Super Eagles Move To 44th In FIFA Ranking

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have moved up by four spots to the 44th in the world in the October FIFA – Coca Cola Ranking.

In the ranking table published on the website of the world football governing body on Thursday, Nigeria garnered 1431 points as against 1415 it had in September.

The movement has now placed Nigeria as the third in Africa behind Tunisia and Senegal.

It could be recalled that it was during this period that the Eagles thrashed Libya 4-0 (home) and 3-2 (away) in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Tunisia is ranked 22nd in the world and Senegal 25th. Congo DR (ranked 46th and Morocco (47th) are the other African countries among the top 50.

On the global scene, Belgium are now ranked world number one, ahead of France with the narrowest of margin–just one point in the new the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking published on Thursday. The Belgians have 1733 points to France’s 1732 points.

In September, the two countries were tied on the first spot.

The top two remain out in front after a month in which each of them enjoyed a win and a draw, with Belgium and France beating Switzerland (8th, unchanged) and Germany (14th, down two) respectively in the UEFA Nations League. Brazil are third with 1669 points, Croatia fourth with 1635 and England fifth with 1619 points. Leo Messi’s Argentina are ranked 12th in the world.

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Ballon d’Or 2018: Salah, Mane Among Nominees

Liverpool FC of England duel of Mohammed Salah (from Egypt) and Senegalese international Sadio Mane are among the nominees for the 2018 Ballon d’Or.

In the same shortlist are England and Tottingham striker Harry Cane, Barcelona and Argentina star lionel Messi, Portugal and Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo and the Wales and Real Madrid of Spain forward Gareth Bale.

But the thirty-man list is dominated by Champions League winners Real Madrid, who have eight players nominated, including Croatia international Luka Modric.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne are among eleven Premier League players on the list.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is a contender, as are Liverpool keeper Alisson and forward Roberto Firmino.

Paul Pogba, of Manchester United, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris are also selected.

The African pair of Salah and Mane are the only contenders from the continent.

Last season, Salah’s superlative performance, in which he scored forty-four goals in all competitions for Liverpool, earned him a top-chart position in the EPL, as well as the African Player of the Year.

His Senegalese strike partner, Mane, also scored over a dozen goals for the Mersey side club, and both players were instrumental in their countries’ Russia-2018 World Cup qualification, although neither the Senegalese Teranga Lions nor the Pharaohs of Egypt made it beyond the first round.

The Ballon d’Or, first presented in 1956, is given to the best player of the year.

A ceremony to announce the winner of the prestigious award will take place in Paris, France, on December 3, when a women’s award will also be presented for the first time.

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NFF Bans Super Eagles Coach For One-Year, To Pay $5,000 Fine

Following a documentary in which Super Eagles’ Chief Coach Salisu Yusuf was seen accepting 1,000 US dollars from an undercover reporter disguising as a player’s agent, the  Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Committee on Ethics and Fair Play has banned the Coach from all football–related activities for one year with immediate effect.

The four-man committee’s decision was announced in a statement by Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Communications and made available to the News men on Wednesday in Abuja.

Olajire said that the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led Committee made the following submissions:

“Established from the admission of Coach Yusuf and also found as a fact from the documentary and video evidence before it, that he accepted the cash gift of 1,000 US dollars offered by Tigers Player’s Agency, an undercover reporter, purportedly interested in acting on behalf of Players Osas Okoro and Rabiu Ali, for their inclusion in the list of players for 2018 CHAN Competition in Morocco.

“The Committee found as a fact that it was not an error of judgment on the part of Coach Yusuf but a conscious and deliberate decision to have accepted the cash gift of 1,000 US dollars from the decoy player agent/undercover reporter, purportedly interested in acting on behalf of Players Osas Okoro and Rabiu Ali, even though the evidence before the Committee did not establish that his conduct influenced the choice of the two players.

“That the two Players could have made the team to 2018 CHAN Competition in Morocco on the basis of their talent and performance.

“That Coach Yusuf did not accept the offer of 15 per cent of the anticipated transfer fees of the said players, as there was no follow–up action on the promise.

“That the act of the Coach, which was widely published on the British Broadcasting Corporation, has a damaging effect on the reputation and integrity of Nigerian Football, as he ought to have conducted himself more professionally in line with the Code of Conduct signed alongside his Contract with the Nigeria Football Federation, as his conduct in public and in secret should be exemplary, since coaches are role models.

“That the FIFA Code of Ethics, NFF Code of Ethics and FIFA Disciplinary Code, did not contemplate negligence or error of judgment as a defence to violation of any of the provisions as contained therein, as punitive measures must be adopted to serve as deterrent to other intending offenders, even though, that he is a first time offender.”

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Victor Moses Retires From International Football

Super Eagles and Chelsea forward, Victor Moses, has announced his retirement from international football.

The 27-year-old, who made the announcement via his twitter handle said he made the decision after much thought. He explained that the aim is to focus fully on his club career and his young family.

According to him, the decision is also to allow the next generation of football stars the opportunity to ‘step up and flourish.’

Nigerians, however, took to social media in reaction to this announcement with many expressing surprise at such a decision at the age of 27.

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Chelsea Midfielder Bakayoko Joins AC Milan On Loan

France international Tiemoue Bakayoko has signed on loan for AC Milan, the resurgent Serie A side announced on Monday, bringing an end to the midfielder’s frustrating spell at Chelsea.

Milan have signed the 23-year-old for a reported inital five million euros ($5.7 million) with an option to buy for a further 35 million euros next summer.

Bakayoko leaves Chelsea after making 29 Premier League appearances for the Blues but failing to recapture the form that prompted the London club to pay Monaco a reported £40 million for his services last summer.

He was left out of the squad by new coach Maurizio Sarri for Chelsea’s opening fixture at Huddersfield on Saturday as his replacement Jorginho scored in a comfortable 3-0 win.

Milan hope Bakayoko will help them reclaim their position at the top of the Italian game following years of strife on and off the pitch.

AFP

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Super Eagles Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme Retires From Football

Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme confirmed his retirement from professional football on Friday following a battle with acute leukaemia.

The England-born player, who was capped 10 times and named as an honorary 24th player in the Nigeria squad at the recent World Cup, revealed last month he was in complete remission from the disease.
“The support has been incredible,” the 32-year-old, who has been with Wolves for his whole career, said in a statement on the club’s website.
“Every day someone has asked me how I am for a whole year. It’s incredible to think people actually care so much that they’ll do fundraisers in my name.”
“I spoke with the doctor and he suggested I should retire, because of the toll the treatment has taken on my body,” he added. “He thinks it’s what is best for me and I can’t really risk trying to come back — my health is the priority.”
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Stranded Nigerian Fans: FG To Prosecute Travel Agents For Russia Violations

The Federal Government has vowed to arrest and prosecute the airline travel agents who cancelled the return tickets of 230 Nigerian football fans stranded after the 2018 World Cup Tournament in Russia.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Prof. Steve Ugba said this in an online video statement made available by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tope Elias-Fatile in Abuja on Sunday.

Ugba made government’s position known while addressing the stranded Nigerians in Moscow, Russia before their departure to Nigeria.

Over 150 stranded Nigerian football fans besieged the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow on July 12, for assistance at the end of the 2018 World Cup tournament.

The fans had alleged that their return tickets were cancelled abruptly by airline agents, resulting to their being stranded in Russia without any hope of returning to Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 16, directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and his Aviation counterpart, Hadi Sirika, to evacuate the Nigerians to Abuja immediately.

Sequel to the directive, a chartered Ethiopian Airline had on July 20 conveyed the 155 stranded Nigerians back to Abuja.

The envoy in the 21 minutes video, expressed gratitude to the president for ensuring that the stranded fans returned safely to the country.

Ugba, who said that the Federal Government did not want the culprits to go free, urged the victims to produce any document they had to enable the government crackdown the agents.

“Give us any document that you have about the people who deceived you, or the people who scammed you, who did you 419 so that we can have them picked up and prosecuted in Nigeria.

“We do not want them to go free. So, give us any document you have that will tell us who these people are.

“We are waiting for them in Nigeria because the kind of behaviour that you exhibited here shows that you have character, shows that you have respect for yourselves, and shows that you have respect for Nigeria,” he said.

“It is not a crime for you to come and at the end of the show, you want to go back. It is not a crime.

“But it is a crime for the person who sold you tickets and then, the second leg of going back you do not have tickets anymore. So, it is not your fault.

“We want to hold those responsible for this terrible behaviour to account for their action so that next time, they will not do the same,” he said.

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World Cup: Finalists To Share $66m FIFA Prize Money

Fifa will award the winners of the 2018 World Cup final France $38m in prize money while Croatia, the runners-up in Sunday’s showpiece at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium will receive $28m. Both amounts are a $3m increase on those awarded to the finalists of the 2014 tournament in Brazil, in which Germany beat Argentina.

Belgium will receive $24m for their victory on Saturday in the third-place playoff in St Petersburg, $2m more than fourth-placed England.

In total the pot of prize money for the 2018 finals in Russia has increased by almost $50m, up to $400m this year compared to $358m four years ago.

France competed in their third World Cup final of the last 20 years, having won the trophy for the first time ever on home soil in 1998 and then losing the 2006 final in Germany to Italy in a penalty shootout.

Croatia, playing in their first ever major international final, were beaten in the 1998 semifinals by France.

VON

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Russia 2018: Kenyan Referee Gets Life Ban For Bribery

A Kenyan referee who had been due to officiate at the ongoing World Cup in Russia has been handed a life ban after being caught in a bribery sting.

Aden Marwa was filmed receiving a 600-dollar bribe during Confederation of African Football (CAF) assignment in Ghana.

He is one of 22 referees sanctioned by the CAF in an unprecedented clean up, announced at the weekend.

Marwa, who was a reserve at the 2014 finals in Brazil, had earlier been removed from the list of match officials due to officiate in Russia.

The life ban was handed out by CAF’s disciplinary board, which also banned 10 other referees for between two years and 10 years for similar offences.

A further 11 persons have been suspended pending an appearance at the board in August.

African football has long been plagued by allegations of bribery but never before has CAF banned such a large number of officials.

Reuters

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Ighalo Reacts To Death Threat To Family

Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo, has reacted to the alleged death threat issued to his family in Lagos on the social media due to his failure to score goals from clear-cut opportunities against Argentina, saying it was not deliberate.

The News Agency Of Nigeria reports that Ighalo, who replaced Kelechi Ihanacho in the second half of the match between Nigeria and Argentina in the ongoing World Cup in Russia, failed to convert a through pass from Ahmed Musa had incurred the anger of fans.

However,  most Nigerian fans strongly believed that if Ighalo had scored the goal, it would have seen the Super Eagles through to the Round of 16 of the World Cup.

Speaking through his Social Media timeline, Ighalo, who was involved in Nigeria’s qualification for the World Cup, said that he regretted not scoring the crucial goal.

“It is a great experience to play at the World Cup and I enjoyed every moment of it, but sometimes things don’t work the way you want.

“But life has to go on, I am grateful to God I did not sustain any injury,’’ he said.

NAN reports that after the match which generated a lot of ill-comments from fans, the Changchun Yatai F.C. of China’s striker, apologised to Nigerians and assumed personal responsibility for the blunder.

NAN

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Russia 2018: Super Eagles Will Make Us Proud, Says Osinbajo

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has expressed confidence that the Super Eagles would defeat their Argentine counterpart to move into the second round of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this while speaking with newsmen on Tuesday at the Alakia Airport in Ibadan on his arrival for the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, Clinic.

He said “By the grace of God, victory will be ours. I hope the boys will give their very best. I am sure and confident that they are well prepared for the important encounter. “This is an important encounter to us and I trust it is going to be a great victory for us’’

The Eagles would take on Argentina in their last group D match and they need at least a draw to qualify for the second round of the tournament.

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Russia 2018: Senegal Defeat Poland 2-1

Senegal took full advantage of their opponents’ errors to beat Poland 2-1 in their opening Group H match, finally giving Africa something to cheer about at the World Cup.

The African side took a 37th-minute lead when Idrissa Gueye’s shot took a massive deflection off defender Thiago Cionek to wrong-foot the keeper. Then on the hour, woeful defending allowed Mbaye Niang to tap home into an empty net before Poland pulled one back via Grzegorz Krychowiak’s late header.

Senegal have won 50% of their world cup matches, the best win rate of any African nation in the competition.

All three of Senegal’s world cup wins have been against European nations(fRANCE, Sweden, and Poland).

Poland have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last nine world cup matches since beating portugal 1-0 in 1986.

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