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Saturday, February 28, 2009


Bad administrators are responsible

Friday, December 19, 2008


The group winners from the last stage will play the runners-up, other than teams from their own pool or nation.
United and Liverpool will hope to avoid Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Arsenal and Chelsea, who came second in their groups, could face the likes of Barcelona or Juventus, and will also play the second leg away from home.
Last season, three of the English teams made it through to the semi-finals.
United won last season's competition, beating Chelsea 6-5 on penalties in Moscow after the pair had been locked at 1-1 after extra-time.
The Red Devils have made strong progress again this season, and manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his side are better placed to retain the trophy than they were after their previous triumph in 1999

Monday, December 15, 2008


Embattled Nigerian Flying Eagles coach Ladan Bosso has turned to unknown Nigerian-born Manchester United Academy youngster Nicky Ajose to rescue his team as he made public a list of 46 players invited for the African Youth Championship billed for Rwanda next month.
Born in Bury, 17-year-old Ajose who had been capped by England at the U-16 level tops the list of 21 foreign-based players invited by the Flying Eagles handler in what he referred to as his first set of invitees, a list that left out his top foreign-based players who prosecuted the AYC qualifiers.
CAF Champions League top scorer Steven Worgu led the 25 home-based players listed in the list as some of the players who featured in the dismal WAFU Cup outing were also given a second chance.
Midfielder Ajose who was born on 7th October 1991 is expected to prove himself when Bosso releases his second list of established players including Lukman Haruna, Rabiu Ibrahim, Chrisantus Macauley, Ganiyu Oseni and Kabiru Akinsola.
The tournament takes place in Kigali from January 18 to February 1.The players are expected to report to the Brifina Hotel camp in Abuja from December 15 for the domestic players and December 28 for the foreign-based players.
The squad:Foreign-based playersChima Daniel (Charlton Athletic FC), Kayode Fagbola (Saint Patrick, Ireland), Innocent Nkasiobi Emeghara (FC Zurich), Azeez O. Balogun (Belenenses, Portugal), Frank Temile (Dynamo Kiev), Jason K. Oladele (Dublin, Ireland), Robert Collins (AC Pro Sesto Calico, Italy), Adeola Runsewe (FC Midtjylland, Denmark),Kingsley Umunegbu, Nnamdi Oduamadi, Harmony Ikande (AC Milan, Italy), Gabriel Baba (Lusitano, Switzerland), Daniel Adejo (Reggina, Italy), Nicky Ajose (Manchester United), Jamil Adams (Barnsley FC, England).
Home-based playersSteven Worgu, Okoro O. Moses, Salami F. Gbolahan, Uchebo M. Okechukwu, Kennedy Eriba, Okafor Uche, Dele Ajiboye, Theophilus A, Steven Joseph, Obum Ogbe, Joshua Daniel, Edet Ibok, Alex Nkume, Vincent Atabo, Ambrose Peter, Edile Origoya, Samuel Tswanya, Obiora Nwankwo, Abe Sunday, Egbeta U. Michael, Igiebo Emmanuel, Otekpa Eneji, Timothy Idogbe, Peter Abraham, Ayo Saka.


Super Eagles striker Chinedu Obasi will be expected to play a key role when his Bundesliga side, Hoffenheim file out against Schalke in the last game of the first round of the German league season.
The former Lyn Oslo of Norway player who returned to active football last week after recovering from an ankle injury he picked in Hoffenheim’s 3-2 defeat of Wolfsburg last month will be the cynosure of all eyes at the Carl Benz Stadion when both clubs clash in the encounter.
And the Olympic silver medalist who has scored 6 goals in the Bundesliga is already hungry for goals as he hopes to increase his tally in the league and also help his team to maintain their leadership position in the German League.
Obasi who spoke to Complete Sports at the weekend, said he was back for real though he could not score for the ‘Village Club’ when he played his first game after he returned from injury penultimate Friday.
“I will be glad to go into the winter break with a victory over Schalke because we want to maintain the top and everybody is ready to do his best in the match. The match is very important for us and we are going to do our best to make sure we win,” the Super Eagles striker said.
The Nigerian international is one of the strikers coach Shauiabu Amodu is looking forward to help Nigeria qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Nigeria have won the psychological war ahead of Tuesday’s African Women Championship semi final clash with hosts Equatorial Guinea at the National Stadium, Malabo .
Local organizers had slated the Super Falcons to train at the match venue at 9am on Monday but NFF’s Assistant General Secretary (Competitions), Alhaji Sanusi Mohammed, who is also head of administration for the Nigeria team, rejected the time –table and insisted the Falcons would be there at 2pm.
International football regulations allow visiting teams to train at match venue at the time of the match on the eve of the game.
“We had a tough battle with the LOC people who initially denied us entry into the Stadium, but we took up the matter, with the NFF 1st Vice President, Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam, and we succeeded in training there”, Mohammed said.
However, as at Monday night, the Confederation of African Football was yet to respond to a protest by Nigeria that two players of the Equatorial Guinea team be gender –checked.
Super Falcons’ head coach, Joseph Ladipo said on Monday that his girls were fired up for battle: “We are unshaken despite all their antics. Their attitude will bring the very best out of my team.
“We remain focused.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The Managing Director of CCL, Mumini Alao had intimated the Nigerian Football fraternity through his Soccer Talk column in Complete Sports, that the medium would relaunch a series that was once initiated by Complete Football Magazine: a series to celebrate the living legends of Nigerian sports. Enough of the hypocritical tributes in the media each time a national hero passed on!
The life and times of Oyo Orok Oyo as recorded and celebrated by Complete Football magazine while he was alive at 70 was very inspiring. Incidentally upon his death recently at the age of 86, this writer embarked on an ultimate search (apologies Guilder) to discover late Oyo Orok’s contemporary hero a certain Etim Henshaw (Henshaw of Marine!), a football legend still living quietly in Calabar, aged 88!
The search for Henshaw by Complete Sports was not that easy, being a hidden treasure tucked away in one sleepy community in Calabar. And he would later confirm that his living in obscurity at old age was not by accident but by design — for not so palatable reasons though!
First, yours truly made a serious but failed efforts to establish contact and inform the octogenarian living legend that Complete Sports was coming to Calabar to see him. Most of the football personalities contacted in Calabar on telephone didn’t know the residence nor the contact number of Etim Henshaw, the first ever captain of Nigeria’s national football team in the pre-independence Nigeria.
However, when luck eventually smiled on your frantic Complete Sports’ Ultimate Search man, it was in form of a multi-directional road map — no direct link to Pa Etim Henshaw. It started with a phone call put through to former ace goalkeeper, Etta Egbe, a Calabar resident who provided the contact number of Cross River State FA Secretary, Mr. Greg Abang. And when contacted, Abang needed to contact a relation of the pioneer Nigerian international for approval and consent to visit his ‘hideout’. Yet that contact failed to materialize on phone for a proper appointment with Etim Henshaw.
But the Ultimate Search must go on! So on Saturday, October 25, 2008, Complete Sports decided to ‘invade’ Calabar, hopefully abode of Etim of Henshaw as well, even without a prior appointment.
Alas!, I was an environmental sanitation day in Lagos, and yours truly roughed it through the hassles of the intra-city movement to the airport, but was not lucky for the first Arik Air flight to Calabar, hence settling for an unplanned new schedule and a long wait-for the second — an afternoon flight.
On arrival at Margret Ekpo International Airport Calabar early afternoon, I quickly contacted my guide, Cross River FA scribe, Mr. Abang who kindly adjusted his schedule too, to help locate Etim Henshaw’s residence.The next destination was the residence of Cross River FA Chairman and a member of House of Reps Committee on Sports, Hon. Pastor Essien Ekpenyong Ayi who hailed Complete Sports’ mission in Calabar. Consequently, a call was put through to Etim Henshaw’s cousin, Chief Nta Inyang Henshaw who later showed up at the FA Chief’s house about two hours later.
Chief Nta Henshaw is the Chairman Calabar South chapter of PDP, and was attending the party’s function when he was called to come and attend to his uncle’s visitor from Lagos.
Chief Nta Henshaw’s arrival to meet the Complete Sports’ man was a kind of confirmation that our ultimate search was going to be a huge success.
“You are most welcome to Calabar, and may God bless you people at Complete Sports, for taking an initiative that no one else had thought of doing for the interest of Etim Henshaw,” the amiable middle aged man greeted yours truly warmly at Honourable Ayi’s home.
“I’m sorry for the trouble you’ve gone through trying to reach my uncle,” he continued. “These days, we’re being very careful about people who are desirous to have access to Etim Henshaw. He had an embarrassing experience sometime ago with somebody who claimed to be a sports promoter.
The man came here claiming to have come from Lagos and working with German partners: that they would package something that would benefit the legendary Etim Henshaw. So, we allowed him access to him, and he took some information and pictures, but since has never called back, nor sent a word.
Continued Nta Henshaw: “We (Henshaw family) is glad that Complete Sports is taking this great initiative. Nigeria seem not to know what they have in Etim Henshaw. This is the first captain of the national team, and nobody remembers him for something worthwhile.
“Nigeria has somebody like him who is still alive but he has not been accorded the right recognition that his status in the country’s football deserves. But what can we do? We leave that for posterity to judge. However, thank you Complete Sports, for coming all the way from Lagos to talk to this living legend,” Nta Henshaw concluded soberly.

Road To The Captaincy Of UK Tourists (1949)
How did you start to play football?
The main thing is that in our days — my cousin, Ita Inyang will bear me witness, every space around the houses was a field, every open ground was a field.
And we were kicking anything round. In fact, our parents were complaining about oranges and lime fruits being plucked with reckless abandon for football. So we were kicking any thing round and oranges were coming quite handy.
There was this natural enthusiasm among young men to play football.
In as much as it was competitive, we didn’t expect any money. We played football as kids and carried on at school level. At school level, we had competitions among the schools. I played at Hope Wadell against other schools.
Then after that, I got to Lagos in 1939. I finished at Hope Wadell Calabar in 1938. In Lagos, I was enrolled at Marine Technical School for Engineering.
Then I join the Marine football team. And that’s how I started my official progress (laughs)
How did you get into the Nigerian national team? How did it happen?
Like I said earlier, as a student of Marine Technical School studying Engineering, I was selected to play for the Marine football team. There were such other football teams in Lagos as PWD, LTC, Railways, Police. All these departments had teams.
So, the duty of the heads of these teams was to go around picking good players for their departments. So, the director of the Marine team wanted to know the boys who were leaving school with top grades, and some of us left just in time when we were in class six after taking our Cambridge (A Level). So the director of the Marine team said we should come and learn Engineering.
So, we became the second set of Nigerians brought up as Marine Engineers. Part of their aim was to get some of us into the Marine football team, and that’s how I got into their team. I was good enough to get into their first team, and started my Lagos football there, and started progressing. We had Marine, Railways, PWD, Lagos town council, Police teams in Lagos, as well as some school teams, including Igbobi College.
So, when ever there was any international match for Nigeria, the authority picked players from these teams. That’s how I was first picked and we played countries like Togo, Gold Coast (Ghana) Port-Novo and others in 1940. They came to Nigeria, and later we also went to play them in their respective countries.
These were international friendly matches. There were only few countries in Africa with national teams then.
What was the name of Nigeria’s national team then?
We were called Nigeria 11, just that
Tell us about the UK tour of the national team?
All the things I have been saying led up to the UK tour in 1949. We started practicing and playing other countries teams until 1949 when there was to be this UK tour.
First, the football authority started bringing teams from different parts of the country to Lagos to vie for the Governor’s Cup (now FA Cup). From there, they picked players to represent Nigeria for the UK competitions. That’s how they got boys from Kano, the West the East, to make up the team which went to England.
Was the tour your most important outing with the national team?
Yes indeed, it was the most important at that particular period because before then we never went outside beyond the West Coast of Africa to play any match. But this time, we went straight to London, and to Liverpool. So it was really outstanding.
So, in the UK in 1949 with the national team, Nigeria - Eleven, what happened?
First of all, we played something like their own Marine Eleven in Liverpool. I’m sorry that I can’t remember the details again. I can’t remember the names of the other team we played there or the results of each match. Altogether, we played about eight or nine matches.
Were the matches tournaments or friendly matches?
It was quite official, because they picked out the teams we played and laid out the matches –– well scheduled.In fact, when we got to London, the Prince of Wales came to welcome us to England and bid us goodluck, then we went over to Liverpool.
Marine Crosby is the name of the first team we played. And then, we went up north to play another team, then came back to London to play a few teams there. All together, the team stayed about two weeks in England.
The record has it that you were the captain of that Nigeria -Eleven, for the UK tour, the very first national team captain. Is that correct?
Yes, at least playing international outside Nigeria, that’s very correct.
In that light, plus all your other contributions to the national team, you are a great man- a living legend...(Laughs)... well, you never can tell, I must have been very lucky. I was just lucky to get that privilege - that’s the way I see it.
Could you recall how you got to be picked as the first captain of the national team. How did it happen?
Well, as I said earlier, I got there in 1939 when I actually joined the Marine team, and we played until when some older players in the team retired, then the officials wanted to appoint a leader among the players, and I was handed the captaincy of the team.
I also captained the Marine team, and then the team was a dreaded one because we had good player, and were winning matches. Other teams treated us (Marine team) with great respect.
With Marine team, we players became famous, and I was privileged to be the captain of such a famous team.So, when it came to the time of the UK tour: having selected players for the Nigeria 11, the officials sat and decided to pick a player as the captain, and I was surprised that they picked me.
What position were you playing?
I was playing centre forward
You must be very prolific then — so much so that it earned you the captaincy of Nigeria 11...(Laughs...) well, I was a bit dangerous to be frank, I was really playing out my heart and enjoying the sport.
Who are the other notable players of your time that you can remember so well even today?
Sure, quite a lot of them. We had Dan Anyiam, Tunde Balogun, Otun from Lagos department teams, other great player I can remember are Titus Okere of Railways and one Ibiam (a goalkeeper) and Dankaro from the north who was very good. I’m sorry, I can’t remember the names of many others, but you can see the picture there (pointing at an old framed picture of Nigeria II hanging on the wall of his sitting room).
Who was your national team coach then?
Frankly, at the national team in Lagos, we had no coach oo. We had no coach But for the UK tour, we had an English coach, Mr. Frinch. They employed him to handle the national team especially for that tour and he left us after the tour.
Before the tour, it was just some of the older players that were acting as coaches.
By and large, how rewarding was it materially, playing for the national team during your time?
The last time we played the Governors Cup (now challenge Cup or FA Cup), the Lebanese who were very fond of betting came and had a bet. It was the final of the Governor’s Cup, and if we (Marine) played a draw with Railways, they will take the Cup, but we would only take the Cup if we won.
So we played up till about 10 minutes remaining in the match, and it was a draw. Fortunately for us, we took a corner and it was Ben our left-winger that took the kick. Ben looked at me, and I instantly decided to trick the opponents.
So, I gesticulated with my finger indicating where Ben would put the ball.
But rather than running to the spot I pointed to Ben, I tricked them by running behind their back-keeper (defender) and swerved the ball into the net. And that was how we won that match, and the Cup.
But one remarkable thing that happened was that when it was a draw, the Lebanese who betted on our expected win were leaving the field out of disappointment. But while outside, they heard the shouting that greeted our winning goal and rushed back into the stadium to get the claims of their betting.
They were so happy that they called some of us and gave us five shillings each, while some got 10 shillings.
Then the football authority, LAFA became very annoyed when they heard about the cash gift the Lebanese gave some of us. Why? They said we were taking money just for playing football as if we had become professional betters. They threatened to suspend us. They scared the hell out of us. But that were mere presents of five shillings and 10 shillings.
So, some of us went back to the Lebanese to make our predicament known to them. We told them ‘look this money you gave us is causing trouble for us, please go and tell the authority that you were not bribing us’. They went and confronted LAFA, and warned them that they would stop assisting them if they punish us for no just cause.
So, you can now understand the kind of football we were playing at that time.
We were workers playing for our various departments teams, so once you collect money, the officials would shout: that you were taking bribe.
The truth is that in my time, we were just playing for playing sake.
What about playing for Nigeria – the national team. How rewarding was it? Did the government at one time or the other reward you for doing the nation proud.
Till we left, no. Nothing like that. When they wanted to open the new stadium, King George v Stadium (now Onikan Stadium) mid 60s, they invited those of us members of the UK tourists team, and they gave us commemorative plaque – see it there (pointing at a wooden plaque sitting inside as shelve in his sitting room).
How long did you play for the national team?
There was no definite national team as you have it now. But then, when they wanted to play, say Ghana, they would pick we players from the different departments’ teams, and form a national team for that particular match. But nothing was paid to any player, nothing whatsoever.
Training in school
I attended Duke Town Primary School here in Calabar. Then I went to Hope Wadell — same school Late Nnamdi Azikiwe attended, for my secondary school. And when I finished my class six, I took my Cambridge and got it and went straight to the Marine Technical Institute.
While at Marine technical school, being trained as an Engineer alongside my colleagues at that time, we did our engineering course in the workshop and on-board. Then we went overseas for our Marine Engineer Certificates.
The technical school side took us four and half years, then practical training on board ships took us 4 years. After that, we went over to the United Kingdom for our exams.
For me, it was when I went on the UK Tour with Nigeria II in 1949 that I stayed behind for my Marine Engineer Certificate. That was an arrangement between the Marine department and the Nigeria Football Association; that I should be left behind to continue my course. I was on a steady course, and I was the only member of the UK Tourists that stayed back after the playing tour.
How long did you serve in Marine department before retiring
I didn’t stay the normal 35 years. Actually, I stayed 36 years before I retired.
Now, while in retirement, how has you been following the events of Nigeria football?
Well, in a way, I have been following the proceedings in Nigerian football, but some times, one gets fed-up because one is not happy with situation of things.
The foundation we laid many years ago as non-professional has not evolved so much into professionalism. So, Nigerian football has not developed appreciably.
Obviously, in Nigeria, we have very good players, but there is no encouragement for the boys to enjoy their footballing careers here in good professional atmosphere. So, in this kind of environment, the players are often frustrated out of the game, while many who are talented venture into other businesses to earn their livelihood.And because the environment we have here for our football is not professional enough, the good players we have only play for a club here for a little while, then go. Overseas and join clubs there.
The ultimate challenge I am giving the football authority is to make football in Nigeria very professional, and keep the bulk of our talented players in the Nigerian League, and this way, huge development will come in and the boys will be a lot more useful to the country.
Honestly, I don’t think one should be very happy about the current state of Nigerian football. The authority is trying, but at this age, Nigerian football deserve a lot more better development than what is presently on ground. Nigeria is a very big country – we should be doing more than we are doing right now. For instance, there should be football schools, and NFF can successfully see to this if they are ready to work hard. The authority can run this kind of school for players, and have our talented footballers well schooled.
I doubt if we have any real professional clubs in this country today. Are the boys getting their dues from the clubs they play for? How much sanity are in the clubs’ dealings with the players? I wonder if there is any club that practices true professionalism. I don’t think the situation we have on ground is encouraging to our young footballers. They are not well paid, and most of them are aspiring to play in overseas.
The coaches too, should strive to develop themselves so that they can impart in our players, the good techniques and other values necessary in professional football. NFF should also work very hard in ensuring that they facilitate re-training programmes for Nigerian coaches. I believe we have good brains that can handle Nigeria national team well, but NFF have to invest in developing them too. I don’t believe in hiring someone for the national team just because he’s a whiteman.
Your advice to the present generation of footballers, as father or rather a grandfather as far as Nigeria football is concerned.
(Laughs...) One, if they are actually paid to play for their clubs, they should concentrate on Nigerian league and work very hard to help make it strong, interesting and attractive. They should work very hard to develop themselves. For instant, if you work very hard on your talent, you can be good enough to play different roles for your team, like a player who plays inside-left position can play on the right in an emergency situation. They should work hard to be such complete players who are not stereotyped, but being able to switch roles. This is my candid advice to the young boys of today.
If you are versatile with different positions, you are more relaible because when an emergency occurs during a match, the coach will call on such exceptional talent. We used to play that kind of roles during my time.
Coaches too need players who can play with both legs, and I know with my experience even in the olden days, that such skills can be developed and adapted to with serious practicing.
Did you get to relate with the late Oyo Orok Oyo in any way when you were playing?
Actually, Oyo Orok Oyo was the assistant FA Secretary in Lagos when we were in LAFA, and Effion Okon was the man in-charge. He (Okon) later handed over to Orok. He (Orok) was very efficient. Yes, Orok was there when I was playing for Marine and the Nigeria II.
UK Tourists (1949)AnosikeKanuAniekeChukwuraTunder Balogun (Late)OnwudiweShittuLawsonOttun (late)AdedoyeDan Anyiam (late)Etim Henshaw (Capt)IbiamDokuboOtu Mesembe (Died last year)EbenezerDankaroCoach: Mr. Finch (English).

Calabar Ultimate Search For Henshaw
Calabar, the ancient but still beautiful capital city of Cross River State boasts of a rich history concerning the Nigerian nation. To refresh one’s memory: dating back as far as the 17th century, history has it that Calabar was one a haven for slave trading. It was also there that a certain Mary Slessor, a white Missionary woman first abolished the hitherto gruesome killing of twins.
History also had it that Calabar was the center for the British’s administration of the Southern Nigeria between 1885 and 1906. Calabar’s excellent natural harbor which earlier engendered slave trading would later attract trading in palm oil and palm kernels during the 19th century by the British merchants.
It was even said that Calabar had the privilege of witnessing the first ever football played on Nigerian soil when the whitemen did that for pleasure for Nigerians to copy.
Perhaps, it’s now safe to suggest that it was just following a pre-ordained pattern when Calabar again produced Oyo Orok Oyo (of blessed memory now), a foremost football administrator in Nigeria who rose through the ranks in Nigerian, African and world football, including an eight-year executive seat in FIFA and as Vice President of CAF.
It’s no longer news that in Nigeria, Calabar is playing the leading role in tourism, now famous worldwide with her annual Calabar Carnival and Tinapa, the exotic tourism center.
Back to sports, specifically football: Complete Sports Saturday learnt there was a hidden treasure somewhere in Calabar. It’s a human treasure, but an unsung living legend of Nigerian football, hence this launch of the Ultimate Search.
It’s an ultimate search to unveil the very first captain of Nigeria’s national football team in the 1940s. He is Etim Henshaw, from Calabar!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


David Bentley's brilliant early strike put Spurs ahead, but Mikael Silvestre headed Arsenal level before half-time.
William Gallas put Arsenal in front seconds after the re-start and Emmanuel Adebayor bundled home their third.
Darren Bent pulled one back before Robin van Persie added Arsenal's fourth - but Jermaine Jenas's 89th-minute goal and Lennon's tap-in earned a point.
Bentley's audacious opener gave Redknapp the perfect start to his first official game in charge, but that early optimism soon disappeared as Arsenal took total control of the north London derby.
But once again Arsenal were guilty of their familiar crime of over-elaboration and missing chances, leaving the door open for Spurs to rescue a point from a game that looked lost.