Community Shield: Arsenal aim to claim more silverware against Blues.


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By ‘Segun Jawolusi

The Premier League champions Chelsea and FA Cup holders Arsenal will kick off the 2017/18 football campaign in England this weekend in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.

Arsene Wenger’s men got the better of the Antonio Comte run away league champions last time out as Arsenal secured a 2-1 victory over Chelsea back in May to lift the FA Cup for the third time in four years.

The Blues eased to a comfortable 3-0 win in a pre-season friendly in China last month but the Community Shield game will be a far more competitive match for the two side than what we saw in the Far East.

Of the two London rivals, Comte’s side is the heavy favourites to win the match on Sunday. The Blues saw the Gunners drifting far behind with 18 points as they cruised to the Premier League throne. Also, Conte has conducted some excellent business in the transfer market this summer.

Real Madrid’s Spanish striker Alvaro Morata has arrived in a club record deal while Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger have also strengthen what was already a very strong squad so Chelsea are going to be a force once again this season.

Arsene Wenger has also been active in the market after smashing their transfer record to sign Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and the Gunner’s boss snapping-up left-back Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer.

In ending last season, Wenger couldn’t have been happier defeating the Premier League champions in the FA Cup final as it became their saving grace of a much disappointed season and will be aiming to claim more silverware against the Blues.

Both team are expected to go into the game sticking with the 3-2-4-1 formation which hugely paid dividends for the sides last season.

Arsenal Team News

New signings Sead Kolasinac and Lacazette could make their competitive debut for the Gunners on Sunday while the match may come too soon for Alexis Sanchez who just resumed training after being handed an extended break following his participation in the Confederation Cup for Chile.

Shkodran Mustafi remains a doubt, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are expected to be fit for the match after their injury scare while Francis Coquelin is out.

Chelsea Team News

Antonio Conte will be without two forwards; Eden Hazard due to his ankle injury and Pedro who suffered multiple facial fractures in the recent 3-0 win over Arsenal. Summer arrival Tiemoue Bakayoko will not feature in the match as he continues to recover from a knee injury while Alvaro Morata is available to start. Victor Moses is also available despite his red card in the FA Cup final as this game is seen more like a friendly.

Arsenal Predicted XI;

Petr Cech; Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Sead Kolasinac; Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck

Chelsea Predicted XI;

Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill; Victor Moses, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso; Willian, Michy Batshuayi, Alvaro Morata


Charity Shield: Dream Arsenal Squad


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The Charity Shield marks the beginning of the new football season in England and Premier League champions, Chelsea will square up with the FA Cup champions, Arsenal in what could be termed as a grudge match with the Blues looking to avenge the 2-1 defeat in the final of the FA Cup at the closing stage of last season.

Since then both team have reinforce their squad with Arsenal bringing in Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette while the Chelsea squad has been bolstered with Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger and Willy Caballero.

Both team met during the pre seasons in the Far east and the Blues ran out with a 3-0 victory.

However, the Gunners will be looking forward to prove a point that the FA Cup final result is not a fluke and that they can still stand toe to toe with the best.

Players like Alexis Sanchez, Shkordan Mustafi, Rob Holding are first team players but are not likely to be available for this encounter as a result of their off season tournament activities for their various countries.

But Arsenal still has a squad capable of getting the better off the Antonio Comte’s side and kick off the season in a frenzy mood by winning the Community Shield.

Looking at the present Arsenal squad, Footy Onside is thus putting forward a squad believe to be the strongest for the encounter at Wembley Stadium.

Sticking to the 3-2-4-1 formation which enabled the Gunner to finished strongly last season, the Gunners should have:

GK     –     Petr Cech

D        –     Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal

WD    –     Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac

M        –     Granit Khaka, Aaron Ramsey, Mezut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette

S          –     Olivier Giroud

David to attend Leadership Legacy event in Amsterdam


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Head of Women’s Football Unit of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ruth David, is among a select group of upcoming women football administrators in the universe invited by FIFA to attend this weekend’s opening ceremony of the UEFA Women European Championship in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

World football ruling body, FIFA, has called up graduates of two editions of its Female Leadership Development Programme, to be joined by graduates of four editions of the UEFA version of the course for the special event.

David was part of the 35 women football administrators worldwide selected for the FIFA Female Leadership Development Programme, and attended modules at the Home of FIFA, Zurich, Switzerland last year.

The FLDP is part of FIFA’s portfolio of women’s football development programmes for the period 2015-2018. Launched in 2015 to ensure that there are female role models and women at decision –making levels in football, the FLDP aims to identify, support and develop strong female leaders in sport, while advocating for women to access senior decision –making positions globally.

“This will be a great opportunity to not just expand your knowledge and network, but support FIFA in building the legacy of the leadership programme. The event will also offer a great platform to showcase some of the success stories, and facilitate your possibilities to cooperate with representatives from other Member Associations,” Arijana Demirovic, Coordinator of Women’s Football Development in FIFA’s Women’s Football Division, wrote about this weekend’s event in Amsterdam.

At the first seminar held by David in Abuja last year, FIFA’s Head of Professional Football, Mr. James Johnson delivered a paper on ‘The Concept of FIFA Female Leadership Development Programme,’ while David herself spoke on ‘Reasons for the FIFA Female Leadership Development Programme’. Professor (Mrs) Funke Suleiman, of the Department of Physical and Health Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria spoke on ‘Education As a Tool For Enhancing the Career of Female Football Players in Nigeria,’ while Chief (Mrs) Dilichukwu Onyedinma, a former Member of the NFF Executive Committee and currently Director of Sports, Federal Capital Territory, delivered a paper on ‘Education for Character Moulding Among Female Football Players in Nigeria.’

At the second seminar, former NFF Board Member and now ranking Member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ayo Omidiran and Director of Federations and Elite Athletes department of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mrs Hauwa Kulu-Akinyemi were among those who delivered papers.

Pinnick inaugurates AITEO Cup Committee


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Aiteocup Committee

NFF President Amaju Pinnick on Monday inaugurated the committee that will organize the first edition of the AITEO Cup Competition (formerly Federation Cup) for men and women.

While inaugurating the 11-member Committee, headed by NFF 1st Vice President/Chairman of Organising Committee, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, Pinnick insisted that the Committee’s membership was strategically drawn based on the core services of the two competitions.

NFF 2nd VP/LMC chairman Shehu Dikko is vice chairman, with NFF Executive Committee members Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Ahmed Yusuf Fresh, Sharif Rabiu Inuwa and Ms Aisha Falode as members. NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi is the Secretary.

Other members are Mr. Andrew Onyearu (Group Executive Director/Chief Legal Counsel of AITEO), Mr. Ndiana-Abasi Matthew (Senior Manager, Corporate Communications of AITEO) and Barr. A. U. Mustapha (SAN).

The NFF President charged the Committee to be fully focused on delivering a competition that the Nigerian Football fraternity and sponsors AITEO would be proud of.

Responding, Barr. Akinwunmi promised that his team would move swiftly to draw up a revised calendar for this year’s competition, and also insist on the very best values in all areas of the organization while working to bring new glory to the oldest football competition in Nigeria.

Pinnick restates NFF commitment to improving refereeing


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Fifama elitegroup

President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick has again re-affirmed total commitment of the present NFF administration to the improvement of refereeing in Nigeria.

The NFF supremo, who is also Member of the CAF Executive Committee and Member of the Organising Committee for FIFA Competitions, restated his administration’s resolve to tackling one of the big issues of Nigerian Football at the opening ceremony of this year’s FIFA Member Association (MA) Elite Programme for Nigerian referees, assessors and physical fitness trainers in Abuja on Monday.

“Refereeing is a critical aspect of the game of football. In fact, it is a major issue in the game. You would recall that at the advent of our administration, referees were the first set of people we sent on capacity building programme. Since then, our determination to improve refereeing in Nigerian Football has never waned, and going forward, we are fully committed to ensuring that we achieve wholesale improvement in all aspects of officiating.

“I want to appreciate the instructors sent by FIFA (Felix Tangawarima and Tracey Lovell) and I believe our referees stand to gain so much knowledge from this year’s programme.”

Tangawarima, a former FIFA referee from Zimbabwe, now a referees’ instructor, praised the leadership of NFF for the presence of most of its Executive Committee members at the ceremony, saying that in his years of working on referee development programmes, he has never seen such robust top-echelon support for a refereeing course. “The words of the NFF President, who also has foothold in CAF and FIFA, are also very reassuring, and I challenge you all to justify the confidence the NFF leadership has reposed in you by committing to integrity and excellence.”

Also present at the opening ceremony, inside the Kalem Suites, Abuja were NFF vice presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, Executive Committee members Ahmed Yusuf Fresh (Chairman, NFF Referees Committee), Sharif Rabiu Inuwa (vice chairman, Referees Committee), Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Suleiman Yahaya Kwande, Aisha Falode, Mohammed Alkali and Babagana Kalli, NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, NFF Director of Technical Bitrus Bewarang, NRA President Tade Azeez, former NRA President Ahmed Maude, other members of the NFF Referees Committee and some members of the NFF Congress.

NFF shocked about Ikeme diagnosis, prays for Eagles goalie



carl ikeme

The Nigeria Football Federation has expressed shock and dismay at news on Thursday evening that Super Eagles’ number one goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, had been diagnosed with acute leukemia.

A stunned NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, was lost for words after the sad news broke in the international media. “What? This is very, very sad. Carl Ikeme diagnosed with acute leukemia? This is harsh.”

Sanusi stated that the NFF and the Nigerian Football family would rally round the energetic shot –stopper in his difficult period.

“Our thoughts are with Carl at this difficult period. The NFF and the football fraternity in Nigeria are taken aback by this sad development, knowing how strong Carl has been in goal for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2015.

“We have been told that he will start chemotherapy immediately. We want him to stay strong and remain the self –assured man that he has always been, and we will continue to pray for him and wish him the best with regards to the treatment,” Sanusi said.

Ikeme has always shown ability, agility and high level of confidence between the sticks for Nigeria, since taking up the number one goalie’s responsibilities following the sudden retirement of three –time World Cup star Vincent Enyeama from international football in October 2015.

He was in goal for the Super Eagles over two legs of the 2018 FIFA World Cup preliminary round against Swaziland, as well as the 2-1 defeat of Zambia in Ndola at the beginning of the group phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup race. He was also in action against Tanzania and Egypt in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches, and in friendly games against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe last year summer.

Federation Cup become AITEO Cup


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  • As AITEO bags naming right
Aiteo Cup sealed

NFF President Pinnick (second left) and AITEO’s DMD Francis Peters (second right) are joined by NFF VP1 Seyi Akinwunmi (left) and AITEO’s Legal Counsel Andrew Onyearu (right)

AITEO, Nigeria’s foremost energy solution company, on Wednesday acquired the ‘Naming Right’ of the NFF Federation Cup, as an extension/addendum to the company’s sponsorship agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation. It is also part of the rights AITEO has under the original agreement.

Those rights will enable the acquisition of additional commercial assets from the NFF that are available and not encumbered, on a mutually –negotiated basis. To this end, the NFF Federation Cup, the oldest football competition in Nigeria, is henceforth to be known and addressed as “AITEO Cup”

The duration of this aspect of the sponsorship is 5 years, similar to the main agreement (signed on 26th April 2017) on a Cost Value Arrangement and commencing from the 2017 season.  This arrangement will see AITEO underwriting the costs of the organisation of the competition which encompasses the costs of organising the competition from the Round of 64 to the men and women’s finals, solidarity support to Football Associations of the 36 States and the FCT, expenses and indemnities of match officials, support to participating Clubs, Media, Branding/Activation and Prize Money to winners.

Accordingly, for the 2017 season, the prize monies for the AITEO Cup will be N25million for the winner of the men’s competition and N10million for the winner of the women’s competition. The runner –up for the men’s competition will pocket N10million, with the runner –up for the women’s event going home with N5million. The NFF and AITEO will, in due course, unveil further details of all the benefits of the extended agreement at a press conference.

The Cost Value Arrangement of the transaction is for NFF and AITEO to, annually, decide the nature and value proposition of the AITEO Cup under the framework of the relationship, and AITEO would thus underwrite the cost as the competition’s ‘Naming Right Holder.’

The NFF team at the contract signing inside AITEO Group’s Lagos office said it was “extremely delighted” by the extended agreement, while AITEO chieftains stated “we are happy to do this for Nigeria.”

Aiteo Cupgroup

Pinnick and Peters (in handshake) have the company of Aisha Falode (left), Shehu Dikko (second left), Seyi Akinwunmi (third left), Victor Okoronkwo (right), A. U. Mustapha (second right) and Andrew Onyearu (third right)

Biffo commends ref despite Abia Warriors loss to Gombe


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Despite Abia Warriors 1-2 loss to hosts, Gombe United in a Nigeria Professional Football League encounter last Wednesday, Chief Coach of the Umuahia based side, Abdullahi Biffo has doffed his hat for the referees who handled the match for a job well done.

Speaking to sports writers shortly after the hotly – contested encounter at the Pantami Stadium, Biffo said the officials comprising Imam Malik Umar, Idris Nuhu, Abubakar Safiayanu and Shehu Saidu all from the Kano State Referees Council were fair, firm and in full control throughout the match.

“The officials were simply fantastic and had the game under control” Biffo said insisting that his team’s defeat had nothing to do with bad officiating but rather a result of loss of concentration and a bit of hard luck.

“I can’t still believe that we lost this match. We were fully in control and even held unto our lead until late in the game but things suddenly fell apart. Well, that’s football for you. We will now go back and correct the mistakes to avoid a repeat in our future games ” the former Niger Tornadoes gaffer said.

During the match, Afolabi Abdulwaheed and substitute, Sani Mohammed Abbani scored in the 79th and 85th minutes to overturn what looked like a helpless situation for the under pressure home team after Yakub  Hammed had given the Warriors the lead in the 62nd minute  following a good build-up that also involved Sunday Adetunji, Sherif Bashir and Shedrack Asiegbu.

Udi threatens to quit over officiating


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Ex Shooting Star midfielder and now Sunshine Stars gaffer, Duke Udi lashes out at referees following his team’s loss to MFM on Wednesday.

The Olukoya Boys handed a narrow defeat to the Owena Whales, but the newly installed manager was not impressed by the performance of the men in black.

The Olukoya Boys completed a double over the Akure outfit after recording a 2-1 win at the Agege Stadium in the Nigeria Professional Football League Week 26 encounter.

The former Osun United coach – angered by the display of the arbiters – threatened to follow in the footstep of his predecessor Austin Eguavoen after repeatedly questioning the officiating.

“I beg to be corrected if this is the way football is been played; if this is the way referees officiate then someone like me should just resign,” Udi said.

“Officiating should be 50-50, let our football grow. I don’t care if you are beating me at home, just let the better team win. It’s not fair when you favour a team against the other team.

“When we were playing football, football was played with talent. Take for example the Premier League, teams go away to win but that won’t happen here.

“If this is the way officiating looks like here then I should just resign. Can you imagine you do so much work for a week then someone will just thwart your effort and that of the players? It’s so unfortunate. Officiating should be free and fair,” he concluded.