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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

Cristiano Ronaldo Reportedly “Agrees To A £173million/Yr Contract With Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr”

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Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly agreed on a bumper £172.9million-a-year contract with Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia.

This is coming after the 37-year-old had his Manchester United contract terminated following a tumultuous relationship with the club over controversial statements in a TV interview with Piers Morgan.

Now, Ronaldo is said to have sensationally agreed to a two-and-a-half year deal with Al Nassr – worth an eye-watering £172.9million per year that will see him play until the age of 40, according to Spanish newspaper outlet Marca.

The former Real Madrid star rejected a switch to Saudi last summer, but without any firm interest from Europe’s elite clubs, he looks set to now make the move.

Al-Nassr are one of the most successful clubs in Saudi Arabia, having been crowned winners of the country’s top flight nine times, with their most recent triumph coming in 2019. They are currently managed by Frenchman Rudi Garcia, who has previously coached Roma, Marseille, and Lyon.

The Saudi giants also have a few big-name stars including goalkeeper David Ospina, Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo, and Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar – who scored a contender for goal of the tournament at the Qatar World Cup earlier this week.

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BIG STORY

FIFA Honours Nigerian Journalist Kunle Solaja For Covering 9 World Cups

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Kunle Solaja, Nigerian journalist and publisher of Sports Village Square, has been honoured by FIFA, in collaboration with the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), for his coverage of nine World Cup tournaments.

The ace sports journalist was celebrated alongside 81 others in a ceremony held in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday.

Solaja and South Africa’s Mark Glesson are the only Africans decorated with the prize.

They were presented with a certificate of achievement jointly signed by Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, and Gianni Merlo, the AIPS president.

A miniature replica of the World Cup trophy was also awarded to the journalists.

Speaking on the achievement, Solaja said he is inspired by journalists who have covered more than 15 World Cups and described the recognition as fulfilling.

“It’s been very fantastic. The World Cup, to me, is the biggest worldwide spectacle that we can talk about. To be part of it has been very amazing and very fulfilling for me too,” he said.

“I’m further inspired by people who’ve covered 15, 16, 17 World Cups, and I hope I’ll be able to do that. In my first World Cup, I met a man, Diego Lucero, who was then known to be the only man to have watched all the editions of the World Cup.”

Solaja covered his first World Cup in 1990. He has since then travelled to all the venues of the subsequent editions to report the quadrennial competition.

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BIG STORY

2022 World Cup: Iran Frees Over 700 Prisoners After Win Over Wales

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Iran has released more than 700 prisoners after the natin’s football team’s World Cup victory over Wales, the Judiciary’s Mizan Online website said on Monday.

It announced that “709 detainees were freed from different prisons in the country” following the 2-0 victory earlier on Friday.

Among those are “some arrested during the recent events,” Mizan Online said, making indirect reference to demonstrations which have shaken Iran for more than two months. It gave no further detail.

The ongoing protests were triggered by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, after her arrest by morality police for an alleged breach of Iran’s strict dress rules for women.

Other Iranian media separately reported that prominent Iranian actor, Hengameh Ghaziani, had been released on bail after her arrest for having supported the protests.

Two of the most prominent figures detained over the demonstrations, former international footballer, Voria Ghafouri and dissident Hossein Ronaghi were also let out on bail, reports said.

State news agency, IRNA, reported on Monday that former state television host, Mahmoud Shahriari, 63, had been released after two months in prison for “encouraging riots”.

Iran on Friday scored twice deep into stoppage time to stun Wales and breathe new life into its 2022 World Cup campaign ahead of a politically charged showdown Tuesday against the United States.

Iran lost its first World Cup match to England 6-2 in Qatar.

Iran’s judiciary says more than 2,000 people have been charged since the start of the protests.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, last week said around 14,000 people were arrested.

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