Oliseh calls Enyeama, 17 others for Eagles, Tanzania

IMG-20150625-WA006Super Eagles’ Head Coach Sunday Oliseh has invited 18 overseas-based professionals for next month’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam.

Eagles’ first –choice goalkeeper and skipper Vincent Enyeama headlines the list that also has defenders Godfrey Oboabona, Leon Balogun and Kenneth Omeruo, midfielders Rabiu Ibrahim, Lukman Haruna and Joel Obi, and forwards Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike and Anthony Ujah.

There are a number of surprises, in line with Oliseh’s earlier pledge to make current form and first –level football key indices for selection to the Super Eagles.

There are goalkeeper Carl Ikeme, midfielder Izunna Ernest Uzochukwu and forwards Emem Eduok, Sylvester Igboun and Moses Simon.

All the 18 players, who will join up with the 23 home boys who arrived camp in Abuja on Monday, are expected in Abuja on Monday, 31st August, 2015 at the latest.

The Super Eagles take on Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, September 5.


Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille OSC, France); Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England)

Defenders: Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); Kingsley Madu (AS Trencin, Slovakia); Godfrey Oboabona (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Troost Ekong (FK Haugesund, Norway); Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa SK, Turkey)

Midfielders: Joel Obi (Torina FC, Italy); Izunna Ernest Uzochukwu (FC Amkar Perm, Russia); Obiora Nwankwo (Coimbra FC, Portugal); Lukman Haruna (Anzhi Machatsjkala, Russia); Rabiu Ibrahim (AS Trencin, Slovakia)

 Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emem Eduok (Esperance ST, Tunisia); Emmanuel Emenike (Al Ain, UAE); Anthony Ujah (Werder Bremen, Germany); Sylvester Igboun (FC UFA, Russia); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium)



Pointmancarl's Blog


Relegation strugglers, Dolphins have added thirteen players to their ranks in the mid-season transfer window that.

Of the new players coming in, two were from Premier League clubs, while the rest were signed up from amateur sides and football academies. One of them, Amakiri George was unattached.

George had played for Ocean Boys and was last on the books of Sharks in 2012.

Perhaps the biggest name added to the side is Oduokpe Oghogho of Bayelsa United.

Oghogho played for Sunshine in the 2013/14 season, scoring against Dolphins in Port Harcourt.

Other players signed are Ebitimi Agogo from Bayelsa United and Amakiri George, who last played competitive football with Sharks three seasons ago.

Coach of the side, Stanley Eguma says the club have done their best to strengthen the club as the fight to move out from the relegation area intensifies.

“It’s not a one man show. It’s a club…

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Other countries wanted Oliseh – Pinnick

oliseh and crewThe Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, has insisted that new Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, remains the best option for the team. He stated that Nigeria got the former Eagles captain even as other African countries lined up to recruit him.

Pinnick reiterated the position of the NFF on Tuesday via Twitter and the federation’s website as he defended some decisions of the FA that had taken public scrutiny.

He said, “We have no regrets appointing Sunday Oliseh. Other African countries were gunning for him, but he opted for his country. Oliseh’s stock in international football is high because apart from his work with FIFA, he has a company that trains and grades coaches all over the world.

“What the NFF, Oliseh, the League Management Company and other aspects of Nigerian football need is support from everyone, and patience, so that we can put in place our developmental programmes that will take the country’s game to a new height.”

Former Eagles coach Stephen Keshi had said many times that he was wanted by many African countries.

In response to the regular criticisms of Oliseh due to his lack of experience, Pinnick responded that his national team playing career, which saw him winning the Africa Cup of Nations’ gold, silver and bronze, Olympic gold and working with the FIFA Technical Study Group, would take care of that area.

“Experience is accumulation of knowledge over time to be used in a given situation. Technology provides immediate solution.

“Oliseh won’t be only a coach; he will be manager of the Super Eagles.”

The NFF president added that Nigeria had the quality, population, and the wherewithal to be a strong voice internationally.

Pinnick then urged critics of Nigerian football to be constructive and not destructive, and to cultivate the habit of proffering alternative solutions whenever they feel that the federation’s decisions were not good enough.

“Instead of simply castigating those at the helm of affairs, we should have tendency to offer what we believe are better solutions for specific issues. It is not about one person; it is about our dear country, Nigeria.

“When I and other persons at the helm of Nigerian football travel out of the country, we go out there to project the Nigerian game, to seek for partners for Nigerian football so that we can actualise our developmental plans.”

The NFF boss expressed delight at the impact of the federation’s capacity-building programmes, which has seen referees and coaches going to the United Kingdom for training.

“We can all see the impact of the new orientation in our referees who handle league matches, and everyone is now talking about the league again. We will soon begin to see the impact of the coaches’ training in match analysis, and we also have plans to send some administrators for similar programmes.”

Siasia Invites 31 Players for AAG Camp

U-23-Boys1National Under 23 team coach, Samson Siasia has released a list of 31 players to resume camp in Abuja in preparation for the forthcoming 11th edition of All African games scheduled to take place between 3-18 September in Congo Brazzaville.

The list which is mostly denominated by players who qualified the Dream Team for the Games has some new faces like Lucky Jimoh, Bright Onyedikachi, Olisah Ndah amongst others.
Players invited are expected to report to the Parkview Hotel, located at Zone 1, Wuse, Abuja on Wednesday 12th August, 2015 with their international passport
Players Invited
Daniel Emmanuel (Enugu Rangers FC); Bala Yusuf Mohammed (Kano Pillars); Erhun Obanor (Abia Warriors); Segun Oduduwa (Nath Boys); Amuzie Stanley (Sampdoria FC, Italy); Azubuike Okechukwu (Bayelsa United); Saviour Godwin (Plateau United); Etebo Oghenekaro (Warri Wolves); Junior Ajayi (3SC); Peter Onyekachi (Enyimba FC); Usman Mohammed (FC Taraba); Atanda Sodiq (Appolonia FC, Albania); Kingsley Sokari (Enyimba FC); Taiwo Awoniyi (Imperial Academy); Chima Akas (Sharks FC); Aminu Umar (Osmanispor FC, Turkey); Daniel Etor (Enyimba FC); Augustine Oladapo (FC IfeanyiUbah); Semiu Liadi (Warri Wolves); Tiongoli Tonbara (Bayelsa United); Ikechukwu Okorie; Etebong Akpan (Club Africain); Sincere Seth (Supreme Court); Abdullahi Shehu (Quadsia FC, Kuwait); Ndifreke Effiong (Abia Warriors); Abiodun Akande (3SC); Dele Alampasu; Lucky Jimoh (36 Lions); Bright Onyedikachi (FC IfeanyiUbah); Olisa Ndah; Solomon Efosa

Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji Lives on Twenty-six years after

okpwarajiAugust 12, 1989 will forever be etched in the minds of football fans as one of the darkest moments in Nigerian football history. Without notice, death nigerian-football-player-dies-on-the-field_479554combed the sports scene and froze the hands of the golden boy of African football, Samuel Okwaraji.

Fans had thronged the National Stadium, Lagos, with the aim of watching the Green Eagles outshine a boastful Angolan side in a make or mar Italia ’90 World Cup qualifier. Little did they know that an Eagle was threading the valley of death. As if the centre referee knew that match was going to be his last, he gave the dreadlocked star his own parting gift by showing him a yellow card for a needless tackle and with about 10 minutes left to play, this midfield impressio, who held in reserve his gavel of justice for a pair of soccer boots, bade the world goodbye as he slumped and died.

Samuel Okwaraji was to Nigeria what Pele is to Brazil and Maradona is to Argentina. He was an epitome of flair, commitment and doggedness and till his last breath, he gave his all for fatherland. Not minding whether his memorial bust at the National Stadium is polished regularly or left to the dictates of varying weather conditions, we must continue to eulogize this patriotic Nigerian who spoke seven languages fluently.

He was one of the many discoveries of German tactician Manfred Hoener in an era that is still regarded as part of the glory days of Nigerian football. He went for the tackles, aerial balls and in fact did more than his fair share of safe guarding the perimeter of the 18-yard box to earn himself a place in Nigeria’s first Olympic team in 1988. This enigma, who shared common hairstyles with Holland star Ruud Gullit, eternally played himself with amazing skills, into the consciousness of every Nigerian from the day he began his astonishing debut for the Eagles on January 30, 1988 at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, Enugu.

Unlike footballers of today, he did not leave the football shores of Nigeria for the greener pastures of Europe to get a call-up to the national team. He was in Europe for something else entirely when his unrelenting passion to serve fatherland as a footballer got hold of him. He went to Europe to study Law and he earned a Masters degree.
It was at this juncture of indispensability at club side, Okwaraji’s heart became so sore and the only healing medicine was to play for the Green Eagles. Though overlooked by national team selectors on several occasions, it did not kill his unending love to play for Nigeria. He soon had his chance to play for fatherland but his club would not hear of it. His club manager asked the NFA to pay an estimated cost of $45, 000 for their star player’s match bonus and an expected loss in the club’s gate taking for the period in which he would be on national duty. Hearing about this agreement, this patriot hit back at his club saying: “I signed to play football for you on certain conditions, but I don’t think it includes reselling my services to my country. You cannot stop me playing for my country and let me tell you, I am going to represent my country in the World Cup in Italy whether you like it or not and I would very much like for you to be there.”

Unlike some players who today hold the nation to ransom on bloated winning bonuses and flight ticket refund, Okwaraji paid his way to play for Nigeria without asking for a dime. He would come to camp uninvited and beg the coach to throw the jerseys on the floor for players to fight for. It was this move that heralded the era of throwing the camp open. He was not afraid to put his career on the line for his country. He put his life on the line too.

Former national team coach Paul Hamilton told Goal: “Whether he was invited or not, he would travel down to battle for a place in the team even when he won’t be paid a dime. He is definitely a man to be remembered for all he has done for Nigerian football. A foundation should be set in his honour to cater for the family he left behind.”

At the Maroc ’88 Africa Cup of Nations, he shone like a million stars and in the process was named man of the match twice and his wonder strike against Cameroon was an icing on the cake as it stood till date as one of the fastest goals in the African football fiesta. Okwaraji was committed to the true service of his nation.

For the love of Nigeria, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji died at the National Stadium, Lagos from a congestive heart failure 26 years ago. He was aged 25.

Former team mate Etim Esin remembers the impact of his death on the national team’s hope of qualifying for its first World Cup. “A very great footballer! He was the first player to wear a dreadlock in the national team which was strange to Nigerian football at that time. His death cost us the Italia ’90 World Cup ticket because we were all scared to slump. I still recall that at the airport enroute Cameroon, Peter Rufai,[Richard] Owubokiri and some players dropped out,” Esin told Goal.

This love for country went beyond him on the pitch as he craved for a conducive environment created where up and coming footballers could express themselves and be recognized. And against the old order of picking players based on sentiments, he wanted a vibrant, agile and a resourceful national team in place at all times.

As we continue to talk and write about him, the questions begging for answer are: Has he been celebrated enough considering his selfless service to the country and circumstances leading to his death? Why is it a near impossible task for our football administrators to keep to their simple promise of resting his jersey number 6 among other pledges?

Well, like the Elton John hit Candle in the Wind, Samuel Okwaraji’s candle burned out long before his legend ever will.

Okwaraji, a great patriot and consummate professional- Pinnick

Late Sam Okwaraji
Late Sam Okwaraji

President of Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Pinnick has praised the patriotism and professionalism of Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, who died on August 12, 1989 while playing for the Senior National Team in a 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Angola at the National Stadium, Lagos.

On the eve of the 26th anniversary of the unfortunate incident that saw one of the brightest midfielders in Nigeria football history die of cardiac arrest, Pinnick put a call through to Lady Jane Okwaraji, Samuel’s mother who lives in Owerri.

“Mama, there is nothing I can say other than to tell you to continue to take solace in the fact that Sochukwuma was a star for Nigeria, a name that no one has been able to forget no matter how much they tried. He was the quintessential professional and patriot per excellence.

“Please be rest assured that Sochukwuma will continue to be in our hearts and consciousness. He was a rare gem. I assure you that the NFF will continue to keep in touch with you.”

Pinnick recalled that as a young boy, he was at the National Stadium to watch the big match only to go home with a heavy heart after news broke of Okwaraji’s tragic departure.

“It was a horrible day, for someone like me and several other Nigerians who were right inside the National Stadium, Lagos that day. By all accounts, Sam Okwaraji was a consummate professional and was a shining example of patriotic fervor.”

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi was also one of the scores of thousands of fans at the National Stadium, Lagos that fateful day.

Sanusi said: “That was a day better –forgotten. We lost one of the most dedicated and committed players to have featured for any of the National Teams.”

A doctorate degree student of law, Okwaraji slumped under his own weight 13 minutes to the end of the match and was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital.

Patrick Okwaraji, Samuel’s brother, said after the phone call by the NFF President. “We are grateful to the NFF President for his phone call. At least, Mama is feeling better now.”

On Wednesday, the portrait of the late midfielder would be displayed round the eight venues of the Federation Cup quarter –finals in remembrance of him: Enugu, Benin City, Neros Stadium, Oleh, Lokoja, Abuja, Ilorin and Makurdi.

Uchechi Sunday nets FIVE for Minsk on her UWCL debut

Uchechi-3-300x200It was indeed a blissful start to the 2015/2016 UEFA Women’s Champions League campaign for ZFK Minsk as they walloped Konak Belediyespor 10-1 in their qualifying round opener on Tuesday with Nigeria international Uchechi Sunday accounting for half of their goals.

The former Rivers Angels striker who already has 14 league goals for the Belarusian club since signing for them early this year, was unstoppable throughout the encounter as she found the back of the net in the 38th, 47th, 58th, 71st and 84th  minutes, and assisted three other goals.

Alongside Uchechi, also in the starting line-up for Minsk was Gift Otuwe (captain), Esther Sunday, Onome Ebi and Cathy Bou Ndjouh of Cameroon.

Sublime Esther Sunday had opened the scoring on 10 minutes before assisting one of Uchechi’s goals and the own goal Konak scored. She was then substituted on 62 minutes. At the time substitute Tawa Ishola was already in.

Ishola did not hesitate in making her own huge impact in the game, as she had her hand in two of Uchechi Sunday’s goals. In turn she got a goal to show for her efforts with an Uchechi assist.

Minsk currently top Group 1 on goal difference with 3 points and will next face
second-placed Sarajevo on Thursday.
Elsewhere, Gabrielle Ngaska played all 90 minutes for ZFK Spartak Subotica and got a yellow as they defeated Benfica 2-1.

Olimpia Cluj emerged 4-0 victors over Pärnu but there was no Christine Manie in the squad of the Romanian team.

Meanwhile Equatorial Guinea’s Laetitia, Rebecca Elloh, Rita Akaffou and Ange Nguessan all of Cote d’Ivoire played the entire duration of Gintra’s 1-0 loss to Wexford Youths.

Super Falcons Don’t Need Foreign Coach- Eucharia

Eucharia-UcheThe Super Falcons failed to qualify for the football event of the 2016 Olympics after their 2-1 away defeat to Equatorial Guinea in Bata, on Sunday in the qualifying fixtures.

The Falcons currently handled by Christopher Danjuma, on interim basis, had drawn the first leg 1-1 to put qualification on the edge.

Now, the Falcons only have the All African Games in Congo to compete in.

Former Super Falcons player and coach Eucharia Uche speaks on how to improve the lot of the team and in this exclusive interview with Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI insists the Falcons or any other Nigerian women national team do not need a foreign coach. Excerpts…

What lessons are there to be learned from the Falcons missing out of the 2016 Olympics?

We should know that gone are the days we believed other African countries cannot cause any upset.

We should learn to respect other African countries as well and not to take things for granted any more. Other African nations are working hard to be on top and to be at the World Cups and Olympics. We should not relax.

Getting to the top is easy but to remain there is another thing. It means we need to put some extra efforts to continue to be there

Would you say its time female coaches took over the national teams? Do you feel female coaches like you would have fared better in the 2015 World Cup in Canada and the Olympic Games qualifiers against Equatorial Guinea?

The issue of women taking over the national team is not mandatory. Though I believe that credible women coaches like my humble self, Ann Chiejine and Florence Omagbemi should not be left out of the technical crews of both the Super Falcons and other women’s national teams.

These coaches I mentioned, plus myself, are pioneer members of the Super Falcons from 1991 and have been consistent as players and coaches in women football till date.

We are mothers and coaches. With a woman in charge of the female teams, the players will unlock themselves from their shelves, express themselves better and flow in and out of the pItch.

We should be patient with our female coaches and give them the support needed. England women national team was led by a woman for 11 years. Women coaches have won the World Cup severally.

The short time I was with Falcons you will agree with me that before and after that period of time, the Super Falcons have not been able to repeat the form and standard of football they exhibited then. (Uche led the team to win the 2010 African Women Championship).

I brought myself to their level, I danced and played with them. Then, we cracked jokes together to help them bring out the best in them. Players like to work in an environment they will be relaxed in.

There are things they feel free to discuss with me that they cannot say to any other coach, especially if it’s a male one. I’m not saying its mandatory to have women lead the women teams, but at the same time, we should not be swept under the carpet

So even if it’ss a woman, you support the idea of the Nigeria Football Federation employing a foreign coach for the Super Falcons?

I am not the Nigeria Football Federation. They manage football in Nigeria. But if you ask for my opinion, I do not think that we need a foreign coach for our women’s national teams, be it a woman or a man. That’s not what we need. It is not right because there are quality female coaches in Nigeria to coach all the national teams.

Would you say the absence of players like Asisat Oshoala and Francesca Ordega contributed to the defeat against Equatorial Guinea in Sunday’s Olympic Games qualifier?

I don’t believe in indispensability of players. We have array of players who if properly handled and positioned, can win matches for us. The players you mentioned their names were not regular players in the national team before, so I don’t believe their absence rubbed us of a ticket for the Olympics.

If we talk of other obvious hitches one can understand, not because of the absence of players. We have many to select from, unlike our counterparts.

There are several Nigerian players in the Equatorial Guinea team. Chinasa Okoro who plays for Gintra Universitetas, for instance, is one big talent that really got away. What is responsibility for this development?

Till tomorrow, female players will continue to move to overseas for greener pasture just as their male counterparts because of better incentives, organised league, which in turn guarantees better their career. Chinasa Okoro is an example. She is now representing Equatorial Guinea. It is regrettable but that’s just how we see it.

I don’t blame them because our league is not just it at the moment. The funds are not there, motivation is gone and no healthy rivalries and competition.

How do you see the Super Falcons group for the All African Games, containing Congo, Tanzania and Cote d’ Ivoire?

I do not think the Falcons will find it difficult to qualify from the group, not at all, if they take their opponents seriously and have game plans. See, we cannot rely on the fact that it’s Nigeria against other countries. Like I said earlier, we have to take our games seriously.

Would a successful All African Games compensate for missing out of the Olympics?

I really do not think so but its a situation we cannot do anything about unless a miracle, happens somewhere. We should just learn our lessons and hope for better years ahead. We may even have upsets in the All African Games.

Falcons Coach Blames Referee For E/Guinea Defeat

Falcons.jpgSuper Falcons interim coach, Christopher Danjuma, has cited poor officiating as the reason for the team’s elimination in the qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The African champions lost 2-1 in extra-time to Equatorial Guinea on Sunday and crashed 3-2 on aggregate.

Reacting to the Falcons ouster, Danjuma told  88.9, Brila that everything was going to plan before the referee started making questionable calls.

“We had our game plan which the players were executing perfectly on the field of play which eventually saw us take the lead,” Danjuma, who replaced Edwin Okon after the Women’s World Cup, said.

“But in the second half, the referee became funny as she started making questionable calls which eventually led to the goals scored by the Equatorial Guineans.”

Meanwhile, the team will embark on a one-week break before commencing preparation for the All Africa Games.

We need to beat Tanzania- Oliseh

IMG-20150625-WA006Super Eagles’ Head Coach, Sunday Oliseh, believes Nigeria would be a step closer to the Gabon 2017 African Nations Cup if they beat Tanzania in Dares Salaam in the second round of qualifiers for the continental showpiece next month.

Nigeria defeated Chad in their opening game of the qualifiers, but the Super Eagles are tied on three points with Egypt. Oliseh is currently in the United Kingdom, where, according to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), he is meeting with some senior Nigerian internationals.

Speaking on the game in Dar es Salaam, Oliseh told thenff.com that “the match in Dar es Salaam is very, very crucial, not only because it will be my first match as Head Coach, but also because we have no choice than to win.

The three points are important for us to keep up the tempo in our group.   “We are on the same three points with Egypt, though they have scored a goal more. That is why we cannot afford any slip along the way.

We will deal first with the match in Tanzania, and then we will start thinking about the CHAN qualifiers with Burkina Faso in October, and then the World Cup qualifying fixture in November. “There is a lot of work. After these matches, we will now start working towards the two AFCON qualifying matches we have with the Pharaohs in March next year.”

According to the NFF, Oliseh and NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, will also be involved in a number of sessions with some corporate groups interested in partnering with Nigeria football.

“We will spread our dragnet far and wide, and any player who is in great form and we believe can add value to the Super Eagles will be invited to fight for shirt to represent Nigeria,” he added.

The Super Eagles play Tanzania at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam on September 5 before playing a yet to be disclosed team in an international friendly.