Enyeama: The NFF Didn’t Invite Me

The captain of the Super Eagles and their number one goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, has denied being invited to appear by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) just before the disciplinary committee a couple of days ago.

A statement was issued by the NFF on Friday, 19th June, in which the player was invited to appear before the committee to explain himself on the security situation in Kaduna, just before the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Chad, where the team won 2-0.

The committee met on Tuesday, 23rd June, but without Enyeama.

On the other hand, in a recent interview, Enyeama said that the football house of Nigeria did not officially invite him to appear before the committee. He said that he read about it all in the newspapers, adding that it was not a decent way for him to be invited.

“I respect my country and those in charge of our football, which is why I find the whole thing strange,” he said.

“As the captain, I only raised our concerns about the venue before our game, which didn’t go down well with the football authority. I was told to apologise for my comments, which I did immediately and they told me that’s fine.”

The 32 year old keeper, who is also the most capped player with 101 appearances in the Super Eagles’ squad, said that he didn’t fail to reply to messages from the NFF, who were seeking an explanation for his recent comments.

“I only received a letter cautioning me about my comments and to avoid a repeat of such,” he told in that interview. Personally, as it was resolved in-house I thought that was the end of the matter. But I only found out about a disciplinary hearing in the media but I didn’t get any letter to that effect.”

The Lille player might face a rather long ban for his comments which according to the NFF broke the recent code of conduct signed by every single one of the squad’s players, as well as his inability to attend the meeting on that Tuesday.

The NFF executive board will still have the final say on any punishment (if it gets to that point), on a date that hasn’t yet been decided.

The Chairman of the disciplinary committee, Chris Green, said that after the meeting, the NFF would resolve the issue.

“In the case of Enyeama we want this matter dealt with internally and quietly because the noise it has generated is uncalled for,” Green said.

Enyeama Might Quit the Eagles

As expected by some, the captain and number one goalkeeper of the Super Eagles, Vincent Enyeama, did not show up before the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Disciplinary Committee which was on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

Vincent is seriously thinking about saying goodbye to the Eagles.

Someone close to the player said he was considering that option on Tuesday.

Enyeama, who was seriously concerned about the security situation in Kaduna just before the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Chad (that the team won 2-0), was ordered by the Nigerian Football Federation to defend himself.

Even though he apologized, the NFF queried him and was alleged that Vincent Enyeama refused to give a reply to the query. He said sorry to the good people of Kaduna and to the governor and the NFF, adding that he regretted the statement.

He was also asked to appear just before the NFF disciplinary committee in order to defend himself, but Enyeama refused the invitation.

However, the head coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi, who appeared just before the committee did, had something to say over the allegation that he applied for the available position of a head coach in the Cote d’ Ivoire national team..

“I did not apply for the job,” he simply said.

According to him, what the NFF, Super Eagles and media should focus on is how to get a win against Tanzania on 6th September in Dare Salam, and if possible, to try and beat the continent yet again in the next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations.

“We should be thinking of how we will prepare against Tanzania and win the game. That should be the focus and not what this guy said and what that guy said; all these little gossips. We should go ahead and put together a formidable team that can conquer Africa  again, we can do it,” said the head coach.

When he was on a meeting with the committee, Keshi said, “Everything went well, the NFF will talk to you on that but everything went well. Like you guys know, I never applied for the Cote d’Ivoire job.”

He denied knowledge of the whereabouts and the invitation of the captain of the senior squad, Vincent Enyeama, who was supposed to show up there.

“No I am not aware. I only know about my own invitation. You can ask the NFF officials, as they should be able to tell you,” Keshi said.

The chairman of the committee, Chris Green, said that Keshi’s case was inconclusive.

“If we need to go Cote d’ Ivoire in order to get to the root of the matter we will do that,” he said.

“We’ve made our recommendations. We will handle the matter internally”.

Keshi to the NFF: “If you want another coach, go ahead”

Amindst the recent meeting between the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and the coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi, and following the alleged involvement in the available spot for a coach of the Ivorien national team, Stephen Keshi had said that the NFF can go ahead and hire another coach, if that’s what they want.

Speaking in a radio programme in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, Keshi said that if the plan of the football house of Nigeria is to hire another coach for their own national team, they can just do it, and not blame him and say bad things about him just because of the Ivory Coast’s national team’s coach spot being open.

“If they want to talk to me, let them come out to say so. I am tired of all these accusations and counter accusations.He accused the football house of merely using the Ivorien coaching issue as a cover up to replace him, urging the authorities to desist from spoiling his name. If they want to give the Super Eagles coaching job to somebody else as they are planning to, let them go ahead and give it without finding excuses and faults in me. They don’t have to be going about spoiling my name in the guise of applying for a coaching job. If their desire is to give the job to someone else, let they go ahead.

“I am tired of ‘Keshi does this, Keshi does that’, if it pleases them to go for another coach, please they should go ahead. I am against spoiling my name. They should go ahead instead of spoiling my name.”


Ikechukwu Uche Says Goodbye to Villarreal

After aggreeing to make a move to Tigres, a Mexican football club, one of Super Eagles’ strikers, Ikechukwu Uche, has finally said his long and emotional farewell to Villarreal.

Uche expressed his gratitude to Villarreal’s club officials, his team-mates and fans on the official website of the Yellow Submarines.

“Thanks. I could not start this farewell letter without thanking all those who, in one way or another, have helped all these years that my stay at Vilarreal was perfect. I want to start with the fans who have given me their affection at all times, both in good times – which have been many – and bad. These three seasons El Madrigal has been my home and in it I felt comfortable at all times, supported by a hobby that took on wings and led us to the First Division.

The fans have been with us, encouraged and supported us to achieve great success in Spain and Europe. You are very great! I have felt your love and closeness,” he wrote.

“I want to thank the board, most especially President Fernando Roig, for his close relationship, friendship, and necessary support that has given us stability and an excellent working environment. I also want to thank all those who work within the big family called Villarreal CF, from the first to the last  workers. I do not want to forget anyone, you all know how much I appreciate and how important you were to give me the day at the club. We also acknowledge the support of the sponsors and companies involved in this project, without you it would not be possible.
“Also the coaching staff at the head Marcelino Ruben, Ismael, Paul, the physios, doctors, representatives …

everyone! You have made me a better player and, above all, a better person. Much of the secret and success of Yellow Submarine is that tireless daily work, is that effort and sacrifice of all to achieve the goals we set. From you I learned a lot, really thanks !!!”

Uche also said his thank yous to the Spanish press, adding: “Also I want to thank the media and their exquisite treatment during my stay in Vilarreal, professionalism and constructive criticism about our game. You have told with words and letters the great triumphs of this great Villarreal CF. I hope that you continue doing the same for long.

“No, I have not forgotten you, my colleagues … thanks to all who have been part of the first team during these seasons. Especially the group last season. Great players and very great people, more than a team, a family. Travel, rallies, training, time on the train, bus or plane have been easier thanks to you. I will miss your jokes, smiles and hugs.

“I’m leaving Villarreal but part of me stays in El Madrigal, who will always be my home.”

Serbia Wins the FIFA U-20 World Cup

Yes, it’s true. Not even a goal from Manchester United’s bright star Andreas Pereira was enough to stop the mighty Serbian underdogs from lifting their second U-20 World Cup trophy. After ending the regulation time with a 1-1 draw, the match steadily went into extra time. After 28 more minutes, a very late goal from Maksimović came, which definitely decided the winner.

Heavy rain and strong winds have caused troubles in New Zealand for three days before the final two matches, and even though fans were soaked during the earlier match for third place, fortunately, the rain had stopped by the time Brazil and Serbia kicked off.

Brazil had much better chances in the first half with Jean Carlos and Gabriel producing two amazing saves from Serbia’s captain Predrag Rajković.

Serbian midfielder Sergej Milinković-Savić was unlucky, as he failed to score in the first half’s stoppage time, when his header got saved well by Jean. The Brazil’s goalkeeper, who had not conceded a goal since their second match in their group against Hungary, was finally beaten when Staniša Mandić scored an incredible goal in the 70th minute to end Jean’s streak at 571 minutes.

Brazil’s equaliser with Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira leveled the match just three minutes later.

Pereira was the one who came on in the 65th minute as a substitute for Boschilia, who was visibly tired. He calmed down his entire team when he managed to place the ball past Rajković’s left hand.

Rajković made yet another amazing save later on in extra time before his team mates started a counter attack after which Maksimović was left one-on-one with Jean. Fortunately for the Europeans, he calmly scored a goal, placing the ball between Jean’s legs, ending Brazil’s hopes of a sixth world title.

Serbian coach Veljko Paunović said: “They can get to the top of the world. I can tell you in this generation there is a lot of good players that in the next 10 years will play in the best games in the world. This is the time for this generation to grow up and say farewell to youth football and this is the best way to do it. All they have to is focus on the next 10 years.”

All Nigerian Coaches Need Technical Assistance

Seyi Akinwunmi, Nigeria Football Federation’s vice president, has recently explained that even though the entire football federation of this country is committed to providing the best possible technical support to coaches of the different national teams after recent performances in international competitions (which have been pretty bad), it is clear enough that the nation’s coaches are out of their depth when it comes to the technical aspects of football.

In a recent interview, and while saying his apologies to Nigerians following those shocking and unexpected exits of the national teams at the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand and FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, Akinwunmi said:

“We (the NFF) have from the outset noticed deficiencies in various aspects relating to the technical aspects of our national teams and moved swiftly to address the situation.

One of our first initiatives was to organise training courses for match readers and to, also, buy into the Prozone Match Reading Software in order to build local competencies and match-reading expertise to help our teams.

Unfortunately, these tournaments have come too early for us to reap the full benefits of this initiative which will take a little while to come to fruition.

“In the Super Falcons, we saw so much potential, youth and ability, but it is clear that while we have conquered Africa there is still a lot of work to be done in the area of technical support before we can take on the world of women’s football.

We have the players to take us to glorious heights in the game. Therefore, we need to put a lot more into the enhancement of the technical knowledge of our coaches and technical staff, a comprehensive and focused youth football development programme, as well as an assiduous look at critical areas of our football. We promise to build virile national teams and a sustainable football culture that we all would be proud of.”

Senegal and Mali Looking to End With Style

Senegal and Mali will both be looking to end their 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament journey with a classy finish when they meet in a completely African third-place play-off in Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium in New Zealand on Saturday, with the kick-off scheduled for 03:30 Central African Time.

Both sides have had relatively impressive campaigns in the small island country of New Zealand, but unfortunately, their hopes of lifting the tournament’s trophy were shattered by defeats in the semifinals. Senegal lost 5-0 to Brazil, while the Serbian team needed to go through extra time to defeat Mali (2-1) for the second time in this competition, having also beaten the West African country in the group phase, where it was 2-0.

Fanyeri Diarra, the coach of Mali’s U-20 squad, wants from his side to do everything it takes to win the third place award, but in a recent interview, he paid tribute to the courage of his players after narrowly losing to Serbia in the semifinal match.

“The players were really brave all match long though and now I really want third-place for them,” said Diarra.

“We will do everything to make that happen for our team and our people. Everyone back home has been really happy with our success during this tournament, mainly because it has been quite an unexpected story.”

Senegal mentor Joseph Koto, meanwhile, chose to focus on his team’s strengths and the achievement of reaching the final four, rather than concern himself with their heavy defeat to Brazil.

“It has been a great adventure and achievement for us with this being the first time we have ever qualified at this level. Our goal on arrival was to get out of the group stage and we did that. We have done very well and only lost one match due to our lack of experience. Our team has had a good attitude and God has helped us in our victories,” said Koto.

The teams met in the semifinals of the CAF U-20 Championships in Senegal earlier this year, when the home side of Senegal walked away with a 2-1 victory all thanks to goals from Moussa Kone.

Brazil and Serbia Will be Fighting for the Cup!

Brazil defeated Senegal with ease in their U-20 World Cup semifinal game, which gave them a place in the final for the ninth time in their history, and surprisingly enough, they will face the Southeastern European side of Serbia on Saturday morning in Auckland, the capital city of New Zealand.

The Selecao beat Senegal 5-0, but the victory was obviously theirs after only 19 minutes, after which they made a devastating opening with scoring three goals, thus creating an unreachable 3-0 lead. The youngsters of Senegal scored an unfortunate own goal that put the Brazilians ahead, and shortly after, the goals from Marcos Guilherme and Gabriel Boschilia were scored. After that, Jorge made it 4-0 before the half time break. Guilerhme grabbed another in the second half to complete the victory and rush their way towards the finals.

After ending with draws and winning after exhausting penalty kicks in both their last 16 and quarterfinal matches, Brazil’s offence became their main focus, as the five-time champions steadily head into the final as heavy favorites.

And when you look at Serbia, the team that knocked out the American U-20 national team in the quarterfinals after a penalty shootout, they went to extra time for their third in a row knockout game and got yet another victory out of it all by scoring a goal in extra time against Mali, making it 2-1 and advancing to their first-ever U-20 World Cup final.

Andrija Živković scored an early goal after less than 4 minutes, putting Serbia ahead, but Mali equalized through Youssouf Kone before the half time whistle. As there were no extra goals, both teams went into extra time. Serbia’s winning goal arrived in the 101st minute as Ivan Šaponjić headed the ball into the net before Kone got sent off after receiving a red card.

If Brazil wins this cup, they will even out the record held by six U-20 World Cup title winners, their South American rivals, Argentina. As for the battle for the third place, Mali and Senegal will also battle each other in Auckland on the same day.

The final match takes place on Saturday at 7:00 AM Central African Time.

U-20 Squad of Mali Ready for the Semifinals Game

Mali will have to get past Serbia if they are to qualify for the final of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, with the teams set to meet in the second semifinal on Wednesday. Kick-off at the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland is set for 09:30 Central African Time.

The Young Eagles have been one of the major surprise packages at the tournament, underlining their ‘dark horse’ status on Sunday morning when they eliminated one of the major favourites, Germany, on penalties after the teams played to a 1-1 draw.

Following on from an impressive 3-0 destruction of fellow Africans Ghana in the last 16, it seems Mali are peaking at just the right time and are now considered genuine contenders to claim the trophy for the first time.

“Before the tournament I didn’t think our team was ready but we have grown in confidence and believed in ourselves,” said coach Fanyeri Diarra after the match against Germany.

“We have carried on step-by-step and have been building on our good results. There are always surprises in these tournaments and we are one of them. Now we are ready to face whatever comes next.”

Mali and Serbia have already met once in this tournament – a group stage match in Dunedin on June 3 which saw the Europeans claim a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Stanisa Mandic.

The Young Eagles have steadily improved since then and will be confident of turning the tables on Serbia, who defeated Hungary (2-1 after extra time) and the United States (6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw) in the last 16 and quarterfinals respectively.

The winners will face either Senegal or Brazil in the final in Auckland on Saturday.

Ighalo: The first goal lifted me

Odion Ighalo, the Nigerian striker currently playing for Watford, a newly promoted club that’ll soon start playing in the Barclays Premier League, has stated that his first goal for the Super Eagles in their previous game will increase his confidence, allowing him to bang in many more goals for Nigeria.

He also revealed that he never doubted himself nor the ability of his team to beat Chad, a rather weak opponent.

“I am very pleased and delighted with my first goal for Super Eagles, it will give me more confidence as a striker to score more. I would like to dedicate the goal to God, my family and my late uncle Audu Momoh who passed away few months back. I never doubted our ability to win the game,even after a goalless first half, which we eventually did,” Ighalo told in an interview.

Ighalo managed to score a goal and assist Gbolahan Salami for the second one, as Nigeria beat Chad 2-0 after going to the dressing room without a single goal scored in the first half.

We remind you that this is his first ever goal for Nigeria, and that he has played three times so far for the Super Eagles.

The match was played without John Obi Mikel, who wasn’t invited at all by the coach Keshi.

And so, Nigeria began their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with a win in Kaduna on Saturday, 13th June.

The other match of the Group G saw Egypt defeat Tanzania 3-0, placing them just ahead of the Super Eagles with that one goal difference.

Nigeria’s next game within the Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers will be against Tanzania, on 4th September.