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Ifeanyi Ubah’s World Cup Gift to Ndi Anambra

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By James Eze

There is something fascinating about Ifeanyi Ubah. Almost infinitely so! When he is not taking on the giants of Nigeria’s economy paradox and crashing the price of petroleum products, he is flexing his political muscles across Nigeria as the brain behind TAN or ‘A Handshake Across the Niger’ or better still, ‘Afa Igbo Efuna.’ And when he is not doing any of these, Ubah is in his own football stadium in Nnewi; living his vision as a club owner, fertilizing the dreams of young footballers across Nigeria and beyond.
I have never met Ifeanyi Ubah. But I find him intriguing. I find him fascinating. And I think we should all pay a close attention to him. For though we may not all like him but we cannot always ignore him.
I found myself paying a close attention to Ubah lately when he single-handedly sponsored over 50 Anambra youths to the World Cup in Russia. He simply wanted to give the youngsters the World Cup Experience. It has never been done before by anyone I know in Africa. Ubah took care of the youngsters while in Russia, tending to them, ensuring that nothing went wrong with them for almost two weeks. They only returned when Nigeria crashed out of the competition. Had Nigeria waltzed her way to the final being played today, Ubah and his large Anambra contingent would have been there to cheer the Super Eagles to victory. Ubah is not the richest man in Nigeria today. But he is the only one who has thought of giving people who ordinarily would not have seen a World Cup game live, the chance to see it. I think it is important.
I have never seen a World Cup game live. In other words, I have never had a World Cup experience. But I am told that nothing quite compares to it. My closest chance of being at the World Cup was when it came to Africa. But while South Africa played host to the game in 2010, I was holidaying in the US; far away from home and in a country where football is a distant echo. A friend of mine swore that he would not let the chance pass him by. He gave up something very important to him to be able to squeeze out enough money for his return ticket and expenses in South Africa. He came back with memories that would follow him to the grave. He regaled me with that experience for a long, long time and blamed me for choosing a wrong time to visit America. What he did not ask me was whether I would have been able to afford a World Cup experience all on my own if I had stayed back. So, there are many ways to make life rich. And if my friend’s stories are true, then a World Cup experience is one amazing way of spraying the life of a football lover with dazzling colours!
Please don’t get me wrong. I have heard people say that he did it because he is running for senate. That may be true. However, I have studied politics enough to know that no shrewd strategist would consider sponsoring young people to the World Cup a wise way to run for office. In the Nigerian context, the sum of money Ubah may have spent in giving these people a World Cup experience would have been enough to win him a gubernatorial election in some states. I think his decision was driven by something deeper and perhaps more ennobling than the quest for political power. I have observed Ubah for a few years now. I have not always agreed with his methods but I have never quite been indifferent to him. Ubah never leaves any observer with the comfort of indifference, anyway. Not when he never tires to try.
Not when he is not easily fazed by the height of incredible odds against him. And certainly, not when he invests every undertaking with so much zeal and passion. I remember how his support for Governor Obiano’s re-election bid upturned the political calculations in Nnewi last November. I remember hearing him chant ‘ama nwude Ojukwu n’aka’ as he heaved his massive bulk around in an effort to mobilize the electorate to vote for Obiano in Nnewi. His political vehicle for the election, ‘Afa Igbo Efuna’ struck an instant chord among Ndigbo at home and in the Diaspora and revved up the collective effort to save APGA, the only political party with firm roots in Igboland.
I also remember how he brought the political leaders of Ndigbo and the Yoruba together early this year for a historic ‘handshake’ across the Niger in Enugu. I sat in the audience and listened to Ayo Adebanjo recall the efforts of the founding fathers to give Nigeria a better union than the contraption we have at the moment. I remember hearing Adebanjo remind the audience that the experience he was sharing was not gleaned from a book but from his own direct personal involvement in the political evolution of Nigeria. I remember the leaders of the various nationalities in the Middle Belt and the South South share their agonies and fears about Nigeria under one roof. But I also remember that the ROOF was provided by Ifeanyi Ubah.
So, as the World Cup ends today, I think we should also REMEMBER that Anambra State was in Russia. And that Ifeanyi Ubah made that possible when he gave over 50 Anambra youths the World Cup EXPERIENCE!
Nnanne, imela!

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Premier league legends face off African all stars

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The Kanu Foundation have announced a charity football match.

THE KANU Heart Foundation is a heart non-governmental charity, specialising in providing life-saving heart treatments for children and adults patients in Nigeria and across Africa, and have announced a one-off legends football game to raise money for a new cardiac centre and treatment of patients on the waiting list.
The charity, founded by Arsenal and Nigeria legend Nwankwo Kanu, is aiming to raise money to build the new cardiac centre in Abuja, Nigeria, and reduce costly travel and accommodation fees for sick children and their families.
Kicking off on Sunday 30 September 2018 at the HIVE stadium in Barnet, the Petrolex Kanu Cup in association with Masters FootballTM will see fan favourites take to the pitch once more in order to promote the Kanu Heart Foundation.
Having suffered from heart problems throughout his career as a professional footballer, Kanu has first-hand experience of the devastating impact heart disease can have on lives. He will be joined by Sol Campbell, Lauren and Robert Pirès, with more big names to be announced in the coming weeks.
His foundation seeks to raise the profile of heart diseases in Africa and increase awareness through education, improving the quality of physical and psychological care for patients and their families and undertaking vital research.
Kanu commented, “If I wasn’t lucky enough to have access to such an amazing medical team when I experienced a serious heart defect, I might not be here today. I set up the Kanu Heart Foundation to help others in the same position who are less fortunate.
“The new cardiac centre in Abuja will help hundreds of people get access to vital heart treatment without having to travel abroad. I am proud that so many amazing ex-pros will be joining me in the Petrolex Masters Cup in association with Masters FootballTM – it will be an amazing day and great help for the charity.”

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Victor Moses dumps Nigeria for Chelsea

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Nigeria’s midfielder Victor Moses has announced a stunning decision to quit international football, choosing his club Chelsea over answering duty calls from Nigeria.
Moses, who is just 27, announced his decision on Wednesday on his Instagram page.
He said he made this decision to focus on his club career and family.
Moses was part of the Nigerian squad to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and paid pivotal role in Nigeria’s victory over Iceland at the Group stage.
He was born in Lagos on 12 December 1990 and his parents later took him to Kaduna. After surviving a religious riot, in which his parents were killed, he was taken to England, where he has had a flourishing football career.
He represented England at youth tournaments, playing for the Under-16, Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21, but he thereafter opted to play for Nigeria.
He began his professional career in the Championship with Crystal Palace, before his performances caught the eye of Wigan Athletic, where he made his Premier League debut in 2010.
After two years, his game had improved to the extent that European champions Chelsea were interested, and he signed for them in the summer of 2012.
Despite ten goals in all competitions during his first season, he spent his second season on loan to Liverpool, his third on loan at Stoke City and his fourth on loan at West Ham United.
He has been capped more than 20 times for Nigeria since his debut in 2012 and was part of the winning squad at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, as well as the campaign in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Here is the full message that he posted on Twitter and his Instagram account:

 

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Nigerian forward heads to Saudi Arabia

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AHMED MUSA has left Leicester City for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr.
Musa has signed a four-year contract with the team for an undisclosed fee which is reported around £17 million.
Al Nassr beat several European clubs to sign the 25-year-old who impressed at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.
Musa featured for Nigeria at the recent World Cup finals in Russia, scoring both goals in a win over Iceland.

The 25-year-old was Leicester’s record signing when he joined them for about £16m from CSKA Moscow in 2016.
But after just two goals in 21 games he was loaned back to the Russian side last season.

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GOV Willie Obiano Arrives Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba, Delta State Ahead of the flag off of the 21st African Senior Athletic Championship holding in Delta State, Nigeria

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GOV Willie Obiano has arrived  Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba, Delta State ahead of the flag off of the 21st African Senior Atletic Championship holding in Delta State, Nigeria.

His Excellency was welcomed by his Delta State counterpart Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur, Okowa, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Bar. Solomon Dalong amongst others.

The competion is expected to last for 5 days.

Details soon….

Harrison Madubueze
Asaba, Delta State.

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Osakue attacked, racism was the motive says athlete

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Turin – Italian athlete Daisy Osakue said Monday she was attacked at Moncalieri, near Turin, overnight because she is black. Osakue, who holds the Italian under-23 record for the discus and was born in Turin to Nigerian parents, was hit in the face by an egg hurled from a car at Moncalieri. She was taken with Turin’s Oftalmico eye hospital with an injured cornea.
“They did it on purpose,” Osakue said.
“They didn’t want to hit me, as Daisy, they wanted to hit me as a young woman of colour.
“There are several prostitutes in that area and they will have mistook me for one of them.
“I have been the victim of episodes of racism before, but only verbal ones. “When you go from words to action if means another wall has been breached”. At first it was feared the eye injury Osakue suffered could put her participation in the European championships at risk.
But the 22-year-old said she should be OK.
“Luckily it’s only an abrasion,” she said.
“With a few days rest and some drops I should be all right”.

 

 

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Tyronne Ebuehi has no regrets about playing for Nigeria

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Benfica’s Tyronne Ebuehi insists he has no regrets about choosing to play for Nigeria rather than the Netherlands.
The 22-year-old was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and Nigerian father, making him eligible for both countries.
Ebuehi was part of Nigeria’s squad at the World Cup but only played as substitute in the 2-0 win over Iceland.
“There’s absolutely no regrets, it was a big choice and one I can happily live with,” the defender told BBC Sport.
“My father was born in Nigeria and he is from Benin City, which makes me half Nigerian. My mother is from Holland, so I’m half Nigerian and half Dutch.
“Nigeria is one of the biggest football countries in Africa. I think it was a great opportunity for me to play for Nigeria.
“So I’m happy that I made this decision. I think it’s the best decision I have made in my football career.”
Ebuehi began his professional career at ADO Den Haag and scored once in 82 appearances for the club.
He signed a five-year deal to join Portuguese giants Benfica before the start of the tournament in Russia.
He also revealed that fellow Dutch-born defender William Troost-Ekong had played a ‘big role’ in his decision to fly in the colours of Nigeria.
“Born in the same city [Haarlem] as me, Troost-Ekong gave me some advice and told me about the benefits of playing for Nigeria,” he said.
“As a big brother he had played for the Netherlands at junior levels before choosing Nigeria, so he also had a big role to play in my decision.”
Despite taking his time before making a commitment, Ebuehi made his debut against Togo in June 2017.
He has played eight times for the Super Eagles and produced some eye-catching performances for the three-time African champions in the friendlies against Argentina, Poland, Serbia, England and Czech Republic.

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The national debate over French identity

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France’s last World Cup win in 1998 triggered a national debate over French identity, after the slogan Black-Blanc-Beur (Black, White, Arab) was coined to describe the multi-ethnic team.
It was a striking development, because discussing race or religion is officially considered irrelevant to French identity – even frowned upon.
The French state collects no data on the ethnic origins of its citizens; a way of underlining the principle that all are equal, and equally French.
The reality is somewhat less “colour-blind”, though, according to many of those who come from immigrant backgrounds, and especially from France’s former colonies in Africa. They say many areas of French life – such as getting a job – are more difficult with an immigrant name or a non-white face.
France’s colonial past has left uncomfortable divisions here; divisions which have been exacerbated by city planning around its major cities, and – some would say – a Republican ideal that is often seen as rooted in France’s white Christian history. The recent debate around the place of Islam has highlighted these tensions again.
The national squad is still a rare symbol of multicultural France, but 20 years on from their last World Cup win, the image of a team from many different backgrounds has triggered less focus on French identity here and more wry comment on the country’s current stance on immigration.

The feud comes after Khaled Beydoun, a US author on Islamophobia, called in a Twitter post for “justice” for Africans and Muslims in France because they “delivered you a second World Cup”.
The tweet was widely shared and garnered criticism and praise. Some were worried it would hamper race relations in a country that had witnessed its political discourse become inflamed following a migration crisis and a number of terrorist attacks.

In a related report ,US-based South African comedian Trevor Noah has defended himself after being criticised by a French diplomat for saying “Africa won the World Cup”.
The Daily Show host made the comments on his satirical show a day after France beat Croatia to win football’s most coveted prize on Sunday.
More than half of the French squad can trace their heritage back to Africa.
The French ambassador to the US said the comedian was denying their “Frenchness” by calling them African.
“This, even in jest, legitimises the ideology which claims whiteness as the only definition of being French,” Gérard Araud said in a stern letter to Noah.
“They were educated in France, they learned to play soccer in France, and they are French citizens. They are proud of their country, France.”
The Daily Show posted a video of the South African comic reading out the letter on Wednesday (later tweeted by the French embassy in the US) – and going on to argue that the players’ African identity should be celebrated.

Noah said he understood where the ambassador was coming from and how his comment could be perceived as “joining the attack” with France’s far right.
But he said his statement should be put in context: “When I am saying, ‘They are African’, I am not saying it as a way to exclude them from their Frenchness, but using it as a way to include them in my Africanness.”
To deny that duality was something he “vehemently” disagreed with.

Earlier in the week, Noah had also posted to his Instagram account a cartoon by M Rifai showing a boat full of migrants handing the World Cup trophy to France.

Artwork by M.Rifaï

A post shared by Trevor Noah (@trevornoah) on

Mr Noah expanded on the concept, using as an example Malian migrant of Mamoudou Gassama, who was recently given French citizenship after climbing a building to rescue a child dangling from a balcony.
“They said, ‘You are now French.’ So now I am going, ‘Is he now no longer African?'” Mr Noah asked.
Former US President Barack Obama has also waded into the debate about the identity of the French football squad.
During his Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg earlier this week, he pointed to the positive side of immigration: “Just look at the French football team. Not all of those folks looked like Gauls to me, but they are French – they are French.”

In his letter, Mr Araud stressed that the players “rich and varied backgrounds is a reflection of France’s diversity”, to which Mr Noah replied: “Now I am not trying to be an asshole but I think it is more of a reflection of France’s colonialism.”
France’s founding principles and universal values means it does not collect data or statistics on its racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds.

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Iwobi: Nigeria must learn from 2018 World Cup

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ARSENAL and Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi, hopes that the Super Eagles can learn from its 2018 World Cup and build for the future.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the Arsenal forward said: “The squad is young and we picked important lessons that will hopefully help us going forward. Attention will soon shift to the Nations Cup and we must make our World Cup lessons count.”
Nigeria finished third in Group D after defeats by Croatia and Argentina either side of a 2-0 win over Iceland.
The victory over Iceland had kept Nigeria in contention but their campaign ended just four minutes from the end of their final match against Argentina, only for Marcos Rojo’s late strike to knock them out.
“We had a lot of hopes and believe that we could do well. We are very proud of ourselves and are going to take the positives of course,” Iwobi said.
“We are just unfortunate about the last minute goal that came against Argentina led to a defeat that knocked us out of the group. We are taking positives but we are very happy with what we did.
“It’s not just me or my tournament, it’s Nigeria’s tournament,” he added. “The coach didn’t put me in that position because he wanted to try something new, try something else, so I had no problems because at the end of the day it is what the manager decides is what goes.”

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Nigerian FA crisis deepens as league suspended indefinitely

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The resumption of Nigeria’s domestic league has been postponed indefinitely amid a leadership crisis that has caused total gridlock with a FIFA ban imminent.
Earlier this month, Chris Giwa, founder of a rival faction in the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), seized control insisting he was elected NFF president in a disputed vote back in August 2014. However, FIFA recognises Amaju Pinnick as the Federation’s chief and Gianni Infantino has warned the Nigerian authorities to expect a ban if they do not comply with the regulations over government inference.
According to local reports, Giwa himself is currently under a worldwide ban even though he is backed by Nigeria’s Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.
Domestic football was due to resume today after taking a break during the World Cup but has been postponed “based on the current adverse circumstances in the administration of football in the country as a result of which sponsors, partners and service providers have expressed strong concerns and are reviewing their involvement in the league.”
Pinnick represented Nigeria at the World Cup and in a dangerous snub to FIFA and Infantino, Giwa told the News Agency of Nigeria that the threatened ban was “a creation of the media; FIFA has not written to lodge any complaint to us.”
Further describing Infantino’s threat as a “mere fallacy orchestrated by the press”, he added: “There was an election and there was a litigation on which the Nigerian judiciary made a pronouncement. I am not the judiciary. I only went there to seek for justice. We have a system in Nigeria. Anyone with any grievance against that system must go through the same system to ventilate his concerns.”

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Leicester City Set To Be Offered £30m For Nigerian Attacker: Should Puel Let Him Leave?

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After yet another season that saw them finish in the top half of the league table, Leicester City have missed out on the chance to compete in Europe. However, Claude Puel has big plans for the squad at the King Power and is busy scouting for players who can improve the first team at the club.
However, he is also looking to get rid of dead wood this summer and one such player who is now inching towards an exit is Ahmed Musa. The 25-year old produced a moment of brilliance to take Nigeria past Iceland in the group stages of the World Cup recently but that remains the only highlight of his season, which he spent in two different countries.
Musa joined Leicester City in 2016 and scored just two league goals in 21 matches in his debut campaign and did not show enough promise to steal a regular place in the starting XI last season. He started just one League Cup game under Puel and was sent out on loan to Russia after the turn of the year.

The Nigerian international came to the King Power to act as a backup to Jamie Vardy and fight for a place to play alongside him in a 4-4-2 system with the likes of Shinji Okazaki, Islam Slimani and Kelechi Iheanacho. His versatility was an added asset but the French manager does not seem to be impressed with what he has on offer.

He showed decent quality in the Russian league and also had his moments in the World Cup, At 25, Musa has a decent future ahead of him but it does not look like he is set to stay at Leicester.
Reports in Nigeria claim that Musa is close to joining Saudi Arabia side Al Nassr Riyad, who are readying a huge bid for him. It is understood that the financial incentives are expected to lure him to the Middle East to join former Premier League star Nordin Amrabat, who has left Watford to join the same club.
Al Nassr Riyad are happy to pay close to £30m for the attacker and it is hard to see the Foxes reject such an advance. Puel has already lost Riyad Mahrez this summer and is rebuilding his squad for the next season. Musa may have had a place in it, but a £30m offer is sure to seal his future.

He is a decent talent but Leicester City and Puel now have the liberty to spend on players that can make an immediate impact on the squad next season. Musa’s exit is expected to be confirmed in the coming days, so we can expect the Foxes to make some star signing before the end of the transfer window.

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Minister Mary of Carnaby London delivering a bag to Biola Okoya, daughter of Razaq Okoya – the renowned Nigerian industrialist, owner of Eleganza Group of Companies and Aare of Lagos

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