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Nigeria Set To Lose Obafemi To Ireland

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Michael Obafemi is in line to make his senior international bow at some stage on Thursday after making the final squad for the games against Northern Ireland and Denmark.

The Southampton striker has recently broken into the Saints’ matchday squad, with two appearances off the bench in the last few weeks, and has been rewarded with a first call-up.

Obafemi was born in Dublin and grew up in England, while he’s also eligible to play for Nigeria, but he seems to have expressed his preference to represent his country of birth.

And he may benefit from the ankle injury picked up by clubmate Shane Long as Ireland prepare to host Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland in a friendly on Thursday.

Liverpool youngster Caoimhin Kelleher could also feature for the first time as he was retained as one of three goalkeepers in the final squad.

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed that Glenn Whelan will captain the side on what is set to be his 85th and final appearance for his country.

The 34-year-old midfielder hasn’t formally announced his retirement but he hasn’t been called up since the World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark last November.

And the Aston Villa man will not travel on with the squad to Aarhus for the UEFA Nations League closer against the Danes on Sunday.

Robbie Brady also looks set to make his first international appearance since the Denmark play-offs after returning to action following a horrific leg break sustained in December.

Meanwhile, Ireland under-19 captain and Manchester United defender Lee O’Connor has been brought into the training squad but won’t be considered for selection.

Republic of Ireland squad to face Northern Ireland and Denmark:
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle, Caoimhin Kelleher.

Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, Matt Doherty, Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, John Egan, Darragh Lenihan, Lee O’Connor*, Enda Stevens.

Midfielders: Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane, Harry Arter, David Meyler, Shaun Williams, Alan Browne, Callum O’Dowda, James McClean.

Forwards: Scott Hogan, Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson, Aiden O’Brien, Ronan Curtis, Michael Obafemi.

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SPORT

Zenith Bank Celebrates D’Tigress On Back-To-Back Afrobasket Championship Victory

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Zenith Bank Plc, the sole sponsor of the Nigerian Female Basketball League has hailed the Nigerian female basketball team, D’Tigress, for emerging champions of the FIBA Women’s Afrobasket 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, defeating the host nation 60-55 points in the final match to retain the coveted trophy.

Speaking on the success of the team at the championship, the Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu commended the team for their hard work, doggedness and team spirit, which has seen them retain the trophy which they won two years ago in Mali. He expressed delight at the heroics of the team, comprised mostly of products of the Zenith Bank Women Basketball League, which the bank has sponsored for 15 years consecutively.

D’Tigress of Nigeria held their nerves in the final quarter of the game played at the magnificent Dakar Arena on Sunday, fighting off a late challenge from their Senegalese counterparts, to emerge African champions for the fourth time.

Evelyn Akhator, one of the products of the Zenith Bank Women Basketball League, scored 14 points and made nine rebounds and her amazing performance throughout the tournament earned her a place in the Tournament Five.

The Nigerian female basketball team kick-started the competition with resounding victories of 75-26 points win over Tunisia and 106-39 points win over Cameroun in the group stages, before recording a 79-46 points win over Congo in the quarterfinals and a 79-58 points win over Mali in the semifinals.

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Rohr Must Scout For Goalkeepers — Peter Rufai

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Ex-International, Peter Rufai has admonished the Super Eagles’ technical crew to work more on the goalkeeping department in the team, to fix some of the loopholes experienced at the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations.

Dodo Mayana as he’s fondly called during his goalkeeping days stated that the goalkeeping trio of Okechukwu Ezenwa, Francis Uzoho, and Daniel Akpayi had an impressive performance with little or more to amend.

The Super Eagles finished third at the AFCON tournament after beating Tunisia 1-0 in the third-place match, thanks to an Odion Ighalo’s solitary goal in the first half.

However, Rufai told Soccernet.ng that the team’ technical trainer, Gernot Rohr should scout for more goalkeepers that would create more competition in the team.

“There is no doubt that the goalkeeper who represented Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations showed a very decent performance. At least we saw what goalkeepers such as Okechukwu Ezenwa, Francis Uzoho, and Daniel Akpayi could do for the Super Eagles but then, I still think the Super Eagles technical crew must scout for more goalkeepers that will give them stiff competition.

“This is not to say that they are not good but there is always the need for competition in the team to bring out the best from them.

Rufai earned 65 caps for Nigeria, and represented the nation at two FIFA World Cups, always as a starter: 1994 (Nigeria’s first-ever appearance, where he also acted as captain) and 1998, also helping the Super Eagles win the 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia.

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Nigeria vs Algeria: Rohr Reveals Mistake Super Eagles Made, Singles Out One Player

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Head coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr, has admitted his players were relaxed at the end of the game when they wanted to force Algeria into extra time in their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final clash.

Nigeria had leveled the game through Odion Ighalo’s penalty after they went behind in the first half.

But with the final kick of the match, Riyad Mahrez struck an unstoppable free-kick past Daniel Akpeyi, to ensure the Desert Foxes will play in the final.

Rohr, speaking to Reuters, hailed Mahrez ass the “genius who made the difference”.

He said: “It was a big fight until the last minute, it was a wonderful match, I think my players wanted it to go to extra time thinking Algeria were more tired.

“We scored an own goal, unlucky, but we have come back every time in this tournament and this time we came back on a penalty. But a wonderful free kick from a football genius made the difference.”

Nigeria will face Tunisia in Wednesday’s third-place encounter at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo.

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