Spotkick's FIFA World Cup 2018 Review

Monday, 16 July 2018 11:45

And so the curtain has fallen, the fat lady has sung, the last rites have been read. Forgive the ending cliches, we’re just finding it hard to say goodbye to the 21st World Cup and wondering what to do with ourselves. But with the tournament having reached its conclusion, Messrs Not Moony, Not Wormtail, Not Padfoot, and Definitely Not Prongs, Spotkick’s finest, gave their conclusion on the Mundial.

Player of the Tournament

Ola Fadahunsi: Luka Modric. Nobody comes close. He was phenomenal all through and he's one of the guys that had the most minutes at the World Cup - Modric is a complete work of art.

Trust Inonse: Who else for me than the Golden boy of the tournament - Kylian Mbappe. At 19 his confidence and determination is next to none. I don't think I have seen a better player at his age.

Kunle Ajao: Luka Modric, without a shadow of a doubt. Sometimes he felt like the solo act in this World Cup orchestra. Always a delight to watch on the ball, he even adds superb work rate off it.

Shehu Idris: Unarguably and undisputedly Luka Modric. Prior to this tournament his name wasn't even mistakenly mentioned amongst those worthy of the FIFA the best award but only sprinkle of people will wave his inclusion now. How he managed to lead Croatia into the Final and outshine the glorious Class of '98 with extra ounce of work-rate and non-human voltage of creativity is a paper for another time. FIFA got this call right, Modric was head, shoulders and knee above everybody else in Russia. 

Goal of the tournament 

OF: Ahmed Musa’s second goal against Iceland. That set the entire nation bouncing.

TI: The goal that got me thinking - Benjamin Pavard. Coming to the world cup as a rookie and still had the audacity to speak to the ball to get France their second goal against Argentina . Borrowing the word of Etim Essien- it was a slapping NASA

KA: Benjamin Pavard’s volley against Argentina is the kind of the thing you dream of, but 100 times out of 100, you thump that wide. He didn’t.

SI: Pavard!!! A technique that can make the ball spin and float like a balloon that isn't entralled with the wind, that sort of technique, with the outside of boot. That sort of technique, read me well and loud, is out of this world. If there wasn't a net there, that ball would still be floating happily like a hot air balloon in the sky of Russia. 

Match of the tournament 

OF: Germany vs Mexico.

TI: A match I won't forget in a hurry would be Portugal v Spain. What a thrilling encounter that was, as Cristiano Ronaldo showed the world why he is the present world’s best footballer. It was great watching Spain's champagne football against a Ronaldo-inspired Portugal.

P. S, A match I won't use a nail clipper on my nails for is the France against Denmark's horror.

KA: It was only Day Two when crisis-hit Spain played unconvincing Portugal in Sochi. A six-goal thriller that had everything, a free-kick, a penalty, a goalkeeping howler, a routine goal and a howitzer from a right-back. It set the tone for such an incredible tournament.

SI: Spain vs Portugal. The match, you'll agree with me, came dashing into us really early. We weren't ready for such an action-packed match after the tepid opening day of the tournament. Ronaldo's hattrick. Nacho's sumptuous half-volley. David De Gea's unusual gaffe. Diego Costa and Pepe rekindled old animosity. This match had a healthy bit of everything a match of the tournament should have. 

Best surprise 

OF: England. You might say they played lesser oppositions, but how these set of young guys were able to curtail the pressure always put on the Three Lions prior to every major tournament was a surprise. I give them credit for that.

TI: Best surprise? Which other team comes to mind but the Croatian national team. I bet even the best magic practicing priest never saw a final for the blazers.

KA: It’s easy to say England, and why not, a first semi-final in 28 years for them. But if their journey to the semis was a surprise, their path certainly wasn’t, and they lost the three games where they faced quality opposition. Plus, no one saw Croatia as finalists before the tournament, so it’s them for me.

SI: Croatia of course. They surprised everyone including themselves. That they made it to the final wasn't the actual surprise but the jarring fact that they made it there playing gruesome extra 30 minutes after each of their knockout games and they didn't roll around the pitch in agony of cramps and fatigue is the biggest surprise. If Superman was real, he'll definitely be a Croatian.

Biggest disappointment 

OF: Germany summed up the whole disappointment for me.

TI: it's difficult to look away from Germany and Argentina but permit me to give this plaque to the Spanish national team. Who puts together over a thousand completed passes and still loses? That's ridiculous to say the least.

KA: I’ve watched German teams that have played underwhelming football, until this World Cup I’d never watched a German team that was complacent. It looked like they’d recovered after that late winner against Sweden, it turned out to be a false dawn. Watching Germany crash out of the group stage, it was almost like football broke.

SI: Germany. For the first time since Euro 2004, they crashed out of a major tournament in the group stages. For the first time ever in the history of Die Maanshaft, they bowed out of World Cup in the group stages. For the first time in my life, I saw a German team that's almost always vunerable to opposition breaks. Let me stop my "For the first time" game here. This German side were woeful and should be thankful for the mercy of that early exit.

Verdict on VAR

OF: As much as I loved VAR, I think it's doing more harm than good. Making football so predictable, the penalty given to France was evident, no referee in the world would have given that. To top it all, VAR is taking emotions away from the game; that is bad.

TI: Well! I have never been in support of the VAR and the World Cup test hasn't convinced a strand of my hair that it is needed. It kills the vibe of the game and for the fact that it wholly still depends on the discretion of the referee, in my opinion, it's not a solution if it's not solving the problem in totality.

KA: VAR is meant to correct clear cut errors, which means: (a) If the referee is called to look at it, then it’s supposed to be a clear cut error (Nigeria v Argentina). (b) If it’s a clear cut error, it shouldn’t take four minutes to decide (the final itself). That VAR is ultimately subject to human interpretation means it will be ludicrous in my eyes.

SI: Obviously it is here to stay and no amount of campaign launched against it will get it out. Moreover, it had a successful debut in Russia. Except for some little doggedness from referees to overturn their initial wrong decisions, it showed it can make this game a lot cleaner and a little more transparent. However, people still need to get used to this machine. We complain about how long it takes before a decision could be made but does it matter the amount of time for the best decision to be made? Football lover are finicky bunch who scavenge for errors like someone picking beans, VAR won't end football controversies. 

Most excited about

OF: Prior to the tournament, the issue of racism and fans violence seemed inevitable; how Russians were able to nip that all through the Mundial created so much excitement for me.

TI: The unexpectedly peaceful World Cup. Against all odds, Russia hosted one of the best tournaments in recent times.

KA: Watching Belgium’s counter-attacks, particularly against Brazil in the last eight, was a sight to behold.

SI: Kyllian Mbappe. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's era of dominance, either we like to admit it or not, is fast dissolving. Several names of successors have popped up over the years and it looked like these successors will make the claim after the early exit of the aforementioned juggernauts but these guys didn't have the previously thought impact on the tournament. Except Mbappe of course. At 19, with just a season and a half of top-flight club football under his blurily quick feet, he transformed the Mundial into another playground just has he's done with Ligue 1. It looked really easy for 'Donatello’ as his pace fuelled by his youthful exuberance proved harder than Advance Physics test for every defender he faced. His physical precociousness has shrouded his cold-eyed finishing talent. This boy's imminent dominance on football will mirror Messi and Ronaldo's but sadly, his won't have an almost equal rival to battle with.

Least excited about

OF: African countries.

TI: The shambolic performances by the African contingents, it was pitiful to say the least. Although a glimpse of fight came from the West Africans - Nigeria and Senegal- their best could only buy them three matches in Russia.

KA: The constant Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo comparison after each player plays. It’s the World Cup for goodness sake, not El Clasico.

SI: Tiki Taka or Tiki Taxi or Taka Tiki or Kati Kati or which ever name you've given the boring act of caressing the ball endlessly across the pitch without urgency or a sharp edge. It used to be orgasmic when Xavi was still in the Spanish team with his eagle vision but now, it's just excruciating. Iniesta has passed his prime. Isco drives opposition near madness with his dribbles and not his passes. David Silva loses himself and his creativity in the incessant passing drills. Spain should fold up the paper containing the Tiki-Taka blueprints and reach for another approach now. 

Note on Nigeria's World Cup

OF: So many people have been calling for Rohr's head after tournament - different strokes for different folks. In my opinion the Nigerian team to Russia was the best I've seen in recent times.

TI: Although disappointing from a Nigerian perspective, it's definite that this Nigerian team is the best in recent history. Just a little bit of trimming and a little bit of additional quality would make the team a world beater.

KA: Our World Cup may have ended after three games, but their was a sense of what might have been, rather than a sense of disappointment this time. Despite the early exit, there’s more than enough cause for optimism. A fair amount of stability right now will go a long way in helping. Not that we’ll have it.

SI: Although we crashed out in the group stages, it still hasn't stopped us from dreaming about what this band of young talents can achieve if they remain banded together with Gernot Rohr as the sheepherder. Stability is just what this team needs. Stability in players, coaches and administrators but the latter appears like it won't be getting the required stability as some destructive critters are already tilling the ground and unperturbed if the tree tumbles and all the goody birds bound off.

 

 

Published in International Watch

 

Finally, that’s done. After the initial thirty, to the somewhat dramatic and suspense-laden trimming to 25, Gernot Rohr has eventually cut his squad list to the final number, selecting the 23 that are going to lift the World Cup trophy in Moscow on July 15 (call us optimistic).

So, who are those final names headed to the former Soviet Union to joust with Iceland, Croatia and old friends Argentina:

 

Ikechukwu Ezenwa

Has represented Nigeria at Under 20 and Under 17 level. The 29-year-old has won 24 caps for the senior side, and currently plies his trade at NPFL side Ifeanyi Ubah.

Daniel Akpeyi

A Nigerian FA Cup winner in 2011 and 2012, Akpeyi has seven caps for the Super Eagles. The Chippa United goalkeeper was part of the side that won bronze at the Olympic games in Rio two years ago.

Francis Uzoho

The 19-year-old has spent time mostly with Deportivo’s reserves, with only two appearances at senior level. Was the understudy to Dele Alampasu in the 2013 Under 17 World Cup, and may well be the starter in Russia.

William Troost Ekong

Spent his youth football days representing the Dutch (at Under 19 and Under 20 level). Was formerly on the books at Tottenham, now turns out Bursaspor in Turkey.

Leon Balogun

The second part of the Oyinbo Wall, with Ekong, Balogun has recently joined Premier League side Brighton. Born in West Berlin, he has spent most of his time in Germany, and made his professional debut with Hannover at the age of 19.

Kenneth Omeruo

Subject to eternal loan moves by parent club Chelsea, Omeruo’s lack of stability at club level just about cost him a regular spot in the national side. Represented Nigeria at the Under 17 and Under 20 tournaments, his younger brother Lucky plays for Rangers in Enugu.

Brian Idowu

Scored in that win against Argentina last November. Born to a half-Russian mother, he has spent all of his club career in that nation, and acted as a makeshift translator for the team in a press conference in Krasnodar last year.

Chidozie Awaziem

The Porto defender spent last season on loan at Ligue 1 side Nantes. Was first called up to the national team in May 2016.

Shehu Abdullahi

The Sokoto-born defender first turned out for the Super Eagles in 2014. Won continental and domestic cup titles with Qadsia in Kuwait, Abdullahi joined Bursaspor from Anorthosis Famagusta at the start of this year.

Elderson Echiejile

Has been in the national setup since 2009, after appearing at the Under 20 World Cup two years earlier. Missed out on a place in Brazil four years ago due to injury.

Tyrone Ebuehi

Born in the Netherlands, Ebuehi declined a call-up in November 2016, saying he needed to find his feet at Dutch club ADO Den Haag. Has joined Benfica ahead of the 2018/19 season.

John Obi Mikel

The skipper needs no introduction, with 249 league games and 11 titles with Chelsea, before joining Tianjin Teda last year. Hasn’t been synonymous with goals, though, with four league strikes in 14 years, and six in 12 for the national team.

John Ogu

First appeared for the Eagles in a World Cup qualifier against Kenya in March 2013. Began his career at Akwa Starlets, and won consecutive league titles with current club Hapoel Beer Sheva.

Ogenyi Onazi

48 caps for the national team, the 25-year-old spent five years at Lazio before leaving for Trabzonspor. Missed the Confederations Cup in 2013 through injury, and was taken off injured in the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil a year after.

Wilfred Ndidi

Questions remain about the fitness of the midfielder, who is a pivotal cog in Rohr’s wheel. The Leicester man got his first call-up in 2015.

Oghenekaro Etebo

Spent the second part of the recently-concluded on loan at Las Palmas. Etebo was the second top scorer in the 2012/13 NPFL season, and scored four goals for the Olympic team against Japan in Rio 2016.

Joel Obi

The 27-year-old will never shake the tag of ‘unfulfilled potential’, as only 15 caps since 2011 tell the story. Has made 50 league appearances in three seasons at Torino, after the same of number of games in five years at Inter Milan previously.

Odion Ighalo

Likely to spearhead the attack in Russia, Ighalo, like Mikel, plies his trade in the Chinese Super League. Was the captain of the Under 20 side in 2009, and was one of the overage players to go to Rio two years ago. Once scored four goals in a Championship game for Watford against Blackpool.

Ahmed Musa

Didn’t quite hit the heights expected when he joined Leicester from CSKA Moscow, but has found his feet since returning to the Russian club, with six league goals in 10 games. Previously held the record for most goals in an NPFL season, 18, with Kano Pillars.

Victor Moses

The winger-cum-wingback represented England at youth level, but was inspirational for the Super Eagles in their 2013 African Nations Cup triumph. Joined Chelsea from Wigan in 2012, and finally cemented in 2016, after three separate loan moves.

Alex Iwobi

Another who represented England at youth level, Iwobi scored the goal that brought Nigeria to the World Cup, back in October of last year. Named in CAF’s Team of the Year in 2016, he may have stalled a bit at Arsenal last season, but comes good for the Super Eagles.

Kelechi Iheanacho

Bagged eight goals in seven goals at Under 17 level, in 2013, and has eight in 15 for the national team. Has taken a while to find his feet at Leicester after joining from Manchester City, but ended the season in decent form, and has a love affair with England’s FA Cup.

Simy Nwankwo

The wildcard call-up to the squad. His run of six goals in eight games wasn’t quite enough to save Crotone from relegation in Serie A, but the forward has impressed many, and he does know how to score a world-class overhead kick.

Published in Awa Football

The Super Eagles captain has claimed Nigeria would have won the World Cup if not for indiscipline and lack of organisation.

Speaking to Guardian, the former Chelsea man explained how indiscipline has been a cancer in the National team for years.

Though he was ruled out of the 2010 World Cup due to injury, Mikel revealed indiscipline exhibited by the players that represented the country at the World Cup almost led to Goodluck Jonathan, the then President of Nigeria suspending the National team for two years.

“There were massive problems in the camp and that’s why the president got upset,” Mikel told Guardian.

“He {Goodluck Jonathan} said: ‘Until you guys fix yourselves up, that’s it. No more.’ The public were upset but they were in support of it because they also wanted whatever was going on to stop. We couldn’t keep going to tournaments and making a mockery of ourselves.”

Read Also

Mikel: I thought Alex Ferguson was going to punch me.

Four years later in Brazil, the story was not much different as to what happened in South Africa.

Making it pass the group stage behind Argentina, the Super Eagles were knocked out by France in the Round 16.

Prior to the game, reports had it that the players refused to train and threatened to boycott the Round 16 tie game against France over payment dispute between the Nigeria Football Federation and the players.

He explained, “There were a lot of problems in the camp which a lot of people didn’t see, the media didn’t see – we kind of hid it under the table.

“The relationships between the players were not good and there was no discipline. There was no good feeling, no good vibe.

“It almost got to people being pinned up against dressing-room walls, although not quite. It was confrontation and arguments. Players wanted to do their own thing and they didn’t think about the team.”

Mikel, who is the longest serving member of the national tea, and who has been saddled with the responsibility of leading Nigeria to her sixth World Cup, claimed that tides have changed under Gernot Rohr – “saying I haven’t seen this discipline before.”

The former Chelsea man said players were united and himself and the coach had warned anyone who is not ready to play as a team to leave the camp. 

 “The coach and myself, as captain, have tried to make these young players realise that we are a team, not individuals. If you don’t want to play together, you are welcome to leave. It’s amazing now to go to camp. You can feel the good feelings.

“I have been in the national team since 2005 and I haven’t seen this discipline before.

"It is meetings, being on time, the training. Sometimes a player has the hump because he knows he is not going to make the team and, before in the national team, he just strolls around. Now, you have to train properly. If you don’t, you are leaving the camp. The coach has changed the whole mentality,” Mikel added.

Nigeria will kick start there World Cup campaign against Croatia on June 16 before locking horns later on with Iceland and Argentina respectively

 

 

Published in Awa Football

 

The Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles Gernot Rohr has dropped Junior Lokosa, Dele Ajiboye, Stephen Eze and Uche Agbo from the 30-man World Cup provisional list.

The team who were hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari earlier today have departed for London for a friendly game against the Three Lions of England on Saturday.

 

In a thread on The NFF official Twitter handle, it was also confirmed that Gent forward Moses Simon who had been reported to have been ruled out would still be on the standby list.

He will travel with the team to London for a scan to ascertain the level of his injury.

The omission of Nigeria Professional League highest goal scorer Junior Lokosa, who impressed on his debut game against Congo DR, and Plateau United goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye from the list means Ikechukwu Ezenwa will be the only home based player on the list.

 

Full list of players that made the cut: Daniel Akpeyi, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Francis Uzoho, Abdullahi Shehu, Elderson Echiejile, Leon Balogun, William Ekong, Chidozie Awaziem, Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, Bryan Idowu, Wilfred Ndidi, Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Mikel Agu, Joel Obi, John Ogu, Odion Ighalo, Simeon Nwankwo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa.

 

The 2013 African Champions have been drawn in Group D of the World Cup and will lock horns with Croatia, Iceland and Argentina.

 

 

Published in Awa Football

Oluwaseun Aleshinloye

The Super Eagle of Nigeria will be without the service of Belgium-based Simon Moses for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia due to Injury.

According to the Nigerian National Team Head Coach, Gernot Rohr when speaking to Premium Times in Port Harcourt, Moses got injured in training and he won’t be able to make the 23-man list to the Mundial.

Simon, who was an active member of the team during the qualifiers to the Russia 2018 World Cup, scored against the Indomitable Lion of Cameroon in a 1-1 stalemate at Yaoundé to help solidify Nigeria position to qualify for the World Cup.

Rohr expressed his disappointment about the absence of Simon Moses at the Mundial to Premium Times.

“It is unfortunate Moses Simon will not travelling with the team on Tuesday because he is down with an injury.

“The nature of his injury is such that he won’t be recovering quickly enough to make the World Cup,” Rohr stated.

The German tactician who is expected to release his final list in after the friendly game against the Three Lions of England on June now has 29 players in camp.

Simon, who plies his trade with Belgian Jupiler League side, Gent, has been capped 15 times by the Super Eagles - having with three international goals to his name.

The 22-year-old made his international debut in 2015 and has played under Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh, Samson Siasia and Gernot Rohr.

 

 

Published in Awa Football

'I'm not sure how I feel about Howard being dungeon master instead of you'. Sheldon Cooper is nothing if not rigid, his distaste for change is not unknown, just like his skepticism over new situations is well-documented, maybe not literally. Leonard Hofstadter is the known dungeon master in their Dungeons and Dragons game, so going with option B of Howard Wolowitz was never going to give Sheldon comfort.

I don't consider myself the most ardent, or patriotic, Super Eagles follower, so it was understandable that I would approach the Eagles B team's game against Atletico Madrid in Uyo with Sheldon Cooper-like skepticism, the A team themselves barely offer much excitement, so why bother with Team B.

A bunch of players from the not-so standard Nigeria Professional Football League, alongside some young European club loanees lining up in the country's green against a side sending a second string squad in a post-season event, that was always bound to be unexciting.

I couldn't have been more wrong, and couldn't have been more glad to be disproved, the style of football employed by the Eagles, and the employers of said style, left many impressed, and left manager Gernot Rohr, in appearance but not at the dugout, with a few to surely think about. From the high pressing game, the impressive forward passes, and the brave take ons, even the most ardent pessimist couldn't write this off.

In a break from the norm, the Nigerian players weren't afraid to keep the ball and actually play, style to get substance football; threaded passes, and midfield control, epitomised by the Nwakali brothers.

Kelechi's incisiveness and zest, and Chidiebere's willingness- and ability, it must be said- to take on defenders must have left Rohr wondering if he named his preliminary World Cup a bit too soon.

Taking a look at the midfield selected in the initial squad, and it very nearly screams similarity in that area, players more situated with breaking up play than dictating it, no one really primed to take on the opposition, make late runs into the box, or unlock any potentially tricky backline (read 'tricky' as Iceland). No real wildcard.

No disrespect to John Ogu and Mikel Agu, two of the most likely backups to Russia, but in an expected starting lineup that will contain three middlemen of much semblance, how bad an idea is it to go with the Nwakali brothers as backup, tricks up Rohr's sleeve should the odds starts to get stacked against the Eagles? On evidence of the Uyo game, not bad at all. Chidiebere's on and off the ball movement kept Los Colcheronos' backline busy, not shirking from getting at the defenders, not least on taking the ball to the by-line and keeping the defence on edge, is not a trait that is synonymous with many of Nigeria’s first team midfielders, or players, in truth, while Kelechi's finish to open the scoring demonstrated precision and calm in waiting for the right moment, and added the gloss on his display. 

Not that the Nwakali brothers were the only ones to impress. Both forward men, Kadiri Samad and Tosin Omoyele, unsettled the defence with their runs, creating space for the others in the attack, and there's only so many times you can talk about Nigeria’s uncertain left-back situation, where Ebube Duru didn't do too badly, while Emem Uduok may have taken a few ill-advised decisions, but showed positive signs.

This is not a cry to go overboard, there were still more than a few teething problems. Decisions in the final third, as highlighted earlier through Uduok, as well as the issue of defending are one of the areas that should be marked as 'can do much better'. And not to forget this was a game against a relatively very second-string Atletico side, who were playing their third game in six days.

But this was a team that, until this game, had never played together, yet left many applauding. There's always skepticism over the state of Nigeria’s future in terms of the beautiful game, but this was a strong case for it. It was always a hat in the ring for the present as well, and hopefully Rohr would have taken a few notes. After all, Sheldon did end up loving Howard as dungeon master.

 

 

Published in Awa Football

Rohr may invite new players - Agali

Saturday, 07 April 2018 08:28

Gernot Rohr may include new players into his 35-man provisional World Cup list, says Victor Agali.

According to chief scout of the Super Eagles, Rohr is opened to give any Nigerian player in top form a chance in the squad to the World Cup

Agali also urged Nigerians to be patience with the Franco-German coach – saying the coach is a blessing to Nigeria.

 “I believe we all must be patient with Rohr because after the likes of Clemens Westerhof and Bonfrere Jo, I believe Gernot is another blessing to Nigerian football,” Agali, as quoted by Vanguard.

“He tries his best to carry everybody along and gives players equal opportunity to be selected and listens to all is scouting and technical team.

“I know Gernot Rohr is fair to all and is committed to developing the image of our football."

He concluded, “He will decide on that. I can’t comment on if he will stick with the ones he has tested and know or not, but may be one or two new faces, just maybe. I strongly believe we should scout more and know more of about opponents.”

 

Published in Awa Football

Former Super Eagles forward Julius Aghahowa has branded the current set of Super Eagles’ players as the best Nigeria has ever produced.

Nigeria became the first African Nation to qualify for the Nations Cup – going through their qualifying phase without tasting any defeat – in a group that housed African Champion Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia.

And with the Eagles booking the World Cup ticket in style, Aghahowa who represented Nigeria from 2000 to 2007 in an interview with Vanguard posits that the current set of players in the national team now are the best in history.

On the Eagles’ World Cup campaign, Aghahowa said: “I think they have assembled the best set of players ever for the national team going by their qualification.

"I think they can go far. From what I have seen, we have a solid team. If you want to add one or two players to the team, no problem. On the whole, I think they can go far in Russia.”

The Super Eagles have been drawn in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Argentina – and Aghahowa has said the 2013 African Champions had all it takes to go pass the group stage.

According to the 32-capped Nigerian international, Nigerian players featuring consistently for their respective club sides would put them in good shape going into the World Cup.

“I am very optimistic we can go past that group and even beyond.

“My optimism is based on the fact that these players are active for their various clubs; they play week in, week out and they are in top form.

“The ones that are strikers are scoring goals, the midfielders are consistent, while the defenders have been playing well. With their present form, they will come out of that group and even go beyond,” the former Shakhtar Donetsk striker added.

Aghahowa, who featured for Bendel Insurance of Benin, Esperance of Tunisia, Wigan Athletic, Shakhtar Donetsk amongst others represented Nigeria at the 2002 World Cup that was co-hosted by Korea and Japan.

Published in Awa Football

Vincent Enyeama has been mooted for a return to the Super Eagles for the World Cup, but Gernot Rohr has said the veteran shot-stopper would not make the squad to Russia due to his lack of game time

Enyeama retired abruptly from the national team in 2015 but discourse on him returning to the team has been on the table for months, but Rohr has adduced that the Lille goalkeeper lack of game time at his club meant he was out of the team for Russia.

The 101 capped Nigerian international last featured for the first team of Lille in the game against Rennes last April.

And speaking to reporters at Aiteo/Nigeria Football Federation Awards, Rohr as quoted by Vanguard said Enyeama would not be part of his team for the World Cup.

“He {Enyeama} is not playing anywhere, so we cannot take players who are not playing,” Rohr said.

“We are working hard to have the best of our legs taken to Russia and we don’t have the best luxury of naming a player that has not been playing in recent time.

“Each time we have a problem, there is always a good answer and I hope it will be the same for the World Cup.

“We currently have so many players in camp and we want to continue monitoring them. The most important thing is for them to be in best shape for the Mundial.”

Read Also

Two African teams will be at the semis, and Nigeria will win the World Cup – Amokachi

With Rohr ruling Enyeama out of the World Cup, The Franco-German would be left to pick three amongst Francis Uzuoho, Daniel Akpeyi, Dele Ajiboye, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Dele Ajiboye that would represent the country at the World Cup.

All the available options for Rohr are deemed inexperienced at the highest level.

Published in Awa Football

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

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