Football Kings of West Coast Football Kings of West Coast By Chukwuemeka Opara, News Agency of Nigeria Nigerian soccer fans direly needed succour when the Super Eagles, bungled a veritable opportunity to appear in its seventh World Cup final in Qatar.
The Eagles disastrously drew 1-1 with the Black Stars of Ghana in Abuja on March 29, in one of the African playoffs for the November, 2022 mundial.
The team had drawn 0-0 with the Ghanians four days earlier in Kumasi thereby eliminated on the infamous away goals rule.
The fans were aghast, with those inside the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, going berserk.
They destroyed stadium facilities and anger was palpable across the nation.
After darkness comes light, as the old adage goes.
But there seemed to be no light at the end of this tunnel.
The distraught fans needed succour.
The Eagles next engagements were two international friendlies against World Cup bound Mexico and Ecuador in the United States of America in May and AFCON 2023 qualifiers against Sierra Leone and Sao Tome in June. There were however two sub-regional youth competitions in between: The West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B, U-17 and U-20 championships.
In this two competitions to be hosted in Niamey, Niger Republic and Cape Coast, Ghana respectively, the two finalists would qualify for the African U-20 and U-17 championships in 2023. These were competitions of lesser magnitude, but to an average Nigerian football fan, every victory mattered.
The question sprouted: Would the Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets be ready?
The apprehension was somewhat confirmed.
The Flying Eagles only resumed camping with barely three weeks to the competition in May. Coach Ladan Bosso hurriedly invited players to camp.
He lamented the shortness of the preparatory period, but vowed to present a team which would spring surprises.
Coach Nduka Ugbade, also lamented, but made the same promise on the Golden Eaglets.
To the average Nigeria fan, the preparatory period was too short for both teams to make impact.
The interest waned.
The Flying Eagles however, kicked off the competition in Niamey with a 2-0 spanking of defending champions Ghana on May 8. The team drew 2-2 with Burkina Faso to qualify for the semi-finals, where it beat an enterprising Ivorian team 2-1 to qualify for the final.
This final qualification also earned it a berth at the African U-20 championships in Egypt in 2023. The team outclassed Benin Republic 3-1 in the final to win the competition.
The triumph took many fans by surprise.
Joy was restored even if on a minute scale.
The wish was for the Golden Eaglets to follow suit in June. The joy could perhaps be restored in full.
The Eaglets fortunately took the cue and took the WAFU Zone B, U-17 competition by storm.
The team on June 11, whitewashed hosts Ghana 4-2. It defeated Togo 3-1 to qualify for the semifinal where it humbled Cote d’ Ivoire 3-1. The team sensationally beat a stubborn Burkina Faso 2-1 in the final to win the competition.
Thus, the new kings of the West African sub region football had emerged.
The News Agency of Nigeria sought the views of football fans in Ebonyi on both teams and steps to be taken by relevant authorities to ensure that the kingship extends to the African continent and perhaps, the world.
Chaka Nweze, Pioneer Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi congratulated the Golden Eaglets for the feat, noting that they duly followed the footsteps of their immediate seniors, the Flying Eagles.
Nweze, also former Chairman of Ohaozara Local Goverment Area of the state, said the victories of both teams showed that the astute ‘can do’ spirit of Nigerians always stand them out among their peers.
Nweze said both teams showed astuteness in their resolve to win the competitions right from the preparations.
“I watched the Flying Eagles training in Abuja before the competition.
Despite the short period of preparation, they showed tenacity to succeed.
One could see aggression, commitment and efficacy in their approach.
“They dismembered teams they played in their trial matches.
The team continued from where it stopped at the competition proper and beat all opponents to emerge champions,” he said.
The soccer enthusiast said that the Golden Eaglets had a similar experience that was even more precarious.
Bosso had the luxury of picking more established players for the Flying Eagles, but Ugbade had the challenge of raising a team from a pool of rookies who are in schools and academies.
“Ugbade who captained the Eaglets to win the inaugural FIFA Kodak U-16 World Cup in 1985, also contended with the initial setback of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Most of his first team players reportedly failed the MRI scan and he had to raise a formidable team within such a short period,” he said.
The former Super Eagles fullback still raised a team which tore opponents to tatters in the trial matches and in the regional championship in Ghana, Nweze noted.
He advised coaches of both teams to sustain such domineering posture when they compete at the CAF and world championships.
Brendan Okafor, a football historian, also commended both teams for their splendid performances at the sub regional competitions and urged them to follow the steps of their predecessors who reigned in the continent and in the world.
Okafor recalled that the national youth teams which dominated the sub region in respective competitions in the past, also did so in continental and world competitions.
“The Flying Eagles that won bronze at the World Youth Championship in 1985 were the best in the sub region and won the African Youth Championship.
“The competition was then contested on a home and away basis.
The 1989 set to the competition also won the African championship then called the ‘Tessema Cup’ and gallantly lost to Portugal in the final of the World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia.
“The 2005 set also conquered Africa en route another silver medal win at the World Youth Championship in Holland.
“The Golden Eaglets squad that took the world by storm and won the inaugural FIFA U-16 World Cup in China in 1985 were the best in Africa.
So also were the squads which also conquered the world in Japan 1993, South Korea 2007, United Arab Emirates 2013 and Chile 2015,” he said.
Okafor advised that just as the above mentioned successful teams, the coaches should retain the bulk of the players who ruled the sub region.
“We floundered in the past when teams were disbanded or their blending arrangements distorted before major competitions.
“The Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets coaches must had noticed areas of weakness and should strengthen the affected departments in their teams.
They must ensure that the players who would be drafted to fortify the teams are better than the ones they are replacing.
“There should be no place for quota system in the set-ups.
The best players, no matter their geo-political inclinations should be selected.
Undue interferences from political and related interests should be jettisoned,” he said.
Martin Agunanne, former Rangers International Feeders team player, praised the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for appointing experienced and competent coaches for both national teams.
“Coach Ladan Bosso had garnered enough experience to assemble a formidable team.
Having failed with the Flying Eagles in 2007 and 2020, Bosso knew that this might be his last opportunity to impress as a national team handler.
“He quickly set to work with the present team and with less than three weeks to the competition in Niger Republic, produced a team that oozed talents from all departments.
“Nduka Ugbade follows in the same streak.
He was an assistant to Manu Garba when the Eaglets conquered the world in 2013. “He subsequently moved with Garba yet as assistant to the Flying Eagles in 2015. It is instructive to note that Emmanuel Amuneke who was also an assistant to Garba in 2013, went on to defend the title as the Eaglets head coach in 2015,” he said.
Agunanne advised both coaches to monitor the players who ensured victories for their teams.
“The period between these periods of conquests and the continental championships in 2023 is far and the players if not monitored, might derail.
“The players’ progress at their various clubs should be monitored to ensure that they stay fit and focused because the opposition at the continental championships would be tougher.
“The coaches should be in steady contact with the various clubs where these players ply their trades to ensure they are ready to conquer Africa and the world.
“The coaches should also use this free period to scout for players to fortify areas of deficiency and not to distort the laid down team building process,” he said.
Mrs Jane Ofoke, a teacher and football enthusiast, called for prayers and adequate support for both teams as they represent the hope of happiness.
“Between the World Cup qualification ouster and the recent floundering of the Super Falcons in the recently concluded African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Morocco, football fans had been disillusioned over our teams’ performances.
“Successes in the African U-20 and U-17 championships in 2023 will bring joy to Nigerians and keep the country in good stead of credible performances at both world championships.
The players need prayers to maintain their current form and be free from injuries.
“The NFF and the sports ministry should adequately motivate the players and officials.
A situation where the Golden Eaglets were reportedly rewarded with N40, 000 for their conquest in Ghana is appalling.
It will not motivate the players.
“The only motivating factor to them will be to excel at the competitions, to secure lucrative deals either at home or abroad.
“The coaches of both teams should be sent to refresher courses abroad to gain more exposure and be in tune with modern dynamics of the game.
Redundancy will definitely affect their abilities to compete at the continental and world levels,” he said.
Unarguably, with motivation, the two teams will maintain their lead as the Football Kings of the West Coast.
(NANFeatures) ** If used, please credit the writer as well as the News Agency of Nigeria .
Football fans in Ebonyi have described the Flying Eagles victory at the West African Football Union (WAFU) zone B competition on Friday as a ‘soothing balm’ on the football pysche of Nigerians.The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the nation’s male U-20 team defeated the young Squirrels of Benin Republic 3-1in Niamey, Niger Republic to win the competition, to emerge the third champions of the bi-ennal tournament.The Eagles, alongside the young squirrels, thus qualified for the African Youth championship in Egypt in February 2023 for a slot in the World Youth Championship in Indonesia.The fans who spoke to NAN on Saturday in Abakaliki, congratulated the Eagles, noting that they somewhat brought the minds of soccer fans back to football.Hillary Ogbonna, Chief Coach of newly formed Salt City Football Club of Abakaliki, said the victory would assuage the feelings of soccer fans after the Super Eagles failure to qualify for the Qatar 2022 world cup.“The WAFU competition might not be in the class of the world cup but the victory will make the fans believe in their national teams again.“I am sure that even those who angrily vandalised the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja, when the super eagles flopped against Ghana, would have something to cheer,” he said.Gregory Ikpeama, Defunct Anambra State Environmental and Sanitation Authority (ASESA) Warriors player, described the team as worth champions due to its incisive and result-oriented display in the competition.“Coach Ladan Bosso assembled a bunch of dedicated footballers who want to create names for themselves with football.“It is astonishing that the team had barely two weeks to prepare for the competition and right from its trial matches, played as if it had been together for months,” he said.Chief Abel Okeh, a Business man and football enthusiast, urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to commence immediate preparations for the African youth championship.“The bulk of the victorious players should be retained while area of noticeable deficiencies should be fortified.“The NFF should arrange with the clubs of these players to formulate convenient training programmes for the team for adequate preparations,” he said.Mrs Chika Onoh, a teacher and football buff, urged the Golden Eaglets to emulate the Flying Eagles as they prepared for WAFU zone B U-17 competition in Ghana.“Coach Nduka Ugbade should seek necessary tips from Bosso to ensure eventual victory in the competition.“A victory for the eaglets will go a long way in soothing the nerves of football fans still reeling from the senior team’s world cup outster,” she said.
Ebonyi soccer fans have hailed the Flying Eagles’ 2-0 defeat of Black Satellites of Ghana in the ongoing West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B, U-20 competition in Niamey.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the Eagles beat defending champions Ghana on Sunday, in its first match through goals from Ibrahim Muhammed and Ahmed Abdullahi.
The fans who spoke to NAN in Abakaliki on Monday, commended the team for restoring smiles on Nigerians’ faces with a revenge after the Black Stars recently stopped the Super Eagles from qualifying for the Qatar 2022.
Bright Ijendu, Former Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, Feeder Team player, said the Eagles showed the right attitude in defeating Ghana.
“Ghana has always been thorns on the flesh of Nigerian national football teams, with the psychological orientation of getting favourable results over our teams.
“This orientation worked perfectly for them over the Super Eagles because even when their team drew at home to the Eagles, they contrived a winning formula that secured world cup qualification for them in Abuja,” he said.
Julius Ugbor, a Retired Referee with the old Enugu Sports Council, supported Ijendu’s assertion, noting that the Flying Eagles played to earn a win.
“I watched the match against Ghana and saw a team which was attacking minded and solid at the defence with a very good goalkeeper.
“I also followed their preparatory matches for the competition and saw a bunch of determined players unfazed by the current form of the Ghanaian team and that country’s victory myth over Nigeria,” he said.
Chief Darlington Eze, a Businessman and soccer enthusiast, said that the Eagles should not get unnecessary adulation for just defeating Ghana in its first match of the competition.
“The team is not competing in the competition just to win Ghana but to qualify for the African Youth Championship.
“We all should remember the Super Eagles’ AFCON debacle in January, when it blossomed in the group stages only to whither against less-fancied Tunisia in the second round,” Eze said.
Mrs Jane Onah, a teacher and soccer buff, also supported Eze’s assertion, advising that the flying eagles should shun complacency and concentrate on getting maximum results in Niamey.
“This jubilation about defeating Ghana should stop to avoid negative effects on the players.
“The team should realise that it is only the two finalists that would qualify for the African youth championship, so the journey is still far,” Onah said.
The national U-20 football team, the Flying Eagles, on Saturday, defeated the Nigerian Army Guards Brigade Team, the Scorpions 4-1 in a friendly match.
The match was played at the Guards Brigade Sports Arena, at the Aguyi Ironsi Cantonment Asokoro, Abuja.
Hassan Husseini opened scoring for the Flying Eagles in the 23rd minute, with a header after whicg the equaliser came from Lance Cpl. Sunday Ibitayo for the Scorpions from a corner kick in the 53rd minute.
Peter Olawale scored the second goal for the Flying Eagles through a spectacular strike in the 57th minute.
Nasiru Jibril made it 3-1 for the Flying Eagles in 60th minute while Farayola Olawale made it 4-1 in the 81st minutes.
Speaking shortly after the match, the Commander, Guards Brigade Garrison, Lt.-Col. Onoja Okwoli, who represented the Commander, Guards Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Usman, commended the two teams for their performance.
Okwoli said the friendly match was organised to prepare their team for the Nigerian Army League in line with the passion for sports by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
He said that the Flying Eagles were a good team to tackle, while commending the army team for the show of excellence during the match.
According to him, they have fashioned out a schedule of friendly matches for the Scorpion Football Team ahead of the league proper.
“I came here not knowing which team to support, but the quality from the first half I have seen shows that the Flying Eagles are a very good team.
“Our team is also a good team and beyond this match, we are trying to build up a very formidable team to represent the army in future international sports,” he said.
The Head Coach of the Flying Eagles, Ladan Bosso, said the team had played a numbers of friendly matches in preparation for the West African Football Union (WAFU) competition coming up in Niger Republic.
Bosso said that he was more concerned about building a formidable team that would be good in all areas, adding that the friendly matches would help him to identify gaps in his team.
He commended the team for their scoring ability, saying they had played seven consecutive games so far and won all.
“The last match we played with Nasarawa United was 4-2 and our defence line is what we are trying to work on, because what we are trying to do is to look for mature players from the premier league.
“When you are going for international tournament your defence must be perfect otherwise it will cause you goals.
“So far it is work in progress because whatever lapses we observed from our friendly matches we build on it at our training session,” he said.
Also the Captain of the Flying Eagles, Chibueze Lambert, said the match was tough one, adding that they had to show their superiority as a national team at the end.
Lambert said the opposing team were good while the eagles were a better side.
He assured that the team would do Nigeria proud in the next international competition.
Similarly, the Captain of the Scorpions, Staff Sgt. Emperor Bature, said the friendly match was a good experience playing against a national team.
Bature said his team had learnt a lot from the Flying Eagles during the encounter, adding that they would build on what they have learnt from the national team.
He said that the mistakes observed from the encounter in terms of the recovery rate from the midfield would be worked on going forward.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Okara
Senegal will host the regional qualifiers from 20 – 29 November in Thiés, almost 90 kilometres east of the capital, Dakar.
The draw ceremony was attended by the zonal body President, Antonio Souare, Executive Director Gerson Sena de Melo, and members of the Senegalese Football Federation.
Seven countries will battle for the trophy at the Stade Lat Dior in Thiés. They are hosts Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and The Gambia.
The hosts Senegal, who finished 2019 Total Africa U-20 Cup of Nations as runners up, are joined in Group A by Sierra Leone and arch rivals The Gambia.
Reigning African champions Mali are top seed in Group B alongside Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Mauritania, who will host the 2021 U-20 AFCON.
Liberia and Cape Verde did not register for the tournament. Top two teams of each group qualify for the semifinals.
The full draw is as follows –
Group A: Senegal – Sierra Leone – The Gambia
Group B: Mali – Guinea-Bissau – Guinea – Mauritania.
Edited By: Vincent Obi
Abuja, Nov. 3, 2020 Rivers Angels Football Club say their target in the upcoming 2020/2021 season is that of securing the ticket to feature in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s Champions League.
Matilda Otuene-Onyiloha, the club’s General Manager, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday the team had been training for a while and were optimistic their ambition was feasible.
She said the club, who are the reigning Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) champions since no competition has been held after the 2018/2019 edition, have introduced new players into their squad.
Otuene-Onyiloha said this was to help them continue winning and maintain their dominance in the league.
“We have resumed training for a while now. Our players are in camp and our eyes are on the slot for the continental competition.
“We know it is not going to be easy but we are going to remain focused and take it one game at a time till we get there,” she said.
The Port Harcourt-based club have signed on three Ghanaian players —- Mary Essiful, Gifty Acheampong and goalkeeper Patricia Mantey —- and will begin their league campaign as guests of Adamawa Queens in Yola.
Winners of the qualifiers will compete with six other regional winners alongside the host team and a wild card entrant in the eight-team Champions League.
Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam and Olawale Alabi)
Bode Oyewole, a former Chairman of the Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan (3SC), is dead.
Bose Oyewole, wife of the deceased, confirmed news of his death to journalists on Tuesday in Ibadan.
She said Oyewole, who was well known as Elder Bode Oyewole, died on Tuesday morning during a brief illness.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the deceased also served as Chief Press Secretary to a former Oyo State Governor, the late Kolapo Ishola.
He was a former Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council.
The late Oyewole was Chairman when 3SC won two titles in 1998 —- the Nigerian first division league title and the West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup.
Edited By: Adebayo Sekoni and Olawale Alabi) (NAN)