‘British Royals, Ministers Won’t Attend Russia 2018 World Cup’

FIFA World Cup 2018 mascot Zabivaka in front of the Manege Exhibition Hall outside the Kremlin in Moscow. Photo: Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

British royals and government ministers will not attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Prime Minister Theresa May said this on Wednesday as she blamed Moscow for the nerve agent attack on a former double agent.

“There will be no attendance by ministers — or indeed members of the royal family — at this summer’s World Cup in Russia,” May told lawmakers.

She also announced the suspension of high-level bilateral ties between London and Moscow.

NFF Inspects Uyo Stadium For AFCON Qualifying Matches

Federation Cup, NFFAn inspection team led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green, has expressed satisfaction with the current state of the playing turf of Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

The stadium is slated to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier between Nigeria and South Africa in eight weeks time.

Green, alongside NFF Deputy General Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme inspected the magnificent facility, nicknamed “Nest of Champions” which hosted the 2017 AFCON qualifier between the Super Eagles and Tanzania in September 2016, as well as the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying battle between the Eagles and the Fennecs of Algeria five months ago.

“We are delighted with the state of the playing turf and other facilities at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, I can tell you that the pitch is just as it was when the Super Eagles played Algeria in the World Cup qualifier in November 2016.

“The fact that Julius Berger has also started some work on the turf is even more re-assuring. They are adding manure, and afterwards will do cutting and rolling, and they have the benefit of the weather at this period. By the time we host South Africa on June 10, the pitch will be one of the very best anywhere in Africa”, he said.

The visit to the capital of Akwa Ibom state was to ascertain the condition of the playing pitch and indeed other facilities at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, as well as the level of commitment of the State Government to hosting the big match.

After the inspection, the team reported, “Every inch of the field is covered by grass and the grass is lush green. Julius Berger (the company that built the stadium) has commenced work on the field for the purpose of bringing it to the best standard possible.

“Every other facility is in good condition. The condition of the field, as it is now, is good enough for matches to be played on it.

“The Akwa Ibom State Government has continued to show desire and commitment to hosting the match.

“However, in order to maintain the lush green state of the pitch, the inspection team has advised that no activity be carried out on it until ongoing work is completed and the 2019 AFCON qualifier between the Eagles and the Bafana Bafana is played”.

The “Nest of Champions” will also play host to the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches between the Super Eagles and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions on August 2017 and between the Super Eagles and the Chipolopolo of Zambia on October 2017.

World Cup Ticket: Coach Rohr Says Super Eagles Need Best Legs

Gernot-RohrSuper Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, has insisted that the team will need all players to play at their premium in order to pick the lone ticket from their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification group.

Coach Rohr says his focus is to strengthen the spine of the team and ensure they can beat any team.

Coach Rohr believes the confidence has not been there because the team failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.

“But when results start to come, the confidence will return,” the optimistic coach said.

The Super Eagles will open their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in Group B against Zambia on October 3.

AFCON Exit: Nigeria Shifts Focus to 2018 FIFA World Cup

nffAfter failing to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations in Gabon, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says special attention will be given to ensure the Super Eagles feature at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.

According to the Federation, the board remains united and resolute in its commitment to building a sustainable football culture for the country, by employing resources at its disposal diligently, purposefully and responsibly.

The Nigeria Football Federation issued a statement following the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals:

The NFF, like most Nigerians, are saddened by the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final competition, following a 1-0 defeat by seven –time African champions Egypt in Alexandria on Tuesday, 29th March 2016.

We see this failure to qualify as an unfortunate turn of events, because it came despite the undoubted efforts of the Coaching crew led by Coach Samson Siasia and the players led by the captain, Mikel Obi, and the efforts of the NFF leadership who not only supported the technical crew but also provided necessary support regarding comfortable traveling arrangement and accommodation for the team’s home and away matches.

. Football being the paramount national pastime in our dear country, we understand and share the disappointment in the land. But we crave the indulgence of all to continue to support the team and the NFF going forward as we continue to nurture and navigate a painful but positive path towards a glorious future for Nigeria football.

It is rather unfortunate that Chad, one of the teams in the qualification group, suddenly pulled out of the race, leaving only three teams left in the group, and only the winner of the the group guaranteed qualification. This appeared to have taken away our worst –case scenario of qualification. However, our legal unit is looking at the propriety of changing the rules midstream.

. In the next one week, the Technical and Development Committee will meet to make recommendations to the NFF Board on the way forward for the Super Eagles, but already, we can disclose that the NFF has now fully shifted its focus to activating its already prepared plan to give the team all the support it needs to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while continuing to build a sustainable football culture for Nigeria in order to make Nigerian football once more a force to be reckoned with.

Failure to reach the Africa Cup of Nations remains a gnawing pain, but we have decided to take a number of positives from the unsuccessful campaign and in particular the two matches against Egypt. The development of a new and youthful team playing swashbuckling, strong, resolute and exciting kind of football Nigeria has been known for was a soothing balm even in the face of the challenging campaign.

. In preparing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting later this year, the NFF will ensure that it utilizes all FIFA windows for international friendlies for the Super Eagles, starting in June with two games against teams of high ranking. The outstanding Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania in September would also serve as a tune –up for the World Cup qualification games.

. We want to use this medium to commend the efforts of Samson Siasia and Emmanuel Amuneke, who took very seriously and professionally the job of preparing the Super Eagles for the matches, with only three weeks to do the job. They have shown extraordinary courage and purposefulness, and the NFF will never forget their contributions to Nigeria football.

As it is, Nigeria is one of only three teams that will represent Africa at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, having won the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal in December 2015. The NFF will give Coach Siasia all the support to excel at the Games, by winning the football gold. We will also continue to support the U-20 men squad, managed by Amuneke, in order to ensure the team’s qualification for the 2017 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations and the U-20 World Cup, as well as the U-17 boys for the 2017 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations and the U-17 World Cup, for which we are the defending champions.

. We are also working on maximum support for the women’s National Teams ahead of the African Women Cup of Nations, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – all taking place this year.

Our sincere appreciation goes to the Federal Government for continued support for Nigeria football, and our sponsors for the invaluable role they play in the nation’s football development. We particularly commend the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, for their very kind gesture and solid support for the Super Eagles in both matches against Egypt, and indeed other matches before these.

Nigeria missed out of the 2012 edition, won the title in 2013 in South Africa, failed to qualify for the tournament in 2015 and will not compete in the 2017 edition in Gabon.

Super Eagles Beat Swaziland 2-0 In World Cup Qualifier

EaglesThe Super Eagles of Nigeria on Tuesday kept their hope of a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup alive by defeating Swaziland 2-0 in Port Harcourt.

It was the second leg of the knock out duel between the two countries, after the first leg had ended in a goalless draw in Swaziland on Friday.

The Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, made three changes to the team that drew 0-0 in Swaziland. Sunshine stars’ Paul Onobi replaced Mikel Obi; Sharks’ Chima Akas came in for Elderson Echiejile and Austin Oboroakpo from Abia Warriors replaced Godfrey Oboabona.

The first half ended goalless with pressure mounting among the fans at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium but Moses Simon’s well taken free-kick in the 51st minute gave Nigeria the lead and calmed the nerves.

In the 75th minute, Obafemi Martins came in for captain Ahmed Musa and Ogenyi Onazi took the captain’s band as Nigeria went in search of more goals.

The Eagles’s improved attacking play eventually paid off but not from the expected source. Defender Efe Ambrose made it 2-0 for Nigeria in the 87th minute to send the Port Harcourt fans into jubilation.

Asides throwing open the gates of the stadium to encourage fans to fill the venue and cheer the Nigeria team to victory, the Eagles were also boosted by the Rivers State Government’s $20,000 per goal promise.

With the victory, Nigeria has now qualified for the group stage of the African qualifiers along with 19 other countries, who will be drawn into five groups.

The five group winners will represent Africa in Russia 2018.

 

 

 

Martins, Ambrose Confident Eagles Will Beat Swaziland

super eagles-Obafemi MartinsSuper Eagles striker, Obafemi Martins and defender, Efe Ambrose, are confident that the team will advance to the group phase of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Both players told Channels Television in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital that the team had put behind them, the disappointing goalless draw against Swaziland in Lobamba.

They expressed optimism that the Eagles will go all out for victory in Tuesday’s return leg clash.

Martins said his side was ready to do their best as a team, adding that they do not want to lose or draw again on Tuesday.

“We do not want to play 0-0 and we do not want to loose. We are all ready to do our best as a team first and the attackers will do their best scoring goals as well. We are ready to win on Tuesday”, Martins said.

Ambrose also expressed confidence that the team would win the return game, playing hosts to Swaziland.

“When we are at home, I think with the fans, with everybody behind us, there is nobody that can stop us right here,” the defender said.

Swaziland Hold Nigeria To Goalless Draw In 2018 World Cup Qualifier

nigeria-super eaglesSwaziland on Friday held the Super Eagles of Nigeria to a goalless draw in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Somhlolo National Stadium in Lobamba.

Nigeria’s head coach, Sunday Oliseh, this time opted for a centre-back pairing of Efe Ambrose and Godfrey Oboabona with Shehu Abdullahi and Elderson Echiejile, playing as full-backs.

The Super Eagles from the outset pressed high up against the Swazis, but lacked the sharpness to open up the defense of Harris Bulunga’s men.

The second leg will take place on November 17, when Nigeria will play hosts to Swaziland at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.

The winner on goal aggregate over the two legs will qualify for the final qualifying round.

Super Eagles Set For Tanzania Cracker

EaglesNigeria’s Super Eagles are set for Friday’s clash against Swaziland in the qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The team was received by officials of Nigeria High Commission and the Swazi Football Association.

The match is scheduled for the 20,000 capacity Somhlolo National Stadium in Lombamba at 6pm Nigerian time.

Meanwhile Germain Koole of Benin Republic has been picked as the centre referee for the match.

Koole will be assisted by compatriots Bienvenu Dina, Sena Houedin and Gustave Eugene.

Mohamed Bahou from Morocco will be the referee assessor with Zambian, Joseph Nkole as Match Commissioner.