As expected by many fans of the Golden Eaglets all over the globe, the opening game against Hungary was not an easy one. It brought out the best from both sides. However what took the Nigerians ahead of their opponents was the resilient spirit they displayed.
We all know how difficult it could be for a team to come from behind to either stalemate the game or win. As five times winner, Nigeria did it again, against the equally stubborn Hungarian young stars. It was a thrilling and high tension match especially from the Nigerian bench when the country was trailing behind.
I saw the face of the head coach and he won my heart despite my reservations about him. He instructed the lads to keep their cool and remain focused on the task because their day’s opponent was a hard nut to crack. It paid off handsomely at the end of the day.
My take is that both sides were great teams. The present crops of Eaglets like their predecessors were ever determined and never removed their eyes on the ball hence the result that has placed them as the leader of the group. It also showed the scoring ability of the young outfit that has displayed lots of hope and focus thereby sending dangerous signal to the entire team in the underage world football summit.
It therefore behooves on the handlers of the team to drum it into the ears and consciousness of the boys that they are now the target of other teams in their group and by extension once they qualify to the knock-out stage.
It is against the above inflammable background, therefore, that both the technical crew and the lads must brace up decisively and employ vigilance, caution and determination to conquer more grounds. Their scheme or game plan must be foolproof as there are still teams with strong football pedigree and tradition in this category that are very much around.
It is congratulations to the technical crew for evolving counter but effective match plan that contained the dangerous ring running Hungarians through the duration of the epic game.
It is not yet Uhuru, as the technical crew still has a lot to impact on the boys if we must continue to sing victory song up to the podium. The team’s marksmanship is suspect. For instance, the second goal of their opponent came off as a result of poor marksmanship. Yes, how a team marks purely depends on the strength of her day’s opponent. However, that was the first competitive match of the Eaglets in the tournament. Hungary could not be said to be a push over either.
The boys must be instructed adequately to always be ready and at alert at all times during games. One must also point out that the Nigerians were highly pressured to make a mark, even when we were two goals down; a great hallmark of a disciplined and calculated side, an attribute that contributed handsomely to their conquest. Thumbs up for a sterling start but the road is still long and rough to travel. To be honest with you, the boys I watched against high technical and tactical Hungarians would go far if the handler do not relax, underrate or relent in depth planning and thinking for future games in faraway Brazil. As we wish the team well, we keep our figures crossed.
On the African second tie club football championship, Enyimba International FC defeated TS Galaxy of South Africa 2-0 in the first leg in Aba,
In a game reportedly dominated by the homers, the Southerners were lucky to have left without basket full of goals. The second leg comes up next week in South Africa and the Enyimba team has to choose where it wants to belong; to advance or to wait till next term.
However, Truth remains that Enyimba players and the bench need lots discipline, tight, sound tactics, focus, determination, and hard work to overcome the first timers to the second tier continental competition. Go, Enyimba, go for the needful!
I have no doubt in my mind with the numerous fans of Rangers International that despite the first leg loss will triumph during the second leg and then advance because ‘Enyi Rangers, bu Umu Rangers’.
Thursday, October 24, 2019 was the service of songs of very erudite, transparent advocate, vocal and one of the foremost, former board member of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) during the golden days and years of the country’s football, Prince Isidore Okwudili Oduah who went home recently.
The event which was coordinated by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lekki Parish, was beauty to behold. This reporter was there as his then close friend and also as a reporter. My dear readers, I will not border you so much with depth details as it would be so long an article against our in-house rule on columns.
To put it mildly, it was one event that would linger in the minds of many that graced the occasion. Prince Oduah was a very visible name in football, even decades after he left the services of the NFA where he served when Nigeria won her first Africa Cup of Nations football summit held in Lagos in 1980. It marked a watershed in football growth and administration in the country, after great outings by the then Green Eagles in 1973 All Africa Games and sundry.
His voice carries airs and as such was regarded as authoritative when it comes from him because he does not talk or speak on drop of hat, neither does he mind whose ox is gored. I digress.
The service of songs roll call was great. Former ace columnist of repute, Sad Sam fame and Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Uncle Sam Amuka Pemu led the roll call of media chiefs while former West Africa Football Union (WAFU) chief and President of Association of Sports Veterans Nigeria, Chief Jonathan B. Ogunfere led football administrators and bigwigs from his association, Henry Atega led Punch Newspapers alumnus while Godwin Enahina led notable sports journalists to grace the lively outing. His friends in the Military, serving and retired, paid him last respect and lest I forget, advertisement spaces showcasing how he made his mark, added colour to it.
Like leopard that can never leave its spots, as ever expected, very arrogant but controversy-ridden Amaju Pinnick-led executive committee of the lame-duck Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) did not attend neither did it send a representative to the event to honour one of its own.
Prince Oduah was one of our heroes of the past that laid strong foundation of our football and as a matter of fact he served on the historic board of very calculative football administrator and industry guru, late Sunny Dankaro, whose name, NFF building took after. It is on record that the board piloted Nigeria’s first Nations Cup victory in 1980; yet NFF was avoidably absent from service of songs of an achiever like Prince Isidore Okwudili Oduah who was so visible on scene until he breathed his last.
A football federation led by self servicing individuals like Amaju Pinnick, Seyi Akinwunmi, Ahmed Fresh and Shehu Dikko has sadly left sour taste in the mouth if one takes time to chronicle the kind of divide and rule syndrome it has instituted since it came to the helm of affairs of Nigeria football.
The brighter side of its all remains that the late sports and football administrator who paid his honest dues was honoured by those that cherished his services to humanity and promoted Nigerian child through sports and football development in the country which records are there to proof.
In an emotion laden condolence message sent to the family by Association of Sports Veterans Nigeria and signed by its President Jonathan B. Ogunfere and Secretary, Paul Bassey described late Oduah as founding member and Financial Secretary of the Association, a founding member of Nigeria Football Supporters Club and an outspoken sports guru cum administrator whose zeal or quest for perfection was unparalleled etc.
It was the burial of such rare fellow that the NFF refused to show presence to pay last respect to one of his last activist and front line achiever. Yes, late Isidore Oduah distanced himself from them because of their dubious actions, inactions and activities when he was alive. He kept telling me that what was happening in sports administration in the country and football being the king of sports, he called for unending cry and mass action until those entrusted with administration of all sports had a change of heart. It acme by way of practically putting the welfare of athletes, development of infrastructures, provision of what obtains worldwide in place here because the funds meant for these things were being pocketed or diverted into private pockets. He repeatedly kicked against what he maintained is the order of day in all
sectors in the country today, which was nonexistent in his days.
He was highly reverenced by those that attended his service of songs and these men and women were credible and he would be glad where he is now, that his good and reliable old friends came out in great numbers to pay him their last respect. It showed that good name is truly better than silver, gold and diamond.
He was friend’s friend when he was alive and those that knew him too well graced his service of songs which was first rate. The tributes were heart dripping and one would remain grateful for the opportunity of meeting one on one and shaking hands with most media chiefs that came.
For him, it was honour well deserved because he was a jolly good fellow and so loved by many. Let’s discuss further on our social media platforms and discuss Nigerian sports and how hero and heroine sports administrators are totally forgotten by various sports federations. Golden Eaglets and sundry are on the march again. Let’s keep shooting hard till next!!