EPL: Glorious Day For Nigerian Debutant As Everton Crush Man City

Super Eagles youngster, Kelechi Iheanacho, was left heartbroken as Everton produced a brilliant performance to stun Manchester City and deliver a serious blow to Pep Guardiola’s Premier League title hopes.

It was, however, a glorious day for Everton debutant, Ademola Lookman, who scored the fourth in a 4-0 humiliation of the visitors.

Iheanacho came in as a 62nd minute substitute for Pablo Zabaleta while Lookman replaced Ross Barkley in the 90th minute.

The Toffees willingly soaked up 71% of City possession but restricted Guardiola’s side to few chances and scored with four of just six attempts at goal.

Romelu Lukaku coolly side-footed in a Kevin Mirallas cut-back and the Belgium internationals combined again after the break, Mirallas drilling Lukaku’s through-ball across the keeper.

Tom Davies sent Goodison Park into raptures on just his second league start by dinking a third over Claudio Bravo and £11m January recruit, Lookman, fired between the legs of the keeper in injury time.

Goals from the two teenagers left Everton boss Ronald Koeman visibly elated, while Guardiola cut a frustrated figure, remonstrating with the fourth official late on in what is his heaviest ever league defeat as a manager.

City lacked cutting edge throughout, though had Davies not headed a looping Bacary Sagna header off the line before half-time, they may not have gone on to suffer a fifth league defeat of the season.

They stay fifth, 10 points off leaders Chelsea, while Everton remain seventh.

Mikel Scores On Second Debut With Chinese Club

Super Eagles skipper, Mikel Obi, has opened his goal account for Chinese side, Tianjin TEDA, in just his second appearance.

The 29-year-old who made the switch from Chelsea last week scored one of the goals as TEDA crashed 6-2 to German side, St. Pauli, in a friendly on Saturday.

This was barely two days after the Nigerian made his debut in TEDA’S first pre-season game against another German side, Borussia Monchengladbach which ended in a 2-1 loss.

However, it was another poor outing for his team as Pauli ran riot scoring three goals in the opening 26 minute before Mikel pulled one back in the 35th minute to bring scores to 3-1.

His goal came off a header from a well delivered free kick.

The strike will come as huge surprise to many soccer enthusiasts considering the Nigerian’s appalling goal scoring record.

He managed just five strikes in over 10 years at Stamford Bridge.

AFCON 2019: Nigeria To Face South Africa, Libya, Seychelles In Qualifiers

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been drawn alongside eternal rivals, Bafana Bafana of South Africa, Libya and Seychelles in the qualifiers for the 2019 African Nations Cup.

The Gernot Rohr-led team must finish top of their group in order to guarantee their spot in Cameroon.
The winners of each group will go through to the finals, while the top three runners-up will also make be in Cameroon in 2019.

The pool phase of the qualifiers is set to start in June.

Bafana beat Nigeria to top spot in the qualifiers for the 2015 tournament in Equatorial Guinea.

Meanwhile, a preliminary round will be played in March where a winner will be decided in ties between Sao Tome and Principe vs Madagascar, Comoros vs Mauritius and Djibouti vs South Sudan.

The three winners will join the group stages in June.

THE POOLS
Group A
Senegal
Equatorial Guinea
Sudan
Sao Tome e Principe or Madagascar

Group B
Cameroon
Morocco
Malawi
Comoros or Mauritius

Group C
Mali
Gabon
Burundi
Djibouti or South Sudan

Group D

Algeria
Togo
Benin
Gambia

Group E
Nigeria
South Africa
Libya
Seychelles

Group F
Ghana
Ethiopia
Sierra Leone
Kenya

Group G
DR Congo
Congo-Brazzaville
Zimbabwe
Liberia

Group H
Ivory Coast
Guinea
Central African Republic
Rwanda

Group I
Burkina Faso
Angola
Botswana
Mauritania

Group J
Tunisia
Egypt
Niger
Swaziland

Group K
Zambia
Mozambique
Guinea-Bissau
Namibia

Group L
Cape Verde
Uganda
Tanzania
Lesotho.

FIFA Approves Expansion Of World Cup Participants To 48 Teams

FIFA’s ruling council on Tuesday unanimously approved an expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams in 2026, with a format of 16 groups of three nations.

“The FIFA Council unanimously decided on a 48-team #WorldCup as of 2026: 16 groups of 3 teams,” a tweet from FIFA’s official account said.

The decision marks a major coup for the body’s president Gianni Infantino who has made enlarging football’s showcase event the centrepiece of his young administration.

The controversial proposal had faced criticism from some of the sport’s most powerful voices, including warnings that it would dilute the quality of play and overburden already exhausted players.

But Infantino had in recent weeks voiced confidence that his flagship project would be approved.

The FIFA chief has noted that a bigger tournament would beef up FIFA’s coffers.

And a confidential FIFA report seen by AFP projects a 48-team tournament would bring a cash boost of $640 million (605 million euros) above projected revenues for next year’s finals in Russia.

But Infantino has also argued that more World Cup berths would help drive football’s global growth by boosting “inclusion” in the “biggest social and sporting event”.

– Big winners –
Among those who seemed convinced by that argument was Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who on Monday said a 48-team format “will give more possibilities to countries that have never reached that level of competition”.

Africa and Asia could be the big winners in a larger format with a rise in their number of places, currently at 5 and 4.5 respectively.

But in order to smooth over scepticism about World Cup reform within UEFA, it is likely that Europe will also see its allotments rise above the current 13 places.

A source close to FIFA told AFP that under the new format Europe could get 16 places, with Africa earning nine.

But the information remained unconfirmed and world football’s governing body was not expected to immediately announce its final decision on allotments.

The powerful council officially weighed five proposals during Tuesday’s meeting at FIFA’s snow-covered Zurich headquarters, including maintaining the status quo of 32-teams.

The landmark decision to expand the tournament is the latest overhaul of the World Cup, which has seen its global popularity and financial might surge since the inaugural edition in 1930.

That contest, won by Uruguay, had just 13 countries.

The World Cup expanded to 24 teams in 1982 in Spain before moving to its current 32-team version at France 1998.

Ronaldo Wins FIFA Best Player Of The Year 2016 Award

Portugal and Real Madrid forward, Cristiano Ronaldo has won the FIFA ‘Best Player’ award for 2016.

Ronaldo won the award on the back of a fantastic year that saw Real Madrid win the UEFA Champions League and Portugal the EURO 2016 championship.

He had already won the Ballon d’Or after his third Champions League title, thanks in major part to his 16 goals in 12 games, as well as triumphing with Portugal at Euro 2016 — the country’s first major prize.01-09

The honour makes Ronaldo the first man to win the FIFA “Best” men’s player distinction after world football’s governing body launched the new award series, ending its six-year collaboration with France Football magazine for the Ballon d’Or.

“2016 was the best year of my career,” Ronaldo said after being handed the prize from FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sports level,” he added on the stage in Zurich.

“It is not the first time but it is the first time for this award. 2016, wow. I want to thank my team-mates. I was able to achieve what I could.

“I would like to think all those who voted for me, the fans the media. I don’t have anything to add, awards speak for themselves.

FIFA To Approve Bigger, Richer World Cup On Tuesday

FIFA is set to make the World Cup bigger and richer, even if the price to pay is lower quality football.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes his ruling Council will agree Tuesday to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 nations, playing in 16 groups of three teams.

A decision could be delayed if some Council members demand to know exactly how many qualifying places each continent will get before agreeing to scrap the 32-team format. It has been successful, popular and profitable since 1998 and is locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

The prize of 16 extra places, and the biggest increases to Africa and Asia, has “overwhelming” support from FIFA’s 211 member federations, Infantino has said.

Their promise of extra funding from Zurich could also be secured by FIFA’s forecast 20 percent rise in rights fees paid by broadcasters and sponsors.

“Financially, the 48-team format is the most appealing or successful simply because the sporting element is prevailing and every match is important,” Infantino said two weeks ago. “The decision should not be financially driven, neither in terms of revenue or costs … but the driver should really be the development of football and boosting football all over the world.”

World Cup champion Germany is not in favor. It argued that diluting the number of European and South American teams – which won all 20 titles since 1930 – could “strengthen the imbalance” seen at some tournaments.

“The (German soccer federation) fundamentally believe that the current 32-team format is the best option,” its president Reinhard Grindel said last week. Germany has no delegate at Tuesday’s meeting though Grindel is set to join the FIFA Council in May.

FIFA acknowledged the risk of lower standards in a research document sent to members last month, as first reported by The Associated Press.

The “absolute quality” of soccer, defined by high-ranked teams playing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA said, citing 10,000 tournament simulations made to reach that conclusion.

Still, Infantino promised voters more World Cup places and funding raises before his election last February.

FIFA expects $5.5 billion income tied to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, though 25 of 34 sponsorship slots are unsold. The research document predicted the equivalent of $6.5 billion revenue from a 48-team tournament in the “16×3” format, which would send two teams from each group to a new Round of 32 knockout bracket.

All 80 matches would play in an exclusive time slot. Currently, 64 World Cup matches have 56 broadcast slots because the eight four-team groups play their last matches simultaneously.

FIFA predicts organizing costs for “16×3” rising from $2 billion to $2.3 billion, giving a potential profit rise of $640 million.

Though a “16×3” World Cup would still need a maximum of 12 stadiums, the demand for 16 more top-quality training camps and hotels suggests FIFA would look for 2026 hosts with existing capacity.

A North American bid from two or three of the United States, Canada and Mexico is currently favored in a contest that could start within weeks.

Five options are open Tuesday, including staying with 32 teams.

Infantino campaigned last year on a 40-team promise, in either eight groups of five teams or 10 groups of four teams. Neither impressed voters in recent regional meetings of FIFA member federations.

When the FIFA leader first proposed 48 teams, it included an opening playoff round. The 16 winners would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group stage.

FIFA members disliked “one-and-done” teams going home before the “real” World Cup kicks off. It would also stretch to a 39-day event with more short-notice travel for fans.

Africa and Asia could be the big winners, and FIFA hopes new teams would include another Iceland, Wales and Costa Rica – over-achieving teams and feelgood stories at recent tournaments.

Still, hapless Tahiti was outclassed at the 2013 Confederations Cup, conceding 24 goals in three games.

“The goal of expanding the FIFA World Cup,” it has told members, “is to further advance the vision to promote the game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all.”

FIFA Stops $1.5m Grant To Nigeria Over Corruption In NFF

Football’s world governing body, FIFA has stopped the annual $ 1.5 million development grant to Nigeria after discovering “traces of corruption” on  how previous funds were spent by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

AfricanFootball.com reports that FIFA went further to issue the NFF a final warning “to straighten its financial records.”

The Nigerian government is now expected to quickly step into this latest development after Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, first expressed serious misgivings on the back of a FIFA query on how NFF used grants paid the federation.

NFF this week received the FIFA letter signed from the office in charge of the national associations.

FIFA member-associations including Nigeria began to receive increased annual grants under new president Gianni Infantino.

Previously the associations were paid $250,000 per annum.

But this has since been increased to between $1.2 million and $1.5 million to each FA.

Mahrez Wins 2016 Glo/CAF Africa Footballer OF The Year Award

Algeria and Leicester City winger,Riyad Mahrez has been voted the African Footballer of the Year at the 2016 Glo-CAF awards held on Thursday night at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabon and Borrusia Dortmund striker, emerged runner-up.

Of 27 appearances for Algeria, Mahrez has scored six goals since his debut on October 15, 2014 till date. He also helped Leicester City to a shock English Premier League title in the 2015/16 season, consequently emerging the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

Despite missing out on major categories where it managed to get nominations, there was still something to cheer for Nigeria as ? Super Eagles forward Kelechi Iheanacho was voted Most Promising Player of the Year.

Alex Iwobi was also voted the Youth Player of the Year. He becomes the third Nigerian to win, behind Kelechi Iheanacho and Oghenekaro Etebo,? who won it in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Uganda won the National Team of the Year award ahead of DR Congo and Senegal?.

?Nigeria, the eight-time African champions, edged out Cameroon and South Africa to win the Women’s National Team of the Year award.

The Club of the Year award was won by South African side, Mamelodi Sundowns.

Coach Florence Omagbemi was also beaten to the Coach of the Year by ?South African? Pitso Mosimane of Mamelodi Sundowns.

Asisat Oshoala won the African Women Player of the Year award.?

Winners in other categories are:

Referee of the Year

Bakary Papa Gassama (Winner)

Ghead Zaglol Grisha
Malang Diedhiou

African Player of the Year – Based in Africa
Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns) – Winner
Khama BIlliat (Zimbabwe & Mamelodi Sundowns) – Runner-up
Rainford Kalaba (Zambia & TP Mazembe)

Football Leader of the Year

Manuel Lopes Nascimento, President of Guinea Bissau Football Federation

Legend Award
Laurent Pokou, Former player of Cote d’Ivoire
Emilienne Mbango, Former player of Cameroon

Team Kogi Wins 9th Ajanah Basketball Championship

Team Kogi/Koto Karfe emerged winners of the 9th edition of the Justice Nasir Ajanah Inter-Local Government Area Basketball Championship after beating Team Okene 31-29 at the outdoor court of the Okene Club, in Okene, Kogi State.

The winners came from behind after trailing in all the quarters before the Most Valuable Player of the championship, Azolibe Chijioke stole the to dunk the winning points when both teams were tied on 29 points with 10 seconds to go.

Not even the combination of last season MVP David Edward and Gombe Bulls’ lbeabuchi Agu whose three pointers in the first quarters gave Team Okene a 15-3 points lead before Team Kogi bounced back to tie in the second quarter could save the Okene boys.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Tijjani Umar, who watched the finals, hailed the improvement of the championship while calling on the government of Kogi State to improve in its commitment to the development of the game and facilities in the state.

He spoke against the background of N1million donation made by Kogi State governor, Yaya Bello to the annual championship.

“This championship has entered nine years and it keeps improving yearly. Hence our commitment to this laudable course. I am happy with his level of consistency and commitment and call on the Kogi State government to do in the area of basketball development.

What Ajanah is doing is capacity building and I encourage the younger players to aspire and focus on education while l hope to see some of the senior players in the national team,” Umar said.

Justice Ajanah who announced that the state governor’s donation said he was happy with the calibre of players that participated in the edition stating that the governor’s donation is a step to show that the state is already involved in basketball development.

Ex D’Tigers captain, Olumide Oyedeji said the Ajanah basketball championship has given youths opportunity to have a life in basketball.

“There is need for education because as we speak 75% of our players are school drop outs which is painful. Life of basketball is short, the season is really short between 6 to 7 months maximum. Education makes you super and talent makes you a star so, education plus talent makes you a superstar. The truth is someday even if you don’t want to leave basketball, basketball will leave you,” he cautioned.

Oliseh Named Head Coach Of Dutch Club

Super Eagles’ former coach, Sunday Oliseh, has been appointed as the new head coach of Dutch second division club, Fortuna Sittard.

Oliseh, who stood down as Super Eagles coach ten months ago, previously played for Dutch giants Ajax from 1997 to 1999.

The former Super Eagles captain will put pen to paper on a one-and-a-half year deal with the option of a renewal for another year, according to the club’s official website, www.fortunasittard.nl.

Oliseh will officially resume duty with the Limburg club on January 2, 2017.

A shareholder of the club, Isitan Gün, expressed happiness with the development, describing Oliseh as “a young and ambitious coach that the players look up to”.

“We chose Sunday as Fortuna (Sittard) coach because he is young and ambitious, (he has) vision and players look up to (him).

“We were looking for someone (that can produce) attractive football combined with the sheer will to win.

“In Sunday (Oliseh), we think we found this trainer.

“The past few days he has already watched all the matches of Fortuna, so Sunday is well prepared to begin his work on January 2,” he said.

Oliseh, who also played for Juventus and Borussia Dortmund during his club career, earned 63 caps for Nigeria.

He helped the Super Eagles to win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic gold in 1996.

Before taking on the role of head coach with Nigeria, Oliseh had previously coached Belgian lower tier side Verviétois.

He resigned from the Super Eagles, citing interference from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

How We Spent $801.929 FIFA Grant – NFF

The Nigeria Football Federation on Friday said it was not averse to the planned audit of its books, while also providing details of the programs and activities on which the much-talked-about $801,929 part of a FIFA grant was spent.

NFF President Amaju Pinnick recalled that at inception of the Board, the concern for fiscal discipline necessitated its decision to bring in PriceWaterhouseCoopers as its external auditors and Financial Derivatives as financial consultants.

“These are globally –renowned firms with reputation to protect, and we did not hesitate to bring them on board with us. We can also say with every sense of sincerity that they have each been doing a great job.

“In as much as this is supposed to be a confidential matter, as it is not a forensic examination as being touted, we feel a sense of responsibility to provide further details on the programs on which the money was spent. Some persons are already claiming NFF embezzled money; it is unfortunate.

“I don’t think we will find people who will come forward and tell us that Nigeria did not play friendly matches against DR Congo and Cameroon in Belgium in October 2015, or that the Super Eagles did not play Burkina Faso in CHAN qualifying matches in the same month, or that the Eagles did not play Swaziland home and away in a preliminary round (November 2015) before qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup group phase.

“We are not averse to the planned audit of our accounts; what we do not welcome is the litany of distractions and dark innuendoes that the whole matter is generating, and its implications for our preparations for the final phase of qualifying for 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.”

Pinnick said the NFF is blameless for the use of form T-10 {which is acceptable in government transactions) and the issue of cash transactions.

“These issues are coming up because of new reforms and new management procedures being adopted by FIFA. The form T-10 was the practice all the way before this Board came into office. And getting some of our players to open bank accounts for online payments has not been easy.

“Of course, we have taken all the lessons and advice from this report to heart, and we have now modified our payment structure.”

Programs on which the money was spent

. International Friendly Matches

(Nigeria Vs Cameroon & Congo in Belgium)

. CHAN Qualifier (Burkina Faso Vs Nigeria)

. Processing of Visa for U17 in Ghana

. Computer Appreciation Course

. Outstanding Hotel Bills to Serob Legacy Hotel

Camping And Scouting of U17 Players

. Additional for Tanzania Vs Nigeria AFCON Qualifier

In its response on the issue, FIFA made it clear it was a matter between it and NFF and it would be resolved in the shortest possible time.

FIFA is fully committed to supporting the member associations as we continue to improve our processes and structures. In light of this, FIFA recently introduced new requirements for the management and administration of development funds allocated to its member associations. In cases of insufficient information as to the management of those funds FIFA may suspend the ordinary flow of such funds until a full understanding of the situation is achieved.  FIFA continues to work and cooperate with the respective member in order to obtain the required information and, if needed, install the appropriate procedures and controls for such development funds. FIFA are confident that by working together with the Nigeria Football Federation, the issues will be resolved.

On Thursday, NFF 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko broke down the issues in an interview, captured below:

  1. Separate FIFA accounts from NFF general accounts (TSA) as FIFA wanted a dedicated account for their monies, for proper monitoring. This is a fundamental condition for receiving future funds, and indeed NFF complied within one month, working with Central Bank of Nigeria to open sub-TSA account for only FIFA monies. Details of the sub-TSA account have been forwarded to FIFA.
  2. FIFA wanted NFF, in the future, to ensure that when reporting FIFA money expenditure, it reports both the budgets for the projects/activities and final expenditure, and any differential above 20% must be explained on a separate FIFA form.
  3. FIFA wants any individual expenditure above the sum of $5,000 (Five Thousand American Dollars) to be reported in a separate FIFA form as required by FIFA process.
  4. FIFA wanted NFF to ensure proper audit of bank charges and reporting on separate FIFA forms to ensure the banks did not overcharge NFF and/or is not used to misapply funds. In fact, FIFA went through the bank statements and cited all bank charges for FIFA monies, which was very difficult as the account contains funds other than FIFA’s, and the figures NFF reported and those of FIFA only had marginal difference of a few hundred dollars.
  5. Fundamentally, FIFA warned against cash transactions and advised that these be reduced to the barest minimum or avoided completely. FIFA advised that even players and officials’ allowances should be paid into their bank accounts. NFF has been trying to implement this, as seen in the mode of payment for the players and officials of the Super Falcons after their AWCON triumph.
  6. This brings us to the issue of $801,929, which was the figure FIFA found in transactions in which NFF paid cash to Team Secretaries of some National Teams or Accounts Staff for disbursement to players and officials as bonuses and/or for service suppliers. Players and officials and/or service suppliers signed the forms T-10 (which is acceptable as receipt by Nigeria Government) that they received payments. FIFA has now demanded they require additional documentation to further confirm that the third party beneficiaries have received the funds. The NFF has forwarded the required additional documentation to FIFA and FIFA has acknowledged receipt.The matches in consideration here are the international friendly between Super Eagles and Congo (played in Belgium in October 2015); international friendly between Super Eagles and Cameroon (played in Belgium in October 2015); the African Nations Championship qualifier between the Super Eagles and Burkina Faso (October 2015); the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Swaziland (November 2015); processing of the Golden Eaglets’ visas to Chile in Ghana et cetera.

    The NFF duly reported this matter to the Honourable Minister even though the matter is still under confidentiality between FIFA and NFF, until all answers are provided for questions asked. NFF transmitted a letter to the Honourable Minister on 10th November 2016 conveying the letter from FIFA and NFF’s response.

    FIFA made it clear in their own document that it is not a forensic examination and does not affect FIFA decision to grant development funds to Member Associations. It is only a Central Review Process for 2015 to see how to improve the process of management and application of FIFA development funds. Nigeria was chosen as one of the MAs for the pilot. FIFA made it clear it was a confidential document meant for only certain number of people who were listed, and warned that the report should not be quoted or used for any other purpose, or by third parties.

    The report analyzed the key issues in three sections: Findings, Risks Associated with the findings and; Recommendations to NFF. The implies it is clearly a report to make things better done under confidentiality, but the NFF wanted to be transparent and gave a copy to the Honourable Minister, as well as NFF’s response.

    Who are the persons in charge of the NFF Finance Department? They are: Director of Finance and Head of Internal Audit. These are Federal Government Staff from the Office of the Accountant General and Office of the Auditor General respectively. These persons are solely responsible for the management, documentation and reporting of NFF finances as eyes of the Government in NFF, and even they dealt directly with the FIFA appointed auditor on this matter. Even the FIFA Letter was to their attention, as well as a few other persons. So, technically, NFF finances and its management are in the hands of trusted Government Staff who are of directorate level.

Unpaid Allowances: Nigeria’s Falconets, Flamingoes Plan Protest

Nigerian Government and the Football Federation, NFF may again be embarrassed as the junior female teams, the Falconets and Flamingoes are planning to embark on protest to demand for their unpaid allowances.

Baring last minute change of minds, the players of the two teams are billed to hit the street on Tuesday (today) to gain the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The players had participated in international competitions recently. Even though they did not win any trophy, their allowances running into thousands of US Dollars have not been paid.

Recalls that the senior female team, the Super Falcons, were compelled to stage a protest at the Naional Assembly last week before they could be paid their entitlements even after winning the African Women Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

A top official of the NFF told Prompt News that the girls are allegedly being sponsored to embarrass the government and the NFF leadership.

But, the source posited that the idea may not see the light of the day because neither the Falconets nor Flamingoes won a major continental or world trophy to warrant compensation.

This is because the jounior teams are categorized as developmental teams by the world football governing body, FIFA.

The official stated that the welfare of the players is uppermost in the mind of the NFF leadership, assuring that all their outstanding allowances will be paid to them from next month.

Prompt News said it gathered last night that the NFF chieftains have resolved to source for funds from partners to pay the two teams after the Christmas and New Year’s break when business activities resume throughout the country.

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