The year 2016 is gradually grinding to a halt and so much has happened in the world of sports. Some of them have left us in reveling, flummoxed, asking rhetorical questions in bewilderment, others have made us mourned.
In no order, the following are the few sporting news that caught my attention and in my own opinion are major highlights of the year.
Leicester Fairy Tale of winning the EPL
First on my list is Leicester City of England winning the English Premier League (EPL). It came like the fairy tale story. Out of the blues, this relegation prone team became the Champions of EPL, displacing the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham , Liverpool and worst of all Chelsea was not in the reckoning. This is the major sporting highlight for me.
Rangers breaking a 32 years jinx
I cannot talk about Leicester winning the league without mentioning how my darling Enugu Rangers won the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) after 32 years in the wilderness. The last time the flying antelopes won the league was in 1984, same year the current President was the Military Head of State.
Nigeria’s woeful outing at the Olympics
At the Rio Olympics, Nigeria surprisingly or unsurprisingly performed woefully and was only able to notch a bronze medal for all its efforts. But the Paralympians were able to remedy the situation when it became their turn. They accumulated a total of 12-medals.
Usain Bolt triple triple –three and Brazil breaking the Jinx
Still at the Olympics, Usain Bolt bowed out of the Olympics participation with a scintillating record of ‘triple-triple’ three He has won gold in the 100m, 200m in three consecutive Olympics. A rare feat by any athlete in the track and field. He is sure now in the realm of the greatest sportsmen like Muhammad Ali and Pele where He has always wished to belong to. While Brazil’s football team were able to break the jinx of many years when it won the gold medal for football at the Rio Olympics.
Exodus of World Best Coaches to the EPL
The signing of world best managers to the EPL is another highlight worthy of mention. Antonio Conte, Joseph ‘Pep’ Guardiola and his arch rival Jose Mourinho joined other great coaches like Arsene Wenger, Mauricio Pochettino, and Liverpool’s manager, Jurgen Klopp in the EPL. The result of the conglomeration of these coaches is what is being experienced in EPL. Antonio Conte seems to be the Man of the moment for now.
Djokovic denied winning three Grand Slam
Stan Wawrinka continued being a pain to the neck of Novak Djokovic. He denied Djokovic desire to win three grand slam victories in successful years that is from 2015 to 2016.
Continued Show of Shame by Sports Ministry
The Minister of Sports continued his show of shame in administering sports in the country. From the abandonment of the Dream Team in Atlanta where they camped prior to the Olympics, to the reckless manner he handled the Falcons protest for payments of their allowances after winning graciously the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Cameroon. He lousily remarked they never expected the Falcons to achieve that feat in Cameroon. A flimsy reason why their money was not available for payment.
Super Eagles Fail to qualify for the AFCON for the umpteenth time
Shamefully, super eagles did not qualify for the next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) being hosted by Gabon. This is the after we failed to defend the previous one after winning that of 2013 that was hosted by South Africa.
Demise of Sportsmen
Sadly the demise of Stephen Keshi and Amodu Shaubu would go down as two deaths that shook Nigeria and even Africa football to its foundation. They came as a rude shock. These are shinny lights of our football and they left when their experience and wealth of knowledge would have been needed for application to our football. Also the brutal murder of late Shooting Stars player Izu Joseph is one death too many that is yet to be unraveled. The soldiers that killed the player are yet to be investigated. This is an injustice that is being swept under the carpet.
Boxing legend, the ‘Greatest’, Muhammad Ali died this year too. After many years of suffering from Parkinson disease, the ex pugilist gave up the ghost and was buried amidst pomp and pageantry.
Hitting the home stretch, lets not end this with just death news.
Finally, for once, the eggheads at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) employed the services of a white tactician, Genot Rohr. He has been able to steady the ship of the super eagles, and this has bettered our ranking in world football and on the field of play too.
Good-bye to 2016. We hope for better pluses in the world of sports for the country and world over too in this forthcoming New Year 2017. Hope to see you there God willing.
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