Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday assured that his government would transform the Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) and return it to the Nigerian Premier League.
Governor Makinde, who spoke at the Stakeholders Forum he hosted in the State of the Football Club at the Executive Council Chambers, Governor’s office, Agodi Ibadan, also restated his government’s commitment to transform the 3SC and ensure that it reclaims its lost glory.
Makinde said his administration is ready to motivate and properly fund the club so that it could achieve the objective of gaining promotion to the premier league.
This was as stakeholders of the club, including the General Manager, Rasheed Balogun; Team Manager, Dimeji Lawal and Supporters’ Club chairman, Oluwafemi Olaniyi, among others, lauded Governor Makinde for his uncommon support to the 3SC in less than three months in office.
The stakeholders noted that the club had not only been underfunded by the last administration, it was also not given enough moral support even when it gained promotion to the NPFL.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the Governor as saying that that the club should be playing in the Nigerian Premier League, in view of its rich history and dedicated fan base across Nigeria and even Africa.
He maintained that the state government would “do whatever is necessary at this point; pick up the pieces and face the future to ensure that the club reclaims its lost glory.”
The Governor assured the stakeholders, including the management and the players of the club, that his government would properly motivate and fund the club by giving it the required resources.
He directed the management of the club to forward a proposal to his office on any areas where it needed to fortify.
The Governor stated that his utmost concern was how the management would work hard to achieve desired goals, adding that he would make changes that would give desired result.
He, however, urged them to remember that to who much is given, much is expected, noting that if it would take a miracle for the team to gain promotion, then that miracle would happen, because his becoming the Governor of Oyo state was also a miracle.
“What happened at your last match in Asaba, you know when people start saying maybe it was by some uncommon means that we lost the match…, then I will tell you that my sitting here is a miracle. So, I say that 3SC will be promoted this season. If it will take a miracle, we will make it happen.
“We will make changes that can give us the desired result, what is important is that the management and the players should do their own bit, we will motivate you and properly fund the club. But to whom much is given, much is expected.
“We will give you the required resources and attention because of the importance we attach to the club. When 3SC is not doing well, you are not the only one feeling the pain; the generality of our people also feel the pain.
“We will look for ways and means to make things happen fast within the limit imposed by the governance structure. I have listened to you, and we will take into consideration what you have said,” the governor stated.
The Governor stressed that some of the problems identified by the stakeholders will be resolved by the Government, saying that “some of the challenges of 3SC are surmountable. I was in this state in the early 80s when Leventis United got promoted from Division 3 to Division 1 and in one season, won the Challenge Cup from Division 3.
“What 3SC mean to me is that it is a club that the generations of Makindes have been supporting. I am a die-hard Supporter of 3SC.
“3SC will definitely get promoted this season, if it will take a miracle, it won’t be anything new because you have a miracle Governor in the State. We have to make it happen and plan for it.”
Makinde declared that a Special Assistant would be appointed in the office of the governor in order to give the 3SC and Crown Football Club effective attention.
He also promised to attend some of the club’s matches.
The Governor asserted that his Government would not mix politics with sport administration in the state, saying that the only thing he cared about was to take 3SC to where it belonged in the country.
“We are not going to mix the sport administration with politics. I don’t care where you belong politically, what I care about is that we will make 3SC sit where it belongs in Nigeria football. Nobody should be afraid of their job because of how you came.
Earlier the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youths and Sports, Mrs. Olubisi Adegoke, attributed some of the challenges facing the club to lack of policy direction.
Adegoke also advocated for the establishment of Football Academy for the 3SC, where she said young players would be nurtured for future use.
On their part, the 3SC coach, Edith Agoye; the General Manager, Rasheed Balogun; Team Manager, Dimeji Lawal; the FA chairman, Oba James Odeniran; the chairman of the Supporters’ Club, Oluwafemi Oyeniyi and the team captain, apologised to the governor over the failure of the club to secure promotion to the NPFL.
Agoye assured the governor that the club has competent players that could secure promotion to NPFL this season, asking, however, that the state looked in the direction of improving the funding of the club.
Lawal and Balogun also implored the governor to fund the club adequately and timely, even as they urged the governor to occasionally visit the players during training, as such would motivate the morale of the players.
The meeting was attended by the Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubanwo Adeosun; and Head of Service, Mrs Ololade Agboola; Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Olawale Mogbonjubola, among others.
3 months after, English premier league to start by June 17
The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was widely reported on Thursday.
No matches have been played in the English top-flight since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.
The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand.
A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21, the reports said, with matches to be played behind closed doors.
The Premier League suspended all fixtures in March after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19.
There are still 92 matches to play and although Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool appear certain to be crowned champions, the relegation and European qualification still need to be resolved.
– Training return –
Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues including the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.
It is predicted that clubs face repaying up to £340 million ($419 million) to broadcasters.
So far, just 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.
Germany’s Bundesliga resumed earlier this month and La Liga in Spain hopes to return from June 11, while a crucial summit between Italian football officials and the country’s sports minister will be held later on Thursday.
Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the table while Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.
The leaders could clinch the title with victory in their first game back should second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho spoke this week of his desperation to get playing again after seeing football resume elsewhere.
“Honestly, since the moment the Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play,” he told Sky Sports.
Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.
Watford captain Troy Deeney has revealed that people have told him they want his baby son to contract coronavirus after he chose not to return to training.
Deeney has been absent from training since Watford and other Premier League clubs returned to non-contact sessions last week.
“I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona’,” Deeney told CNN Sport.
“That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.”
Deeney is understood to be due to resume training next week.
In Spain, five footballers test positive for COVID-19
No fewer than five players from Spain’s top two leagues have tested positive for coronavirus, La Liga confirmed on Sunday.
Players in Spain’s top-flight and Segunda division were allowed to carry out individual work at training grounds last week.
The move was the beginning of a staggered training programme, with the aim to restart competitive games in the middle of June.
La Liga insist identifying infected players through positive tests are part of that plan.
The five players, who have not been officially named, will now be quarantined at home and tested again “in the next few days”.
They will be allowed to rejoin their club’s training programme only after obtaining two consecutive negative test results.
A La Liga statement read: “Among La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank (Segunda) clubs, five positive cases were detected in players, all of them asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease.”
“One of the objectives of these medical tests, according to the La Liga’s protocol for returning to training, according to recommendations of the CSD (Supreme Sports Council) and the Ministry of Health, was precisely to detect the denominated or asymptomatic, that is, those people who are infected and that, without presenting symptoms, they can infect other people,” the statement added.
“In this way, we guarantee everyone’s safety when returning to work according to the occupational risk regulations.”
La Liga’s training plan includes players initially carrying out work individually before then expanding into small groups and finally taking part in larger team sessions.
Barcelona’s players were back for their first session on Friday while Real Madrid’s will return on Monday.
The medical protocol for training is strict and includes players arriving already changed and at specific times to avoid contact with others. They wear masks and gloves, and have their temperatures taken before entering the premises. At the end of training, they take away a bag of fresh kit for the next day and shower at home.
The league have not officially announced the timing for the resumption of competitive matches although Leganes coach Javier Aguirre said last week the proposed date is June 20.
That could correspond with the Spanish government’s de-escalation programme, which includes outside events being allowed to go ahead in their fourth and final phase, as long as they are attended by fewer than 400 people.
Football matches are expected to be staged behind closed doors for several months.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has said “it is not an option” to cancel the top flight given he estimates the economic fallout would cost clubs around a billion euros ($1.08 billion).
But the third and fourth tiers in Spain will not complete their seasons, as confirmed by the Spanish football federation (RFEF) on Wednesday. Instead, promotions will be decided through play-offs and there will be no relegations.
8 years after death, FIFA, NFF, football greats celebrate Yekini
Football governing body, FIFA, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and football greats have paid glowing tributes to late Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini, eight years after his demise.
It would be recalled that Rashidi Yekini passed away on May 4, 2012 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital at the age of 48.
“Today we remember one of the World’s most feared strikers of his time, Rashidi Yekini who passed on to glory on this day in 2012. May his soul continue to Rest In Peace,” the NFF wrote on its official Twitter handle.
Also, FIFA posted on its World Cup Twitter handle, Yekini’s celebration after netting Nigeria’s first goal in the competition in 1994, describing it as one of the most iconic goal jubilations in the tournament’s history.
“Rasheed Yekini produced one of the most iconic celebrations in #WorldCup history after scoring the @NGSuperEagles’ first-ever goal in the competition,” the football body tweeted.
“Africa sadly lost of its greatest-ever players #OnThisDay in 2012, but his legend will live on eternally.”
His former teammates, Mutiu Adepoju and a former Super Eagles captain and coach, Sunday Oliseh, reminisced their days playing together for the national team.
“8 years ago today,” Oliseh tweeted, “we lost Nigeria’s greatest striker of all time in Rashidi Yekini. May his blessed soul rest in peace.”
In a related development, Adepoju popularly addressed as the “Headmaster” in his playing days, recalled how Yekini rescued the team in difficult times.
According to a series of tweets on his official Twitter handle, he described playing alongside the former Vitoria Setubal goal poacher as an honour, adding that Yekini gave his all for the country.
“Whenever we seem down and defeated, you always conjure your magic wand and get us out of trouble with your goals,” he wrote. “It was never a dull moment with you in camp as everyone’s ribs would be cracked at your jokes.
“You were never a contentious person and you saw everyone as your brother not minding their backgrounds. I will never forget you, Nigerians will never forget you. Always in our hearts. Rest in peace king Rasheed Yekini. You were created to score goals and your class remains unmatched!”
Also commending, an ex-Ghanaian defender, Anthony Baffoe, the former Abiola Babes star was one of the continent’s most dreaded strikers.
Baffoe tweeted: “One of Africa’s most terrific strikers Rashidi Yekini -today marks his 8th year of leaving us. Continue resting in peace Rashidi.”
The late Yekini was born in Kaduna and began his football career in the Nigerian league where he featured for teams like Abiola Babes, Julius Berger, and Gateway.
His stint abroad saw him lining up for Africa Sports National of Ivory Coast from where he teamed up with Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal and emerged as Primeira Liga’s top scorer in the 1993–94 campaign.
He struck 21 times during that season and went ahead to play for Sporting Gijon, Olympiakos, and FC Zurich.
Yekini made his senior debut for Nigeria in 1984 and went on to net 37 goals in 58 matches – the highest so far in the country’s history – until his retirement after the 1998 World Cup.
At the Senegal 1992 and Tunisia 1994 AFCONs, he scored four and five goals respectively, to emerge as the top scorer. Yekini was a member of the Super Eagles side that played in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and also featured in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
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