The 2011 edition of the FIFA World Youth Championship WTC, for Under-20 players will commence today in Colombia as Nigeria’s Flying Eagles and other U-20 teams of the world chase glory. It is indeed a stage for the future stars of FIFA World Cup and opportunity for the players to showcase themselves for a possible fast track to professional success at different clubsides.
For the coach John Obuh tutore team, who will be aiming to rewrite their unimpressive preparation for the tournament with a good outing, it is pertinent that they begin their race brightly against Guatamela tomorrow.
The players themselves will also want to use the tournament as stepping stone to secure career-defining opportunities.
The competition’s various coaches will frame their team talks accordingly, though their personal goals can hardly be said to differ. They too harbour dreams of emerging triumphant while wanting to prepare their charges for a future in the game. “It will be an unforgettable event for my players,” Croatian tactician, Ivan Grnja told Tidesports’ source a few months ago. “They’ll gain experience which will be very useful for them for the rest of their careers. This tournament will be a springboard for each and every one.” Croatian legends Robert Prosinecki, Davor Suker and Zvonimir Boban, all former FIFA U-20 World Cup protagonists, would no doubt concur.
“This World Cup could be a turning point in their careers,” said Austria coach, Andreas Heraf. “It’s without a doubt the most important competition in the world after the senior World Cup. The media interest around it will be huge. It’s very important for youngsters at this age to participate in big international events. Some of them will perhaps never have this chance again. It’s a superb occasion to make a name for yourself.”
That is exactly what concerns Nigeria’s manager, John Obuh, however. “A few players intend to take advantage of this World Cup to awaken the interest of big European clubs and obtain lucrative contracts,” said the Flying Eagles coach, whose squad draws heavily from the exciting generation that finished runners-up at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2009. “Above all, they don’t want to stay in Nigeria. I never stop telling my players that they need to learn to take care of things in their proper order. Right now, they have to focus all their attention on this competition. There’ll be time later to negotiate contracts overseas.”
Several of the young talents due to appear on Colombian soil have already found homes at leading European sides, though, with a few agreeing deals this summer. Argentinian duo, Erik Lamela and Juan Iturbe recently clinched respective moves to Roma and Porto, for example, while Uruguay’s set-piece specialist Adrian Luna has signed with Espanyol.
Even for these players, however, the FIFA U-20 World Cup represents a chance to improve further and use their skills to steer their nations towards glory. “I know what I have to offer to Uruguay”, said La Celeste’s Luna. “We want to make history, just like we did in the South American Championship. Uruguay have never won an U-20 World Cup and we’d love to do it.”
Having plenty to live up to since Uruguay’s senior team recently ended a 16-year Copa America title wait, Luna has every reason to aim high, however, the goalscoring dreamer’s thirst for victory is shared by all 503 of his peers. “We’ll be playing this World Cup to go all the way,” explained Joel Campbell, whose Costa Rica side by no means feature among the favourites. His thoughts are echoed by Mexico’s Ulises Davila, who hopes he and his team-mates can match their world champion U-17 counterparts: “Our goal is to go down in history and make everyone in Mexico immensely happy.” Over in the Argentinian camp, Iturbe is no less ambitious: “Our objective is to have a great tournament and fight for the world title. Argentina are potential winners of every competition we enter.” As for France, Antoine Griezmann has spoken of wanting to “win the World Cup and show the whole of France that the young players are there to take over in the coming years”.
While Brazil’s Casemiro and Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Otayf all have a similar tale, some coaches have been outlining a wider range of targets. Few possess as far-reaching ambitions as Ever Almeida, for example, with the man holding the reins for Guatemala, bent on effecting a complete cultural shift among the country’s national teams.
Aisha Buhari Cup: FIFA, CAF Presidents Grace Kick-Off, Falcons Win 2-0
Substitute Gift Monday handed Nigeria a sweet 2-0 victory on the opening day of the maiden edition of the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Tournament in the City of Lagos.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State led eminent political big-wigs, and FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and CAF President, Patrice Motsepe led football’s top echelon, including President of NFF and FIFA council member, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, to the showpiece at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan.
Monday, interestingly a player of FC Robo Queens of Lagos, spurned in the air to meet a cross by Captain Asisat Oshoala in the 83rd minute and nodded past goalkeeper Fatoumata Karenta, six minutes after coming into the fray for Francisca Ordega.
The goal put the Super Falcons in the lead after a rather turgid day on Lagos island, with the Malians showing greater zest and desire in the opening half and returning after the recess with the same impressive fighting spirit.
The visiting Female Eagles had survived a raid on their area in the 5th minute as Nigeria looked to go into the lead with a corner, but the defence cleared. Nine minutes later, Ordega sidenetted from another quick dash upfront, and in the 18th minute, Ageusissa Diarra tested Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie from a 30-yard free-kick.
In the second half, Uchenna Kanu sidenetted in the 67th minute, before Oshoala, who should have scored with only the goalkeeper to beat, failed to get past Karenta. In the 74th minute, Karenta again saved from Kanu.
In the 83rd minute, Monday rose highest in the box and nodded past Karenta, bringing so much excitement to the arena.
One minute into added time, Monday was again at the end of an Asisat’s assist, and looped the ball over an advancing Karenta to put huge smiles on the faces of Nigerians.
Enyimba Appoints Finidi George As Head Coach
The former Ajax and Real Betis winger, George Finidi, who replaces Fatai Osho whose contract expired at the end of August, has joined the eight-time Nigerian champions, Enyimba FC, on a two-year contract.
George, a legend of Nigeria’s men’s senior national team, made 62 appearances for the Super Eagles in an illustrious playing career that lasted up to fifteen years.
He was a key member of the glorious era that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and represented the country at two FIFA World Cups, the 1994 and 1998 editions.
Tidesports source reports that at club level, George won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and went on to play for Real Betis, RCD Mallorca, and Ipswich Town.
His first official game as Enyimba head coach will be the CAF Confederation Cup’s second preliminary round fixture against Senegalese side, Diambers FC in mid-October.
Speaking to Enyimba’s media immediately after putting pen to paper, George said, “I have to say it’s a great opportunity for the club to have this confidence in me.
“I want to thank the chairman, the members of the board, and the supporters for even thinking about me. On my own part, I will be here to just work and do the job. It’s never going to be easy but I’m here to work and make the team win.”
Chairman of Enyimba, Felix Anyansi Agwu, stated that the arrival of George represents a new chapter for the club.
“I believe that the time has come for us as a club to open up a new chapter, a chapter that will showcase the many hardwork that has been going on behind the scene and usher in lots of success.
“For us to have engaged a coach like Finidi George who is coming from Europe is a clear statement of intent about our aspirations,” Agwu said.
Arteta Sees Light For Arsenal
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he sees a bright future for the club despite suffering their worst start to a season for 67 years.
The Gunners climbed off the bottom of the Premier League table with their first goal and first points of the campaign by beating Norwich 1-0 last weekend.
However, Arteta’s position is still under scrutiny ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Burnley after spending £150 million ($207 million) on new players during the transfer window.
The Spaniard claimed after beating Norwich he had enjoyed the “best 10 days of his career in this industry” during an international break when his side was rock bottom of the table.
And Arteta was equally optimistic on where Arsenal are headed with all six of his summer signings aged 23 or under.
“I’m telling you I’m very positive most of the time. I’ve seen the light and I can see bright lights,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light.”
Arteta is also hopeful the criticism his squad suffered after defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City will only serve to make them stronger.
“It’s tough because it hurts, because you want to see something different. But what you want is not always what happens,” he added.
“Things happen for a reason and maybe what is happening had to happen and it’s going to be really good for the club and really good for myself and everybody experiencing that situation. We have to believe that.”
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