NFF Celebrates Partners, Sponsors and Super Falcons  

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) at the weekend at the Lagos home of its President, Amaju Pinnick, held a dinner to appreciate its partners and sponsors as well as the nine-time African champions, Super Falcons.

According to the federation, the partners and the sponsors “are the reason the Nigeria Football Federation can beat its chest anywhere that it is 60-65% self-funded.”

In a press statement by its Director of Communication, Ademola Olajire, Corporate Nigeria’s support for Nigerian football has improved significantly over the years. “And they all turned out gleefully and in full flow when the NFF decided to celebrate them in Lagos on Thursday night.”

He stressed that it was not a night for speeches even as the partners and sponsors affirmed their satisfaction and commitment to the relationship. Even those not in the boat yet gave words of their eagerness to jump aboard.

At the occasion were big wigs and representatives of AITEO Group, the Official Optimum Partner of the NFF); Coca-Cola the Official Soft Drink and Co-Sponsor of the National Teams as well as Nigerian Breweries PLC (Star Lager – Official Alcoholic Drink of the Super Eagles; Amstel Malta – Official Malt Drink of the NFF and the National Teams).

Also in attendance were Zenith International Bank PLC as the Official Bank of the NFF; Tropical and General Investments makers of Big Bull which is the  Official Rice of the Super Eagles as well as  WAPIC Insurance PLC, the Official Insurance Services Provider of the NFF and the National Teams.

 Cadbury Nigeria PLC makers of Tom Tom which is the Official Candy of the Super Eagles; Emzor Pharmaceuticals makers of Official Paracetamol of the NFF and the National Teams; FrieslandCampina WAMCO (Peak Milk – Official Milk of the Super Eagles); Simba Group (TVS: Official Motorycle and Tricycle Partner of the Super Eagles) and; Sports Radio Brila (Official Broadcast Station of the NFF) all attended the event.  Overseas-based kits supplier NIKE and 1XBET (Official Partner) sent words of goodwill.

Consul-General of the United States of America, John Bray; Stephen Forbes from the British Council and; Auditing firm PwC’s Edafe Erhie, Esiri Agbeyi and Tolu Adeleke added colour to the occasion.

The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of N50 million to the Super Falcons by Dangote Group, immediately followed by the presentation of N25 million to the team by BUA Group.

 

 

 

Olapade Edges Tour Championship

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Sunday Olapade at the weekend in Abuja cumulated a present-perfect 10 under par 278 to win the Tour Championship, the final event on the schedule of the West Africa Golf Tour.

The Tour Championship paraded the top-ranked 30 players on the Tour, who converged on IBB International Golf Club, Abuja for a piece of the tournament’s $45,000 prize money.

Olapade, from MicCom Golf and Country Club, Ada, Osun State, executed the final round with a commanding one under par 71 to beat Vincent Torgah of Ghana by six strokes. His path to victory had been eased by his scores of 71, 68 and 68 respectively in the preceding 54 holes.

 The victory was his fourth on the West Africa Golf Tour this year following wins at Port Harcourt Classic, B&E Match-play Abuja and Nigeria @ 58 at Lakowe Lakes, Lagos.

It also reinforced the intensity of the rivalry between him and Torgah as both players featured in the highly contested final grouping and between themselves accounted for eight of the 10 tournaments on the 2018 schedule.

Olapade held on to his four-shot advantage and refused to allow Torgah into his lead on the front nine they both scraped at level par.

Despite several openings to come into the play, Torgah blew and hot and cold and failed to take the initiative on a feisty back nine. His hope of mounting a real challenge evaporated, when he slipped six shots out of the lead after Olapade birdied the 14th and 16th holes while he could only respond with pars.

Torgah closed at one over par 73, but not withstanding was crowned the West African Golf Tour Order of Merit winner for the second consecutive seasons.

After he was handed the trophy by Justice Monica Dongban-Memsen, Olapade, who earned $6,000 for his effort, described the task as one that was cut out considering he was matched with Torgah and Gift Willy.

“It was not easy on the course today as I played with tough guys. I only started to feel at ease in the last two holes when I was leading by six shots. At that point, I knew somebody had to kill me to give up the lead,” Olapade said.

 

Sodiq, Olatunji Win O’Trafford PSA National Tourney

Nigeria’s top female squash player, Yemisi Olatunji and former male Number One, Taiwo Sodiq, emerged winners of the O’Trafford PSA National Closed Satellite Tournament 2018 at the weekend.

It was another version of the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, at the final when Yemisi defeated her younger sister, Busayo Olatunji, 11-7, 11-8,  11-3 to win the women’s event of the maiden  O’Trafford  squash tournament.

Fresh from her exploit at the just concluded National Sports Festival in Abuja, Yemisi displayed why she is Nigeria’s topmost player in the female category.

In the male category, Sodiq who was in strong form throughout the game and ousted top player, Lanre Abdulrahman in the semi-final, bounced from his lost in the first set to defeat a hard-fighting Idowu Enemakure 12-14, 11-1, 11-6, 11-8 in a five straight set game.

The Chairman of O’Trafford Squash club, Aderemi Adeseun  while presenting the winners with their prizes said the tournament has come to stay and urged all other squash clubs to organise more PSA sanctioned tournaments to enable Nigerian squash players get points to be ranked.

Sodiq, the winner of the male category received $1,000 as the star prize while Yemisi Olatunji who emerged champion of the female version received $500.

Confed Cup: Rangers FC Hit Next Phase after Win over USM

Femi Solaja with agency report

For the second year running, Nigerian clubs will have stake in CAF club competitions following the decent 2-0 win by Enugu Rangers against visiting USM Bel Abbes of Algeria yesterday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

Although there is still a hurdle before qualifying for the group stage, the Flying Antelopes showed the character of a team to go far in the CAF Confederation Cup competition.

Earlier on Saturday, Nigeria’s representatives in the CAF Champions League, Lobi Stars defeated Kenya’s Gor Mahia 2-0 but progressed to the knock out phase on the away goal rule.

Lobi lost the first round first leg 1-3 in Nairobi but the away goal gave the Makurdi team the edge despite the aggregate 3-3 scoreline.

Unlike the last edition of the CAF continental competitions that Nigeria presented four teams based on the country’s co-efficient, poor results occasioned the reduction of the country’s slot to just one each in the two top club competitions.

However, Nigeria’s determination to get the four slots back (two in each competition) may have started with these two wins by Lobi and Rangers.

Bright Silas scored both goals as Rangers took the game to their visitors from the onset at the ‘Cathedral in Enugu’ on Saturday.

The former JUTH FC star opened scoring after six minutes before he doubled the lead in first half stoppage time after he was assisted by defender Isaac Loute.

The Algerians were reduced to 10 men on 90th  minute after one of their players Boualem received his second caution.

Rangers created the better chances, but poor finishing or some resolute defending and good goalkeeping denied them a bigger win.

With this victory, Ogunbote’s side will wait until December 28 before knowing their next foes.

They will be drawn against the losers of the Champions League first round, with Rangers billed to host the second leg.

Boxing: Whyte Knocks out Chisora, Targets Anthony Joshua

British heavyweight Dillian Whyte delivered a brutal 11th-round knockout of Dereck Chisora to maintain hope of facing world champion Anthony Joshua.

In an intense rematch, Chisora brought constant pressure and was up on two of the three cards when he was stopped.

But the 34-year-old – who had been deducted two points – left himself exposed to a crushing left to the jaw.

Afterwards, Whyte called out Joshua, who stepped up to the ring and said Whyte was third on his list of targets.

Addressing Joshua, who beat him in 2015, Whyte said: “Rematch, let’s go. Let’s do this.”

IBF, WBO and WBA champion Joshua has made it clear he hopes to fight WBC title holder Deontay Wilder, with Tyson Fury a second target.

The 29-year-old moved from his commentary position, climbed to the ring ropes and asked fans at London’s O2 Arena if they would be interested in him fighting Whyte, prompting cheers.

“So if the Whyte fight gets made I don’t want to hear any boos,” said Joshua.

“We know how the list goes, who is one and two. If there’s anyone that deserves a shot, if it isn’t them it’s you.”

Whyte stormed from the ring as Joshua explained his place in the pecking order. But promoter Eddie Hearn later said a bout between the pair was a case of “when, not if” as he expects Whyte to become a mandatory challenger.

In defeating Chisora, Whyte showed more elements of progress as he boxed patiently against a rival who ploughed forward time and again.

Whyte, 30, seemed more cautious than during their heavy-hitting meeting in 2016 when he shaded a points win after 12 thrilling rounds which left many fans calling for a repeat.

The rematch was again played out at pace, with Whyte picking smart shots under pressure. A hard counter-right in the opening round and a short uppercut in the second caught the eye, while a shot drilled to the body jolted Chisora in eight.

But Chisora landed good work of his own as he closed the distance, with a heavy right hook getting home in the sixth.

He was docked points – for repeated low blows in the eighth and an elbow in the 11th – perhaps tempting him to chase the contest without knowing two ringside judges had him ahead.

In missing with a shot of his own, he was made to pay as Whyte swept a left hook to the jaw, leaving him in need of lengthy attention from his corner with the ninth loss of a 38-fight career sealed.

“I said it wasn’t going the distance,” said Whyte. “I was trying to box disciplined and take my time. I hurt him in the first round and thought ‘you have 12 rounds to do this’. I knew it would come.

“It was 23 rounds of carnage. This is my time now. Joshua is talking rubbish, my career needs to progress. Time is ticking.”

This was Chisora’s first contest alongside manager David Haye, who shouted instructions from the first row of seats between rounds.

The focused training regime they talked of before the bout appeared evident as Chisora carried the fight to his rival with energy, only to be made to pay for losses of discipline with the deductions and a lapse of focus for a second in the penultimate round.

His boxing future now seems uncertain, while Whyte’s looks positive after his ninth straight win following defeat by Joshua. Few would begrudge him a first shot at a world title, with names such as Joseph Parker, Lucas Browne and Chisora (twice) on his resume.

Much will depend on how negotiations play out for Joshua’s Wembley opponent on 13 April, with Hearn attempting to lure Wilder away from a rematch with Fury following their draw in early December.

Joshua admitted Whyte’s choice to call him “lanky” led him to get up onto the ring, adding: “I’m not annoyed, I’m ready.

“I’m quite respectful but if Dillian steps in the ring with me you better believe me, none of these heavyweights are on my level, and I keep my lid on because I don’t want to explode on none of them.”

Undefeated American Jarrell Miller was also ringside in London and has an outside chance of being Joshua’s next opponent. The heavyweight scene looks like it will prove captivating in 2019.

EPL: Kane, Son Rip Everton Apart in Eight-goal Thriller 

Tottenham Hotspur showed why manager Mauricio Pochettino is a wanted man by thrashing Everton 6-2 at Goodison Park yesterday to close to within six points of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Spurs have had to cope with the unwanted attention of Pochettino being linked with the Manchester United job following Jose Mourinho’s sacking this week.

But they showed no signs of being distracted as they roared back from a goal down thanks to doubles from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen also on target.

Everton led against the run of play through Theo Walcott and even former Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson’s strike to reduce the hosts’ deficit to 4-2 early in the second half couldn’t spark a revival.

Fatigue may yet still derail Tottenham’s bid to win a first trophy under Pochettino with Spurs still involved in four competitions.

But with Liverpool facing Arsenal and Manchester City in a top of the table clash in their next three games over the festive period, Tottenham have the opportunity to haul themselves into a three-way title race if they maintain the standards set at Goodison.

Kane had chipped into the side-netting and Jordan Pickford produced a fine save to deny England teammate Kieran Trippier in the early stages.

But it was Everton who struck first in a wildly open contest when Walcott stabbed home at the near post from Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s cross.

Marco Silva’s men could even have been 2-0 up had Calvert-Lewin not been penalised for a push on Davinson Sanchez when heading home moments later.

But Spurs looked as if they could score with almost every attack and were soon on level terms with the aid of a Pickford error.

The England No 1 rushed from his goal but only succeeded in getting in the way of his own defender Kurt Zouma and Son took advantage with a wonderful finish from a narrow angle.

Once back on level terms, Spurs were relentless as Pickford denied Son a second but Alli charged into the box to sweep home the rebound to turn the game around.

Kane is now just one goal behind Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang in the race for the Premier League golden boot and showed his predatory instincts to side-foot into an empty net after Trippier’s fine free-kick came back off the post three minutes before halftime.

Both teams face the least rest time of any Premier League side over the festive period with another three games to come between now and New Year’s Day.

However, there was no let up in the pace of the game after the break as Eriksen produced a technically perfect controlled volley from the edge of the box to make it 4-1.

Three minutes later Everton’s deficit was back to two as Sigurdsson dribbled across the whole Tottenham defence before firing back across Hugo Lloris.

Yet, any hope of a fight-back was extinguished just after the hour mark when Son’s fine control cushioned Erik Lamela’s pass before he finished through the legs of Pickford.

It was announced this week that the South Korean will go to the Asian Cup in January despite already representing his country at the World Cup and Asian Games this year.

And Son showed why he will be missed by his club in January once more with an inch-perfect cross for Kane to slide in for his second of the afternoon 16 minutes from time.

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