Monday, October 29, 2007

Nigerians Black Eagle eyes Sikkim Governor's Gold Cup 2007

Gangtok, Oct. 28: The “black magicians” are back in town with a different name but the same intent.
The all-Nigerian football team arrived here yesterday to take part in the 29th All India Governor’s Gold Cup. Last year, as GMHK Lions, the team had stormed into the semi-finals of the tournament, prompting the fans to dub them the black magicians. This time, the team will play under a new name — Nigerian Eagles.
The team, which is part of the Nigerian Professional Footballers’ Association, consists of players from across the country who are either studying or working in India. Many of them also play club football.
“We are happy to be back playing football in this wonderful place where people have so much love for the game. We have a number of good strikers and promising players in the side. We aim to lift the Gold Cup and we are working very hard towards that goal. We also promise an enthralling performance,” the team’s coach Fuja Tope told writer.
The intent was very much in evidence this evening as Tope put his players through a hard training session.
The coach knows that a tough task awaits him because there has been an almost complete overhaul of the team from last year.
Missing from the team this time are strikers Suba Muri and H. Abdul, who put in such thrilling performances last year. Muri is currently playing for Peerless in Calcutta.
Another striker, Eze Collins, who now plays for Calcutta Port Trust, is likely to join the team later. Eze, too, had given a sparkling performance in last year’s tournament.
The team plays Sikkim police in its first match on Tuesday. The Nigerians had beaten Sikkim Police 4-0 last year to enter the semi-finals.
“We consider all our opponents strong and cannot afford to take any match lightly,” said Tope, who was in the stands with his boys to watch today’s matches.
Tope had coached teams in Nepal before taking over the mantle of training the all-Nigerian team. He is currently based in Mumbai.
Last year, the Nigerians lost out on a berth in the final when they were defeated by Army XI in a tight match.