- Published on Sunday, 16 April 2017 22:15
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By Tobi Samuel
If you plan to climb a mountain, it is always best to set out early. That certainly applies to young footballers at the ongoing NPFL Under-15 Promises tournament who are anxious to reach the heights of the game. The NPFL Under-15 Promises tournament was launched to help the NPFL teams nurture talents from the youth level.
Matches in Group C at the Osogbo City Stadium were concluded on Friday, the centre produced amazing performances from the players. Ten matches witnessed 20 goals scored among the players as Shooting Stars and ABS FC advanced to the quarter-final stages.
Npfl.ng highlights the top stars in Group C of the tournament.
OLUBODE HASSAN (Shooting Stars)
Hassan scored the first hat-trick of the maiden edition of the NPFL U15 Promises against Remo Stars on Matchday 1, the Shooting Stars striker ended the tournament with five goals from four matches, emerging as the top scorer from Osogbo centre.
Hassan who is a student of Alawo Community Grammar Schoo, Ibadan shine as a goal poacher. He became a big threat to defenders in tournament and he was terrific in the attack. Hasssan emerged as one of the outstanding players in the 2014 NNPC/SHELL Cup competition.
"The experience is amazing for me, I am privilege to finish as the top scorer. I am happy we reach the next round, we can now focus on more. I will be glad to play for 3SC and in Europe in the future. My parents have encourage my passion and I got their support to take football as a profession. I have been able to combine football and education, my school have a program for the students to take part in various sports and I also train at weekends. My parents got excited with this competition because of the exposure, I was on phone with my mother and she told me all radio stations in Ibadan were reporting the competition and my name was mention several times," said Hassan to Npfl.ng.
OLUSEGUN OLAKUNLE (ABS FC)
Olusegun Olakunle is a student of Oyelade Secondary School, Ilorin. The young chap was named the captain of ABS FC and he inspired the Saraki Boys to victory. He scored an emphatic brace against Sunshine, beautiful two goals in the game. His first was a long range shoot from 30 yards before he converted a 25 yards free-kick. Apart from his goals he was a delight to watch.
Olakunle's strength undoubtedly lies in his willingness to run with the ball, making him equally accomplished as a right winger or an out-and-out forward. His pace was another key asset.
He spoke about his parents support to npfl.ng: "The competition is an opportunity for us to develop our game, the experience is something that will nurture us. I am looking forward to play for ABS and also Chelsea because Victor Moses is my role model. My parents have been supportive, after school they encourage me with transport fares to the stadium to train. They got excited about the tournament and glad to see me captain the team."
LAWAL SULAIMON (MFM FC)
MFM FC captain, Lawal Sulaimon was arguably the smallest player in physique in Osogbo. He became the most popular player with his superb performance and toast of the fans as he got applauded at every minute of action. Sulaimon is currently in Senior Secondary School (SSS) 2 at Anwar-Ul-Islam Model College Agege.
He caught the attention of the spectators when he came on as a late substitute against ABS FC on Matchday 1, his amazing performance and beautiful final passes almost gave MFM a late equalizer. He went on to start all the remaining three matches and captain the Lagos side. He scored one and assisted the second against Sunshine Stars.
A midfielder with an eye for a creative pass and a dead-ball specialist showed signs of potential and one for the future. Sulaimon started playing football at age eight and he featured in the COD United Omode League few years ago in Lagos.
"I grew up in Agege and you can understand Agege is the hub of football in Lagos. My parents noticed my passion and talent for football and since then they have motivated me. My height would never be a problem but my skills should speak for me. I never felt any pressure to captain the team, we have built a bond as a team and the team trust my leadership quality. This competition means a lot to us, it is the first time most of us are leaving our base to play a football tournament," Sulaimon told npfl.ng.
AWOTOYE DAYO (Remo Stars)
Dayo finished as Remo Stars top scorer with two goals in the tournament. He had an outstanding tournament and the young striker made life difficult for opposition defenders.
Whilst not the tallest striker, Dayo is good in the air and with the ball at his feet and already has an excellent technique. A cool finisher and undoubtedly possesses all necessary attributes to become a top class forward in the future.
Dayo, a student of Ikenne Community High School, Ogun state said to npfl.ng that his parents were jittery at first when they heard about the tournament.
"This is my first time I am travelling out of Ogun state to play football. When my parents heard about the tournament they were jittery to leave me to play football far away from home. They later understood the gains and the possibility to improve my game. It is a great opportunity to represent Remo Stars, the future is what I am hopeful for," he said.
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