Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rohr Got It Wrong Against Bafana Bafana

Watch the famous Soccer Talk exponent,  Mumini Alao, doing a post-mortem analysis of the Super Eagles Vs Bafana Bafana matchday-one clash in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
South Africa thumped Nigeria 2-0 in Uyo on Saturday, June 10 2017 to force the three-time African champions down to the third position in the Group E table after matchday-one. Libya lead the group,  South in the second spot,  while Seychelles bring up the rear. 
Alao says that the Eagles defeat in Uyo was just like a 'bad day in the office'. He insists that the coach,  Gernot Rohr should be professional enough to accept full responsibility for that bad day, though there are enough reasons for the blame to go round. See this video for details
Are the Super Eagles in the threshold on a third consecutive AFCON miss after that routing by South Africa? 
Alao does not believe it's over for the Eagles, but he also posits that the loss to Bafana happened at the 'best time', that he would rather have chosen that matchday-one for the home defeat if South Africa must beat Nigeria in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers. Watch this video and hear the guru's full reasons for this. 
Click here to watch:  https://youtu.be/KWlSV2BYHsY

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ayew Kidding Me?

THE 2016/2017 English Premier League ended last Sunday with Chelsea’s coronation as champions of England. It was a coronation because “The Blues” had mathematically won the title two weeks before and the final day 5-1 thrashing of bottom team Sunderland was simply a befitting celebration party at Stamford Bridge. I say a big congratulations to all Nigerian supporters of Chelsea and congratulations to the “Nigerian ambassador” at the club, Victor Moses.

At the beginning of the season, I predicted that this year’s title run would be a contest of the managers, and so it turned out. Antonio Conte (Chelsea), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Jose Mourinho (Manchester United), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) and Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) are all very accomplished managers with impressive records of achievement and their clubs had money to spend. Add to the list the rising Mauricho Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur) and it was clear from the start that some managerial egos would be boosted or bruised and some reputations would be enhanced, damaged or destroyed.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Wenger has emerged as the most brutalized. Although only Conte won the title, Pochettino, Guardiola and Klopp secured European Champions League places for next season while Mourinho could join them if United beat Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League final. That would leave Wenger in the cold and it’s no surprise that the vast majority of Arsenal fans are demanding for his departure.

I sympathize with Wenger but I couldn’t wish him luck in the race for the “Top Four” because that would have jeopardized my own Liverpool’s chances. Now, the best I can wish him and all Arsenal fans is victory in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday so that they don’t finish the season completely empty-handed. Concerning the Cup final, I say to Chelsea fans, be patient with your Arsenal neighbor and don’t be greedy. Remember, sharing is caring!

As for Liverpool, I am simply relieved that we finally secured fourth place, never mind that it’s only good enough for the qualifying stage of the Champions League. Our performances were so unpredictable that even after surprisingly beating West Ham 4-0 away in the penultimate week which consolidated our fourth place, I couldn’t celebrate anything until we were up 3-0 against Middleborough at Anfield last Sunday. Klopp must significantly reinforce his team, otherwise, Liverpool fans are in for more hypertensive days next season.
In the meantime, though, I will like to enjoy the moment by tracking back to that pivotal game against West Ham at the London Stadium where Arsenal were hoping Liverpool would slip up. 

At 0-0 and with the game still wide open, West Ham’s Andre Ayew hit the Liverpool post not once, but twice in succession within seconds from three yards out when it was apparently easier to score. That double miss has been penciled down as a strong candidate for Miss-of-the-Season in the EPL and it also provided the title for Soccertalk this week.

While soccer fans were commenting on Ayew’s outrageous miss on Twitter, someone who identified himself simply as @Sennesation also couldn’t hide his disbelief. It was he who asked incredulously: Ayew Kidding Me?” 

3SC, Ayew Kidding Me?

WHILE I was celebrating my favourite foreign club Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Middlesbrough as the EPL rounded off last Sunday, my favourite local club side, Shooting Stars dampened my spirits when they lost by the same 3-0 margin at home to FC IfeanyiUbah as the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) resumed for the second half of the season also last Sunday.

When I heard the shock result, I couldn’t help but ask my informer: “Are you kidding me?” As incredible as it sounded, it turned out the result was true.
How could it happen? When 3SC lost 2-1 to two late penalty kicks at IfeanyiUbah towards the end of the first stanza of the league, there were serious suspicions that they were robbed by the referee as at least one of the penalties was very, very questionable. But with last Sunday’s comprehensive defeat in Ibadan, 3SC must admit that the Onitsha boys are superior.

My friends in Ibadan couldn’t explain the scandalous defeat when I spoke to them. But word coming out unofficially from team camp is that the players are hungry and angry because they are owed a backlog of salaries and allowances.

My plea to the Oyo State government is to come to the club’s aid urgently and lift the players’ spirits. Last season, 3SC escaped relegation from the NPFL only by the skin of the teeth. They may not be second-time lucky this season as they’re already sitting again in the relegation zone.

NPFL Back On DSTV Soon

THE Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) resumed for the second half of the season last Sunday still without the matches being shown on television.

I don’t know how the League Management Company (LMC) and broadcast partners DSTV Super Sport have been able to achieve a near total blackout of news concerning the contentious broadcast rights for several weeks since coverage was suspended and rumour of their impending break-up emerged. But if that (news black-out) would eventually result in the parties reaching an amicable resolution for the resumption of coverage, it’s all well and good.

Indeed, I have been sniffing around since I first wrote about the subject three weeks ago and my findings suggest that a resolution is close. Very soon, the NPFL will be back on DSTV SuperSport… For the Good of the Game. More details later.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dan Ajibode – A Tribute

LATE DANIEL OLUWOLE AJIBODE was one of the early generation of footballers to etch their name in Nigerian football folklore during the 1960s. In continuation of my occasional series to document and honour our past sports heroes, I hereby dedicate today’s column in his memory. 
The tribute is written by veteran journalist SEGUN ADENUGA…
THE remains of soccer icon Daniel Oluwole Ajibode, will be committed to mother earth at his Ilaro home, Ogun State, on Friday, May 26, 2017.
The adorable football coach, who passed on at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba on Friday, April 25, 2017 after a brief illness was born at Ilaro, the commercial nerve centre of Yewa province of Ogun State on June 7, 1943 by Pa Joseph and Mama Anna Ajibode.

He attended both Ilaro Grammar School and Egbado College between 1956 – 1959. He took an early interest in sports and rapidly became noticeable in football in many competitions.

He received the attention of the football authorities in the old Nigerian Western Region when late soccer impressario Tesilimi Akanni “Thunder” Balogun was directed to go on recruitment tour of the state, preparatory to the formation of a solid football team for the region.

Interestingly, Dan was playing in an F.A. Cup match involving Ilaro and Ibadan, where “Thunder” Balogun was the guest of honour. The result of the match notwithstanding, slim-built Daniel Ajibode, shone like a northern star and sold himself to stardom as he became the only player picked by the soccer-wizard Tesilimi Balogun.

Dan eventually landed at the bustling city of Ibadan on a soccer voyage. He navigated his way into a popular city club, known as Republicans FC, where he steadily carved a niche as a fearless and dependable player.
Becoming very popular with the Oluyole football fans, the lithe and skinny Ajibode, desperately in search of the “golden fleece” arrived in Lagos and moved expectantly to the camp of Stationery Stores Football Club, arguably Nigeria’s most supported football club in 1964.
Playing the role of a fringe member of the famous Stationery Stores for some considerable period, Dan Ajibode became a house-hold name when he was left behind to lead Stores in 1968.

How did it happen? Ajibode was not fit enough to be selected amongst the 12 players picked from Stationery Stores to represent Nigeria at the 1968 Olympics Games in Mexico and had to contend with the challenges the absence of the team’s regulars posed to him in local league matches. He became like the fabled Rock of Gibraltar in the defence of a depleted Stores side that played five matches without defeat in a spate of one month.

Though, with a very lean frame, Dan was sturdy and robust in the Stores defence as he led the team to victories in the absence of the team’s regulars. As a befitting tribute to his courage and steadfastness, Ajibode was given the accolade “THE LANDLORD” by the teeming supporters of the “Flaming Flamingoes” for holding forte so successfully.

Having served Stores meritoriously for almost a decade, Ajibode retired and veered into another area of football, this time into coaching profession.

He took the gauntlets and carried the banners of a relatively unknown National Bank Football Club of Lagos where he made name by producing star players like Paul Okoku, Bremner Aladat, Yemi Adebanjo, Yemi Odubanjo, Taiwo Afinni, Andrew Aikhomogbe, Deinde Akinlotan, Waliu Aiye, Jabar Shomade, Segun and Femi Olukanmi, Waidi Akanni, Taju Disu, Godwin Okoloba, Nathaniel Ogedengbe, Yakubu Agboluaje, Lati Daramola, Emmanuel Martins, Carlos Onisemo, Muri Onigbanjo, Sobande Adeniyi and Macmillan Ogbomo, to mention only a few. Many of these players would go on to represent Nigeria at the international level.
For almost 17 years, Dan led National Bank FC to a respectable position in Lagos football league and became a torn in the flesh of notable teams like Stationery Stores and NEPA FC. He led his steam popularly known as Nat-Bank to an Oba Cup victory in 1983 at UAC Stadium against the hot-favourite Stationery Stores backed by a vociferous crowd of chanting and ranting supporters.

There was an incident in 1979, when Ajibode ordered his boys not to honour a match against Stores if adequate security was not put in place. The match had to be postponed and Ajibode earned the scorn of Stores supporters, who later branded him with the tag, “AJIBODE NO SECURITY” that lasted long in Lagos football folklore.

A no-nonsense coach, Ajibode would never accept any form of laxity from any member of his team, no matter how seemingly indispensable the player might be. There was no way Dan could divorce himself from football, as he personified the game he loved with an unbridled passion.
From coaching to administration, Dan regularly answered clarion calls from Lagos State football authorities for his expertise in the quest for honours at the national level. He was at various times a member of the State Sports Council and a respected football buff until his death on Friday, 28 April, 2017 at the age of 74.

He had established an evergreen sport equipment shop at Iponri market under the brand name Dan Ajib Sports Shop since 1991 and the business is still flourishing.
To my generous and kind-hearted Daniel Oluwole Ajibode, I say good night and good bye until we meet to part no more.


1.    DAN THE TECHNICAL ADVISER: Dan Oluwole Ajibode (first left) with coach Abdullahi “Bebe” Salisu (2nd left) and Augustine Ofuokwu (2nd right) on the bench for Stationery Stores when they won the Nigerian League title in 1992.

2.    DAN THE DEFENDER: Ajibode shaking hands with former governor of Western Nigeria, Major Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo before a match for Stationery Stores against Asante Kotoko of Ghana at Liberty Stadium, Ibadan in 1969. To the left is Augustine Ofuokwu and to the right is Peter “Eusebio” Anieke.

STANDING L–R: Peter Eto Amaechina (coach), Segun Olumodeji, Sam Opone, Mohammed Lawal, Peter Fregene, Willie Andrews, Augustine Ofuokwu, Tony Igwe.
STANDING R–L: Peter Anieke, Dan Ajibode, Edward Boateng, Sunny Ine, Avii Awotoro, Muyiwa Oshode.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Eagles Call-up: Did Rohr Succumb To Pressure?

SUPER Eagles manager Gernot Rohr on Monday released a 25-man list of players for camping ahead of Nigeria's opening 2019 AFCON qualifier against South Africa in Uyo next month.

Prominent on the list dominated as usual by foreign-based players were the home-based trio of Stephen Odey (MFM FC), Sikiru Olatunbosun (MFM FC) and Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa United FC). A fourth home-boy is goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa of FC IfeanyiUbah, but he had always been part of the squad.

The debuting home-based outfield players are in focus because of the outcry that greeted their total exclusion from Rohr's squad during the Eagles recent friendly game against Senegal in London. A section of the media were so stringent and so persistent in their criticism that it is plausible that the German coach succumbed to their pressure this time around.

Rohr had maintained that home boys should cut their teeth in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) with the Eagles Team 'B' before they could be considered for Team 'A.' The only reason I can fathom for his sudden change of mind is the pressure that he came under the last time.

Nigeria is a very interesting country. Not so long ago, we all were lamenting the dwindling fortunes of the Super Eagles, how they were playing so poorly, how they had failed to qualify for two AFCONs back-to-back and how we feared they stood no chance in a 2018 World Cup qualifying draw that had Algeria and Cameroun.

Rohr fortuitously arrived on the scene, restored our confidence in the team, introduced fresh ideas, and won his first two World Cup qualifiers to turn Nigeria from group underdogs to group favourites. Rather than give him more elbow room to continue with his revival of the team, “we” decided to launch the needless, weather-beaten home-based players campaign. 

First, it was a troop of British-born Nigerians footballers invading the Eagles camp in London with their fathers in open connivance with NFF officials while a helpless Rohr looked on. Now this! Well, our wishes have been granted and my sincere prayer is that all should turn out well.

I can surmise what's playing in Rohr's mind regarding all these external pressures. “It's their country anyway. If that's what they want, let them have it so I can have my peace.” I pray sincerely that this peace of the graveyard will not result in a fatal derailment of our collective desire of qualifying for Russia 2018 and Cameroun 2019.

Honestly speaking, I have no problem with our home boys being part of the Super Eagles Team 'A.' Many of them have great talent and that is why they immediately excel when they move abroad and are exposed to better coaching. But I have a big problem with officials, media or fans pressurizing the coach to include certain players in his team. Such pressures only lead to distractions that can undermine the team.

Now that Rohr has given Odey and Co. their chance to “experience” the national team, shall we allow him to concentrate on the task ahead against South Africa, please? Thank you very much!

NFF's Integrity Reforms
LAST week, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) secretary general Dr. Mohammed Sanusi issued a circular requesting its affiliate members to desist from holding dual positions, appointments or other responsibilities constituting conflicts of interest. For example, state FA chairmen doubling as football club chairmen, club officials serving as match commissioners/referees assessors, or NFF executive committee members and management staff working clandestinely as player agents! Altogether, eight such conflicting roles were listed in the circular. 

I wonder how these unethical practices have survived for so long in our football. But now that the NFF has seemingly woken up to correct the serious anomaly, I hope Sanusi will ensure that all those affected abide by the so-called integrity reforms. 

Unfortunately, the circular did not spell out any sanctions for anyone ignoring the directive. It's not too late to introduce the sanctions in order to give the directive some real bite. Otherwise, we should regard the whole exercise as a mere window-dressing.