Archive for November, 2012

Gangling Israeli based goalkeeper, Austin Ejide, will step out of the shadows of his national teammate, Vincent Enyeama, on Wednesday night in Miami, United States, when he leads the team out as skipper in the international friendly against Venezuela at the Marlins Stadium in the American city.
Head Coach Stephen Keshi said after critical consideration, he has decided to hand Ejide the armband for the match. Indeed, Ejide first joined the national team from Gabros of Nnewi, in the run-up to the Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup, alongside Enyeama and the likes of Justice Christopher. The Eagles number one jersey has since been alternated between the duo, with Enyeama having the lion’s share, but Wednesday’s game will be another opportunity for Ejide to lay claim to the Eagles number one shirt.
In the meantime, Newcastle United of England’s longest serving player, Shola Ameobi, has said he was simply delighted to be part of the Nigerian set up for the first time and hopes it turns out well on Wednesday  (Thursday morning in Nigeria).  Ameobi spoke after dinner on Monday night on arrival from England. “Its good to be here and I will learn to speak Pidgin English as the players have directed”, he joked after his former teammate at the Toons’, Obafemi Martins challenged him to start speaking in Pidgin English, which Keshi has adopted as the official language each time the team is in camp.
Also in ecstacy over his call up is Bright Dike of MLS side Portland Timbers in the United States, who was the last to join camp. Dike said at breakfast on Tuesday morning that it was a dream come true for him to be part of the Nigerian set up, as Assistant Coach, Sylvanus Okpala tries to size up abilities to speak the Ibo language. “I understand it but don’t speak fluently, it will get better now that I will start coming to Nigeria”, he said amidst smiles.
Obafemi Martins, who is styled the Weapon of Mass Destruction, has vowed to get a shirt with his performance on the pitch on Wednesday and in subsequent camping of the team. “My return is for real and Nigerians will see”, he said. Indeed, Martins looked the sharpest among attackers in camp as he banged in goal after goal in Monday evening training.
The game will be played at the Marlins Stadium in Miami 8pm Miami time and 2am Thursday Nigerian time.

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Chelsea super stars, John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and French based central defender, Onyekachi  Apam will not be part of this week’s international friendly between Nigeria and Venezuela in Miami, Florida, United States.
Head Coach, Stephen Keshi said Sunday that the trio had different reasons for not being part of the game, but that should not bring fears to Nigerians as capable replacements have already been named for the encounter .
Mikel for instance has family matters to settle bothering on his future as a father , following some domestic accidents. “ Timberwolves player, Bright Dike, who stars in the MLS for Timberwolves Fc has already been invited to play in his stead and we are sure that he will do well in the encounter, especially as he is based in the United States”, Keshi declared.
For Victor Moses,  Sharks FC’s Gomo Onduku, who has been in splendid form at the national camp has been drafted in and will be part of the team that will travel Sunday night to Miami, Florida for the encounter against Venezuela. “I have been there before and we don’t have any grudges against players withdrawing from international friendlies, especially when they are compelled to do that but we want to be told on time so that we can make replacements”, Keshi declared on Sunday morning.
All other players invited for the encounter have since confirmed their early arrival, even as the team jets out Sunday night via Delta Airlines for the game that comes up on Wednesday night in Florida, USA.
NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, is expected to lead the delegation for the friendly, that kickstarts Nigeria’s preparations for the 2013 African Cup of Nations to be hosted in South Africa.

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Kidnappers freed six Russian sailors and an Estonian on Wednesday who had been abducted from a ship off Nigeria’s southern delta, a French oil and gas services company said.

Paris-based Bourbon SA said in a statement that the sailors were in good health despite facing “difficult conditions while in captivity.” The company said the men would leave Nigeria in several days after undergoing medical tests and psychological examinations.

The company statement said Bourbon would not take any questions regarding the sailors’ release and did not say if a ransom had been paid to free them. Typically, foreign companies operating in Nigeria’s Niger Delta pay cash ransoms to free their employees after negotiating down kidnappers’ demands. Foreign hostages can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The kidnapping happened during an attack Oct. 15 on a Bourbon ship near the Niger Delta, where the company works closely with oil companies like Chinese-owned Addax Petroleum. Gunmen apparently attacked the Bourbon Liberty 249 and seized the sailors before escaping, the company said.

Another nine sailors onboard the vessel sailed safely away to the company’s port in Onne in Nigeria’s Rivers state, the company said.

The attack occurred near the Pennington River off Bayelsa state, military officials later said. That’s close to the Pennington Export Terminal run by U.S.-based Chevron Corp., which loads crude onto large oil tankers for export to the West.

Foreign oil companies have pumped oil out of the Niger Delta, a region of mangroves and swamps the size of Portugal, for more than 50 years. Despite the billions of dollars flowing into Nigeria’s government, many in the delta remain desperately poor, living in polluted waters without access to proper medical care, education or work. The poor conditions sparked an uprising in 2006 by militants and opportunistic criminals who blew up oil pipelines and kidnapped foreign workers.

That violence ebbed in 2009 with a government-sponsored amnesty program that offered ex-fighters monthly payments and job training. However, few in the delta have seen the promised benefits and sporadic kidnappings and attacks continue. The last major kidnapping happened in August, when gunmen attacked a vessel operated by Sea Trucks Group, another oil and gas contractor, and abducted four workers. The workers were later released unharmed.

Bourbon operates support vessels for offshore oil rigs and provides repair, inspection and maintenance services for undersea oil fields, and has a smaller unit that ships commodities like coal, grain and timber worldwide. The company had revenues of €1 billion ($1.3 billion) last year.

The company has been targeted by kidnappers in Nigeria before. In October 2008, pirates near Cameroon’s border with Nigeria kidnapped 10 Bourbon workers, all of whom were later released. Pirates also kidnapped and later released nine Bourbon workers seized off Nigeria’s coast in January 2009.

In another attack on Bourbon, attackers armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles clashed with Nigerian navy forces in a failed bid to take over an offshore oil platform, then kidnapped three French employees of Bourbon in September 2010. The workers were later released.

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Online:

Bourbon SA: http://www.bourbon-online.com

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