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Ondo sports council will support minister’s decision on NSF 2020



The Ondo State Sports Council will support the Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare on all decisions regarding the postponed 2020 National Sports Festival (NSF).

President Muhammadu Buhari on March 17, approved the postponement of the National Sports Festival Edo 2020, as a precautionary move against the spread of COVID-19.

The General Manager of the council, Wande Fabuluje, said: ”the minister expressed willingness for the festival to still hold this year, but it is not yet clear which month it will hold.

“Mind you, we have just three months left in the year. Maybe it can be held in November or December, I don’t know.

“What I know is that we trust the minister’s good judgment and will support any decision of his; whether to host the festival this year or, for any reason, next year,” he said.

Sports activities had been some of the heaviest casualties of COVID-19, with major events such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Euro 2020, tennis Grand Slams, either postponed or cancelled all over the world.

However, some activities, especially football and some non-contact sports, were gradually returning.

Fabuluje, like many stakeholders, believed that staging the NSF could lift the spirits of Nigerians, particularly at these pandemic trying times.

“Whenever it is held, it will be a welcome development for sports in this country because people are looking for ways to liven up their spirits in this difficult year of COVID-19,” he said.

Ondo State finished 10th on the medals’ table at the 2018 NSF held in Abuja, with 14 gold, nine silver and 23 bronze medals.

Fabuluje said the state was aiming at bettering that record at Edo 2020, although the uncertainty around the festival could pose a challenge.

“We are still uncertain and it is affecting preparations, not just for us but for all the states. We’ll like the hit the ground running, but we cannot do much at the moment.

“If we continue with preparations and the festival eventually did not take place this year, what will be the outcome for people we had kept in camp?

“Camping athletes in preparation for a major event costs a lot and we don’t want to engage in any exercise in futility.

“However, we are optimistic that whenever the NSF holds, we in Ondo state will be ready,” he said.

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Cristiano Ronaldo wins The Best FIFA Special Award



Cristiano Ronaldo has been honoured by FIFA for becoming the all-time leading goalscorer at the international level.

The Manchester United star has now scored 115 goals for Portugal, breaking Ali Daei’s previous record of 109.

Ronaldo received a special in-person award and was also named in the FIFPRO Men’s World11 for 2021, at what was largely a virtual ceremony for FIFA’s The Best ceremony in Zurich on Monday.

“It’s a dream. First of all, I have to say thank you to my teammates, especially in the national team during the last 20 years that I used to play with. I never thought of beating that record,” Ronaldo said.

“I have to say thank you to my family, my wife, my kids – soon I will be a father again! I’m really proud, it’s a great achievement to be the top scorer of all time.”

Asked how he is maintaining his fine goalscoring form at the age of 36,he insisted that he is as motivated as ever to even score goals and win trophies.

“It’s a passion, I still have a passion for the game, not just to score goals but to entertain myself,” Ronaldo added. “I’ve played football since I was five or six years old so when I get to the pitch even in training I still enjoy it and my motivation’s still good.

“I’m 37 soon, I feel good and motivated. I keep working hard since I was 18 and I continue. I have that passion and want to continue.

“People ask sometimes how many more years I’m going to play and I say I hope to play more than four or five years. It’s all about mentally, because physically if you treat your body good, it’ll treat you back.”

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AFCON: Okocha names most important player in Super Eagles



Former Nigeria captain, Austin Okocha has singled out Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, for special praise.

Akpeyi is currently part of the Super Eagles’ squad at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 35-year-old who has made 19 international appearances, is behind Francis Uzoho and Maduka Okoye in the pecking order after his recent injury concerns.

However, Okocha believes Akpeyi has an important role to play in the team.

“Daniel is a very important player for the squad. He only lost his place through injury. This shows how strong the whole squad is, because once you miss out because of injury, it’s always difficult to get back for a goalkeeper.

“We believe we have a great squad and we have people like Daniel we can rely on if needed.

“I am happy that we have a happy competition in our goalkeeping department and it is a plus for any coach,” Okocha said in an interview with Amakhosi’s media team.

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AFCON: Egypt coach, Carlos Queiroz, reacts to loss to Super Eagles



Egypt coach, Carlos Queiroz, has said his team’s poor performance in the first half of the Africa Cup of Nations encounter with Nigeria caused Pharaohs’ loss.

He said this during a post-match interview.

According to him, Pharaohs were no where to be found on the pitch in the first half.

He said, “The performance in the first half was very poor and this is the truth, we were not on the field. We started playing in the second half and there was no reason for this failure and loss against Nigeria.

“We lost this match but there are 6 points we must get against Sudan and Guinea Bissau to qualify.”

A sweet 34th minute belter, intelligently struck by Kelechi Iheanacho and off a brilliant headed pass by Taiwo Awoniyi, earned Nigeria a first-ever opening match win over Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations as Cameroon’s northern town of Garoua dazzled in green and white on Tuesday night.

Former U-17 World Cup winner Iheanacho ran hard at the North Africans’ defence a number of times in a pulsating first half clearly dominated by the three-time African champions at the Stade Roumdé Adjia. But it was the dimunitive winger Moses Simon, who plays his club football in France, that threw the Egyptians’ rear into jeopardy several times with his dancing, taunting and inexhaustible bag of tricks, and it was his penetrating pull-out from the left that resulted in the game’s only goal.

The Eagles played with gusto, zest, immense confidence and go-go spirit – not seen for such a long time, and with Olaoluwa Aina and Zaidu Sanusi firm at both wing backs, Kenneth Omeruo and William Ekong surefooted in the central defence, Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo disciplined and focused in the middle, the Pharaohs were literally at sea.

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