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Go Green! Osimhen Grabs Hat-Trick As Dream Team Crush Libya 4-0 To Revive Olympic Qualification Dreams

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Former Golden Eaglets star, Victor Osimhen, grabbed a hat-trick on Monday as Nigeria ‘s under-23 male national football team defeated their Libyan counterparts 4-0 on Monday in Asaba, to reach the third qualifying round of the 2020 Olympic Games football tournament.

The match, which was played at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, was also the second leg of a qualification round for the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The Nigerian side had lost 0-2 in the first leg played on Wednesday in Tunisia, Libya’s home ground for now, and have now advanced to the qualifiers’ next round 4-2 aggregate.

The second leg game, which was watched by a handful of spectators, saw the Libyan team putting up a defensive play right from the first blast of the whistle.

However, the Nigerian team took total control of the midfield, as they mounted sustained attacks on the Libyan defence.

The Nigerian team’s efforts finally paid off in the 33rd minute of play, when Osimhen grabbed his first goal of the game from a rebound after a free-kick hit the upright.

On resumption of the second half, the Nigerian team went on the offensive in their search for more goals, forcing the Libyan defence to commit blunders.

Osimhen, on loan to Charleroi from Bundesliga outfit VfL Wolfsburg, again rose to the occasion, as he slotted in the second goal of the game in the 64th minute after the Libyan goalkeeper, Aymar Altihar, mistakenly parried a cross onto his path.

He later grabbed his hat-trick in the 75th minute following a goalmouth scrabble, after the Libyan defence failed to clear a Nigeria cross inside the penalty box.

Before the ovation which trailed the goal could die down, Nigeria’s Chidozie Okereke grabbed the fourth goal on the dot of 90 minutes for Nigeria.

The Nigerian squad finished the match four million naira ($11,100) richer as senior team captain Ahmed Musa promised a million naira for every goal his compatriots scored.

Nigeria are the most successful African country in Olympics football, winning the 1996 Atlanta tournament and finishing runners-up to Argentina in Beijing 12 years later.

At the post-match media conference, Nigeria’s coach Imama Amapakabo expressed joy and satisfaction with the win.

He said the Nigerian team played according to the game plan and deserved the victory.

“After the first leg in Tunisia which we lost, we learnt a lot because we saw their pattern of play.

“So, we came home and decided to work on how to break down their style of play.

“Today, we played according to our game plan, to get an early goal, and then follow it up with as many goals as possible,” he said.

Also speaking, Nigeria’s team captain, Azubuike Okechukwu, said the victory was well deserved.

“We came down here to win and we have achieved that. I must say we played our game, we were not under pressure.

“More so, the fans here today are so marvellous. They gave us so much support and we really appreciate it,” Okechukwu said.

In Abidjan, the Ivory Coast hammered Niger 6-1 to equal the biggest winning margin set by Kenya in a 2020 qualifier in Africa, AFP reported.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg, the Ivorians scored three goals in each half at home with Italy-based Willy Braciano bagging a brace.

Ivory Coast are likely to face tougher opposition in the third round when they come up against Guinea, who surprisingly eliminated Senegal.

A further seven qualifiers are scheduled for Tuesday with Ghana and South Africa poised to advance after building impressive first leg leads.

Olympics qualifiers are restricted to under-23 footballers with three over-age stars permitted at the finals. (NAN)

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Amaju Pinnick In Trouble As FG Slams N4bn, $8,400 Fraud Charges On NFF President

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Federal Government has charged the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick and four others with alleged misappropriation of $8,400 belonging to the football body.

In a 17-count charge, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday, the money was said to have been paid by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to the NFF as appearance fees in the group state of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Named with Pinnick in the charge, are NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh.

The defendants were also accused of “moving dishonestly and intentionally the sum of about N4bn” belonging to the NFF without the consent of the NFF.

The five are also accused, in the charge filed by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), led by Okoi Obono-Obla, of failing and neglecting to declare their assets.

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AFCON 2019: Nigeria Draws Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi [Full Fixtures]

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn against Guinea, Madagascar, and Burundi in Group B of the African Cup of Nations, Egypt 2019.

The Gernot Rohr lads will begin their campaign at the the championship they won in South Africa i. 2013 against Burundi in the group opener.

In other groups, host Egypt will battle DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe in Group A, former champions Senegal and Algeria will have Kenya and giant killers Tanzania to slug it with in Group C.

Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire South Africa and Namibia were drawn in Group D which tagged as the competition Group of Death.

North African champions, Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Angola are up for Group E qualifying tickets.

Cameroon will also have Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau to contend with Group F of the tournament.

Group A

Egypt
DR Congo
Uganda
Zimbabwe

Group B

Nigeria
Guinea
Madagascar
Burundi

Group C

Senegal
Algeria
Kenya
Tanzania

Group D

Morocco
Cote d’Ivoire
South Africa
Namibia

Group E

Tunisia
Mali
Mauritania
Angola

Group F

Cameroon
Ghana
Benin
Guinea-Bissau

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BIG STORY

Give Me £500,000-A-Week And I’ll Snub Real Madrid —- Pogba Tells Man Utd

Peter Okunoren

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Manchester United are reportedly ready to open talks with Paul Pogba over a new contract, the UK Sun reports.

But the French midfielder is going to test Old Trafford chiefs desire to keep him, by demanding a total wage packet of £500,000-a-week.

It is believed Pogba wants parity as the club’s highest paid player with Alexis Sanchez, as the eye-watering deal handed to Sanchez 15 months ago, is coming back to bite executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward once again.

Sanchez’s huge contract has changed the game at United, especially given the struggles suffered by the South American since joining last January.

Pogba’s demands will be strengthened by public admissions from Real Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane, that he would like his compatriot at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Pogba has two years left on his current £300,000-a-week deal, with a further 12-month option.

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