FIFA President Gianni Infantino has branded Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup as “a beautiful blow”.
The Azzurri will be notable absentees in Russia this summer after suffering a shock play-off defeat to Sweden.
The four-time champions are set to miss out on a global showpiece for the first time in 60 years, with the 1958 finals in Sweden representing the last time they came up short.
A thorough investigation in what went wrong has already been opened in Italian football, and Infantino believes that could be considered a good thing as a fallen giant seeks to rebuild.
He told Tidesport source: “A World Cup without Italy? The fact that Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup was a beautiful blow for all of Italian football.
“They must work hard and find the strengths and resources needed to start over. In Italy, there’s passion, talent, preparation and structure, so everyone must start by putting aside their own interests and focus on those of Italian football in order to re-establish its tradition.
“The Azzurri shirt moves not only Italians but also football in general. That jersey deserves to remain one of the best.
“Now they have competent people working and if they need FIFA, we’re here to help. It’s important for the world of football that Italy are strong.”
While Italy will have to watch on from afar this summer, Infantino is confident that an eagerly anticipated event in Russia will provide plenty of thrills and frills.
He added: “It’ll be an absolutely spectacular World Cup, the most beautiful in history.
“I’ve been to Russia a lot lately and realised the Russian people want to show that theirs is a country that knows how to welcome fans from all over the world.
“One and a half million people will arrive: they’ll be able to do so without a visa, there will be free transport in the host cities and free access to museum, thanks to the match tickets.
“The stadiums are beautiful and for the whole country, it’ll be a matter of national pride, showing that they can organise a beautiful competition.
“It’ll be a beautiful and exciting party and we want people to come to Russia.”
Obuah Lauds Nwabali Over Chieftaincy Title
The proprietor of Go Round FC , Bro. Felix Obuah cups he was on cloud nine seeing his former ward, Super Eagles’ first choice goalkeeper at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire, Stanley Bobo Nwabali, being conferred with a chieftaincy title at his Egbema Kingdom home in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State .
The 27-year-old Chippa United goalie was led to the ceremony on Sunday by Bro. Obuah as he first paid a courtesy call to the ONELGA council headquarters where the Chairman, at the Nzeobi’s palace in Aggah-Egbema, HRM Eze Everestus Amuda conferred the chieftaincy title ‘Ugo Egbema 1 of Egbema Land’ which means the Pride of Egbema on the Chippa United goalkeeper.
Amuda eulogised Nwabali for his performance especially his penalty saving heroics which he noted, engraved him in the hearts of many Nigerians both home and abroad.
Sir Vincent Job announced a cash gift of N5 million in addition to a street being named after .
At the Nzeobi’s palace in Aggah-Egbema, HRM Eze Everestus Amuda conferred the chieftaincy title ‘Ugo Egbema 1 of Egbema Land’ which means the Pride of Egbema on the Chippa United goalkeeper.
Amuda eulogised Nwabali for his performance especially his penalty saving heroics “This is the dream of every father, that his son or daughter makes it to the top. When we started, I had the dream that one day if they put in their best, they will reach the zenith of their careers,” Bro Obuah said.which he noted , engraved him in the hearts of many Nigerians both home and abroad.
A grand reception was later held in Nwabali’s honour at the Community Primary School, Okwuzi where top dignitaries including Sir Job, Chief Whip of the Rivers State House of Assembly and member Representing ONELGA Constituency I, Hon Franklin Nwabochi as well as member representing ONELGA Constituency II, Hon Dcns Nkemjika Ezekwe showered encomiums on the Super Eagles shot stopper.
Rivers Hoopers Coach Sure To Make Statement
Rivers Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu says his team will face a huge task after Thursday’s 2024 Basketball Africa League draw.
Hoopers were drawn against former champions US Monastir, APR of Rwanda, and Senegal’s AS Douanes in the Sahara Conference.
Top two teams will advance to the BAL playoffs scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda, from May 24 to the first of June.
There will also be a slot for two best third-placed teams from across the three conferences (Kalahari, Nile, and Sahara).
“The group is obviously a very tough one, Odaudu said.”
‘’Former champions US Monastir, APR who defeated the Rwandan team (REG), who were at the BAL last year; they are a very tough team too. Of course, last year’s finalist, AS Douanes, is in that group, so we have been placed in the group of death.
While the other two conferences will hold in March and April, the Nigeria Premier League Champions won’t play until May 4.
Odaudu added, ‘’Notwithstanding, we have enough time to prepare and be there. We will overcome once the jump ball comes.’’
Since the inaugural edition in 2021, Rivers Hoopers and Kwara Falcons are the only Nigerian teams who have played in the BAL, and neither have gone past the group stage.
The former Nigeria international wants his team to be the first Nigerian team to make it to the playoffs of the Basketball Africa League.
“First and foremost, getting out of the group is our target for this year’s BAL. We are tired of just going to participate and coming back home after the first round.
“For us this season, we want to ensure we get to Kigali and be in the playoffs. Whatever happens from there on is a bonus.
SWAN Gets New Leaders In Rivers
The Rivers State Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has elected a new leadership.
On Monday, February 19, Peter Abaje of DAAR Communication was voted Chairman alongside other executive members: Vice Chairman – Deinma Abaku; Secretary, Ekpor Temple; Financial Secretary, Bath Ndubuwa, and Eyo Kelvin, Welfare Officer, who will pilot the administrative activities of the association for three years.
While other officers were elected unopposed, Mr. Abaje beat the out gone Chairman, Ms Sarah Atonye David by 10 votes to five to emerge.
The election was held under the supervision of Mr. Gabriel Nwanetanya National Ex Officio, who represented the Zonal Vice President, Azuka Chiemeka.
Inaugurating the newly elected officials, Mr. Gabriel Nwanetanya described the electoral process as peaceful and orderly and charged the Executive members to live above board by re-positioning the association in the state as no excuses would be given for non-performance.
He encouraged them to be creative and look inward to discover and showcase the abundant sports talents existing in Rivers State and also appealed to them not to apply personal interest to move the association forward.
In his inaugural speech shortly after the election, Peter Abaje, the newly elected Chairman of SWAN in Rivers State, said that the conclusion of this election signaled a new dawn in the state chapter of the association and vowed to lift the association to greater heights.
The Chairman also promised to carry every member along in the scheme of things as well as operate an open-door policy.
“The new leadership under my watch would collaborate with the private institutions and Rivers State Government to promote and develop community sports as well as encourage the education of members in areas of sports journalism, he assured.
Members of the association who voted and witnessed the election process, applauded the SWANECO for delivering a hitch-free, fair and transparent election.
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