Algeria and Leicester City forward, Riyad Mahrez, has been voted BBC African Footballer of the Year.
He saw off competition from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon and Borussia Dortmund), André Ayew (Ghana and West Ham United), Sadio Mané (Senegal and Liverpool FC) and Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast and Manchester City).
Mahrez joined Leicester from Le Havre in 2014 for a paltry fee but has gone on to become a driving force in the Foxes’ success.
The 25-year-old scored 17 goals and provided 11 assists as Leicester secured the Premier League title last term.
He has won 27 caps for his country and continues to be a key member of Georges Leekens’s national side.
Mahrez’s exploits for Claudio Ranieri’s side also saw him crowned PFA Player of the Year last season.
“It means a lot because I’m African. It’s something big for an African player. I’m very happy and proud to receive it,” he said after being presented with the award.
“It’s always good to receive awards and it’s a huge honour – I just have to carry on.
“I think they are proud of me [in Algeria]. They should be happy today and I want to thank them and dedicate it to them,” he added
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid has won the 2016 Ballon d’Or, clinching the title for a fourth time after seeing off rival Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or after a year in which he enjoyed victory at Euro 2016 for Portugal and in the Champions League for his club.
The 61st Golden Ball will be awarded by France Football, the magazine that created the award after it ended its partnership with FIFA.
The result was not a surprise after France Football leaked a copy of the magazine with Ronaldo on the cover with the Ballon d’Or trophy.
The magazine is said to publish an exclusive interview with the winner, which is said to have been done on Thursday last week.
The Real Madrid star, currently in Japan, beat rival Lionel Messi to the award for the world’s best player.
It was conspicuous during the ceremony that three of the top contenders for the award were all else where. Ronaldo in Japan for the club World Cup semi final game, Messi in Qatar for a Barcelona friendly game and Griezman in a La Liga game against Villarreal.
“A great honour to receive my fourth golden ball,” Ronaldo said upon receiving the award at the Bernabéu.
“The emotion is like the first one. It’s the dream come true again. I never thought in my mind to win the golden ball four times so I’m so pleased and happy.
“I have the opportunity to thank all my team-mates, the national team, Real Madrid, all the people and players who helped me to win this individual award. So as you can imagine I feel so proud and happy to receive this amazing and beautiful ball.”
The ancient city of Lokoja is gearing up for maiden ‘Governor Yahaya Bello Boxing Championship’ scheduled to hold from January 23rd to 26th, 2017 at the Lokoja Confluence Stadium.
The three-day boxing tournament is being organized by the Kogi State Boxing Association under the newly installed leadership of Hon. Kolawole Matthew in collaboration with the state government.
According to him, the decision of his board to stage the forthcoming Governor Yahaya Bello Boxing championship is to give a befitting one-year anniversary celebration for the state governor with his support and encouragement to boxing in the country.
“We are organizing the championship in celebration of state governor’s one year anniversary in office who is a great lover and promoter of boxing,” Hon. Matthew said.
He stated that the boxing event will be a yearly championship for two categories involving U-21 and champion of champions with trophies and belts to be contested among boxers from 36 participating states and the FCT.
The Kogi boxing supremo said his objectives is to help expose, harvest and harness young prospect in boxing at the grassroots in Nigeria.
He said, “We also seek corporate sponsorships as well as welcome individuals who could contribute in any way or the other to support the staging of the pugilist game in the state”.
Authorities plan to ban several Super Falcons stars and some of the coaches could lose their jobs as fallout from the standoff over unpaid entitlements.
Falcons striker Francisca Ordega will among the stars to be axed after she said she regrets playing for the country.
The USA-based star was later blasted by NFF president Amaju Pinnick for her comments.
“I can categorically state here that the name Ordega will never be heard or seen in a Super Falcons team list again. This I was told by another top official of the football house,” a source informed.
“No less than 10 of these players could be banned for life for ridiculing their fatherland before the international media and henceforth, the NFF may draw up a code of conduct to guide against future occurrences.”
“The coaches and officials are not left out as they could lose their jobs for not standing firm in support of the federation when it matters most.”
Nigerian sports minister Solomon Dalung visited the team Thursday and pleaded with them for understanding before their outstanding allowances and bonuses.
But the girls have dug in, insisting they will only quit their hotel when they get their monies.
The Federal Government on Thursday gave a new insight into its inability to pay the allowances of the Super Falcons, saying that it did not know that they would win the 2016 African Women Nation’s Cup Trophy.
Sports Minister Solomon Dalung told State House correspondents that had the government been confident that the team would win the trophy, the process of paying their entitlements would have been planned.
The Super Falcons, who crushed their Cameroonian counterparts on Saturday to emerge victorious, had reportedly seized the trophy following the inability of the Nigerian Football Federation to pay their bonuses and allowances.
“Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team would emerge victorious. If we were confident they would emerge victorious, all the federation would have done is to plan for process of participation and entitlement. And when they win, it’s already established in sports tradition that when you win, this is what you’re entitled to.
“The situation is highly unfortunate and I don’t like it, these girls have given confidence to women who want to embrace sports. So, this will go a long way in killing this laudable achievement. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll make sure the right thing is done,” he stated.
He regretted that the players were still owed at the time their victory was being celebrated having “stamped their authority and dominance over football in the continent, having consistently won the trophy eight times.”
The minister explained that if the poor management of some administrative lapses had been explained to the players, their feelings would not have been so bitter.
He assured that the government was working round the clock to ensure that the players get their legitimate entitlements.
“After the girls came back from Cameroon, we had a lunch with them and they were in high spirits; the communication gap in trying to convey the situation to them could have been what led to it,” he said.
The minister noted that government’s process requires that a request for funds for sporting projects must come earlier to meet the objectives.
Dalung, who said the team’s coaches had also not been paid for a long time, stressed that the nation’s football administration deserved an urgent surgery, warning that “If that surgery is not done, we’ll always live with the embarrassment.”
“I’m talking about the governance of football administration in Nigeria. Government has to do the surgery because it has been at the receiving end of the embarrassment. We must be prepared to do this to save the future of football in Nigeria. We must come together to find solutions to see how these issues can be tackled,” he added.
The Super Falcons of Nigeria have emerged African champions for the 8th time after defeating host, Cameroon 1-0 on Saturday.
A powerful strike by Desire Oparanozie at the 86th minute ensured a victory for the Falcons.
Falcons coach, Florence Omagbemi makes history as the first person to win the continental championship both as a player and coach.
The victory also gives the Falcons their 8th African title after previously winning in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
A former Chairman of Ahoada West Local Government Council of Rivers State, Ikechukwu Obuzor has called on world’s football governing body, FIFA, to suspend Nigeria from all competitions until the government orders the military to produce the rogue soldiers involved in murder of 3SC of Ibadan defender, Joseph Izu.
Izu was allegedly murdered by soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF) based in Akinima while holidaying at his hometown Okarki in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Obuzor in a statement released in Port Harcourt said the appeal has become necessary as the Nigerian government is not doing enough to apprehend the culprits and secure justice for the late footballer.
Parts of the statement read: “I humbly wish to draw the attention of Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and its President, Gianni Infantino to the Extra Judicial Killing of Joseph Izu, a renowned footballer with the Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan on Sunday, 16th of October, 2016.
“Joseph Izu played for Shooting Stars in the just concluded 2015-2016 season and was on vacation like most other footballers in Nigeria for the off season.
“He was in his hometown Okarki to enjoy his vacation and could not have been a target of the Joint Task Force (JTF) as he was never a cultist.
“Since the unfortunate incident, several efforts have been made to get the authorities to investigate the sad development and compensate the family adequately. It has yielded no result but intimidation of eye-witnesses in bid to silence them.
“It is in light of the above that I appeal to FIFA to wield its sledge hammer and insist that the right thing be done so authorities will be compelled to act swiftly and avoid setting a dangerous precedent in the soccer community. Justice must take its course. If it happened to Joseph Izu today and nothing is done, there is no telling which soccer star will be the next victim”.
Izu was reportedly shot multiple times despite having identified himself as a footballer by showing the rampaging soldiers his identity card.
Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has re-stated his support for national and grassroots sports teams in the country.
The minister made the statement while reacting to reports that he was not in support of the Super Eagles’ campaign for the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
“On Thursday, I congratulated the Falconets and the Super Eagles for their astonishing victories against Algeria in a World Cup qualifier and against Canada in the U-20 World Cup,” the minister said.
“I stated that the victories have once again given Nigerians home and abroad hope that Nigerian teams can also compete for titles at stake.
“I also recalled the importance of such victories at the time and called on the Super Falcons to do same at the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.”
Dalung described the reports making the rounds as mischievous and intended to perpetrate hatred and discord in the sector.
“I was personally in Uyo in Akwa Ibom to support the Super Eagles to victory. I was in Zambia when they thrashed their hosts 2-1. I went to visit the players in camp in Abuja before they left for Uyo.
“If I do not wish the team to be at the World Cup in Russia then why am I giving them all the support they need?” he said.
The minister called on good spirited Nigerians to continue to support sportsmen and women in the country who also double as nation builders and role models to Nigerian youths.
“Football is not just a game but a business. It is an enterprise which could fetch earnings for the country and gainfully employ Nigerian youths at home and abroad. It has no religion and tribe therefore it fosters national integration and unity.
“We are committed to pursuing those programmes that will build our youths especially sports. I urge sportsmen and women in the country to remain focused and pursue your passion with selflessness because great people in human history have only been remembered by what they stand for and what they were able to do for humanity.
“We will continue to support you in your endeavours where government is needed and will also reward you accordingly in success.” the minister said.
Minister of Sport and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung yesterday stunned all when he told the Voice of America that he was against Nigeria’s participation at the World Cup.
His reasons: “That competition stinks of corruption; that Nigeria is too poor to waste money on it and that Nigeria would never win the trophy”.
The implication of his statement is also that it is not necessary to waste money qualifying when you cannot win the World Cup. As shocking as these may be, Dalung, a lawyer by training, said Nigeria should be content with playing at the Nations Cup, Olympics, Commonwealth Games.
He said that Nigeria could win the Nations Cup but not the World Cup. World Cup finalists are guaranteed huge sum of money running into millions.
According to Dalung, “The cup that we can win is the African Cup of Nations. There is nothing again that will take us to another man’s balcony in the name of the World Cup. We already have the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. For these, we can attend such meets. But I am opposed to the World Cup. We don’t agree to it. Conspiracy in the World Cup is too much,” he said, a statement that could upset the world governing body, FIFA. He was not done.
“There is the issue of bribery and favouritism. There is also the issue of corruption before you are even given the hosting rights. We are here suffering from hunger and we don’t have money for such things. That is why, even if we try many times, once it gets into the politics of the game, we can never win.
“That was why this year, we had to tackle him (FIFA President, Ginani Infantino) and we said, ‘you , Infantino, if you win this election, you have to give us a position. If not, we shall not agree.’ And you see , by the grace of God, he even picked an African as his Secretary-General. That means he has started taking honey and rubbing on our lips. That means that one day, we shall get to really lick the honey.”
The Falconets now have three points from two games and must beat Spain, who leads the group with six points, in their last group game on Sunday, November 20.
Nigeria’s Rasheedat Ajibade won player of the match award.
Gabrielle Carle had fired the Canucks into the lead at Bava Park on 15 minutes, but an equalising penalty from Chinaza Uchendu just before the break and second-half goals from Joy Bokiri and Chinwendu Ihezuo gave the Falconets their first win of the tournament.
Both sides had slipped to heavy losses in their previous Group B clash and were looking to make amends. In an entertaining first half, Nigeria tested Canada early on when Ihezuo shot narrowly over the bar on 10 minutes. The Canadians took the lead five minutes later when Deanne Rose received a long ball inside the box and played a neat pass to Carle, and the No10 made no mistake from close range.Nigeria came close to capitalising on a mistake on 37 minutes when Hannah Taylor lost control of the ball in her box, allowing Rasheedat Ajibade – a veteran of the U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016 – time to pounce, but her effort was blocked by Rylee Foster.
The Falconets eventually restored parity just before half-time when Canada’s Bianca St Georges was penalised for handling the ball inside the area, with Uchendu stepping up and converting the spot-kick. With a spring in their step going into the break, Nigeria made an instant impact in the second half with Bokiri putting the African side into the lead immediately after the restart.
Peter Dedevbo’s side then doubled their advantage on 73 minutes when Ihezuo capitalised on a mistake by goalkeeper Foster and was left with an easy finish in front of an empty goal. Nigeria next face top-of-the-table Spain in Group B, while Canada next meet Japan on 20 November.