Football: Nigeria want Ekoku for World Cup warm-up

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The Independent Online
EFAN EKOKU, of Norwich City, and Chris Armstrong, of Crystal Palace, were yesterday called up for the first time by Nigeria, writes Trevor Haylett. Both players are in a 22-man squad for the African Nations Cup tournament - viewed as a World Cup warm-up by Nigeria - in Tunis from 25 March to 10 April.

Ekoku is keen to join the squad and Norwich are happy to help him, but they will discuss the situation with the Nigeria Football Association to try to agree a shorter release period for their striker.

The Norwich chairman, Robert Chase, said: 'Efan is fully fit and would not need to be away for the full six weeks - but it is a wonderful opportunity for him.'

Chase's counterpart at Leeds, Leslie Silver, wants to enforce life bans on the fans who shamed the club by disrupting a minute's silence for Sir Matt Busby at Blackburn on Sunday.

'We hope some of those responsible will be identified in time to prevent them from attending (Saturday's sell-out) cup tie at Oxford,' Silver said. 'We think there were about 25 to 50 ringleaders who we hope to identify and we are sure that they can be kept out of our matches at home and away.'

Terry Cooper, the former Leeds and England full-back who lost his job as manager of Birmingham City in the autumn, is expected to return to Exeter City later this week for a second spell as manager, following Alan Ball's move from the Devon club to Southampton. Cooper took Exeter to the Fourth Division title in 1990.

Barry Fry, Cooper's successor at Birmingham, is keen to enter the transfer market again, with Wimbledon's Andy Clarke - who played for him at Barnet - the target. The Dons are asking pounds 750,000 for the 26-year-old forward. 'If we got Andy to St Andrews he would set the place alight,' Fry said. He has also inquired about the Bristol Rovers striker, John Taylor.

Bobby Robson, the former England manager, is the favourite to replace Tomislav Ivic, who resigned yesterday as the coach of Porto, the Portuguese champions.

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