Now that the first round of group game matches at World Cup 2022 have all taken place, we’re starting to see which teams have come racing out the traps under the Qatari sun, and which are looking like they might wilt in the heat. Obviously we all know how sad us Nigerians are over the Super Eagles absence at this tournament, but there’s still plenty of exciting football for us to feast upon in the coming weeks.
So, let’s take a quick look at how the five African nations that did qualify this time round have done after the first round of matches and see if they’re doing the continent proud over in the Middle East.
As they’re in Group A, the AFCON champions were up first, with a tough fixture against European powerhouses, the Netherlands. Unfortunately, Senegal lost their star-man, Sadio Mane, to injury in the lead-up to the tournament, and with him out of the side, pundits worried that they would struggle to fill the gap left from his momentous presence up-front.
That seemed to be the case in their 0-2 loss to the Dutch, where they battled valiantly for 84 minutes, but were just not able to finish any chances, and then were hit by two sucker-punch goals.
Next up, in Group D, were Tunisia, who had to face-off against many people’s ‘dark horse’ for this World Cup, Denmark. The Carthage Eagles clearly weren’t feeling overwhelmed though, as they took the fight to the Scandinavians, earning a 0-0 draw. They even forced a couple of great saves by the Danish keeper, Kasper Schmeichel, which could’ve tipped the tie in their favour.
They’ve even shown they have luck on their side, as they survived a late VAR scare, which saw the referee actually overturn a Danish penalty decision for handball.
When it comes to disorderly build-ups to a World Cup, Morocco’s has to be right up there. They fired their previous coach just three months before the tournament kicked-off, but the replacement, Walid Regragui, seems to have installed some tactical nous in that short amount of time.
This is because they played the 2018’s World Cup finalists Croatia in their first match in Group F and impressively looked their equal, with the result ending all square in a 0-0 draw. This result will have many experts scratching their heads, as they expected the European side to blow away Morocco.
That’s the beauty of football, though, and why it’s such a popular sport for bettors in many countries, as there are always many upsets. This is true for India, where the best football betting sites in India are served up over on Asia Bet. These carefully selected online bookmakers allow you to bet on everything to do with the beautiful game, from local Indian leagues all the way to the biggest matches at this World Cup. Plus, there’s a clear rundown of Indian betting laws, so users can easily navigate gambling in the country.
The Indomitable Lions have a proud World Cup history, with this being their eighth appearance on the biggest stage in world football. Cameroon is in Group G this time round, and it looks like being a tricky task for them to make it out, as they lost their first game to Switzerland.
It was a narrow defeat, with them only losing by a single goal, and the player that got the winner was actually born in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde. The attacking-midfielder Breel Embolo, moved to Switzerland when he was young, though, and gained his Swiss citizenship eight years ago. You could tell it was an emotional moment, scoring against his birth nation, and he refused to celebrate.
You might have noticed that no African side has managed to score yet in the first round of fixtures at World Cup 2022. It was up to the last to play, Ghana then, to make sure the continent didn’t go completely goalless, and the good news is that the Black Stars were up to the task. Captain Andre Ayew tapped home a lovely low cross, and then substitute Osman Bukari managed to power a brilliant header into the net.
The bad news is that they were up against a talented Portugal side in their opening Group H game, who managed to score three times and take the victory. Nevertheless, Ghana should be emboldened by their stirring performance going forward and look like the strongest African side so far.
Photo Credit- History Of Soccer
Company Seals Kebbi Beach Soccer Deal
WACOT Rice Limited, a member of Tropical General Investments Group, has signed a four-year sponsorship deal with Kebbi Beach Soccer Association.
The Kebbi Beach Club (Kebbi Fishers), owned by the Kebbi Beach Soccer Association, is one of Africa’s foremost beach soccer clubs.
The sponsorship deal with WACOT Rice as the official Food Partner, is a boost for the growth of beach soccer and, ultimately, youth development in Nigeria, WACOT Rice stated.
Last year, WACOT Rice sponsored Kebbi Fishers to the World Winners’Cup in Antalya, Turkey, organised by Beach Soccer Worldwide, the global governing body under FIFA responsible for Beach Soccer.
Commenting on the partnership, Chairman of WACOT Rice, Farouk Gumel, said, “In our operations, we always ensure that we create avenues for the Nigerian youths to thrive. Kebbi Beach Soccer Association, through Kebbi Fishers, has grown and received accolades across the continent. They have put Kebbi on the map. We are immensely proud of them and remain committed to supporting them to grow.”
Also, Chairman, Kebbi Beach Soccer Association, Mahmud Hadejia, lauded WACOT Rice and TGI Group for their support for Kebbi Fishers and commitment to sports development in Nigeria.
Hadejia, who is also President, African Beach Soccer Union and Coordinator, Nigeria Beach Soccer League, said beach soccer in the country had received another boost with the sponsorship from WACOT Rice.
NPFL: Mgt Gives Kwara, Wikki Two-Match Ultimatum
The management of Nigerian Professional Football League clubs Kwara United and Wikki Tourist have handed their respective coaches a two-match ultimatum to overturn their team’s poor run in the NPFL or get sacked, The Tidesports source reports.
This comes after both teams failed to end their winless runs in their match-day four encounters amid disappointing displays.
The Harmony Boys, who are yet to record a win this season after four matches — two defeats and two draws — were thumped 3-0 by Enyimba in Aba on Sunday, just as Wikki were held to a goalless draw at home by newly promoted Doma United at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi.
The result sees both teams languishing in the relegation zone of their respective groups, with Kwara placed 19th in Group A of the NPFL log with two points from their opening four games, while Wikki are rock bottom of Group B with just a point from four games.
The General Manager of Kwara United, Bashir Badawiy, revealed that the management would not tolerate any negative result from the team as they play in the “dangerous” abridged NPFL league.
“The team has no excuse not to perform, going by the commitment of the government, the determination of the management and the sacrifice by the supporters and stakeholders,” Badawiy said.
“And that Is why we have decided to give the team a two-match ultimatum. They should rather perform or give way. We are playing in a dangerous league, the abridged league, and we cannot tolerate this kind of result.”
Kwara United will host former champions Plateau United in their next league game at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan today.
Wikki secretary, Idris Pali, on behalf of the board and the management of the club, also expressed dissatisfaction with the team’s performance since the start of the season.
He added that proper action would be taken if the team did not win their next two games.
Coach Kabiru Dogo faces a daunting task in keeping his job as his next two games are against Group B leaders Rivers United and Enugu Rangers.
“The board members and management of Wikki Tourist have found unsatisfactorily (performance of Wikki), which has led to the decline of the team’s performance. The board has however handed the technical crew a two-match ultimatum to win their next two games or proper action will be taken against you (Dogo) considering the terms of our agreement. I hope he gives us the best going forward.”
U-17 Cup Of Nations Draws Hold Today, In Algeria
The draw ceremony for this year’s Africa U-17 Cup of Nations will hold today at the Cercle Nationale d’Armee in Algiers, Algeria.
Five-time world champions, Nigeria, is one of the 12 countries, whose names will go into the pot for the draw, as all participating teams get to know their group phase opponents for the tournament scheduled for April 8 to 30 in Africa’s largest nation by land mass.
All the 12 participating nations are now known: Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Somalia, South Sudan, Zambia, South Africa, Cameroon and Congo.
The 12 teams will be drawn into three groups of four teams each, with the four top-placed teams qualifying to represent Africa at this year’s FIFA U-17-World Cup finals taking place in Peru later this year.
Meanwhile, the international friendly match between Nigeria and Zambia at the U-20 boys’ level will now hold at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on February 4.
Initially, both countries’ football-governing bodies had agreed on a two-match tour for January 27 and 30 respectively. But, issues of logistics and the compunction on the Young Chipolopolo to process their entry visas into Egypt for the forthcoming Africa U-20 Cup of Nations before leaving Zambia forced a postponement.
Zambia’s U-20 delegation is still in Lusaka and will now only be able to play one match against the Flying Eagles, before proceeding to Dakar for a game against Senegal on Tuesday next week.
Both Nigeria and Zambia will face a country from the other’s region in Egypt, with Nigeria drawn against Mozambique (alongside host nation Egypt and Senegal) in Group A, while Zambia will face Benin Republic (alongside Tunisia and The Gambia) in Group C. Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo make up Group B.
Seven-time African champions, Nigeria, will fly to Morocco next week for their final round of preparations.
Coach Isah Ladan Bosso’s wards have been in flaming form in recent weeks, lashing a slew of teams in friendly games.
Bosso’s wards were worthy champions of the WAFU B U-20 Championship in Niamey, Niger Republic in May 2022, winning all their five matches in the competition.
By: Tonye Orabere
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