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Nigeria’s Taiwo Awoniyi’s Coming of Age

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With an adorable smile and a shy look, Taiwo Awoniyi’s personality is everything opposite his style of play. Bullish, strong and relentless; he’s a happy nuisance for defenders on his own day.

Off the pitch, he’s as restful and calm as untroubled waters. On it, he’s effervescent and stoic with a pleasant orneriness. Awoniyi has come some way in football, but until recently, he hadn’t come of age.

Out of the blues in 2015, the Reds called for his services. He previously described it as a miracle he still lives till now. Even though he’s yet to kick a ball in anger as a Liverpool player, he has relished every opportunity the name and size of the club has brought to him.

Awoniyi’s rise in football is worth its salt. He was never meant to be a part of the victorious 2013 U-17 Golden Eaglets team, but the good hands of fortune stamped a marker on him, and he didn’t only feature, he did enough to attract some of the biggest teams in the world.

It took two years before his prayers were answered, and when he thought it was time to rise, notorious and naughty niggles saw him play less football. He however had a very successful season at Mouscron, where he hit double digits in goals.

His lack of work permit ensured he didn’t play for Liverpool but the Reds have respected his contract and kept faith in him. Multiple loan moves have done little to convince Nigerian football handlers to extend an invitation to him.

A less than eventful stint at Mainz also did no good to help his ambition but if there’s anything that keeps Awoniyi up, it’s his solid faith and unshakable determination.

“I’ve never been the best in what I do, but I’ve always trusted God. I find it difficult to get sad. My belief in God keeps me going. I always tell myself that when you can’t stand high, fall on your knees,” he told Oma Akatugba, a Germany-based Nigerian sports journalist.

Awoniyi has embarked on an intentional switch of times ever since, changing agents and since having a family of his own, and such a turnaround he’s had in the past six months.

His final days at Mainz came with rare opportunities, and also, a life-threatening experience. He was rushed to the hospital after collapsing in an aerial collision. He recovered quickly enough and again said, that was God behind him.

“A pitch I went into having prayed to God that I should score and all of a sudden I woke up in the hospital. How can you define that? If not for God (it’s unbelievable, it’s indescribable).

“The people that were there, I must commend the referee, medical staff, they did a great job and I think even my teammates were not conscious of it, only the referee was aware, something must have pushed him to know that someone is on ground, and for me that’s God.”

Everything has turned around for Awoniyi and in his last 7 Bundesliga games, he has scored five and assisted two; seven goal contributions in seven games. He plays with the same joy and passion at Union Berlin but he’s showing the qualities Liverpool saw in him more than five years ago.

On Saturday, he continued his strong run at the capital club as he scored in a 2-0 defeat of Werder Bremen. Things are falling in place for the attacker and he looks to have finally come of age.

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Oil Spill Reported at Chevron Nigeria’s Facility in Bayelsa

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An oil leak has reportedly been spotted from the Funiwa oilfield operated by Chevron Nigeria (CNL).

The leak was reported on Sunday by fishermen, operating on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean near Bayelsa State.

The fishermen, from Koluama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, raised the alarm in a chat with newsmen on Sunday in Yenagoa.

The fishermen, who operate on shallow waters near the ocean, said they noticed that crude was on the waters near the oil facility as helicopters were seen overflying the area.

Tombra Ebitimi, a fisherman from the coastal settlement, said that he observed the incident on Saturday night and subsequently reported the same to the community leadership.

He said that apart from helicopters sighted around the area possibly for assessment, meaningful response efforts had yet to begin.

“Some of us, who went on fishing, sailed into the oil-contaminated area near the Funiwa oilfield got our nets and fishing gear soaked with crude on Saturday.

But we noticed some helicopters hovering around the facility by today,’’ he said.

Ebitimi said it could be that community leaders have informed the company of the development, which made them deployed helicopters in the area.

He appealed to the company not to apply toxic chemicals from the sky to dissolve the crude oil, saying, “those chemicals are unfriendly to fishes and marine life generally’’.

He said that fishermen in the area had temporarily suspended fishing to avoid catching contaminated fishes that could jeopardise public health.

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Militia Kill 48, Injure 97 in Sudan

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No fewer than 48 people died in militia attacks on El-Geneina in West Dafur, Sudan.

A statement by Doctors Syndicate of West Darfur, on Sunday, said that 97 people were also injured, adding that the attacks began on Saturday.

The statement said that the medical personnel were making efforts to provide medical care to the wounded despite a shortage of supplies and nursing staff.

The Doctors Syndicate also appealed for armed transportation in order to transport medical personnel to government and private treatment institutions.

This recent attacks came weeks after UN peace-keepers began withdrawing from the region, where violence is increasing.

The Dafur Bar Association said the attacks were triggered when a member of the Masalit tribe stabbed a member of an Arab tribe.

“Armed militias took advantage of the incident and attacked El Geneina from all sides,” the association said, as well as the nearby Kreinding camp for internally displaced people, from where SUNA said there was now a wave of people moving towards the city.

The association accused the militias of looting and human rights abuses.

On Saturday, the governor of West Darfur declared a state of emergency, authorising the use of force in order to stabilise the situation and imposing a curfew.

While the military had begun to deploy, the bar association said the commander for the region had not responded to the state governor’s directives.

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Cameroon, Mali Earn Victories in CHAN Opener

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The host nation, Cameroon huffed and puffed before getting a beautiful lone goal against Zimbabwe in the opening match of the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

It took a Salomon Banga bicycle kick in the 72nd minute for the Cameroonians to break the deadlock against their stubborn opponents.

The hosts threw everything at a resolute Zimbabwean team, as they enjoyed 60% of possession and had 29 shots against Zimbabwe’s 2. However, the Zimbabweans appeared to be the more technically disciplined side with one of their two shots being on target while 5 of Cameroon’s 29 hit the target.

In another contest, Mali defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 courtesy of Djoliba AC defender, Siaka Bagayoko’s 70th minute winner.

The Malians have now tied on point with hosts Cameroon with a goal and 3 points apiece after one round of game.

Later on Sunday, Libya will face Niger while the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) will face the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa).

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