Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kano Diaries: Day One.


Kano....
Kano has always been a city I love since my secondary school days as passing through on my way to Azare was always a pleasure, so you can imagine my joy when the Nigeria Football Federation decided to take the second leg qualifier of the 2018 CHAN against Benin to the ancient city.

My journey started from Zaria, another town that is close to my heart. A quick two hour drive and I was in Kano and off to Nimah Guest Hotel to meet up with Kola Daniel of ScoreNigeria who decided to host me.

Despite keeping me waiting at the hotel lobby for nearly an hour, I forgave him for all his sins when he decided to be my host. His sins were washed away there and then.

I later met Callistus Ebare at the same hotel hotel and we decided to head over to Bristol Hotel to see some NFF officials. After a brief period of back chat, we headed back to town but not after some pleasantries with the cute receptionist at the hotel who kept smiling at me.

With Jane and Deji
I walked up to her and asked her why she was smiling and staring. She muttered some words I can’t put on this blog but I gave her my card sha. I later got a text from her asking me what 'club' I play for. Apparently she thought I was a footballer (sigh).

Next stop was the Eagles Hotel where I had an appointment with Thomas Zenke of Nasarawa United and Elisha Golbe of Plateau United. We had a fruitful discussion and then it was back to the hotel to refresh myself.

With Kola Daniel and Callistus Ebare
I had suya and a can of Pepsi for lunch. Kano people una no try at all. Why big town like this no get better restaurant nah...I had to move around a lot and yet I could not find a good place to eat. Una dey try at all. You should do better my people.

Managed to grab some lunch and then I was off to the stadium where Kola Daniel was waiting for me. Francis Achi aka Totori Master joined up and then I also met Deji for the first time. A well spoken and humble Kano based journo is, a gentleman too.

I watched the Eagles train for a bit and they looked sharp especially the goalkeepers. I hope they do us proud tomorrow. They really have to.


Enugu based Jane called me and said she was on her way so I had to wait for her at the stadium. She arrived a few minutes later and we headed back to my hotel alongside Deji.

Wale Ajayi of NSM (he will sue me for this) was waiting for us at the Hotel alongside Biola. We bantered a bit and after we freshened up, we headed to Sabon Gari to find dinner.

Kano Pillars left back Chris Madaki was waiting for us at the restaurant and we had a good time catching up afte nearly three years of meeting each other last.

Dinner for me was semovita and egusi soup with beef but that was not the story. The main gist was Totori Master downing two plates of food and also requesting for ‘takeway’. Bibian? I won’t reveal her secret here sha.....

Eagles after training on Friday evening.

After having our fill we headed back to the hotel as Chris took his leave. Totori came to my room to hang out a bit and we had a good time chatting about football and life.


We had a few other visitors come up to the hotel room to chat. National engagements is quite fun because everyone from every nook and cranny of the country turns up, and it's always a party when it happens.



Former Sunshine Stars centre back Jude Ebitogwa also popped in to say hi and as usual we reminisced  about old days, the debts owed players and plans for the future. Great guy he is.



We lost track of time and before I knew it, midnight was here. Man had to retire, body no be like before.

That’s all for today. I hope tomorrow will be better.

Cheers

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Aiteo Cup: ABS bundles Enyimba out



Adeshina Gata, Yinka Adewale and Wasiu Alalade's heroics was enough for Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Ilorin FC, to bundle Enyimba International FC of Aba out of the Aiteo Cup (Federation) with a 2-1 victory. 


It took the Saraki Boys only three minutes to go in front from the spot kick when Enyimba goalkeeper Fatau Dauda brought down Alalade in the box. 

Gata made no mistake from spot.

The visitors capitalized on an ABS defensive mix-up when Ernest Governor's back pass was picked up by Ikechukwu Ibenegbu whose pass find an unmarked Eric Frimpong who easily tapped in from a close range in the 22nd minute. 


12 minute later, ABS should have doubled the lead when Adeshina Gata's another clear cut chance was fired inches away from goal by Abubakar Chindo. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

MD 34 Results

Rivers United produced a fantastic performance to beat Remo Stars 3-1 in Sagamu for the only away win of MD34.

Leaders Plateau United are now six points clear after defeating second placed MFM 1-0. Enyimba smashed ABS 3-0 the same scoreline between Akwa United beat visiting Niger Tornadoes.

Rangers eased their relegation woes with a slim 1-0 win over Duke Udi's Sunshine Stars while Katsina United dispatched Wikki Tourists 2-0.

The graphic below details the results of all the results from MD34 apart from the El-Kanemi vs FC IfeanyiUbah game that had to be postponed because the Nnewi side could not connect a flight to Maiduguri on time.

2017 AITEO CUP COMPETITION: FIRST ROUND MATCHES & VENUES

Got this off the NFF's press release unedited.

I'm not sure how the rules will pan out. I do hope it ends well though. We need the glory days back.

Check the 'new' rules at the end of the fixtures.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

2017 AITEO CUP FIRST ROUND FIXTURES




The 2017 Aiteo Cup fixtures were finally reeled out last night live on Channels TV. NFF's Demola Olajire was involved in the draws for the Round of 64 matches.

From what I garnered, the teams listed as the host teams will be given a pool of venues to pick from for their games. If the game ends in a draw, the 'away' team will then pick a venue of their choice for the replay.

This automatically rules out penalty kicks in the Round of 64. No confirmation yet if that will be the norm throughout the competition but we wait and see.

The full Fixtures for the RO64.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Unearthing Godwin Mensha




 After the brouhaha that emanated from Daniel Etor’s disappearance at Rangers International and his eventually show up in Iran, I decided to take a peep into the Iranian top flight to see what was the catch.

Etor is a bundle of talent and one wonders why Iran of all places. Has to be the money definitely as I’m well aware the top teams there pay relatively well, in fact better than some European countries and.

I know a bit about Iranian football, I remember Ali Diae quite well. He racked up a record number of internationals back int he day and also played at the World Cup in 1998.

Then there is the sad and unfortunate demise of former Flying Eagles goalkeeper Sam Okoye in Iran in 2004. 

So when Etor decided to take his trade to Iran, the ‘ojokukuru’ in me decided to do a bit of research on the Iranian top flight league and even though I didn’t find anything I wasn't aware of, I stumbled across a player who caught my fancy.

His name? Godwin Mensha, a big burly striker with good finishing skills who has just moved to Persepolis- arguably the biggest team in Iran who play regularly in the Asian Champions League.

The 27 year old is the biggest African attraction in the Persian Gulf Pro League after his goals earned him a big money move to the league winners.

It has been a long journey for the striker who grew up in Lagos but never played organized football before finding his way to Spain where he teamed up with Compostella in th 2014/15 season.

Mensha scored four goals in 29 appearances for the Spanish side before crossing over to Malta to lace his boots for modest side Balzan. He changed clubs for the third time in three years as Mosta, who just won the Maltese league title signed him up to beef up their attack.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Salisu picks 20 for Benin qualifier




Coach Salisu Yusuf has opted for goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, defenders Orji Kalu and Osas Okoro, midfielders Alhassan Ibrahim and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, forwards Stephen Odey and Ifeanyi George, and 13 other players for Sunday’s 2018 African Nations Championship qualifying match away to Benin Republic.

There are also goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye, defender Chima Akas, midfielder Rabiu Ali and forward Thomas Zenke.

Goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai, defenders Ariwachukwu Emmanuel, Stephen Eze and Nasiru Sani, midfielders Hafiz Aremu, Raphael Ayagwa and Samuel Mathias and forwards Sikiru Olatubosun and Kingsley Eduwo complete the list of the playing body that will fly from Kano to Lagos on Friday and then make the short trip to Cotonou by road same day.