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Flying Eagles Qualify for Semi Finals of 12th African Games

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2019 FIFA U20: Flying Eagles Target Another Three Points Against USA
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Nigeria’s U20 boys, Flying Eagles, qualified for the semifinals of the men’s football event of the 12th African Games after a hard fought 2-2 draw with hosts Morocco on Friday, evening at the FAR Sports Complex Rabat.

The result meant the Flying Eagles garnered five points from three games behind Burkina Faso who topped the group, and ahead of Morocco and South Africa.

The Flying Eagles fell behind after Morocco profited from some slack defending to allow Mohsinne Abba to head home the opener in the 12th minute.

Morroco looked the better side for much of the first half but Nigeria came back strongly towards the close of the first period and were duly rewarded when Ahmad Ghali was brought down in the box.

Team captain Ibrahim Abubakar stepped forwarded and slotted home the spot kick at the second time of asking, after the Moroccan goalkeeper saved his initial effort.

The first half ended 1-1 but Morocco were soon back in the saddle from another spot kick as the referee ruled that Habibu Yakubu had handled in the box.

The hosts scored to lead 2-1 after 72 minutes as Nigeria faced elimination.

Coach Paul Aigbogun threw on lanky striker Chinonso Emeka and it proved a good decision, as the striker scored with just a minute left of regulation time to put Nigeria through to the last four.

Iwobi, Aina key to Arsenal Olowu’s Nigerian Aspirations

Arsenal U23 star, Joseph Olowu has revealed that the pace set by his compatriots and buddies, Alex Iwobi and Ola Aina and others who chose the Super Eagles instead of England was among the reasons he decided to switch his allegiance to Nigeria.

Olowu admitted that it was a tough decision for him to pick Nigeria over England because of what he has gained from the latter but that he doesn’t foresee any problem with that.

He stressed that he has started trying to update his knowledge of Nigeria and that he is also quite open to learning a few new things about the country and its vast cultures.

“Considering that I have lived in the UK all my life and I’ve grown up here since I was young it did come as a tough decision because this country has given me so much,” Olowu said in a chat.

“If I am being honest my experiences in the UK have shaped me into the person I am today and for that all I will always be grateful. I know quite a lot about Nigeria already like I listen to a lot of Nigerian artists and I really enjoy the food a lot. I do look forward to learning a lot more about the country and its cultures.” 

The 2017-18 Premier League 2 Division One winner with Arsenal opined that positive information he has received from both Nigerian internationals has strengthened his conviction that he made the right decision to offer his services to Nigeria.

The youngster added that he grew to become motivated by the heroics of the Kanu Nwankwo led Dream Team I that won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta Georgia, USA and that the contributions of Nigerian players within and beyond the United Kingdom become additional inspiration for him to be identified with the West African nation.

“There are many players that have inspired me to play for the Super Eagles from the 1996 Dream Team to the current squad,” Olowu continued.

“But I think the players that have motivated me the most are Alex Iwobi and Ola Aina because they both came through in England but still chose to represent their motherland.

He (Alex Iwobi) inspired me because he was once in the Arsenal academy I am in now. He broke through into the first team and that showed the young players they would be given the opportunity if they worked hard and earned it.”

The 19-year-old defender has begun the season impressively with Arsenal U-23 who are currently joint top along with Chelsea on seven points from three matches in the Premier League 2 Division One table.

He has helped them to two victories over Blackburn Rovers (away) and Brighton (home) and a home draw against Everton in the three matches played thus far.

Olowu affirmed that he will continue to offer his best to the Arsenal junior teams with the hindsight that he could be called up to train with the senior team before the end of the season.

Africa Games 2019: Makanjuola Eyes Gold in the Men’s Football Event.

Water FC winger, Success Makanjuola has his sights set on the gold in the men’s football event in the 12th Africa Games going on in Rabat, Morocco.

Speaking after the match in which the Under-20 team held the host nation Morocco to a 2-2 draw, automatically sending them packing, an excited Makanjuola said, “It is becoming more and more possible with each match we play. I mean the gold. We gave it our all and thankfully we scored a goal in the dying minute to equalise”.

“We played as a team even though the match was a  tough one. We expected it to be tough too as they are the host nation. Thankfully football luck was also on our side. There’s really nothing stopping us if we work harder and continue to give it our all.”

The former Under-17 World Cup player who came in as a substitute for  Collins  who went off injured in the match against Morroco Friday evening concluded by saying, “we hope to make Nigeria proud by coming home with gold, God being our helper”.

Nigeria midfielder Okobi shines as Eskilstuna United thrash Kungsbacka

The Super Falcons star gave an assist to help Mangus Karlsson’s ladies extend their unbeaten run on Saturday

Ngozi Okobi made an impressive impact in Eskilstuna United’s 4-0 triumph over Kungsbacka in Saturday’s Swedish Damallsvenskan encounter.

The 25-year-old starred in her side’s 1-1 draw against the champions Pitea last week and was hoping to help her side maintain their unbeaten run going into the short break.

The visitors started brightly against their struggling hosts but waited until they find a breakthrough after Felicia Rogic assisted Loreta Kullashi to secure the opener five minutes from half time.

After the restart, Okobi found herself in a good position but eventually set up Lisa Dahlkvist to double the lead for Mangus Karlsson’s side in the 67th minute.

Four minutes later, Nigeria’s Halimatu Ayinde came close to increasing the tally for Eskilstuna but her effort went wide.

In the final 15 minutes, Julia Tunturi teed up Loreta Kullashi to net the third in the 77th minute before the former player sealed the triumph off Felicia Rogic’s assist seven minutes from time.

Okobi played for 73 minutes of the encounter, while compatriot Ayinde lasted the duration at the Påskbergsvallen Stadium in Varberg.

The result helps Eskilstuna climb to seventh on the log with 21 points from 15 games and they will host second-placed Göteborg after the break on September 7.

SPORTS

Bayelsa Unveils New Head Coaches for Professional Football Teams

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From Mike Tayese Yenagoa

Ahead of the 2024/2025 domestic football league season, the Bayelsa State Government has engaged new head coaches for its two premier league sides, Bayelsa United FC, and Bayelsa Queens FC.

The new tactician for Bayelsa United FC is Coach Isah Ladan Bosso, while Coach Ogbunda Whyte takes over as head coach of Bayelsa Queens, also known as the Prosperity Girls.

Making the presentation of the coaches at the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa on Tuesday, Governor Douye Diri, explained that the decision to engage the versatile coaches was informed by the need to improve the performance of the two Yenagoa-based sides.

Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor noted that the performance of the two teams, especially Bayelsa United, in recent times had not been quite impressive.

The deputy governor said the engagement of the highly-rated tacticians was part of efforts to restructure the coaching crews and management teams of the two sides.

According to the statement, Governor Diri called on the technical team to work closely with the new coaches to ensure that both Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens top their respective leagues in the 2024-2025 league seasons.

“We are trying to make these changes in our coaching crew for obvious reasons, because if you have done one thing once and get the same; you repeat it and the same result is coming your way, then you have to look inward.

“And the result of our looking inward shows that our performances for the last two seasons – 2022/2023, and 2023/2024 were not what our expectation was.

“You can only get good results when you change your tactics. So we have decided to make these changes. That is not in any way to condemn the two coaches that have worked with us.

“So we encourage our coaches that are here to work with the team; don’t sabotage their efforts because they have a target, and their target is that Bayelsa Queens must go continental, and this time around, win the African Women Championship. Bayelsa United must also go continental and for the first time bring the CAF Cup to us here”

In his opening remarks, the Honourable Commissioner for Sports, Dr. Daniel Igali, said recruitment and subsequent unveiling of the two coaches underscored the importance Bayelsa attaches to development of football in the state.

Dr. Igali emphasized that “last year the state had very high hopes, but our performance fell short of our standard, and in our view we have done everything we need to get it right in the forthcoming season.”

Coach Isah Ladan Bosso, who had previously coached Bayelsa United from 2012 to 2014, is currently also Chief Coach of the Nigerian Under-20 team.

Ladan Bosso had previously also coached several topflight teams in Nigeria, such as El-Kanemi Warriors of Maidugiri, Wikki Tourist of Bauchi, Kano Pillars, as well as Aba Warriors. He was also in charge of the Flying Eagles team between 2007 and 2009.

On the other hand, Coach Ogbunda Whyte, until his engagement by the Bayelsa State Government, was the head coach of Rivers Angels FC.

The highly-rated and experienced Rivers State-born tactician had had good stints in his coaching career with sides like Confluence Queens of Lokoja, and Ibom Angels FC, amongst others.

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SPORTS

King Charles Wishes England Well for Euro Final

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Britain’s King Charles congratulated England for their last-gasp 2-1 victory over Netherlands in the Euro 2024 semi-final on Wednesday.

He, however hoped there would be less drama in the final with England winning without needing late goals or penalties.

Substitute Ollie Watkins scored in the 91st minute to send England through to their second successive European Championship final after beating the Dutch in an exhilarating encounter.

With the match looking set for extra time, Watkins received a pass from fellow sub Cole Palmer and fired a sweet strike into the far corner.

“My wife and I join all our family in wishing you the warmest congratulations on reaching the final of the UEFA European Championship.

“We also send our very best wishes for Sunday’s match,” he said in a message to England coach Gareth Southgate and his players.

“If I may encourage you to secure victory before the need for any last minute wonder-goals or another penalties drama.

“I am sure the stresses on the nation’s collective heart rate and blood pressure would be greatly alleviated! Good luck, England.”

England, who had needed penalties to beat Switzerland in the quarter-finals and scored with all five of their spot kicks, face Spain in Sunday’s final, three years after losing to Italy in the 2021 decider.(Reuters/NAN)

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Tired Mbappe Asked to Go Off Against Portugal – Deschamps

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French striker and captain Kylian Mbappe, asked to be substituted during extra-time in the Euro 2024 quarter-final win over Portugal because he was tired, his coach Didier Deschamps said.

The usually prolific Mbappe has not been at his best during the Euros, scoring once from the penalty spot against Poland, but otherwise failing to convert chances and looking uncomfortable in a mask.

This was after he broke his nose in the first game.

Against Portugal in the quarter-finals on Friday night, he spent time on the ground and briefly removed his mask.

This was following a hard hit from the ball on the side of his face, before later asking to be taken off and missing the shootout.

“Yes, he’s always very honest with me and the team, when he feels he doesn’t have the capacity to accelerate…

“He’s not at his top form … he felt very tired indeed,” Deschamps said, referring to muscle fatigue and the nose issue.

“I saw him struggling during the first period of extra time. It was pointless (to leave him on).

“Kylian has always been honest with me and the group, so it was only natural to bring in some new blood.”

In his absence, Mbappe’s teammates did him proud, scoring a perfect five penalties to beat Portugal 5-3.(Reuters/NAN)

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