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Table Tennis: Birthday Girl Oshonaike Graceful in Defeat Yet Rues Nigerian Factor

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For the likable Olufunke Oshonaike, there was more to playing in the first round of the women’s singles event at the ITTF World Championship in China than the ardous weight of ambition on Tuesday.

The veteran Nigerian couldn’t have asked for better fortunes- more or less- in the first round of the women’s singles, despite having to trade her wits against the best in the world, China’s Ding Ning, in round one of the event, but coinciding with her birthday it was, better still, fun to lose to the best.

Top seed, Ning, made a walk of her face off with Funke in straight games 11-2 11-3 11-4 11-7, but there was no need being sore to the stomach for Oshonaike, rather than pose for a post-game selfie with her No. 1-ranked opponent and winner in Rotterdam in 2011.

Olufunke Oshonaike while taking a post-match #selfie – "It is the best gift i can image for my birthday to play against…

Posted by International Table Tennis Federation on Monday, April 27, 2015

“Today it’s my birthday and it is a wonderful gift for me to have had the opportunity to play against her”, Olufunke beamed at her ittf.com interviewer. “Today is my birthday; why should I be sad?”

Instead of wailing unnecessarily it was time for the Nigerian to reflect on the difficult task of representing motherland, in the absence of no trainer whatsoever.

Funke leaves in Germany and plays in the third division of the Bundesliga, but back in Nigeria; these athletes have no choice but to rely on the experience gathered from their club base.

Against Ding on Tuesday, Oshonaike had no one in her corner until Kazeem Makanjuola arrived after the start of the fourth game, while her highly rated opponent had an Olympic and World champion Kong Linghui by her side.

“Even when I was young I have always dreamed about this kind of opportunity; without a coach it made no difference”, added Olufunke.

“We have many problems with the government right now in Nigeria, we know our problems, we know for sure that we are going to do something about it.

Olufunke Embraces Safa Saidana of Tunisia after Her Final Round-Robin Group Win on Monday. Image: Remy Gros for ITTF.

Olufunke Embraces Safa Saidana of Tunisia after Her Final Round-Robin Group Win on Monday. Image: Remy Gros for ITTF.


“The players are ready, because we really want to surprise everybody. We want to return the glory to Nigeria; all the players are doing their best.”

Mixed outcome in the doubles

Fresh from accounting for Egypt’s pair of Nadeen El-Dawlatly and Dina Meshrefninnthe round of 64 of the women’s double event on Tuesday, the partnership between Sarah Hanffou of Cameroun and Funke hit the rocks in round two in Suzhou.

The intra-national duo recorded a five games win over El- Dawlatly and Meshref in the first round earlier on Tuesday (11-7 14-16 11-7 11-6 11-4) to set up the duo of Hu Melek of Turkey and Shen Yanfei of Spain in the round of 32.

Olufunke and her partner Sarah- a lawyer based in Paris seeded 39th in Suzhou- eventually succumbed to the tact ploy of the unseeded Hu and Shen when doubles action resumed later in the day, losing 13-11 8-11 11-6 11-6 11-3.

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Talented Nigerian Players of the NFL

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The NFL is quickly becoming one of the most popular leagues for Nigerian athletes. Over the last few years, we have seen some immensely talented players from Nigeria, or with Nigerian ancestry, come into the league and take over. While all positions in the sport of American football have benefited, notably there has been a focus on defensive positions from these athletes, with linebackers and defensive ends rising to prominence. Here are some of the most talented Nigerian athletes in the NFL that you need to know.

Jeremiah Attaochu

Jeremiah Attaochu is a 6’3”( 1.91m) outside linebacker who is currently playing for the Denver Broncos. He was a member of the 2014 draft, selected in the 2nd round as pick #50 overall. Attaochu played briefly for several teams like the 49ers and the Jets as he gradually tried to find the perfect fit. Recently, Attaochu has been re-signed by the Broncos on a one-year $1.5 million contract. Clearly, the Broncos liked what he brought to their defensive line.

Since Peyton Manning left the Broncos, the squad has been testing new offensive schemes, but their defense remains very strong. All-star player Von Miller has recently been placed on the injury list, so Attaochu will be called on to perform his best. With his aggressive tackling and limitless gas tank, Attaochu certainly helps bring the Broncos favorable American football odds. The team’s main division rivals are the Kansas City Chiefs who have one of the strongest offenses in the league. Heading into the 2020 season, defense is a priority for the Broncos.

Jeff Okudah

Okudah was born in Texas, USA in 1999 to Nigerian parents, making him one of the youngest players on this list. In the most recent NFL draft, Okudah was one of the most in-demand athletes and was selected #3 overall by the Detroit Lions. In the buildup to his NFL debut he quickly became known as the best cornerback in the entire country, and has proven to be yet another exceptional Nigerian athlete to gr3aduate from Texas universities.

This is excellent news for the Lions, who certainly need all the help they can get on defense. Okudah made his NFL debut this past Sunday, playing against the Green Bay Packers and MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. All things considered, Okudah played well and showed that he can perform at the professional level.

Emmanuel Ogbah

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ogbah has come a long way on his journey to becoming the standout outside linebacker that he is. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2016 as the #32 overall pick. After two years with the squad, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he really came into his own as a linebacker.

Ogbah played a big role in the Chief’s 12-4 record while he was active during the 2019 season. His standout performance was during week 3 versus the Baltimore Ravens, when Ogbah sacked quarterback Lamar Jackson 1.5 times. Unfortunately, a pectoral injury ended his exceptional season at game 10, but his efforts ultimately helped the Chiefs get to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Afterwards, Ogbah signed a two-year $15 million dollar contract with the Miami Dolphins, where he currently helps round out their defense.

Noah Igbinoghene

This young athlete is an exceptionally talented cornerback. He was recently drafted in the first round as #30 overall by the Miami Dolphins. Though he was born in the US, he is of Nigerian descent and lived in the country for part of his life in his earlier years.

Notably, both of his parents were talented athletes in their own right. Igbinoghene’s father not only competed in the Men’s Triple Jump in the 1996 Olympics, but also won a bronze medal at the 1990 Commonwealth games. His mother was a track and field star, and was part of the relay team that won a bronze medal for Nigeria at the 1992 Olympics.

NFL analysts gave the Dolphin’s an A+ for the Igbinoghene pick, saying that he was the right player for their team and helped the Dolphins patch up a weakness on defense. He played well against the Buffalo Bills this past weekend, ultimately blocking many passes that came his way.

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Barcelona Sell Luis Suarez To Atletico Madrid

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Barcelona have sold striker Luis Suarez to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.

The transfer was confirmed on Wednesday evening, with Suarez reportedly crying as he left Barcelona’s training grounds for the last time the same day.

“FC Barcelona would like to publicly express their gratitude to Luis Suarez for his commitment and dedication and wishes him all the best for the future,” the statement said.

The club said a “farewell event” would take place for Suarez on Thursday before a press conference.

Suarez leaves Barcelona after six successful years. He scored 198 goals – making him Barcelona’s third top scorer, and won 13 titles.

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Messi and Ronaldo miss out on UEFA Men’s Player of the Year nominations

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No Messi or Ronaldo in UEFA Men’s Player of the Year nominations for first time in 10 years as De Bruyne & Lewandowski battle it out.

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is also in the running for the award, with a new winner set to be announced at the start of October.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been left off the final shortlist for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award for first time in 10 years, with Kevin De Bruyne and Robert Lewandowski set to battle it out for the individual prize.

Ronaldo, who currently plies his trade in Italy with Juventus, has picked up the accolade on three occasions and also has a total of nine nominations to his name, while Barcelona superstar Messi has won it two times and made the final shortlist in six of the last 10 seasons.

Both men have stood out as the best players of their generation for well over a decade, but as they continue to advance into their thirties, an inevitable changing of the guard is beginning to take shape.

News Credit: Goal.com

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