The Super Eagles of Nigeria has given “football fans unforgettable memories” at the World Cup, says Federation of International Football Association ( FIFA ).

The three-time African Champions will be making their sixth appearance at the World Cup later this year in Russia and FIFA has paid tribute to Nigeria and some of her ex players who had lit up the World Cup in the past.

In a text to back some of the video clips of the Super Eagles at the World Cup shared on the FIFA website, the World governing body of football wrote: “The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ will mark Nigeria’s sixth appearance at the global finals. The African side made their debut at USA 1994, winning over supporters across the world with their exciting brand of football as they bowed out at the Round of 16 against eventual finalists Italy.

“…From Daniel Amokachi to Emmanuel Amunike, Sunday Oliseh to Jay-Jay Okocha, the high-flying Super Eagles have given football fans some unforgettable memories. We pay tribute to some of the Nigeria icons who have made their mark on the World Cup.”

The Super Eagles were the first side to qualify from the African continent and have been drawn in Group D against Croatia, Iceland and Argentina.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles forward Ahmed Musa has revealed that the team was prepared to make it pass the group stage as they’ve set a quarter final or semi-final agenda.

The Technical Adviser of the side, Gernot Rohr has also backed Musa stance – saying quarter final was the minimum the Super Eagles wanted to reach at the World Cup.

Published in Awa Football

Ah, yes. The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw is upon draw, so expect a combination of unnecessary music, clichéd montages, and a host of speeches how FIFA plans to aid the global game, ‘awón gbogbo irègbè yén’, as some Yorubas might put it.

Speaking of Yorubas, they would be one of those tribes watching in anticipation, expectation, hope, prayer, you name it, as the Super Eagles get to discover their opponents in the Kremlin, the three-time African are statistically the youngest qualified side, and are seeded in the fourth pot.

So, what’s the best possible outcome the Eagles could encounter? And of course, what horrors that could lie ahead:

Read Also: NIGERIA SET FOR ANOTHER WORLD CUP SHOWDOWN WITH ARGENTINA

 

Best Case Scenario:

Pot 1; Russia: The hosts haven’t had the best preparations for the tournament so far, on or off the pitch, and their last three major tournaments have ended with group stage exits. Stanislav Cherchesov’s side still don’t have the home fans onside yet, so with a potentially toxic atmosphere on their own turf, the Super Eagles might just cash in.

Pot 2; Switzerland: The Swiss may have lost just one game in their qualifying group, but they relied on a controversial penalty to see off Northern Ireland in the playoffs. They don’t have the most daunting of attacks, so our ‘Oyinbo Wall’ wouldn’t be too uncomfortable should we be pitted against the Europeans. Nigeria will certainly fancy their chances against the Swiss.

Pot 3; Iran: Maybe not as comfortable as one would think, the Iranians didn’t concede en route to Russia, and they had a commendable showing in 2014, where they held Nigeria to a goalless draw. Then again, the Eagles would still consider themselves favourites should such a game come about.

 

Worst Case Scenario:

Pot 1; Brazil: The record World Cup winners didn’t lose a qualifying under Tite, have seen off virtually everyone in their continent, and have an attack so fearsome the likes of Douglas Costa and Roberto Firmino would be glad to just make the squad. Add to that a shaky Eagles in the goalkeeping and left-back departments. We no want!!!!

Pot 2; Spain: Gulp!! They may have floundered in the past two major tournaments, but they still two European titles and a World Cup crown in this decade. A midfield awash with creativity, and a solid backline that’s the envy of many, not to mention arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. Again, hard pass.

Pot 3; Iceland: If ever a team would be described as greater than the sum of its parts, it’s this lot. Just ask England, the Scandinavian side are renowned for their never-say-die-attitude, topping a qualifying group involving Turkey, Croatia and Ukraine is testament to how lightly they shouldn’t be taken. For patriotic commitment, look no further than these Euro 2016 quarter finalists. With the Super Eagles potential for players to suddenly get egotistical, a side that gives 200% wouldn’t be most ideal.

 

Just a reminder, here’s how the pots will be arranged prior to today’s draw:

Pot 1: Russia; Germany; Brazil; Argentina; Belgium; Poland; France; Portugal

Pot 2: Spain; England; Peru; Switzerland; Colombia; Mexico; Uruguay; Croatia

Pot 3: Denmark; Iceland; Iran; Tunisia; Sweden; Costa Rica; Egypt; Senegal

Po 4: Nigeria; Panama; Australia; Serbia; Morocco; Saudi Arabia; Japan; South Korea

Published in Awa Football

 

Nigeria match wey no give person heart attack, shey dat one na match’; So read a rather unknown tweet in November 2016, when the Super Eagles left it late to clinch a 3-1 win against Algeria in Uyo. They may not have shown such traits on Friday at home to Cameroon, when they dismantled their opponents, but in the return fixture in Yaounde there were more than a few Nigerian hearts in Nigerian mouths, particularly in the second period, and none more so than when goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa saved Arnaud Djoum’s deflected shot and rushed bravely to put himself in the way of the rebound. Few minutes before that, Ezenwa had encountered a not-so-impressive moment with Djoum, hauling down the Cameroonian man to give away a penalty, which was converted by substitute Vincent Aboubakar for the equaliser.

Gernot Rohr named an unchanged side from the impressive 4-0 hammering three days earlier, while for Hugo Broos the outcome of Friday’s defeat led to big calls in terms of dropping Aboubakar and Christian Bassogog to the bench, although the latter- with the troubles he gave Elderson Echiejile out wide after coming on- probably showed why he should have started from the off. Cameroon needed a win to keep alive their feeble hopes of going to Russia come next summer, and started on the front foot, just like they did on Friday. But, like Friday, they did next to nothing to trouble Ezenwa in goal, and the visitors grew into the game. It would be a tough ask for the Eagles to repeat their Friday performance, and they weren’t quite at that level, but on the half-hour mark they took the lead. Some good work by Odion Ighalo from an acute angle led to a mini-pinball situation in the Cameroon danger area, and the end result was Moses Simon rifling the eventual ricochet into the net. It was a dejavu feeling for the Indomitable Lions, leaving them deflated, and it could easily have been two in next to no time, but Ighalo’s rasping drive would fly just over the bar. And so both sides went into the break with just the one goal between them. The hosts were always likely to begin the second half in frantic and perhaps desperate mood, and they did, although Nigeria failed to capitalise on any breaks that came their way, dropping deeper and deeper, inviting pressure, as if assured that the Cameroonians would prove toothless. And for most part it looked to be case, as for all of Cameroon’s domination they rarely troubled the Eagles, and they would have gone further behind had Victor Moses’ shot not clipped the crossbar and gone out. But Cameroon would get a lifeline in the shape of the penalty, and they came mighty close to a winner only to be denied by Ezenwa, although that was their fate; coming close.

It ended 1-1, Cameroon had preserved their long-standing unbeaten home run, but that result left them just about out of qualification contention. Broos had said they needed a miracle before this game, but no one caught their ‘Hail Mary’. As for Nigeria, the body language of the coaching staff told its own story, it felt more like a point gained than two dropped. They may have to wait till October to clinch qualification, but that only seems like postponing the inevitable.

Published in Awa Football

 

With Match days 3 and 4 coming up in the African section of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers, take a peek at how things stand, and what’s on in the next five days:

Group A

As It Stands

DR Congo- 6

Tunisia- 6

Guinea- 3

Libya- 0

The Democratic Republic of Congo are leading the herd in Group A, although it’s only been two games played and the lead is just on goal difference over Tunisia. The double header between both sides on Friday and Tuesday will go a long way to shaping things up in this group. Third and fourth-placed Guinea and Libya respectively have played a game more, Guinea seeing off the Libyans 3-2 on Thursday for their first points of this qualifying round.

Fixtures:

September 1- Tunisia v DR Congo

September 4- Libya v Guinea

September 5- DR Congo v Tunisia

Group B

As It Stands

Nigeria- 6

Cameroon- 2

Zambia- 1

Algeria- 1

Billed as the toughest group in qualifying, Nigeria seem to making light work of it at the moment, two wins from two while the none of the others can boast any sort of victory to their name. The Super Eagles face African Champions Cameroon twice in four days, welcoming Hugo Broos’ team to Uyo today, before making the trip to Yaoundé for Tuesday’s return fixture; two more wins here and Gernot Rohr’s side might just start to make plans for Russia, while the Cameroonians will be desperate to get their campaign up and running. Bottom two Zambia and Algeria also go to head-to-head and, with just two points between, also need to start getting some wins on board.

Fixtures:

September 1- Nigeria v Cameroon

September 2- Zambia v Algeria

September 5- Algeria v Zambia; Cameroon v Nigeria

Group C

As It Stands

Ivory Coast- 4

Morocco- 2

Gabon- 2

Mali- 1

Undoubtedly the most underwhelming of the groups so far, Group C has seen four goals and three goalless draws, with the last and only goals coming on Matchday 1, when the Ivory Coast saw off Mali 3-1. The 2015 African champions are top of the group with four points, although with the rest only three points behind at most, it’s far from settled. The Ivory Coast face-off against Gabon, while Morocco lock horns with bottom of the table Mali.

Fixtures:

September 1- Morocco v Mali

September 2- Gabon v Ivory Coast

September 5- Ivory Coast v Gabon; Mali v Morocco

Group D

As It Stands

Burkina Faso- 4

South Africa- 4

Senegal- 3

Cape Verde- 0

If Group B was viewed as the toughest, Group D has no doubt been the most competitive, with just a point separating first from third. 2013 AFCON finalists Burkina Faso, top on goal difference, visit third-placed Senegal on Saturday, before the return fixture three days after, and the stakes are high with just a point separating both sides. Second-placed South Africa have their double-header against Cape Verde, who are still to pick up a point, although the island nation could throw themselves back into the mix with so much as a win.

Fixtures:

September 1- Cape Verde v South Africa

September 2- Senegal v Burkina Faso

September 5- South Africa v Cape Verde; Burkina Faso v Senegal

 Group E

As It Stands

Uganda- 7

Egypt- 6

Ghana- 1

Congo- 0

Egypt had been top of Group E going into this break, but their 1-0 loss to Uganda on Thursday sees their conquerors, almost unfathomably, in first place ahead of their re-match on Tuesday. Ghana are in serious danger of failing to attend the World Cup for the first time in three tournaments, Avram Grant’s Black Stars have just a solitary point to their name. The two games against Congo Brazzaville completely have must-win written over them.

Fixtures:

September 1- Ghana v Congo

September 5- Congo v Ghana; Egypt v Uganda

Published in International Watch

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