Namibia and Mozambique fighting for the COSAFA Cup

Namibia and Mozambique are the two teams that managed to book the places for the long awaited final match of the COSAFA Cup 2015 after a few dramatic days packed with action at the Moruleng Stadium.

Both teams found their ways to the net,  scoring late winners in two tense semifinal matches, and they both featured eight goals that were scored in those two games.

Namibia defeated Madagascar 3-2, and it wouldn’t be possible without the winning goal, scored just six minutes before the end of the match by Paul Shalulile, who had missed an open goal several minutes before.

That match was 2-2 at the break as four goals were scored within the first 14 minutes of the match , and they were mostly scored due to some rather poor defending.

Benson Shilongo was the man who netted a brace for Namibia, first putting them ahead after just 18 minutes, and after seeing his team receive two goals, he quickly stepped up his game and equalized on the 32nd minute.

He got himself to the top of the scorers charts in this competition with four goals in the same number of matches.

In between, Sarivahy Vombola took his tally for the competition to three with a brace, getting Madagascar to the front, but they just could not stay there.

The second semifinal on Thursday was an equally exciting match, which featured a 2-1 triumph by Mozambique over Botswana.

After the teams went to the dressing rooms with the score 0-0, the seemingly motivated Isac Decarvalho gave Mozambique the lead at the 65th minute mark.

Botswana hit back and equalized through Omaatla Kebatho, as he scored a pretty decent goal, but when it seemed as if extra-time was inevitable, The Mambas struck again.

Substitute Luis Parkim headed home with just two minutes before the match ended to give his team the win and a first COSAFA Cup final for them since 2008.

Zambia are heavy favourites, mostly because of their great performance in their 3-0 demolition over Ghana in the semifinals of the Plate competition, but Malawi have also shown plenty of power to get this far, and they will definitely not be an easy team to break down.

The Cup final will be played on Saturday, the 30th May, between Namibia and Mozambique at the Moruleng Stadium at 17:30 local time, while the battle for the third place between Botswana and Madagascar will be played on the same venue at 15h00.

The 2015 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in numbers

694 U-20 World Cup graduates have proceeded to compete in the senior FIFA World Cup™, while 32 of them have managed to lift the most prestigious trophy in the beautiful game of football.

100 of the 504 players at the 2015 U-20 World Cup in New Zealand play their football in foreign leagues. The USA’s squad has the highest number of players playing accross the States (13), followed by Mali (10). On the other hand, each and every one of the players representing Myanmar, Ukraine and Uzbekistan play for their domestic clubs.

85 different countries have made it to the U-20 World Cup during the 20 editions of it, starting in the year of 1977. That number has just increased to 87, with the addition of Fiji and Myanmar, that are currently making their debuts.

68 wins is the record of this tournament, and it’s held by Brazil (this number doesn’t include the future matches of the U-20 WC in New Zealand). Famous for their attacking play, the South Americans also possess the best defensive record with 51 clean sheet.

48 centimetres is the height of the current U-20 World Cup trophy, which was redesigned in 2011.

18 years and 9 months represents the average age of Nigeria, making them the youngest squad at New Zealand 2015.

14 seconds is all it took Monday Odiaka to score the fastest goal for Nigeria in U-20 World Cup history against Canada in 1985.

13 goals were scored in the highest-scoring match in U-20 World Cup history: the year was 1997, when Brazil’s 10-3 win over Korea Republic was seen in Malaysia. Afterwards, Brazil managed to repeat the same number of goals scored at the same edition (10), registering a stunning 10-0 win over the national team of Belgium – and this represents the tournament’s biggest-ever win, which occured just three days later.

11 goals at the 2001 edition of the U-20 World Cup not only earned Javier Saviola the adidas Golden Shoe, but also set a tournament record that is still standing. The former Argentina striker’s talent for scoring goals helped Argentina clinch the 2001 crown with a tournament record haul of 27 goals, and he is still the U-20 World Cup’s all-time leading scorer.

6 U-20 World Cup titles (won in 1979, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2007) have given Argentina the honor of being the tournament’s most successful team. Brazil hold the second place, with five, and with two trophies, Portugal is the only other country on this planet to have lifted the trophy more than once. The U-20 national team of Argentina also arrive at New Zealand 2015 with an unbeaten run of 18 matches at the competition. A decade has recently passed since their last defeat in this competition.

4 consecutive U-20 World Cups have just now kicked off without the previous tournament’s reigning champions. France, the winners in 2013, failed to qualify to defend their title in New Zealand; the other unlucky countries were Brazil in 2013, Ghana in 2011 and Argentina in 2009.

Massimilliano Allegri concerning over Barcelona

Massimiliano Allegri has recently warned his players at Juventus against the “deadly” short-passing style of Barcelona as the Italian champions slowly begin focusing on the Champions League final, which will be played in Berlin on June 6.

The Spanish giants Barcelona start as automatic favourites, and although Allegri has been optimistic when it comes to his team’s chances, he said that Juventus is mentally prepared for the challenge.

“We’ve won the league and Cup so we’ll be going to the final in the right frame of mind, although you only win games out on the pitch,” said Allegri.

Allegri was also the man who led AC Milan to their last league title so far, in 2011, but his first season in charge of the club also led to the loss in the last 16 when Milan played against Barcelona, 4-2 on aggregate, in 2013.

The match itself, when Juventus gets to face Luis Enrique’s men in the final will be a more difficult challenge mostly because of the “unpredictable” Lionel Messi and his team’s “deadly” ball-passing.

“When Messi takes the ball he’s always unpredictable,” added Allegri. “Playing Barcelona is always difficult, we have to be really good because their ball-passing is deadly. Defensively, we need to play flawlessly.”

 

“The lads are in good condition and played well, especially after the interval. They could have been a bit less fanciful, but I’m not going to blame them for that,” said Allegri.

His previous match against Napoli has seen Juventus opening the scoring through a goal by Roberto Pereyra just 13 minutes in, and despite David Lopez scoring an equalizer for the visitors when he scored the rebound after a saved penalty by Gianluigi Buffon (Lorenzo Insigne was the one who took it), Juventus were unstoppable.

Stefano Sturaro was the one who scored an amazing and stunning goal to restore Juve’s lead at the 77th minute, and shortly after, Napoli simply gave up. Britos was given a red card for a clear headbutt on Morata in the area, and after being substituted, Simone Pepe scored the decider as he stepped up to smash the resulting penalty past Mariano Andujar.

For Napoli, this means that the defeat brings Lazio, who sit three points ahead in third place of the Italian Serie A, only a single point away from securing the third place finish to claim the league’s final Champions League spot, and that point could be brought to them after a city derby against Roma on Monday.

 

Nigerian football struggles because it lacks development

In a recent interview of Adegboyega Onigbinde (former Super Eagles coach, currently a FIFA/CAF Technical Instructor), Nigerian football was the main subject. The country needs to develop its potentials when it comes to football, and here are some of the questions he was given.

What is the best way forward, considering that the U-20 is the only good football team in Nigeria?

“In accordance with FIFA statutes, and its regulations, the first objective for any football organisation is to develop the game. Competition is meant to assess development. A national team should be made up of home based players while foreign based should only compliment. I still maintain that we should concentrate more on development, if you develop adequately good results will come later and will be permanent and if you don’t well, you will continue to fail.”

 

How is the development of football in Nigeria standing?

“You are not developing but assessing, what are you assessing? That was what I first told Sani Lulu when we first discussed this issue and that we are going to set up U-13 and I said that is not development. The first thing is development, teach them how to play first, and that’s why we are in trouble now. That is why we depend entirely on foreign based player which is wrong. The nucleus of a national team should be home based, so that they will formulate a national policy and culture of football, and I believe that Muhammadu Buhari, whom I know is a sports man will support this, and if a teacher goes into a class and starts with a test, he will need his head examined. That’s what we are doing in our football. We are not developing, we are organising competitions to assess. What are we trying to find out? It is just unusual, that’s what we are doing with our football.”

How can the people of Nigeria run football properly?

“That is why I say most of the time that instead of running football, we are ruining football, the talents are there and we are not polishing the talents, they are there like gold in the goldmine. If you go to the bush to get raw gold, you will be lucky to get solid pieces. Before it can become necklace, earrings, it has to pass through fire and that is what our talents have to pass through and it’s not a difficult thing; people are just not focused on that area, most unfortunate.

You’ll reduce juvenile delinquency. Each ward in each local government should have a football team, if you have 21 wards in a local government, about 20 players can come together to compete, to form or select a zonal team. The zonal team will meet at the national level, select a Nigerian team and with that, you’ll be sure to have gotten the best players from the grassroots from the remotest parts of the country which is possible. And when you organise a competition, you have to monitor the competition. Pick outstanding players, when this list comes to Abuja, it will collate their names. I can raise a team that will represent Nigeria within Abuja alone because the talents are there.”

How can we rescue our football fortunes?

“Look at this, what’s the population of Cape Verde, about half a million and they are ahead of us in FIFA ranking. Nigeria can present a team that can represent Nigerians if we get our developmental programmes together and well. The first problem we have is this developmental programme, which has to be engineered by the Technical Department. The Technical Department has been relegated to nothingness in our football administration, and sports administration in general and that is the nerve centre. That’s the focus. If you want to achieve in sports, you must care about the technical department and it must be given the rightful position. So that it will be able to monitor and organise.”

 

Nigeria FF: There’s no place for corruption

The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, stated that there’s zero tolerance when it comes to corruption, corrupt practices and definitely no tolerance for any single form of impunity or high-handedness

The statement itself came as a necesity and a clarification against the backdrop of Pinnick’s ever lasting support for Sepp Blatter’s fifth term bid in Zurich (we remind you that he is the President of FIFA), which was nothing more than a misinterpretation by a section of the local media.

“Over the period of eight months which passed with us being in the office, I have always had a thing to say to my colleagues on the Executive Committee and to every member of Management and Staff. When it comes to corruption, there will be no room for it in Nigerian football in any kind.”

“Corruption is something that just does not have a place of its own in such a beautiful game like football, and rest assure that it will never be tolerated neither at the Nigerian Football Federation nor in Nigerian football itself. That clear message was also sent to every single coach of the National teams.”

“Even though there were some smaller issues of corruption on ground where several officials got arrested (and when it comes to the law itself, a man is presumed as innocent until it is proven that he is guilty), and Blatter has neither been arrested nor indicted. He was swift in every single action against those officials who have been arrested.”

The statement also mentions that the Nigerian Football Federation gave full support to Blatter, only because there is a strong belief in a strong and focused body (which represents Blatter himself), that is fully committed to promoting football as a game that is meant to provide global peace, thus making the world a better place for all.

Of course, it added that if Sepp Blatter gets indicted or arrested at any time, he will immediately lose the support of the NFF.

“Blatter was the one who promised to make FIFA a stronger organization, and we will work with him to achieve that.”

“The NFF will continue to do all within its powers to maintain the ethics of football administration in Nigeria and will continue to work with FIFA to protect the image of football.”

Twelve Years Ago, Yobo Signed For Everton

On the 23rd May of 2003, Joseph Yobo, one of Nigeria’s best defenders, made a permanent move to the English side of Everton, a club currently playing in the Barclays Premier League. He was previously on a loan, and the French team of Marseille was his previous club.

This Nigerian defender had become the first ever signing made by David Moyes at Everton (as their manager), when he agreed with Yobo on a year-long switch from the French side of Marseille on the summer before that.

When Moyes signed Yobo, he stated that he was a very good player with a lot of room for improvement, and probably the best player at that time from Nigeria. “I hardly doubt that he will become a future captain of his own country, as Yobo is a very young player and will surely improve” said Moyes.

Yobo has impressed a lot of people at Goodison Park in his very first season, mostly because his great performances made Everton sign him to their squad permanently by concluding a four-year long contract in the May of 2003. From there, he continued to be a consistent player at the heart and soul of Everton’s defence for another six seasons, and he was also ever-present in England, in the Barclays Premier League during the 2006/07 season, after having signed a brand new four-year contract in the summer of 2006.

As the 2009/10 season came, Yobo started to feel like a less regular player, ultimately resulting in a season-long loan to Fenerbahce from Turkey and at the start of that season.

After he agreed that move, Yobo, who made over 200 Barclays Premier League appearances for the club that comes from Liverpool, said that Everton will always have a special place in his heart, and the supporters, players, chairman and everyone else at that club were all good with him.

Yobo continued playing football and spent two years on a loan at Fenerbahce, after which he joined the Turkish club permanently in the month of August in 2012. But he quickly returned to the Barclays Premier League in the 2013/14 season, when he signed for Norwich City.

Yobo was the captain of Nigeria from the year of 2010 and had the title of the player with the most appearances – 101 caps, all played until the moment he retired from playing international games in 2014.

Nigeria Starts Against Brazil

After a long period of waiting, Nigeria’s team – Flying Eagles now finally know who they are set to face at this year’s Fifa U-20 World Cup, which will be played in New Zealand and will start on 29th May after the football governing body released the full squad lists and matches on Thursday.

The lads tutored and led by the mighty hand of Garba Manu are in Group E of the upcoming spectacular tournament and are also grouped along with the South American heavyweights Brazil, Hungary and North Korea DPR.

The Flying Eagles are more than ready to start their campaign in New Plymouth against the Brazilian team on 1st June, and they are looking to repeat the amazing wonders of the under-17 squad that managed to beat everyone to the Fifa Under-17 World Cup, which was played in the UAE just two years ago.

Most of the currently playing squad members have been promoted from that U-17 team to this U-20 team, as well as their coach, and it is expected to work in the team’s favour.

The Nigerians are currently African champions at the U-20 level after defeating the national team of Senegal in the finals of the Africa Youth Championship that was played in Senegal, only a few months ago.

Nigeria’s first game will be the one against Brazil, who have the amazing trio of Andreas Perreira (Manchester United), Jean Carlos (Real Madrid) and Alef (currently in Olympique Marseille) in their squad.

Their new coach Rogerio Micale will hope to see that the trio can do whatever’s necessary to win the trophy, not to mention that they will be supported by the talents of Kenedy (Fluminense) and centre back Danilo, a player that is currently playing in Sporting Braga.

But Brazil won’t be the only threat for the title in this tournament, mostly because the Argentine squad has always performed well at this level, which makes Argentina favourites for the title as well.

Their coach is Humberto Grondona, and the team’s best players (other than the powerhouses from Argentine football clubs) include Angel Correa (from Atletico Madrid) and Maximiliano Rolon (currently in Barcelona B).

Other players that should make an impact in this tournament include Alexis Zapata (Colombia, Udinese), Andre Silva (Portugal), Milos Veljkovic (Serbia, currently in Tottenham) and the son of Gus Poyet (the former Sunderland coach), Diego Poyet from Uruguay.

Nigeria’s opponents in Group E – Hungary also have a relatively good squad with the duo of David Forgacs and Akos Kecskes (both playing in Italy), making them the players that stand out in their team.

The North Koreans are sort of the underdogs in Group E, but even though they aren’t well known, they have been together for the past two years under the same coach – An Ye Gun. And they will surely look to upset the plans of the teams in their group.

The Nigerian team’s matches are:

1st June: Nigeria vs Brazil (at Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth)

4th June: Nigeria vs Korea DPR (at Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth)

7th June: Hungary vs Nigeria (at Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth)

Nigeria U-20 4 – 1 Freiburg II

After winning the previous two friendlies, The Flying Eagles of Nigeria rounded up their tour around Germany with an astonishing and a rather comprehensive 4-1 win over Freiburg’s reserve team.
While preparing for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Nigerian team were in Germany, where they arranged three friendly matches. And they’ve won all three.

When it comes to the third friendly match, goals seen from Ibrahim Al Hassan, Godwin Saviour, Ifeanyi Mathew and Usman Saleh were the last ones we would have seen, as this team rounded up their tour in an European country.

Al Hassan Ibrahim, a player who did not make the final squad for the upcoming Fifa U-20 World Cup gave his team the lead in the 36th minute, summing up everything that’s happened in the first half. Al Hassan continues to use his chances of being used as a replacement well, in case any of the team’s strikers get injured, as he has scored his second goal in two matches.

Coming into the second half, Freiburg played hard and managed to score an equalizer a few minutes later, but Saviour Godwin and Ifeanyi Matthew managed to score goals, thus reducing the chances of a comeback for the German team. Usman Sale, yet another player who won’t be in New Zealand for the upcoming World Cup, made sure that the game remains beyond the reach for with a fourth goal for Nigeria, handing his team another victory.

Manu Garba’s team have managed to score 14 goals in those three games, and with the last win, the Nigerians are set to leave for New Zealand next week.

The players that contested in this great victory were:
GK: Olorunleke Ojo
DEF: Musa Muhammed, Mustapha Abdullahi, Wilfred Ndidi, Zaharadeen Bello
MID: Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akinjide Idowu, 82), Ifeanyi Matthew, Kingsley Sokari (Abdullahi Alfa, 73), Musa Yahaya (Godwin Saviour, 73)
FWD: Alhassan Ibrahim Muazam (Chidiebere Nwakali, 57), Bernard Bulbwa (Usman Hassan Sale, 90)

Nigeria’s U-20 Coach Confirms the Provisional Squad

Manu Garba, the coach of Nigeria’s U-20 team has recently and officially released the expanded list of players for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will take place in New Zealand, with the first matches being played on 30th May. This competition will last until the final match, played on 20th June, 2015. One of the top players within the list of 35 invited players who is ready to jostle for one of the places in the final squad is Kelechi Ihenacho, one of Manchester City’s star youth players. Iheanacho (who was left out of the squad as the Flying Eagles defetead the entire continent at the last Africa Youth Championships held​ in Senegal) will hope that he could show off his potential and possibly make the final roster for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup, with New Zealand as the host. Another youth player from Manchester City has also been given the chance to claim his spot in the final squad, Chidebere Nwakali. Another amazing player to watch, and another prominent member of the Golden Eagles set of 2013, is Success Isaac, a youth player of Granada, a club located in Spain.

The Flying Eagles’ youth team are set to play in Group E, where they’ll play matches against Brazil, Korea DPR and Hungary. The African champions will play their first match against Brazil in New Plymouth on 1st June, after which the other two games (against North Korea and Hungary) will follow. They will all be played in the same city of New Plymouth.

When it comes to the U-20 World Cup history, Nigerians have come close to winning the trophy two times, but on both occasions, they have lost the finals, both in 1989 and 2005.

The only country in Africa that has lifted the FIFA U-20 World Cup is Ghana.

The Nigeria Football Federation strongly believes that the current squad has everything it needs to go all the way to the finals and welcome Muhammadu Buhari’s new government with a major trophy.

And without further adieu, here is the expanded list of players that will fight for the honor of representing Nigeria in the FIFA U-20 World Cup:

 

Goalkeepers:

Adamu Abubakar (Flash FC);  Dele Alampasu (Football College Academy); Joshua Enaholo (MFM FC); Olorunleke Ojo (Giwa FC)

Defenders: Musa Muhammed (FC Heart Academy); Saheed Abdul-Ganiyu (Ace Academy); Adebayo Ademilua (Nath Boys); Monsuru Bashiru (MFM FC); Zaharaddeen Bello (Dabo Babes Academy); Abdullahi Mustapaha (Spotlight FC); Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium); Samuel Okon (Greater Tomorrow Academy); Prince Omego (Apapa Golden Stars); Rowland Silas (Airforce FC)

Midfielders: Abdullahi Alfa (Football College Academy); Bernard Bulbwa (Esperance FC, Tunisia); Akinjide Idowu (Nigeria Young Academy); Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Water FC); Wasiu Jimoh (Kwara Academy); Ifeanyi Mathew (El-Kanemi Warriors); Chidebere Nwakali (Manchester City, England); Obinna Nwobodo (Enugu Rangers); Kingsley Sokari (Enyimba FC); Musa Yahaya (Tottenham Hotspurs, England)

Forwards: Alhassan Abdullahi (FC Heart); Taiwo Awoniyi (Imperial Academy); Chidera Ezeh (FC Porto, Portugal); Okechukwu Gabriel (Water FC); Saviour Godwin (FC Sports); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England); Success Isaac (Granada FC, Spain); Billy Michael (El-Cruzeiro FC); Christian Pyagbara (Dolphins FC); Usman Sani Sale (Wikki Tourists); Moses Simon (Kaa Gent, Belgium).

Ghanaian Ayew Receives the Top African Player Award in Ligue 1

Andre Ayew, a 25 year old winger who is currently playing for Marseille, a French club, has recently received the Mark-Vivien Foe Trophy, an award represented at the end of every season in France to the best performing African player that’s playing in Ligue 1. This trophy is being awarded every year, and the candidates are being chosen by their overall performances within the running season. The previous winner of the Mark-Vivien Foe trophy of the 2013/2014 season was Vincent Enyeama, a Nigerian goalkeeper playing for Lille OSC.

After beating Max-Alain Gradel (Ivory Coast’s football player, currently playing for Saint-Etienne),Aymen Abdennour (one of the best Tunisian defenders, currently playing for AC Monaco), and eight other players of African origins, Ayew stated that this is most likely his final achievement with his current club, Olympique de Marseille, as some sources stated that he might be leaving the French club.

Andre Ayew joined the club in the year of 2007, after which he had gone out on several loans, including the ones to L’Orient and Arles-Avignon shortly after, before he became a key member of the team.  As of today, Ayew has played 158 games and scored 43 goals for the French team, who is currently battling for the 3rd place, a spot which leads to the play-off stage of the UEFA Champions League. This season was surely not Ayew’s best performing one, as he has scored 10 goals in 27 appearances for Marseille. What decided the winner of the Mark-Vivien Foe Trophy were his spectacular moments and goals, that weren’t plentiful, but meant a lot to the French team of Marseille that was struggling to get into the best possible position.

Marseille’s president, Vincent Labrune, brought the fact out into the open that Ayew is set to leave his current club, stating that this is a page turning moment of his football playing career.  He was simply expecting more money from his club; he even tried to find a solution that would represent a compromise for both sides – him and the club, but Ayew said that it was a very difficult task to finalize, whether it’s because of sporting reasons or financial reasons. This all leads to a conclusion that Ayew is set for the last game of his career in Marseille, which will be played on 23rd May, when Marseille will host Bastia. To be more precise, Ayew was not pleased with the plans for his next contract’s salary, which would be a lot lower than his current earnings.

“I hoped that the club would have had plans for a stronger and a more competitive team for the next season which could be a contender for the title, and the outcome of that was not even certain”, said Ayew.

Ayew has attracted scouts from several clubs of the English Premier League over the last couple of months, and hopefully, his future will be bright. Ayew also has two younger brothers, and one of them played for Marseille at the beginning of the 2014/2015 season, before leaving the club to join Lorient.