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What will record signing bring to Forest?

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Nottingham Forest Saturday signed Nigeria forward Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin for a club record fee. The 24-year-old joined newly promoted Forest on a five-year deal for a reported £17m.

Awoniyi scored 20 goals in 43 games across all competitions last season and becomes Forest’s first signing since gaining promotion back to the Premier League.

“It’s always been my dream to play in the Premier League,” said Awoniyi.

“Having spoken to (Forest boss) Steve Cooper about our ambitions and looking at Forest, with its great history, it’s a club that I want to be part of.”

After a season-long loan, Awoniyi joined Union Berlin on a permanent deal in July 2021 from Liverpool, where he started his career.

He did not make any first team appearances for Liverpool after signing for the club in 2015 and spent the majority of his six years with the Merseyside side out on loan.

Forest manager Cooper said Awoniyi was a player the club had been monitoring closely over the past few months.

“There’s been a lot of interest of Taiwo from other Premier League clubs, and other clubs across Europe, so we’re delighted he’s chosen Nottingham Forest,” Cooper said.

“He’s a player who we really believe in and we look forward to him going on to fulfil his potential and become a top Premier League striker with Nottingham Forest.”

But what will Awoniyi bring to Forest and what will his return to the Premier League look like?

Awoniyi the poacher

The Nigerian striker formed a potent partnership with two players for Union Berlin last season. Before last Christmas, it was Max Kruse who blossomed best alongside Awoniyi in a front-two, and then in the business end of the season, it was Sheraldo Becker who thrived alongside the Nigerian.

Both of these forwards complemented Awoniyi’s profile well and took the greater responsibility in possession. Meanwhile, Awoniyi was left with one task – to put the ball in the back of the net, which he did 20 times for Union last season.

According to Infogol’s xG data, Awoniyi’s quality of chances throughout the Bundesliga season amounted to 14.31 xG, which shows he finished his chances at an expected rate.

The impressive figure is the consistency with which he was getting on the end of good scoring chances, with his xG per 95 minutes standing at 0.61.

Space creation

Outside of his goal-scoring talents, Awoniyi brings other valuable assets to his team.

While he isn’t the tallest of strikers, standing at 5”10’, Awoniyi’s ability to win aerial duels is an incredibly useful asset when playing long and direct football to exploit any weaknesses in the opposition backline.

He is physically strong and is able to keep most centre backs occupied with his back to goal, which then creates space for runners off the ball to get into. He is also comfortable receiving long-passes and either bringing the ball down to keep possession or knock it on to a on-rushing team-mate of his.

The 24-year-old is especially effective in transition on the counter-attack and whilst he is not pacey, he is a deceptively quick runner in transition and is able to lose defenders with his physique who might try to steal the ball off of him.

Control his weakness

Where Awoniyi’s weaknesses lie is his limited ability in possession of the ball at his feet, he has never been required to be creative on the ball at Union, however, there are occasions where some of the team’s counter-attacks can break down because Awoniyi failed to find the all-important final pass to one of his team-mates.

His limited ability in possession needs to be compensated by surrounding him with players who can create and take advantage of the space he creates for them.

Will he thrive in EPL?

Historically speaking, transfers from the Bundesliga have been a mixed bag and in more recent seasons, the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Jadon Sancho have shown signs of promise but are yet to deliver at the same level they did for their former employers.

With Awoniyi, given the type of player he is and the style of football he has played at Union Berlin, there should be enough cause for optimism given that Forest will head into the 22/23 season as underdogs much like Union have been ever since they got promoted to the Bundesliga back in the 19/20 season.

Reaching the double figures mark in terms of goals will constitute a somewhat successful first season for Awoniyi.

What they are saying

European football journalist Andy Brassell believes Awoniyi will be “terrific” for Forest in an interview with  Sky Sports News.

“I think it is a statement of intent. Awoniyi has been terrific for Union Berlin in the last couple of seasons and particularly last season.

“He’s their top goalscorer of all time in the topflight. You look at his strength and the variety of goals he scores, and he was the man who made sure they qualified for the Europa League at the end of the season.

“He’s someone who can create his own shot and pick up the pieces. What really impressed me about him is his really creative strike partner did a lot for him – Max Kruse. He moved on and went back to Wolfsburg in January, and Awoniyi took centre stage and is happy to really take responsibility for the attack.

“I think he’ll be absolutely terrific for Nottingham Forest.”

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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