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Ex-internationals Mourn Late Nigerian Goalkeeper, Joe Erico

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Nigeria’s ex-internationals on Thursday mourned the demise of Joe Erico, a former Green Eagles goalkeeper, describing him as a mentor who lived a life worthy of emulation by up and coming starlets.

The 72-year-old former NEPA FC of Lagos FC goalkeeper died January 20 after a brief illness.

Wahidi Akanni, a former NEPA FC player, described the late coach as a perfect gentleman on and off the pitch.

“Erico was one of the most patient and respectable coaches. Whenever there is an issue, just talk to him and he will sort you out. His death is a big loss to Nigeria.

“He lived for football, and he was always ready to impact knowledge. It is sad that he is no longer with us. Young players have a lot to learn from him.’’ Akanni said.

Sharing the same view, Dosu Joseph, a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, described Erico as a brilliant coach who mentored him as a young player.

“He trained me. He mentored me. Erico made me who I am today, plus the grace of God. It is sad that he is gone. We usually don’t want our loved ones to die.

“My sympathies to his family. Times like this can be trying and we can only pray for strength. I hope we get remembered before we die, because Nigeria does not honour its heroes while they are alive.

“That is why that act of heroism is reducing. If it’s not beneficial, nobody is willing to give it a 100 percent chance. That’s why young players are mindful about what they can achieve while they are active,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Emmanuel Babayaro, a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, described Erico’s demise as a huge loss to the Nigeria football family.

“I was with him around November 2020, he was an all-rounder. When it comes to football and human management, he was particular about ensuring that things went smoothly.

“I can attest to the fact that he was a good man. Football was his life, and he gave his best, I pray young starts will be as humble and kind as Joe was.

“I pray for his children and wife, that God will keep them and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss. But we should always check on our patriots. We still have a lot to learn from them.

“We still have some of them living and we should take advantage of their knowledge. Let’s engage them and tap from their experience. These are the likes of Christian Chukwu, Adegboye Onigbinde, they still have a lot to give.

“These are men that played selflessly for their fatherland. Experience, they say, can’t be bought. Erico is gone with his knowledge. We should take maximum advantage of those that are still here,’’ he said.

President-General of Nigerian Football and other Sports Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, said he was saddened by the death of Joe Erico, a former national team goalkeeper and assistant coach.

Ladipo said that the late Erico, popularly known as ‘Jogo Bonito Exponent’ was an icon who gave his best to Nigerian football as a player, goalkeeper and trainer.

“It’s sad to hear that Joe Erico is dead; sincerely, the news of his death has left me in a sorrowful mood. He was an icon whose love for Nigeria football cannot be overemphasised.

“He gave his best and active part of his life to football as a player, goalkeeper, trainer and coach both at the local FC and national team.

“Erico was an amiable person, very jovial, friendly, gifted in soccer and passionate about the success of our soccer. The football family, we his friends, his family and the nation will miss him,” Ladipo said.

Ladipo noted that Joe Erico, Stephen Keshi and Shuaibu Amodu were the three coaches that took the national team to Mali 2002, and unfortunately have all died.

According to him, the late goalkeeper and trainer introduced a style of play in his days on the pitch, which stood him out, and made significant contributions to football career of known players.

“He did a lot for us, most of our national players like Sunday Oliseh, Dosu Joseph, Samson Siasia, Emmanuel Amunike, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Mutiu Adepoju and others, who later became professionals, passed through him,” Ladipo said.

He prayed for Erico’s soul to rest in peace and for God to grant his family fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss, while extended his heartfelt condolences to the wife and children.

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West Africa Sports News

Tributes as 21-year-old Ivorian Player, Willy Ta Bi, Dies of Liver Cancer

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Italian club, Atalanta, and the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) are mourning the demise of 21-year-old midfielder, Willy Braciano Ta Bi, who died after a long battle against liver cancer.

Willy Ta Bi, who joined Atalanta from Ivory Coast’s Asec Mimosa in 2019 and immediately helped the team win the Italian youth title, the Primavera, died in his homeland on Tuesday.

In a statement on their website, Atalanta said: “President Antonio Precassi and the whole Atalanta family are deeply saddened by the untimely death of Willy Braciano Ta Bi.

“A cruel destiny interrupted a dream that began with the Nerazzurri shirt in January 2019 too soon.

“He only needed a few months to carve out a leading role in the Primavera and help bring the Scudetto back to Bergamo, but above all to leave a great memory.”

Former Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, also paid tribute to Ta Bi on social media.

“Ivory Coast, the football world are mourning you, you fought against this damn disease as you fought on the pitches like a real boss, a leader!!!!,” he wrote.

Juventus midfielder Dejan Kulusevski, who was also part of that youth team at Atalanta, also paid tribute to his ex-teammate on Instagram: “Rest in peace, brother”.

18-year-old Manchester United’s new Ivory Coast-born winger, Amad Diallo, who joined the Old Trafford side from Atalanta, posted a picture of them embracing on Instagram and wrote: “Now sleep in peace, friend.”

Ta Bi captained the Ivory Coast at youth level and represented his country at the Francophone Games in 2017, with Drogba posting a video of a passionate team talk given by the youngster.

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Exclusive: Why New Players Struggle In The Super Eagles – Rohr

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Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr has said getting a grip of the competition in the Nigerian national team prevents many new players from impressing when they join the team.

In an interview with News Central TV’s Tolu Shotade, the Franco-German spoke on a number of issues, ranging from his snub of the players in the NPFL to the chances of an African team winning the World Cup.

On why he hardly gives players opportunities when he invites them, Rohr said the players meet a group on the ground and many of these old players know one another and have formed a good bond.

He said this makes it more difficult for newbies to make an entrance into the team. He however cited some new players that have been given a chance in the Super Eagles, like TSG Hoffenheim German-born Super Eagles defender, Kevin Akpoguma.

On local league players, he said there are many factors plaguing their growth, remarking that the standard of the league is not as high as what’s obtainable in Europe.

“The stadiums in Europe are better and many African teams, especially West African teams don’t have this kind of pitches. Although, North African countries like Morocco have good stadiums, ” he said.

He said it will take a miracle for an African nation to win the World Cup because African players are not playing in big European teams. He cited the example of France having four players in Bayern Munich as a sign of what it takes to win the World Cup.

Rohr said there may be new faces in the Super Eagles as he mentioned Union Berlin attacker, Taiwo and Awoniyi Almeria’s Sadiq Umar as likely call ups to the team as Nigeria prepares for its two final qualifiers.

He said the team will do its best to make it to the next Africa Cup of Nations as he admitted that anything short of a final place finish will mean regression.

Rohr posited that Nigeria has a lot of strikers including Awoniyi, Umar, Onuachu, but said the former has struggled to find his feet in the Super Eagles.

Rohr, in the interview also weighed in on the protection of his players as he cited Victor Osimhen’s case with Napoli as one of such situations he needs to stand behind the player and make them feel better.

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Crisis Breaks As Fans Protest Resignations At Hearts Of Oak

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Accra Hearts of Oak have completed a total overhaul of their technical set up with the sacking of the team manager Saban Quaye. The long serving manager who has been at the club for more than a decade was the only technical member of the team remaining following the resignation of the technical group led by the then head coach Kosta Papic.

Quaye was given a directive to step aside just after completing the day’s training with the club set to name a new technical team.

The Former Black Stars Team Manager mentioned the club’s Executive Chairman, Togbe Afede as one of the figures whose activities forced coach Kosta Papic to resign. Crisis broke at the club as angry supporters of the Ghanaian giants stormed the club’s headquarters before warning the bungling Togbe Afede board not to appoint a foreign coach in the wake of mass resignations at the struggling side.

The official supporters’ body of the club, clad in red to demonstrate their anger over the disastrous decisions by the board stopped workers at the club from performing their duties before addressing the media.

The press briefing led by the Supporters Chief Elvis Herman Hesse was one where certain demands were made by the supporters.

“The NCC demands the immediate appointment of a first-team coach”.

“This should be done in consultation with all the stakeholders. We have realized that the expatriate coaches have not helped the clubs for the past decade.

“We will not hesitate to take action when an expatriate coach is appointed. The NCC wants to be involved in who becomes the next Chief Executive Officer and a local coach”.

The current technical team of the club has been depleted following the exit of the deputy coach Asare Bediako, Equipment Officer Alhassan and goal keeper’s trainer Ben Owu.

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