Shehu Idris

Shehu Idris

They almost fluffed it. In fact, they surrendered a 2-goal lead to languid nonchalance that Nigerians have grown accosted with over the years from flocks after flocks of Super Eagles. Displays that irritate and instigate fans to turn on them. They started like a house on fire, beaming with the desire that propelled them to beat this same Libya side 4-0 last Saturday. Dripping of brimstone and fire, Eagles raced to a 2-goal lead within the first 15 minutes. A good team play between Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa cooked up a simple tap-in for Odion Ighalo before Musa doubled it with a tenacious solo-effort that had him elude 3 Libyans. And their leftover drive and hunger dried up. 

Gernot Rohr, who recycled the same line-up as Saturday's mauling, had said, confidently before the game, that the team would repeat the desire that they showed in Uyo but even he, himself, couldn't endure the torment that his team's inexplicable tardiness brought. They let the Mediterranean Knights wrestle the game from their grasp and they paid for it. 

Ola Aina was caught ball-watching while his marker, Mohammed Zubya reacted quicker to nod in from the far post and deservedly halved the deficit for the Knights. The goal, however, didn't jack the Eagles awake from their slumber, instead it slipped them deeper into an almost comatose state as the Knights enforced themselves on the game. Ahmad Benali, after gluts of close-calls, completed the comeback. The Eagles defense reacted late to a strayed header in the box which gave the Crotone man the space to smash the ball beyond a prone Francis Uzoho. 

But from the foggy mist of the lackluster performance, rose Ighalo and he drafted the winner from absolute nothing. Closed up at the edge of the 18-yard. He swivelled and feigned a shot, sending Motasem Sabbou sprawling on the lawn. Another touch to quiet under control and he slotted it beyond the Libyan goalkeeper. 

In just to 2 games, he's scored more goals than he'd managed in 2 years in the shirt of the Super Eagles. His blistering form saved jittery Eagles blushes. 


When Victor Moses stabbed the football-designed hearts of Nigerians with the prickly edge of his premature retirement from international football in August, the debate on which talent is exciting enough to fill the void that the cornrowed wingback left gaping in the attack of the Super Eagles began. Names popped up. Some talented as some are deprived. Some popular as some are relatively obscure. Henry Onyenkuru was finger-pointed for his blistering early fireworks with Galatasaray and the resurgence of Issac Success also threw his name into the books to compound selection headache for Gernot Rohr.

But ever so often, Moses Simon's familiar mazy runs and tenacious wing-play confidently topped the list but when the latter's injury—that ruled him out of the World Cup—lapsed into the new season, straddling him to just a lonely appearance for Levante, another name was added to the already swollen list: Samuel Kalu. And boy, only few clairvoyants could have said this youngster will show exhibit prodigious talents and prove that he won't only be the fitting replacement for Moses but an upgraded one at that. 

That sumptuous curler that glossed Super Eagles victory against Libya could be cited as the pictorial analogy of how unexpectedly quick and feverishly inspiring Kalu's career had scurried of the ladder from the pitch-dark pit of abject obscurity to the sunlight moderate stardom. Bordeaux shelling £8Million on him as the appropriate replacement for the talismanic Malcolm, who left for Barcelona, echoes the brewing potential which conjures amazing step-overs and dynamic wing-plays that can undo even the fittest of fullbacks. 

The deceptive guile and blinding pace of Kalu is evocative of those of the legendary Segun Odegbemi. His one-view-one take-ons with defenders almost always end with the ball still glued to his quick feet; a significant improvement on Moses' banal and tiring attacking strategies that can barely beat defenders. 

Victor Moses can be as frustrating as he's exciting with his incessant schoolboy antics of throwing himself to the ground at the slightest of contacts even at the expense of scoring chances. Kalu, as his last two performances for the Eagles have shown, is a more physical and resolute winger who doesn't go to the ground too often and always, unless brutally scythed, keep the ball moving. 

Since the beginning of the season under new coach, Mauricio Sarri, Moses has been relegated to a squad player with only cameo appearances in cup games. However, Kalu has become a lynchpin at the Stade de Matmut Atlantique, developing an indispensable partnership with equally young and effervescent Francois Kamano and together they've able to blow the Eric Bedouet-tutored side into the top half of the Ligue 1 table. 

However, his eagerness to impress is effectively hindering the proper display of his prodigious ability for the Super Eagles. Oftentimes, he tries too hard and it hurts him. As a youngster, bubbling with youthful exuberance, excessive showboating and individuality is the default option when opportunities beckons and the 21-year-old is not immune to the rush. Several times against Libya, when he had carved open the Mediterranean Knights' defense, several times he fluffed it with an unprofessionally high level of urge to impress. 

Nonetheless, he can only get better and calmer with subsequent starts that'll ease his anxiety. Importantly, with those displays against Seychelles and Libya, he has alleviated the worries of Nigerians by filling the hole left by Moses' retirement with potentials that promise he surpass him. 

 


After unavoidably missing the past 3 editions of Amputee World Cup due to lack of funding, the Special Eagles move a step closer to their first ever appearance at the global tournament as Super Eagles have contributed a substantial amount into their coffer. 

According to reports from an impeccable source, Super Eagles met before their 4-0 trashing of Libya on Saturday and pull together over $16,530, which is well over 40% of the $40,000 required for the team logistics in order to participate alongside other amputee teams from around the world in Mexico next week. 

The team, who missed the 2010, 2012 and 2016 due to dearth of funds and sponsors, have—with the help of former Nigerian footballer who lost his leg after a car accident in 1997, Michael Ishiguzo, who is now a member of the Arsenal Amputee team—set up an online appeal GoFundMe campaign to raise the money for the team earlier this year. Unfortunately, only a paltry $205 has been garnered from the online crowdfunding account. 

The solicitation for funds continues online and hopefully Nigerians will further rally around them and get them to Mexico to go do the nation proud. 

The World Cup Amputee Football will kick off on the 24th of October, 2018 in Mexico. Currently, 46 countries play amputee football. The African countries include Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

Nigeria is in the same group with Russia, El Salvador and Brazil. Kenya is in the same group with USA, Turkey and Iran. Angola will face Haiti, Ukraine and Spain at the group stages. While Ghana will battle Argentina, Italy and France in the group stage.

 

 

 

 


After unavoidably missing the past 3 editions of Amputee World Cup due to lack of funding, the Special Eagles move a step closer to their first ever appearance at the global tournament as Super Eagles have contributed a substantial amount into their coffer. 

According to reports from an impeccable source, Super Eagles met before their 4-0 trashing of Libya on Saturday and pull together over $16,530, which is well over 40% of the $40,000 required for the team logistics in order to participate alongside other amputee teams from around the world in Mexico next week. 

The team, who missed the 2010, 2012 and 2016 due to dearth of funds and sponsors, have—with the help of former Nigerian footballer who lost his leg after a car accident in 1997, Michael Ishiguzo, who is now a member of the Arsenal Amputee team—set up an online appeal GoFundMe campaign to raise the money for the team earlier this year. Unfortunately, only a paltry $205 has been garnered from the online crowdfunding account. 

The solicitation for funds continues online and hopefully Nigerians will further rally around them and get them to Mexico to go do the nation proud. 

The World Cup Amputee Football will kick off on the 24th of October, 2018 in Mexico. Currently, 46 countries play amputee football. The African countries include Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

Nigeria is in the same group with Russia, El Salvador and Brazil. Kenya is in the same group with USA, Turkey and Iran. Angola will face Haiti, Ukraine and Spain at the group stages. While Ghana will battle Argentina, Italy and France in the group stage.

 

 

 

 


One particular scene summed up everything. One not-so-familiar scene. In the 75th minute when Odion Ighalo was withdrawn for Isaac Success. The entire Godswill Akpabio Stadium rose to it feet to applaud the man. That player who hitherto seemed to have cemented a sorry place in the black book of football loving Nigerians after a woeful World Cup performance.  The relief on his face was almost palpable as he wriggled his fingers and bobbed in a psuedo-ShakuShaku while celebrating his third goal which he squeezed in after his first effort was blocked by Abdauala. 

 

His selection, as the arrowhead of 3-man attack that has the pace and guile of Samuel Kalu and Ahmed Musa on either side, was met by disapproving mumblings from a large section of fans who are still nursing his inexplicable throe of misses that, most believed, exited Super Eagles from the World Cup. But he came in here with a newfangled determination and hunger that he has been churning out for, only recently, Chuangchun Yatai. He relentlessly hounded a flat-footed Abdauala with just 3 minutes into the game and the Libyan buckled and dragged Ighalo down. Penalty. The striker slot it into bottom left corner to start what was heading for an onslaught. 

 

Ighalo grabbed a deserved second when he licked up a sumptuous defense-splitting pass from, another top performer, Alex Iwobi and rounded up the goalkeeper before sticking the ball home. The Libyans were technically better, showing glimpses of outstanding poise and movements but the directness and grit of the Eagles relegated their possession-based game to smithereens. 

Saltou was more than a handful for the 'Òyìnbó Wall' as his dexterity almost cracked them and drag Libya back into the game but his header was clawed out acrobatically Francis Uzoho. 

 

Twice the Eagles crashed the post. First, off Wilfred Ndidi's header from an Ogenekaro Etebo's freekick and more painfully, the newcomer Collin Jamiu's effort that kissed the underside of the bar after a blistering counter-attack that left the Libyans high-line defense in mess. 

 

Gloss was added to the already glittering victory by Samuel Kalu who curled in a beauty and sprinkle stardust into what was a stellar performance far superior to the unadventurous display in Seychelles last month. 

 

Having accounted for his profligacy at the  Mundial, Odion Ighalo was applause till he disappeared into the covers of the bench. Relieved. Burden lifted. His name expunged from the book that has Yakubu Aiyegbeni on the first page. 

 

 

 


Ugly scenes at Sam Akpabio Stadium, Uyo as Shooting Stars FC of Ìbàdàn head coach, Edith Agoye was allegedly concussed by a punch to the head from Akwa Starlets goalkeeper, Franklin Akwari. 

The Oluyole Warriors had frustrated the home side to a goalless draw in the Nigeria National League (NNL) week 13 fixture. This, allegedly, didn't go down well with the home team especially their goalkeeper who violently reacted by whacking Agoye in the face, sending the ex-international unconscious onto the turf. 

However, according to reports from 3SC, no serious damage was done to the Agoye by the punch and he's been revived by the club medics. 

 

 



Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray, Turkey)

The red-hot, cold-eyed goal scorer, who's on loan from Everton, will hope to replicate his perfect form in the Turkey Supa Lig at the grand stages of the UEFA Champions League. The 21-year-old, whose previous loan deal at Anderlecht was cut short by a career-stalling injury that eventually ruled him of the World Cup, has been firing for Galatasaray with 3 goals in 3 games. Earning raving applause from keen followers of the Turkish league. Drawn in the tricky Group D alongside fellow not-so-well-above-average teams like Schalke 04 and FC Porto alongside Lokomotiv Moscow, Onyekuru will be hoping he can power Gala past these teams and into Round of 16.

 

Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal)

Another Nigerian in Group D alongside aforementioned Henry Onyekuru and just like his compatriots, he also spent last season on loan at Nantes FC in Ligue 1. He impressed with the French side that Claudio Ranieri sought to renew the loan deal for another season but his parent club, FC Porto held on to him and it seems he has a significant role to play for the side this season.

 

Bryan Idowu (Locomotiv Moscow, Russia)

Also coincidentally drawn in Group D alongside his compatriots, Bryan Idowu joined Locomotiv Moscow from FC Amker Perm over the summer. His stellar performances for Amker earned him a call-up to the Super Eagles late last year and his subsequent performances has seen him turn a mainstay in the team at the World Cup. Known for his ambidextrousness and versatility, the 25-year-old plays on both sides of the full backs and his defensive rigidity will give some of these teams a tough job.

 

Tyronne Ebuehi (Benfica, Portugal)

Another Super Eagle that moved during the summer, Ebuehi joined Benfica on a 5-year deal from ADO Den Haag. Although, he's picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury, during a pre-season game against Juventus, that will lay him off for a while, the 23-year-old's agility and uber-attacking style with haunt any team once he's convalesced.

 

Ubong Ekpai (Viktoria Plzeñ)

Moved to Plzeñ from FC Fastav Zíln for an undisclosed fee and the former Kano Pillars midfielder will be hoping he can conjure magic that can help Plzeñ against giants like Real Madrid and Roma in Group G.

 

Emmanuel Dennis Bonaventure (Club Brugge, Belgium)

The product of Accademia di Abuja, who had featured for Nigeria U15, joined the Belgian side last year and he immediately pinched the ignition. He scored 5 goals in his first 6 games at the club to establish himself a mainstay in the first team. Club Brugge will hope he hit that blistering form once again this season if they're to successfully negotiate the challenging Group A that has Atlectico Madrid, Borrusia Dortmund and AS Monaco.


Following the temporal disruption that rocked the sail of Nigerian football and ground the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) to a troubling halt, League Management Company (LMC) after a long meeting with Club Owners has slammed the 2017/18 NPFL  season to a premature end and Lobi Stars has been announced champions after just 24 games played. 

The meet-up became necessary after the LMC earlier declared the remaining 14 games to be crammed inbetween the space 2 months, September 2 and October 28, in order to keep within the bounds of CAF calendar and avoid sanction, which the Clubs unanimously rejected, citing players fatigue and logistics excuses. 

The LMC/Club Owners rendezvous was held late on Thursday and several record-setting decisions were made:

Firstly, Lobi Stars of Markurdi that was at top the log with 43 points before the World Cup break were declared champions and will represent Nigeria at next season's CAF Champions League alongside Kano Pillars. 

Secondly, no team will be relegated, however, 4 promoted sides from the Nigeria National League (NNL) shall be added to the list of teams; making it a total of 24 teams for next NPFL season. 

Thirdly, the league next season will be an abridged version. It will be divided into two halves, on the basis that isn't yet announced, and each half will play 22 games. 

Ultimately, the league starts November 2018 and ends May 2019. 

However, this decision is subjected to an overrule from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), a superior body. 


Well deserved but still a tad unexpected. Luka Modric has been awarded the UEFA Men's Player of the Year ahead of former teammate, Cristiano Ronaldo and Egyptian Muhammed Salah. 

The pint-sized Croat magician became the first player since Delima Ronaldo in 1998 to win both the World Cup Golden Ball and UEFA Player of the Year award. 

He has been super effective this past year. Helping Real Madrid win a record-setting third UEFA Champions League on a bounce with grand stellar performances every other UCL night and his unprecedented heroics with the Croatian national team at the World Cup in Russia earlier this summer. He 'workrated' his country into the final which they lost to France. 

He becomes the first Croatian to win the award and the first player outside the legendary duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award since 2013. 

 


Yesterday, we all joined several thousands of Nigerians and, generally, avid football lovers from around the world in the celebration of one of the best goalkeeper of this modern era, Vincent Enyeama as he clocks 36. The tributes were laden with nostalgic re-calls of the stalwart's time with the Super Eagles and the level of confidence that his presence between the sticks gave to every football-loving Nigerian. These memories are profound and we'll certainly give everything just to experience those amazing moments again. Here are Vincent Enyeama's 5 most memorable moments:

 

1. Debut (Against Kenya in 2002)

You must have seen the pictures. The hilarious pictures of a fresh-faced Vincent Enyeama in an ugly oversized amber-colored jersey on top an even uglier black pant with abysmal mismatch of numbers. Yeah, that picture. That was his Super Eagles debut against Kenya at the National Stadium in Lagos in a Korea/Japan World Cup 2002 warm-up game.

The then 20 year-old had been recognized by followers of the local league as a generational talent, with prodigious shot-stoping prowess that had helped Enyimba win the league two seasons in a row. He was thrown into the Super Eagles fold by Chief Adeboye Onigbinde. Enyeama didn't disappoint the faith of Onigbinde. He had a decent performance, bagged a clean-sheet -- as the Eagles won 3-0 -- and earned himself a place on the plane going far-east for the Mundial. 

 

2. World Cup debut (Against England at Korea/Japan 2002). 

Having been eliminated after two consecutive loses to Argentina and Sweden, Super Eagles were, mathematically, out of the World Cup but with a game still at hand against England. 

Onigbinde opted for Enyeama over Ike Shorunmu. The youngster showed calmness even as the star-studded English side poured everything towards him. He stymied the curling free-kick of a prime David Beckham, palmed a ferocious shot from Paul Scholes and doused the near post jab of Emily Heskey. The game ended goalless. 

 

3. The slip (Against Angola, 2005)

One of the very few harrowing memories of Enyeama committing blunders. And it was one with a grave consequence. 

The Super Eagles needed a win against Angola to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The Super Eagles had lost to Angola in Luanda and needed to win at home to gain the head to head advantage leading to the last match of the qualifying series.

Jay Jay Okocha pulled Nigeria ahead with a trademark free-kick but Enyeama inexplicably slipped and conceded a free-kick and the Angolans held on for a vital point and eventually qualify for the World Cup. 

 

4. Man of The Match (Against Argentina, 2010)

This was one of the best games of his life. Head-to-head with then best player in the world, Lionel Messi, Enyeama did things top goalkeepers couldn't do -- stop Lionel Messi from scoring. 

Enyeama saved wave after wave of Messi's attempts. His endless saves won him the Man of the match award ahead of even Lionel Messi. 

 

5. 100 caps

Vincent Enyeama played his 100th game  for Nigeria in a friendly against Uganda in Uyo back in March, 2015.

He joined former teammates and captain Joseph Yobo on the short but highly revered list as the only players that have represented Nigeria 100 times.

 

 

 

 


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