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FIFA Team in Nigeria for Women’s World Cup Facilities Inspection

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International Federation of Association Football (Fédération Internationale de Football Association)
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By Orkula Shaagee, Abuja

A five-man inspection team from world-football governing body, FIFA will arrive in Lagos on Monday for a four-day inspection of facilities and equipment that Nigeria has put forward to host the 10th FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup championship next year.

Christopher Exley, Sara Jane Booth, Kliment Taseski, Rhiannon Ceirwen Martin and Heyral Kaj Jurgen will arrive at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Monday evening, to be received by President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr.

Amaju Melvin Pinnick, NFF 1st Vice President, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, NFF Executive Committee member and Chairman of the Nigeria Women Football League Aisha Falode and top officials of the Lagos State Sports Commission led by the Executive Chairman, Dr.
Kweku Tandoh.

Nigeria has put forward the cities of Lagos, Benin City, Asaba and Uyo for the hosting of the 16 –nation finals.

The inspection team will begin its work in Lagos on Tuesday, with visits to the Onikan Stadium (match venue), St. Nicholas Hospital and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (referral hospitals), Teslim Balogun Stadium, National Stadium Legacy Pitch, Eagle Club, Campos Square and the University of Lagos Sports Centre (training sites), before a courtesy call on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Government House in Alausa.

Joined by NFF President Pinnick, General Secretary Sanusi, Alhaji Mainasara Illo (Coordinator of the Bid), Falode, Commissioner of Police Garba Baba (security) and Dr. Paul Onyeudo (medical), the team will fly to Benin City same day to inspect facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium (match venue), Western Boys College and University of Benin Sports Centre (training sites) and the Edo Specialist Hospital and University of Benin Teaching Hospital (referral hospitals).

The contingent will check out the facilities in Asaba and Uyo on Wednesday. In Asaba, the Stephen Keshi Stadium is the proposed match venue, while training sites are Asaba Squash Courts and St. Patrick’s College. The referral hospitals are St. Luke’s Hospital and Asaba General Hospital.

In Uyo, the focus will be on the Godswill Akpabio Stadium (match venue), Ikot Ekpene Stadium and Godswill Akpabio Training Pitch (training sites) and Ibom Specialist Hospital and University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (referral hospitals).

The inspection party will then fly to Abuja on Thursday for a meeting with the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. Olusade Adesola (representing the Honourable Minister) and a courtesy call on His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (GCON) at the Presidential Villa.

Nigeria is one of only four countries to have participated in every edition of the FIFA U20 Women’s Cup since the competition was launched in 2002 in Canada as an U19 Championship. It was upgraded to U20 competition in 2008. USA, Germany and Brazil are the other three ever –present teams.

The Falconets reached the Final of the competition in 2010 and 2014, losing to Germany on both occasions, and were semifinalists in Japan in 2012.  

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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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