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Nigerians’ disappointment at games loss

The majority of people in Abuja didnot actually know that Friday was crunch time for the Nigerian capital city’s hopes of hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

There has been little in the way of a domestic publicity campaign.

Strangely no special events or parties had even been planned in case Abuja won.

But for those Nigerians who had heard of the event, almost all wanted Abuja to win and a few were genuinely disappointed that Africa was again passed over as host, losing out to Glasgow.

“We are really disappointed that the Commonwealth is not taking place in Abuja. We really prayed,” one man said.

“We fasted even, so that it would take place here but it didn’t happen. We are really disappointed.”

Other people seemed angrier.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable because Nigeria has prepared for 2014 with all the resources at their disposal,” another Abuja resident said.

“As a black race I think it is high time that we know what is happening in the Commonwealth.”

Nigeria’s bid was largely built on the fact that the games have never been hosted by an African nation.

Nigeria, the most populous and the most oil-rich country on the continent, does have some modern sporting facilities but they were really in need of upgrading.

The government had insisted it would put up the cash required and it was hoped the games would create investment in jobs.

But critics said the money would be better spent on tackling Nigeria’s basic problems.

Others were worried that the games would simply become another source for corruption.

So in the end: some disappointment; not a lot of surprise and a good deal of indifference.

One gets the feeling it would have been very different if Nigeria had been competing to host an international football tournament.


Why we honoured Eaglet's keeper -Gov Saraki

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

Kwara state governor, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has given reasons why the state government honoured the Kwara-born Eaglet goalkeeper Oladele Ajiboye, in the special reception which attracted commendation from sports-loving Nigerians.

Gov. Saraki said it was the determination of his administration to reward excellence in all spheres of human endeavours, so as to encourage people who engage in meaningful acts.

Speaking through his deputy, Chief Joel Ogundeji, the governor described the eaglet keeper, Ajiboye, as a hero who had brought glory to Kwara state in particular and Nigeria in general.

Saraki, who splashed N1 million cash gift on the player, urged him to use the money to further his soccer career and his education.

Responding, the entire Ajiboye family led by his father, Alhaji Ajiboye and his entire Aran-orin family community of Kwara state thanked the governor for his kind gesture.

Earlier, the state commissioner for sports, Alhaji Zakari Moh’d, had enumerated Gov. Saraki’s giant strides in sports including; the establishment of Kwara Football Academy, renovation of stadium complex and a host of others.


Black Star Fears Eagles

By ‘Ladi Orifunmilola

Black Stars of Ghana’s midfield generalissimo, Sulley Muntari, fears Nigeria’s Super Eagles may scuttle Ghana’s ambition to lift the 2008 African Cup of Nations if both countries clash at the semi-final stage of the competition.

Ghana has the duty of hosting 15 other African nations come January and being the only African team good enough to make it to the second round of the 2006 World Cup held in Germany, the Black Stars are considered favourites to lift the cup.

“We can win but I hope we can avoid Nigeria especially at the semifinal. It is true that we understand one another and either of us can win a game,” Muntari told Portsmouth

Sounding specific, Muntari described Nigeria’s Christian Obodo, Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka as terrific players.

“In Italy, Obodo is one of the best five midfielders. He is tough and hardworking. When everybody seemed tired, Obodo kept going and coming. I have never found him exhausted,” Muntari recalls his days as Obodo’s teammate at Italian Serie A side, Udinese.

At Portsmouth, it is a different class. Kanu and Utaka are simply marvelous. I don’t like to play at opposing sides to them during training sessions,” he added.

The left-footed ace described Ghana’s 5-1 victory over Nigeria in London during an international friendly early in the year as a facade.

“We know each other. That was not Nigeria. Rather, it was Nigeria at their worst.  Perhaps we had two different perceptions to the match. We took it as a prestige game, and Nigeria took it like a friendly game.”

Muntari added that he could not imagine what a Nigerian team would be if eleven Eagles could perform as well as Obodo, Kanu and Utaka.

However, he sounded a note of warning: “If we meet them in the final, definitely we’ll lift the cup” he boasted.


Who is killing Nigerian football?

By AbdulRaheem Olatunji

It’s amazing when some people in the society are talking about football; some with little or no ideas of what they are talking about. They just want to be heard. Yes, it is very good to be heard but with a sense of understanding and for the people that are listening to gain from their wealth of experience.

However, when people are talking and the listeners gain nothing from what they are saying or seem misleading or that they are just talking because of their personal gains, interest or to sound like they have scores to settle with other parties involved; it means they have no love or passion for the game they are following.

Recently, I read with keen interest from some Nigerian dailies where Chief Alex Akinyele was calling for Dr. Amos Adamu’s head and imploring the Minister of Sports Alhaji Abdulraman Gimba, to get rid of him (Adamu) from the National Sports Commission. I ruminated over the issue and rapport between Chief Alex Akinyele and Chief Amos Adamu when the duo was together at the National Sports Commission between 1992 and 1995.

I ended up concluding that something funny is happening because the High Chief of Ondo is neither talking about football nor the way forward to a lasting solution for Nigerian football problem. Rather, he is trying to get back at the Nigerian FIFA & CAF Executive Dr. Amos Adamu for reasons best known to him. To me, the denial of a contract award and other related personal issues are not enough reason to antagonise somebody about football development and the way forward.

The personal issues need to be kept somewhere more secured than the air in your tyre to avoid personal sentiment. It is not when Mr. A lost contract bidding from the table of Mr. B, then Mr. A would falsely testify against Mr. B for a missing goat. Then Mr. A is not for justice and development rather, he is fighting for his own pocket.

I was at NFA AGM 2007 held at the Premier Hotel, Ibadan in August 2007 where Dr. Amos Adamu talked to the entire congress with a sense of responsibility and the man Adamu said that he has to be involved in every football matter because he cannot be here and things keep going wrong. He said FIFA & CAF will ask him questions where he was.

That’s why he nearly went on his knees at the congress appealing to everybody to go by the rules of the game, asking Secretary-General of the FA, Mr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba, to circulate information on this to stakeholders. What the NSC Director-General Dr. Amos Adamu wanted from all parties is to follow the rules of the game but Chief Alex Akinyele has now turned round to say that Adamu is the problem of our football.

Dr. Amos Adamu gains nothing in Nigerian football problem but will benefit tremendously when things are going on smoothly with the game in the country. He is now FIFA & CAF executive member through Nigeria football - how come he is going to work against the interest of Nigerian football?

Going down memory lane, when Chief Akinyele was the chairman of NSC in the 90s with little or no knowledge about sports, Dr. Amos Adamu was Director of Sports Development under him. Adamu was neither an executive member of FIFA nor that of CAF. The Ondo High Chief Akinyele made Dr Amos Adamu the sole administrator of the NFA.

Nigeria football recorded a number of successes including, winning Under-17 world cup. Adamu also qualified Nigeria for its first ever World Cup in USA 1994. We all know Adamu’s effort in getting Nigeria through the qualifiers especially in our last match against Algeria. It was a Chief Akinyele with his shallow idea about (football) sports was nicknamed the Games Master General by the Nigeria press.

He gained instant prominence because of his informed decision of putting the right person in the right position. Today, by the grace of Almighty, Adamu is now FIFA & CAF executive member with his wealth of experience which is a plus for us, and for anybody to be calling for his head is grossly unfair, not only to Amos Adamu but to Nigerian football.

Dr. Amos Adamu handled the issue with maturity, showing restraint by not joining issues with Chief Alex Akinyele who was his former boss. That is a lesson for all of us.

So, next time when we are to criticise, let us do so constructively not on the basis of losing out on contract bidding and emotional sentiment.

Raheem Olatunji, a veteran sports photo journalist is Chairman/CEO of Socrates Allsports Communications Limited Ibadan.


Transfer window opens

*As NFA keeps mum on Obaseki

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

As the 2007/2008 NFL Globacom premier league enters week eleven, the transfer window is now open after week 10 matches were played last weekend to allow for the movement of players from one club to the other.

League network can reveal that big players like goalkeeper Chijioke Egiogwu of Dolphins moves to Akwa United for a record N8 million transfer, while reports had it that midfielder Isiaka Olawale moves frm Lobi Stars to Enyimba.

Kwara United are set to grab goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi, while the duo of Captain Edebiri Amafe and Ndubuisi Nkoro move to Sharks.

Nasarawa United has secured the services of Ogbonnaya Okemiri while keeper Jude Edemba, Daniel Njoku, Obinna Okwu move to JUTH of Jos amongst other prominent league stars.

The current top four teams on the league table are; Heartland, Enyimba, Rangers, Sunshine, while the bottom-placed four include; Insurance, Jigawa, JUTH and Nasarawa.

However, the league has been characterised by crisis between the NFA and NFL with no solution in sight. The referees are also complaining of poor payment amidst poor facilities.

There are examples of whistle men who failed copper test getting hired by the NFA to handle matches while poor football pitches, with examples at Osogbo and Yenogoa, and fans unrest are taking the shine off the league.

Meanwhile, the fate of suspended NFL boss Oyuki Obaseki still hangs as no date has been fixed by the big stick-wielding NFA to hear the Benin chief’s appeal.

No going back on sacked coaches – Prime FC.

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

Management of premier league side, Prime Football Club of Osogbo have ruled out the possibilities of recalling the team’s sacked technical crew led by coach Tiamiyu Yusuf just as the club have tipped former Adamawa United handler Ibrahim Osama and coach ex-international Henry Nwosu as possible replacements.

General Manager of the club, Gbenga Ololade told league network shortly after his team defeated Zamfara United by 2-0 last weekend at Osogbo Stadium that his management would not reverse its decision on the sacked coaching crew despite agitations from certain quarters.

He said his team paraded good players since the commencement of the new season but required some technical and tactical inputs to drive home victory and that could only be achieved through sound technical personnel.

Ololade also confirmed to league network that about 10 coaches showed interest in the vacant position but the list was narrowed down to two in Osama and Nwosu.

Meanwhile, league network, at the Osogbo stadium last weekend, reports that the condition of the playing pitch could not allow for good game.

We’re at home in Ibadan- Heartland

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

Against the backdrop of their banishment to Ibadan in the aftermath of crowd violence at the Dan Anyiam Stadium Owerri, management of Heartland Football Club of Owerri, have taken their ordeal in good faith, just as they described their new home ground as “home away from home”.

Team Manager of the club, Emeka Iwuagwu told league network in a telephone chat that his management regretted the violence at Owerri which he attributed to “overzealous fans” but described the warm reception accorded them by the Oyo State F.A. as commendable.

According to Iwuagwu, “We are known as one of the most peaceful club sides in the country. Actually our fans reacted to the poor officiating of the game by the referees but such acts are not in the sprit of the game. So we don’t support such at all.

“Yes, we have resolved to take the banishment in good faith. Right now, we are in Ibadan and we were well received here, so, this is our new home for now”.

It would be recalled that the Nigeria Football League (NFL) banished Heartland to Ibadan after fans attacked centre referee Emmanuel Imiere (FIFA) in the week 7 encounter against Enyimba.

The match ended 1-1 while the Dan Anyiam Stadium was banned from hosting league matches.


We want Ikhana back, Kwara Utd fans cry out

Say: “Kafaru Alabi Must Go” as coach gets 3-match ultimatum

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

Following their unimpressive run in the ongoing Globacom premier league, Kwara United fans are calling on the club management to urgently bring back the team’s former coach Kadiri Ikhana on a salvage mission.

Many of the fans who spoke to league network in Ilorin expressed displeasure over the lack lustre performance of the club under the charge of coach Kafaru Alabi, who was given three match ultimatum by management to get the Afonja babes back on winning ways.

One of the fans who identified himself as Lukman Salau expressed fear that if urgent measures were not taken “Kafaru Alabi will take the club to relegation as he had previously done to about three clubs before he came here”.

Adebayo Sikiru, another fan, added: “When Ikhana was here we got continental ticket, but Kafaru Alabi sent us out of the CAF Cup. With Ikhana we didn’t get all these bad away results. Imagine, we have conceded 12 goals already when the league has not gone far”.

Efforts by league network to get coach Alabi to comment proved abortive but one of his aides pleaded with management and fans for some time as “most of the players were new and as such were yet to blend”.

Meanwhile, league network scooped that Coach Kafaru Alabi was about sealing a deal with Zamfara United in case he gets booted out of Kwara.


Gov Agagu splashes N40m  on Sunshine

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

Determined the secure a continental ticket at the end of the season, newly promoted Sunshine football club of Akure have received a big financial boost of N40 million courtesy of Gov. Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State.

The government’s gesture came ahead of the impressive performances being put up by the Akure-based side in the on going season which had placed the team among the early contenders on the league table.

Speaking with League Network in a telephone chat, media officer of the club, Kehinde Lamidi confirmed the approval of the fund for the club, even as he said that the amount was to settle the players’ sign-on fees and those of the technical crew.

According to him “Yes I can confirm to you that His Excellency Gov. Agagu has graciously approved the sum of N40 million for the players and officials as sign-on fees, and on the side of the management we have introduced best players award of N50,000 thousand for  every match, all these are aimed at motivating the players to continue with their impressive performances”, he said.


Kano Pillars to offload 15 players,

…I’ll inject new midfielders, central defenders, striker, coach Ikhana says

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

Barely few weeks into the 2007/2008 premier league season, Kano Pillars FC have concluded plans to send about 15 players into the labour market.

Club technical adviser, Kadiri Ikhana, who made the disclosure told League Network that the affected players could not withstand the demands of the league so far.

According to the 2003 African Best Coach of the Year “there are about 15 players in my team who cannot stand the demands of the league, hence I want to push them out”, saying “I have to do this because it will be a waste of money if they continue here”.

The former Enyimba coach, however, added that he would require at least seven good players to beef up the team when the transfer window opens.

His words: “I need at least seven players that will include midfielders, central defenders and wingers. When this is done, the team will surely be better for the season”, said Ikhana, who joined Pillars for a whopping N10 million contract this season.


Sharks coach Eguma hospitalized again

By Alloy Chukwuemeka

In less than five weeks into the 2007/2008 premier league season, Chief coach of Sharks of Port Harcourt has been reported hospitalised again after the newly married tactician was recently discharged from the hospital.

Clubs sources told League Network that the coach, Eguma, who guided the Port Harcourt side to promotion to the elite division, may have been suffering from a heart attack.

The former Heartland of Owerri sweat merchant was reported to have developed another serious illness shortly after his club defeated Enyimba of Aba 1-0 in their week 5 encounter played at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital.

Efforts by League Network to reach the embattled coach on phone, however, paid off as he spoke from his sick bed: “my brother na stress o ... but I thank God I am getting better now. I will soon be discharged possibly today.”


I’m too big for Eagles bench- Aiyegbeni

By ‘Ladi Orifunmilola

Everton of England’s signing, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, says he is at war with Super Eagles manager, Berti Vogts, because the German keeps him on the substitutes’ bench.

In an interview with, Aiyegbeni described as double standards the decision by Vogts to keep him on the bench while fielding other latecomers to the national team as first teamers.

“I can understand if the decision to keep me on the bench was due to late arrival but I’ve seen situations where I reported early enough and those who arrived after me were given first team places,” said the former Middlesbrough striker.

He described himself as a first team material of the Eagles as far as his profile was concerned. “See, the era when I could take it as an understudy was past. Then we had great players who could show us the direction. This is my sixth year with the Eagles and I can boast I’m a first team material. My experience claims it and my goals are there to prove me right. There is no striker in the present squad who has scored more than me”.

The hit man described his rampant problem with national team selectors to his outspokenness. “I’m a patriot, nobody can take that away from me. I’ve never asked for monetary favours from Nigeria to play for the Eagles but we know our level even as we are national team players.”

Aiyegbeni does not foreclose a return to the Super Eagles for the 2008 African Cup of Nations but insisted his position had not changed. “I want to help the team to win every game. In the win over Niger Republic, Vogts knew how I endured pain to play so if he still needs me, I’m available”.

Ghana 2008: Nigerian defenders must toughen up—Westerhof

By ‘Ladi Orifunmilola

Former Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Clemens Westerhof has asked Berti Vogts toughen his defenders if Nigeria will make an impact at Ghana 2008 African Cup of  Nations.

Speaking with The MarkSports in Ilorin, when president of  the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou paid him a courtesy call in his position as rector of Kwara Football College, Westerhof described the present bunch of  Eagles’ defenders as “too gentle”.

“When I was with the Eagles, I told the defenders that when you concede goals, you could only win games but you can not win a championship. Take a look at all championship winners, they relied on their defence more than anything else.”

Being specific, Westerhof told Berti Vogts to concentrate on man and space marking of the Eagles.

“In Nigeria’s group at the Nations Cup, there are dangerous opponents like Frederic Kanoute (Mali), Didier Drogba, Aruna Dindane (Cote d’Ivoire) and Razak Omotoyosi (Benin Republic). Such players do not need an acre of space to hit you. So the Eagles defenders need to be tougher and mobile on the alert”.

He described as cheeky the goals Eagles conceded in recent games. “When I watched the Eagles, I asked if they were the unrelenting Nigerians I coached. These days, you see opponents making three touches in the Nigerian 18 yard box and scoring. In the recent games, Nigeria had conceded cheeky goals to Uganda, Niger and Mexico. If I were Vogts, I would be greatly worried”.

The Dutchman does not rule out Super Eagles eventual triumph at the Nations Cup but said Vogts needs a lot of hard work on the players. “This is not the time to ask him to look for fresh legs but he can get the best out of the team by toughening the players up for desired results,” he said.


By Oluseyi Lasisi

Record chasing Etoile du Sahel Tunisia defeated the defending champion A1 Ahly of Egypy 3-1 in front of the Egyptian president and over 55,000 Egyptian supporters at the Cairo international stadium.

Etoile’s victory is the first ever for the Tunisian club in the Champions League and thus made them among the record setters alongside JS Kabylie of Algeria and Esperance of Tunisia as the only three clubs that have won all the available cups in Africa, ranging from CAF Champions League, Mandela Cup to Confederation cup.

Victory for the title holders A1 Ahly would have made them the first ever team in Africa to win the coveted trophy for a consecutive third time running.

It would be recalled that the first leg ended goalless in Sousse in Tunisia before the Tunisians scored three beautiful goals in Cairo to avoid a repeat of the same score in 2005 when Etoile hosted Ahly in the final. The Egyptians later won 3-0 in Cairo.

With this victory, Etoile du Sahel will present Africa in the FIFA World Club’s Cup Championship.



By Oluseyi Lasisi

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard insists he doesn’t regret losing Cese Fabregas to Arsenal.

He said: “I am pleased to see that a player from our juniors is succeeding but we do not have to be concerned when we have players of the level of Xavi, Andres Imesta, and Deco.”

The Barca coach though admitted he would have loved Fabregas to be flourishing under him. He said: “He is one guy who makes things happen. He looks fragile but has the world at his feet.”

Rijkaard is adamant Ronaldinho will not leave at the end of the season. Aware of speculations over Ronaldinho’s future, with new contract talks yet to open, Rijkaard said: “He is now with us working hard and he is very important in the team.

“I do not like to talk about hypotheticals. Ronaldinho will not leave. He still has much to demonstrate at Barca. He can develop many more things with us. He is what we want.”


NFA suspension of Obaseki not harsh enough - Galadima

By Salihu Othman Isah

The recent suspension of the embattled chairman of the Nigeria Football League (NFL), Chief Oyuiki Obaseki and some members of his board as well as the chairman of the Club Owners Association of Nigeria, Davidson Owumi by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) has been described as not harsh when compared to the weight of the offence they allegedly committed.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The MarkSports in Kano, NFA executive board member, Alhaji Alili Galadima, noted that Chief Obaseki led the NFL on the wrong lane by intentionally running the league in defiance to the statute books of FIFA and the CAF as well as that of the NFL as approved by the NFA.

Galadima, who is also the vice chairman of Globacom Premier League side, Jigawa Golden Stars Football Club of Dutse told our correspondent that the NFL should not constitute a law unto itself, adding: “the board members must therefore be punished and made to apologise for the embarrassment they have caused Nigerian football”.

According to him, Obaseki was at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the NFA held a few weeks back in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, where all stakeholders, including the NFL boss, agreed to kick-start this year’s premier league on September 1, “only for him to botch its commencement without cogent reason”, emphasising that “Obaseki deserves whatever action meted to him”.

“It is not too harsh. It is not. Remember Obaseki is the chairman of the Nigeria Football League and he is a man who knows the rules of the game; a man, who studies both statutes, the NFL and NFA. You know the statute of the NFA is approved by CAF and FIFA while the statute of the NFL is approved by the NFA, so, he studied it and intentionally he was at the Ibadan AGM

“You know it was at the Ibadan AGM all the stakeholders including Obaseki agreed to start the league on the 1st (September) and it was later Obaseki came out to say they would not start the league. So, whatever decision NFA take against Obaseki, I don’t think it is wrong. There is nothing wrong in it”, Galadima submitted.

Responding to a question on allegation of selective justice suspending Obaseki and pardoning others, the astute sports administrator insisted that it was not true that the NFL boss was singled out for punishment, as according to him, due process was followed in taking the action.

In his words, “You know I am part and parcel of that decision. I was there. I attended the meeting when we suspended Obaseki and others. I was at the meeting held with members of the National Assembly Committee on Sports by the ministry, the NFL and the NFA.

“They had requested that we have to suspend our action; even if we are going to suspend our action due process must be followed. The due process is that Obaseki and Co. has to step down and they have to appeal against the decision taken. And they stepped down and appealed.

“When they appealed, we sent them a letter to come and appear before the NFA committee members. Salihu (Abubakar) and that your media man were the only two who appeared before the executive committee members. We asked them where is Obaseki and others. They said Obaseki traveled to his hometown for a burial ceremony and that the letter we sent didn’t reach him.

“We asked what about Shehu Gusau, they said Shehu Gusau traveled for lesser Hajj. We said if that is the case, those of you who came here… can you apologize for what you did? They said okay, they understand that actually it was a mistake and that they are now ready to accept and to respect the NFA statute. We said okay, let us treat your case, let us decide when we are going to call Obaseki and others. We say let it be after this Sallah after Shehu Gusau must have returned from Saudi Arabia ”, he reeled out.

The chairman Jigawa State Football Association noted that the insistence by the NFA that the league must be operated in an orderly manner is necessary because the football world, including FIFA and CAF are watching Nigeria, assuring that normalcy would be restored soon.


By Oluseyi Lasisi

Internazionale winger, Luis Figo is facing at least two months out after fracturing his right leg. The Portuguese star suffered the injury in the second half of the Serie A 1-1 draw with Juventus in Turin.

He went under the Surgeon’s knife last week Tuesday and the club’s doctors said the surgery went well.

The 35 years old is now set for a period of rehabilitation but is not expected to return until the end of January.

Figo’s loss is a major blow to Inter boss Roberto Maucini whose side recently top Serie A by a point and are top of UEFA Champions League Group G.

Maucini is already without a host of key players including Marco Materazzi (thigh), Patrick Vieira (calf), Dejan Stankorie (ankle) and Francesco Toldo (foot).



By Oluseyi Lasisi

Erstwhile Super Eagles defender Celestine Babayaro has been listed in the premiership all time injured eleven by an independent research website, Liverpool Pies Towers.

The former Nigerian international who just returned to the Newcastle United squad this week after seven months sideline was listed among players like Liverpool’s Chris Kirkland, Middlesbrough’s Jonathan Woodgate, Aston Villa’s Mark Delaney, compatriot and former Middlesrough defender Ugo Ehiogu, Darren Anderton, Marcus Babbel, Harry Kewel, Kieron Dyer, Pierluigi Casirarghi and Luc Nilis.

Commenting on Babayaro’s inclusion on the list, the researchers noted that they had completely forgotten that the Nigerian defender was still playing active football, quipping that they thought he had returned to the country to join politics.

“Until we started researching this article, we had completely forgotten that Babayaro was still playing football.

“When he is not suspended, he tends to find himself getting his damaged hamstring treated by the Newcastle United doctors. Apparently, it was only the sacking of former Magpies manager, Glenn Roeder, that saved his career at St. James Park.

That Babayaro has only made 51 appearances in nearly three years of his stay at Newcastle tells the tale.

Nigeria-born former Middlesbrough defender, Ugo-Ehiogu was not also spared. Ehiogu is constantly on the injury list to the extent that he confessed he (Ehiogu) could never play two games in three days.

His injury list is basically a Gray’s Anatomy for the leg; Achilles Paratendino-Pathy, posterior cruciate Ligamend tear, strains of the knee, calf, groin and hamstring and back pain. Although he is still playing, only God knows how.



By Oluseyi Lasisi

Former world number one, Martina Hingis, has declared that bidding good-bye to the sport that brought her fame and wealth has become inevitable at this point because she has a score to settle with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The 27-year-old admitted testing positive to drug but insisted she’s innocent. The world number 19 from Switzerland stated in a press conference in Zurich that she was “retiring from tennis and felt 100 percent innocent.”

“My only performance enhancer is the love of the game. When I was informed I had failed my ‘A’ test following my defeat at Wimbledon, I was shocked.

“I have no desire to spend the next seven years fighting doping officials.

“I’m frustrated and angry because I believe I’m 100 percent innocent and accusation such as these don’t provide me with the motivation to continue,” she submitted, citing age and health problems as additional reasons why she decided to quit for good.

Born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia (Now Slovakia), Hingis became a Swiss citizen in 1980 and became the youngest Wimbledon champion aged 15, winning the women’s doubles title with Helena Sukora in July 1996.

She followed it up as the youngest grand slam singles champion in the 20th century by winning the Australian open in January 1997 at 16.

Emenalo: I’m not in Chelsea to scout for Nigeria

By ‘Ladi Orifunmilola

Former Super Eagles defender, Michael Emenalor, has said he had not become Chelsea’s Chief Scout to feather Nigeria’s nest.

Responding to The Mark e-mail, Emenalo said though he felt proud to be a Nigerian working for a top club in Europe, yet it was no licence for him to import Nigerian talents to Stamford Bridge.

“I know how Nigerians feel seeing one of their own as Chelsea’s Chief Scout. They must be proud of that. I must also be cautious of what I do here not to let the club and my country down.

“I’m not here to market Nigeria starlets but to help the Chelsea to find the best they could hope for. If we find many Nigerians here, it is because they are good enough for the club and not because Michael Emenalo is here,” wrote the former Rangers International.

He, however, said he hoped Nigeria’s Mikel Obi would remain a good ambassador of the country at Chelsea.

“Since I arrived here, he had comported himself well and acted as a true professional. His coaches and teammates have high regards for him”, said Emenalo.

Being number one again, my target - Serena

By Oluseyi Lasisi

If there is one thing that is ultimate achievement for America’s glamour girl of tennis Serena Williams, it is to reclaim the number one position currently in the kitty of Justine Henin.

The eight-time grand slam champion said she has an inner urge to go for it, adding that she believes it is not hers (Henin).

“I definitely think I’m ready for it,” said the seventh ranked American. I’m ready to dedicate myself. I’m excited by the fact that I have so much motivation. That’s why I was so upset at the US Open. I’m really motivated now my whole attitude has changed and I think I have all it takes to go for it,” she said.

Williams was the world’s top player in 2002 when she won three grand slams but a mixture of injury and lack of focus caused a slide in the ranking. The 26 years old Williams is involved in a variety of off-court projects, including fashion design and acting.

“I definitely do a lot of different things. I don’t want to be one of those girls that don’t have anything to change into when I am done with my career. I think it is important to have things to fall back on.”

Williams lost in the quarter-finals of the US Open to top-ranked eventual champion Justine Henin last month and said the Belgian hit some lucky shots to win 7-6, 6-1. One good thing about her desire to return to the top spot, she said, is her super form at the moment.

“My health is good right now. I have had a lot of injuries in the past so I am really excited”.

Williams won this year’s Australian Open just her second grand slam title since 2003.


Tella complicated own case - NFA Chief

By ‘Ladi Orifunmilola

A member of the board of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), names withheld, has  blamed Chief Coach of the FIFA U-17 World Champions, the Golden Eaglets Yemi Tella for his plight.

Coach Tella died in the early hours of Saturday Oct. 20 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) after losing the battle for his life to cancer of the lung.

The MarkSports recalls that the coach had suffered the complication about three months ago when he ended up in a South Korean hospital during a mock World U-17 Eight- Nation tournament.

“During the reception for the team in Abuja after winning the World Cup, I asked Tella to whisper his health condition into the ears of President Umar Yar’Adua. There and then, it was easy to get his (president’s) attention and I know he would have commenced action on his treatment immediately rather than we using the media to beg for finances to treat him”, said the NFA chief.

He went ahead to state that the NFA was still indebted to a South Korean hospital which treated Tella to the tune of thirty thousand dollars.

“We kept Tella at the South Korean hospital because we knew that with his condition, it would have been unkind and unhealthy to fly him back to Nigeria after the Eight-Nation tournament where Nigeria ended runners-up to Brazil through a 4-5 penalty shootout”.

Moreover, the NFA stalwart feared that if Tella had been flown back to Nigeria after the tournament, many agitators would have opposed his leading Nigeria to the World Cup proper.

“If we had removed Tella as Eaglets coach on account of his health, then we would have done him great injustice. He toiled hard to raise the team and thank God, he was able to silence critics who would have lapped on him as an infirm coach who ought to have been sacked”.

Tella, was senior lecturer (football) at the National Institute for Sports (NIS) Surulere Lagos. He died exactly 42 days after leading the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria to win the nation’s third FIFA U-17 World Cup at South Korea.

The MarkSports also recalls that the federal government intervened to save the coach’s life few days to his death, promising to do everything possible including settling all his hospital bills.


Kameni: We'll be in South Africa

Carlos Idriss Kameni is one of the men of the moment in the Spanish top flight. The keeper has played a fundamental part in Espanyol’s recent exploits, helping them to last year’s UEFA Cup final and to fifth place in La Liga this term. At the age of 23, the world seems to be the Cameroon international’s oyster.

Reaching the top has been no easy ride for Kameni, though. After coming to Europe as a 15-year-old he had to fight hard to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and overcome the many obstacles he faced. And it was not until he arrived in Spain after an unfortunate sojourn in France that he was able to hold down a regular first-team place.

Easy-going and affable, to the extent that he even helped his interviewer fix the tape recorder halfway through the interview, La Pantera was more than happy to answer a question or two for

Carlos, let's start, if I may, with your Spanish name. You come from Cameroon, a French-speaking country, so was that a sign of things to come perhaps?
No, no (laughs). What happened was that one of my uncles is called Carlos and my father decided to name me after him. It's not that uncommon a name in Cameroon either. There are quite a few more people called Carlos back home.

When you were 16 you won a gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Football Tournament, against Spain strangely enough. Is that when you started dreaming of playing in La Liga?
I’d always wanted to play in one of the world’s big leagues. Having hopes and dreams keeps me going and I’ve always aimed to be among the best. Spain wasn’t a specific goal of mine, though. I was always attracted to the idea of playing in England and Italy as well.

You have finally found success at Espanyol after spending a few difficult years in France, a country where Cameroonian players usually prosper.
Yes, I found it tough in the French league. I was with Le Havre for four years and they never had any faith in me, so much so that I never actually played a match for them. So when I came here my priority was to get a game or two and show people I had what it took to be among the best. And I think I’ve managed to develop while I’ve been here and play well.

You were also following in the footsteps of the great Thomas N'Kono, a legend at the club.
Yes, and it’s an honour for me to be seen as the heir to the greatest Cameroonian keeper of all time. We also get on really well too (N’Kono is goalkeeping coach at Espanyol). He was my guide when I arrived in the city and he helped me adapt to life here much more quickly. He has also given me a lot of advice, and I can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for me. He was my hero and now he is my friend. What more can you ask for?

Let's talk now about Espanyol, the surprise team in La Liga this year. How far do you think you and your team-mates can go this season?
Our dream is to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The way I see it you have to really believe in your dreams and work hard to make them come true. I don’t think it’s out of the question for us to be in the top four places by the end of the season and to make it into the competition.

Last season you finished runners-up in the UEFA Cup but missed out on a place in Europe. Do you miss playing those games?
Of course, but the fact is we didn’t make it because we didn’t deserve to. All the same it could turn out to be a good thing for us because we don’t have that big a squad and by focusing just on the league we might do well. Don’t forget that we’ve also got the Copa del Rey coming up, which is a very important competition.

The club has three Spanish internationals who are really catching the eye this season: Riera, Tamudo and Luis Garcia. What is your opinion of them?
It makes me really happy to see them doing so well and that people are finally realising how talented they are. They are class players and it’s thanks to them that we’ve made such a good start to the league campaign. I’m sure they’ll perform just as well for Spain.

Turning to Cameroon now, after missing out on Germany 2006 do you see the qualifiers for South Africa 2010 as a chance to get revenge?
Revenge no, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play in a World Cup in Africa. It’ll be like playing at home. It would be fantastic if we could make it, because although I was there in 2002, I watched all the games from the bench and it’s not the same. We’ve got to qualify, though, and first of all we need to have a good Cup of Nations. That’s one tough competition, but we’ll be looking to win it.

Roger Milla recently said 2010 would be a great opportunity for an African side to become world champions. Do you agree with that?
Oh, that’s a lot of pressure (laughs). I don’t know if we’ll go that far but it will definitely be an advantage to have our fans cheering us on. The big teams had better watch out. There are also more and more stronger teams coming out of Africa now. Just look at Togo, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire. It’s not just the same old big teams anymore. Cameroon, Egypt and Nigeria have to be careful or they might end up getting a nasty surprise.

Tell us a little bit about your life off the pitch.
I live with my family. I’m married and I have a three-and-a-half-year-old girl. My wife is expecting another baby too. So I try to spend as much time as I can with them. When I finish training I eat with them, take my daughter out, watch a film and then go to bed.

And what about football? Do you have the time to watch a match?
Of course. Whenever there’s a good Champions League game on, I watch it. I used to be a real football fanatic and spent every Saturday in front of the TV. First there was a Bundesliga match, then the (English) Premier, Serie A, French league and a Spanish game to finish off with. But my wife didn’t like my routine much (laughs). Fortunately we’ve got TVs all over the house - in the lounge, the bedrooms and the kitchen - so she didn’t complain that much.

Finally, where do you see yourself in five years time?
The start of my career was so tough that I’m absolutely thrilled with what’s happening to me now. I’ve still got my dreams of course, and I picture myself playing the Champions League, winning the World Cup and playing for one of Europe’s big teams. Manchester (United), Arsenal, Milan, Inter, Real Madrid or Barcelona; it would be an honour to play for any of them.

Barcelona? The Espanyol fans won't like you saying that!
(Laughs). You’re right, I don’t think they’d be too happy about that. But you know, I’m a professional footballer and Barcelona is a great club. So if the chance comes up, then why not?


Vol. 6 No. 15 November 17, 2007  EDITION...Of Truth and Excellence