Vanguard Newspaper 07 April 2018
46 — SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 7, 2018 Ogunjobi: Rohr still has a lot to do BY JACOB AJOM Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi is not convinced the Super Eagles are ready yet for the Russia 2018 World Cup. Ogunjobi, one time NFA Secretary General says for a World Cup bound team to be seen and perceived as prepared, they must be psychologically, mentally and physically sound. Tactically, they should be near perfect.“Ogunjobi was happy to see the Eagles tested against strong European opposition in their last two friendly games. "The two friendly matches were good but the match against Serbia exposed our weaknesses," he started. "There was no coordination from the goalkeeper to the attack. We were lagging in organisation."“Ogunjobi, a former stalwart of the famous IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan was, however, not too bothered about the poor performance of the Eagles against Serbia as he believes, the team can pick up and peak before the World Cup.“"I am not too worried because friendly matches are supposed to be tune up matches where coaches look at their teams and see where they need to improve before the main tournament. Whatever happens now cannot be taken too seriously because it is still basically experimental," the experienced football administrator said.“"In 2007 we played 7 friendly matches ahead of the France 2008 World Cup. We won 5 and drew 2. When we got to the World Cup proper, it was a different ball game altogether. But friendlies are good."“From what the friendly games proved, Ogunjobi said coach Gernot Rohr, his technical crew and back room staff still have a lot to do before the World Cup in Russia. “To present a team at the World Cup is no joke. After all the rune up matches you come down to selection of the final squad, which is a very delicate aspect of the preparations. It mostly determines the mood in camp. “When it gets to the tournament, you will ask yourself: Are the players psychologically prepared? Are they mentally, morally and physically ready? And is the team injury free? You see, as the Eagles are at the moment there so much to fix before the tournament proper,” Ogunjobi reasoned. His biggest concern, however, Kanu: Eagles don't have a superstar Two-time African Footballer of the Year, Nwankwo Kanu has urged members of the Super Eagles to go all out and give their fatherland a good representation at the World Cup. Speaking in Lagos yesterday, Kanu said, “my advice to the players is that they must have at the back of their minds that they are representing the biggest nation in the world,” adding, “they must know that the greenwhite-green jersey they are putting on is bigger than their clubs. It represents millions of Nigerians so when they have that spirit football will follow.” Kanu who is the ambassador of the Ultimate Football Fan Reality TV Show said the current Super Eagles squad is a perfect blend of young talented players who, he said are bound for greatness. “I like this squad because they are all of about the same level and they are all very good players. If you take any out, the ones on the bench are as good as those on the pitch. They have no superstar and that will make for greater Argentina legend blames Caballero for heavy defeat to Spain Legendary Argentina goal keeper Ubaldo Matildo Fillol, nicknamed the Duck, has was the absence of a world class goalkeeper. “I have not been impressed by any of the three goalkeepers in camp. I don't see any of them worthy enough for the big stage like the World Cup. They are not tested and I cannot vouch for their efficacy. “I don't see any of them worthy enough to be Nigeria's number 1. The coach should be ready to provide a solution to that. He is a professional.” Ogunjobi concluded. harmony in camp. “Another thing I like about this team is that they are very young. A new reality TV show, The Ultimate Football Fans Reality TV Show will soon hit the screens according to the initiators, De-Soccer Richway. Speaking at a crowded press conference yesterday, Chairman of the company, Sony Irabor said the show was conceived as a way of giving back to the Nigerian football fans who had all along contributed enormously to the growth and development of football in the country. “The Nigerian football fans are blamed Chelsea goalkeeper, Wilfredo Caballero for the national team’s humiliating 6-1 loss to Spain in their last pre-World Cup friendly Ṫhe former River Plate Star, who was in goal when Argentina won the World Cup for the first time in their history in 1978, has questioned the ability of Caballero, who conceded five of the six goals during the game at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano (Madrid). ‘’It was painful and shameful. But it is not repeatable. You can not play that bad again. Sometimes you play badly and do not concede so many goals. They hit bottom with this result,’’ said Fillol to Ole Argentina. ‘’As a goalkeeper I thought that something could have been done about every goal. I saw him badly positioned Wilfredo , with his feet open, if the ball does not hit you, you can react. “ On Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero, he said : ‘’For Sergio it would be his third World Cup, the problem of the defeats did not go through the goalkeeper, but because of the performance I do not think Sampaoli will change.’’ Ubaldo Matildo Fillol is widely regarded as Argentina’s bestever goalkeeper in history and was named in Argentina Football Association’s Team of All Time in 2015. Nigeria will face Argentina for the fifth time in the group stage of a World Cup at the Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg on June 26. Nwosu, Disu hail Okoku over books donation Ex-internationals, Henry Nwosu and Tajudeen Disu have commended 1984 Nations Cup silver medal winner, Paul Okoku for donating 20, 000 textbooks to 40 schools in Delta State. The Greater Tomorrow Children Foundation (GTCF), founded by Okoku, last week, partnered with Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, a House of Age is very much on their side and I believe, they are going to use it to their advantage,”Kanu said. Ultimate Fan Reality TV Show is to compensate e football fans – Irabor the most passionate the world over. The introduction of the Ultimate Football Fan Reality TV Show is in recognition of this passion and a means to compensate the fans for everything they have stood for all their lives,” he said. Former Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu was named the ambassador of the TV Reality show. Kanu said the programme is to identify who the real football fans are. Also speaking, Yemi Adeyemo of e-transact said his organisation did •Caballero Representatives member, representing Ndokwa and Ukwani , to donate free textbooks to some primary and secondary schools pupils from three local government areas, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West and Kwale . The event, which held in Kwale, was graced by some ex-internationals like Henry Nwosu, Tajudeen Disu and Edema Fuludu, all of whom are ambassadors of the GTCF, which is a non-political charity-based body that is willing to partner with corporate bodies and individuals to improve the lives of kids and less-privileged persons in the country. Speaking with reporters, Nwosu, a 1980 Nations Cup winner, said the donation of free textbooks to the schools was going to improve the quality of education of the pupils and students. ''This is a move which I believe will contribute to the academic success of the students and I commend Okoku and Hon. Ossai for making this dream come into reality'', said Nwosu. In his own reaction to the goodwill gesture extended by the GTCF and Hon. Ossai to the 40 schools in Delta State, another ex-international, Tajudeen Disu remarked that such voluntary donation by well-meaning individuals was necessary in revamping the country's falling educational standards. ''We need to concerted efforts along not have to think twice before identifying with the project because it aligned with their corporate values of giving back to the society. “This is a forum where fans are brought together to defend their support for whichever club they claim to support. We want to know the true fan through their knowledge of the club the support.” There will be a screening process from the six geo-political zones to the national level. Winner of the show wins a whopping N20m and a car.
Blessing or a curse se •As the hope of a nation fades The recent successes of Nigeria’s queen of the tracks, Blessing Okagbare in smashing the 22-year-old African record in the 200m of yet another super stallion of the tracks, Mary Onyali could not have come at a better time than now. While there was joy in the camp of Team Nigeria, Okagbare unleashed yet another lightening performance in the 100 m in Texas, thereby raising hopes that Team Nigeria were going to rake in the gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. Suddenly, that joy has evaporated into disbelief and anger as officials remain rooted to learn that Okagbare would not be defending her Commonwealth medals. She was not entered to run in the flats – 100 and 200 m but only in the 4/100 m women relay. Sports Minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung was outraged as well as NOC President Engr Habu Gumel. The Minister summoned Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, President Ibrahim Shehu- Gusau to explain such intolerable mistake. Gusau said that the Federation did everything they could but noted that Okagbare was not happy that she was abandoned when she sustained an injury. “We did everything but her mind is made up in running the 100 and 200m”, Gusau looking ruffled said. Another source, this time an athlete who did not want her name in print said; ‘’She was left in the lurch after being promised that Nigeria will take care of her after she sustained injury in the World Champioships. Not even a letter to find out how she was coping. She went through pain and treated herself with her meagre resources. It was only when she broke the African record that officials remembered there was a Blessing Okagbare”, the source said. Out here, many athletes and even the organisers are shocked that Okagbare who was utterly dominant in her races in Glasgow will not run. Okagbare powered to glory in the 100m in a new Games record of 10.85secs in Glasgow. One still remembered how she celebrated with her dyed golden hair which shone just as much as her performance then. She won the gold in a strong field to beat experienced Jamaicans Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart, who finished second and third in 11.03secs and 11.07secs, in the last 50m. SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 7, 2018 — 47 Many reasons have been advanced as to why African women record holder and defending Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Blessing Okagbare will not run the sprints for Team Nigeria. From the start, she was not even entered for the races where she blew away a strong field of Jamaicans Veronica Campbell- Brown and Kerron Stewart away in Glasgow to win the gold for Nigeria. According to a source very close to her, she was recuperating from injury and was not listed because nobody believed she was going to get back to rhythm. ‘’That’s why she was only entered for the relay. But by divine help from God and her intensive exercises, she pulled through and not only that break the African record. She is a well-focused and determined lady who went through pain and spent so much to get back to rhythm. It was after this sudden recovery that officials started luring her to run in the flats. By then, the entries had closed. That is the main reason why she is not running in her speciality”, the source said. However, another source said that Blessing felt disappointed and abandoned during her recovery time. ‘’No visit. No call. No care as to help her with funds for her treatment and medication. It was total abandonment. Could they have done that to a footballer?”, the source showing anger blurted out. Another reason, I learnt is the fact that Blessing Okagbare who was the flagbearer of Team Nigeria during the march past was not given appropriate kits. She had to borrow a male’s cloth to wear and represent Nigeria. A picture to back up this claim was presented. Blessing Okagbare was dressed as a man. Look at the outfit. Is it the same thing with what other girls wore? Why Okagbare won’t run 100, 200m Okagbare represented Nigeria wearing a man’s attire Team Nigeria ‘ll win medals in Athletics, Ogba, Gusau assure DESPITE the absence of Nigeria’s biggest medal hopeful in the Commonwealth Games 100 and 200m, Blessing Okagbare, Team officials have re-assured Nigerians that they would still win medals at the end of the Games. Former President of AFN, Evangelist Solomon Ogba who was at the Games Village yesterday said that Team Nigeria has not been depleted not to win medals. ‘’We’ve greater chances of still winning medals”, Ogba, considered a godfather of athletics having been credited with the discovery and blossoming of Blessing Okagbare to world reckoning insisted that Athletics would still win medals. ‘’I don’t want to talk about the Okagbare issue. She was not registered in the first place. But all I know is that Athletics will still win medals”, he said. Also, President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau concurred that Athletics will win medals. ‘’The athletes are in high spirit and have what it takes to win medals. We are sure of medals”, he said. However, no matter the number of medals to be won, the absence of Blessing Okagbare remains a big blow to Nigeria and to her as a person for not defending her gold medals. Former British High jumper Mike Edwards has been in the news of late over his decision to represent Nigeria at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The 27-year old who has a Jamaican father and Nigerian mother, was born in Manchester, and represented Great Britain at the European Junior Championships in 2009. That singular action has now become the albatross threatening Edwards’ participation at the Games which kicked off this week. Edwards was named on the 37-man list released by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in February, to represent Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games. However, due to the current suspension of the transfer of allegiance process, he was only informed recently that he would be ineligible to compete for Nigeria in Gold Coast because he represented Great Britain nine years ago. Unfortunately, Edwards is already in Australia for the Games and had even been accredited by the Commonwealth Games Federation, before getting the call from the IAAF informing him of his ineligibility even though he had been cleared by British Athletics to represent his motherland. Edwards has since taken to social media to fight his cause and has also chosen a spot at the Games Village to protest IAAF’s decision. This is part of what he posted on his Facebook page: “No shame. I’ll stand here every day until IAAF makes a change. It’s wrong what they’re doing. I’ve come too far. I’ve sacrificed way too much to fold at the Commonwealth Games. As a law abiding dual citizen of Great Britain and Nigeria I should have every right to represent Team Nigeria regardless if I chose to represent my birth country Great Britain almost a decade ago, at a Mike Edwards and a transfer of allegiance gone wrong junior level championship. Is this what Athletics has come to IAAF?” In an interview with BBC Sport, Edwards states that his decision to compete for Great Britain nine years ago shouldn’t rob him of the chance to represent Nigeria at the Games. He said: “It was nine years ago - it is a worse sentence than a drug cheat gets. I am walking around the village with my Nigerian kit and unsure if I can even walk in the stadium and represent my country. It is nearly a decade since I last competed in an international championship, I feel I am being robbed of that opportunity right in front of my eyes. I am willing to protest every day in the village. I will do it until I receive a call from IAAF president Seb Coe. If he can’t do that he is a coward. As a fellow athlete, he can’t hide behind his desk - that is heartless.” It is unfortunate that things were allowed to degenerate to this level because I believe that the main actors in this drama could have handled the situation better. First of all, the AFN ought to have known that there was a freeze in the transfer of allegiance process, and should have done their homework in verifying the eligibility of Edwards to compete for Nigeria. If this had been done, it would have been made clear from the onset that athletes cannot currently switch allegiances until new rules are in place. Perhaps the federation got carried away by the profile of the athlete who has a Personal Best of 2.25m in the High Jump, a height no Nigerian male jumper has reached in more than a decade, even though our national record in the event stands at 2.27m set by Anthony Idiata exactly 20 years ago. Incidentally, Idiata still holds the African Indoor Record of 2.32m set in 2000. Realistically speaking, Edwards would have been a good medal prospect for Nigeria at the Games. Ironically, Nigeria’s first ever Commonwealth Games medal was gotten in the men’s High Jump – Josiah Majekodunmi’s Silver won in 1950 in Auckland, which happened to be Nigeria’s first ever outing at the Games. Also, Emmanuel Ifeajuna became the first black African to win a Gold medal at any international competition when he won the men’s High Jump at the 1954 Commonwealth Games held in Vancouver. The last time Nigeria got to the podium in the men’s High Jump at the Games was in 1966, when Samuel Egun claimed a Silver medal in the event. That was 52 years ago, so perhaps the AFN was trying to make history by including Edwards in the team. The IAAF froze the transfer of allegiance process in February 2017, and this was largely done to protect vulnerable African athletes from being poached by other countries. While this may come across as a commendable move, the freeze hasn’t exactly stopped countries from poaching young athletes. Nigeria already lost two of its talented quartermilers, Prosper Ogbonna and Emmanuel Bamidele to Bahrain and Qatar respectively earlier this year. However, the likes of Edwards have been at the receiving end of this freeze which has lasted more than a year, and the new transfer of allegiance rules won’t be approved until the IAAF Council’s next meeting in July. Edwards was named on the Nigerian team since February. How come he wasn’t contacted by the IAAF until about a week to the commencement of the Games, when he had already arrived in Gold Coast and had even been accredited to compete? There are several lessons to be learnt by the parties involved in this whole controversy, and hopefully, they will be taken to heart to avoid a re-occurrence. Wishing Edwards all the best with his appeal!