In The Spotlight
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.
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
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."
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.
The Liebherr 2017 World Championship in Dusseldorf Germany witnessed an uncommon match up between, 12 year-old Rizumu Ono from Philippines, born to Japanese father and Filipinos mother, against 41-year old Olufunke Oshonaike from Nigeria in the Women's Single qualifications stage.
Almost three decades gap between the two, the fact that they played together at the global stage, is a true unifying force for the game, that age is no barrier and table tennis is a sport for all.
Rizumu Ono was born on 9th October 2004 and Olufunke Oshonaike was born on 28th October, 1975.
Olufunke Oshonaike beat Rizumu Ono in a thrilling six games encounter (15-13, 11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 6-11, 12-10) but the match and the situation was more than just the close scores.
Not shying away from what she felt, Olufunke Oshonaike said,
“I must admit that I have never been so nervous like this in my life particularly playing against the young girl who is not even older than my first son who is 14. I was so scared because she is so talented that even before the match, I could not sleep well. I knew that if I don’t beat her I won’t be able to make it out of the group.”-Olufunke Oshonaike
“I must tell you that I was really scared wondering what I will tell Nigerians back home, that a 12 year-old girl beat me without knowing that the girl is more talented than her age,”
World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has been granted an exception by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) to fight Wladimir Klitschko for their heavyweight title.
The IBF, one of the world’s boxing sanctioning bodies, however, noted that the bout must take place before December 2.
Joshua’s promoters Matchroom Boxing requested the special extension and it was approved by the IBF at their convention.
The governing body ruled that the winner of any potential rematch between Joshua and Klitschko must then face number one contender Kubrat Pulev in a title defence.
They also stipulated that there will be no further exceptions or unification fights beyond December 2.
One of the World’s Leading boxing promoters Frank Warren, as announced that elite Nigerian boxer, Larry “The Natural” Ekundayo, will be fighting for the WBO Inter-continental welterweight title at the Copper Box Arena, London on July the 8th 2017.
The undefeated, former African boxing champion and Prize Fighter winner has been given the opportunity to fight for this prestige’s title as the main support to Billy Joe Saunders, who headlines the show and is defending his world title live on BTSports.
Larry Ekundayo (12-0) will fight against the highly ranked and much feared Gary Corcoran, who has an impressive (16-1) record and who has recently campaigned at a higher weight division. Should Ekundayo overcome this challenge he will be catapulted high into the WBO world rankings, with a world title shot in sight.
“The Natural” recently attracted major media attention in Nigeria, and across Africa, as world Heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua, recorded a special message requesting that all Nigerians get behind Larry in his forthcoming title fight.
Speaking from his training base in London U.K, Ekundayo, who proudly wears the green and white of Nigeria into battle, said “I would really likely to thank my management team, MTK, for arranging this title shot and for Frank Warren for giving me an opportunity to showcase my skills in front of a global audience.”
Ekundayo, represents the country’s best opportunity of delivering sporting success in 2017 for those who wear the Nigerian colours. He is thrilled to have the whole nation behind him, saying “They have recently passed a bill in the Nigerian National Assembly to help support me and help bring big time boxing back to Nigeria, if we as fighters are supported correctly we can rule the world of boxing!”
Larry, and fellow elite level boxer, Olusegun Ajose, were recently blessed by Ooni of Ife with further promise of support, not only for the boxers but for all Nigerians in the Diaspora seeking to bring glory to their fatherland. His Royal Majesty the Ooni of Ife had earlier urged all Nigerians in the UK and Europe to attend the boxing event to give maximum support to Larry in his forthcoming bout.
From the moment the final blows of a magnificent fight rippled down Anthony Joshua’s 27-year-old arms on to the bleeding and battered head of the 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round, there could be no more arguments about who is the best heavyweight in the world.
It was not just that Joshua, unbeaten in all 19 professional fights, had added the WBA “super” version of the title to his own IBF belt, or even that he had stopped one of boxing’s finest old champions. What secured the winner’s acclaim, surely, by everyone but the WBC champion, Deontay Wilder (who sat ringside) was that he got up from a right cross in the sixth that would have felled an elephant. Probably unsure what city he was in, he fought on through a daze to bring the contest to the most dramatic conclusion, and will rule until someone of equal stature unseats him. There is nobody of that calibre on the horizon.
There was little in it as they came out for the 11th round. Klitschko, perhaps, had an edge, using every trick garnered over 68 fights, 29 of them as champion in an 11-year stretch, to bring anxiety to his young opponent’s work. That changed in the crack of a single uppercut to the Ukrainian’s jaw, which all but toppled him. A left hook and a grazing right put him down for a count in his own corner and Joshua went for the kill, calmly and with fixed purpose. He sent him over like a dead tree with a left hook, yet somehow Klitschko got up for more.
When Joshua moved in with rapacious instincts to let loose that volley of pain in his own corner, his trainer, Robert McCracken, was screaming himself hoarse – along with the rest of the stadium.
Joshua celebrated in the ring with a message that sounded like a recruiting call for all the lost youth he likes to represent: “If you don’t take part, you fail. Boxing is about character. There is nowhere to hide. No complications about boxing. Anyone can do this. Give it a go. You leave your ego at the door. Massive respect to Klitschko. He’s a role model in and out of the ring and I’ve got nothing but love and respect for anyone who steps in the ring. London, I love you. Can I go home now?”
The response from the 90,000 present was rapturous – as it was for Klitschko when he took the microphone to acknowledge: “The best man won. It’s really sad I didn’t make it tonight. But all respect to Anthony.”
In the 10 minutes or so Klitschko had to wait in the ring while the champion sashayed through the crowd, the Ukrainian bounced to Joshua’s music. He did not dance to his tune for all of the fight but Joshua had his measure when it mattered.
Joshua had to call up all the things he had learned – about boxing off the lines, moving in and out, waiting for gaps – but Klitschko had that hard-wired already. He had 50 fights on the young champion, and 14 years. Still, the mutual respect of the buildup carried over to the combat, and neither man took early risks.
Klitschko, always marginally fancier than his elder brother Vitali, got up on his toes and moved into hitting range in the third, looking to pressure his opponent, but Joshua kept his shape and composure.