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Okagbare disqualified as Nigeria close in on football gold medals

By Christian Okpara
27 August 2019   |   4:09 am
Nigeria's dream of reasserting their dominance on the African tracks took a hit yesterday when Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor was disqualified in the 100 metres women event. Okagbare was disqualified in heat 1 of women’s 100m semifinal for a false start.

Second placed Egypt’s Rewan Refaei, winner Morocco’s Safia Salih, third placed Ivory Coast’s Koumba Nanah Helene Ibo and Nigeria’s Viviane Chinwe Ndu pose on the podium after competing in the Taekwondo women’s 57 kg – 62 kg finals event during the 12th edition of the “African Games” on August 23 , 2019 in Rabat. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

Nigeria’s dream of reasserting their dominance on the African tracks took a hit yesterday when Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor was disqualified in the 100 metres women event.

Okagbare was disqualified in heat 1 of women’s 100m semifinal for a false start.

But Joy Udo-Gabriel made it to the final winning her heat with a time of 11.47s.

Team Nigeria is in the sixth position in the medals table with five gold five silver and eight bronze medals. The team won an additional gold medal yesterday.

In the weightlifting event, Adenike Olarinoye edged beat her compatriot, Chika Amalaha in women’s 55kg to win the gold with a lift of 209kg. Amalaha got Silver lifting 208kg.

Grace Anigbata won the women’s triple jump with the mark of 13.75m, while in the men’s discus event, Dotun Ogundeji clinched the silver medal with his last throw.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s U20 girls, Falconets will be battling for the gold medal of the women’s football tournament, after a commanding 3-0 defeat of their Algerian counterparts in Rabat yesterday.

Cynthia Aku put daylight between Nigeria and Algeria with two goals in the first 25 minutes, scoring the first in the 16th minute of play.

Zainab Olapade made sure of a miserable afternoon for the North Africans with a third on the dot of the referee’s final whistle.

The Falconets will now play the winner of the second semi-final between host nation Morocco and Cameroon for the gold medal.

Nigeria’s U20 boys, Flying Eagles will today take on their Malian counterparts in the semi-finals of the men’s tournament.

The Flying Eagles drew with Burkina Faso (1-1) and Morocco (2-2) and defeated South Africa (2-1) to reach the last four at this tournament.

To the seven-time African champions, the Malians are kind of familiar customers, after both teams also clashed in the semi-finals of this year’s Africa U20 Cup of Nations in the Niger Republic. The encounter ended 1-1 in regulation and extra time but the Malians triumphed after a penalty shoot-out.

Team Nigeria has, meanwhile, halted Egypt’s dominance in the table tennis event as they joined Algeria in taking gold medals in the women and men doubles event respectively.

The rivalry between Nigeria and Egypt came to fore in the semifinal of the women’s doubles at the 12th African Games with the West African team halting the dominance of their North African counterpart.

Having ruled the team and mixed doubles events, the Egyptians were stopped from making a clean sweep of gold medal in the doubles event after they were beaten in the semifinal of the women’s doubles by Nigeria.

Nigerian pair of Edem Offiong and Cecilia Akpan were the ones that stopped Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Yousra Helmy from berthing in the final with a 3-2 (12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 11-8) win to set up Nigerian affairs in the final.

A comeback from Olufunke Oshonaike and Fatimo Bello against Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi and Katia Kessaci in the second semifinal was all Nigeria needed to make it to the final.

Oshonaike and Bello had to recover from 1-7 in the fourth game as they were down 2-1 (9-11, 11-8, 6-11) in major, but they held their breath to win 10 points and ended the match 11-9 to put the match at par. In the deciding match, the Nigerian ladies led from the start to finish to end the final match at 11-5 to set up Nigerian affairs in the final.

In the final involving the duo of Offiong and Akpan against the pair of Oshonaike and Bello, it was Offiong and Akpan that claimed the title they surrendered to Egypt in 2015 with a 3-2 (11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 2-11, 13-11).

In the men’s doubles final involving Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali and Ahmed Saleh against Algeria’s Sami Kherouf and Sofiane Boudjadja, it was the Algeria that made history to win their first-ever gold medal at the African Games.

To humble, the Egyptians in the final, Kherouf and Boudjadja defeated Saleh and El-Beiali 3-2 (11-13, 7-11, 11-2, 6-11, 8-11) to win the first event gold medal at the African Games.

An elated Kherouf said: “ It was an unbelievable thing to happen in Algeria because we have never won gold medal in table tennis of the African Games. It was a good feeling and pleasure for us to become the first set of players to achieve this feat.”
For Sofiane Boudjadja, the victory would surely raise the profile.

“I am so excited especially having been out of the game for over a year and this competition is my return to sport. I am so happy that we are achieving this feat for our country and this means more money for the sport in Algeria and many kids would be inspired to play the game. I am so happy and I believe the whole country will celebrate this feat at home,” he added.