All eyes will be on too of national champions in 100m, Seye Ogunlewe, and the current 400m women champion, Patience Okon-George, as the Athletic Federation of Nigeria Commonwealth Games trial begins on Wednesday (today) in Abuja.
With the absence of most of the foreign-based athletes due to lack of funds, athletics fans will have to make do with home-based stars including Ogunlewe and Okon-George to light up the tracks.
The opening day of the three day championship will see Ogunlewe competing in the men’s 100m heat while it will be the turn of Okon-George in the women’s 400m heat.
Athletes will also be competing in the 1,500m (men and women), Discus (men and women), Triple Jump (men and women) and 5,000 (men and women) final while there will be heat in 400m for both men and women same as in the 100m hurdles (women), 110m hurdles (men) and the 400m hurdles.
The highlight of the second day of the meet will be the final of the Blue-Ribbon events, the 100m finals with semifinal and heats in the 400m and 200m taking place respectively.
The final day will be the time for the remaining finals like the 100m hurdles, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles (men and women), 200m (men and women) and the relay.
Speaking with New Telegraph, Okon-George said she was not disappointed that most of the foreign-based athletes were not available for the trials.
According to her, most of them are currently competing indoors and will be difficult for them to start outdoor without proper preparation.
“They are just completing their indoor season and you cannot ask them to just come and compete in outdoor meets,” she said.
“I am sure they will be ready for the main Games in April because they will soon switch to outdoor events.
“For me, I am ready to better my time in Abuja and probably create a new record for myself because I have been preparing so hard for the trials.”
Aiteo applauds Pinnick, others for involvement in football
Major sponsor of the Nigeria Football Federation, Aiteo, has heaped praises on the president of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, his two vice, Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko; A U Mustapha, SAN and Andrew Onyearu, for bringing it into Nigerian football.
Speaking at the inaugural Aiteo/NFF Awards in Lagos on Monday, the Deputy Managing Director of the organisation, Francis Peter, said they were committed to encouraging and empowering the teeming youth population in Nigeria and Africa to realise its potential whether in sport or any other chosen endeavour.
According to the DMD, it has been a successful partnership between the organisation and the country’s football with the qualification of the Super Eagles to the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup as one of the major successes recorded.
“To us as Nigerians, football is a uniting factor. It is one of the major things that blurs social, economic and ethnic lines and brings us together to the same table to cheer our legends,” he said.
“This event (the award ceremony) is a celebration of that unity that electrifies us when we play.
“The past few months have been richly rewarding for Nigerian football. Qualification for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, added to the home-based professionals finishing second place in the recently concluded African Nations Championship, have created a lot of excitement. These performances have fueled our expectations for the country at the forthcoming World Cup.
“The positive changes and accomplishments that have occurred in African Football, over the past 11 months, have not been accidental. We are truly impressed by the direction and vision of the CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad and his new team, which includes our own Pinnick, in their quest to elevate African football to a deserved higher level.”
Peter appreciated the presence of the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, and the president of CAF, Ahmad.
World Cup: Rohr shuts door on Enyeama
Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr, has finally ruled out goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama’s return to the national team.
The coach said the inability of the former captain of the team to secure playing time had played a huge role in his decision.
Speaking with journalists at the inaugural Aiteo/Nigeria Football Federation Awards on Monday, Rohr said his main target was to take active players to the World Cup and Enyeama does not fit into that quota.
“He is not playing anywhere, so we cannot take players who are not playing,” Rohr said.
“We are working hard to have the best of our legs taken to Russia and we don’t have the luxury of naming a player that has not been playing in recent time.
“Each time we have a problem, there is always a good answer and I hope it will be the same for the World Cup.
“We currently have so many players in camp and we want to continue monitoring them. The most important thing is for them to be in best shape for the Mundial.”
There have been calls for the return of the Lille of France goalkeeper who retired from national team duties after falling out with former coach, Sunday Oliseh.
After the retirement of Enyeama, Wolverhampton Wanderers goalie, Carl Ikeme, stepped in before he was later diagonised with acute leukemia, a situation that ruled him out of action.
Enyeama had in the past snubbed all emissaries to return to the team, there was however subtle attempt by the goalkeeper to return to the team when he started having problems with the manager of his club, Marcelo Bielsa.
Goalkeepers in the running for the World Cup are current first choice and home-based Eagles captain, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Chippa FC of South Africa star, Daniel Akpeyi, Deportivo La Coruna youngster, Francis Uzoho and Plateau United goalie, Dele Ajiboye.
Eagles must start well in Russia –Iroha
Ex-international, Ben Iroha, has urged the Super Eagles to hit the ground running when the World Cup starts in Russia by claiming positive result in their first match, which is against Croatia.
The former left back said the outcome of the first game could determine how far the team would go in the competition, so the players must throw everything into the tie with the European country.
He said the team could progress from the group, which includes Argentina and Iceland with solid preparation, focus and determination.
“To me, the group is an open one. However, if we have early preparations and keep the boys together and pray we don’t lose our best legs to injury, then I am confident we have a decent chance of doing well at the World Cup.
“The Eagles must also take their first match seriously because a good start offers confidence and will boost their morale,” the former told AOIFootball.com.
Iroha featured 50 times for Nigeria between 1990-1998, played in two edition of the World Cup (1994 and 1998) and also won the Nations Cup in Tunisia ’94.
He was also the assistant coach to the late Yemi Tella when the Golden Eaglets conquered the world in 2007.
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