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AFCON: CBN Gov, Air Peace Boss, Govt Officials Distracted Super Eagles — Ex-Goalkeeper Peterside Idah

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The constant calls and promises of cash rewards from top government functionaries and prominent Nigerians distracted the Super Eagles which contributed to their ultimate defeat and exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, a former goalkeeper of the Super Eagles has said.

The ex-goalkeeper, Peterside Idah, said on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ programme on Monday that it was wrong to have allowed the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema; and the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, to address players during halftime.

Barely six hours before the game, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), made a video call to the team.

The CBN governor had also visited the eagles at halftime where he relayed a message from business tycoon, Femi Otedola, promising them $250,000 (N104m) if they won the cup. Onyema had also promised to give the team N10m for each goal scored.

Idah maintained that when people who are not part of the coaching team are allowed to address players during halftime, promising them cash rewards, the players get distracted.

The retired goalkeeper said the next coach of the Super Eagles must ensure that he is given full authority and does not permit such behaviour.

“We can’t have the President of the NFF addressing the players in the second half. That is not his responsibility. We can’t have the CBN governor addressing the players at halftime. That is not his responsibility. We can’t have the owner of Air Peace addressing the players at halftime. What time will the coach have?” Idah asked.

The former Nigeria international said the Super Eagles were overconfident and were already being addressed as champions when the tournament itself was still in the early stages.

He added that the government officials also did not help matters because of the incessant calls to the players.

Idah added, “We had won the gold in the bedroom. We had already started calling ourselves champions when we had not even qualified. I said it the other day that officials would begin to travel to the Super Eagles’ camp to make promises. ‘If you win the cup, this is the money you will get’. I mentioned this before.

“There is a psychology of football. When you go to play football, you start from zero. You don’t go as a winner because you underestimate your opponent. I said this before that in our dressing room, we had officials that were not football coaches going to address the players and I said this over and over again. The mindset of a player is very fickle.

“He has to think of the match 100 percent. He doesn’t have to think about money; he doesn’t have to think about family problems or women. He has to think about football.”

The ex-goalkeeper said there was a time when government officials interfered to the extent that they demanded that the Super Eagles team reflect federal character.

He said the white coach, however, ignored this order. Idah, therefore, stated that this is the sort of attitude the next coach must have.

“I remember the coach we had in Nigeria. I have worked with the FA in Nigeria. And when we were there, they brought a team list for him and they said you have to put two Hausa, two Yoruba, 4 Igbo and he looked at the list and they said to submit a team list.

“And he put two Yoruba, two Hausa, two Igbo and sent the list to the government. When he sent the list, during the match, he changed it. This was a white coach and the officials in the office compared it with their list and started complaining. Everything about Nigeria is wisdom and the next coach must lay down his rules,” Idah said.

The ex-goalkeeper said Austin Eguavoen was qualified to continue as a coach but advised him to be firm and make his demands upfront before signing any contract.

BIG STORY

World Cup Qualifiers: NFF Begins Scout For Foreign Coach For Super Eagles

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has decided to hire a foreign expatriate Technical Adviser for the senior national team, following the Super Eagles dismal outing in the ongoing 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

This was made known in a communique made available to the media on Thursday by the football federation.

The NFF assured that the foreign manager will be appointed in the coming weeks.

The communique said: “Executive Committee resolved to employ an expatriate Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles in the coming weeks, ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and the remaining FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

“The Executive Committee wholeheartedly apologized to Nigerians for the dismal output and subsequent very poor returns of the Senior Men National Team, Super Eagles, in four out of 10 matches in the ongoing qualification series for the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals, and pledged to work assiduously and put necessary measures in place to ensure a better-prepared squad ahead of the AFCON 2025 qualifiers in September this year and the resumption of the World Cup qualifiers in March 2025.

“Notwithstanding the challenges that attended the team’s preparations for the Day 3 and Day 4 games of the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, owing to a 38-hour nationwide industrial action, the Board expressed displeasure with the poor attitude of some of the players to the National Assignment, and unanimously decided in favour of a more robust scouting programme of outstanding Nigeria-eligible players from across the four corners of the universe, who can add tremendous value to the nation’s flagship team.”

The NFF also resolved to beef up the NFF Technical Department with more qualitative hands.

Equally, the Technical and Development Sub-Committee will be re-jigged with immediate effect.

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BIG STORY

Nigerians Blast Sky Sports For Excluding Ademola Lookman In Europa League Graphics

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Nigerians have expressed anger and disappointment after a British media outlet, Sky Sports, omitted Super Eagles forward, Ademola Lookman, from a graphic celebrating Atalanta’s Europa League victory.

Lookman made history on Wednesday night by becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in a UEFA Europa League final.

The omission has sparked outrage, with many calling out Sky News for their oversight.

Lookman’s Atalanta stunned Bayer Leverkusen 3-0, ending the Bundesliga champions’ 51-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

This was also Atalanta’s first-ever UEFA Europa League title and their first major title win since 1963.

Lookman was the star of the night, scoring his third goal of the game in the 75th minute.

Lookman’s first-half brace made him the first African to score two goals in the final of a major European competition before he added a historic third.

Sky Sports posted an image on its X handle on Wednesday evening with the caption “BREAKING: Atalanta have WON the Europa League after beating Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the final in Dublin”. However, the image only included Gianluca Scamacca and Teun Koopmeiners.

The post has been bashed on the internet, especially on X.com, for excluding Lookman, who scored all three goals.

Nollywood actress, Nse Ikpe-Etim, who tweets as @NseIkpeEtim, said, “This is shocking. Ademola Lookman scores a beautiful hat-trick and you couldn’t bring yourself to use an image of his. Sure you can do better.”

Also, investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo, tweeting with the handle @fisayosoyombo, said, “Nigerian footballer Ademola Lookman, who scored all three goals that fetched Atlanta the trophy did not make it to your cover photo? All of you @SkyFootball are collectively an unbelievable joke!”

A photojournalist who tweeps with the handle @PoojaMedia, said, “You are reporting the final without the history maker. Reason we’ve to hype our own to heavens but de@d heads will be dragging us. Una see now?”

Another X user, @Xandyy_Jay, said, “The whole world condemns this act. You can do better. Ademola Lookman should be the first person here. Why are you so biased?

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BIG STORY

Usyk Defeats Fury, Becomes Undisputed Heavyweight Champion

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Oleksandr Usyk emerged as the world’s undisputed heavyweight boxing champion adter defeating Tyson Fury.

On Saturday night, Fury and Usyk engaged in combat at the Kingdom Arena located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Usyk defeated the British fighter 115-112, 113-114, and 114-113 on the scorecards to win the fight by split decision.

In the first several rounds of the battle, Fury came out swinging, but Usyk was able to withstand the British fighter’s assault.

As the battle went on, the Ukrainian gained momentum because of his excellent movement and technical proficiency, which allowed him to block Fury’s strong attacks and land accurate shots of his own.

The highly anticipated battle took a turn for the better when the Ukrainian stopped Fury in the ninth round.

Despite Fury’s valiant effort to recover in the final rounds, Usyk’s dominance had already sealed the victory.

The 37-year-old Ukrainian is the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis 25 years ago. He has now unified the WBA, WBO, IBF, and WBC titles.

For Fury, it is the first loss in his 16-year professional career, but he will have a chance at a rematch before the end of the year.

In his post-fight interview, the British boxer accused the judges of giving the victory to Usyk because of the war in Ukraine.

“His country is at war, so people are siding with the country at war,” he said.

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