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AGAIN, OKOYE WITHDRAWS FROM SUPER EAGLES’ TEAM FOR MEXICO, ECUADOR FRIENDLIES

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Super Eagles Goal Keeper, Maduka Okoye

Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, has once again, withdrawn from the Super Eagles upcoming matches slated for end of May and early June, reports bestchoicesports.com.ng.

The Watford FC of England new goalkeeper has asked to be excluded from the 30-man Super Eagles list to face Mexico and Ecuador.

Okoye, who is set to link up with Watford, which have been demoted to the English Championship, last week guided his team, Sparta Rotterdam out of relegation in the Netherlands’ Eredivisie.

According to reports, Okoye has communicated to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) that he won’t be available for the two friendly matches.

No reason has been given for his absence per the time of filing in this report, thus, fueling talks of the goalkeeper potentially quitting the national team.

Okoye was largely targeted by a section of Nigerian fans and media after the team’s round of 16 exit at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroun, with many blaming him for the decisive goal scored by Tunisia.

Since after the tournament, he hasn’t represented Nigeria as he made a last minute decision to shun the World Cup playoffs against Ghana, which ended Nigeria’s hope of qualifying for the showpiece in Qatar.

His absence has opened the door for the duo of Akwa United’s Adewale Adeyinka and Ojo Olorunleke to stake a claim for the number one spot of the team

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old goalkeeper is set to be named Watford FC number one following Ben Foster’s decision that he would not drop to the Championship with the club. Foster confirmed he would leave Watford at the end of the season.

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MIKEL GIVES CASH, WHEELCHAIRS TO PARA-SOCCER PLAYERS

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Former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel, flanked by the Research Coordinator, Niyi Beecroft (right), Head PR, Ms. Fadekemi Ahmed and Management Team Head Mr. Dwayne during the formal presentation of Back2Base project in Lagos yesterday

Former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel recently extended a hand to physically-challenged sports people in Lagos as he made a cash donation of N2m and five wheelchairs to two para-soccer teams.

Mikel, who recently finished a talent hunt programme with his Back2Base project, decided to extend his goodwill to the para-soccer players who were wowed by the kind gesture of the Chelsea legend.

The arrival of Mikel and his team led by Fadekemi Ahmed, CEO and founder, Avianna & Harvey Entertainments at Ojo Street in the heart of the densely-populated Obalende area of Lagos, was greeted with wide jubilation as the fans jostled to catch a glimpse of one of Africa’s most-accomplished football star. “I thought it was a dream when I saw the man wearing white walking past me and it was Mikel live in Obalende. This is very commendable and inspiring,” one of the fans enthused as he brandished the selfie taken with the FG Youth Ambassador.

After enjoying the thrilling encounter between the Oyingbo Para-Soccer team and their Lagos Island counterparts, Mikel rewarded both teams with N1m while he also gave three wheelchairs to the winning team and two to the losing side. “This is a token to appreciate the unique talents they have and their resilience to be the best at what they do despite being physically challenged,” Mikel said after the donation.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the game between both teams and I am happy I can reciprocate by making the players smile also with the donations made,” he added.

Both teams expressed profound gratitude to Mikel for counting them worthy not just to be watched but also handsomely rewarded.

While they prayed for the former Nigeria international, they described him as a shining example that should be emulated by others.

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WHY I JOINED FOURTH-TIER CLUB – OLISEH

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Former Super Eagles head coach, Sunday Oliseh,

Former Super Eagles head coach, Sunday Oliseh, has revealed why he accepted the offer to coach German Regionalliga West club, Sav Straelen, The PUNCH reports.

Whereas the professional first three levels of the German football league system each are single division only and are organised by nationwide governing bodies, the semi-professional level four Regionalliga comprises five independent divisions, each run by different regional and/or state associations.

Oliseh who had his first training at his new club’s North Rhine-Westphalia base, said his immediate aim was to help the club stabilise.

The 47-year-old last managed Eredivisie club Fortuna Sittard and is now looking forward to his first game against Krefeld-Fischeln in a friendly on Saturday (today).

The club’s other friendlies are against Sonsbeck and MSV Dusseldorf on July 6 and 9 respectively.

Having coached top sides like Sittard and the Nigerian national team, Oliseh sees his new job in the German fourth tier as a new challenge

Speaking with PUNCH Sports Extra, the former Eagles captain said, “I’m excited at the job and I feel good about it.

“It’s a good challenge for me, it’s just over an hour’s drive from home and I’m hopeful of a good start with the team

“I am looking forward to my first game and the baptism of fire will be against a very strong team (St Pauli) in the DFB competition.”

PUNCH

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ROONEY QUITS AS DERBY MANAGER

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Former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney

Former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney has resigned as manager of troubled Derby as the club prepare for their first season in the third tier for 36 years.

Rooney was unable to keep Derby in the Championship last season after the crisis-torn club were hit by a 21-point deduction as punishment for financial issues.

In his first managerial role, Rooney impressively kept Derby in contention to avoid relegation into the final weeks of the season.

That valiant effort had suggested the 36-year-old would be able to lead Derby to promotion from League One next season.

But with Derby remaining in administration throughout a turbulent close-season, Rooney has opted to quit the Rams with the new campaign starting on July 30.

“Wayne Rooney has informed Derby County Football Club that he wishes to be relieved of his duties as first team manager with immediate effect,” a club statement said.

Rooney, Manchester United and England’s all-time leading scorer, took charge at Derby in 2020 and had a year to run on his contract.

The former England captain was linked with an emotional return to Everton as manager last season after earning widespread praise for his work at Derby.

“Over the course of the summer I have been closely following developments regarding the ownership of Derby County,” he said.

“Today I met with the administrators to inform them of my decision that it was time for me to leave the club. In fairness to them, they tried tremendously hard to change my decision but my mind was made up.

“My time at the club has been a rollercoaster of emotions, both highs and lows, but I have to say that I have enjoyed the challenge.”

Fears over Derby’s future increased last week when American businessman Chris Kirchner withdrew his offer to buy the club.

But the sale of Pride Park to a local property developer David Clowes, who hopes to complete a takeover, has eased concerns that the club could go bust.

Regardless of the potential for new ownership, Rooney felt Derby would benefit from the new energy of a manager not worn down by the relentless negativity surrounding the club.

“Personally, I feel the club now needs to be led by someone with fresh energy and not affected by the events that have happened over the last 18 months,” he said.

“I will remember my time at Derby with great pride and affection and would like to thank all my staff, players and of course the fans for their incredible support.

“I will never forget you and hope to see you all again in the near future and in happier times.”

PUNCH

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