National basketball teams, Mikel, Oshoala, others bag Excellence awards 

Nigeria’s Mikel John Obi (C) celebrates with teammates William Ekong (L) and Odion Ighalo after scoring a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying football match between Nigeria and Cameroon at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, southern Nigeria, on September 1, 2017. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

• Ige predicts good outing in Russia for Super Eagles

It was a night of fanfare at the Osun Hall, Airport Hotel Ikeja, Lagos, at the weekend as the male and female national basketball teams were crowned the national teams of the year at the maiden edition of Nigeria Awards for Sporting Excellence. 

The awards, which, according to the organisers, is aimed at encouraging Nigerian sports stars and administrators, also saw Super Eagles’ captain, John Mikel Obi, got the Captain of the Year award, while his teammate, Victor Moses, bagged the Footballer of the Year award. 

Other top sports personalities, who won awards at the event, are Asisat Oshoala, named the Female Footballer of the Year; Sportsperson of the Year was won by table tennis sensation, Aruna Quadri, Home-based Footballer of the Year was awarded to Eagles goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, while Footballer of the Year, Asia, was given to Obafemi Martins.

NPFL side, Plateau United won the Club of the Year, Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, won the coach of the year, just as NBBF President, Musa Kida, got the Sports Federation President of the Year award, while his NFF counterpart, Amaju Pinnick, was named the Football Administrator of the Year.

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio received Nigerian Pillar of Sports 2017 award, FCT Director of Sports, Dili Onyedinma, was named the Sports Administrator of the Year, while the Club Manager of the Year went to El-Kanemi’s chairman, Mohammed Zanna.

Speaking at the event, chairman of the occasion, Taye Ige, thanked the awards’ organisers, Daily Sports, Prime Sage International, Zenith Sports, News Express and Haggai sports wear, for helping the country’s sports development by recognising those that have distinguished themselves in the year. He noted that the gesture would spur them to work harder to raise the level of their performance while competing in sports. 

Ige, who is the Chairman/CEO of HS Media Group, owners of the HotSports brand, predicted that Nigeria will have its best FIFA World Cup outing yet in Russia next year, saying the Super Eagles have the potential to reach the semifinals.

Speaking on the draws, Ige insisted that Nigeria could not have wished for a better group, adding, “one must remark that God Almighty answered our prayers.

“In my view, we had the luck of the draw and we have every reason to celebrate our World Cup grouping.“Argentina cannot stop us. We beat them recently in Russia and, by the dint of dedication, focus, determination and the special grace of God we will beat them again during the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia. Croatia, even by UEFA ratings, are a category ‘B’ team in Europe, while debutantes, Iceland, are already content rubbing shoulders with the big boys. We will have more reason to celebrate as I foresee the Super Eagles going far at 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“To go far and be considered as having had a successful campaign, Nigeria should at least make it to the semi-finals. Is this possible? Yes, I do believe so. Without advocating complacency, all that needs to be done right now is for every stakeholder to continue to do their bit as diligently as they have done so far. This is the very first time we are heading to the World Cup with stability all around the team: the technical crew; the Federation; the players. All this should combine to give us an unforgettable World Cup.”

In this article:
John Mikel Obi
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