Poles and Notions

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It is quite astonishing how quick we, as a people, are to pick sides when something happens. Nigerians and sentiments are like yin-yang. Inseparable!

When news reports trickled in about the arrest of former Petroleum minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke in the UK for allegedly laundering $13bn, two groups suddenly emerged. Those in her support were assembled in the blue corner whilst those against her were in the red corner.

Those in the red corner desperately want to see Diezani jailed and thence celebrated her arrest, without asking questions how the media came to that figure of $16bn. The opposition, in the blue corner, described Diezani as innocent until proven guilty and slammed the President’s anti-corruption war as mere noise used to harass and persecute his political enemies.

This is based on their belief that the President has surrounded himself with chronically corrupt citizens like Rotimi Amaechi et al. Perhaps they are right about Amaechi et al but if they feel Dieziani deserves time until UK court proves her innocence/guilt, why can’t they extend such benevolence to the likes of Amaechi etc? After all, everyone has a right to a fair trial. Or maybe not!

Some days later, there was a fight between new Super Eagles handler Sunday Oliseh and veteran goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama which led to the latter announcing his retirement from the national team. As expected, Nigerians, without waiting to get to the root of the matter, were split again into two sides with both teams hurling insults at each other.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion and taking sides but the least one can do is to be objective about it and back up your claims with facts, not assertions. Objectivity was lost during the aforementioned debates, and replaced by bias. Being objective is a herculean task for many due to the amount of bias we carry around.

It will amaze you how bias, especially what we hear others say, can sway our judgements and decisions. For example, if you were told that someone is good or bad at something, it would be hard for you to forget that information when you observe the person and in the process, miss other vital positive/negative traits of the person. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his new book LEADING, “It is astonishing how many biases and preconceived notions we carry around, and these influence what we see, or more precisely, what we think we see.”

Subjective thinking is based on an individual’s emotions, opinion and perspective hence it comes easily and naturally to everyone however objective thinking doesn’t. It is a skill that is acquired and developed by paying good attention to details. Just as kids develop vital personal and social skills by observing behaviour of their parents, siblings, peers or teachers, that’s the same way one needs to be a keen observer to think objectively.

Objectivity is based on facts and observations. It is a very important skill to acquire because it stops one from making hasty conclusions by taking a step back from one’s own thinking to critically examine facts/opinions/assertions at his/her disposal.

It also requires one to look at things from other people’s point of view hence one has to be willing to give a fair hearing to what others have to say. No matter how right your opinion may seem to you, a single perspective never reveals the whole truth.

Observing and listening are underrated activities, and they cost nothing. Follow arguments with objectivity, not bias.

Top Ten Anglo-Born Players That Can Improve Quality of Super Eagles

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After impressive debut of 29-year-old Carl Ikeme in Super Eagles’ stalemate with Tanzania in Dar Es Salam recently, many have questioned why it took so long for Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to woo the Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper to dorn the Green and White of Nigeria.

Ikeme was first called up to the Super Eagles squad back in 2007 but finally made his protracted debut for the team as he stood in for the bereaved Vincent Enyeama, and was Super Eagles best player on the day, making some good saves to earn his team a valuable point.

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Nigeria have lost some talented players such as Ross Barkley (England), Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) and David Alaba (Austria) in recent times due to inability of Nigerian Football executives to swiftly cap these players at senior level.

Now let’s look at ten English-born players who can be added to the Super Eagles to improve the quality of the team.

1. JORDON IBE

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Jordon Ashley Femi Ibe started his career at modest football league side Wycombe Wanderers where he became their youngest-ever Football League player when he made his debut in 2011 aged just 15.

Following his 16th birthday, Ibe was transfered to Premier League giants Liverpool but had to join the U-18 squad to continue his development. He made his Premier League debut aged 17 in Liverpool’s final game of the 2012/2013 season against Queens Park Rangers (QPR), assisting Phillipe Coutinho for the only goal of the game.

However, his progress was stunted by the emergence of Raheem Sterling and he was loaned out to Birmingham City and Derby County for the rest of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons respectively. Now 20-years-old, Ibe is expected to play a huge role in Liverpool’s season following £49m sale of Sterling to Manchester City in the summer.

He has already played for England at various youth levels but is eligible to play for Nigeria at senior level through his father. New Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh announced via twitter that Ibe has turned down the chance to switch allegiance to Nigeria however he remains eligible for Super Eagles until he makes a senior appearance for England.

2. Tiago Ilori

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Tiago Abiola Almeida Ilori is also on the books of Liverpool. The Portugal U-21 International was born in England to a Nigerian father and a Portuguese mother in 1993.

He started his career in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon but earned a £7m move to Liverpool in 2013. However, he has found games hard to come by at the Merseyside club and was loaned to Granada in January 2014 for the rest of the season. He also spent the entire 2014-2015 season at French Ligue 1 club FC Girondins de Bordeaux. He was farmed out on loan again this season on transfer deadline day to Premier League club Aston Villa where he is expected to see more playing time.

Ilori, 22, has already been approached by the English FA to play for England at senior level but he declined opting to play for Portugal instead. One hopes the Nigerian FA and Super Eagles can use the father to woo him to switch his allegiance to Nigeria.

3. Dele Alli

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Bamidele Jermaine Alli plays for Tottenham Hotspur but started his career in League One with Milton Keynes (MK) Dons in 2012. He made his debut for MK Dons in 2011 aged 16 and went on to make 74 league appearances, scoring 22 goals over the next two-and-a half years.

He came to the limelight after a wonderful display in the middle of the park in MK Dons’ surprise 4-0 League Cup win over Manchester United last season. He earned a £5m move to White Hart Lane last January but was loaned back to MK Dons for the rest of the season, helping them to gain promotion to the Championship.

Ironically, he made his Tottenham debut against Manchester United in this season’s curtain opener. He has featured in 4 of Spurs’ 5 games so far, scoring once to earn his team a valuable point at high flying Leicester City. He has been compared to Steven Gerrard hence the English authorities are keen to have him on Three Lions roster. It was reported earlier this year that John Fashanu will help convince the 19-year-old to play for the country of his father.

4. Chuba Akpom

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Chuba Amaechi Akpom is an England youth International who has been at Premier League contenders Arsenal since he was eight. He made his Premier League debut in 2013 at the age of 18 in 3-1 win over Sunderland.

Akpom, now 20, was expected to be part of Arsene Wenger’s plans for the new season but was surprisingly sent to Championship club Hull City on a season-long loan. He hit the ground running immediately, scoring on his debut in 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town back in August.

Akpom can add pace and power to Super Eagles’ attack which lacked bite against the Tanzanians.

5. Dominic Iorfa Jnr.

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Iorfa, 20, is a right back by trade and also the son of former Nigeria international Dominic Iorfa. At club level, he is team mates with Carl Ikeme at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Iorfa has become a fan favourite and a first-team regular at the Molineux Stadium following his impressive displays. He was adjudged Football League’s Young Player Of The Month in January 2015. He is expected to move to the Premier League at the end of the season when his contract with Wolves expires.

He was called up to England U-21 squad for last week’s International games and was also promoted to train with the senior team by England coach Roy Hodgson for their Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino. His father has reiterated that his son will represent Nigeria at senior level but with his stock rising, it is only a matter of time before he is capped by England so NFF need to act fast and give him a call-up to Super Eagles.

6. Sammy Ameobi

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Sammy is younger brother of former Super Eagles striker Shola Ameobi. Just like his brother, he started his career with Newcastle United but is currently on a season-long loan to Championship club Cardiff City.

The 23-year-old left footed winger pledged his allegiance to Nigeria in 2014 following his brother’s appearance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He had featured in friendlies for Nigeria U-20 side against Saudi Arabia and Egypt back in 2011 ahead of 2011 African Youth Championship.

However, he returned to England U-21 set up the same year but hasn’t featured for them since 2013. Ameobi deserves a look-in and may be a good asset to Nigeria. He can be added to the national pool to increase the quality of players available to Sunday Oliseh for selection.

7. Tom Adeyemi

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Christened Thomas Oluseun Adeyemi, he was born to Nigerian parents in Milton Keynes in 1991. He started his career at Norwich City in 2008 after coming up through the ranks at the club.

He had to forego a University offer from the prestigious Cambridge University to focus on football. He later gained A* grades at Advanced Level in Biology and Chemistry and an A grade in Mathematics.

He was named League One Apprentice of the Year at the Football League Awards in March 2010 but subsequently found himself on the fringes of the side and was loaned to Bradford City, Oldham Athletic and Brentford. Following expiration of his contract, he joined Birmingham City on a free transfer in 2013.

He was the spine of the Birmingham City team that went ten games unbeaten last season but suffered a back injury which affected his performance. However, he did enough to be voted the club’s Young Player Of The Year at the end of season awards. He surprisingly put in a transfer request amid interest from Cardiff City in the summer of 2014, days after being appointed vice captain of the club, and completed the move days later.

Following the managerial shake-up at the Welsh side, Adeyemi was loaned out to Leeds United for the 2015/2016 season. He has been described as a gifted, athletic and powerful midfielder. He is still uncapped at International level and could provide steel to Super Eagles midfield.

8. Alex Iwobi

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Iwobi is the nephew of former Super Eagles captain Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha. The 18-year-old midfielder was born in Nigeria but moved to England as a kid.

He featured for Arsenal in Pre-Season, scoring a sublime goal against Olympique Lyon in Emirates Cup. Arsene Wenger has rebuffed offers from various clubs to take him on loan and insists he is part of his plans this season. A move away from the Emirates might be what he needs to continue his development.

He has represented England at different under age levels but recently accepted to play for Nigeria, citing the influence of his father, uncle (Jay Jay) and Kanu Nwankwo on his decision. However, he remains eligible for the Three Lions of England until he plays a competitive senior match for the Super Eagles.

9. Dominic Solanke

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Solanke is just 18 years but has been tipped for a bright future in the game by many. He has been at Chelsea since he was seven but came to the fore in 2013/2014 season when he scored 20 goals in 25 games for Chelsea U-18 side.

This prompted Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho to declare that he would have himself to blame if Solanke fails to become a senior England international under his management. Thus, he promoted Solanke to train with the first-team squad for the 2014/2015 season and gave him professional debut, as a 73rd minute substitute for Oscar, in 6-0 trashing of NK Maribor in the Champions League. This made him the youngest player to debut in the Champions League for Chelsea.

However, he found himself way down the pecking order behind Diego Costa, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy. At youth level, Solanke continued his prolific goalscoring rate, finishing the season with 41 goals enroute to FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League triumphs. He has been loaned out to Dutch Eredivisie club Vitesse Arnhem for the 2015/2016 season to gain more first-team experience. He has since been given the number 9 jersey and also opened his account for the club in 4-1 drubbing of SC Cambuur in August.

At international level, he has represented England at U-16, U-17 and U-18 levels. He was named England Men’s Youth Player of the Year 2014 in January 2015. He also picked up the Young Player of the Year award on 25 March 2015 and was invited to train with the senior England squad. He plays primarily as a striker but can also play on both flanks and as an attacking midfielder. His versatility could be useful to Sunday Oliseh and his new look Super Eagles.

10. Nathan Oduwa

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Oduwa is an England U-18 International, who plays as a winger for Scottish team Glasgow Rangers, on season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur. He has been at White Hart Lane since the age of eleven (11), rising through the ranks to sign his professional contract in July 2012 following his 16th birthday.

He is the least known player on the list but following his scintillating displays for Rangers this season, it is just a matter of time before the 19-year-old grabs media attention. He is still a raw talent but has enormous potential and it would be good to keep an eye on him.

Over-expectation, a recipe for disaster

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It is quite astonishing how sports are linked to our every day lives https://arturozinga.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/footballs-life-lessons-part-1/ https://arturozinga.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/footballs-life-lessons-part-2/ This past weekend, the best TV series, the English Premier League (EPL) returned to our TV screens for the 24th season. Prior to its premiere, there was a lot of fanfare worldwide. Every fan predicted how the season premiere would shape up.

Chelsea fans, brimming with confidence, were so keen for their team to kickstart the defence of their EPL crown whilst Arsenal fans, based on their team’s recent acquisition of World class goalkeeper Petr Cech and pre-season heroics, believe this season will finally be theirs. As a result, some predicted a 6-0 trashing for their teams against their first opponents Swansea City and West Ham United respectively. However, their expectations weren’t met and their teams were surprised by these less fancied teams.

Just like these football fans, how often do we over-expect and put so much emphasis on positivity? When do we come to know that we are expecting something impossible?

It is natural for one to have expectations; expectations play a huge role in our lives. We all have personal goals and visions; how our lives should be in 10-20 years from now, how our personal relationships should be, how our favourite sports team should play or how we should be rewarded for our efforts and thence expectations are synonymous with the word should.

In all honesty, when there’s love, there will be expectations. Whether it is love between a child and the parents, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or a fan and his/her favourite celebrity/sports club, there will always be expectations in any kind of love. In other words, we depend and expect so much from the others. Robert Greene wrote in his book, The 50th Law, “Dependency is a habit that is so easy to acquire…It is hard to resist. But once you give in, it is like a prison you enter that you cannot ever leave.”

Expectations have a huge effect on our emotions; they can make you happy as well as rob your happiness. We set the tone for disaster when we over-expect thereby creating toxic relationships and consequently, expectations kill love. Over-expectation is hard to define but it creates a perfect recipe for disaster.

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Everyone in the world is governed by self-interest. We expect people to follow our own rules and principles, and share our values, dreams and experiences. We tend to expect more from others in comparison to what we actually have to offer. There is a wide gap between our expectations and supply but many love to disregard this fact and focus on getting the best. For example, everyone has a list of features s/he expects his/her dream partner to possess but just a few actually work on themselves to be that perfect somebody we all desire.

Nonetheless, it is a fact that one cannot run away from expectations but it is important to set these expectations around reality. The reality of life is that none of us came into this world with a crystal ball so twists and turns are a natural part of life.

Realists are not scared to embrace the hard truths (twists and turns) of life; they weigh both positive and negative sides of everything life throws at them. The best option for one is to embrace reality and lower his/her expectations.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

Finding Balance Fun and Focus

Ecclesiates 3:1 – To all things there is an appointed time, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Striking a balance between fun and focus can be a herculean task. Sometimes we prioritize work/school and focus solely on results/grades/achievements, forgetting the real world out there for us to explore and have fun. On the contrary, some give little attention to school/work because they believe their social life trumps every aspect of their lives.

Problems arise when one neglects other important areas of his/her life. You may lose friends and family if you preoccupy yourself with school/work but may also be taken less seriously if you largely focus on fun. These areas, if not balanced, will negatively influence your success and happiness. Balance between focus and fun is key to a happy successful life.

At a very young age, I was made to understand that a child educated only at school is an uneducated child. The advice I received still echo in my head – “As you pass through the school; try and allow the school to pass through you.”

Fun, including personal relationships, is essential to one’s general health, wellbeing and optimal functioning. The health of your focus/fun balance depends on the quality of your relationships.

If you have been opportune to be part of a Sports team, you’d notice every coach sets aside days for his team to socialise and bond together. In Ecclesiastes 9:7, King Solomon implored Christians to have a little fun, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Teachers also advice their students to take some time off and have fun to refresh their minds, lower their stress levels and renew their focus.

Emotions have a huge effect on an individual’s health – whether physical, mental or social health. Emotional wellbeing can affect your academic, professional and personal success.

It is important to set goals and be passionate about them but we need to balance all kinds of things in our lives. Before you can be the real you, you ought to have a balanced life. Finding a balance in everything that you do allows you to live a balanced life and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

Football’s Life Lessons II

16. Under rated people find life easy, they surprise everyone when they do well but over rated people are always under intense pressure and are often criticised for every wrong move they make. Google Freddy Adu.

17. Listening to renowned commentators like Martin Tyler can aid your vocabulary.

18. Karma is a bitch, just make sure that bitch is beautiful. Our past come back to haunt us one way or the other. Sunderland’s appointment of Paolo Di Canio as manager has caused an uproar because of his fascist salutes/political views in the past.

19. Drugs, alcohol and women can ruin you. Diego Maradona (drugs), Paul Gascoigne (alcohol) and George Best (alcohol & women) all ruined their careers.

20. Money can’t buy happiness. Robert Enke and Gary Speed committed suicide after succumbing to depression.

21. A leader is a person who leads by example and not words of mouth. Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard led by example in the 2005 UCL final against AC Milan, having started the game in midfield, he shifted to the right back position in the extra time of the match to send the game to penalties, which his team won.

22. Don’t be a quitter. Ronaldo de Lima suffered recurrent knee injuries in the early 2000s. Prior to the 2002 world cup, he didn’t a play part in Inter Milan’s season but went on to win the Golden boot and World Cup with Brazil that year. He also won the FIFA World footballer of the year award that same year.

23. Team work supersedes individualism. Chelsea won the 2012 Champions League not because they were the best team but because they worked hard as a team.

24. No knowledge is a waste. In 2012, 21-year old, Vugar Guloglan oglu Huseynzade was named as coach of Azerbaijani club, FC Baku based on his experience of playing the computer game, Football Manager. He beat former European footballer of the year, Jean-Pierre Papin to the job.

25. Hard work will always beat talent, if talent doesn’t work hard. Nani is more talented than Antonio Valencia but Valencia’s work ethic is impressive thus he’s kept Nani out of the team for most of the campaign.

26. Don’t underrate anybody, everybody has something to offer. Monaco & FC Porto surprised everybody when they beat G-14 clubs to reach the final of UCL in 2004.

27. Proper planning makes decision making process a lot easier. A strategic plan is usually developed for every opponent. This plan is developed after careful examination of their strengths and weaknesses. The experience gotten from this plan, whether successful or not would be useful in subsequent matches.

28. Be flexible to change. Sir Alex Ferguson is an epitome of flexibility to change; he’s gone from 4-4-2 that won him the treble in 1999 to 4-5-1 in 2001 to 4-3-3 in 2008 to 4-2-3-1 in 2013. This has helped him wrestle the EPL title from the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Mancini and Arsene Wenger.

29. Always have a substitute or back plan. I’m yet to see a season Sir Alex Ferguson has played without four recognised strikers in his squad. When one or two strikers aren’t performing at an optimal level, the others are thrown into the game.

30. Everybody remembers the winner, nobody remembers the person in second position. When a goal is scored, nobody remembers the player with the killer pass but the scorer.