Qatar 2022 Qualifier: No Pressure Ahead Cape Verde Clash, Says Musa

Musa, Iwobi, Ighalo Nominated For CAF Award
File photo: Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring Nigeria’s first goal at the Russia 2018 World Cup. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has assured Nigerians that the Super Eagles are mature, professional, and ambitious enough to deal with any pressure when taking on the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in Tuesday’s crucial game of Group C of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying African series.

Nigeria leads the group after five matches with 12 points while Cape Verde follows closely with 10 points, and that explains the importance of the encounter in Lagos.

After a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Liberia in Tangier, the former Leicester City forward confirmed the team has the right mindset to execute the mission.

 

No Pressure

“There will always be all kinds of pressure when you are out there on the football field, as a professional sportsman or woman,” said Musa. “You just must have strong fibre to cope with the pressure from everywhere, focus on getting the result and get the job done.

“Pressure is never an excuse not to put out your best; sometimes, it helps you to get beyond your level best.”

At a pre-match press conference on Monday in Lagos, Musa who holds Nigeria’s record international appearance also said a number of players in the squad have yet to feature at the FIFA World Cup finals and that would serve as good motivation.

“The FIFA World Cup is the biggest stage for every professional football player. They all want to be there; you don’t need any more motivation than that.

“We said after the match with Liberia in Tangier on Saturday that we will not be going for a draw against Cape Verde. Nothing has changed,” he stated.

Musa also gave an assurance that the Eagles would not be complacent or underrate the Sharks but go all out as from the blast of the whistle by Algerian referee Mustapha Ghorbal.

 

Rohr’s Confidence

Head Coach Gernot Rohr, who will be in charge of his 54th game for the Nigerian senior men’s team on Tuesday, was confident that the three-time African champions would collect all three points against the Sharks, just as they did when both teams met at the Estadio Municipal Adérito Sena on the island of Mindelo on September 7.

“We have a job on our hands and that is to win tomorrow (Tuesday). It is important to win so as to be sure of where you will be at the end of the day. We are top of the table now and a win keeps us there and sends us to the final knockout round,” he said.

“I really don’t think we are under any pressure. We have 12 points – two more than the opponents. They are the ones with the big pressure to come out and look for a win. Our approach for tomorrow will be to win. The players are looking forward to doing that.”

Forward Odion Ighalo, who was unable to play any part in Saturday’s encounter in Tangier because he arrived in Morocco only two days to the match as he was taking his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Riyadh, is likely to be involved against the Sharks at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.

It would be his first run-out with the squad since he announced his retirement from the international scene after the 2019 AFCON, where he was the tournament’s top scorer.

Cape Verde’s lost 1-2 to the Eagles two months ago in the first leg fixture but a 2-1 victory over Central African Republic in their last match put them in a confident mood ahead of the final group clash with the Super Eagles.

Germany Become First Team To Qualify For 2022 World Cup

Germany players celebrate after winning the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group J football match between North Macedonia and Germany at the Toshe Proeski National Arena in Skopje on October 11, 2021. Nikolay DOYCHINOV / AFP

 

 

Germany continued their spotless record under new coach Hansi Flick and secured qualification for the 2022 World Cup as Chelsea striker Timo Werner scored twice in a 4-0 rout of North Macedonia on Monday.

Just months after they slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat to the same opponent on home soil, Germany cruised to a dominant win in Skopje to increase their lead at the top of Group J to eight points and secure their berth at next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Werner’s Chelsea team-mate Kai Havertz also got on the scoresheet and Jamal Musiala scored his first international goal as Germany made it five wins out of five under Flick, who took over from Joachim Loew after Euro 2020.

The 56-year-old coach said 2014 World Cup winners Germany still had “a long way to go”, but insisted his team could compete with the best in the world.

“Our players have the quality to rival France, Italy and Belgium. I am very optimistic,” he said.

Midfielder Leon Goretzka also backed Flick to take Germany back to the top of the world game after failing to make it past the first two rounds at both of their last two major tournament appearances.

“We still need to improve to get back to the top, but there are few people better placed than Hansi to do that,” he told RTL.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Para Powerlifter Banned For 30 Months

Goalscorer Werner added that Flick’s faith in him had helped him to shrug off growing criticism of his form in recent months.

“When a coach likes you and trusts you, then it helps every striker, especially me. I need that trust, and Flick gives that to me 100 percent,” he said.

Germany were wasteful in the first half, with striker Werner squandering several chances and Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry forcing saves from North Macedonian goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

Havertz finally opened the scoring just after the break, slotting into an empty net after a lightning counter-attack.

Werner doubled the lead with a sharp volley on 70 minutes, before curling a third into the bottom corner a few minutes later.

Seven minutes from time and shortly after coming on to replace Werner, Musiala fired a low shot past Dimitrievski.

The goal made him Germany’s youngest scorer since 1910 at just 18 years and 227 days.

“Jamal is very cool in front of goal for a player his age,” said Flick.

AFP

Qatar 2022 Qualifier: Super Eagles Prepare For Liberia, Cape Verde Games

In this photo released on August 30, 2021, Coach Gernot Rohr addresses the Super Eagles during a gym session ahead of their match against Liberia in Lagos. Source: Facebook- Nigeria Super Eagles

 

Captain Ahmed Musa and 19 other Super Eagles players have arrived at the Super Eagles camp in Lagos ahead of the opening match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification race.

The three-time African champions will face the Lone Star of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium from 5pm on Friday in the Day 1 clash, with the Eagles flying out of Lagos to the Island of Mindelo to take on the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in a Day 2 fixture on September 7.

Veteran defender Kenneth Omeruo was among the first arrivals that included South Africa-based goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, England-based quartet of Alex Iwobi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Former junior international Kingsley Michael, Abia Warriors’ Adekunle Adeleke, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, as well as forwards Henry Onyekuru and Chidera Ejuke have also arrived.

However, midfielder Joseph Ayodele-Aribo and forward Paul Onuachu are expected to come into town on Tuesday.

A photo released on August 30, 2021, shows the Super Eagles during a gym session ahead of their match against Liberia in Lagos. Source: Facebook- Nigeria Super Eagles

 

The team will have its first training session at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Tuesday.

Friday’s encounter will be the first FIFA World Cup qualifying game in Lagos since the Eagles defeated the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the adjacent National Stadium, Surulere in June 2000.

 

Super Eagles Thrown Out?

Meanwhile, reports emerged that the players were thrown out of the gym at a hotel where they were camped in the Victoria Island of Lagos.

But the Media Officer of the Super Eagles, Babafemi Raji, who faulted the claims, stated that he was present at the gym session.

Rather, he explained that it was a minor misunderstanding between an assistant manager at the hotel and his members of staff on the usage of the gym facilities.

According to Raji, some officials of the team had to get involved after the manager’s action caused a huge distraction to the team’s training.

“We were scheduled to train just within the hotel with the gym session coming first then the outdoor volley session next,” he was quoted as saying on the verified Facebook page of the Super Eagles.

Super Eagles at a gym session on August 30, 2021, ahead of their match against Liberia in Lagos. Source: Facebook- Nigeria Super Eagles

 

“However, just as we wrapped up the gym session, one of the hotel managers came in to inspect and while the team trained at a section of the gym just doing light stretches, he yelled at his members of staff and that caused a distraction to the team’s session which, although light, required concentration.

“While the back-and-forth between the manager of the hotel, his staff, and some officials of the Super Eagles was on, the gym session continued and lasted 45 minutes, which was 15 minutes more than the earlier scheduled 30 minutes.

“Coach of the team, Gernot Rohr called the entire team together to give instructions on the next session which was the volley outdoor session.”

Fifteen players, according to Raji, were involved in the training on Monday evening ahead of the game against Liberia on September 3.

But 20 players have already arrived in camp.

They are Maduka Okoye, Terem Moffi, Jamilu Collins, Valentine Ozornwafor, Innocent Bonke, Moses Simon, Shehu Abdullahi, Ahmed Musa, Samuel Kalu, Daniel Akpeyi, Adekunle Adeleke, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Oghenekaro Etebor, Francis Uzoho, Henry Onyekuru, Chidera Ejuke, Kingsley Michael, Wilfred Ndidi, Kenneth Omeruo in camp.

Qatar 2022 Qualifier: Rohr Invites 30 Super Eagles Players For Liberia, Cape Verde

A file photo of Super Eagles players.

 

Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has called up 30 players for next month’s opening rounds of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign.

The Franco-German Rohr has stuck largely with his regulars as Nigeria host Liberia in Lagos on Friday, 3rd September (Day 1) and take on Cape Verde in Mindelo on Tuesday, 7th September (Day 2) in the race to Qatar.

Goalkeepers Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho, defenders William Ekong, Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem and Leon Balogun, midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo, and forwards Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon and Victor Osimhen are on the roster.

The situation with UK-based players, who may not be heading to Cape Verde (which is on the red list of the British Government with regards to the global coronavirus pandemic) has enlarged the roster, and should the situation remain unchanged, the eight UK-based players on the list would head back to base after the clash with Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Friday.

There is a return for Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Kevin Akpoguma and Greece-based forward Henry Onyekuru. Former junior international Kingsley Michael is also called, as Innocent Bonke from Sweden joins the Nigerian camp for the first time.

READ ALSO: Chelsea’s Jorginho Wins UEFA Player Of Year

The Super Eagles, who have featured in six of the past seven FIFA World Cup finals, will host the Lone Star of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Friday, 3rd September (kickoff is 5pm) and then travel to the island of Mindelo to tango with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde on Day 2 of the series on Tuesday, 7th September.

Central African Republic is the other team in the group, and they will honour home-and-away encounters with the Super Eagles in October.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany)

Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium)

SEVEN OTHERS: Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Valentine Ozornwafor (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy); Kingsley Michael (Bologna FC, Italy).

Post-Olympics: Spotlight Shifts To Qatar 2022 World Cup

The official logo of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is unveiled on a giant screen in Madrid on September 3, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

The focus of the sporting world shifts to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar following the Tokyo Olympics, with lingering questions over Covid safety and human rights.

Unlike the Games, which played out to a backdrop of surging case numbers in Tokyo and without spectators to limit viral transmission, organisers of the November 18-December 21, 2022, football tournament insist it will be played in full stadiums.

Qatar 2022 might be the first truly global sporting event with fans since coronavirus emerged at the start of 2020, if the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics goes ahead behind closed doors as an International Olympic Committee official has suggested.

Such is the commitment of the tiny, super-wealthy host emirate to stage a “normal” tournament that Doha has pledged to vaccinate travelling fans from countries where the rollout of jabs has been slower.

“Whatever happens I expect we’ll have fans, including foreigners, in the stadiums,” said Danyel Reiche, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar.

“Qatar was a pioneer in developing concepts for sports during the pandemic and has staged many events.”

Qatar, the first Middle Eastern host of the World Cup, was, along with Rwanda, an Olympics vaccine hub for athletes heading to Tokyo. It also hosted the refugee team.

– Vaccines for fans –

Qatar has pledged to obtain one million doses of Covid vaccine for unvaccinated fans travelling to the Arabian desert peninsula country.

Details of its tournament jab programme have yet to be published, though 2022 organisers went to Tokyo to observe the precautions taken during the Games.

“Tokyo has been a qualified success with… little overall dissent amongst those present about the restrictions in place,” said Simon Chadwick, director of the Eurasian sports centre at France’s Emlyon Business School.

“Qatar would do well to follow and fine-tune the processes and procedures that have been in place during the Olympics. The big difference of course is the presence of spectators.”

READ ALSO: Tourists Told To Leave As COVID-19 Cases Rise In French Overseas Territories

With less than 16 months left, the Gulf state is speckled with construction sites and roadworks.

The country’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, has acknowledged that the pandemic had caused “a delay” to some infrastructure projects “but it was a very limited delay”.

“Preparations… will all be complete in the coming months,” he said of the tournament which officials hope will contribute around $20 billion to Qatar’s economy.

Three of the eight World Cup stadiums, all airconditioned despite the tournament having been moved to the cooler winter months, are still under construction.

Qatar’s multi-billion-dollar football infrastructure, much of it still untested, will undergo a trial when it hosts the Arab Cup from November 30 to December 18.

As well as promises that infrastructure will be ready for the tournament, Qatar has repeatedly given assurances on its human and labour rights record.

In May, secret police arrested a Kenyan security guard who had published articles on the plight of migrant workers in the country which is dependent on expat labour.

He was charged with receiving money from a foreign agent prompting an outcry from rights groups.

While campaigners have accused employers of exploitation, Qatar insists it has done more than any country in the region to improve the welfare of workers.

“The speed of change will not be enough to convince some critics,” said Chadwick.

“There is (also) considerable dissent amongst conservatives within the Qatari government and society that the country has already been forced to change too much.”

– Rights and wrongs –

In February, Qatar fiercely denied reports in Britain’s Guardian newspaper of excessive worker fatalities, insisting the figure was unreliable but refusing to publish the actual number.

Some fans and commentators fear that Doha may not offer visitors the same experience as past tournaments.

“I’ve been to many DJs on beaches with thousands of people in Doha already in 2005 and 2006,” said 2022 ambassador and former Netherlands international Ronald De Boer, who lived in Doha for five years.

“Doha will be ready for this amount of fans, they can really hold big events. And don’t worry that you can’t drink a beer.”

While beer will be available in fan zones, restaurants and hotels, it is likely that ordinary ticket-holders will be unable to drink inside stadiums, with alcohol confined to outside areas.

A decision has yet to be made officially.

Those in premium hospitality suites will however be able to access fully-stocked bars within sight of the pitch.

AFP

Qatar To Contest In European Qualifying For 2022 World Cup

The official logo of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is unveiled on a giant screen in Madrid on September 3, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar will play in UEFA qualifying, the country’s football association said on Tuesday, and will be placed in one of the five-team groups.

The decision is intended to give Qatar match preparation ahead of the global soccer spectacle due to be held in November and December 2022.

“Qatar will join Group A alongside Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan,” the Qatar Football Association (QFA) said in a statement.

Qatar will play the team with a rest day in each round of matches.

“As the next FIFA World Cup host nation, Qatar has already qualified for the tournament — meaning any results involving Qatar will not count towards qualification,” the QFA said.

READ ALSO: Wolves Striker Jimenez Leaves Hospital After Surgery

“Qatar will play its ‘home’ matches in Europe in order to allow short travel times for their opponents.”

The European qualifying competition begins in March, with 13 countries from the continent going through to the 32-team finals.

There will be three rounds of fixtures in March, three more in September and two each in October and November.

Only the winners of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the finals, which are to take place in November and December of 2022.

Qatar have previously joined tournaments staged by other federations than its own Asian-region AFC, playing in the Copa America in 2019 where they will participate again in 2021.

 

AFP

Deschamps Keen To Lead France Into 2022 World Cup

France’s head coach Didier Deschamps (R) speaks with France’s defender Samuel Umtiti during a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, southwest of Paris, on March 18, 2019, as part of the team’s preparation for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2020 Group H qualifying football matches against Moldova and Iceland.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps has told AFP he would like to remain in his job until the 2022 finals in Qatar.

The 50-year-old Deschamps, who took charge of France in 2012, guided Les Bleus to a second World Cup title in Russia, two decades after lifting the trophy as captain on home soil.

“For me to be able to carry on until the next World Cup is obviously something, I would not be unhappy about, but we’ll see,” Deschamps said Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Dortmund Can’t Afford Any Mistake, Says Bayern’s Mueller

“I have a very good relationship with (FFF) president (Noel Le Graet). I’m under contract until the European Championships, which is the only certainty right now.”

Deschamps’s deal runs until June 2020, but the former France and Juventus midfielder admitted any extension would depend on the performance of his team.

“It’s linked to results. But before thinking about 2022, first come the qualifiers (for Euro 2020),” he said.

Deschamps said the thought of quitting amid the euphoria of July’s 4-2 victory over Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow had never crossed his mind, insisting there was more to be achieved.

“Quite simply because I feel really good,” he said. “I still have the same passion, the same desire and because I’m convinced there are still great things to be done with this squad.”

Asked if he could see himself emulating the longevity of Germany coach Joachim Loew, who has held the post since 2006, Deschamps replied: “He’s a good example. It goes to show continuity at the top level is not all that bad.”

“He (Loew) took the team to steer it to the World Cup title in 2014. Lately, and on the back of the last World Cup, it’s been difficult for him,” continued Deschamps, referring to Germany’s shock elimination in the group stage in Russia.

“He was (considered) the best five years ago, and today he’s not become the worst, far from it. He’s someone who has proved a lot and I’m happy he’s remained in charge of the Germany team.”

AFP