General news

Super Eagles beat Togo but won’t be going to CHAN 2020



The home-based Super Eagles will now miss out of the party at the CHAN 2020 in Cameroon in spite of a 2-0 win against Togo at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Nigerian side put on a spirited effort to overturn the 1-4 first leg deficit, but they failed and thus lost 3-4 aggregate.

The Eagles had to ring seven changes from the players who featured in Lome and were soon rewarded with two goals, courtesy Sikiru Alimi’s brace in the 4th and 66th minutes.

The Togolese had a seven-man defence which was able to contain the attacking trio of Sikiru Alimi, Sunusi Ibrahim and Nyima Nwagua.

The two goals from the boots of Alimi were not enough as the Togolese held on till the last minutes of the game through a well-organised defence and time-wasting tactics.

Speaking later on the painful loss, Imama Amapakabo said the Eagles lost the match due to unavailability of some important players for the team.

“We lost and that was painful for everybody. The two games were completely different from each other and the tactics were also different.

“The opposing team came with the tactics of defending through putting in more defenders while we want to have our goals.

“The seven changes in the team for the second leg was due to the non-availability of the Rangers International players for the first leg,” he said.


(Edited by Olawale Alabi)


Gatland drop goal gives Highlanders win in Super Rugby return



Replacement Bryn Gatland slotted a 79th minute drop goal to give the Otago Highlanders a 28-27 victory over the Waikato Chiefs as professional rugby union resumed on Saturday after a three-month COVID-19 shutdown.

The drop goal, against the side coached by his father Warren, provided an electric finish to the first match of New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa, which attracted a crowd of about 20,000 and was broadcast to a global television audience.

The hometown Highlanders roared on by thousands of Otago University students in ‘The Zoo’ section of the indoor stadium had to overcome two periods with just 14 men after Vilimoni Koroi and Jona Nareki were sinbinned for dangerous tackles.

The game was regularly halted for a high number of penalties called under stricter interpretations around the tackle.

Highlanders captain Ash Dixon scored the first try of the competition, while Koroi and Nareki were perilously close to becoming the first players to receive red cards after dangerous tackles in each half.

The Chiefs were kept in the game through Damian McKenzie’s boot as he converted four of his side’s penalties, while the fullback gave the visitors a 27-25 lead with two minutes remaining through a drop goal.

The Highlanders, however, managed to set up field position just inside Chiefs territory from the restart and Gatland calmly slotted home the winning drop kick from almost 40 metres to send the passionate home fans into delirium.

The competition has been organised by New Zealand Rugby after the main Super Rugby competition, which also involves teams from Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, was halted in mid-March to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

New Zealand is on the brink of eliminating the virus with no active cases and the government lifted virtually all COVID-19 restrictions earlier this week.

That allowed the competition to resume with no limits on crowd sizes. Sunday’s game at Eden Park between the hometown Auckland Blues and Wellington Hurricanes has sold out.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Silas Nwoha (NAN)
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New RA chairman keen on trans-Tasman Super competition



Incoming Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan says he is keen to strengthen ties with New Zealand and hopes a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition can be set up from next year, to help ease the financial strain from the coronavirus shutdown.

McLennan, who succeeds interim chairman Paul McLean on Monday, told The Australian newspaper his top priority was to shore up the organisation’s finances as the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cloud the future of Super Rugby.

“The first step is to secure the financial future of the game,” he told the newspaper on Saturday. “That incorporates everything from the broadcast deal to working with our commercial partners, to fixing Super Rugby.

“We have to determine what our product is so that we can sell it to the broadcasters.

“If I had my way, given the circumstances with COVID, a cross-Tasman competition makes the most sense and will be the most valuable commodity to sell.”

The wider Super Rugby competition, which involves teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan has been on hold since mid-March as governments imposed travel curbs aimed at restricting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

There is little chance of a cross-border tournament featuring Super Rugby teams this year with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa all deciding to stage domestic competitions.

New Zealand’s ‘Super Rugby Aotearoa’ starts later on Saturday.

Super Rugby was already undergoing a revamp before the season was halted, due to the pandemic with Japanese side the Sunwolves cut at the end of this season.

Argentine rugby officials have also encouraged Jaguares players to take deals overseas with the team’s future also in doubt.

The coronavirus pandemic has also hit Rugby Australia’s finances hard, with the national body asking players to take pay cuts and implementing massive staff layoffs.

Raelene Castle resigned as chief executive in April, while McLennan is the fourth chairman in four months.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Silas Nwoha (NAN)
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General news

Buhari mourns Lady Janet Okwaraji, mother of late Super Eagles star



 Mrs Okwaraji, was a teacher and school proprietress, who passed on at 83, leaving lasting memory of kindness, love and charity as a devout Christian.

The President’s condolence message was conveyed in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Monday.

The President believed Lady Okwaraji, whose son, Samuel, died in August 1989 while playing for the Super Eagles in a World Cup qualifier, would always be remembered for the sacrifices of the family for the nation.

President Buhari affirmed that the matriarch of the Okwaraji family, like her son, defined simplicity, loyalty and patriotism in many ways as she remained steadfast, believing in Nigeria, despite the vicissitude of life.

According to the president, as a mother, who lost her son in an unexpected situation, Lady Janet deserved to be acknowledged for her resilience and nobility, despite the odds.

President Buhari prayed that the almighty God would grant her soul eternal rest, and comfort her loved ones.

Edited By: Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)
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5 new Super Hercules to join New Zealand Air Force fleet




“Last year, Cabinet selected these aircraft as the preferred option to replace the current Hercules fleet. Procurement of the Super Hercules has been my highest capability priority as Minister of Defense,” Mark said in a statement.

Along with the new fleet, the 1.521-billion-NZ-dollar (900 million United States dollars) project will deliver a full mission flight simulator and other supporting infrastructure, Mark said.

Generations of New Zealanders have grown up and grown old with the Hercules, and they know these aircraft are an essential first line of response,” he said, adding this decision ensures the Defense Force will have the capability it needs to meet expected future tasks.

This fleet will ensure the Defense Force can continue to support New Zealand’s community resilience, national security, contribution to its Pacific neighbors and the wider global community, Mark said.

“The new aircraft will carry a greater payload, is faster and can travel further than the current Hercules aircraft,” the minister said.

The first of the new Hercules will be delivered in 2024, with the full fleet operating from 2025, allowing for a phased retirement of the current fleet, he said.

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