The Search for the Brighter Footballer Continues

The connection between Education and Sports has been a long standing one  that over time many of the Sports Superstars we have come to know and love have grown into prominence from their participation in schools sports.

School Sports continues to be a veritable means of guaranteeing a stable and steady convey belt of Sports men and women for the nation at large. Like it or not Football remains the number one sport in Nigeria; it is played at every street corner; on different surfaces across the nation. To this end; a nation that is serious about the development of Football and Sports in general cannot neglect or turn a blind eye to schools sports.

Today we have various competitions geared at harnessing the immense potential and talent pool Nigeria possesses from the Secondary Schools to the University; but not many focus on spotting these kids from as an early age as Primary School students like the Fab 5 Football Challenge. The competition is in its Fifth year of existence and its Fourth edition with over 2000 pupils as participants over the years and 200 public primary schools across Lagos State.

The FAB 5 Football Challenge is organised by Pet-Bamok Limited with the support of the Lagos State Sports Commission; Blaugrana Sports International, Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Rite Foods, Bigi  and Indomie Noodles. The Competition’s stand out performers over the years have benefited from the Scholarship and Mentoring schemes. This year’s competition screened schools from the state’s five educational districts. 16 schools will participate in the final tournament that will see the winners receive prizes including opportunities for the best outstanding players to be enrolled into the FC Barcelona Soccer School in Lagos. Past Winners of the Fab 5 Football Challenge include; St Stephen Primary School, Lagos Island in 2012; LA Primary School, Surulere in 2014 and Opebi Primary School, Ikeja in 2015.

Despite the success of the competition; it still needs a major boost from Corporate Nigeria in terms of support and sponsorship especially financially as the gains attached with backing such a project are not quantifiable. This affords us the opportunity to spot these talents early and nurture them for the future;  their progress can easily be monitored from the Fab 5 Football Challenge to the Lagos State Principal’s Cup to the NUGA Games/ NCAA Tournaments or respectable academies across Europe and who knows one day a Super Eagles International.

The Competition is slated for Friday 26th of May; 2017 at the Campus Mini Stadium, Lagos Island to coincide with the Children’s day celebration.

Ike Shorunmu joins Ikorodu United

Former Super Eagles and Shooting Stars goalie and goal keeper’s trainer; Ike Shorunmu has signed with newly promoted and relegation threatened, Nigerian Professional Football League Side; Ikorodu United as their new goal keeper’s trainer. The announcement was made late Tuesday evening by the club, this appointment is part of the club’s ongoing restructuring aimed at ensuring that they survive relegation to the Nigerian National League at the first time of asking.

As we are all aware, Ikorodu United announced the engagement of  Dutch coach, Theo De Jong in a bid to get out of its relegation struggles. Ikorodu United are currently on 11 points from 21 matches; 16 points separate the Oga Boys from 16th place.

The Club has also announced the employment of Shakiru Giwa as an assistant coach in their new structure going forward.


** Pictures courtesy and

Sharks go the Interim route

Sharks FC have appointed Coach Dokubo Daboere on an interim capacity as head coach. The former technical adviser of the side Gbenga Ogunbote tendered his resignation letter during the week citing personal reasons and the General manager of the club Okey Kpaluku has heaped praise on the managerial prowess of the Ogun state born soccer tactician and wished him the best of luck in his future endeavour.

Kpaluku who recalled with nostalgia how coach Ogunbote lifted the team from relegation waters in 2013, however said his right hand man Daboere Dokubo will tinker the team on an interim capacity.

“No doubt we will miss the services of Coach Gbenga Ogunbote because he is committed to his job and does not like losing”.

“And I want to wish him the very best of luck wherever he may be at the moment” Kpaluku said.


“Don’t forget that the success recorded by Ogunbote could be attributed to the fact that he had capable assistants who all worked towards his success in 2013 when the team escaped relegation, it was on that premise we have now handed the team temporarily to his right hand man on the bench Daboere Dokubo” Kpaluku added.

The General manager of the club is however optimistic that coach Dokubo and his able assistants led by Festus Allen will continue from where Ogunbote stopped and even surpass his record so as to discourage the search for a substantive technical adviser.

He urged the technical crew to ensure that they do their best to making sure that Sharks does not play championship football next season but have a respectable finish at the end of the season.

‘’Am very sure Dokubo and  his team will do a good job to ensure we remain in the elite league next season’’.

“And with that there will be no need for management to go search for another coach to boss them’’ Kpaluku said.


Kpaluku also seized the opportunity to congratulate the executive governor of Rivers State, Barrister Nyesom Wike on his successful swearing in and pray God gives him the required wisdom to pilot the affairs of the state.

He called on supporters of the team to keep faith in the team following the departure of Ogunbote stressing that all the team need right now is moral support while management will be counting on governor Nyesom Wike’s support for the team to bounce back to winning ways.


Ivory Coast – Fifa ranking: 28 – ACN best: Winners 1992


The Ivorians are desirous of a silverware and they just might get it this time around, the last and only time they won the trophy was in Senegal 1992 despite boasting some of the finest African players of the modern era, the Elephants have significantly underachieved in both the World Cup and the AFCON. Looking at this group, they have as good a chance as ever. They have some of the greatest firepower available on the continent in the likes of Wilfried Bony, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Yaya Toure, who was recently named African Footballer of the Year for 2014. The quality names in the squad is a plus for new coach Hervé Renard but he’s got some defensive troubles to worry about as they get set for their first game. The Elephants have conceded the most goals out of any side that has qualified for the tournament and they will want to keep in tight.

Mali – Fifa ranking: 50 – ACN best: Runnersup 1972


Mali have two consecutive Africa Cup of Nations third-place finishes to their names. Henryk Kasperczak’s side is a physical one who don’t concede a lot of goals and look to score via set-pieces. Seydou Keita may well still be turning it on for the Eagles but aside from the veteran skipper there are few men in the Mali squad who can do well in this tourney, Metz striker Modibo Maiga will be key.

Cameroon – Fifa ranking: 42 – ACN best: Winners 1984, ’88, 2000, 2002


Coach Volker Finke should be bestowed vast amounts of credit for the way he has restructured his Cameroon side. After a shambolic display in Brazil, the German caretaker has put his faith in youth, turning to the likes of Clinton N’Jie and Vincent Aboubakar in attack. The move has proved intelligent as Cameroon retained their defensive rigidity, but now also boast a dynamic attack. Cameroon may not be stocked with the wealth of talent they enjoyed in the 1980s and 90s but Volker Finke will still be confident of taking the Indomitable Lions into the knockout phase at the very least. Stephane Mbia dons the armband for his country these days while they will look to strikers Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Vincent Aboubakar for goals.

Guinea – Fifa ranking: 39 – ACN best: Runnersup 1976


Their qualification story is a very brave and praiseworthy one, Guinea deserve a lot of respect for the mental resilience they showed during qualifiers. The country was banned from hosting matches in their own country due to the Ebola outbreak, but nevertheless earned their qualification after holding off Togo and Uganda. The striking trio of Seydouba Soumah, Idrissa Sylla, and Ibrahima Traore are particularly potent.
They are clear outsiders no doubt but they have some exciting players who can effectively cause an upset. Ismael Bangoura didn’t make the final 23 squad, they will bank on the exoperience of Kamil Zayatte and coach Michel Dussuyer has also picked more teenagers for this tourney.


20 January 2015 – Ivory Coast v Guinea (Malabo) | Mali v Cameroon (Malabo)

24 January 2015 – Ivory Coast v Mali (Malabo) | Cameroon v Guinea (Malabo)

28 January 2015 – Cameroon v Ivory Coast (Malabo) | Guinea v Mali (Mongomo)

HalftimeNG Prediction: Cameroon and Ivory Coast


Zambia – Fifa ranking: 46 – ACN best: Winners 2012


The core of the 2012 team is still in the current squad and they continued their run of consistency by qualifying for their fourth consecutive Africa Cup of Nations. Coach Honour Janza who claims he is honoured to be handling this team is looking at fresher prospects this year. Talents such as Ronald Kampamba and Evans Kangwa can add vitality to a Chipolopolo attack, while Emmanuel Mayuka looks to be the only experienced “Goto-Man”. In this group, they have been dubbed as outsiders but they will be looking to prove bookmakers wrong.

Tunisia – Fifa ranking: 22 – ACN best: Winners 2004

African Cup of Nations: Tunisia v Morocco

Since taking over a litle over a year ago, Coach Georges Leekens has effected a remarkable twelve-month turnaround for the Carthage Eagles. Leekens seem to have found the crux of this team and has instilled a solid approach that births victory. Champions 11 years ago, their preparations have been hit by a last-minute striker shortage. Edem Rjaibi and Ahmed Akaichi have come in to replace injured Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Saber Khalifa, who both suffered muscle injuries but the North Africans are still one of the tournament favourites. They have much quality their squad, star player is Jamel Saihi and they came through qualification unbeaten in a group that included fellow finalists Senegal and Egypt.

Cape Verde – Fifa ranking: 40 – ACN best: Quarterfinals 2013


Cape Verde were the surprise package of the 2013 AFCON, they finished top of Group F and were the first team to qualify for the 2015 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. Look for Lille striker Ryan Mendes to have a particularly good tournament. I won’t be surprised this time if the Islanders make it at least that far this time with manager Rui Aguas banking on the likes of 26-year old midfielder Heldon Ramos – who was a revelation in 2013 and the striking force of Ryan Mendes and Ze Luis.

DR Congo – Fifa ranking: 56 – ACN best: Winners 1968, 1974


Florent Ibenge’s side qualified luckily for this tourney as the best third-place side during the qualification campaign. They also have good players in Jeremy Bokila and Yannick Bolasie who will always provide an attacking threat to their opponents. DR Congo won the inaugural AFCON tournament and a victory over tournament favourites Ivory Coast in qualifying is proof of their ability to stun any team, so don’t rule them out of qualifying from this group.

18 January 2015 – Zambia v DR Congo (Ebebiyin) | Tunisia v Cape Verde Islands (Ebebiyin)
22 January 2015 – Zambia v Tunisia (Ebebiyin) | Cape Verde Islands v DR Congo (Ebebiyin)
26 January 2015 – Cape Verde Islands v Zambia (Ebebiyin) | DR Congo v Tunisia (Bata)

HalftimeNG Prediction: Tunisia and Cape Verde Islands


Group C produced the last winners (Nigeria) at the last tourney, this group sure looks like it will produce this year’s winners. 

Algeria – Fifa ranking: 18 – ACN best: Winners 1990 – Nickname: Desert Warriors

Algeria's national soccer team players celebrate after the match against Russia at the 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Baixada arena in Curitiba

Rightly dubbed as the group of death especially when it is seen that all the teams in this group are former winners. Starting with Africa’s number 1 team – Algeria have been impressive lately on the international scene and their clubsides have done brilliantly well in inter-clubs competition. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic guided them to the knockout rounds for the first time at the World Cup in Brazil last year narrowly losing to Germany – the eventual winners. A new manager in Christian Gourcuff has taken charge and if they continue with such a high-level performance in Equatorial Guinea, it might just be enough to see them take home the trophy. With experienced and quality players like Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli and Sporting Lisbon’s striker, Islam Slimani, skipper Madjid Bougherra and Djamel Mesbah, their chances in this tourney is by no means limited.

Ghana – Fifa ranking: 37 – ACN best: Winners in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 – Nickname: Black Stars


One of the favourites are Ghana but it wasn’t an easy ride for the Black Stars during the qualifiers even though they still managed to finish top of Group E. Some unconvincing displays by the team that probably led to the appointment of Isreali coach, Avram Grant. They can still look up to players like Asamoah Gyan – who is currently suffering from a knock but his experience in this tourney will be very much needed, Andre Ayew and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu to lead them out of this tough exciting group.

Senegal – Fifa rankings: 35 – ACN Best: Runners-up in 2002 – Nickname – Teranga Lions


Finished as runners-up in a tough qualifying group that houses two North African teams with Tunisia topping the group and Egypt missing out. Impressive during the qualifiers and fortunately for the Nation, their big players are up and running pretty well with their respective clubsides. Algeria and Ghana no doubt will be given a good run for their money by the Alain Giresse tutored side. With interesting players like Cheikhou Kouyate, Alfred Ndiaye, Mame Birame Diouf, Moussa Sow and Papiss Demba Cisse, you can’t rule them out of qualifying from this group.

South Africa – Fifa rankings: 52 – ACN Best: Winners 1996 – Nickname – Bafana Bafana



There will be no time for teams to get comfortable in this group, with every point key given the competitive nature of the competition, and the opening game of the pool on January 19 could well prove to be the decider as the group pans out. South Africa take a resolute defensive side to Equatorial Guinea, where their so-called revival will be put to the test. Bafana Bafana will have to make do without captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa who was tragically murdered several weeks ago. However, Mashaba has turned around the nation’s fortunes, having topped their qualifying group and prevented Nigeria from defending their title. The team had remained unbeaten since he took charge in his fourth spell with the team. Tokelo Rantie is a star player that needs to be watched carefully by opponents and Dean Furman is also another player to watch.


19 January 2015 – Ghana v Senegal (Mongomo) | Algeria v South Africa (Mongomo)
23 January 2015 – Ghana v Algeria (Mongomo) | South Africa v Senegal (Mongomo)
27 January 2015 – South Africa v Ghana (Mongomo) | Senegal v Algeria (Malabo)

HalftimeNG Prediction: Algeria and Senegal to qualify


SuperEagles1It’s no longer news that the defending champion of the Africa Cup of Nations will not be a part of the 30th edition of the continental showpiece due to her lackluster performance during the qualifiers that saw them crash out on the final match day to South Africa (who finished unbeaten in the group) and Congo Brazzaville. Another drama en-route the tournament was Morocco’s refusal to host the showpiece due to the Ebola outbreak in some parts of the continent and stepping up as replacements were Equatorial Guinea – who had initially been disqualified in the qualification series for fielding an ineligible player.

Away from all of the sitcom-like happenings, the Nations Cup is here and starting from Saturday, 17th January, 2015, one team will be looking to be victorious after six matches on 8th February, 2015 to be crowned as African champions.

afcon-groups1Bata, Malabo, Mongomo and Ebebiyin are the host cities of this year’s tournament.

The Equatoguinean government have taken measures to prevent Ebola from reaching their soil, including hiring the expertise of a team of Cuban doctors, but as for the football, many matches are likely to be played in front of largely empty grounds which has a total population of just over 700,000. The country does have experience of organizing the Nations Cup, having co-hosted the 2012 tournament with Gabon. The capital Malabo, on the island of Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea, and the largest city Bata, on the African mainland, both hosted games then and will do so again, with Bata the venue for the final.

Here is a daily team-by-team guide to Africa’s best soccer festival.

Equatorial Guinea – Fifa ranking: 120 – African Cup of Nations best: Quarter-finals 2012

ez-2Hosts Equatorial Guinea have dodged the biggest names in the tournament, but still find themselves in a tricky group. The Central Africans have limited time to prepare for the tourney but they have quite a handful of foreign based stars to bolster their chances. Their Coach, Esteban Becker was hired only a few days before the Jan. 7 deadline to submit a squad of 23 players. However, the Argentinian coach was employed as Equatorial Guinea’s technical director, so he has good knowledge of his players. Becker has also found success with the national women’s team, winning the 2012 Africa Women’s Championship.

Star Player is Juvenal, who was Equatorial Guinea’s standout player in 2012. A very good passer of the ball, Juvenal no longer has the legs to cover the ground he used to, but his 28 caps are a team high, so his accrued experience will be vital in Group A.

Burkina Faso – Fifa ranking: 63 – ACN best: Runners-up 2013

photo_1360564740036-1-0Burkina Faso have benefitted from a spell of stability and continuity as Paul Put renewed his contract with the Black Stallions. Put understands the importance of fielding a balanced outfit with talented forwards. He will pin his goalscoring hopes on Jonathan Pitroipa who led the continent in scoring with six conversions during qualifiers. Banished from his native Belgium in a match-fixing scandal, Coach Paul Put has found a second home in Burkina Faso and he has managed this side for about five years, guiding them to a second-place finish in the Cup of Nations two years ago, and just narrowly missing out on a World Cup appearance.

Star Player is Jonathan Pitroipa. The wiry winger has been a talismanic figure for the Black Stallions for several years now. Now Pitroipa seems to be in the form of his life, leading the continent in scoring during qualifiers with six goals. Aristide Bance is another striker to watch out for.

Gabon – Fifa ranking: 65 – ACN best: Quarterfinals 1996, 2012

615x340_foot_gabon_teamGabon are undoubtedly this tournament’s dark horses. The Black Panthers have quality up their spine from Bruno Manga in defence, to Ibrahim Ndong and Andre Poko in midfield, to Malick Evouna and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack. Coach Jorge Costa has revived the excitement around the Gabonese national team. Known as “The Tank” or “The Animal” in Portugal, Costa should be commended for developing a tricky 4-3-3 that makes Gabon Africa’s best counterattacking side.

Star Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the best players in the world at using his pace on the counterattack. His sheer speed and complementary relationship with Malick Evouna are sure to cause countless defences problems at the Afcon.

Congo – Fifa ranking: 61- ACN best: Winners 1972

congoCongo can count themselves lucky to be in Equatorial Guinea. Were it not for Rwanda fielding an ineligible player, Claude LeRoy and his men would have been eliminated in the preliminary rounds. Nevertheless the Red Devils bounced back admirably and with talented individuals they just might be able to spring a surprise. In Claude LeRoy, Congo has the most experienced tournament coach in Africa. His previous success with Cameroon inspires his players, who will make their first appearance at a Cup of Nations in 15 years.

Star Player: The arrival of striker Thievy Bifouma lifted Congo and his impact was immediately felt in the qualifiers.


17 January 2015 – Equatorial Guinea v Congo | Burkina Faso v Gabon (Bata)
21 January 2015 – Equatorial Guinea v Burkina Faso | Gabon v Congo, (Bata)
25 January 2015 – Gabon v Equatorial Guinea (Bata) | Congo v Burkina Faso (Ebebiyin)

HalftimeNG Prediction: Burkina Faso and Gabon to qualify from this group.

African Women Championship: Match Day 2 Wrap

large_l_Nigeria celebrateA total of 14 goals were scored in 4 games on match day 2 at the ongoing African Women’s Championship in Namibia with Nigeria responsible for 6 of the goals against Zambia and became the first team to qualify for the Semi finals.

Here is a quick summary of what went down on Match day 2:

nigeriaIn group A, Nigeria proved too strong for Zambia, as the Super Falcons ran out 6-0 winners on Tuesday amassing a total of 10 goals scored in two games and conceding just 2 goals. A brace from Desire Oparanozie (taking her tally to four goals) and further strikes from Ngozi Okobi, Ohale Osinachi, Asisat Oshoala and Perpetua Nkwocha ensured a comfortable win for the six time winners. Ngozi Ebere was voted as the TN Mobile WOTM.

The other game in group A left the Brave Gladiators heartbroken late on as the Elephants ran out 3-1 winners to silence the home crowd and pick up their first win of the tournament. Captain Estelle Nahi was on target as well as Ines Tia who bagged a brace on the night. Impressive Zenatha Coleman had equalized for the host but it wasn’t enough. TN Mobile WOTM was Fatou Coulibaly.

On Friday, the final round of group matches will be played and Nigeria’s Super Falcons will come up against their Namibian counterparts in a game that the hosts need a result to keep qualification hopes for the next round alive. In the other game that will be played simultaneously, Les Elephantes will be looking forward to picking up their first ever last four with a win over Zambia who are also hoping to bow out of the competition on a high after suffering two losses.

cameroonIn group B, Cameroon secured a comfortable win over Algeria and qualified for the semi finals with a game to spare with Deborah Enganamouit who was voted as the game’s WOTM scoring in each half to record their second win of the tournament. Algeria finished the game with ten players after Fethia Bekhedda was given her marching orders.

Meanwhile, Ghana and South Africa couldn’t go past Algeria on the log as both sides shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. South Africa’s Mpuni Nyandeni was making her 100th appearance for the team and she was voted TN Mobile WOTM after a good performance. Elizabeth Cudjoe scored for the Black Queens after Octovia Nogwanya had given Banyana Banyana the lead.

On Saturday, West African side Ghana face a big task when they meet Cameroon in their last Group B clash with a much needed win and will be hoping for a favorable result in the other group game that will see South Africa take on Algeria.


Eagles-Getty-images-e1413400518702Nigeria boosted her chances of qualifying for the 2015 African Nations Cup yesterday after downing Sudan by 3 goals to 1. The Eagles did raise their game on a rainy night in Abuja and the fans were not disappointed at the end of proceedings but the Press was because the winning coach and his players failed to show up for Post-match briefings.

Ahmed Musa had given Nigeria the lead when he pounced on a great move from Mikel Obi, to give the Eagles the lead. Minutes later, the Nigerian defense were caught napping and the visitors equalized through, debutant Aaron Samuel also capitalized on a mix-up in the Sudanese defense to score Nigeria’s second and then Musa sealed victory with his second of the night when he stole the ball from a defender and smashed home expertly.

Nigeria is now third on the log in group A with four points, three and four points adrift of Congo and South Africa respectively while Sudan returns to the bottom with three points.

Here is a quick review of the Nigerian players that featured in the game.

My player ratings:


Vincent Enyeama (8): Despite not being able to keep a clean sheet, the shot stopper did enough on the night.

Juwon Oshaniwa (6): justified the coach’s decision to play him rather than Eldesrson Echiejile.

Kenneth Omeruo (6): Omeruo had a fair game, was ball watching when the visitors equalized

Godfery Oboabona (5): Also culpable of ball watching alongside Omeruo, yet to get back to his best.

Ogenyi Onazi (7): Good game he had, played more adventurous despite been asked to play in the right back position (Can’t blame him much though) He was less aggressive on the night as well.

Mikel Obi (7): He was efficient for the team.

Raheem Lawal: (7): With more good performances like this, he might soon become a regular starter, Played well.

Hope Akpan (5): Fair game.

Emmanuel Emenike (7): Didn’t get on the score sheet, showed some desperation at some point in the game, work rate was high but most of his final balls were very disappointing.

Aaron Samuel (7): Looks like the China-based player will soon be a regular based on today’s performance, scored a good goal as well.

MUSAAhmed Musa (9): Provided a man of the match performance with two well taken goals.


Gbolahan Salami (4): Nothing much from the Warri wolves’ striker.

Sone Aluko (5): Has got the spark, more playing time probably needed and fair game for the Hull City man.

Osaguona Ighodaro (4): Bright prospect no doubt…couldn’t do much as well

African Women Championship: Match Day 1 wrap

Zambia-Women-TeamThe Championship kicked off on Saturday at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek, Namibia.

In Group A , the hosts got their campaign well underway in front of their supporters in the opening game against Zambia with Rita Williams and Thomalina Adam’s first half goals enough to hand them a two-nil win. The TN Mobile Woman of the Match was awarded to Thomalina Adams (Namibia).

NigeriaSix time winners, Nigeria Super Falcons and Ivory Coast produced a six-goal thriller with the Super Falcons emerging victors of the game. Nigeria’s goals came through Esther Sunday, Mariam Diakite’s own goal and Desire Oparanozie’s brace with Fatou Coulibaly Tiegnou and Christine Lohoues Yeble’s getting the two goals for the Ivorians. Ngozi Okobi (Nigeria) bagged the TN Mobile Woman of the Match award.

Raissa-Feudjio-WithJeaninevaWyk-141012BPP300On Sunday afternoon, matches in group B took center stage as both Cameroon and Algeria left it late in their opening group games against South Africa and Ghana respectively with one-nil wins. The goals were scored in the 88th minute of both games. Raissa Feudjio for the Lioness against the Banyana Banyana and Horiya Affak finished well to ensure their shock win over Ghana.

Match day 2 matches:

Tuesday 14 October 2014
Zambia vs Nigeria Sam Nujoma Stadium
Ivory Coast vs Namibia Sam Nujoma Stadium

Wednesday 15 October 2014
Cameroon vs Algeria Independence Stadium
Ghana vs South Africa Independence Stadium