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Former Super Eagles chief coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, has paid a glowing tribute to the late wife of one of Nigeria’s biggest legendary players, Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun, as the family marks the 19th year memorial of her demise.

 

Onigbinde, stated that, Alhaja Mulikat Balogun, was a great motivator to her late husband when he was an active Nigeria’s international footballer. “Thunder Balogun was a great asset to Nigeria because of the active contributions of his wife. She rendered quality assistance to various youth clubs in Lagos state that aided the development of the game that brought fame to her husband.”

 

The former General Manager of the IICC Shooting Stars Football Club of Ibadan noted that, Mulikat ‘Thunder’ Balogun left behind a memorable high profile of her immense contributions to the development of Nigerian football. “In 1958, she was the one who persuaded her husband to dump his British club, Queens Park Rangers to return to Nigeria so as to assist the West Rovers in their quest to win the Nigeria Challenge Cup title, which ‘Thunder’ eventually helped achieved. This followed a passionate plea to her by the then Premier of Western Nigeria, Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.”

 

The President General of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, in his tribute to the late Mulikat ‘Thunder’ Balogun, said she was a great lover who played a noble role on her husband’s glorious soccer career.

A team of inspectors from the Nigeria Football Federation has declared the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo ready for next month’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying cracker between Nigeria and South Africa.

 

Led by the Chairman of NFF Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green, the team expressed delight with the state of the pitch during a final inspection carried out on Monday.

 

“We want to express our appreciation to the Akwa Ibom State Government and the people of the State for their co-operation in observing no activity on the pitch of the stadium. That has helped to retain the lush nature of the turf.

 

“The NFF is of the belief that this abstinence will be observed until after the match,” said Green, who led a first inspection to the venue last month.

 

Also in the NFF delegation were NFF Executive Committee member, Ibrahim Musa Gusau and Deputy General Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme.

 

Green and his team were conducted round the arena by the Permanent Secretary, Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. Aniedi Dickson, the Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Football Association, Mr. Emmanuel Iba and the Chairman of Akwa United Football Club/SSA to Governor on Sports, Mr. Paul Bassey.

 

PHOTO: (L-R): Mr. Dickson (Permanent Secretary, Akwa Ibom Ministry of Youth and Sports); Paul Bassey (Chairman, Akwa United/SSA to Governor on Sports); Dr. Ikpeme (NFF Deputy General Secretary); Barr. Green (leader of delegation); Mr. Iba (Chairman, Akwa Ibom FA) and; Alh. Gusau (Member, NFF Executive Committee).

Nigeria star Francisca Ordega in her third season in USA’s NWSL

Played in front of a historic capacity crowd at last year's African continental final

Ordega says African women’s football will "grow rapidly in the next few years"

On 3 December last year, something extraordinary happened. Fans started arriving at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde a few hours before dawn for a match with a mid-afternoon start. The stadium was effectively at its 40,000 capacity a full five hours before kick-off. The match in question was the final of the CAF Africa Women Cup of Nations. It is a moment that will surely go down as a milestone event for African women’s football.

 

Local hopes of a maiden title were, however, dashed as favourites Nigeria earned a 1-0 triumph. A few months on and Nigeria forward Francesca Ordega still gets shivers of excitement when the topic turns to that continental decider.

 

“This crowd was something else,” an animated Ordega told FIFA.com. “Even for men, you don’t often see that kind of support. The place was crazy that day, people couldn’t even get into the stadium. This was really something else, truly amazing.

 

“I was very happy that we won in front of all the Lionesses fans. It is a different feeling altogether. Playing against Cameroon was really tough. They are a great team, and everyone in Cameroon was supporting them. But we had a lot of professionals in our team, and we were able to count on that experience. Also having a female coach (Florence Omagbemi) and female technical crew ... the feeling was somehow different.”

 

Not that Ordega is inexperienced in the ways of world football. At just 23, Ordega has already featured in four FIFA competitions, and played in five countries – Russia, Sweden, USA, Australia and Nigeria. Also, she has just started a third season at Washington Spirit, a largely unheralded side who took the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) by storm last term before fading to finish second.

 

Africa’s bright new dawn 

That win in Yaounde was a tenth continental victory for Nigeria, with the Super Falcons record spoilt only by two wins for Equatorial Guinea. While Nigeria have long had it their own way, the spread of talent at the recent continental championship is evidence of a rapidly-changing environment on the Mother Continent.

 

Ordega says she has seen significant change during her relatively short career. “The first time I played against Cameroon, it was like playing against babies, we were just toying with them and taking them for granted,” she said.

Warriors' Kerr still out indefinitely -- Golden State has enjoyed its 11-day layoff, kicking back and preparing for the Western Conference semifinals while it waited for the winner of the Utah Jazz-LA Clippers series. As Game 1 of Jazz-Warriors looms tonight (10:30 ET, TNT), Golden State may be rested but it will still be without coach Steve Kerr. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com has more on how Kerr's health is faring of late:

 

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will continue to have medical tests and procedures this week at Stanford. He remains out indefinitely.

 

Kerr has been sidelined by symptoms, including migraines and nausea, related to complications from the back surgery he had almost two years ago.

 

Assistant coach Mike Brown will continue to act as head coach of the Warriors for Game 1 against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, as he did for Games 3 and 4 of the Warriors' first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

 

"I think the way we look at it is plan on him [Kerr] not coming back," Warriors forward Draymond Green told reporters. "That's the way we're approaching this thing ... Mike Brown is our coach, we have the rest of our staff, and that's who we're rolling with."

 

"We're gonna hope and pray that Steve gets better and can get back," Green said. "But at the end of the day, his health is more important than anything ... We know how bad he wanted to be here and how bad we would love for him to be here. But at the end of the day, he needs to take care of what he has to take care of.

 

"And whether that's this year or next year, then you know, we're ready. But we're gonna approach this entire thing as 'Steve isn't coming back.' And that's our approach for this entire playoffs until we hear otherwise."

 

The Starters discuss the looming series between the Warriors and Jazz.

 

After making it more than clear he plans to play in Game 2, Markieff Morris says he'll be a game-time decision tonight. 

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Pamodzi Sports Marketing,organisers of the Okpekpe international 10km road race has thanked sponsors and donors who provided the over N150m financial and other logistic support towards the success of the fifth edition of the race held penultimate Saturday in Okpekpe,Edo state.

 

”The Okpekpe road race since inception in 2013 is a private sector driven event and this is why we are grateful to corporate Nigeria who have stood by us in terms of their financial support to see that the race did not only grow but also become certified by the world governing body for the sport,the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which accorded it a bronze label status in 2015,’said Mike Itemuagbor,promoter of the race and CEO of Pamodzi Sports Marketing.

 

‘We are grateful for the support Ecobank Nigeria, a subsidiary of the Ecobank Group has given us since we became a bronze label race in 2015.In fact this year the bank increased its financial support as official bank of the race,’revealed Itemuagbor who also thanked such banks as Access Bank and Keystone bank for their donation as well as a consortium of insurance companies who provided cover for the race.

 

‘Cornerstone Insurance,Sovereign Trust and Leadway insurance also contributed to the success story the Okpekpe race has become today,’he further said.

 

Itemuagbor is especially grateful to His Excellency,the executive governor of Edo state,Godwin Obaseki whose interest in the race attracted some of the donors who made some substantial donations to the race.

 

‘I want to thank the governor,the government and the good people of Edo state for their support.Edo state government provided the fantastic infrastructure that made the race possible in the first place.Without the road constructed from Auchi to Okpekpe I don’t think the idea to have a 10 kilometre race there would have even crossed our minds.’I also thank the governor and government of Edo state for also providing the enabling environment as well as helping with the payment of the prize money to make the race a success.I want to call on more corporate Nigerians and government to come on board and partner with us as we prepare to announce another race in another sate in due course,’Itemuagbor added.

 

‘The Okpekpe race has aided sports development in the state and any rational mind would undoubtedly agree that sports development in Edo and Nigeria is something that we should pursue vigorously. To do so, it requires investment, it requires government commitment and that’s what Edo government led by Godwin Obaseki provided’.

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Perfect timing as FIFA finally lands Qatar Airways as World Cup sponsor by Keir Radnedge, AIPS Football Commission Chairman

 

ZURICH, May 7, 2017 - After months, if not years, of speculation FIFA has finally signed up Qatar Airways as one of its main World Cup sponsors.

 

Confirmation of the completion of negotiations appeared perfectly timed ahead of a busy week for the world football federation which stages its annual congress in Manama, Bahrain, on Thursday.

 

The deal also provides president Gianni Infantino with an opportunity to defray concerns about last year’s losses by pointing out that, after a virtual freeze on sponsorship deals after the scandal-packed last two years, FIFA is back in commercial business.

 

Qatar Airways has become, fromally, ‘official partner and official airline of FIFA’ in a sponsorship package lasting until 2022 when the Gulf state hosts the World Cup finals. The airline slot has been open – obviously beckoning Qatar – ever since the expiry of FIFA’s deal with Emirates after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

 

Other events being sponsored by Qatar Airways will include the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July, next year’s World Cup there and in Qatar, the Club World Cup and the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

 

A FIFA statement said the “partnership represents one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways.”

 

Other Qatar Airways’ sponsorships include Barcelona and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli FC, as well as with Formula E races in Paris and New York, and the UCI Road World Championships, most recently held in Doha.

 

FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura said: “Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region.”

FIFA Executive Member Moya Dodd attends a FIFA Executive Committee Meeting Press Conference at the FIFA headquarters on December 3, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images) by Keir Radnedge, AIPS Football Commission Chairman

 

MANAMA, May 7, 2017 - This is the annual FIFA Jamboree week. Stage is Manama, Bahrain. It’s the one week of the year when football’s politicians all come together to strut their stuff under a media microscope of mistrust.

 

Climax comes later in the week with the world football federation’s annual congress. Rotation means this is the turn of the Asian confederation to play host – and it is the embattled AFC which kicks off the round of confederation talk-ins leading up to the Thursday’s stage-managed special.

 

Inbetween African confederation CAF, Oceania, Europe’s UEFA, South America’s CONMEBOL and central/north America’s CONCACAF stage a mixture of executive meetings and conferences to decide how to vote. FIFA’s unwieldy council meets on Tuesday, still short of its full complement a year after being expanded.

 

Without a doubt the most important meeting is the first, on Monday, with the Asian confederation elections for four places on FIFA Council.

 

The elections take place enshrouded by allegations in a United States court from Richard Lai, suspended president of the Guam FA, which have pushed the AFC down into the relegation zone of football credibility.

 

Lai, an AFC plant on the supposedly whiter-than-white FIFA audit and compliance panel, is seeking a plea-bargain deal in the FIFAGate saga; he has admitted taking bribes from senior AFC figures clearly identified as Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam.

 

Both men have always denied wrongdoing. Even so, a FIFA ethics life ban ‘took out’ Bin Hammam five years ago while Sheikh Ahmad hastily quit formal football involvement 10 days ago.

 

That left his close associate, FIFA’s Bahraini host AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, looking fragile, to say the least.

 

Sheikh Ahmad’s vanishing act has also meant that only one ballot matters in Monday’s AFC election congress, the one for the Asian confederation’s female seat on FIFADod Council.

 

China’s Zhang Jian, South Korea’s Chung Mong-Gyu and Philippines’ Mariano Araneta can fill the available three ‘open’ slots nem con.

 

But four candidates contest the one women’s slot: Australia’s Moya Dodd (a former co-opted member of the FIFA exco), Bangladeshi Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, North Korea’s Han Un Gyong and Palestine’s Susan Shalabi Molano.

 

Dodd should be the favourite. Her energetic promotion of the cause of women in football (not merely women’s football) has been one of the few positive contributions anyone in Asian football has brought to the worldwide game.

 

Whether the AFC sees its priority as looking in, or out, is another matter.

The agenda for the FIFA Council meeting on 9 May 2017 in Bahrain is now available on FIFA.com. The full agenda can be found there.

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