U-17 World Cup: Nigeria Beat Sweden 3-0, Qualify For Final

Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets have booked their place in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a convincing 3-0 victory over Sweden.

Taiwo Awoniyi’s 20th minute strike gave the Manu Garba-led boys the lead, but the young lads had to endure pressure from their Scandinavian opponents all through the half.

However, goals from left back Samuel Okon and Chidera Ezeh late in the 2nd half gave Nigeria the victory.

Nigeria will now face Mexico who had earlier defeated South American giants, Argentina 3-0.

The defending champions, Mexico proved bookmakers wrong with a convincing victory over Argentina.

Two quick 1st half goals from Ivan Ochoa   in the 5th and 21st minute took the sting off the tie.

The Argentines who were yet to lose a game in the competition came up strong in the 2nd half but their efforts yielded no results as Mexico sealed the game when Marcos Granados found the back of the net in the 86th minute.

Nigeria and Mexico had earlier met in the tournament with Nigeria trashing the Mexicans 6-1.

Nigeria will be banking on the potent combination of Kelechi Iheanacho – one of the best players at the tournament with 5 goals and 7 assists and Taiwo Awoniyi who now has 3 goals in 2 games to earn victory in the final on Friday.

U-17 World Cup: Nigeria Beat Iraq 5-0, Qualify for Round of 16

Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets put the final nail on the coffin of Iraq, defeating the Asians 5-nil in what was seen by many as a one sided affair at the FIFA U-17 world cup.

The Golden Eaglets started like a house on fire with 4 first half goals, Musa Mohammed, Chidiebere Nwakali and Musa Yayaha all got on the scorer sheet.

The Manu Garba led boys started from where they left off in the first half as substitute Chigozie Obasi’s goal in the 90th minute made it 5 for Nigeria.

Elsewhere in group F, Mexico defeated Sweden 1-0. With this results Nigeria top the group with 7 points, followed by Mexico with  6 points, while the Sweedes have 4 and Iraq finished with no point.

Nigeria has now qualified for the round of 16 and will be facing the second placed team in group E.

Nigeria has not lost a group-stage game at any U-17 World Cup since way back in 1993.

 

President Jonathan Congratulates Golden Eaglets

Meanwhile President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria on their 5-0 defeat of Iraq in the on-going FIFA Under-17 world cup in the United Arab Emirates.

President Jonathan urged them to maintain the exemplary dedication, commitment and resilience they have exhibited thus far in the competition until ultimate victory is achieved.

He assures them of the support of the Federal Government as they continue in the competition.

Golden Eaglets: We Don’t Need To Brag, We Just Want To Win – Amunike

The Golden Eaglets Assistant Coach, Emmanuel Amunike has warned that in football, it is not good to brag as the most important thing to focus on is how to win, even if it is by half a goal.

He said this on ‘Sports This Morning’ during the preview of the Golden Eaglets second group game against Sweden. He sounded a warning that the 6-1 score line of the team’s first game versus defending champion, Mexico does not mean Sweden will be easy.

While reacting to a question on how many goals Nigerians should expect in the game against Sweden, the former Super Eagles attacker who was speaking via the phone from UAE said:

“Sometimes you don’t expect to score a lot of goals, bearing it in mind that also these teams, what made them to be in this tournament, that means they’re good. The likes of Spain, France, they didn’t make it, and then Sweden, Croatia are here”.

He further said each game brings different challenges and plan, but the objective of the team is to win the game and consolidate their qualification for the next stage. He assured that the boys are in good mood, and even though everyone is expecting a very tough challenge, he expects victory.

The Media Officer of the team, Morakinyo Abodunrin, also speaking from UAE had earlier expressed optimism that the boys and the coaching crew are all in good spirit for the game but also warned that winning the tournament requires having to play 7 games, so it is too early to start celebrating just one victory even if it was 6-1 against the defending champions.

Sweden won their first game 4-1 against Iraq. Victory for either of the teams will make them top the group and guarantee qualification into the Round of 16.

Analysts Celebrate Kano Pillars, Back Eaglet’s Ihenacho To Shine

On Sports This Morning, analysts have thrown their weight behind the Nigerian Under-17 national team, Golden Eaglets to make great impact at the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup in United Arab Emirates, after their demolition of defending champions, Mexico by a 6-1 scoreline in their opening game played on Saturday.

They have also identified the Eaglets’ 4 goal hero, Kelechi Ihenacho as a star for the future. They called on the Nigerian football administrators to nurture the team so that the boys can grow together rather than focusing on winning the competition.

Reviewing the just concluded Glo Premier League which produced Kano Pillars as champion, they commended the team for their feat of joining Enyimba FC of Aba as the only teams to have won the Nigerian Football League back-to-back.

 

FIFA Turns Down Ethiopia’s Appeal On Disallowed Goal

The Ethiopia Football Federation (EFF) got a rather unexpected response from the World Football Governing Body FIFA over its protest letter on the referee’s decision to disallow their goal against Nigeria during the World Cup qualification clash which took place in Addis Ababa over the weekend.

FIFA stated in its response that the decision of the referee to disallow the goal is final and nothing can be done about it.

According to FIFA, “We acknowledge receipt of your letter, dated 13 October complaining about the referee decision to disallow a goal against Nigeria. In this respect, we would like to draw your attention to article 14 paragraph 6 of the regulations for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil”.

“According to which protests may be made about referee’s decision regarding facts connected with play. Such decisions are final and not subject to appeal, unless otherwise stipulated in the Fifa disciplinary code”

“Therefore in view of the foregoing we regret to inform you that we are not in any position to intervene in the matter.

Finally, we would like to point out that the foregoing is of a purely informative nature, and therefore, without prejudice to any decision whatever” the letter pointed out and was signed by Marco Villiger ,Director of Legal affairs and Marc Cavallero head of Discipline and Governance.

The Super Eagles on Sunday 13th of October in Addis Ababa defeated Ethiopia 2-1 in the 2014 World Cup playoffs match.

Nigeria ensured she took the three points in the game by rallying from a goal deficit to stand a strong chance of qualifying for the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Ethiopia’s Asafa who scored the first goal for his country, could not save the Walya Antelopes from defeat on home soil as a brace from Emmanuel Emenike in the 2nd half, the second a penalty, cancelled Ethiopia’s early lead.

After the game, fans of Ethiopia were furious over a cross which was alleged to have crossed the goaline as goalkeeper Enyeama grabbed the ball.

This however led to a mass mob on the Super Eagles while being taken away from the stadium with Nosa Igiebor sustaining a hand injury in the process.

The return leg holds November 16 in Calabar.

Emenike Is The Striker Nigeria Has Been Looking For – Obanya

Following Nigeria’s Super Eagles’ 2-1 away win against Ethiopia’s Antelopes on Sunday, sports analyst, Nnamdi Obanya, on Monday said that Nigeria’s centre-forward, Emmanuel Emenike may be the striker Nigeria has been looking for to take after Nigeria’s highest goal scorer, Rashidi Yekini.

“Emenike might finally be the centre-forward we have been looking for.

Right now he has joined Rashidi Yekini and Sunday Onyeruka on more than one goal in every two games. Only three of them have done it. Segun Odegbami is flat on one goal every two games.

Emenike has 10 goals in 18 and at his goal scoring ratio, by the time he plays 58 games like Yekini, he would have scored 32. Yekini did 37 in 58 games,” Obanya said.

Although, Emenike’s goal ratio can improve, Obanya opined that “he is the striker Nigeria has been looking for.”

He said this while analysing Sunday’s game on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

Obanya, who had predicted a 2-1 win game in favour of Nigeria last week, said that Nigerians were harsh on the Super Eagles on Sunday. The Ethiopians were in control when the match started and kept possession of the ball, he said, adding that the pitch was also bumpy, hence the Super Eagles “couldn’t get a foot hold in the game.”

He faulted Nigerian coach, Stephen Keshi for making Odu Amadi, who is a natural winger play out of position in his 4-3-3 formation which led to an imbalance in the middle and “it ended up looking like a 4-2-3-1. Unfortunately, the 3 behind the one striker are all wingers which left Nigeria’s mid-field empty.

Speaking about the defense, he said that central defender Egwuekwe’s inexperience was exposed during the match as “a lot of times, the Ethiopians would get behind the full-back”, but his position allowed the Ethiopians have chances they should never have had.” Obanya however gave all credit to Egwuekwe’s central partner Oboabona. “Although Emenike was the man of the match, Oboabona single-handedly held down the defense”.

Obanya while praising the Super Eagles for playing “the classic away game football” faulted Mikel Obi for holding the ball for too long when he was counter-attacking his position. The Ethiopian goal keeper, was not the best in the world and the Eagles should have been ticking shots at him.

Ethiopia Will Not Be Easy For Nigeria – Nnamdi Obanya

Sports Journalist, Mr. Nnamdi Obanya has warned that Nigeria parading a star studded team of Europe based players may not necessarily amount to victory away in Addis-Ababa when facing Walya Ibex of Ethiopia in Sunday’s first leg of the World Cup qualifying play-off match.

Although there is a big gulf between both teams considering their rankings in global football, the Ethiopians qualified for the final stage by defeating South-Africa easily despite having had points deducted from them in the group. He highlighted the recent rise in the standard of Ethiopian football with the success of its team doing well in the CAF Champions League as worthy of note.

He then posits that the continental success achieved by a local club that has produced the main nucleus of the national team proves that there is some level of competition which has helped them to select the best crop of players who are highly motivated and have been representing them for some years. Therefore it will not be easy for Nigeria playing against such a motivated squad who are aware that they are just 180 minutes away from their first ever world cup appearance.

With the high altitude and massive support from their home fans, the Ethiopians will fancy their chances against Nigeria. Therefore the Super Eagles cannot afford to be complacent. In his words “if you watch Ethiopia play, they are very physical and they keep the ball on the ground; they are not afraid to come at you, they go very hard for every 50-50 and if you’re not careful you might just lose out”.

It was not all gloomy predictions from Mr. Obanya, as he highlighted the availability of the Super Eagles’ 1st team players, the great form of 1st choice goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the absence of Ethiopia’s 2 top strikers due to injury as well as the reported internal grumbling by their players about match bonuses as positive signs. The temperate Ethiopian climate, he added, also favours Nigeria’s Europe based players.

He however warned that the 263 people including officials, administrators and stakeholders being sponsored to Addis-Ababa to cheer the Super Eagles should not be made to translate into too much pressure on the players. Reading from the official NFF press release he hoped that the 263 people include the 200 fans specially approved by the Nigerian president earlier in the week. This is a must win game for Nigeria.

 

Lampard Says Cole Deserves To Captain England Against Ireland

England International and Chelsea player Frank Lampard has backed teammate Ashley for the captain armband in the clash against Ireland in Wembley after the defender was handed the captaincy in recognition of that achievement.

According to his football statistics, the game will pass as Cole’s 102nd cap for the Three Lions while it also passes as the player’s first home match since reaching a century of appearances.

Vice-captain Lampard expressed his delight over the decision during a news conference yesterday where he told news men that it was the right decision that was made.

The necessity to transfer the captaincy of the Three Lions squad was called for with Steven Gerard injured but it was supposed to be transferred to Frank Lampard by virtue of his position as the vice-captain to the injured captain Steven Gerard.

Lampard rooted for Cole’s captaincy not just to celebrate his 100th caps but for his noticeable performance throughout his caps England labelling the defender as the most consistent left back probably in world football over such a long period of time.

Lampard said it’s the perfect gesture and very much deserved for Cole and as a teammate of his at Chelsea and England he is glad for Cole.

 

And ahead of the friendly between England and Ireland, manager Roy Hodgson has written to English fans who will be attending the game live to forego any act of provocative attitude during the game, a match that the England manager sees as that which will boost Three Lions preparation for their World Cup qualifiers later in the year.

 

England will do all it can to qualify for the Brazil 2014 World Cup with four games left to play England lies on the second spot in Group H with 12 points, two points behind Montenegro.

 

Wednesday’s friendly will be the first time England and Ireland have played each other since a match was abandoned due to rioting at Lansdowne Road in 1995.

 

 

NFF Not Rescinding Decision On Backroom staff

[highlight]The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has reiterated that its plan on cutting down the backroom staff of the national team is a done deal as it is not rescinding its decision on that.[/highlight]

According to the chairman, media and publicity committee of the federation; Emeka Inyama, the planned downsizing is not to put a clog in the wheel of Stephen Keshi’s progress that is the Super Eagles head coach, as contrary to report, Keshi and the NFF are working hand in hand for the Super Eagles of Nigeria to get a slot in the finals of the 2014 World Cup.

Keshi himself denied the report that he will be resigning as the head coach of the Super Eagles some days back corroborating the statement made by Emeka Inyama that he is working hand in hand with the NFF to ensure the smooth and successful achievement of several targets for the national team which is his mission.

NFF has also denied the idea of bringing in an expatriate as the head coach saying it is not part of their plans right now as the federation will be working with Stephen Keshi and their support for the head coach is 100 per cent.

Keshi To Play 2014 World Cup Qualifiers With Lean Squad

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is to maintain a small squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, just as he prepares to tackle the Harambee Stars of Kenya

The Nigeria Football Federation said this is due to the financial constraint plaguing the federation even though the chief coach of the Super Eagles had earlier declared his interest to add more quality players to the team that claimed the Afcon 2013 trophy.

Keshi had shown interest in players such as Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins and others.

According to Punch Newspaper, an official of the federation said: “Of course we will look at the list from Keshi as in the past but the key thing may not be the type of players he needs but largely on how the Federation can also accommodate his plans. In this time of lean purse, we don’t expect to see 35 players called up for the game.

“The encouragement now is that Keshi already has his core players and so he is zeroing in on exactly those he wants for this game and a few others he wants to give another opportunity to prove their worth,” the official said.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles will host the Harambee Stars of Kenya in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match on March 23.

Ben Alaiya, an official of the Federation also claimed that Stephen Keshi will be releasing his list of the squad to face the Harambee Stars soonest.

 

World Cup 2014:Lampard declares interest

Come 2014 world cup in Brazil, Captain Frank Lampard will likely be a frontrunner for England’s World Cup campaign from playoffs to the finals as he declared his interest to be part of the 2014 team as he hopes also that his age will not begin to tell before and during this period in terms o fitness and contribution on field.

Lampard who will be 36 come World Cup 2014 in Brazil will be the captain of England’s international friendly with Italy in Berne after missing the Euro 2012 finals through injury.

The Chelsea Captain and England Captain believes that if he puts his best in his playing career and he is at an optimal performance then his chances of making it into the team will not be in doubt as he knows that there are younger players vying for his position on field.

Lampard who has won 90 caps for England so far said he wouldn’t want to laze around for the wrong reasons so as to win 100 caps.

 

But the Chelsea midfielder never considered retiring after being forced to sit out the Euros and is now looking forward to being one of the senior members in a youthful-looking squad as Hodgson looks to the future.

He said he is excited to amongst a younger squad as people will talk about the merits of this friendly each year but overall, he feels the manager has picked a very intelligent squad because he rested players who played in the Euros and brought in some young players to get a feel of the England set-up which he concluded it is a good move.

W.Cup Qualifying: Argentina tops group B as Messi shines

South American World Cup qualifying games were played yesterday in different parts of South America and Argentina became a force to reckon with as the Linel Messi-led squad crushed fellow South American country; Ecuador 4-0  as Argentina has became the leader of group B with the score-line,  thanks to Barcelona star, the Merciless Messi.

Argentina’s decision to play their four world class forwards was fully justified as Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria were on call within 11 minutes of the first half as three goals were recorded in quick succession.

Barcelona Star Lionel Messi once showed what he was known for, with his deft moves on field and magical display of skills as he has been doing while on call for his country; Argentina and Barcelona as he finally won over the crowd at the Monumental in Buenos Aires.

With the structured pattern displayed by Argentina, the squad was obviously centred on the Barcelona strike from attack to defence as he led the formation from back to front till the end of the match.

According to Coach Alejandro Sabella “We have to be a solid team, structured in defence and accompany Lionel so he can express himself to the full”.

Argentina lead the South American group with 10 points from five matches, one more point than Chile, who beat Bolivia 2-0 in La Paz, and two ahead of Uruguay and Venezuela who drew 1-1 in Montevideo.

The next challenge the South American side will be rooting to overcome is the friendly game with arch-rivals and World Cup hosts; Brazil which will be played in the United States next weekend.

Meanwhile in other games played in South America, Copa America holders Uruguay failed to end their Venezuela jinx, going a fifth World Cup qualifier in succession without beating their opponent.

Diego Forlan put Uruguay ahead at the Centenario when he extended his national scoring record to 33 in the 39th minute.

But, with little more than five minutes left, a header by Venezuela striker Jose Salomon Rondon had defender Diego Godin head the ball into his own net.

After the game, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez told reporters while speaking for the players and his staff that they are all not pleased with the outcome of the game as they need to work harder to achieve good results which they desire.

Chile served notice they are still a force despite initial problems that included Coach Claudio Borghi suspending a quintet of players for breaking a curfew before a qualifier against Uruguay last November.

Borghi’s side notched up a third win as Chile made it three successive qualifying victories in the thin air of La Paz, absorbing pressure and hitting Bolivia on the break.

Forward Charles Aranguiz put Chile ahead in first-half added time and Bolivia’s hopes took a further dive when defender Luis Gutierrez was sent off early in the second half for a foul on Alexis Sanchez.

Bolivia’s coach Gustavo Quinteros, a member of the country’s last team to go to the finals in 1994 was also sent to the stands for protesting.

Midfielder Arturo Vidal, the only one of the five players disciplined in November to be pardoned and have his suspension reduced, made sure of the points with a second goal seven minutes from time netting a ball that came back off the post.

Bolivia, bottom of the group with one point from five matches, paid for their poor finishing when they dominated early on in both halves.

Peru, one from bottom with three points and looking to end a 32-year wait for a place in the finals, host Colombia in Lima today.