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Players, Coaches Count Loses and Gains after Extensive NPFL Break

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first_imgGrowing up in Lagos, there were few things that could beat the pure and unadulterated joy of being in darkness one moment and then just like a magic trick, seeing everywhere light up when NEPA ‘brings the light’.The outpouring of joy although shameful, was beautiful to see as ecstatic cries of “Up NEPA” from wide-eyed electricity-starved citizens rent the air like those of football fans who just watched their team score a trophy-winning goal in the dying seconds of a game.NEPA of course, being the treacherous unreliable killjoys they still are, were just as liable to ‘take the light’ in the midst of the spontaneous jubilation, leaving the populace with a strange sort of deflation and sheepishness at having celebrated vigorously, much like as has happened with league football in Nigeria with the false dawns of various commencement dates set over the past few weeks for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).All this is, of course, a roundabout way of saying that it appears that light has been restored – however temporarily – to Nigerian football as the NPFL gets set to resume definitely on Sunday, 13 January following a series of protracted and unedifying bickering that left the league comatose for seven months.Whilst there is palpable excitement at the return of the NPFL, the intervening months of darkness weren’t pleasant for fans, league watchers and more importantly for the key actors involved – players and coaches in the topflight many of whom were left frustrated at the length of the enforced break inflicted on the topflight.“I didn’t think the NPFL was going to be off until this time,” newly unveiled Akwa United striker and record holder of the most goals scored in a single season in Nigeria’s top flight, Mfon Udoh told busybuddiesng.com. “I thought it was something that was going to get resolved even before now and it is very unfortunate that the league didn’t start until now.”“We didn’t expect such a long break,” agrees Sikiru Olatunbosun, who moved to Plateau United from MFM FC during the long break.While the length of the enforced break may have been disconcerting for Mfon Udoh and Olatunbosun, Enyimba International defender Ifeanyi Anaemena perhaps used to the peculiarities of league football in the country, wasn’t too surprised.“We know that the Nigerian league is always having issues up and down; it does not have a permanent kick-off date so we were not really surprised about the league kicking off in January,” the Enyimba stalwart said. Go Round FC captain Ebuka Akobundu perhaps sums it up best “It’s Nigeria for us sha,” he says.With the league put on an indefinite break as administrators lurched from one self-imposed crisis to the other, players who were used to regimented living suddenly found themselves with too much time and very little to do especially for those who unlike players at Enyimba, Rangers and Lobi Stars, weren’t involved with continental football.“I have no job apart from football, this is the only job I do, so during the break, I stayed with my family and sometimes I’d hang out with friends, but mostly I would just stay indoors in my house or sometimes go for training as well,” Olatunbosun said.“It was very, very boring staying at home even with family and friends,” Mfon Udoh said, “sometimes I’d go to see movies, go to the gym, stay out with friends, read some books but it was actually very boring although I tried as much as I could to keep myself busy.”For Sunshine Stars striker Franklin Sasere, being consumed with a hunger for football and a zest for competitive action made it difficult to unwind and enjoy the extended holidays.“You have a dream to come first in your life so you going out to party, going out with friends those are secondary things,” he says. “The primary thing for me is to play football and when we were at home, I was worried and making calls asking when is the league going to start, the only opportunity the break afforded me was spending time with my family,” he said.Keeping busy can be difficult for professional players used to a certain level of structure when faced with too much time and too little to do, although, the rigours of ensuring they kept in shape in anticipation of the league resuming was a welcome distraction.“There wasn’t a day I didn’t train throughout when we were at home,” Sasere says, ”throughout, I trained each and every day even when there weren’t  people on the pitch I’d train alone because I hate it when I will be home doing nothing.”For Olatunbosun “personal training and also playing with some grassroots teams” helped him stay fit while Mfon Udoh would play football and go to the gym “once in a while”.If the dedication and professionalism exhibited by the players appear something of a surprise – footballers, after all, do have a reputation for bohemian wantonness – it perhaps shows a willingness to put their careers first as Go Round’s Akobundu puts it in Pidgin English, “our coaches dem tell us say as we are going back to home, we should not relax, everybody has to keep fit so for you as a footballer, no be something wey you take because dem give you break you go go house go de drink or go de hang around so you have to keep yourself fit.”Keeping fit through training and spending time with loved ones may be good ways to pass time but what it doesn’t do is put food on the table or money in the pocket.The sad reality for many footballers based in Nigeria is the irregularity of pay and the inability of many to earn a living outside what comes in from their clubs. Clubs tend to owe for long periods with player salaries and allowances often structured around an active season.The extended break was a tough period financially for many especially for players like Olatubosun who was without a club for the major part of the break.“If not that I stay in Lagos, it would have been impossible to cope because it was difficult,” Olatubosun says. “But because my family are in Lagos as well the only thing I could say made it easy for me was that I went back to my family house and I was able to cope a bit but you know that there are some things I would like to get for myself but it will be somehow for me to be asking my parents as a footballer playing in the league so we just had to cope like that but I know many other players had it tough.”Go Round’s captain Akobundu echoes Olatubosun position “it affected us very, very well as we have family and our family depends on us. We couldn’t tell our families anything and we were owed three months salary which was only paid in December. It was tough not being able to solve family problems and as men, we should always have money in our accounts at least.” “It was tough I must confess,” Mfon Udoh says “although sometimes you save for the rainy day because days like that definitely will always come in your life and you need to get prepared for days like that. I have always prepared for days like that so when it comes it doesn’t take me off my feet, it wouldn’t just come like a surprise because I know a day like that will come. I had some savings which was able to take me through that period.”For Sasere the Sunshine Stars forward, regular salaries from his club meant it wasn’t “a difficult period” although he says the match, travelling and feeding bonuses he “didn’t get access to” during the break would have come in handy.While the players count the costs of not being able to play football for months, coaches too weren’t left unaffected by the break with many having to redraw plans painstakingly put together over a long period.“Every coach and every team has a programme,” Technical Adviser of Go Round FC Wilfred Udube says, “there’s the one year programme, monthly programme, weekly programme, each coach has his own plan but because of the break it affected a lot of things but then as a coach, you have to make amends you have to go back to the drawing board and make sure you write a programme that will suit your players and the team.”It has been a regrettable past seven months for all affected by the bizarre happenings that ground the league to a halt and as the kick-off date for the new season inexorably draws closer it is hoped that the ugly events have been firmly relegated to the past.“We are so glad that the NPFL is going to be back on Sunday,” Mfon Udoh says.“We pray that it will end successfully,” Udube says, echoing the thoughts of perhaps every Nigerian eagerly anticipating the 2018/2019 NPFL season.Relatedlast_img read more

No. 18 Michigan at No. 8 Villanova: What we learned from Wolverines’ big win in 2018 title game rematch

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first_imgThe Wildcats had no answers for Michigan on either end of the floor. The Wolverines carried a 44-17 lead into the locker room and turned the game into a blowout early in the second half. No one was expecting the outcome of the game to be that one sided.  Here’s what we learned from Michigan’s big win: Related News The 2018 title game rematch between No. 18 Michigan and. No. 8 Villanova was one of the most anticipated nonconference matchups of the season. But the game did not live up to the hype.The Wolverines scored early and often Wednesday in a dominant 73-46 road win over the Wildcats at Finneran Pavilion. Champions Classic 2018: What we learned from No. 4 Duke’s big win over No. 2 Kentucky Texas’ Andrew Jones gets standing ovation, scores in return from leukemiacenter_img Michigan could be better than expectedMichigan easily picked apart Villanova’s defense Wednesday.The Wolverines attacked open driving lanes and either finished at the rim or worked their way to the free throw line throughout the game. They finished their victory shooting 50.9 percent from the field.HE’S GOT SOME GAME.@umichbball’s Charles Matthews throws down. #GavittGames pic.twitter.com/WVvMBfQ23E— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) November 15, 2018Michigan was expected to take a step back this season after it was one win away from a championship in 2017-18. But, the Wolverines have the potential to be one of the best teams in the country if they continue to play the way they did Wednesday.If there was one negative for the Wolverines, it was their 3-point shooting. They knocked down just five of their 17 shots from behind the arc.Villanova needs Paschall, Booth to always bring their A gamesVillanova will only go as far as Eric Paschall and Phil Booth can take them.The Wildcats will need the two upperclassmen to be their go-to scorers this season as they’re the team’s only two returning starters. It’s no coincidence that Michigan pulled away in the first half when the pair struggled. Paschall didn’t score his first basket until there was 2:14 to play before halftime while Booth shot just 2 of 5 from the field in the period.Paschall entered play averaging 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds through the first two games. Booth was even better at 20 points per contest. But, they combined for just 19 points on 5-of-22 shooting against Michigan.Same jerseys, new facesThe names across the front of the jerseys Wednesday were the same as the 2018 title game. But, the players were almost entirely different.Both Michigan and Villanova have had major roster turnover since they last met in San Antonio in early April. The Wildcats had four players drafted – including three in the first round – while the Wolverines lost three of their top four scorers. The Wildcats’ three new starters combined for just 13 points while the Wolverines received a big contribution from freshman Ignas Brazdeikis (18 points). Charles Matthews — who tallied just six points against Villanova last season — registered a game-high 19 points.TIP JAM!Ignas Brazdeikis sends it in for @umichbball. pic.twitter.com/66zXyOp7GG— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) November 14, 2018Villanova controlled the title game from start to finish last season and cruised to a 79-62 win. The results were completely different Wednesday.last_img read more

US offers condolences amid deadly Barcelona terror attack

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first_imgMichelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends. Un abrazo.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 17, 2017Flags have been lowered to half-staff at the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., in memory of the victims. The athletic department at Clemson University in South Carolina wrote on Twitter that its men’s basketball program is in Barcelona, but the entire travel party is “safe and secure” and is expected to return to Clemson on Friday.“Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona and those injured at this time,” the Clemson athletic department added.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMatico Josep Lago(WASHINGTON) — As an attack in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday killed at least one person and left at least 32 injured, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered condolences for the “loss of life and injuries” of “so many innocent people, yet again.”In the incident local police called a “terror attack,” a van slammed into pedestrians near Catalunya Square in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district, a busy tourist area. An eyewitness told a Spanish television station that the suspect ran over people in his van for nearly 1,000 feet before fleeing into a nearby Turkish restaurant.Two people have been detained, police saidTillerson said this incident has “the hallmarks, it appears, of yet another terrorist attack.”ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack.To terrorists around the world, Tillerson said, we are “resolved to find you and bring you to justice.”Tillerson added that the U.S. stands ready to assist authorities in Barcelona.President Donald Trump condemned the attack in a tweet, encouraging Spain to “be tough and strong” and saying the U.S. “will do whatever is necessary to help.” Related Sickened by horrific terror attack in Barcelona. U.S. will work w/ allies to find those responsible & bring to justice. Praying for victims. https://t.co/Z4YcbtwRcy— Vice President Pence (@VP) August 17, 2017Pence said today while on a trip to Panama, “Whatever inspired today’s terror attack, the United States stands ready to assist the people of Spain and find and punish those responsible.“On this dark day,” Pence added, “our prayers and the prayers of all the American people are with the victims, their families and the good people of Spain.”First lady Melania Trump also offered her condolences, tweeting, “Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona.”center_img The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he is “sickened” by the “horrific” attack and that the U.S. vows to work with allies “to find those responsible & bring to justice.” Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 17, 2017Former President Barack Obama tweeted, “Michelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends.”last_img read more

Breach to be sealed soon

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first_imgMahaicony backlands floodingBy Shemuel FanfairAfter weeks of flooding, farmers and residents in the backlands of Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara, are slated to get relief asPumping floodwaters out of the farmlandsrehabilitation works on a breached dam in Strath Campbell along the Perth Canal are expected to commence shortly.This comes in light of a report recently carried in Guyana Times which highlighted that hundreds of acres of farmlands were flooded via the unrepaired breach during high tide.Information reaching this publication indicated that the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary Agricultural Developmental Authority (MMA-ADA) has secured equipment and will visit the area to begin rehabilitation by Thursday.MMA-ADA General Manager Aubrey Charles, when contacted on Tuesday, confirmed this and further explained that some months after the said dam was constructed, it settled and its height was as a consequence decreased.“After the settlement, the height of the dam was below the designed level,” Charles explained.Aubrey CharlesThe General Manager also said that the recent spring tide overflow caused soil erosion which facilitated the widening of breaches which were responsible for the heavy levels of flooding.“We also learnt that not too far from there, another section of the dam has eroded, so it’s two portions of the dam eroded,” Charles stated.According to the official, he visited the area some three weeks ago, but because of the “soft” terrain of the area, it is difficult to transport machines to rectify the problem. To this end, Charles pointed out that he could not give a specific date for when the works would be completed.One farmer with knowledge of the dam had told Guyana Times that indeed the current conditions would hinder the completion of the rehabilitation works. As the breached sections of the Perth Canal are currently unrepaired, farmers in the Branch Road Mahaicony backlands are still battling flooding even though the high tide has decreased.Farmers, who are still flooded, related that they were suffering as the dam now needed some amount of dry weather to be repaired. They expressed their frustration over the fact that the recent El Niño period was the ideal time to have done the repairs, but nothing was done to assist them. Now that the rainy season has started, they lamented the fact that they have to suffer losses.They stand to lose hundreds of acres and millions of dollars. To prevent a complete destruction of the rice crop, the farmers have the costly undertaking of pumping water from the fields every time the tide goes out.Meanwhile, while the floodwaters at Company Dam, New Providence have receded, residents fear that the next spring tide will again cause major flooding, which would destroy their plants and threaten the safety of the children who use outside toilets and traverse the area to get to and from school.last_img read more