Nigeria’s Flamingos Drawn Against Germany At U-17 Women’s World Cup

flamingos 2020
In this file photo, the Flamingos line up before their match against Guinea in a 2020 U-17 World Cup qualifier held in Conakry. Photo: [email protected]

 

Nigeria’s Flamingos have been paired alongside Germany in Group B of the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. 

The draw was held on Friday with Chile and New Zealand completing the group for Coach Bankole Olowookere’s side.

READ ALSO: FG Reverses Ban On International Basketball

The Nigerian girls had a brilliant run in the qualification series for the competition. They overcame Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia en route to the tournament.

They scored 15 goals and conceded none in the process with Opeyemi Ajakaye striking six times as Nigeria sealed a ticket to India.

Africa’s other representatives, Tanzania and Morocco are in Group D and A respectively.

Morocco will also battle hosts India, the USA, and Brazil in the same group while Japan, Canada, and France complete Tanzania’s group.

The competition will run from 11th to 30th October. It was supposed to hold in 2020 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain won the last edition in 2018. They are grouped alongside Colombia, Mexico, and China.

Groups and Teams For U-17  Women’s World Cup 

Below are the groups and teams for the U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022: 

Group A: India, USA, Morocco, Brazil

Group B: Germany, Nigeria, New Zealand, Chile

Group C: Spain, Colombia, Mexico, China

Group D: Japan, Tanzania, Canada, France

Wales Spoil Ukrainian Dreams To Reach First World Cup In 64 Years


Wales’ striker Gareth Bale (C) celebrates with teammates after winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 play-off final qualifier football match between Wales and Ukraine at the Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on June 5, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Gareth Bale led Wales to their first World Cup since 1958 as Ukraine’s dreams of lifting the spirits of a war-torn country were cruelly denied by a 1-0 defeat in Cardiff on Sunday.

Bale’s free-kick, which was turned into his own net by Ukrainian captain Andriy Yarmolenko, separated the sides despite the visitors dominating the game in sodden conditions at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Ukraine made a nation proud in beating Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday in their first competitive clash since Russia’s invasion.

Oleksandr Petrakov’s men deserved much more from another exceptionally composed performance under the strain of carrying the hopes of a people devastated by Russian aggression.

The Ukrainian national anthem was applauded by all sides of the stadium before the game and, just as on their trip to Scotland in midweek, the visitors were inspired rather than inhibited by the pressure put upon them.

However, they were made to pay an exceptionally heavy price for not taking their chances and one moment of misfortune.

Oleksandr Zinchenko did find the net after just three minutes, but the Manchester City man was deemed to have taken his free-kick that caught Wayne Hennessey off guard too quickly.

Hennessey then had to be alert to prevent Roman Yaremchuk opening the scoring before Viktor Tsygankov sliced a glorious chance wide.

Wales had barely threatened the Ukrainian goal, but in Bale have a star capable of changing the course of matches in an instant.

The 32-year-old is without a club having brought down the curtain on nine years at Real Madrid by picking up a fifth Champions League winner’s medal last weekend.

Bale has reserved his best for international duty in recent years and will now get the chance to add a World Cup to a glorious career.

His free-kick on 34 minutes was headed off target until Yarmolenko tried to head it to safety and only succeeded in deflecting the ball past the helpless Georgiy Bushchan.

Ukraine refused to be crushed by that misfortune and were unlucky not to be given a penalty before half-time when Yarmolenko was clipped by Joe Allen inside the box.

The pattern continued into the second half as Rob Page’s men were pinned back inside their own half.

But the home side did have big chances of their own to double their advantage on the counter-attack when Aaron Ramsey steered wide, Brennan Johnson hit the post and Bale shot meekly into the arms of Bushchan.

At the other end, chances continued to come and go as Tsygkanov’s effort was saved by Hennessey before Yaremchuk put the rebound wide.

A last-ditch challenge from Ben Davies then prevented Yarmolenko the shot at redemption.

Ukraine’s day was summed up five minutes from time when Hennessey produced an incredible save to prevent substitute Artem Dovbyk’s header finding the top corner.

But Wales are now unbeaten in 19 home games stretching back nearly four years for a reason as they were roared home by the majority of the 33,000 crowd.

The last time Wales were at a World Cup they were eliminated by a goal for Brazil by 17-year-old Pele in the quarter-finals.

This generation of Welsh players achieved the seemingly impossible by getting to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 in their first major tournament for 58 years.

Now they have written themselves into the history books once more when they get the chance to face England, USA and Iran in Qatar come November.

AFP

Argentina To Prepare For World Cup In Abu Dhabi

Argentina’s striker Paulo Dybala (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the ‘Finalissima’ International friendly football match between Italy and Argentina at Wembley Stadium in London on June 1, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Argentina will be based in Abu Dhabi as they prepare for this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar after the Argentina Football Association (AFA) entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC).

The two-time World Cup winners will play friendlies in Abu Dhabi as part of their preparatons for what is likely to be superstar Lionel Messi’s final chance to win the trophy — he will be 35 by the time the tournament kicks off.

Messi came closest to lifting it when Argentina lost to Germany in the 2014 final in Brazil.

“After months of joint-work exchanges, ADSC together with the AFA, a long-term agreement has been consolidated,” read a statement by the ADSC.

“Abu Dhabi will host the Argentine national team preparing camp for the 2022 World Cup, which will include friendly matches in November.

“As part of Argentina’s collaboration with the UAE, the SuperCopa Argentina finals will be played for four consecutive years in Abu Dhabi starting from this January 2023 until the year 2026.

“The Argentine Football Association thus becomes the first federation in Latin America to export a high global impact sporting event to the Middle East region.”

Argentina have been drawn in Group C opening their campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22 before facing Mexico (November 26) and rounding off their group matches against Poland November 30).

The quadrennial global football showpiece gets underway on November 21 and runs till December 18.

World Cup Police Brace For Huge Crowds In Qatar’s Capital

This photograph taken on April 20, 2022 shows an exterior view of the al-Janoub Stadium in Doha, which will host matches of the FIFA football World Cup 2022. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

 

Controlling hundreds of thousands of football fans in Qatar’s capital will be the biggest security challenge of World Cup 2022, FIFA told police chiefs from competing nations on Sunday.

Unlike previous World Cups, where only two teams and their supporters would generally converge on one city at any given time, all the games will take place in and around Doha.

The most geographically compact World Cup therefore represents the tournament’s biggest “challenge”, FIFA security director Helmut Spahn told a security conference for the tournament in Doha.

Qatar has predicted that 1.4 million people will visit during the 28 day tournament, that starts November 21, with “approximately 350,000” attendees in Doha “at the same time”, Spahn noted, speaking on the sidelines of the conference.

“You have to manage that,” he said. “But we can create history and I am pretty sure that we will manage it.”

Major General Abdulaziz Al-Ansari, head of Qatar’s World Cup security operation, also acknowledged that the numbers were the main concern.

“But we are very much confident that we have reviewed this over and over again,” Ansari said. “Of course there are going to be challenges, but the challenge is going to be part of the enjoyment.”

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The Gulf state’s police are preparing an intricate system of road closures and extra public transport to move rival groups of football fans around.

The gas-rich nation has spent billions of dollars on seven new stadiums and refurbishing an eighth for the World Cup.

The longest distance between any of the two stadiums is about 70 kilometres (45 miles).

Ansari said police delegations from competing nations would inspect the World Cup stadiums and review transport in Doha over the next two days.

Spahn claimed the threat from “terrorism” had eased since Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

In the past “we had terrorist attack threats prior to a World Cup, we had strikes of private security and police, we had problems sometimes with infrastructure at stadiums not being ready. This is not the case here,” Spahn said.

The threat “is low and under control here in Qatar.”

European fans’ groups have been seeking clarity on Qatar’s tournament policy on alcohol consumption, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights.

Ansari said a guide for fans going to Qatar would be released next month.

FIFA Rejects Algeria’s Call To Replay World Cup Play-Off With Cameroon

File photo: The World Cup winner’s trophy is seen during the 68th FIFA Congress at the Expocentre in Moscow on June 13, 2018. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

Algeria’s desperate bid to have their World Cup play-off with Cameroon replayed has been rejected by the competition organisers FIFA, the Algerian Football Federation said Saturday.

Algeria won the first leg of the play-off 1-0 in March but were beaten 2-1 in the return leg to miss out on one of the five berths at the finals for African nations.

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The Algerian federation claimed the refereeing of the second tie by Gambian Bakary Gassama was “scandalous” while the FIFA referees committee rejected this view.

“The referees decisions had no negative influence,” FIFA said.

Falconets Handed Tricky Group In U-20 Women’s World Cup

The Falconets have qualified for all editions of the U-20 World Cup. [email protected]_Falcons

 

The Falconets will face South Korea, Canada, and France in the U-20 Women’s World Cup after the draw was conducted at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica in San José on Thursday night. 

Nigeria were seeded in Pot 3 along with the US, Spain, and Mexico for the competition billed for August 10 to 28.

The top teams were seeded into pots based on their performances in the last five editions of the World Cup.

Africa’s other representatives, the Black Princesses of Ghana, are in Group D, alongside defending champions, Japan, the US, and the Netherlands.

Hosts Costa Rica, Australia, Spain, and Brazil are in Group A while Group B has Germany, Colombia, New Zealand, and Mexico.

The best two teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stage. Every group game and quarter-final fixtures will be played at the Alejandro Morera Soto while the semi-final, final, and third-place matches will hold at the Estadio Nacional.

READ ALSO: Falconets Silence Senegal, Qualify For U-20 World Cup

Since the competition began, the Falconets have featured in all editions, their best outings second-place finishes in 2010 and 2014.

Coach Christopher Danjuma’s side qualified for the competition after a 7-1 aggregate win over the Young Lionesses of Teranga in the final round of qualification.

This year’s edition, which was rescheduled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, was supposed to hold in 2020. Nigeria crashed out of the last edition in 2018 at the quarter-final following defeat to Spain.

U-20 Women’s World Cup Groups And Teams

Below is a list of the teams and their groups for the age-grade competition: 

Group A: Costa Rica, Australia, Spain Brazil

Group B: Germany, Colombia, New Zealand, Mexico

Group C: France, Nigeria, Canada, Korea Republic

Group D: Japan, Netherlands, Ghana, USA

Maradona’s ‘Hand Of God’ World Cup Jersey Auctioned For $9.3m

In this file photo taken on April 20, 2022 a football shirt worn by Argentina’s Diego Maradona during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match against England, is pictured during a photocall at Sotheby’s auction house in London ahead of its sale.  ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

 

The jersey that Argentina football legend Diego Maradona wore while scoring twice against England in the 1986 World Cup, including the infamous “hand of God” goal, was auctioned for $9.3 million, a record for any item of sports memorabilia, Sotheby’s said Wednesday.

Seven bidders vied for the garment in an auction that began April 20 and ended Wednesday morning, Sotheby’s said.

“This historic shirt is a tangible reminder of an important moment not only in the history of sports but in the history of the 20th century,” Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles Brahm Wachter said in a statement after the sale.

“This is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction, and so it is fitting that it now holds the auction record for any object of its kind,” he said.

READ ALSO: South Korea To Play Brazil In Pre-World Cup Friendly

The jersey had been owned by opposing midfielder Steve Hodge, who swapped his jersey with Maradona after England lost 2-1.

Hodge, whose autobiography is titled “The man with Maradona’s shirt,” has for the past 20 years loaned the jersey to be on public display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

The quarter-final showdown became etched in football lore for Maradona’s two goals — one notorious and one sublime — in Mexico City’s seething Aztec Stadium.

The first came shortly after half-time when Hodge, on the edge of the England penalty area, intercepted a pass and flicked the ball back towards goal.

Maradona, running into the box, rose with England’s goalkeeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net. He later said the goal had been scored “a little with the head of Maradona, a little with the hand of God.”

Soon after, Maradona left five English defenders in his wake before gliding past Shilton and slotting home for a strike that was voted “Goal of the Century” in a 2002 FIFA poll.

Argentina went on to win the final and Maradona, who died from a heart attack in 2020, became worshipped in his home country.

Jersey Mix-Up?

In this file photo taken on April 20, 2022 Sotheby’s technicians adjust a football shirt worn by Argentina’s Diego Maradona during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match against England, during a photocall at Sotheby’s auction house in London ahead of its sale.  ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

 

Maradona’s daughter cast doubt on the sale earlier this month when she claimed that the shirt put up for auction had been the one her father wore in the goalless first half, not the second when he scored his two goals.

“This former player thinks he has my dad’s second-half jersey, but it’s a mix-up. He has the one from the first half,” his daughter Dalma said.

Sotheby’s insisted they had the right shirt, though.

A Sotheby’s spokeswoman told AFP: “There was indeed a different shirt worn by Maradona in the first half, but there are clear differences between that and what was worn during the goals.

“And so, prior to putting this shirt for sale, we did extensive diligence and scientific research on the item to make sure it was the shirt worn by Maradona in the second half for the two goals.”

The photomatching process had involved matching the shirt “to both goals examining unique details on various elements of the item, including the patch, stripes, and numbering.”

It added that Maradona himself had acknowledged the provenance of the shirt himself, in his book “Touched by God,” and he recalls giving it to Hodge at the end of the match.

The previous record for a game-worn shirt from any sport was $5.6 million, set in 2019 for a jersey Babe Ruth wore while on the New York Yankees.

Until now the auction record for any sports memorabilia was the original autograph manuscript of the Olympic Manifesto from 1892, which sold at Sotheby’s for $8.8 million in December 2019.

AFP

No Plans For 100-Minute Games At World Cup – FIFA

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
FIFA Logo

 

FIFA responded on Wednesday to speculation that it might change the format of games in the World Cup by insisting the basic length of matches in Qatar would remain 90 minutes.

“Following some reports and rumours spread today, FIFA would like to clarify that there will be no changes to the rules regarding the length of football matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 or any other competition,” said the governing body of world football in a terse statement.

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Social media, and some more traditional news outlets such as Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport, had reported that FIFA president Gianni Infantino was considering encouraging referees to play more stoppage time, effectively extending games to 100 minutes, to make up for the amount of time the ball is not in play.

AFP

Online Jam Builds Up As New World Cup Ticket Sale Launched

The FIFA World Cup trophy and the official 2022 World Cup ball called Al-Rihla, which means “the journey” in Arabic, are seen on stage during the draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center on April 1, 2022. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

 

 

Huge online queues built up Tuesday for the latest sale of tickets for the World Cup in Qatar.

Fans around the world reported waiting more than an hour to get a place on the FIFA website to make an application for tickets which it says will be allocated in a random draw.

Football’s governing body sold more than 800,000 of the three million tickets for the tournament, which starts November 21, in a first round of the campaign.

It said that “high demand” was expected for the new sales as fans now know the groups and when individual countries will be playing after Friday’s draw.

Several fans complained on social media that they had faced a long wait to get onto the ticket site.

“I stayed up until 6am making four different World Cup accounts in order to get tickets, and had to sit in a 1+ hour queue each time,” said one fan on Twitter.

Fans can for the first time apply for tickets for two matches on the same day. FIFA said this was because of “the tournament’s uniquely compact nature and short travel times between all eight state-of-the-art stadiums”.

This round of sales will end on April 28 at 0900 GMT. FIFA said that people whose application had been selected in the computer draw would be told by May 31.

Qatari residents, including the army of migrant workers in the Gulf state, can buy tickets for as little as 40 riyals ($11).

Foreign fans will have to pay between $68 and $220 for a ticket for a first round group match. The first round has been made more attractive by a draw that pitted Germany and Spain together in Group E. The two teams will clash on November 27.

Tickets for the final on December 18 will cost up to $1,600.

Qatar, the United States, England, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Germany, India, Brazil, Argentina and Saudi Arabia were the top 10 markets in the first round of sales.

Tickets for the first World Cup in an Arab nation are on average 30 percent more expensive than for the last tournament in Russia.

FIFA Urged To Eject Iran From World Cup Over Women Stadium Ban

The FIFA World Cup trophy and the official 2022 World Cup ball called Al-Rihla, which means “the journey” in Arabic, are seen on stage during the draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center on April 1, 2022. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

 

FIFA on Friday faced calls to sanction Iran and even throw its team out of the 2022 World Cup finals over the Islamic republic’s renewed failure to allow women to attend an international football match.

Iranian news agencies this week confirmed that 2,000 women who had bought tickets for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Lebanon in the northeastern city of Mashhad could not enter the stadium.

Activists based outside Iran accused the authorities of using pepper spray at close range to disperse women who then protested the ban outside the venue.

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The United for Navid group of exiled Iranian athletes and activists, set up after the execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari in September 2020, said Iran should be suspended from international football until it changes its stance.

“We formally request that FIFA immediately suspend Iran and prohibit its participation in the World Cup 2022 as long as the Football Federation of Iran continues to violate the Olympic Charter and FIFA regulations,” it said in a letter to FIFA’s deputy secretary general Mattias Grafstrom.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP Friday, it said that Iran had pledged to FIFA that it would end its policy of “gender apartheid” by allowing women to attend matches.

“But not only has Iran broken that promise by continuing to bar women from entering a stadium but women are beaten, abused and threatened,” it added.

United for Navid said Iran “continues to ignore” FIFA’s requests to show “basic adherence” to human rights.

‘Long Overdue’ 

Human Rights Watch meanwhile urged FIFA to demand that Iran urgently overturn the “discriminatory” stadium ban on women and ensure accountability for abuses.

“Given the Iranian authorities’ longstanding violations, FIFA needs to follow its own global guidelines on nondiscrimination and should consider enforcing penalties for Iran’s noncompliance,” Tara Sepehri Far, HRW’s senior Iran researcher, said in a statement.

The New York-based NGO said that under FIFA’s statutes discrimination on the basis of gender is “strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”.

“It is long overdue for FIFA to demonstrate that it is serious in enforcing transparent accountability measures,” said Sepehri Far.

There was considerable criticism from within Iran over the lockout, including from Iran’s team captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh, and Mashhad’s governor apologised.

President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday instructed the interior ministry to look into the incident.

In January, women were allowed to attend an international for the first time in almost three years, for a World Cup qualifier against Iraq that also saw the Team Melli win its place for the finals in Qatar, the draw for which was taking place on Friday.

A FIFA spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday that it had learned with “concern” of the reports of women being barred after “historic progress” exemplified by the January 2021 match.

“FIFA expects this to continue, as there can be no turning back.”

Pressure on Iran to act had increased since the death in 2019 of female fan Sahar Khodayari — known as the “blue girl” after the colours of her favourite Tehran team Esteghlal — who set herself on fire in fear of being jailed after trying to attend a match in disguise.

Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestler who had won national competitions, was hanged in September 2020 in the southern city of Shiraz after being convicted of committing murder during protests that rocked the city two years before.

He had complained of being tortured into confessing, with methods that included beating and having alcohol squirted up his nose.

AFP

FIFA Faces New Attack Over Rights In World Cup Host Qatar

This file photo taken on February 15, 2019 shows the FIFA logo during a press conference held by the president of the football's governing body at the FIFA Executive Football Summit in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP
This file photo taken on February 15, 2019 shows the FIFA logo during a press conference held by the president of the football’s governing body at the FIFA Executive Football Summit in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Lingering divisions over FIFA’s decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar overshadowed the annual congress of football’s world governing body on Thursday, forcing its president Gianni Infantino to insist that the event had already brought change to the Arab state.

Just 235 days from the start of the first World Cup in the Middle East, a rare female voice in international football stood up at the congress to state that awarding the event to Qatar 12 years ago had been “unacceptable” because of its human rights record.

Lise Klaveness, head of the Norwegian football association, said FIFA had to act as a “role model” over human rights and other moral issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Debate over Qatar diverted attention from Infantino’s announcement that he would be standing for a new term in 2023 and that FIFA would make a record seven billion dollars in revenue for its 2019-2022 accounting cycle.

Much of that comes from television and marketing revenues linked to the Qatar World Cup but FIFA and the hosts have repeatedly been forced onto the defensive over the event.

Klaveness highlighted human rights in the host country.

“The migrant workers injured or the families of those who died in the build-up to the World Cup must be cared for,” she said in a speech at the end of the carefully choreographed congress when individual federations were allowed to speak out.

– Workers and minority rights –

A handful of workers have died building new World Cup stadiums in the country but international agencies have sought improvements to Qatar’s general labour record.

“There is no room for employers who do not ensure the freedom and safety of World Cup workers,” she added.

All World Cup hosts had to guarantee the rights of gay and transgender people. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

Klaveness also accused FIFA leaders of making a “hesitant” response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian team has been excluded from the World Cup but the country remains in FIFA. The head of the Ukraine football association sent a video message to the congress. Dressed in a yellow and blue bullet proof vest he vowed his country would “beat the aggressor”.

Klaveness’s comments on Qatar echoed statements made by several European nations and teams ahead of the tournament that runs from November 21 to December 18.

Straight away, Qatar’s organising committee chief Hassan al-Thawadi took to the stage to say he was disappointed that Klaveness had made no attempt to speak with Qatari authorities before speaking out.

He said the first World Cup in the Middle East, would leave “truly transformational social, human, economic and environmental legacies.”

Qatar feels that much of the criticism it has faced has been unfair. It has ended a labour system in which employers could stop migrant workers leaving the country or changing jobs. It has also imposed a minimum wage.

Infantino said Qatar was “no paradise” but that it has made important progress since being awarded the tournament in 2010.

– Infantino to stand for re-election –

He said Qatar has made progress in a few years “that in other countries has taken decades”.

“The only way to provoke positive change is through dialogue and engagement,” he said adding that Qatar would put on “the best World Cup ever”.

FIFA announced on Wednesday that 800,000 of the three million tickets had already been sold. An even bigger surge for the second round of sales is expected after the draw is held in Doha on Friday and fans know who their countries will play against.

The success of the Qatar tournament could play a decisive role in Infantino’s bid for a third term as FIFA president.

“I want to tell you that I will be standing for re-election next year,” Infantino said at the end of the congress.

The 52-year-old Swiss-Italian lawyer was secretary general of European body UEFA before taking over FIFA in 2016 after the corruption scandal that brought down predecessor Sepp Blatter.

FIFA has since tightened its governance and increased the amount of its huge resources given back to national federations.

But the Qatar World Cup and proposals for a World Cup every two years have tested his leadership.

Infantino appeared to backtrack on the biennial tournament which is strongly opposed by Europe and South America, insisting he had only acted on congress instructions to study the feasibility of the idea.

AFP

Super Eagles World Cup Disappointment Is ‘A Blessing In Disguise’ – George Abbey

Nigeria will be missing the World Cup for the first time in 16 years. Facebook/William Troost-Ekong.

 

Former Super Eagles defender, George Abbey, has said the team’s failure to make the 2022 World Cup should be a wake-up call to football authorities in Nigeria. 

Abbey said this in reaction to Nigeria’s 1-1 draw with Ghana in the World Cup playoff. The stalemate sent the Black Stars to the competition on the away-goal rule after the first leg ended goalless.

But George believes the development is a reality check on the three-time African champions. According to him, there are cracks in the team, explaining that the players could not pay attention to the “little details” during the double-legged game.

“This is a blessing in disguise because if we had made it to the World Cup, it kind of papers over the crack; it seems like everything is well.

“We need to reset, we need to find a way to plan and put in place a better quality organisation on and off the pitch,” George said on Channels Television’s Sports Tonight, hours after the game.

READ ALSO: Tear Gas Fired As Nigeria Fans Riot Over World Cup Loss

As far as the former Sharks player is concerned, there is a gulf in quality between the present Super Eagles team and other top African nations.

“We would have gone to the World Cup and probably end up losing all our group games and come back with an embarrassing showing at the World Cup,” he argued.

“So, we don’t want that. We want to be better prepared so when we get there, we deserve to be there and we can hold our own against these top teams.”

He also faulted the players for not putting up a fighting spirit during the fixtures.

“When you put on that Super Eagles jersey, the whole nation is expecting you to go to war for us,” George, who played at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, added.

“This is not a time when you want to come and entertain; show skills and dilly-dally on the ball; take your time. Everything has to be crisp. From the start, we need warriors. We need players who are ready to bleed for the nation and I did not see any of that.”