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Taribo, Koulibaly slam Napoli boss over AFCON comments

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Former Super Eagles players and new Chelsea signing Kalidou Koulibaly have faulted Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis over his plans to stop signing African players unless they agreed to not take part in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

De Laurentiis said on a Wall Street Italia talk show that he would never have Napoli players available for the AFCON.

“I told them, lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!” he said.

“I love them, but either they sign something confirming they’ll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!

“We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others.”

“Or they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate to the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments or between AFCON and the championships in South America … I never have them Napoli players) available,” he said

The Eagles defender, Taribo West, who played in Serie A for Milan giants AC and Inter, said, “That is not a good idea at all. Some of these European teams were not happy when African players left for the AFCON in January, but the players returned to their clubs and fitted in. He (De Laurentiis) should not stop the African players from playing at the AFCON. It’s a pride for these players to play for their country as well.”

Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games gold medallist, Dosu Joseph, added, “That’s (De Laurentiis) his own opinion and it is not a crime.

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“I don’t think any African will want to sign for a club that will deny him a chance to represent his fatherland at the AFCON. That will be a setback for such player.”

SEE ALSO:  Why I resigned as Super Eagles Head Coach – Finidi George opens up

Haruna Lukman, who captained Nigeria to the 2007 U-17 World Cup title in South Korea, described De Laurentiis comments as “absurd.”

“But it’s his decision,” Lookman said.  “These are some of the difficulties most African players face in Europe. Such comments could encourage other Italian clubs from going for African players or include such clauses in deals before they get signed.”

Senegal defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, now at Premier League side Chelsea, also expressed his disappointment.

“The most important thing is to respect everyone,” Koulibaly said.

“When I played there I also played for Senegal… You cannot speak of an African team like this.

“You have to have respect like you have for a European team… I respect what he thinks, it’s up to him but I think not everybody has that same idea at Napoli.”

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NPFL: Gov Mbah splashes N50m, other non-cash rewards on victorious Rangers FC

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Gov Peter Mbah receiving the Rangers players and management
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Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has announced a cash reward of N50 million in addition to non-cash gifts to Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, winners of the 2023/2024 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL.

The governor announced this when he treated the Nigerian champions to a state banquet at the Government House, Enugu, during the weekend, thanking them for etching Enugu State on the African and global map.

“We are indeed very proud of you. I cannot tell you enough what this NPFL title that you have brought right here before us represents and means to us.

“Rangers International transcends generations; it is a unifying factor for us. It is not just about winning a trophy or about making us proud. It is putting Enugu State in the hearts and minds of the people of this country and beyond.

The victorious Rangers players and club officials

“You have made us proud and we will in turn also make you happy. We are going to provide the sum of N50 million to you in addition to other non-cash rewards that will implant you in our state and immortalise you,” he stated.

Continuing, he said, “I commend the General Manager, who has guided this team with a deep sense of purpose and also fueled your optimism, reinforcing the ‘Never Say Die’ spirit that you are all known for. I thank most sincerely the coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, who through his professional ethics and consistency, has continued to do us proud. The captain and all the players, you are a true embodiment of the ‘Never-Say-Die’spirit. The fans are not left out. I also commend the Commissioner, who has shown deep commitment to the success of Rangers through his tireless efforts and sacrifice.

SEE ALSO:  Mbah celebrates as Rangers win 2023/24 NPFL title

“However, recall that I had always said to you that success abhors complacency. We still have quite a huge space in our trophy cabinet. So, we still need more. I am sure we are all getting ready for the CAF Champions League and other tournaments. Let me assure you that we will never get tired of supporting you. If anything, we are going to double down and reinforce our support.”

Speaking, the Commissioner for Youth and Sport Development, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu, who hailed Rangers for the successful title chase, thanked the governor for his personal and official support that transformed the club.

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Also, the General Manager and CEO of Rangers International, Amobi Ezeaku, who went down memory lane, appreciated Governor Mbah for taking Rangers as his special pet project.

“For two years, the club played away from home, but in a twinkle of an eye, the club came back to the Cathedral. That is why 28th December 2023 when we returned to the Cathedral will forever be engraved in the hearts of not just Ndigbo, but all true lovers of Rangers and football.

“Today, we thank you for easing the stress of our trips, for approving for corporate sponsors to get on board, for coming to watch our matches, and for braving the turbulence of the weather on that day to fly to Jos to witness the lifting of this trophy.

“It is also under you that the Rangers’ jersey is proudly instituted at the FIFA museum in Zürich, Switzerland. It is under you that the Rangers’ jersey is now known at the headquarters of African Football in the 6th of October City, Giza, Egypt. And as we speak, Rangers have been nominated in many categories by the league bloggers award,” Ezeaku.

SEE ALSO:  NPFL: Gov Mbah splashes N50m, other non-cash rewards on victorious Rangers FC

Speaking with newsmen, the Chairman of Rangers Supporters Club, Dr. Uchenna Orji; club captain, Chukwudi Nwodu; and a top fan, Emmanuel Okoh, aka Okwuruoha, said Rangers were going into the CAF Champions League to win, assuring that they would also retain the league title and lift the FA Cup.

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Rangers Crowned 2023/24 NPFL Champions

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Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, the flying antelopes have been crowned champions of the Nigerian Premier Football League 2023/2024 season.

The flying antelopes emerged champions with a 2-1 victory over Gombe United at the Zaria road stadium in Jos to clinch its 8th league title amazing 70 points from 38 matches played during the concluded league season.

Team captain Chukwudi Nwaodu received the trophy and the winning prize of one hundred and fifty million naira from the Nigeria Football Federation president Ibrahim Musa Gusau.

Dignitaries who witnessed the match included the top Nigeria Football Federation board led by the chairman and other members of the football governing board; league board chairman Gbenga Elegbeleye as well as Plateau state governor Caleb Mutfwang and his counterpart from Enugu Peter Mbah.

With the victory Rangers International will represent Nigeria alongside Remo stars in the African Champions League competition.

Remo Stars beat visiting Katsina United 2-1 to finish as runners-up on 65 points, five points adrift of champions Enugu Rangers.
They will play in the CAF Champions League along with Rangers.

Last season champions Enyimba stopped Plateau United 2-0 at home to finish third on 63 points.
They will feature in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.

Sporting Lagos, Doma United, Gombe United and Heartland have thus been relegated and will play in the Nigeria National League (NNL) next season.

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Four teams have been promoted to the NPFL from the second-tier NNL, namely Beyond Limits, Nasarawa United, Ikorodu City and El Kanemi Warriors.

SEE ALSO:  Mbah celebrates as Rangers win 2023/24 NPFL title

Enyimba striker, Chijioke Mbaoma has won the Eunisell Boot as the top scorer in the NPFL for the 2023/24 season.
He succeeds another Enyimba striker, Emeka Obioma, who was top scorer last season.

Mbaoma netted his 17th goal of the season in the  final game against Plateau United in Aba.
He will get a special award as well as prize money for finishing as the Goal King of the league.

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Mbah celebrates as Rangers win 2023/24 NPFL title

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Governor Mbah acknowledging cheers from Rangers fans
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…Vows total turnaround of Enugu sports sector

Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah has congratulated the Rangers International Football Club of Enugu on their winning of the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL, title with a game to spare following their 2-0 victory over Bendel Insurance Football Club at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, on Sunday.

A 33rd-minute goal by Kenechukwu Agu and 65th-minute goal by Chidiebere Nwobodo handed the Fidelis Ilechukwu-tutored lads their eighth league title and their second since 2016, as their closest rivals, Remo Stars and Enyimba Football Club lost their match-day 37 fixtures 1-2 each against Sunshine Stars and Sporting Lagos, accordingly. This left the Flying Antelopes with an insurmountable 67-point lead with a game to go.

Reacting to the development, Governor Mbah said Rangers title win and the display on the pitch were clear exciting reenactment of the greatness Enugu State was known for, also restating his government’s plans to commit more resources towards sports development in the state.

Rangers supporters during Sunday match

“I can tell you that we are very excited. The Government and the people of Enugu State are very excited. What we have witnessed here this evening is the renactment of the greatness that Enugu is known for. So, we have again witnessed that greatness here today.

“Part of what I said to the players before the match started was that they had the weight of history on their shoulders because they were walking the path where legends had walked and that it was incumbent on them to deliver; and I’m so excited again that this has happened.

SEE ALSO:  NPFL: Gov Mbah splashes N50m, other non-cash rewards on victorious Rangers FC

“Indeed, our tomorrow is here. It is again part of connecting the dots; connecting the dots in the sports sector. As you already know, we want to be the number one in everything we do. So we have zero tolerance for failure or mediocrity and our work ethic is impeccable.

“Therefore, that also shows in what these young players did in the pitch. You could see them working extremely hard and I’m so excited because it feels like any world-class football tournament.

“You can see that what happened here shows that you don’t wish success into existence. Success requires painstaking planning and hardwork. And that is essentially what you have seen here today.

“We are going to continue on that trajectory, making sure that we have a superb reward system, we motivate our players and they go out there and bring back the trophy,” the elated governor stated.

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On sports infrastructure, he said, “Of course, you would attest to the fact that getting our pitch back in shape immediately we assumed office to enable Rangers to play their home matches here at The Cathedral was a huge motivation for the players.

“But I want to assure Ndi Enugu that they have not seen anything yet. As you are aware, our goal is a total turnaround of the sports industry in the state, and that includes the sports infrastructure – building world-class facilities and upgrading existing ones to world-class also.”

Meanwhile, the Governor also presented the Club Player of the Match prize to Chidiebere Nwobodo of Rangers International Football Club.

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