Nigeria’s new Swedish coach Lars Lagerback is confident he can do enough in just three weeks with the players to help the country achieve its target of a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
“I think there is a realistic chance for Nigeria to go a long way in the World Cup in South Africa,” he said.
Lagerback, named as coach on February 27 but yet to take charge of a match, said he could make an impact even though he will have less than a month to prepare his squad before the finals start on June 11.
“I can make an appreciable impact with the Super Eagles despite the short time between when I took up this job and the World Cup,” he added in an interview with FIFA published on the world governing body’s website (www.fifa.com).
“I hope I will have at least three weeks to work with the players. In three weeks, you can do a lot.”
Lagerback, who replaced Shaibu Amodu after January’s African Nations Cup finals, will not be able to start working with his players before they finish their respective club seasons in May.
Nigeria’s top footballers are drawn from leagues across Europe and the new coach said he would seek to spend time with them before the end of their domestic campaigns.
“What I would like to do now is to speak with many of the players and try to explain to them the joy and importance of playing for the team in the first place.
“I need to tell them that even if they make so much money in football playing for clubs in Europe, when it comes to the national team you must be proud of playing for your country.
“So I will try to motivate them and explain that to them as best as I can.”
“But if I find out that a player doesn’t want to do his best for the team, he shouldn’t be in my squad,” he warned.
The former Sweden coach has watched Nigeria’s recent matches on video and is formulating early ideas of a potential squad.
“I believe I know much about the team already. Although it is early to say who among the players I would like to work with, the factors I would consider in picking my players are who among them are most skilful and the best of the lot.
“Nigeria have a great chance to do well in the World Cup. If you don’t believe that you can win matches in a tournament as a team and as a coach, then you don’t deserve to be at the tournament.
Playing football at this level is all about winning,’’ he said.
NDDC U-17 Peace Cup To Resume In Uyo
The long awaited finale of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) U-17 Peace Cup would expectedly resume next week as two qualified teams from the nine states converge in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
Technical Director of the tournament Etim Esin in a statement on behalf of the Local Organising Committee Chairman John Ekpeyong and Secretary Ada Gwegwe yesterday said the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, will declare the tournament open.
It added that the Special Assistant to the President Muhammad Buhari, on Sports Development, Coach Daniel Amokachi, NFF Technical Director Coach Augustine Eguavoen along with football legend Taribo West and other notable Niger Delta-based and foreign scouts will be on ground.
The LOC appreciated the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, for his support towards the conclusion of the tournament, adding that it is better late than never, as the competition will still be among his numerous legacies.
According to the statement, the arrival date for participating teams is 11th of December, while screening of teams and official kick off, will take place the following day.
The statement further called on the Coordinators of the states not to forget the rules of engagement, especially on the age bracket of the players, as the screening will be strict, for the aim of the competition to be achieved.
FIBA World Cup: Kida Lauds D’Tigers’ Strong Qualifiers Start
Top basketball administrator and immediate past Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) president, Engr Musa Kida, has congratulated the D’Tigers for starting their 2022 FIBA World Cup on a strong note after picking two victories in three matches.
With five points from a possible six and a superior point difference, the team sits comfortably atop group A ahead of the next round of games coming up by the 27th of June, 2022.
Kida described the team’s performance as inspiring despite peculiar circumstances surrounding the federation’s election as well as FIBA’s stance over Nigeria’s participation at the qualifiers.
“It is really nice to start such important qualifiers on a winning note which is very good for our chances of qualifying for the World Cup. We had to put our administrative differences aside for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
“We feel elated and justified that our decision to give FIBA the go ahead to register the team which enabled them participate paid off in the long run as we join hands with all stakeholders to continue growing the game in Nigeria”.
16 teams are vying for the available five spots at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Nigeria grouped alongside Mali, Cape Verde and Uganda.
“The top three teams from each group will advance to the Second Round of the African Qualifiers and will join three other teams to create two six-team groups with results from the preliminary rounds carried over,” Musa added.
AWCON Qualifiers: Ebi Targets Revenge Against Ivory Coast
Super Falcons defender, Onome Ebi, says the team will go all out for revenge when they clash against Ivory Coast in their final 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers next year.
The qualifying game which will be played on a home and away basis is scheduled for February 13 and 17 with the winners qualifying for the AWCON in Morocco.
The Falcons who will be hoping to defend the title they won at the 2018 in Ghana are eyeing their 10th trophy Morocco but to qualify for the event, they’ll have to go past the Ivorians who knocked them out of contention for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Ebi, who is Nigeria’s current longest-serving player says her aim is to avenge the loss that saw them miss out on the 2020 Olympics at the hands of the Ivorians.
“I can tell you that we still nurse the pain of missing out of the Tokyo Olympics as a result of the loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series,” Ebi said.
“This time, we will repay them in their own coins. Personally, I want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup, and I know it is the same for my teammates.”
The Falcons are the most successful African women’s team in the world and have won the AWCON a record nine times and will be hoping to get their 10th next year after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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