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AWC: Rivers 2018, big boost to Nigeria



   …as Ukoro grabs surprise gold in Greco Roman



The President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Daniel Igali has said the ongoing Africa Wrestling Championship has helped the country to identify hidden talents in the sport. Igali said the cadet and junior wrestlers groomed in three national camps have afforded the country to have a pool of wrestlers for the future.

The Olympic gold medallist was speaking at the opening ceremony of the AWC on Wednesday in Port Harcourt. He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for helping in the preparation of the Nigerian athletes for the continental event.

A total of 90 wrestlers will represent the country in the continental competition which is coming to Nigeria for the first time in 42 years. Igali said: “We are happy we have young ones who can always be called upon. The talents are there but we do not have enough competitions to look at them. “Gov Wike has really helped us and I am happy that of the 180 athletes in camp, we have people who can take over from the senior ones in future.” Wike assured that the government of Rivers State would create the enabling environment for all the wrestlers from 35 countries and other participants to enjoy the Garden City.

Minister of sports Solomon Dalung urged the country’s representatives to be good ambassadors of Nigeria at the championship. In some of the events decided, Peter Ukoro handed Nigeria a surprise gold medal in the 55kg Greco- Roman event for cadet wrestlers on Day 1 of the competition. The youngster from Bauchi State defeated Omar Adel Abdelaziz of Egypt 4-0 in the final.

“I feel very glad and happy about it,” he said, after his victory. “It was awesome but enjoyable because Greco-Roman is enjoyable to me. “I am glad and by the grace of God, I know I can be the best.” Lu Shawn Leonico KOK of South Africa settled for bronze after overcoming Namibia’s Linus KATUJANDA, 4-0.

In the 60kg weight class, Ikechukwu Robinson of Team Nigeria won bronze after subduing Tunisia’s Medhi Dheker, 8-0 while Ahmed Merikhi of Algeria won gold in that class by beating Zeyad Emadeldin Helmi Yakout of Egypt, 8-3. The competition continues today (Friday) at the Alfred Diete Spiff Sports Complex, Port Harcourt.

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W’ Cup : Messi may be unstoppable – Simeone



Atletico Madrid Manager, Diego Simeone, has said the Super Eagles will need to work hard if they are to stop Barcelona’s talisman, Lionel Messi, at the World Cup next month.

Simeone, who was in Nigeria for a friendly match with Eagles Team B at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, said four-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, would be a hard nut to crack for the Eagles in Russia.

The Eagles are grouped with Iceland, Croatia and Argentina in Group D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

He said Messi’s hunger for a World Cup trophy would make it difficult for the Eagles to stop him.

“If Messi is in a good shape, it will be very difficult to stop him. Messi is desperate to win the World Cup, so I don’t see Nigeria or any country stopping him,” he said.

“Nigeria has great players who can play at the top level at any time or against any country but at the moment, the Argentine side is a brilliant bunch. Argentina have very good players and they are a great team,’’ he said.

Argentina lost to Germany in last World Cup finals in Brazil with Messi as the captain. He consequently retired from the national team following the defeat and had to be persuaded return by his fellow countrymen and Argentine President Mauricio Macri who is his number one fan.

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Pogba seeks spiritual assistance, visits Mecca



French midfielder Paul Pogba has posted a video of himself at the holiest site of Islam in Saudi Arabia, as he prepares to join his French squad for the World Cup next month.

“Only the person that comes here can understand the feeling,” the 25-year-old Manchester United star said in an Instagram video from the holy city of Mecca.

“This a beautiful place — beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And the feeling… I cannot even explain to you.”

The Frenchman posted the video of himself standing in front of the Kaaba, a black cube towards which Muslims turn for their five daily prayers.

Pogba, who will be a key member of France’s World Cup team in Moscow, made a similar pilgrimage last year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


He told the BBC last week that he and his France team-mates must approach the World Cup finals with the right mindset, as that counts more than technical ability.

The French — World Cup winners in 1998 and finalists in 2006 — are in Group C with Denmark, Australia and Peru and kick off their campaign in the Russian city of Kazan against the Australians on June 16.

Away from the World Cup, and despite speculation over his future at Manchester United, Pogba is determined to lift the Champions League with them in what is his second spell there.

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Wike: Eagles need love, support to excel




FG can motivate players to glory, says Bako


Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has called on Nigerians to show love to the national team the Super Eagles as the 2018 FIFA World Cup draws near.

Wike said on Tuesday that show of affection to the team would go a long way in motivating the players to put in their best.

The sports-loving governor said: “When you see people giving you attention and showing you love, you will want to do your best not to disappoint. That is what Nigerians should do at this point as the competition proper gets closer.

“Support is another key element and this can come in many forms from individuals and organisations. We should realise that these players are human and there is no way they will not appreciate good gesture from the populace.

“We all know the importance of football in this country and that is why people should think of how to offer support in their various ways to help the team. Rivers State as a government that loves sports will also do this.”

Wike, who was speaking at a World Cup Seminar organised by The Sun, added that Nigeria had the potential to shock the world in Russia.

Also speaking, former Director General of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, Danladi Bako, said the Federal Government had a big role to play in motivating the Eagles to glory.

Bako said: “The President can talk to the players shortly before going and during the competition he can talk to them regularly on the telephone to reassure them of Government’s support.

“Football has huge followership. Imagine about 60 million tweets on a single game of 90 minutes and that is why we have to play our part respectively as Nigerians to boost the team. Government alone cannot do it all.”

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