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2018 W/Cup Draw: What Nigeria Must Do To Qualify

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Following the draw for the
2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers which has seen Nigeria drawn in a difficult Group B with Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia, reactions among Nigerians have gone into an overdrive.
As is now usual, pessimism, rather than optimism is renting the air, with most Nigerians already giving up hope before the first ball of the qualifiers is kicked.
Recent qualifiers for major competitions have not ended well for Nigeria, as the Super Eagles  failed to make the 2015 and now 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Several reasons have been attributed for Nigeria’s recent failures in qualifying for tournaments.
However, blow are  seven things that should be done to ensure the Super Eagles make it to  the next World Cup in Russia.
1. Get a substantive coach NOW!
This seems obvious but it is one thing that must be done as soon as possible. The team has been without a substantive coach since February, when Sunday Oliseh quit the post and they have had four coaches (both interim and substantive) in the last one year.
That is surely not good enough and if the Nigeria Football Federation NFF is serious about curtailing Nigeria’s recent failures to qualify for major competitions, this should be their first line of action following the draw.
2. Sort out usual poor travel arrangements
It says a lot that the Super Eagles were unsure of their mode of transport 72-hours to the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt in Alexandria last March.
If the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF are serious about qualifying to the Russia 2018 World Cup, such issues should not even arise.
Travel plans should be sorted and known well ahead of time.
The NFF has been complaining about paucity of funds, but it should sort itself  out before the start of the qualifiers as Nigerians will not accept another excuse from them if they failed to make it to another major tournament.
3. Sort out players’ bonuses and allowances
The players of the Super Eagles have not been paid their match bonuses and allowances over the last five games and counting and word is that the lads are unimpressed.
This is one area the NFF must work on.
Whatever the plan is, they must put them in motion now and communicate such to the players, rather than waiting for when the qualifiers begin.
It has been revealed that the technical committee of the NFF has decided against the payment of bonuses on a per-game basis and while that is laudable given the current financial situation, it is also advisable same is immediately communicated to the players for better understanding before the start of the qualifiers.
4. Who will play for the Super Eagles?
This may seem like a mundane question, but its importance cannot be overemphasized. The qualifiers for the 2015 and 2017 AFCON saw the team being chopped and changed game after game, with very little or no consistency in the set of players used.
This particular area is dependent on the coach and whoever it turns out to be, must ensure he gets a core set of players to execute the qualifiers and that is not to say there won’t be room for replacing misfiring players or bringing in in-form ones, but there must be a core set.
Like one of the players said recently: “Why are we always changing players? It’s difficult playing with a new player today and tomorrow he is replaced by another one.”
It says a lot that over the last one year, the team have had three captains.
5. Make home games difficult for opponents
Nigerians and the Super Eagles are always nice to opponents when playing at home…too nice. And to imagine they don’t usually get as much from opponents when they play away, it’s a bit surprising to say the least.
This is not to say opponents should not be accorded due respect and warmth, but the players must man-up and stop being naïve all too often on the pitch.
A recent case in study is the 1-1 draw with Egypt in Kaduna in a 2017 AFCON qualifier.
Leading 1-0 with stoppage time left, the players – Carl Ikeme especially – should have known not to kick the ball too close into touch when Godfrey Oboabona went down. That singular act resulted in Egypt scoring and dashing Nigeria’s qualification hopes.
Then the fans must also play their part. There are  games where they actually boo the Super Eagles and cheer the opponents. That should never happen again. Get behind your team and support them till the end.

row since the present administration came into being in 2014.

 

Chris Oguguo

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Athletics: Okagbare Begins Preparation For Tokyo 2020

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Blessing Okagbare, yesterday started her preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the National Trials.
The opening day of the Tokyo 2020 National Trials will see Okagbare competing in the 100m against highly rated Grace Nwokocha
Okagbare, the 8th time national champions is the favourite to win the event again, but Grace Nwokocha remains one of her biggest threats.
The American-based track queen won the championship from 2009 to 2014 and returned to win the 2016 edition after missing out in 2015.
Despite her qualification for the Olympics, Okagbare will be hoping to continue her winning streak and go to the Olympics in high spirits.
Apart from the 100m finals expected to take place in the afternoon, there will be shotput men final with all eyes on  Chukwuebuka Enekwechi.

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LAA Holds Lucrative Track Meet, Next Week

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The Lagos State Athletics Association has announced it would be holding a lucrative Athletics Meet on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Yussuf Alli, who is the Meet Director for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship, made the disclosure on Wednes-day even as he revealed that arrangements were in top gear to have an elite cast of athletes in the one-day meet.
According to Alli, the Lagos Open Athletics Championship will simultaneously serve as a qualifying window for the Tokyo Olympics as well as a preparatory event for athletes that have already qualified for the sporting showpiece.
“This is another fantastic window for those seeking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as well as those seeking quality competition to stay in shape for the Olympics,” Alli said.
“The Lagos State Athletics Association, which is one of the most vibrant in the country, is out to organise a world-class event that would be the talk of the town as we count down to Tokyo,”  he added.
The list of events to be competed for at the Lagos Open Athletics Championship include, the 5,000 meters, 400 meters hurdles, 100 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters and 100 meters.
There would also be quality action in the 4×100 meters open, 4×100 meters open and 4×400 meters mixed relay.
Long jump, High jump, Triple jump, Shot put as well as  4×100 secondary schools relay and 4×100 secondary schools relay have all been pencilled down for the maiden Lagos Open Athletics Champion-ship.
Organisers have assured that the top three finishers across all the events will receive handsome prizes for their efforts.

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S’ Falcons Bow To World Champions

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The Super Falcons of Nigeria lost 2-0 to world champions, USA, in their final Group game at the 2021 Summer Series in Texas, USA.
The result means the African champions failed to win any of their three matches at the invitational tourna-ment, drawing one and losing the other two.
Kristen Press gave the Americans the lead on the stroke of half time, and before Lyn Williams killed Falcons hope of getting a draw with the second goal on the dot of 90 minutes.
With the victory, the world number one has now gone 42 games without tasting a defeat .As for the Falcons, the aim of participating in the Summer Series was to prepare them for a crucial 2022 African Women’s Champion-ship eliminator against perennial rivals, Ghana in October.
The African Women’s Championship will serve as qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

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