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African Challengers In Tough World Cup Draws

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With six representatives, including South Africa which qualified as host, expectations prior to last Friday’s draws were high regarding the performance of African teams in South Africa 2010.

A heavy dose of reality, however, crashed down upon African hopes of a maiden FIFA World Cup title after the draw pitched the continent’s most-fancied teams in challenging groups.

Before the draws, through the qualifiers for 2010 Mundial, most arguments were centred on Ghana and Ivory Coast leading Africa’s onslaught in South Africa.

For Nigeria given their on impressive and unconvincing run through the qualifiers, despite their unbeaten record little attention was given to the Super Eagles.

Following the grouping, however, the largest black-African country will surely be happy with their Group B opponents Argentina, South Korea and Greece, who they defeated 2-0 when both countries met at USA ’94.

Nigeria had also had the upper hand in their meetings with Asian teams, so they know that the only team they should be bothered about is the Argentines who came off 2-1 victorious in their tie at USA ’94.

The pre-draw feelings seemed to have turned around for the Black Stars of Ghana who landed among Germany, Australia and Serbia in Group D, while the Ivorians will face Brazil, Portugal and North Korea in Group G.

There is thus the possibility that two of Africa’s leading football countries may take exit after the first round of matches.

The Ivorian and Ghanaian misfortune, as it were, means that the need to start looking for another potential African winner is inevitable, and Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon immediately comes to mind.

The 1990 World Cup quarter finalists will fancy their chances against Denmark, Japan and Netherlands, and should they miraculously top Group E, they stand the chance of having an appealing second round tie with any of New Zealand, Paraguay or Slovakia.

 

Making up the numbers are Algeria, and of course hosts South Africa.

English eyes will be focusing on Algeria and January’s Nations Cup participation in war-ravaged Angola is going to be the subject of close scrutiny.

In truth, the Fennecs are a limited side, short on quality up front, and with only the lively Karim Ziani, buzzing around with any danger.

Last but by no means least, the second round hopes of hosts South Africa dimmed ever more when drawing two former World Cup winners  France and Uruguay – and the experienced Mexicans.

Bafana Bafana, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, have scored once in seven games, won once in 11 games, but must now overcome three sides in Fifa’s top 20.

 

Yet it’s a fallacy to say the World Cup will be over if Carlos Alberto Parreira’s men crash out early because football fans in the host country have long been salivating at the thought of seeing their favourite players in South African stadiums.

With the draw having shown the planet what South Africa can do, overjoyed locals are finally realising that all talk of Plan B is now truly obsolete.

“The world is watching us and the world is coming,” Capetonians screamed with delight. And if Friday’s festival in the Mother City is anything to go by – street performers, oversized puppets and endless vuvuzelas to the fore – the 2010 World Cup is going to be as colourful as it is memorable.

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FG’s Basketball Ban Primitive, Shameful – Kienka

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The Director, International Tennis Academy and author of the recently published book, ‘Sports in Nigeria – Going Round In Circles,’ Godwin Kienka, has described Nigeria’s withdrawal from international basketball activities for two years as “very primitive and shameful sports politics.”
Last Thursday, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), gave the approval following the crisis that rocked the factionalised Nigeria Basketball Federation in over a decade.
Kienka, in a statement said, “The Ministry of Sports hiding behind the Presidency to make that decision makes it even more odious. It just confirms what we have exposed in the book that most of those who run sports in this country do not care about the athletes, the coaches and the promotion and development of sports in the country.
“At a time when the national women’s basketball team qualified for the world championships and the men are on the way to making it a double, how does their participation or non-participation impede a grassroots or local league programme in Nigeria?”
He added, “If the decision was from the Presidency, why did the statement not come from the Presidency?”
Kienka lamented the decision, saying it denied the home-based players, who would have been a part of the two teams, the opportunity of being scouted by agents from across the world.
“We had the same mix-up and confusion in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria before the last Olympics, leading to the ban of several athletes essentially because of utter negligence of drug procedures by the ministry and the federation. It is said that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

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CAFCC Final : Okpara, Ndah Storm Uyo With Pirates

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Ahead of tomorrow’s final of the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup 2021/2022, former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Willy Okpara and defender, Olisa Ndah  arrived late last night with their South African team Orlando Pirates to Nigeria.
The Soweto-based side who  will face  Morocco’s RS Berkane at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo for Africa’s second club football prize, touched down in Port Harcourt about 11:45pm last night before arriving  Uyo.
In their third appearance in the Confederation Cup, Pirates are playing the final for the second time, and first since 2015 when they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia.
Okpara made his debut for the Nigeria national team in 1996 and was selected for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad. He was capped five times and after he retired, became a goalkeeping coach for Orlando Pirates.
Meanwhile, RS Berkane  breezed into Uyo earlier yesterday aboard a chartered  Air Maroc flight.
Our correspondent gathered  from aviation sources  yesterday  that on board  the Moroccan national carrier were six crew members along  with   96 strong RS Berkane ‘s contingent including players, officials  and  fans  ahead of tomorrow’s final.
The flight that departed  the Oujda Angads Airport in the Oriental region in Morocco  landed in the Akwa Ibom State capital by 3:55 pm Nigerian time for their decisive tie against  Orlando Pirates..
The Orange Boys as the Moroccan side are called, were Confederation  Cup   runners-up (to Zamalek of Egypt) in 2019   and emerged winners in 2020 after beating Egyptian side, Pyramids Egypt  courtesy of a  solitary goal by  Burkinabe  defender ,  Issoufou Dayo at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.
In a related development,   Umbro, the CAF technical sponsors, yesterday revealed the official match ball , FIFA Quality Pro, for the eagerly awaited  fixture .
Based on Umbro’s renowned Neo Pro ball model, the official match ball is “FIFA Quality Pro” certified for use at the highest levels of the professional game and utilises the latest in structural and fabrication technology with a unique graphic that draws on the structural elements of the tournament’s trophy.

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F’Eagles Qualify For 2023 Africa U-20 Cup Of Nations

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Nigeria’s national under-20 male football team, on Tuesday overpowered Cote d’Ivoire in the first semi-final match to reach the final of the ongoing WAFU B Under-20 Championship in Niamey.
The 2-1 victory not only gave them a ticket to Saturday’s final match but also came a ticket to next year’s Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations scheduled for Egypt.
Midfielder Daniel Daga put Nigeria in front after only five minutes, when he cleverly escaped the attention of the Ivorian defenders to nod in from a well-weighted pullout.
The seven-time African champions then launched onslaughts after onslaughts on the Ivorian goal but failed to add to the tally.
It was rather the Ivorians who equalised just before half-time from an intelligently-taken free-kick at the edge of Nigeria’s penalty box.
Neither team could find another goal to gain upper hand before the end of regulation time inside the Stade General Seyni Kountché in Niamey, and the game went into extra time.
Forward Ibrahim Yahaya got the winner for Nigeria in the 111th minute of play when he tucked in from the penalty kick spot to make it 2-1.
The Tidessports source reports that Nigeria will now square up against neighbours, Benin Republic in Saturday’s final match.

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