Despite criticism in some quarters over the inclusion of Odion Ighalo in the 28 players invited to prosecute the country’s September 7 Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifier against Seychelles in Victoria, Head Coach Gernot Rohr, has appeared unperturbed.
The German tactician has rather stuck to his decision as the national team gets set to open its camp in Abuja before jetting out for the September 7, away clash.
He noted that though Ighalo who last scored for the Eagles a year ago against Cameroon in Uyo, missed begging chances against Argentina in Russia which failed to impress some of the fans, he nonetheless deserves another opportunity to make amends.
He insisted that Ighalo still has a role to play in his formation to secure the maximum 3 point in the crucial duel adding that “this is an opportunity for him(Ighalo) prove his critics wrong.”
Rohr continued, “He has been scoring in China and he is very motivated to do so for the Super Eagles now.”
On Sunday, the 29-year-old striker scored his 16th goal in the Chinese Super League. The Nigerian international emerged the hero of Changchun Yatai after he scored the equaliser to make sure they didn’t lose at home to Hebei CFFC in a game which ended 2-2.
The former Watford striker who scored 15 goals for Changchun Yatai last season put a smile on the faces of Changchun Yatai fans as he scored in the 89th minute to level the goal margin.
A breakdown of the 28-man squad released on Friday showed that 24 players were listed as regulars, while four players were listed as stand-by, comprising Uche Agbo who plays for Standard Liege, Belgium, Eze Stephen who stars with Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Musa Mohammed starring for Hnk Gorica, Croatia and Blessing Eleke.
The 24 invited players are goalkeepers Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC) and Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa).
Eight defenders were invited including Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Semi Ajayi (Rotterdam United, England); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain) and Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany).
Rohr picked six midfielders comprising Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto, Portugal) and Joel Obi (AC Chievo Verona, Italy)
Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia) leads the list of strikers which include Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone FC, Italy); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England) and Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux FC, France).
Team Administrator Dayo Enebi Achor revealed on Friday that the invited players are expected to fly directly to Seychelles, arriving on Monday, 3rd September, while the one player (goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa) and team officials travelling from Nigeria will fly into Victoria on Sunday, 2nd September.
Kanu Nwankwo Weeps, As Vandals Steal All His Career Medals; Hotel Taken Over By Unknown Persons
Legendary Nigerian Footballer and Olympic Gold Captain, Nwankwo Kanu is not a happy man right now after losing his football medals and several valuables.
The Atlanta ’96 Olympic gold winner has revealed how suspected vandals invaded his The Hardley Apartments situated along Waziri Ibrahim Crescent on Victoria Island, making away with his football medals, trophies, plaques and other valuable items.
The hotel has been sealed up since 2015 sequel to an alleged default in transaction between it and Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), leading to series of litigation that is still pending at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. The last hearing came up in November last year after which the case was adjourned till 31 January 2019.
But a shocked Kanu, who was in London for the Yuletide, learnt from relatives and business associates in Nigeria last week that the Apartments, with registration number 509102, had been occupied by some authorized persons who had also commenced renovation of the facility in disregard of the seal order and litigation, forcing him to arrive in Nigeria over the weekend to verify the claims.
“It was a rude shock to me,” Kanu, who fought back tears at what the hitherto sprawling facility had become since the renovation started, told TheCable.
“I almost couldn’t recognise the hotel as belonging to me anymore. This is the saddest day of my life as I cannot understand why this happen to me when the matter has yet to be settled in court.
“All the medals I have earned, in addition to the Olympic torch that I cherished are all gone and I don’t even know who to ask for all these prized assets.”
Mohamed Salah Crowned African Player Of The Year For Second Straight Year
Mohamed Salah of Egypt is the African Player of the Year 2018, for the second time in a row, it was announced in Dakar, Senegal Tuesday night.
He beat two other competitors shortlisted with him, Liverpool team mate Sadio Mane and Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang of Arsenal.
“I have dreamt of winning this award since I was a child and now I have done so twice in a row,” Salah said soon after receiving his trophy.
“My thanks go to my family, my team-mates and my fans and I dedicate this trophy to my homeland, Egypt.”
It was an identical outcome to last year when Salah became only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud al Khatib to be voted the best footballer in Africa.
Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa was crowned African Women’s Player of the Year 2018 at the Aiteo-CAF awards, while Nigeria’s female team won Women’s National Team of the Year.
Achraf Hakimi was named African Youth Player of the Year 2018.
Mo Salah was also not surprisingly named among Africa’s Best X1 players that did not include any Nigerian.
Other players are Aubameyang, Mane, Mahrez, Keita, Partey, Koulibaly, Bailly, Benatia and Aurier.
Onyango as the goalkeeper completed the Africa Eleven.
Mauritania are the Men’s national Team of the Year.
The coaches were also recognised with Herve Renard winning Men’s coach of the Year and Desiree Ellis, coach of the Bayana Bayana, winning Women’s Coach of the Year. (NAN)
BREAKING: Buhari Orders Prosecution Of Amaju Pinnick Over NFF Multi-Billion Alleged Fraud, Banned From Traveling
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the prosecution of the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, over an alleged multi-billion scam in the organisation.
It was also learnt that the Federal Government through the Presidential investigative panel headed by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, had placed Pinnick on travel ban.
Our correspondent gathered on Saturday that Buhari gave the order for Pinnick’s prosecution when the Obono-Obla presented a preliminary investigation report to him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission also addressed a report on the NFF to Mr President detailing the outcome of their investigations which tallied with what Obono-Obla’s panel had submitted to the President.
EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu had in his six-page report informed Buhari that the anti-graft agency had investigated and prosecuted the Director, Finance and Administration, Christopher Andekin; Head, Finance and Administration, NFF, Jafaru Mamzah and a cashier with the Finance and Administration department of the NFF, Rajan Zaka over an alleged financial scam in the football governing house in connection with financial payments from Federation of International Football Associations and Confederation of African Football to NFF between 2014 and 2016.
But Buhari who was said to have been visibly angry over the alleged monumental scam ordered Pinnick to also be prosecuted. He directed Magu to embark on a wider investigation into the remittances to the
NFF between 2017 and 2018.
The president, who was reportedly shocked by the mind-boggling report and additional revelations directed Magu to ensure a comprehensive and discreet investigation with watertight and unassailable facts and
pieces of evidence that would nail the suspects at the court.
According to the EFCC preliminary report, EFCC stated that it commenced full investigation into the finances of the NFF where it discovered that the domiciliary accounts of the NFF domiciled with two top nigerian banks had received total inflow of $16,417,761 from FIFA and CAF between January, 2014 and June, 2016.
Magu in the report also informed Buhari that investigation into the case had been concluded. He added that Christopher Andekin; Head, Finance and Administration, NFF, Jafaru Mamzah and a cashier with the Finance and Administration department of NFF, Rajan Zaka were indicted and arraigned on October 15, 2018 before Justice P.O. Affem of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, No 19 Maitama Abuja on five criminal charges of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by a public officer.
The EFCC’s boss further informed Buhari that the commission also received another petition dated April 24, 2016 captioned ‘Monumental stealing and financial crisis in the Nigeria Football Federation’, from James Peters of Amal Pepple Estate, Abuja.
He stated that in the course of investigation, the Minister (Sports) forwarded to the commission, documents in support of the petition revealing sponsorship deals amounting to N1.14bn and $1.55m via his letter No. HMY &SP/003/2018/55 dates August 7, 2018.
Magu said, “Investigation into this petition has so far established that the NFF has sponsorship deals with 21 corporate organisation. The investigation further revealed that between 2008 and 2018, 11 out of the 21 corporate organisations made sponsorship payment of N5,288,990,000 and $1,550,000 to NFF as against the amounted stated in the ministers’ letter under reference above.
“One of the companies appointed as financial consultant to the NFF is owned by the 2nd Vice President of the NFF in person of Alhaji Shehu Dikko. The audit trail of the funds and its utilisation is currently ongoing with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable of any offence.”
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