Posted by News Express | 15 September 2013 | 5,511 times
Teams to the second edition of the Airtel Rising Stars Inter-country Championship being hosted by Nigeria have begun to arrive for the week-long continental soccer showdown which kicks off tomorrow (Sept. 16) at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos, with an opening ceremony to be graced by top sports personalities from across the continent.
First to land at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, was the contingent from Zambia, which arrived Friday aboard a South African Airways flight SA060 at 7:25 p.m. Nigerian time.
Their Ghanaian counterparts jetted into the country yesterday morning aboard an Arik flight W3072 at 10:05 a.m. Nigerian time. Republic of Congo flew into the country at 11:25 a.m. on Kenya Airways flight KQ532. Defending champion in the male category, Niger Republic, came in late afternoon.
More teams are expected to arrive in the country ahead of the Gala Night tournament organiser and sponsor, Airtel Networks, is putting together in honour of the teams and officials as well as the foreign media teams.
Team Port Harcourt from the South Region would represent Nigeria in both categories after it emerged victorious over other teams at the National Finals concluded a few weeks back. Joseph ‘Zico’ Egbu coaches them.
The biggest U-17 football event in the continent, the tournament shall witness fireworks at three designated venues: Agege Township Stadium, Agege, Onikan Stadium, and the Legacy Pitch, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
The opening and closing ceremonies as well as the final matches for both categories would take place at Agege Township Stadium, Agege, while other group matches would feature at the other centres.
Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Bolaji Abdullahi and his counterpart in the Women Affairs Ministry, Hajia Zainab Maina, will lead the Federal Government delegation to declare the competition open. Other international diplomats are expected to grace the event.
Also expected is Arsenal legend and former France international, Robert Emmanuel Pires, who is also part of the Club’s technical and business staff to the ARS African Championship. Pires, according to the organisers, is expected to enliven the atmosphere at the finals and stand as an inspiration to the youngsters vying for laurels in the final games.
News Express has put in place arrangements for the effective coverage of the tournament, which is a unique pan-African initiative of Airtel Africa designed to create a pool of talents to feed the national football teams of African countries.
•Photo shows ARS (Airtel Rising Stars) Republic of Congo Male Team upon arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos . . . yesterday morning.
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