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The Super Eagles will on Thursday, 1st June 2017 take the pitch against the Hawks of Togo in an international friendly in Paris.

 

Coach Gernot Rohr is using Thursday’s game, just like last Friday’s session against Corsica Island in Ajaccio, as preparation for next weekend’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa in Uyo.

 

The match against the Hawks will be played at the Stade Municipal de Saint Leu La Foret, Paris starting from 7pm (6pm Nigeria time).

 

Forward Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored from the spot to level scores (1-1) against Corsica on Friday, is one of 20 players in the Eagles’ Hyatt Regency Hotel camp in Paris, and who have been training in the French capital ahead of Thursday’s game.

 

Goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Dele Alampasu, defenders Elderson Echiejile, William Ekong, Chidozie Awaziem, Tyronne Ebuehi and Abdullahi Shehu, midfielders Wilfred Ndidi, Mikel Agu, Oghenekaro Etebo, Alhassan Ibrahim and Uche Agbo, and strikers Ahmed Musa, Stephen Odey, Victor Osimhen, Henry Onyekuru, Alex Iwobi, Olanrewaju Kayode and Sikiru Olatubosun are the others.

 

Thursday’s match will be the 17th clash between both West African countries at senior level, with Nigeria having won nine of the previous 16 clashes. Togo won in three, while four matches were drawn.

 

The first match between both countries at senior level took place on 6th October 1956. Albert Onyeanwuna (of blessed memory) scored the game’s only goal, with Nigeria’s roster also including the likes of Dan Anyiam, Sam Ibiam, Asuquo Ekpe and Cyril Asoluka. Paul ‘Wonder Boy’ Hamilton (also of blessed memory) scored the one goal in each of two friendlies in Lagos in 1966.

 

Nigeria’s biggest win over Togo remains the 3-0 scoreline in a 1992 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match in Lagos in August 1990, but Nigerians will never forget the 5-2 hiding by the Hawks in a WAFU Cup match in Abidjan in December 1983.

 

NIGERIA & TOGO AT SENIOR LEVEL 

6 Oct 1956: Nigeria 1 Togo 0 – Lagos (Friendly)

29 Dec 1964: Nigeria 1 Togo 2 – Lagos (All-Africa Games Qualifier)

6 Mar 1966: Nigeria 1 Togo 0 – Lagos (Friendly)

9 Apr 1966: Nigeria 1 Togo 0 – Lagos (Friendly)

2 Apr 1967: Togo 1 Nigeria 0 – Lome (Afcon Qualifier)

15 Apr 1967: Nigeria 4 Togo 2 – Lagos (Afcon Qualifier)

23 Apr 1975: Togo 0 Nigeria 1 – Dakar (Friendly)

13 June 1980: Togo 0 Nigeria 1 – Lome (Friendly)

9 July 1983: Nigeria 2 Togo 1 – Ibadan (Olympics Qualifier)

27 July 1983: Togo 1 Nigeria 1 – Lome (Olympics Qualifier)

16 Dec 1983: Togo 5 Nigeria 2 – Abidjan (WAFU Cup)

29 July 1986: Togo 2 Nigeria 2 – Lome (Friendly)

18 Mar 1987: Nigeria 2 Togo 0 – Lagos (Afcon Qualifier)

2 Apr 1987: Togo 1 Nigeria 1 – Lome (Afcon Qualifier)

18 Aug 1990: Nigeria 3 Togo 0 – Lagos (Afcon Qualifier)

27 Jan 1991: Togo 0 Nigeria 0 – Lome (Afcon Qualifier)

 

Viewers tuning into watch Zambia so far at the FIFA U-20 World Cup may have noticed a subtle but consistent feature of their games – outside of the raw attacking pace and power they have often displayed.

 

While drums have been adding to the atmosphere across the stadia so far at Korea Republic 2017, when Zambia is in town, there is one notable addition to that percussion section. With his chants of “Let’s go Zambia, let’s go” repeated a thousandfold across the course of a game, Peter Makembo – drum strapped to his chest – cannot be faulted for the lengths he goes to to pull the current of the crowd behind his team.

 

As the President of the Zambia Sports Fans Association, it is perhaps not a surprise to find him leading the charge. “Whatever is going on on the field,” he told FIFA.com following their thrilling 4-2 comeback against Iran, “they can look up into the stands and see the big man, drumming up the crowd, only wanting victory.”

 

Providing “a 4-2-4 system of drums and support” and decked out in the colours of his country, Makembo is clearly committed to his role as chief cheerleader, and knows the power it can have. “In football, the 12th man plays a very big role,” he explained from the stands of the Jeju World Cup Stadium.

 

“When the 12th man goes to sleep, it becomes a problem. We don’t make room for that at all. We make sure that we give them the extra power, the extra munition, that comes with extra support.

 

“Most fans, when their team is down, follow them. All fans ever want is to see their team go on to victory, so when things are going badly on the pitch, you have to be seen adding extra force and rhythm to the team.”

 

But maintaining the vocal stamina to keep that four-second chant alive throughout the game is a mean feat, but when Makembo adds that he is a church pastor, the natural command of voice and crowd all makes sense. As too his religious commitment to following his team around the globe.

 

“Wherever my national team is, they provoke my presence,” he passionately insisted, with plans already in place to travel to Algeria for their FIFA World Cup™ qualifier. “To me, football is my food. I sleep in it, I wake up in it, that’s my nature. When there is nothing like that, I feel like I’m missing something.”

 

Makembo hopes to see his ranks bolstered by even more fans when Zambia take on Germany in Jeju, hoping to provide the extra push, as the Junior Chipolopolo look to achieve their best-ever U-20 World Cup finish – having been roared on by packed-out crowds in becoming African champions on home soil in March.

 

But the clergyman’s message to the players for their next challenge is simple. “Play to the last whistle. When god says it’s over, it’s over.”

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.

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.

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