Hand of God? Match in Ghana postponed after church rents stadium

Football may be a religion, but it still takes a back seat to the real thing in Ghana.

Unknown-1A match scheduled for Wednesday (March 28) at Golden City Park in Berekum, Ghana, was postponed because the Church of Pentecost had already rented the facility. Turns out they’re holding a big Easter convention.

Berekum Chelsea FC was due to host the Elmina Sharks in a Ghana Premier League match. The Sharks had already driven eight hours by bus from Elmina north to Berekum.

Ghana Premier League officials have told local media that they don’t oversee the facilities. In other words, ‘don’t blame us.’

But this isn’t the first scheduling problem for the league, which last week changed dates for a match between Accra Hearts of Oak and Ashanti Gold. It was moved back one day to Saturday, March 24, which caused last-minute marketing problems.

Mark Noonan, the managing director of the Accra team, tweeted his displeasure: “With respect, I sincerely believe for club football in Ghana to progress we need to avoid these situations… we must do better for our dedicated players/supporters.”

The start of the season had already been delayed because of court disputes.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently said football in Nigeria is “more than” a religion.

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Nigerian journalist on quest to bring LeBron James to Africa

Nigerian journalist and TV presenter Oluwafemi Adefeso really wants LeBron James to come to South Africa this summer. Like, a lot.

2544Adefeso, a freelance reporter and analyst, recently went to the United States to cover the NBA. He’s been posting details of his NBA adventure on social media.

The NBA is holding its third ‘Africa Game’ on Aug. 4 in Johannesburg. Adefeso wants the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar to play in it.

“LeBron has to come to Africa,” Adefeso said in a video he posted on his Twitter account, @IncredibleFEMI. “Let’s make this happen. Let’s bring him to South Africa. Let’s bring him to Nigeria. There’s a lot of fan base out there and I’m sure the NBA will really want to cash in the number of people who love the NBA players and NBA stars.”

Adefeso wrote in a March 19 post dedicated to “African youth” that meeting James required years of planning and saving. He used his mobile phone to apply for a U.S. visa, bought an airline ticket, and left for the U.S.

He interviewed LeBron after a recent Cavs game and inquired about a trip to Africa. James did not commit to this summer, but sounded optimistic about going at some point.

James said: “I would love to. I don’t make the schedule. I would love to be a part of that. In the offseason, my schedule is ridiculous but I would definitely love to get to Africa at some point. I heard Johannesburg is amazing, South Africa is amazing, some of these parts of Africa are amazing, So, hopefully someday.”

Adefeso even enlisted the support of Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers. Oladipo’s mother is Nigerian and his father is from Sierra Leone.

Oladipo, in a short video posted by Adefeso, told LeBron: “They need you, bro. It would be great for the continent. Mother Africa would love to have you.”

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Irish priest held Nigerian marathon record for 46 years

Abraham Kiprotich of Kenya won the recent Lagos City Marathon with a time of 2:15:02, which is a new record.

Congrats. Now, here’s where it gets strange: The prior record holder was a Catholic priest from Ireland. Sean Healy won a marathon in the Nigerian city of Kaduna on Aug. 28, 1971. He was a missionary at the time.

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Sean Healy (Sligo Today)

According to the IAAF, Healy’s “all-comers” record time of 2:15:03 stood until Kiprotich broke it Feb. 10. The classification refers to a record in a country without regard to the runner’s nationality. Kiprotich’s record is with electronic “chip time,” as his “gun time” was 2:15:04.

Healy also won the Earth Day Marathon outside New York City on March 16, 1975, when he was a graduate student at Fordham University. As of 1999, Healy was still running marathons, according to this Irish Times feature, which highlighted his work on human rights initiatives in Ireland.

Healy is now director of Social Justice Ireland, a think tank based in Dublin.

As impressive as the record was, keep in mind that Nigeria went decades without holding a marathon. This was just the third Lagos City Marathon, though it has already earned the IAAF “bronze label.” Race organizers want Lagos to become an internationally acclaimed marathon.

Almenesh Herpha of Ethiopia won the women’s race in 2:38:23. Kiprotich is Kenyan but technically runs for France. He became a citizen after serving in the French Foreign Legion.

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Super Eagles fans seethe as Tammy Abraham chooses England over Nigeria

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Tammy Abraham in training. (Photo property of England Football Association)

Nigerians are venting their anger at Tammy Abraham for choosing England over Nigeria.

The 20-year-old Chelsea striker, on loan at Swansea City, made his senior debut Nov. 10 in a friendly against Germany. Abraham started and played 60 minutes in the scoreless draw.

Super Eagles fans got excited when Nigerian Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick, who is a longtime friend of Abraham’s Nigerian-born father, said in September that Abraham “has agreed to play for Nigeria.”

Abraham, who has four goals in 10 appearances for Swansea, immediately disputed Pinnick’s claim. Soon after, he was named to the squad for friendlies against Germany and Brazil (Nov. 14)

“I see myself as being a long-term England player. I’m 100 percent focused here,” Abraham said at his news conference after the promotion.

Nigerians have been venting their anger, saying England promoted Abraham only to block him from playing for Nigeria, and that Abraham is missing a chance at international glory. One angry fan tweeted: “Even my grandma knows you won’t play a single match for England at the World Cup.”

I agree that he should have chosen Nigeria because he would have a better chance of playing in the World Cup. But I also think it’s unfair to criticize a 20-year-old for making a tough decision.

Abraham was born and raised in England. Plus, don’t underestimate the disorganization factor. For one, there’s Pinnick’s seemingly premature claim that Abraham had switched allegiances. And the Super Eagles were stranded in Atlanta before the 2016 Rio Olympics after Nigerian officials botched flight plans. Schoolchildren don’t want to deal with these types of headaches, much less elite professionals.

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, 21, opted for Nigeria over England. His goal in a 1-0 win over Zambia on Oct. 7 sealed Nigeria’s qualification for the World Cup in Russia next summer. Iwobi was born in Lagos and his uncle his Nigerian football legend Jay-Jay Okocha.

To play for England in Russia, Abraham will have to compete with the likes of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Daniel Sturridge, and Jaimie Vardy.

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