13th NNPC Sports Fiesta Commences In Abuja

Mohammed Shosanya

The 13th NNPC Ltd. Sports Fiesta will kick-off tomorrow at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja as the Company strives to retain its legendary status of the team to beat in the Nigeria Oil & Gas Industry Games (NOGIG) coming up later in April, this year.

This year’s edition of the biennial event themed “Healthy Workforce, Productive Organization,” symbolises NNPC Ltd’s belief in the integral role of physical well-being towards enhancing organizational productivity among employees.

The event will see the company’s employees competing in 13 games namely football, basketball, volleyball, chess, squash, scrabble, 8-ball pool, golf, tennis, table tennis, badminton, swimming and athletics.

The one-week event, which will climax on Friday, 23rd February, 2024, will also feature a novelty match that will see the NNPC Ltd Football Team trading tackles with Ex-Super Eagles Stars, led by Nigeria’s legendary Captain, Austin JJ Okocha.

This year, the six NNPC Ltd zones have undergone a restructuring, following their consolidation into three teams that represent the Company’s three core values of Integrity (Port Harcourt/Benin); Excellence (Lagos/Warri) and Sustainability (Abuja/Kaduna).

The tournament, which is set to showcase friendly yet spirited contests among the three teams, will also serve as a platform for selecting NNPC Ltd’s potential flagbearers at the forthcoming Nigeria Oil & Gas Industry Games (NOGIG) in April 2024, where the Company will defend its title of Overall Winner, a feat it has maintained over the years.

The NNPC Ltd has been a serial winner of the NOGIG Games, which also features other participants from International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria and key agencies under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

During the last edition of NOGIG held in 2020 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, NNPC Ltd emerged the overall winner of the tournament, carting home 48 laurels, which include 13 gold, 16 silver and 19 bronze medals.

Tinubu,Abiodun Congratulate Eagles For Reaching AFCON Final

Mohammed Shosanya

President Tinubu has congratulated the Super Eagles on their victory over South Africa in the semifinals of the African Cup of Nations.

The Eagles defeated South Africa on penalties with striker Kelechi Iheanacho scoring the goal that sent them to the final.

Tinubu’s congratulatory message was posted on his official X page.

He wrote: “From the Southernmost cape of Africa to the Plains of Mauritania and the coast of West Africa…. You have made us all Proud to be Nigerians! Go… Soar in the AFCON Finals Well done, boys!”

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun,described the victory of the Super Eagles over their South African counterparts as well deserved.

In a congratulatory message to the national football team and the entire country,Abiodun praised the players for their outstanding performance against the South Africans.

The governor,who expressed delight and pride in the team’s remarkable victory commended the players, coaching staff, and the entire Nigerian football fraternity for their dedication and hard work.

“The Super Eagles have once again proven their mettle on the international stage, showcasing their exceptional skills and determination. I am incredibly proud of their achievement in securing a well-deserved spot in the African Cup of Nations finals.

“This victory is a testament to the strength and unity of our beloved country, Nigeria. The Super Eagles have shown the world what it means to be a team, fighting together to achieve a common goal,” the governor added.

Eagles Dedicate Victory Against Angola To Late Okwaraji

Mohammed Shosanya

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have dedicated their 1-0 victory against the Palancas Negras of Angola in the quarterfinals of the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) to the memory of late Samuel Okwaraji.

Okwaraji slumped and died while playing in a 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos.

The team wrote on its X handle the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan,that the triumph was in memory of the late legend.

“Today’s victory over Angola is a poignant reminder of the adamant spirit of Nigerian football.

“ As we celebrate this triumph, we also honor the memory of Late Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, who tragically left us while playing against Angola 35 years ago.

“ His passion for the game and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Samuel Okwaraji, your legacy lives on,” it said.

Messi Cinches  FIFA Best Men’s Player Of The Year

Mohammed Shosanya

Lionel Messi has been crowned The Best FIFA Men’s Player for 2023, beating both Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland to the prize.

He claimed the FIFA award for the third time, but the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner was a surprise victor ahead of Erling Haaland on an otherwise glorious night for Manchester City.

The award only covered the period after Messi had led Argentina to World Cup glory in December 2022 to August 2023.

The 36-year-old had a subdued end to his career at Paris Saint-Germain, despite winning the League 1 title, before joining MLS side Inter Miami in June.

Messi quickly made his mark in the United States as he helped the franchise, part-owned by David Beckham, to their first trophy by winning the Leagues Cup in August.

Haaland was favourite to win after scoring 52 times in his debut season with City as the English side won a treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.

However, after receiving the same number of points from a scoring system based off votes from national team captains, coaches, journalists and fans, Messi was crowned victor thanks to more first-choice nominations.

Messi’s former club teammate Kylian Mbappe was third.

Bonmati’s selection as the best women’s player was less controversial as she completed a clean sweep of personal awards after helping Spain to win the World Cup and Barcelona to Champions League glory in 2023.

The 25-year-old also won the Ballon d’Or, Golden Ball for player of the World Cup and UEFA’s player of the year in recent months.

“A couple of weeks ago when 2023 came to an end I was nostalgic because 2023 was an exceptional and unique year I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Bonmati.

“I’m proud of being part of a powerful generation of women who are changing the rules of the game and the world.”

Pep Guardiola was named best coach after masterminding City’s first ever Champions League success.

Haaland was joined by five of his club teammates — Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne — in the team of the year.

Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois, Jude Bellingham and Vinicius Junior, Messi and Mbappe made up the 11.

City’s Ederson won men’s goalkeeper of the year, while England and Manchester United stopper Mary Earps picked up the women’s award.

England national team boss Sarina Wiegman won the women’s coach of the year after leading the Lionesses to the FIFA World Cup final.

The Brazilian men’s team won the fair play award after they dawned an all black shirt for the first time in a show of support for forward Vinicius, who suffered several incidents of racist abuse while playing for Real Madrid last year.

There was also Brazilian success in the Puskas award for the best goal, scored by Botafogo’s Guilherme Madruga for his spectacular overhead kick.

Police Set For 14th Biennial Games In Ibadan

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigeria Police Force has commenced intensive plans towards its 14th Biennial Games, scheduled to hold from 25th February to 2nd March 2024, in the beautiful city of Ibadan, Oyo State.

The Force Sports Officer, CP Patrick Atayero, and heads of various committees are expected to converge in Ibadan from Friday 12th January to Sunday 14th January 2024 for meetings and assessments of facilities, in conjunction with the Oyo State Government’s team to perfect the arrangement for a successful sports festival in Oyo State,a statement said.

The last edition, 13th Biennial Police Games, was held in uyo, Akwa Ibom State from 23rd to 30th of November, 2022.

Egbin Power Boost Sport Development With Community Football Tourney

Mohammed Shosanya

Egbin Power Plc has emphasized that creating platform that allows young people to showcase their talents while also deepening unity among community members contributes to youth and community development.

This was highlighted at the 2nd edition of Egbin Power Plc Community Football tournament hosted as part of the company’s efforts to promote sport development in its host communities – Egbin, Ijede and Ipakan,a statement said.

At the finals of the 2023 edition held at Ipakan Community Stadium, Ikorodu, the company’s Head of Corporate Communication & Branding, Felix Ofulue explained that the football competition was created to positively engage the youth, boost sport development and further engender the spirit of camaraderie among people in the host communities.

“At Egbin Power Plc, we are committed to championing youth and community development in our host communities. What we have seen at this year’s edition of the competition was very impressive, with the huge turn-out of spectators, quality of talents featured and cooperation among the young people that formed the various teams.

“No doubt, the competition provided opportunities for them to bond and also showcase their skills. And we are excited that the tournament recorded high success. We congratulate the winners, and all the teams that participated thereby showing sportsmanship and making the competition very colourful. We believe that youths in these communities possess the abilities to realise their potentials. At Egbin Power Plc we are excited to provide this platform for them to thrive,” Ofulue noted.

Nigeria’s ex-international goalkeeper, Peter Rufai, who was the special guest at the finals commended Egbin Power Plc for instituting the competition as a way to develop sport in the communities.

He said:“Indeed, this programme by Ebin Power Plc is laudable. I am deeply honoured to be part of this initiative that is aimed at promoting youth and sport development in Nigeria. I commend the company and urge them to keep it up, as it offers bright hope for talents that we have seen in the competition.”

At the finals, Alagura Football Club (FC) emerged winner of the 2023 edition by defeating Igbopa FC 2 – 0, while Sterling Boys Ipakan came 3rd after a thrilling encounter with Oke-Eletu FC that ended 6 – 2. The Champions went home with a cash prize of N1,000,000 while the 2nd and 3rd position received N700,000 and N500,000 respectively.

The Baale of Ipakan, Chief Mustapha Lasisi, applauded the GenCo for contributing to youth and sport development in the host communities. He said: “Through this second edition, the company has demonstrated its interest in promoting unity, growth and development of our communities. We are grateful for the success of this tournament and we urge the company to keep investing and promoting youth and sport development.”

The finals was graced by royal fathers from the host communities, while thousands of spectators came to cheer the teams.

A total of 16 football clubs drawn from different towns in the host communities featured in the 2023 edition. Other football teams that took part in the competition were: Egbin Diamond FC, Oko-Ope FC, Alannu-Omo FC, Egbin Classical FC, New Generation FC, Igbe-Ogunro FC, Ebute Olowo, Egbin Diamond FC, Abule-Eko FC, Ajeri Boys, Dragon Ipakan and Ajede FC

Amunike May Replace Peseiro As Super Eagles Coach

Emmanuel Amunike is tipped as the man to replace Jose Peseiro as head coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria if the Portuguese fail to meet set targets at the AFCON.

Coach Emmanuel Amunike is the choice of the Nigeria Football Federation technical committee for the Super Eagles job if Peseiro fails to guide Nigeria to the Nations cup final in Ivory Coast,according to OWNGOAL

Peseiro’s current agreement with the NFF runs until the end of the AFCON and so a replacement has already been sought for the embattled Portuguese gaffer who has not enjoyed a smooth ride on the Eagles job.

The plans to hire the former Nigeria national team winger is said to have been sold to Sports Minister, Senator John Owan Enoh at a recent meeting with respected ex-internationals.

The idea of having an indigenous Super Eagles coach appeals to the Sports Minister, with Amunike’s choice enjoying the backing of top NFF big-wigs except its President, Ibrahim Gusau who is still keen on a foreign manager for the national team.

Gunmen Attack Sunshine Stars Players

Mohammed Shosanya

Sunshine Stars FC bus has been attacked by armed men along Ore/Benin Expressway on Thursday.

It was gathered that the club’s bus on which they were travelling was attacked and the Ball Boy on board was hit by the bullet.

It was also disclosed that the Team Manager and some members of club’s management team sustained varying degrees of injury.

They were later rushed to the nearest hospital for emergency medical attention.

Media Officer, Sunshine Stars FC, Michael Akintunde said some players of the club sustained injuries.

He disclosed in a statement that men of the Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC) assured them in rescuing the injured ones.

The statement said: “It’s saddens our hearts to inform Nigerians , especially football lovers that out team was attacked few minutes ago along Ore-Benin Expressway to honor an Elite League tie , against Insurance of Benin , scheduled for this weekend.

“Our ball boy was shot in the horrible attack, Our team manager and other club officials including players are seriously injured .

“It took the intervention of officers of the Federal Road Safety corp that helped rescue the injured officials and the shot individual to a nearby hospital. We hope you join us in prayers.”

NFF Suspends 14 Referees Over Poor Officiating

Mohammed Shosanya

The Referring Development Unit of the Nigeria Football Federation ( NFF),has suspended 14 Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) Referees following a series of poor officiating in the ongoing 2023/ 2024 NPFL season.

According to the Refereeing Development Unit, the suspension was imperative due to poor performances of Referees/ Assistant Referees since Week 2 of the 2023/ 2024 NPFL season.

“We are obliged to step down the specifically affected match officials in the line of such instant cases when the appropriate technical evolution of such a decision is determined to be either right or wrong”.

The unit suspended one referee Bawa Buhari in the Round Two of the NPFL match between Niger Tornadoes and Rivers United while Referee Chukwuka Jahlove and Assistant Referee, Akinwale Tomiwa for a poor outing in a week four game between Niger Tornadoes and Bayelsa.

Besides,Assistant Referee Zachariah Nde and Referee; Saeed Abdulaziz and Assistant Referee; Jimmy Aimugbonrie for match day 5 games; Sporting Lagos vs Niger Tornadoes and Gombe United vs Plateau United respectively.

Also, from the match day 6 matches between Kwara United and Sporting Lagos, Referee Brown Ebenezer and Assistant Atuwbo Morrisson while all four officials in the game between Sunshine Stars and Abia Warriors were suspended.

However, just two officials from the Week 7 round of games; Referee Imamu Maliki and Assistant Referee Sunday Azi were suspended by the committee.

No Plan To Hurt Osimhen-Napoli Coach

Napoli manager, Rudi Garcia,says the club didn’t intend to hurt a Nigeria international,
Victor Osimhen with the controversial TikTok video.

The club shared a video on their TikTok account which appeared to be mocking Osimhen after he missed a penalty in the club’s goalless draw against Bologna last weekend.

He threatened to take legal action against the club and has also taken down all images of him in the Partenopei jersey on his Instagram account.

He had earlier been involved in a bust-up with Garcia after he was substituted against Bologna.

Speaking on the issues surrounding the club after the game, Garcia admitted that the club had been faced with a bit of trouble since the weekend game against Bologna.

He added:“Over the last two days there was a bit of trouble with some clumsy behaviour.Nobody wanted to be hurtful, not the TikTok with the video of Victor, nor Victor by taking his photographs down on social media.

“Nobody intended to hurt anyone, these are instinctive reactions and are understandable,” Garcia was quoted by Football Italia after the game.