The Erstwhile goalkeeper of the Super Eagles as compared playing at the World Cup with going to the Holy Pilgrimage of Mecca.

Ike Shorunmu, who was behind the sticks for Nigeria at the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup said players got an unprecedented treatment playing at the World Cup

Describing the feeling of playing at the World Cup in an interview with Punch, Shorunmu said: It’s the Mecca of football. When you appear at the World Cup, it’s like a president visiting another man’s country with the kind of treatment you are given by the hosts.

“It’s very interesting. Believe me, you can’t compare it to any other competition; it’s a special tournament. From the airport, you get a welcome party to your hotel, the security and atmosphere are amazing.”

The 35 capped international, who missed out on making the Eagles’ squad to the 1994 and 1998 World Cup described missing out at the latter as the worst memories of the World Cup.

He added that keeping Super Eagles’ first game at the 2002 World Cup, a game Nigeria lost 1-0 to Argentina was his best World Cup moment.

”I missed the 1998 World Cup and it remains my worst because there was a lot of noise that I would be there,” Shorunmu said.

“There was advertisement and even a shooting session ahead of the competition but it was like I was destined not to appear at that World Cup.”

He added, “My best moment was playing our first game against Argentina at Korea/Japan 2002. The pressure on the team was on me, that “Ike, you are the one we are hoping on.

“But I couldn’t do it alone, it’s a team work. But I achieved something at the World Cup with my performances against the Argentines.”

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George Weah, the only African player to have won the FIFA World best though never played at the FIFA World Cup, had given Nigeria a template on how they could have a successful World Cup campaign later this year in Russia.

The Liberian President who paid the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this week at the Presidential Villa, Abuja as parts of his recommendations for the Super Eagles to have a successful World Cup campaign warned the Nigerian ministers not to swallow funds meant for World Cup preparation.

The 1995 World Player of the Year also charged the Super Eagles to be the first African country to lift the World Cup – saying “they {Nigeria} are going to represent Africa.

“I think Nigerian team is a model, we all followed them,” Weah said. “I have played with great Nigerian players, I played against them. Now you have a new generation, the fact that they qualified is a good thing for Nigeria.

“But I hope that they will prepare very early because they are going to represent Africa and we will be there to watch them, for them to bring the trophy for the first time if it is possible."

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Weah added, “But I think the seriousness to go to World Cup is not to pay players to go, I want every African government to know, if you win World Cup is a pride to Africa, it is not just to Nigeria, so we must do everything to ensure that the players are not stressed, make sure they concentrate, make sure their incentives are given to them to motivate them.

“Some of the things you see at the World Cup, you will see an entire team go to represent a whole country and you will hear that one minister took the money, they did not pay these players and the players are causing problem. When players are going to camp, it is to relax and focus.

“And for them to be in camp they must have everything there for them not to worry.

“Remember I played in European setting, when we go camp we have nothing to do. The only thing we have to do is to take a shower and prepare for the game, everything is laid down here and so you have no excuse. “So let the players not have excuse, support them and let them go and bring back that cup.”

All these advices from the legendary George Weah - we at spotkick hope the relevant authorities would take note. But it is suffice to state that animals are the only ones that swallow money in Nigeria and not human beings.

And if human beings do swallow money, we’ve not heard any so far in 2018.

Nigeria have been drawn in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Argentina – and they will kick-start their World Cup campaign against Croatia on June 16 at the Kaliningrad Stadium before facing Iceland and Argentina on June 22 and 26 respectively.

 

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(Del Potro believes Messi must win the Russia 2018 World Cup if he wants more respect from Argentines. Credit: Skysports)

Tennis star Juan Martin Del Potro believes Lionel Messi needs to win the World Cup if he wants to “sleep easy.”

The Argentine international and No.9 ranked tennis star hopes his fellow countryman would be lucky enough to win the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Messi, who has won the Ballon d’or five times amongst other individual awards and club trophies has failed to lift a trophy with Argentina since he made his debut in 2005.

The Barcelona star lost three international finals in three years with Argentina – the last which made him to retire from international football for less than three-month.

But According to Del Potro, Messi has had an unmatchable career but still needs to win a World Cup.

“Messi has had a career that cannot be matched,” Del Potro told Marca.

“He has been the best in the World for some time, but I believe he needs this trophy {the World Cup} to be able to sleep easy, as happened with me with the Davis Cup, which we’d won before.

“I hope that he can do it in Russia this year. I know what he has suffered and that he deserves it.”

Argentina will start their World Cup campaign against Iceland before locking horns with Croatia and Nigeria respectively

Published in International Watch

Edson Arantes do Narscimento, popularly known as Pele has said that Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar were the only superstars of football but the later was more technically gifted than the other two.

The 77-year-old, three-time World Cup winner discussing the chances of his country ahead of the World Cup in an interview with FIFA said Neymar, who he described as the ‘most technically gifted footballer’, would be Brazil key at the World Cup.

While Banking on Neymar’s talents, the football icon warned that Brazil must be well organised to make a statement at the World Cup.

“Neymar has changed the way he plays with the national team,” Pele said. “He has had to. At his club side, he was playing as a left-sided attacker, whereas for Brazil, he plays more centrally, as a more traditional No10.

“That’s hard, but he’s managed to adapt his game. If you look around the world, the ones who stand out are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. There are no other superstars.

"The important thing is for the national team to be well organised as a group because they no longer have three or four top players for each position. The same is true of Germany, whose emphasis is more on the collective. Before, it was individuals who mattered most, but it’s changed a lot. It’s all very similar these days.

"He’s ready, yes. He might find that the tactical switch from his club to the national team isn’t straightforward, but Neymar is Brazil’s key player. He has to prepare himself for that. And I would go further: for me, technically, he is already the best player in the world. I’m absolutely sure of that."

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The football legend had no doubt over the talents of the Brazilian players, but said the Brazilians playing in different leagues would always be a problem for the coaching crew.

“Brazil always have a team capable of winning the World Cup. However, we’ve come unstuck at recent tournaments because of our preparation time. The majority of Brazil’s players are based abroad. It was very different back in our day.

“We had a lot more time. It makes life very hard for the coaching staff, as it’s difficult to build a team. Things have changed, it’s not as easy as saying ‘this will be our team’. But individually speaking, I have no doubt that the best players in the world are Brazilian,” Pele added.

 

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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