Klopp Threatens To Withdraw Liverpool Players From World Cup Qualifiers

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp reacts during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 3, 2021. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has threatened to withdraw players from international matches this month if there is a chance they will have to quarantine on their return under coronavirus rules.

Arrivals in Britain from “Red List” countries are subject to 10 days’ hotel confinement, which would apply to Brazilian trio Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho and Portugal forward Diogo Jota.

World governing body FIFA has given clubs dispensation to prevent players who may be affected by the regulations from joining up with their countries for the matches, which include World Cup qualifiers.

And Klopp fully intends to apply it, saying: “I think all the clubs agree that with the same problems we cannot just let the boys go and then sort the situation when they come back by placing our players in a 10-day quarantine in a hotel, it is just not possible.

“I understand the needs of the different FAs (football associations) but this is a time where we cannot make everyone happy and we have to admit the players are paid by the clubs so it means we have to be first priority.”

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Alisson is set to return to the side for the visit of Chelsea on Thursday after missing the win at Sheffield United as he was mourning the death of his father in a swimming accident in Brazil.

Sixth-placed Liverpool, who are one point behind Chelsea in the race for top-four spots, have not won at home since mid-December as their title defence has collapsed.

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 7, 2021. Manchester City won the game 4-1. Jon Super / POOL / AFP

 

Klopp, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, said Chelsea, still unbeaten under new boss Thomas Tuchel, would be tough to beat.

“It is quite difficult to get more possession than Chelsea,” he said. “You have to defend, work a lot, you have to be patient in moments and show your desire to defend all the time because they are a top team.”

But he said he was focused on the challenge of finishing in the top four, which would mean qualification for next season’s Champions League.

Liverpool are two points behind fourth-placed West Ham after beating Sheffield United.

“A week ago we were out now we’re around it again,” said Klopp. “The challenge and job is clear. We have to win games and as many as possible to make it. We know that.”

AFP

World Cup Qualifiers: Nigeria To Face Cape Verde, CAR, Liberia

Nigeria’s Super Eagles celebrate after scoring a goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier final against Seychelles in Asaba, the Delta State capital on March 22, 2019. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn in Group C of the African qualifying series for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Forty countries across the CAF region were divided into 10 groups of four teams each for the penultimate stage of the continental journey to Qatar.

Nigeria, three-time African champions, will play Cape Verde, Central African Republic, and Liberia in the second round of the continental qualification route.

The winner of the group will qualify for the final round of the qualifiers, which will be played on a knockout basis with the eventual five winners advancing to the world cup in Qatar.

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) explained that the final round will have the 10 teams drawn into five home and away ties, with the five winners securing the ticket to represent Africa at the tournament scheduled for 21 November to 18 December 2022 in Qatar.

The group phase of the qualifiers starts in October 2020 and will last until October 2021.

See the groups below:

Group A

Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Djibouti

Group B

Tunisia, Zambia, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea

Group C

Nigeria, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Liberia

Group D

Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Malawi

Group E

Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda

Group F

Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Angola

Group G

Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia

Group H

Senegal, Congo, Namibia, Togo

Group I

Morocco, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan

Group J

DR Congo, Benin, Madagascar, Tanzania

Nwora Invites Players For World Cup Qualifiers

 

D’Tigers Head Coach, Alex Nwora has invited 15 players for the final window of the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup qualifiers taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire starting on the 18th of February.

The team is dominated by players who missed out of the last phase of the qualifying campaign that took place in Lagos.

Jekiri Tonye will likely make his debut for senior men’s basketball team after missing out of action in the last year’s window due to administrative reasons while Christopher Obekpa, Obinna Emegano and Efevhera Michael will also be making a return.

Ekene Ibekwe whose last appearance was at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and 34-year-old Michael Umeh (2015 Afrobasket) with Italian Serie A side Virtus Bologna have both been recalled to the fold.

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Team captain and Sichuan Blue Whales player, Ike Diogu alongside, Stanley Okoye, Alade Aminu, Iroegbu Ike, Ike Nwamu, Ayodeji Akindele, Mbamalu Bryant, Zana Talib and Braxton Ogbueze complete the list of players invited for the mission.

Nigeria will battle host- Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic and second-placed Senegal with 16 points.

Currently ranked 33 in the world and first in Africa, the D’Tigers are on a 9 match unbeaten run and Nwora hopes to finish the campaign on a high to boost the team’s rating before the World Cup draws.

Alex Nwora said the preparation for the 2019 World Cup in China has started in earnest and it was imperative to give more quality players equal opportunity to fight for shirts.

“We were the first country in the world to qualify for the World Cup and it is very important that we start our preparation early.”

“The journey to get the team ready for the World Cup is a long one, but I am happy with the progress we have made so far.”

According to the Secretary General of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Chimezie Asiegbu, players and Technical crew are expected to fly straight to Abidjan from the clubs for logistics reasons.

France Lose Kurzawa For Crucial Qualifiers

Paris Saint-Germain’s French defender Layvin Kurzawa reacts during the French Ligue 1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on September 30, 2017. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

France saw Layvin Kurzawa pull out of the squad for their final 2018 World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday with a knee injury suffered in training, joining fellow defenders Benjamin Mendy and Laurent Koscielny on the sidelines.

The Paris Saint-Germain left-back has sprained knee ligaments, leaving France with defensive troubles for their matches in Bulgaria on Saturday and against Belarus at the Stade de France three days later.

Marseille defender Jordan Amavi, 23, has been called up as a replacement.

Kurzawa was named in the squad despite being the recent victim of a blackmail plot involving a video of the 25-year-old mocking France coach Didier Deschamps, although the footage has not been made public.

Four men aged between 25 and 30 were arrested and charged with the foiled attempt to blackmail Kurzawa for 200,000 euros ($239,000) during the summer.

The French football federation said Kurzawa picked up the injury in a clash with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud.

Barcelona left-back Lucas Digne is now likely to start the two games, which France need to win to be sure of automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Manchester City full-back Mendy has a serious knee injury and could be out for the rest of the season, while Arsenal centre-back Koscielny has an Achilles problem.

Deschamps is also without Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele.

France top Group A with 17 points, one ahead of Sweden, while the Netherlands are third on 13 ahead of Bulgaria (12), Belarus and Luxembourg (both five).

The group winner qualifies automatically, while the runners-up will likely face a play-off.

AFP

Fifa Ranking: Nigeria Now 11th In Africa

Super-EaglesNigeria has moved up four places in the latest FIFA rankings to become the 11th best in Africa and 60th in the world.

In the latest rankings published on FIFA’s website on Thursday, the Super Eagles of Nigeria rose to the 60th position in the overall ranking.

On the continental scale, the team led by Gernot Rohr, are now ranked 11th in Africa behind Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Mali, Cameron.

Argentina retains its number one spot with Germany coming in second, Brazil, third and Belgium occupying the fourth position.

africa-fifa

The upward bump in the Super Eagles’ ranking is largely due to their wins against Zambia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and Tanzania in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers.

African champions, Cote d’Ivoire are still the highest ranked team in Africa, moving up three places to the 31st position on the global ranking.

Nigeria Loses To Botswana In Under-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers

World Cup Qualifiers, U-19 CricketNigeria on Thursday lost to Botswana by one wicket at the ongoing Under-19 Cricket World cup qualifiers in South Africa.

Nigeria batted first scoring 101 runs all out in 39.3 overs. The nation’s top scorers in their innings were Taiwo Mohammed, 24; Sylvester Okpe, 23 and Sulaimon Runsewe, 15.

In the second inning, Botswana raced up to 103 for the loss of 9 wickets in 31.5 overs, to win the match.

Nigeria will play Ghana on Saturday and Tanzania on Sunday. It’s a round Robin league and the top two teams will qualify to Division one.

Team Nigeria had beaten Zambia to record a first victory at the second division of the 2016 ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.

Nigeria Thump Holders Mexico 6-1 In U-17 World Cup Opener

Three-time champions Nigeria opened their 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign on Saturday with a 6-1 thumping of twice champions and title-holders Mexico in Al Ain City.

In the opening Group F match at the competition holding in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Golden Eaglets overcame a nervous start to go top of the group. Nigeria now lead the group with three points and a +5 goal difference from one match, ahead of Sweden and Iraq.

The Mexicans were unable to take advantage of their opponents’ trepidation, as striker Ulises Jaimes had a chance to score with his head after only three minutes.

But the Nigerian defence deflected the ball wide off danger to get a respite until after about 30 minutes when the Eaglets settled into their rhythm.

After 33 minutes, the Eaglets followed on a counter-attack for Success Isaac to race in and round the goalkeeper, before pulling the ball back across goal. Kelechi Iheanacho followed the play with a clever finish, hitting the ball high into the net over a pair of Mexican defenders.

Seven minutes later, the Eaglets scored again, after Isaac crossed from the left following a fast-break. Iheanacho kept his cool to cut inside, showing great patience to drift past two defenders and slam into the side netting.

But the Eaglets’ enthusiasm got the better of them as they conceded a goal a minute later, after failing to clear their lines. The ball fell kindly in the goal area for Jaimes who rounded his marker to score with a low shot to the corner.

However, Iheanacho claimed his hat-trick four minutes into the second-half, slamming home a low and hard shot at the near post after a flick-on from a long throw-in.

Chidiebere Nwakali made it 4-1 three minutes later with a shot from 25 yards out, while Isaac made it 5-1 on the hour mark when he raced on to a through-ball.

He slalomed through two Mexican defenders before firing inside the near post from 12 yards out. Iheanacho cut in from the right side after 70 minutes to strike from a long way out to make it 6-1.

Nigeria will face debutants Sweden in their next match on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the same Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium.

Italy Prepares To Play Truculent Czech Republic

Ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualification, Italy has notched up preparations to take on resilient Czech Republic in Prague today.

According the Coach of the Azzuri side; Cesare Prandelli, the Italian team will have to be wary of complacency when they eventually go into the clash with the Czech Republic and it either to take a huge step towards qualifying for Brazil with a win in Prague, as victory will see them eight points clear of their opponents, concede the whole points to them or settle for a draw and the last two options certainly does not feature in his plan.

Prandelli also pointed out Czech Republic skipper Tomas Rosicky, hinting that it won’t be an easy trip for Italy.

Prandelli said he and his team are awaiting a very aggressive Czech Republic team as they are capable of doing the fast flow on the pitch, as he also qualified Rosicky whom he earlier pointed as the main threat as an excellent player.

Italy is unbeaten in qualifying so far, with four wins and a draw from their five games.

Their only slip up was a 2-2 draw against second-placed Bulgaria, but with Denmark also in a tough-looking Group B, they can’t afford to drop many more points.

Klinsmann’s U.S. Squad Preps For W. Cup Qualifiers

Former Germany Soccer legend; Jürgen Klinsmann now the U.S. men’s national team coach geared up preparations with upcoming friendly matches against Belgium and Germany, after which the U.S will take on a series of World Cup qualifying games starting with a match against Jamaica in Kingston on June 7th.

According the German coach in video released by the US Soccer Federation, the U.S. squad is excited ahead of the upcoming games part of which are two friendlies especially the centennial game against Germany in Washington, after they are faced with World Cup qualifiers and they sure want to well in the big games, which is why the team spirit is high.

A total of 14 players arrived into the U.S. camp Sunday evening. The remaining seven completed the journey following their weekend matches in MLS and the Austrian Bundesliga.

Klinsmann said the team has couple of weeks of tireless work ahead as they will going into each game to well and record victory especially in the World Cup qualifiers as they want to be in Brazil 2014.

The U.S. squad will play Germany on Saturday in Washington in a match that will surely have its emotional moments. It will mark the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Soccer Federation as well as the first contest between Klinsmann and the side he played for many years, before retiring and also managed to the 2006 World Cup.

Emenike To Miss World Cup Qualifiers After Successful Surgery

Super Eagles forward, Emmanuel Emenike will now be out for between four and six weeks, after undergoing surgery on Thursday.

The Nigerian international will be missing the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying games against Kenya and Namibia in June after undergoing surgery on Thursday as he will be out for between four and six weeks, according to the official website of his club, Spartak Moscow.

“Emenike underwent a successful operation on his meniscus and will miss four to six weeks,” Spartak Moscow announced on their website.

Emenike has also been ruled out of his club’s last four matches of the Russian Premier League season.

It was earlier reported that Emenike will be missing just the World Cup match in Kenya until the surgery was done on Thursday and it was confirmed that he will be out for longer than anticipated.

Nigeria will face Kenya and Namibia in crucial World Cup games on the road next month.

Emenike finished as joint leading scorer at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, where Nigeria emerged champions after defeating Burkina Faso.

 

Emeneike will now be available at the earliest in mid-June when the African champions would start their quest at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

The striker will be available at the earliest in mid-June when the African champions would start their quest at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Keshi Gets Support From NFF Over Players Call-up

Nigeria’s football management body, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has backed former Super Eagles captain and now Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Keshi over team selection despite the loud protest by the team captain Joseph Yobo.

Yobo was very livid to learn that he was left out of the selection that will be facing the Harambee Stars of Kenya for the World cup qualification clash in Calabar last month.

Several other big players of the Super Eagles criticized Keshi’s act but Yobo who was definitely embittered was of the loudest as he openly criticized Keshi for leaving him out of the team after their victorious return from South Africa as the Super Eagles were crowned the African champions.

One official of the NFF said Stephen Keshi will always get the support of the federation as they have already resolved earlier to give him their support and allow him a free hand.

“We appointed Keshi for the Super Eagles job and we have resolved to give him a free hand to pick the players he deems fit to prosecute matches and thus far his selections have produced results,”.

According to an executive member of the NFF; Chris Green, there are several issues which is in the top drawer of the federation which has be addressed and be addressed in good time too, because it is in the interest of the federation to promote peace in the team for without peace the sole purpose of having a coach to steer the team is defeated.

Green made mention of the Yobo vs Keshi, Osaze and Keshi, Emmanuel Emenike, Danny Shittu issues as part of the issues to be addressed in meeting in Abuja.

“We are going to look at the issues objectively. A coach is a coach and is in charge of the team and can decide the players who could best play a game for him.”

“However, when players begin to complain and senior players for that matter, there is need for us to mediate because the team can only achieve more when they are united.

“Our concern is not to fan the ego of anyone, but for peace to reign in the Eagles. We appointed Keshi for this job and we believe in his ability, therefore we must do everything to make sure his job is easy and void of whatever distraction,”

It would be recalled that Joseph Yobo didn’t feature in most of the matches that Nigeria played during the Afcon 2013 in South Africa due to injury.

However, the captain who returned to his club and started playing immediately stated that he is not down with injury as he has been active for his Turkish club since the Nations cup, knocking off the issue of injury being responsible for being excluded from the Super Eagles call-up.

NFF Asks FIFA To Reschedule W.C. Qualifying Matches

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has requested for a reschedule of Nigeria’s World Cup qualifiers coming up in June.

Forwarding this request to the World Football Governing Body FIFA, the NFF stated that it wants the game in Nigeria’s group to be staged the same day for the sake of fairness.

According to the NFF General Secretary; Musa Adamu Malawi will have a better advantage over Nigeria if the request was not made by the NFF as Nigeria would have been engaged in crucial engagement as well as that of Malawi, so requesting for a reschedule is a right path.

“We make this request in the interest of fairness, as at the moment, Nigeria and Malawi have same number of points (five) and for Nigeria to play two days before Malawi in each of the two important qualifying games in June will give undue advantage to the Malawians,”.

“We see the FIFA Confederations Cup as a key tournament, but we also know we have to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals as priority.

“It is important to us to go to the FIFA Confederations Cup and then return to Brazil a year later for the FIFA World Cup finals.”

Come June the 5th, Nigeria will be taking on Kenya for the return leg in Nairobi after which they will engage Namibia in Windhoek on June the 12th before heading to Brazil for the FIFA Confederation Cup; they will now take on Malawi.

This schedule is what has prompted NFF’s action of lodging a formal complaint to the World football Governing Body, proposing that their Group F matches as well as those involving closest rivals Malawi is played on the same day. This would either be on June 5 and 12 or the original dates of June 8 and 15.