BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE 

The chairman, Ekiti state football association , Mr Bayo Olanlege on Wednesday met with the newly set up management team of the state FA under 12/13 male football team .

At the brief meeting held in Ado,the state capital,the FA boss charged the management team headed by Mr Yemi Awopetu to ensure sustenance of their individual vision and passion towards football development.

He said the unquantifiable zeal exhibited by those who were nominated to form the management team in years past informed their nomination for the various positions with a call on them to remain focused.

The chairman ,Ekiti state FA also urged them to strive towards transitional football development rather than transactional football development adding that the future of the younger generation should be paramount to them rather than immediate financial benefits.

The General Manager, Ekiti state Football Association Under 12/Under 13 ,Mr Yemi Awopetu from Efon-Alaaye thanked the state FA for counting him and others worthy of the various positions with a promise to ensure strict compliance with the vision and mission of the brains behind it.

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A sport journalist in Ekiti state, Qozeem Oladapo who is the team coordinator expressed delight at the privilege to impact on the lives of the younger generation through sport calling for team spirit among the management team.

Other members of the management team include the technical crew headed by coach Femi Kumuyi who will be assisted by the duo of Abiodun Olaleye and Bayo Ajumobi.

The management team vowed to swiftly swing into action by putting in place merceneries towards the discovery of a viable Under 12/Under 13 football team .

To this end, a three day intensive screening of Under 12 and Under 13 boys from all parts of Ekiti state will hold on Friday ,Saturday and Sunday this week at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium.

The screening will commence by 2pm on Friday and resume by 11am on Saturday while it will close on Sunday.


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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

Enthusiastic runners in their hundreds thronged the Marathon Village, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere on Monday as the distribution of Access Bank Lagos City Marathon forms purchased by the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for intending participants entered the final phase.

According to a statement signed by Olukayode Thomas, Head Communications and Media for the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Sanwo-Olu purchased 20,000 forms to be distributed to Lagosians and Nigerians interested in the February 8 race.

Thomas noted that the kind gesture by the Lagos State Governor is very commendable as it will serve as an additional impetus to make more Lagos residents stay healthy and fit by taking part in either the marathon or 10km races all billed to take place next month.

Thomas said: “The Governor has again demonstrated that he has genuine intentions to make the Access Bank Lagos Marathon better than he met it, in just a few months in office, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon moved from Bronze level to Silver, now he made available resources to purchase 20,000 forms for runners, this is really commendable and I hope everyone out there will make use of the opportunity, the governor has provided”

Apart, from the 20,000 forms purchased by the Lagos State Governor, other sponsors have also purchased large chunks of forms that are being distributed on merit to deserving runners across the country.

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Meanwhile, the General Manager of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Yussuf Alli has reiterated on the mission to get a Gold Label for the Lagos race after the 2020 edition.

Alli hinted that with the massive innovations being planned for this fifth edition, the World Athletics will be favourably disposed to upgrading the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon again.

“We are on track for this year’s race and I am very positive the global body will be impressed with what we have put in place in terms of equipment, security and of course the quality of athlete that would be on parade” Allis stated.

Among other things, Alli said there will be more transponder mats, improved water distribution along the route and improved security for volunteers at the water points at this year's race.

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

Heartland FC set the tone as one of the biggest team in the Nigeria Professional Football League, after a resounding 2-0 victory against current league champions, Enyimba FC at the Aba International Stadium, despite the Supreme Court's judgement, which raised doubts about the unknown and unpredictable phenomenon of the team, the Naze Millionaires free themselves from emotional agitation and nervous tension to the amazement of many and showed glimpse of what to expect by the end of the season. 

Heartland Football Club handed Enyimba FC their first league loss at home since they returned to their renovated stadium and Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu has made this possible, he has justified the reason why many team wants him as their Technical Adviser, they call him the Working One, indeed he's working and getting results. 

His team brought to an end Plateau United 6 games unbeaten run, he has also won 3 Oriental derbies out of 4, just in his first season with this baby team, he also achieved the impossible by beating Abia Warriors for the first time in 5 years, previous meetings Abia Warriors won 6 and they drew 3. 

Chief Barr Charles Ezekwem once again proved his mettle, motivating the team, with all smiles after the game he confirmed that the Coach "Working One" is really working, and urged the team to play for the present Government because according to him," Government is Continuous" while assuring them, that better days ahead and at the end of every tunnel there is always a light, this is just a better way to welcome the new administration! Like the saying goes maybe there is "HOPE" for Heartland to achieve the unbelievable this season.


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Meanwhile, the man himself Fidelis Ilechukwu, "Working One" could not hide his joy, "This is massive i must tell you, the last time Heartland beat Enyimba away from home was about 12 years ago during the days of Ike Thankgod at Heartland, also it's my first time beating Enyimba Football Club as a Coach, while i was with MFM, it's either draw or lose.  

" This is indeed the biggest win for me since i started coaching, considering the fact that we started slowly, we lost our first game at home, we dropped many players and recruited some more, they are a baby team trying to adapt to our philosophy and pattern of play, and now Supreme Court Judgements. 

" We were not emotionally agitated, we are determined and focused because we have a mandate, when we sign the contract, at one point we were 17th position on the Log, but now we are on 9th position after 15 games, we should be in a more better position by mid - season. 

" The boys keep improving by the day, they are beginning to learn fast, playing to instruction is gradually becoming a lifestyle, chasing the ball is our concept, which means you have to run for good 120 minutes, we have doubled our efforts and changed our training pattern, all the players are committed because we want them all to be on the same level. 

Concerning the Situation in Imo State, Ilechukwu said, "I don't know anything about politics, all i do is football and to respect my contract, but i know time will tell, but for now let me continue to mind my business and concentrate on improving the boys, i like to add values to players for futuristic relevance.  

The Naze Millionaires next have a date with Katsina United at the Okigwe Stadium this weekend. 


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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE
Well-respected former Nigerian road runner Yohanna Waziri has showered encomiums on the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his instant impact on the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
Waziri who competed in the men's marathon at the 1988 Summer Olympics said he is very happy to see the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon move up the ladder from the World Athletics Bronze Level, it was during the regime of the former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to a World Athletics Silver Label month into the tenure of Sanwo-Olu.
In a statement signed by Olukayode Thomas Head Communications and Media Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Waziri whose personal best is 2hours .15 minutes achieved over two decades ago is confident that Sanwo-Olu will take the race to Gold and even Platinum label.
“I must say that I am very delighted with the way the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is getting bigger and bigger every year, from no label at all, it is now a Silver Label, I congratulate everyone that has worked hard to bring this to reality especially the Governor Sanwo-Olu and my amiable brother Yussuf Alli,” he said.
Waziri noted that the gains accrued from the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon are enormous as Nigeria is beginning to claw her way back to relevance as far as long-distance races are concerned.
“Since it (Access Bank Lagos City Marathon) started, it has been a blessing, the culture of long-distance races is back and more races are springing up from across the states.

“The athletes are also improving each year and they are getting good money for their hard work so it has really been a commendable innovation”
Waziri challenged Northern Governors to emulate Sanwo-Olu.

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For Waziri, it is not good enough that while Northern athletes rule long distant races in Nigeria, virtually none of their states boast of any world-class marathon as obtained in Lagos.
“Yes, I will like to appeal to our governors in the North to learn from what Sanwo-Olu has continued in Lagos, we need quality races in the North, our region already boasts of top athletes and I know many more will be unearthed if we take this serious like Lagos is doing” Waziri concluded.
The 2020 edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is billed for February 8 with a long list of Gold and Silver Labelled athletes already confirmed for the race.
Since its inception, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has made a special concession to Nigerian athletes; carving out a separate reward system outside the general prize monies.
 With cars and prize monies being won each year by the runners, governors have been advised that crime and other vices can be reduced a great deal with the introduction of sporting events like the Lagos Marathon    

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE
FC TULSA of United States of America signs two more players with Nigerian national team experience were announced as the newest members of FC Tulsa on Monday afternoon.

According to USL Championship website  the club announced it had signed forward Mfon Udoh and defender Solomon Kwambe to its 2020 roster, pending league and federation approval. The duo joins Raphael Ayagwa as the only three active players in the USL Championship with Nigerian national team experience.
A 27-year-old forward, Udoh brings an impressive goalscoring pedigree from the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL). Udoh is the only player in league history to score more than 20 goals in a season and his single-season record of 23, set in 2014, still stands. In 2019, Udoh became the only player to top the NPFL scoring charts in two different seasons when he scored 10 goals to co-lead the league.

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Like Udoh, Kwambe has spent his domestic career playing in the NPFL, primarily with Lobi Stars F.C and Plateau United. A player always looked at as loaded with potential, Kwambe was included on Young African Player to Watch lists in 2013 that also included Liverpool FC superstar Mohammed Salah and reigning USL Championship Golden Boot winner Solomon Asante.
That potential translated for Kwambe into 18 appearances for Nigeria on the international stage including caps in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE
Runners in the stable of Nigeria’s foremost Marathons and Road Races Club, the High-Altitude Athletics Club of Jos, Plateau State, have vowed to send the men’s’ national record in the full marathon to the athletics archives at the 2020 edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon on February 8, 2020.
The current national record of 2 hours .15 minutes was set the Army Officer Abass Muhammed about three decades ago.
High Altitude Head Coach Steve Nuhu told journalists on Monday that, “Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is our premium event and there is no better place to set a new national record than our best races as the attention of the world media will be on us” said the Nuhu 
With all the nation elite runners like Emmanuel Gyan, Deborah Pam under his stable, Nuhu will not reveal which of the runners is primed to break the national record, “ I won’t talk about that but all I can tell you is that we are coming to Lagos with about 30 runners. 25 are ready now by the end of the month the other five will be ready but I can assure you that one of these runners will set a new national record”.

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Nuhu said he is proud that Nigeria is the nation that is behind the biggest one-day event in Africa,
“Everywhere I go out, I sing the praises of the organizer and sponsors of the Access Bank Lagos City Nigeria. We have been able to prove to the world that we can organize a world-class event like New York or Paris Marathon in Lagos”.
Nuhu is especially proud of a member of the athletics family Yussuf Alli who has seamlessly transmitted  from being a long jumper to organizing road races and marathons,
“Alli’s is a pride to the athletics family to move from field event to becoming of the best managers of road races and marathons is not a small feat.  He has nurtured the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to become a Silver Label Race within four years, this is a huge achievement. I hope I will be lucky one day to spend enough time with him and learn from him” said Nuhu.

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

Heartland of Owerri today at the Okigwe township stadium sent its fans and Management into wild jubilation as the Naze millionaires humbled visiting team Abia Warriors in one of the Match Day 14 fixture of the 2019/2020 NPFL Season.
Abia Warriors are unbeaten in 9 games against Heartland in the NPFL and 10 games in all competition since the past five years and the Umuahia Warlords who bookmakers  favoured to come out victorious of the epic Oriental derby and looking foward to stretch their Five (5) years dominance over their Oriental neighbours.

The oriental derby seems to be a very huge and challenging task for Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu and his boys following Abia Warriors unbeaten derby track record against the owerri based team.
Tactics adopted by 'Working One' proved difficult for the away team and helpful, as his boys showed determination and purpose at the blast of the whistle for kick off as they took the fight to their guests in search of an early goal.

Speaking with the media after the game, Ilechukwu express joy and thumbs up for his boys for showing character and seeing possibilities despite they are still a baby team. 

" We have really prepared for this game, we know record are meant to be broken, we have never won a single game against Abia Warriors since 2014 and we know the best thing to do is get the maximum points, we respect them but we know beating them is very very possible. 

" We have our game plan that worked for us perfectly, i told my boys never to allow them play or make 1, 2, 3 passes in the midfield, we are very quick going forward and we created several scoring chances, they are indeed lucky conceding just one goal in this particular encounter, my boys really played according to tactics, crucial to our victory. 


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Heartland attacking duo of Thompson Abiodun and Obioma Chukwuemeka was handful for the Umuahia Warlords defence line as they terrorised and mesmerised the visitors backline.
On resumption after the interval, the Naze millionaires became more purposeful and determined which paid off in the 56th mins,  when rampaging Abiodun Thompson makes the difference with a brilliant goal after receiving a delicious pass from Obioma Chukwuemeka to send the fans into rapture and wild jubilation. 
It was a moment the whole Imolites have waited for a very long time, Heartland players,  Management  and the passionate fans at the Okigwe Stadium celebrated the victory at the blast of the final whistle and were happy they finally got to record a win against their Oriental brothers after 5years.


Heartland Vs Abia Warriors NPFL Head - to - Head

2014/2015 Season

Heartland 1-1 Abia Warriors - May 2014
Abia Warriors 1-1 Heartland - October 2014


2015/2016 Season

Heartland 0-1 Abia Warriors - April 2015
Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland - August 2015

2016/2017 Season

Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland - February 2016
Heartland 0-1 Abia Warriors - June 2016

2017/2018 Season

Heartland 0-0 Abia Warriors - April 2018

2018/2019 Season

Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland - February 2019
Heartland 2-4 Abia Warriors - May 2019


NPFL GAMES

Heartland - Win 0
Abia Warriors - Win 6
Draw - 3

Aiteo Cup Games

Heartland - Win 0
Abia Warriors - Win 1


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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE 

Enyimba head coach Fatai Osho has praised the character of his players after Sunday’s CAF Confederation Cup win against Paradou AC at the Enyimba Stadium.

Stanley Dimgba netted a hat trick and Victor Mbaoma scored his eighth of the season to render Abdelkahar Kadri's late goal a mere consolation as Enimba ran out 4-1 winners on Sunday.

The result has taken the People's Elephant to second in group D, heading into the final two matches of the current stage.

Sunday’s win was Osho's first game  in charge of the People Elephant following the departure of Usman Abd'Allah last Monday,

Speaking to the club’s media channel after the fixture, Osho heaped credit  to the players' ability to adapt to new tactics within only a few days.

“The time was never there so we had to (do) a crash program to encompass a lot of things into what we wanted to do, and today we are happy that whatever we were able to do within those four days we were able to get a result with it.

“You could see the manifestation of whatever we have been doing in the training session in their play. It’s not an easy thing to do. We must give credit to those boys (the players) because if they are not ready to learn it will be so hard to teach.

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Speaking on what the club could achieve under his watch, Osho stated that the team would take every match as they come.

“It’s better for us to take it one at a time. That will be the best thing for us to do. We will take it one at a time. If we keep winning, then we can still look at the prospect of achieving this, that and that. Let’s just take it one at a time. The most important thing for me is that if we start winning,

“The most important thing for me is that we should keep winning these matches. If we keep winning these matches then all options of winning anything is quite open - the level of the Confederation Cup and at the level of the NPFL."

Fatai Osho will lead out his charges again when Enyimba host Heartland FC in the Nigeria Professional Football League on Wednesday.

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE 

Ekiti state football association has announced the award of full academic scholarship to the sensational revelation of the just concluded JKF youth cup, Damilola Adeyeye.

The announcement was made at the first meeting of the association in 2020. According to the statement made available to newsmen, Damilola Adeyeye, who emerged the highest goals scorer and the most valuable player of the recently concluded JKF youth football competition, will proceed to Ekiti State College of Education to study Physical and Health Education on the full scholarship of the Ekiti FA.

The statement signed by the Ekiti FA Chairman, Bayo Olanlege, disclosed that the award is in tandem with the desires of the state FA to develop youths in the state, using football as a veritable platform.

" We are determined to produce talented, but equally educated young footballers in Ekiti state. We also understand the importance and benefits of mixing education and football.

"Therefore, the academic award given to Damilola Adeyeye, is an indication of the desires of  Ekiti state football association to produce a generation of morally upright, intelligent and educated footballers.


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Meanwhile, in a related development, the statement further revealed that the Ekiti FA will on Saturday, January 11, 2020, at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, inaugurate the management of the state U16 team.

It revealed that the affairs of the team of players scouted at the recently held Dr. John Kayode Fayemi U15 football competition would be in the hands of a Seven man management team to be headed by Mr. Adedeji Adu, as the General Manager, while Aziz Ogunlayi and Femi Adewunmi will serve as team coordinator and Welfare Officer, respectively.

Seasoned Grassroots Football Coach Idris Bolarinwa will work as the head coach and will be assisted by Coach Mukaila Mustapha and Coach Timilehin Olagunju, with youthful sports journalist Pelumi Abiara, as Media Officer.

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