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Nigeria reverses ban on international basketball competitions

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The Federal Government has reversed its decision to withdraw the national teams from all international basketball competitions.

The reversal was announced on Thursday in a statement by Ismaila Abubakar, permanent secretary of the ministry of youth and sports development.

On May 12, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to withdraw Nigeria from all international basketball competitions for the next two years.

The minister said the decision was part of efforts by the government to revamp the sport from the grassroots.

Consequently, FIBA replaced D’Tigress with Mali at the upcoming 2022 Women’s World Cup, which spurred an avalanche of backlashes from both players and fans alike.

But in the latest statement, Abubakar said the reversal was made possible because “some significant developments have occurred” since the ban.

He said the ministry met with FIBA and reaffirmed the “mutual respect for the laws and constitution of Nigeria as a sovereign state, and also FIBA.”

The permanent secretary added that the board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) wrote a letter of appeal to the ministry and “apologised to Mr President and the Minister over the embarrassment the developments around basketball and the conduct of some stakeholders has brought upon Nigeria.”

“Following the Presidential approval withdrawing Nigeria from International Basketball competitions for 2 years, a number of significant developments have occurred, the most significant being the following.” the statement read.

“Intervention by concerned stakeholders, former Nigerian international basketball players and well-meaning Nigerians to seek for solutions to the issues that triggered the decision.

“The video conference meeting between the top hierarchy of FIBA and the Minister of Youth and Sports which produced common understanding in certain general areas, concluding with a commitment by both FIBA and Nigeria to explore and collaborate on enhancing relationships, development of basketball and reaffirming mutual respect for the laws and constitution of Nigeria as a sovereign state, and also FIBA.

“A letter of appeal from the NBBF Board signed by Musa Kida and dated June 17th, 2022 addressed to the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare. The (board in the) letter of appeal among other things apologised to Mr. President and the minister over the embarrassment the developments around basketball and the conduct of some stakeholders have brought upon Nigeria. The letter appealed to the Minister to use his good offices to approach President Buhari for the reversal of the 2-year withdrawal of Nigeria from International basketball competitions. The Appeal letter also critically gave some key undertakings: to immediately set in motion the process of statutes review or constitutional amendments from stakeholders as collated by the ministry of youth and sports development; to set up a high-powered team to reconcile all contending parties in the basketball family at home and abroad, and a commitment to work with the ministry in the governance and development of basketball among other things. Above all, the compliance of NBBF to the issues at stake made this possible.

“Flowing from the above and upon a review, the FMYSD approached Mr. President and placed these developments before him. President Muhammadu Buhari, being one that is committed to youth development and desirous of ensuring that they are availed of all opportunities in sports and other endeavours considered the appeal and

“In the overriding spirit of national interest, love for our youth, and in order to avoid sending basketball development into a long period of suspension, when NBBF has now committed to the resolution of the issues which precipitated the withdrawal in the first place, has approved the return of Nigeria to international basketball immediately.

“In securing this approval, of note is the caution that the laws of Nigeria cannot be subjugated to any other law, and every Nigerian entity must respect Nigerian laws and authority governing various sectors. Failure to do this, as with any constitutionally bound sovereign nation will attract sanctions. There was first a country before any organization or federation that bears the Nigerian name, colours, and flag in representing Nigeria.

“Secondly, all those that lead government organizations, and in this case our federations, hold such positions in trust for the Government and people of Nigeria under the direct supervision of the Minister of Youth and Sports. The President has directed the ministry of youth and sports to ensure the speedy implementation of the undertakings by NBBF which formed a major basis of his reversal. The ministry is to report back to Mr. President on progress.”

It is however not clear yet if FIBA will reinstate D’Tigress for the 2022 Women’s World Cup.

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Man United contact Napoli for Osimhen

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Victor Osimhen

Undergoing a massive rebuild and in desperate need of a goal scorer, Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen this summer.

According to Corriere dello Sport (via thefaithfulmufc), the Red Devils have contacted the Partonopei to discuss a potential move for the Nigerian forward. After enduring a disappointing 2021/22 campaign, United are looking at a fresh approach this summer under new manager Erik ten Hag.

Last season, the 13-time Premier League champions scored just 57 goals in 38 Premier League games. 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo was the club’s most impressive forward as he scored 18 goals in 30 games, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner wasn’t supported by his teammates. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani scored just nine league goals between them.

Furthermore, the club are set to part ways with Cavani, Jesse Lingard, and Juan Mata after the expiration of their contracts at the end of the month. They are therefore expected to prioritize signing a top-quality forward.

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Victor Osimhen who joined Napoli from Lille in the summer of 2020 for a club-record fee of €70 million might just be the answer to their prayers and provide the support a veteran Ronaldo needs.

The striker, who scored 18 times and made six assists in 32 games last season, is also on the radar of other top English clubs including Arsenal and Newcastle.

Labelled a ‘phenomenal‘ player for his performances in the past, Osimhen has already scored 15 goals and provided 8 assists in just 23 games for Nigeria. He scored four goals as the Super Eagles thrashed Sao Tome and Principe 10-0 in a match-day two fixture of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match.

He was also on target on match-day one for the Eagles as they rallied back from a goal down to beat Sierra Leone 2-1 at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

The Italian side’s president, Aurelie De Laurentiis, is renowned for being a tough negotiator and is reportedly reluctant to entertain the idea of selling Osimhen for less than £86m.

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Chelsea, Man United tussle over Neymar

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Neymar

Chelsea, Newcastle, and Manchester United could make a move for PSG winger Neymar this summer.

Neymar is highly regarded as one of the best players to have ever graced a football pitch, and the Brazilian has won countless trophies during his time at Barcelona and PSG.

His time at the French champions could be over, however, with RMC Sport reporting that he is considering looking for a move away from the club this summer.

The report also claimed that three Premier League clubs could make a move, naming Newcastle, Chelsea, and Manchester United.

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Due to the likely astronomical wages that come with signing Neymar, not many clubs will be able to afford the Brazilian winger.

Although the report doesn’t suggest the trio of clubs are seriously considering signing Neymar, there’s no doubt there would be interest from all three clubs, simply due to what he can offer to their side.

Neymar has managed 342 goals during his whole career, but that is only a small percentage of what he can provide. His creativity and dribbling ability mean he’s such a handful for opposition defenders, and the prospect of him playing in the Premier League is an exciting one.

A move to Manchester United and Newcastle seems unlikely due to their Champions League status, but linking up with former manager Thomas Tuchel and former teammate Thiago Silva could be on the cards.

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Okoye: My ambition is the Premier League

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Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye

Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye is preparing ahead of the new season and has indicated his desire to help the club gain promotion back to the top flight.

Okoye, 22, was a £5m signing from Dutch side, Sparta Rotterdam in January.

He only joined up with the Hornets at the off season having been on loan at Sparta Rotterdam since January.

“I think in every player’s head is going back up to the Premier League,” the former Fortuna Düsseldorf goalkeeper said. Okoye was quoted by Watford Observer as saying;“ It’s important to have ambition.

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“On a personal level, I just want to help fulfill that ambition for the other players and the club. The more playing time the better, but most of all I want to see myself grow as a person and a goalkeeper.”

The German-born goalkeeper said English football has always been a dream and he will work hard to make it come true.

”If I can get playing time and improve then that is fantastic. I grew up watching English football and it was always a dream to play in this country.

“As a kid, it was English football I wanted to play in and now I’m going to put the work in to make that happen.”

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