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Top Guns reign supreme at handball championship

Referees El Mouniri Achraf and Chouraki Mohammed from Morrocco are among the foreign referees who boosted the officiating of the games.

The first phase of the 2022 edition of the Prudent Energy Premier Handball League is into Day-4 today with some mouthwatering games already decided.

The tournament sponsorship which is now in its 5th and final year will however go into history as the best to be organised by the Samuel Ocheho led-Board of the Nigeria Handball Federation.

In matches played yesterday: Defending women’s champions, FRSC Safety Babes of Abuja saw-off promoted Benue Queens of Makurdi 34-21 at the velodrome; while promoted Rima Queens of Sokoto won their second match in a row after a hard-fought 16-15 victory over Plateau Peacocks.

New look Defender Babes with some new signings also had it their way when claiming the scalp of Imo Grasshoppers with a 35-30 victory over the former African Champions.

Bendel Dynamos got their first win of the league by defeating Seasider Babes of Lagos 22-19, while Adorable Angels of Kwara were awarded 10-0 for walking over Kada Queens of Kaduna.

It was the second straight walkover suffered by Kada Queens, who on Day 1 paid a 10-0 penalty for not making it to the venue to play NSCDC Defender Babes of Abuja.

In the men’s league, Cup holders Kano Pillars humiliated promoted Owena Kings of Ondo with an emphatic 34-18 victory while Confluence Stars shone like a million stars in a dominant 35-25 victory over De NSCDC Defenders of Abuja.

Former Champion, Niger United of Minna were also among the winners, after thrashing Benue Buffaloes 33-25; while Tojemarine of Lagos comfortably defeated Police Machine 29-22.

Meanwhile, Seasider Boys of Lagos had to really dig deep to earn a 31-30 victory over Rima Strikers of Sokoto while FRSC Safety Shooters walked over Kada Stars of Kaduna to earn a 10-0 victory.

There are noticeable improvements in the officiating, thanks to the pre-tournament Seminar held for the arbiters, delegates and coaches prior to the commencement of the leagues.

Remarkably, the officiating this time has vastly improved and that’s apparently down to the involvement of two sets of Confederation of African Handball badged Referees – one each from Morocco (El Mouniri Achraf and Chouraki Mohammed) men; and the Gabonese pair of Aisha Oduo and Olga Namadjia, women.

Reporting by Chinedum Ohanusi; editing by Muzha Kucha