on the same spot as the first.

Ghana import, Daniel Darkwa drifted up field and just when he was about getting a clear sight on goal, he was tripped by Abuaagla Named.

Enyimba’s centre-back, Ifeanyi Anaemena added his name to the list of those who missed scoring opportunities when he swept his glorious chance waywardly over the crossbar in the 12th minute.

This was after Onuwa Emeruwa’s sleek touch off Dimgba’s cross from the right.

On the quarter hour mark, Stanley Okorom stung the gloves of  goalkeeper Salim Macoola with a rising strike from distance, but the shot stopper did well to push the ball away for a corner.

Five minutes later, Al- Hilal were reduced to 10 men with Nazar Nassr shown a straight red card for violent conduct, after the defender had stepped on Enyimba defender, Daniel Darkwa.

With the numerical advantage, Enyimba patiently worked and waited for the breakthrough as they encamped in their opponent’s territory and continued to pile countless pressure on Al Hilal’s defence.

Obi Damson had his effort parried by the goalkeeper in the 42nd minute and the ball came back gloriously for him, unfortunately his second bite at the cherry went wide off target.

For the first time in the game, the visitors sneaked behind Enyimba’s back line with Barnet Named getting to the byline, but his left foot effort was easily caught off by goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai.

Perhaps, the best chance of the half fell on Dimgba who found his way into the crowded Al-Hilal box.

He twisted and turned all the defenders who virtually got fixed on a spot but his shot towards the far post went wide to the consternation of the packed stands that included governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

Both sides went into the break on equal terms.

The restart followed same pattern as the first with Enyimba in absolute control of the game but were unable to break down the visitor’s resolute defence.

Al-Hilal found an opportunity for a counter attack with Mohammed Darac firing a left foot drive that went marginally wide with Afelokhai fully stretched in the 51st minute.

In a frantic move to shore up his attack, coach Usman Abdallah substituted Obi Samson for Bashir Abdulrahman and Martins Usule for Onuwa Emeruwa.

The move almost paid off as Abdulrahman came close to finding the back of the net with a fierce strike from close range, but the goalkeeper reacted brilliantly, pushing the ball for a corner.

With seven minutes remaining on the clock, Stanley Dimgba fired a ferocious shot from the edge of the box but Macoola went down early enough to gather.

Al-Hilal displayed tremendous composure, organisation and confidence as they repelled every Enyimba offensive till the final whistle.

The Peoples’ Elephant will travel to Sudan on September 29, for the return leg. (NAN)

SPORTS

Para Badminton: Bolaji, Chigozie qualify for Paris 2024 Paralympics

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The duo of Mariam Eniola Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games coming up from 28th August to 8th September.

According to the Badminton World Federation, Multiple African Champion, Mariam Bolaji will represent Nigeria in the Women’s Singles Standing Lower 3 (SL3) while Jeremiah Chigozie represents Nigeria in the Men’s Singles Standing Lower 4 (SL4).

An elated Francis Orbih, President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria said the qualification of Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie is a testimony of hard work, consistency and perseverance.

Orbih who was full of joy revealed that Nigeria stands a good chance to make history by winning medals in para badminton in her debut appearance.

He said, “Today, history has been made as two players for the first time will be representing Nigeria in the para badminton event at the Paralympic Games. I am full of joy because the sacrifices of the players and the Federation were not in vain.

“Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have consistently attended the African Championship winning gold medals in the singles and doubles events. Last month, Mariam Bolaji won two gold medals at the Spanish Internationals in Victoria and Toledo putting her in a better position to make it to the Paralympics; which has become a reality.

“With adequate camping, foreign tours and proper funding, I believe Nigeria will win a medal in the Para Badminton event when we make our debut this year”.

Orbih once again, called on well meaning individuals to support the Badminton Federation of Nigeria in ensuring the athletes get maximum support ahead of the Olympic/Paralympic Games in Paris next August.

He said, “I will not get tired of calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the private sector to key into our brand and give more support to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria. We have athletes who are marketable and will sell their brands to the world with their sterling performances”.

Mariam Eniola Bolaji shocked the world by winning her first gold medal at the Spanish Para badminton International 2021 beating Oksana Kozyna from Ukraine.

Bolaji won the women’s singles SL3 at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023, All African Para Badminton Championship 2023 (Doubles and Mixed Doubles).

She won gold medals at the 5th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2023, Egypt Para Badminton International 2024, World Para Badminton Championship 2024 in Thailand and Spanish Para Badminton International 2024.

Bolaji is also the first African player to be ranked among the top 10 in the BWF world rankings as she is currently ranked number 5 in the world.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Chigozie won bronze medal at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023 and three gold medals at African Para Badminton Championship 2023

He played a lesser number of championships compared to Eniola; playing in Egypt, Dubai, and World Championship in Thailand.

Chigozie got to the quarter finals in the men’s singles SL4 category in Thailand and currently ranked number 16 in the recent BWF para Badminton ranking.

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SPORTS

Tinubu Congratulates Table Tennis Champion, Aruna Quadri Over ITTF Trophy

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President Bola Tinubu has congratulated Nigeria’s table tennis pacesetter, Aruna Quadri, on winning the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Cup title.

Quadri achieved a resounding victory in the final match of the 2024 ITTF Africa Cup in Rwanda, reclaiming his title and sealing his place as Africa’s table tennis champion.

 

The President commended the table tennis star for his dogged pursuit of excellence even in the face of gnawing obstacles, declaring that the zeal for distinction, the hardiness to succeed, and the inventiveness to solve complex problems are the exceptional qualities that define Nigerians.

The President also noted the recent progress in the nation’s sports sector, with remarkable performances in the African Games, the Africa Cup of Nations, and the World Relay Championships, and emphasized that his administration will continue to foster the growth and development of sports in the country.

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SPORTS

NFF Appoints Finidi George as Super Eagles’ Head Coach

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The Board of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has appointed Finidi George as Head Coach of the Senior Men National Football Team, the Super Eagles.

A statement by Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Communications, on Monday said the NFF approved the recommendation of its Technical and Development Committee to appoint George.

Reports says that the ace winger spent 20 months as assistant to José Peseiro before the Portuguese voluntarily left the post after guiding the team to silver medal at AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire.

George took charge of the squad in acting capacity during two friendly matches in Morocco last month.

His squad edged Ghana 2-1 in the first match, ending an 18-year winless streak against the Black Stars, but then lost 0-2 to Mali in the second game.

He was a member of the so-styled ‘Golden Generation’ that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia.

The team also emerged the second most entertaining team in Nigeria’s debut at the FIFA World Cup finals in USA the same year.

George won 62 caps for Nigeria, including featuring at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup finals. He also won gold, silver and bronze medals from the 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2002 AFCON tournaments.

The 52-year-old former Ajax Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Real Betis (Spain) forward made a scoring debut for fatherland in an AFCON qualifying match against Burkina Faso at the National Stadium, Lagos, on July 27, 1991.

He also featured for Calabar Rovers and Sharks FC in the domestic scene before heading to Europe.

He assisted Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory) to score Nigeria’s first-ever FIFA World Cup goal against Bulgaria in Dallas, USA, on 19th June 1994.

George had actually scored the goal that took Nigeria to that FIFA World Cup debut, when he put Nigeria ahead against hosts Algeria in a crucial qualifier in Algiers on 8th October, 1993.

The match eventually ended 1-1 and earned Nigeria a ticket to the finals in America.

George’s immediate task will be to guide the Super Eagles to victory in two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic in Uyo and Abidjan respectively, in a little over five weeks.

The matches are must-win encounters, with the Super Eagles lagging behind in third place in Group C of the African campaign behind Rwanda and South Africa.(NAN)

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