Shehu Dikko and Aisha Falode
Matchmakers Consult International, organizers of the prestigious Nigeria Pitch Awards have announced plans for the 6th edition of the awards in 2019. 

Speaking in Lagos, Shina Philips, the Initiator of the awards stated that after exhaustive discussions with key partners and in consideration for the development of the game, the organizers have decided to stage the next Award Ceremony in Lagos on March 23 2019.

‘As organizers, we have consulted with our partners and are pleased to announce that the 6 edition of the Nigeria Pitch Awards will hold in the Centre of Excellence on March 23 2019.  We have taken the award ceremony to Calabar (2013), Kaduna (2014, 2015), Uyo (2016) and Port Harcourt (2017).

Philips further said since 2013, the voters’ base had been steadily increased to accommodate more professional and experienced journalists across the nation. ‘In the 6th edition,’ Philips stated, ‘we will continue to enlarge the voters’ base to give many more football stakeholders the opportunity to participate in making key decisions on who the heroes of our football for the 2018 will be. 

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In addition to the categories, we are introducing two more competitive categories: Football Journalist of the Year (Online) and another category for women football’

‘Already, we have begun to make contact with top sports journalists and coaches and captains of the clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). Voting for the next edition will begin in November 2018 and will be on through early December’, Philips continued.

‘The next award ceremony in Lagos will attract top football stars, officials and music artiste. We have already begun preparations to make the award night one to remember for a long time.

‘We are especially grateful to Amaju Pinnick and his team in the Nigeria Football Federation and all sports journalists across the 36 states of Nigeria who have demonstrated relentless commitment and unflinching support for the Nigeria Pitch Awards’ Philips concluded.

The Nigeria Pitch Awards have rewarded excellence and talent in Nigerian footballers and stakeholders since 2013 when its maiden edition was held in Calabar.




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Former Super Eagles Coach Jo Bonfrere
poses with his M.O.N Award 
The former Super Eagles coach Jo Bonfrere has every reason to smile as the Federal Government  handed over the apartment promised  him in 1994 recently to him in Abuja after 24 years. 
The promise was made during the late Gen. Sani Abacha administration following the Super Eagles’ victory in the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia, Bonfrere said' I thanked the Federal Government for this but it came too sudden and i don't know what to do with the house yet, the fact now is i am now a Landlord in Nigeria. 
Coach Jo Bonfere (M.O.N) also reiterated about Nigeria’s team to the 2018 World Cup in russia that "they play individual football, they do not have a particular formation and playing pattern yet. They have speed and a little power which is a factor for the team.

Super Eagles arrived Essentuki Russia on Monday night and had their first training on Tuesday with a resounding support from the fans, their opening game will be against Croatia on Saturday, in a group they are billed to also take on Iceland and Argentina in Group D.

Super Eagles Player Brown Ideye and Coach Jo Bonfrere
However, speaking ahead of the tournament which starts on Thursday, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal winning coach further said "if Nigeria must make an impact at the competition, they should play together as a team and with more attacking minded, that they have not improved from the games they played sequel to the tournament.

He also lamented that Nigeria does not have a formation yet which might hamper their showing at Russia, that the 3-5-2 formation might be dangerous and damaging against a team like Croatia that play with 6 men upfront to take advantage of any error from their opponent defensive line. 


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In addition, the Dutchman said the team must work for one another, take the games serious as they are a young side.

On Nigeria’s maiden outing at the competition in 1994, the coach said the team was massively talented and were committed to the game, they are all willing to go for training's and they all contributed to the success of the team.  

He regretted that the West Africans lost to eventual finalist Italy at the second round due to inexperience, adding that the 1996 Olympic team would have scored more goals in the semi-final against Brazil.

Bonfrere described late Eagles skipper Rashidi Yekini as a passionate player who was committed to playing for the team.


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Chairman Engr. Valentine Buraimoh and Coach Bonfrere Jo
Dutchman Johannes Bonfrere, former Super Eagles coach and Atlanta 96' Olympic Gold Medal winning coach, has every reason to smile as the Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja handed over the apartment promised  him in 1994.

Coach Bonfrere Jo was directly involved in the 1994 African Cup of Nations and 1996 Olympics football gold medal victories, his visit to Nigeria was a singular effort of a Lagos based company in conjunction with 5ive Mediacom Limited, and the Executive Chairman of Amuwo - Odofin Hon. Engr. Valentine decided to host him to a buffet to perfect strategy on Football development and improve sports all across the Local government.

Chairman Engr. Valentine Buraimoh and Coach Bonfrere Jo
in a very vital discussion at Golden Tulip Festac Town
According to the Executive Chairman, "Having Coach Bonfrere Jo in our Local government is a great achievement and a privilege, we believe this will really boost our football and motivates every sport athletes to do more for self improvement and be ready for bigger challenges that will ensure futuristic relevance. 

He further said, "As a sport lover we would make it a priority to contribute to sports development and this is a reflection of the Amuwo games last year and this is the first of its kind in Lagos state, it is not only football we are focusing on but other sports as well like Volleyball, Cycling, Basketball, Swimming, Marathon and Football just like an Olympic games and we hope to improve this year, we hope to empower youths and not allow them constitute nuisance or perpetuate evil, the whole local government should be proud of them and their family also because an idle mind think negatively.

He concluded by saying, "Our youths should be more serious now, because scouts are around now and with this connection with Bonfrere Jo, we are sure it will be a profitable and long lasting partnership, we hope to expose any outstanding players to properly sharpen their skills, we are to discover, groom and nurture any talented athletes with our network both locally and globally. 

"It is a big task but we are confident it's achievable because we are walking the pathway of success already, facilities is a big challenge for us but we have being making use of private facilities and we appreciate this organizations for their support, Amuwo-Odofin has always been exceptional and distinguished ourselves in any competitions and we are preparing for the Festival games and we hope never to let down the people of Amuwo-Odofin.




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Coach Bonfrere Jo on his own part "appreciate the Chairman of Amuwo-Odofin for the wonderful reception and promise to do his best, because my philosophy has always been players development and this i showed prove with Austin Jay Jay Okocha in 1994 and John Owoeri in China with Baoding Yingli Yitong. 

The 71 year old Maastricht born tactician in the Netherlands who preferred the 4-1-3-2 formation has also coached South Korea national team, Al Wahda FC Abu Dhabi, El Ahly of Egypt and also had stints with Chinese sides, Dalian Shide and Henan Jianye.


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Azuoma Dike, David Godwin, Lucky Subel and Yahaya Abdul
all from Kano Pillars Basketball Club
The Senior Men’s National 3x3 Team today left Nigeria for the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup holding in Philippines between the 8th and 12th of June. 
The 4-man team which departed from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport aboard a Qatar Airways flight was led by the Director of 3x3 Nigeria, Frank Jituboh. 
The players are Azuoma Dike, David Godwin and Lucky Subel all from Kano Pillars Basketball Club and captain, Yahaya Abdul.
The captain expressed optimism that Nigeria, the current African Champions can make an impression despite making their world cup debut. 
"We have been in camp in Abuja for the last 3 weeks and we are prepared for the task ahead. We are in high spirit and ready to bring more honor to Nigeria.”


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Yahaya said the experience they garnered in Togo during the FIBA Africa 3 Championship where they defeated Congo in the finals to win the title has prepared them for the challenges ahead in Manila, Philippines. 
Jituboh thanked the Nigeria Basketball Federation under the leadership of Engineer Musa Kida for total support given to the team.
"Kida was the first person who saw the 3x3 vision and decided to invest in it through his AMK foundation when he was not even the President. I am not surprised that as the president of NBBF,  he has continued to support the latest basketball format which has continued to grow."
The team is in group D alongside Ukraine, Croatia, Jordan and Latvia. 
They are expected to play 2 matches against Ukraine and Croatia while on Sunday, it will be an encounter against Jordan and Latvia to determine their quarter final fate.

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Phoenix Athletics Sports Club of Ado - Ekiti
Ekiti state football is expected to receive a huge boost as Phoenix Athletics Sports Club of Ado- Ekiti is in partnership with a collection of Nigerian football enthusiasts under the aegis of 'Friends of Ekiti Football' to help lift the poor state of football in the state.

In a chat with the press, the general manager of the nationwide league side, Bayo Olanlege disclosed that PASC, in line with its mission to use football as a tool for socio- economic emancipation and empowerment, is rallying friends to help equip the talented but indigent youths of the state by donating balls to several youth football clubs across the state.

" We are donating balls to youth clubs in the state, as well as all the PASC Football Centres of Excellence across the state on June 8th as one of our cardinal objectives in using football to take the youths off the streets and to give them hope for a better tomorrow," Olanlege stated.
            
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According to him, friends of Ekiti football have magnanimously donated sums ranging from 10-100 dollars which would be used to purchase balls for distribution to youth teams in the state.

Some members of FEF in Nigeria and the diaspora, which include Segun Adenuga, Oluwaseun Faluyi, Tade 

Gboyega and Lekan Ogunbanjo expressed their desire to contribute to the development of Nigerian football and with Ekiti state as a pilot project.

In a related development, USA based football enthusiast, Seun Faluyi has promised to donate a new pair of football boots to kid sensation Ayomiposi Alade who won the highest scorer award at the just concluded Channels International Kids Cup, when he represented Ekiti state.

WRITTEN BY OUR CORRESPONDENT AKEEM BUSARI   

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Nigeria’s Senior Women Football Team, Super Falcons, will on Monday fly to Banjul, capital of Gambia for the first leg of their 2018 Women Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixture against the Gambia Senior Women Team.
The Gambians, who defeated Burkina Faso in the earlier round as Cup holders and eight-time champions Nigeria drew bye, have picked Wednesday, 6th June for the opening leg of the fixture, and the Independence Stadium in Bakau is venue.
NFF’s Head of Women’s Football, Ruth David told media that the Falcons’ delegation will fly aboard an Air Peace aircraft from Lagos on Monday morning, to arrive Banjul by 11am. The team left Abuja for Lagos on Sunday night.
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The return leg will take place at the Agege Stadium, Lagos on Monday, 11th June. The fixture is the last qualifying round for the 11thWomen Africa Cup of Nations taking place in Ghana later in the year.
THE 20 PLAYERS FOR GAMBIA
Osarenoma Igbinovia, Joy Jegede, Christy Ohiaeriaku, Amarachi Okoronkwo, Tochukwu Oluehi, Glory Ogbonna, Josephine Chukwunonye, Ngozi Ebere, Anam Imo, Alaba Jonathan, Esther Sunday, Onome Ebi, Faith Michael, Halimat Ayinde, Ngozi Okobi, Chinaza Uchendu, Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie, Francisca Ordega, Christy Ucheibe


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Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Tyronne Ebuehi, Odion Ighalo
Elderson Echiejile and Hassan Suleiman
Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad have arrived and settled down at the Avita Resort in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Austria on Sunday evening, as Coach Gernot Rohr and the NFF intensified the final phase of preparation for the team on all fronts.
Earlier on Sunday, Technical Adviser Rohr dropped defender Ola Aina and midfielder Mikel Agu from the 25 men in camp, to make a final list of 23 players 24 hours ahead of FIFA’s given deadline.
An all-executive-seats chartered jet flew the Super Eagles delegation, led by the NFF 2nd Vice President/Chairman of Strategy Committee, Mallam Shehu Dikko, to the Austrian capital (Vienna), and the group then proceeded by road to Bad Tatzmannsdorf.
Simeon Nwankwo, Shehu Abdulahi and Ahmed Musa
On Wednesday, the Eagles will travel the short distance back to Vienna, where they take on the Czech Republic at the Rudolf Tonn Stadium in the three-time African champions’ final pre-World Cup friendly.

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Apart from the 23 players, Technical Adviser Rohr has for company in camp, assistant coaches Salisu Yusuf, Jean-Luc Royer, Imama Amapakabo, Alloy Agu, Enrico Pionetti and Bernard Gines. There are also Dayo Enebi Achor (Team Administrator), Ibrahim Gyaran (Team Doctor), Hassan Suleiman (Physiotherapist), Pascal Patrick (Team Coordinator) and Toyin Ibitoye (Media Officer)
It would be recalled that the Embassy of Austria in Nigeria last week denied the lead physiotherapist Nnaemeka Anozie and Equipment Manager, Chidi Ngoka entry visas into that country, thereby depleting the backroom staff.
However, the Nigeria Football Federation has approached the Embassy of Austria in London with fresh applications for Ngoka and Anozie, and there is hope they could join the team in a couple of days.

NIGERIA’S 2018 23 MAN FIFA WORLD CUP SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho; Daniel Akpeyi; Ikechukwu Ezenwa
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu; Tyronne Ebuehi; William Ekong; Leon Balogun; Chidozie Awaziem; Elderson Echiejile; Kenneth Omeruo; Bryan Idowu
Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi; Mikel John Obi; Ogenyi Onazi; John Ogu; Oghenekaro Etebo; Joel Obi
Forwards: Odion Ighalo; Victor Moses; Simeon Nwankwo; Alex Iwobi; Ahmed Musa; Kelechi Iheanacho.


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Troost - Ekong, Coach Gernot Rohr and Alex Iwobi
Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr has declared that the technical team of the three-time African champions took many positives away from Saturday’s friendly against England at Wembley despite coming short by two goals to one against the Three Lions.
More than 70,000 fans saw the prestige encounter, in which first-half goals by Gary Cahill and Harry Kane rendered Alex Iwobi’s effort two minutes into the second half little more than consolation.
“There were many positives from that game. When you play a friendly match, it is not always about winning. You have the opportunity to try so many players and formations, and we achieved our aim at Wembley.
“Now, we have our final 23 players for the World Cup. It is good that we have another opportunity to try a couple of things, when we play the Czech Republic on Wednesday.”
Shehu Abdullahi, Raheem Sterling and Ogenyi Onazi
fighting for a ball
The Eagles were cleanly derobed of all illusions in a fire-and-brimstone first 45 minutes, but at the end of the final whistle, they left the Wembley turf as men who have lost their cataracts and certain assumptions and know exactly what to do when they take to the pitch at the World Cup in Russia in two weeks.
Gary Cahill scored from a powerful header by leaping highest in-between Skipper Mikel Obi and William Ekong, and with a diminutive Ogenyi Onazi, the man left to ward off danger on the line. The ball easily flew over his head.


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Delighted Super Eagles Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho
While some would argue that youthful goaltender Francis Uzoho should have done better with Kane’s drilled shot from the edge of the 18 –yard area, the former Golden Eaglet made several interventions that kept Nigeria in the game and boosted his personal confidence going to the World Cup finals.
Midfielder John Ogu, brought in to support Bryan Idowu at left back in the second period, was another revelation, as he made six interceptions to keep things tight at the back and keep the Three Lions at bay.
Kenneth Omeruo, Ahmed Musa, Oghenekaro Etebo and Tyronne Ebuehi also held firm on the Wembley pitch after coming into the fray, and Rohr would have been delighted that Arsenal FC’s Alex Iwobi has lost none of his poacher’s instincts, in the manner he scored the Eagles’ lone goal and first ever goal by Nigeria against England. It was in the same manner of being alert and precise that Iwobi scored his two goals for Nigeria in the World Cup qualifiers, away and home to Zambia.
And on a weekend that reigning world champions Germany, as well as World Cup Group D opponents Croatia and Iceland lost, the Super Eagles can only make use of lessons learnt to design a better approach to games in Russia.
On the evidence of the various tasks they were able to accomplish in their team tactics, formations and player assessments, neither Rohr nor England’s Gareth Southgate would feel the game put together by the Nigeria Football Federation and The Football Association was a waste of time.
While the Lions head to Leeds to play Costa Rica on Thursday in their final match ahead of the World Cup, the Super Eagles tackle Czech Republic in Vienna on Wednesdsay.  

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