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Fri, Jul

 

 

He has had a brilliant beginning, a limiting heart, a career filled with golden goals and the heart to look back and give life all over again.

Former Nigerian international, Kanu Nwankwo has come full circle as a footballer and now he is drawing one more stroke with his latest project, Papilo FC.

“We have to go back to the grassroots, but for me people like us have to come out to make sure we support any league, not only pro league, division3, division 2, division 1 and that’s how we all started before we get into the Premiership, so we have to do our best and the Federation will do theirs.”

Kanu’s charity took shape after he survived a career threatening heart problem that shattered his world in 1996 but he was able to bounce back and since then, he hasn’t looked back with his heart foundation, providing help for indigent children with heart-related problems.

Since the launch, many fans of the former Arsenal, Inter Milan, and Ajax star have been wondering when and how he will contribute back to the game that brought him fame and fortune. The qualification of Papilo Fc to the Nigerian national league raised eyebrows, simply because there is only one name attributed to that Moniker Papilo.

“If it's not Papilo, you will not know the team, if its Papilo, then definitely you will know that Papilo is contributing”.

“It’s a difficult task, but we are still on, we did it in division 3, division 2, division 1 and here we are in the pro league, so I will still do what I am supposed to do, help the young ones build a platform for them but it’s a huge task, so we are trying to reach whoever we can reach to support what we are doing.”

Papilo FC debuted in the 2nd tier of the Nigerian Football league; Nigeria National League (NNL) with a big ambition and a splash on Matchday one in the presence of Kanu Nwankwo, picking a point away from home against AS Racine at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.

“This is 3 points we wanted to go home with but somewhere, somehow it happened and that’s football, but it’s a good game, at least everybody enjoyed it, the referee did their best, you can see in the stands, you see a lot of people who left whatever they were doing and they are here to support this. This what we have to do, we need more people to come out and watch games like this”

Coach of the team, Uzor Obinna is a big example of going to the grassroots to develop the raw talents inherent as he graduated from being a player of Papilo FC to the coach after his career ended.

Uzor guided Papilo FC  to the NNL from the third tier Amateur league, earning the promotion, year in year out with the support of Kanu Nwankwo’s beautiful heart, a gift to football.

 

The 18th edition of the FIFA U-17 world cup tagged India 2017 would kick off on Friday, October 6th, 2017 but without the defending champion and the most successful country at u-17 level, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria.


Started in 1985 and hosted by China, the maiden edition was won by the Golden Eaglets with promising talents like the great Nduka Ugbade and Jonathan Akpoborie who later progressed to the Super Eagles. that was the aim of the tournament, fishing-out talents for the main team of a country.


The Golden Eaglets has since participated in 11 U-17 World Cup, playing in 8 finals, winning 5 and losing 3 of the finals, becoming the first Nation to win the tournament a record 5 times churning out talented players in the likes of Fatai Atere, Mutiu Adepoju, Nwankwo Kanu, John Obi Mikel, Kelechi Iheanacho and many others who later progressed to the Super Eagles.


It is no more news that Nigeria will be absent at India 2017. But despite that, the NFF engaged the Golden Eaglets by sending them to South Korea in 2016 for the Four Nations U-19 Suwon Continental Cup where they played against Iran's U-19, England's U-20 and South Korea's U-19 teams. But afterwards, there have been no camping, even though the NFF assured that apart from the Suwon tournament, they (NFF) would keep the boys busy this year with series of invitational tournaments and friendly matches.


The Nation's U-13 / U-15 age grade competition, which used to be the pool from which our Golden Eaglet team is selected was put on hold between 2013 and 2016 for financial reasons and restarted in 2017. The U-13 / U-15 youth development football program was initiated by the NFF in 2009 with the aim of grooming young football talents of right ages and also reduce age-cheat in Nigeria football. Eze Chidera, Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi are some of the products of the National U-13 / U-15 program that have graduated to the Golden Eaglets team of Nigeria.


The German team that won the 2017 confederations cup in Russia is made up of young and energetic players that came through the ranks. What can we do to be at that level?


You will recall that the first sets of Nigeria's Golden Eaglet were from school teams. Do we go back to the good old days where the Nucleus of the Golden Eaglet is gotten from school teams?

Three goals in under half an hour, including a brace by Leicester of England’s Ahmed Musa steered the Super Eagles past the Hawks of Togo in an international friendly in Paris on Thursday.

 

Musa slotted past goalkeeper Fatao Alhassani as early as the third minute, after a marvelous job by English FA Cup champion Arsenal FC’s Alex Iwobi. Iwobi also provided the assist for the second goal by Musa 15 minutes later.

 

The Eagles dominated to near –embarrassing degree against the fellow West Africans, who featured at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon earlier in the year.

 

On a day that NFF President Amaju Pinnick, 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko and Aiteo Group chieftains Francis Peters and Andrew Onyearu had gingered the players and technical crew with assurances that money would no longer be a problem, following the 5-Year partnership agreement between the NFF and the foremost energy solutions company in April, the ever –businesslike Oghenekaro Etebo got the better of goalkeeper Alhassani in the 27th minute and laid for Kelechi Iheanacho to tap into the net for Nigeria’s third.

 

Victory means the three –time African champions remain unbeaten in all their eight matches over the past one year, winning six of those and scoring 15 goals while conceding only five.

 

The triumph also came on a day that Nigeria moved two steps up in the monthly FIFA ranking to 38th, and 4th in Africa. English Premiership club West Ham’s target Kelechi Iheanacho has now scored seven goals in 10 matches for the Super Eagles, including scoring in seven of the last eight matches.

 

SUPER EAGLES’ UNBEATEN STREAK

 

27 May 2016: Mali 0 Nigeria 1 – Rouen (Friendly) – Kelechi Iheanacho

31 May 2016: Luxembourg 1 Nigeria 3 – Luxembourg (Friendly) – Brown Ideye, Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho

3 Sep 2016: Nigeria 1 Tanzania 0 – Uyo (Afcon qualifier) – Kelechi Iheanacho

9 Oct 2016: Zambia 1 Nigeria 2 – Ndola (World Cup qualifier – Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho

12 Nov 2016: Nigeria 3 Algeria 1 – Uyo (World Cup qualifier) – Victor Moses (2), Mikel Obi

23 Mar 2017: Senegal 1 Nigeria 1 – London (Friendly) – Kelechi Iheanacho

26 May 2017: Corsica 1 Nigeria 1 – Ajaccio (Friendly) – Kelechi Iheanacho

1 June 2017: Nigeria 3 Togo 0 – Paris (Friendly) – Ahmed Musa (2), Kelechi Iheanacho 

Super Eagles and AS Monaco wing- back Elderson Echiejile has said the Super Eagles will not underrate the Corsica Senior National Team when both sides lock horns on Friday evening at the Stade Francois Coty, Ajaccio.

 

The Super Eagles play the tiny island of Corsica in a warm up game ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa's Bafana Bafana on the 10th of June, and despite Corsica's non- affiliation with either UEFA or FIFA, Echiejile says they expect some kind of challenge from the team.

 

"I know a bit about them, when I was here in France. Most of their players play in the Ligue One so I expect a tough challenge from them. We cannot afford to, and will not underrate them," Elderson told thenff.com 

 

A number of first –team players are not in Corsica either as a result of visa hitch or injury, but Nigeria’s camp in Ajaccio boast a number of young, ambitious fresh legs called up to jostle for positions in the team. The former Sporting Braga FC defender believes healthy competition for first team places in the team is a welcome development.

 

"The team is improving after every game but there are places in the team the coach thinks need more competition which to me is a welcome development. Every good team needs a good back up and I think that is what has informed the reason for the new faces in the team for these friendlies," he opined.

 

The Eagles tackle Corsica Senior Team on Friday at the Stade Francois Coty, Ajaccio starting from 8pm.  

Nigeria's National U-20 Women's team, The Super Falconets will alongside 18 other African countries contest for the 2 available slots to The Confederation of African Football at next year's FIFA U-20 women's world cup to be hosted by France.


The Nigerian team will not partake in the preliminary round but will join in the first round of the qualifying series where they will host Tanzania on the weekend of 15th - 17th of September 2017 and the return leg on the weekend of 29th of September - 1st of October 2017.


Nigeria has attended every edition of the FIFA U-20 world cup losing twice in the finals to Germany, in 2010 and 2014.


The qualification process begins with a preliminary round scheduled for the weekend of 21-23 July 2017.

The final two teams will be known by the weekend of 26-28 January 2018.

The last edition of the FIFA women's U-20 world cup was held in Papua New Guinea in 2016 where Nigeria lost out in the group stage.

Barely 20 years old, they are icons in their homeland already. Fans flock to each of their games in droves. All three of their group matches have been broadcast on a loop across the country, and absolutely everyone recognises them in the street. They are the players representing host nation Korea Republic at the FIFA U-20 World Cup – and, since the tournament began, their lives have been transformed.

 

Such a sudden burst of media exposure might cause many players to lose their heads. Add in the captain's armband and you could forgive anyone for struggling to stay modest. Lee Sangmin, however, is as humble as they come. "The idea that I'm already a star is far from my mind," the centre-back told FIFA.com, fresh from signing a few autographs for strangers thrilled to be sharing the Taeguk Warriors' hotel in Cheonan. "But, if one day I become a little more known outside Korea, in a sense that would mean I'd succeeded in my career, given how important football is throughout the world."

 

For the moment, two of his team-mates in particular have started building reputations abroad: Lee Seungwoo and Paik Seungho. Both have been learning their trade at Barcelona's prestigious La Masia academy, and – unsurprisingly – the pair face more media coverage than most. Their captain could not be happier for them. "How could I be envious?" he said. "I've been playing with Lee since I was 13 or 14. On the contrary, I'm grateful to them. Thanks to them, people are taking an interest in our whole team."

 

As for Lee Sangmin himself, he began catching the eye when he skippered Korea Republic at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015, a tournament he remembers fondly. "We were considered the weakest team in the group, but we managed to surprise everyone by reaching the Round of 16," he said. "That kind of experience teaches you so many lessons. If we've been able to remain calm, focused and confident at this World Cup, it's thanks in part to what we went through in Chile."

 

Reluctant hero

Despite that impressive start, Lee truly found fame during a warm-up match for the U-20 World Cup against Zambia in April. And for good reason - the Soongsil University student having saved the life of team-mate Jeong Taewook following a collision with Kenneth Kalunga.

 

Jeong had started to swallow his tongue, but Lee was able to clear his airway in time. "I was closest to the action, so it was me who intervened," he explained. "There's no reason to talk about glory. Lots of people think it was a heroic act, but I'm certain that anyone else would have done the same. What's important is that Jeong is here with us at this World Cup."  

 

Jeong and Co have been excellent so far as well, having finished runners-up in a tough group featuring Argentina, Guinea and England. "We've done a pretty good job since the start of the tournament," said Lee. "But I think we've only shown 50 per cent of our potential, and our best is yet to come."

 

He is eager to raise his own standards too, though few would agree with his harsh analysis of his own contribution. "Speaking personally, I'm not at all satisfied with my performances. I want to show what I'm capable of, and hopefully I'll get the chance to do that against Portugal tomorrow." 

 

While undoubtedly severe, that hyper-critical take is in keeping with the youngster's humble personality. A fan of Germany defender Mats Hummels, the Taeguk Warriors' captain is loath to blow his own trumpet. But, whether he likes it or not, with Lee Sangmin in their ranks, Korea Republic's rising stars can legitimately start dreaming of bigger things.

Southern Conference

 

Crown 1-0 Go-round

Bendel Insurance 1-0 Heartland

Akwa starlets 1-0 Osun utd

Bayelsa 1-0 Ikorodu

Warri Wolves 1-0 Unicem Rovers

AS Racine 1-0 My People

Delta Force 2-0 Gateway

First bank 1-1 Nnewi utd

Abia comets 0-0 Pappilo

Northern Conference

FRSC Abuja 2-1 Yobe Stars

Jigawa G'Stars 3-0 Taraba utd (W/O)

Mighty Jets 1-0 Sokoto utd

Kaduna utd 1-0 FC Abuja

Kwara uts 3-0 Adamawa utd

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