Wagner Resigns From Germany Duty After World Cup Snub

Bayern Munich’s out-spoken striker Sandro Wagner has reacted to his surprise omission from Germany’s provisional World Cup squad by retiring from international duty.

“I hereby resign immediately from the national team,” Wagner told German daily Bild.

“For me, it is clear that I do not seem to fit with the coaching team in the way I am always open, honest and address things directly.”

The 30-year-old took a thinly-veiled swipe at head coach Joachim Loew for leaving him out of the 27-man squad, announced on Tuesday, for next month’s World Cup as strikers Timo Werner, Mario Gomez and Nils Petersen were selected instead.

Wagner, who made his debut in 2017, helped an inexperienced squad win the Confederations Cup in Russia last July and has scored five goals in just eight internationals.

“I would lie if I said that I am not disappointed, the World Cup would have been a great thing,” said Wagner.

“Of course, I can’t take it too seriously, because, as I have said many times before, there are far more important things in life besides football.”

Wagner’s omission was a surprise given his impressive form this year for Bayern, the club he joined in January as Robert Lewandowski’s back-up, scoring an impressive nine goals in 17 games, mainly off the bench.

He is understandably red-faced having said in numerous post-match interviews this year that he expected to make the World Cup squad.

However, his out-spoken nature clearly counted against him in the appraisal of Loew, who must cut four names from the provisional list for Germany’s final 23-man squad, which must be submitted by June 4, for the World Cup finals.

Germany open their World Cup campaign against Mexico in Moscow on June 17 and also face South Korea and Sweden in Group F.

Messi Eager To Banish 2014 World Cup Disappointment By Winning In Russia

Argentine captain, Lionel Messi says winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is the only way to overcome the heartache of losing the 2014 FIFA World Cup final to Germany.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, will lead Argentina against Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D as they target their third FIFA World Cup title.

Messi explains his motivation to return to international football with La Albiceleste after announcing his retirement.

“After saying the words, I thought about it with a cool head and realised that leaving the national team gave the wrong message to the youngsters and the people who fight for their dreams. You have to keep trying,” Messi told TyC Sports.

“The fact we were finalists and weren’t able to win is a weight that we carry. We want to overcome that barrier.”

Messi also added that Argentina’s 6-1 loss to Spain in an international friendly in March, was not a true reflection of La Albiceleste’s performance.

“It was a false result because Argentina were much better in the first half, had more possession for quite some time, and that’s not at all easy.”

Salah, Elneny, Son In As Egypt, South Korea, Iran Name World Cup Provisional Squads

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah,  Arsenal midfielder Mohammed Elneny and veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary are part of Egypt’s 29-man preliminary squad released by their Argentine boss Hector Cuper.

The squad was confirmed on FIFA.com on Monday.

Ahmed Hegazi and Ali Gabr of West Bromwich Albion, Ahmed Elmohamady of Aston Villa and Al Ahly’s duo Mohamed El-Shennawy amd Sherif Ekramy also made the cut.

Also on Monday, South Korea coach Shin Taeyoung unveiled his own provisional 28-man squad.

Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung Min, Swansea star and veteran Lee Chungyong, who is set to make his third World Cup appearance, are in the squad .

Also, former Manchester United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz revealed his 35-man Iran preliminary squad.

Dutch Eredivisie top scorer Alireza Jahanbakhsh heads the bill as Iran get set for playing in back-to-back World Cups for the first time in their history.

Final 23-man squad lists will be published by FIFA on 4 June.

South Korea provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Kim Seunggyu, Kim Jinhyeon, Cho Hyeonwoo

Defenders: Kim Younggwon, Jang Hyunsoo, Jeong Seunghyeon, Yun Yeongseon, Kwon Kyungwon, Oh Bansuk, Kim Jinsu, Kim Minwoo, Park Jooho, Hong Chul, Go Yohan, Lee Yong

Midfielders: Ki Sungyueng, Jeong Wooyoung, Kwon Changhoon, Ju Sejong, Koo Jacheol, Lee Jaesung, Lee Seungwoo, Moon Sunmin, Lee Chungyong

Forwards: Kim Shinwook, Son Heungmin, Hwang Heechan, Lee Keunho

Reserves: Gu Sungyun (goalkeeper), Choi Chulsoon (defender), Son Junho, Lee Myungjoo, Lee Changmin, Ji Dongwon (midfielders), Suk Hyunjun (forward)

Egypt provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Essam El Hadary (Al Taawoun, Saudi Arabia), Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly), Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly), Mohamed Awad (Ismaily);

Defenders: Ahmed Fathi (Al Ahly), Saad Samir (Al Ahly), Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly), Mahmoud Hamdy (Zamalek), Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (Al Fateh, Saudi Arabia) Ahmed Hegazi and Ali Gabr (both West Bromwich Albion, England), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa, England), Karim Hafez (RC Lens, France), Omar Gaber (Los Angeles FC, USA), Amro Tarek (Orlando City, USA);

Midfielders: Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mahmoud Abdel Aziz (Zamalek), Shikabala (Al Raed, Saudi Arabia), Abdallah Said (KuPS, Finland), Sam Morsy (Wigan Athletic, England), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal, England), Kahraba (Al Ittihad, Saudi Arabia), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City, England), Trezeguet (Kasimpasa, Turkey), Amr Warda (Atromitos, Greece);

Forwards: Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Ahmed Gomaa (Al Masry), Kouka (SC Braga, Portugal), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, England).

Iran provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Seyed Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo, Portugal);

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (Ostende, Belgium), Voria Ghafouri (Esteghlal), Steven Beitashour (Los Angeles FC, USA), Seyed Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Alsaad, Qatar), Mohammad Ansari (Persepolis), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny, Russia), Omid Norafkan (Esteghlal), Saeid AGhaei (Sepahan), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal);

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm, Russia), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens, Greece), Ahmad Abdolahzadeh (Foolad), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds, Sweden), Mahdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Notthingham Forest, England), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiacos, Greece), Ali Karimi (Sepahan), Soroush Rafiei (Al Khor, Qatar), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis);

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos, Greece), Mahdi Taremi (Al Gharafa, Qatar), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen, Netherlands), Kaveh Rezaei (Charleroi, Belgium).

Mikel, Moses, Ndidi, Lokosa Make Super Eagles 30-Man Squad; Onyekuru, Osimhen, Kayode Out

Captain Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa are among the Super Eagles 30-man provisional squad released by Gernot Rohr ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The 30-man provisional squad was published on Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Twitter handle on Monday.

Home-based goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Dele Ajiboye, Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi made the cut.

There is also the surprise inclusion of Crotone striker Simeone Nwankwo and Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) top scorer with 18 goals Junior Lokosa.

Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who is recuperating from a hamstring injury, is also included.

Others who made the list are Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Elderson Echiejile, Bryan Idowu, Shehu Abdullahi, Ola Aina, Ogenyi Onazi, John Ogu, Uche Agbo, Stephen Eze, Tyronne Ebuehi, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho, Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem, Oghenekaro Etebo and Joel Obi.

Meanwhile Henry Onyekuru who just returned from injury and Victor Osimhen were not listed. Olanrewaju Kayode, who has been in fine form with Shakhtar Donetsk is also not included.

Nigeria Foes Croatia Name Star-Studded 32-Man World Cup Provisional Squad

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday named Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic in his 32-man provisional squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The provisional squad list was announced through the official Twitter handle of the Croatia  Football Federation.
The Croatian will face Nigeria, Iceland and Argentina in the group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Dalic named four goalkeepers, 12 defenders, eight midfielders and eight forwards to compete for places in the final 23-man squad for the Mundial.
Also included in the squad are Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona and Sime Vrsalijko from Atletico Madrid.
Also called up are the likes of Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Marko Rog, Milan Badelj, Ivan Strinic from the Italian Serie A.
Croatia will face Nigeria in their opening Group D game before battling Argentina and Iceland.
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Abuja Set To Host Super Eagles Vs Congo Friendly For Buhari

There are strong indications that the farewell pre-World Cup friendly match between the Super Eagles and their DR Congo may now hold in Abuja instead of Uyo or Port Harcourt.

Sports ministry sources told sports writers in Abuja that the Federal Government is keen to have the game played at the Abuja National Stadium to enable President Mohammed Buhari to grace the occasion and send off the team to the World Cup in Russia.

Consequently, the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation were at the Abuja National Stadium on Monday to inspect the pitch of the main bowl to ascertain its readiness or otherwise to host the game on May 28.

“The minister of sports has directed that the Abuja National Stadium should to put in shape for the Nigeria and DR Congo friendly match. We are putting everything possible in place to ensure that the turf is ready on time. As you can see, the pitch is now lush green, safe for some few patches which we are working on,” the ministry official said.

“We are putting in every effort to ensure that the pitch is put in good condition to be to host the Eagles versus DR Congo match. The Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr was also here to inspect the pitch and he is more favourable to playing here from the way he spoke.”

The Super Eagles will face England at Wembley on June 2 and Czech Republic few days later after the DR Congo friendly.

Nigeria will be in the same Russia 2018 World Cup group with Croatia, Iceland and Argentina

Super Eagles World Cup Final List Out On June 1

The final list of players to make the Super Eagles’ Russia 2018 World Cup squad will be released on the 1st of June.

According to coach Gernot Rohr, the preliminary list of 30 players will be out and forwarded to FIFA on Monday 14th May which would be a prelude to a three-phase camping for the team.

The 30 players are expected to open the first phase of their pre-World Cup training camp in Nigeria which will culminate in the friendly against Congo Democratic Republic on May 28 in Uyo before departing for London for the next phase of camping.

The team will then be pruned down to 23 players which will be submitted to the world football governing body latest by Friday June 1 , 24 hours before the friendly against England at Wembley Stadium.

However, according to Rohr, there will be two extra players on standby with the team in London in case of injury.

The Super Eagles will then proceed to the third and final phase of camping in Austria with the final 23 players to take on Czech Republic in the last friendly game on June 6 before flying to their World Cup base camp in Yessentuki, Russia.

Nigeria will open their World Cup campaign on June 16 against Croatia in Kaliningrad before playing debutants Iceland on June 22 at the Volgograd Arena. Their final group game is against two-time champions Argentina on June 26 in St. Petersburg.

Super Eagles World Cup Foes Croatia To Face Brazil In Friendly

Nigeria’s Russia 2018 World Cup group opponents Croatia will play Brazil in a friendly at Anfield on 3 June, Liverpool have confirmed.

The match will kick off at 3pm. The game is part of both teams’ preparations for the World Cup later in June.

“Brazil is the most attractive team in the world, and it makes me proud that the Croatian Football Federation has managed to agree this spectacular match in Liverpool,” Croatia FA President Davor Suker was quoted on Liverpool’s official website.

“We are especially looking forward to enjoying the atmosphere at Anfield, where Croatia has never played before – it’s a historic venue and I am convinced that our players will enjoy this match, along with our fans and all spectators. A match between two great sides such as Brazil and Croatia is surely worthy of such an iconic stadium.”

Croatia will face Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland in Group D while Brazil will battle Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E in Russia.

Meanwhile, tickets for the highly anticipated friendly will be available from £30 (about N15,510) for adults with all U16 tickets at £10 (N5,170) via Liverpoolfc.com.

Maradona To Messi: Focus On Winning World Cup

Legendary Argentine midfielder, Diego Maradona, has urged Lionel Messi to put behind him Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League exit and prepare well with the Albiceleste as they target their third title at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona were sent out of the Champions League on superior away goals by a Italian side, AS Roma after the Blaugrana threw away a 4-1 first leg lead losing 3-0 in the second leg to crash out 4-4 on aggregate onTuesday night.

Maradona told daniarcucci.com that the exit of Barcelona could be a blessing in disguise for the Argentina captain who he thinks will be well rested for the World Cup in Russia to win it.

“Messi, today, he can go and lift the World Cup in Russia, the only thing I would tell him is to prepare himself, as I did with Professor Del Monte, before Mexico, to prepare himself for the World Cup in Russia,” Maradona told daniarcucci.com.

“Because Barcelona is lost, it is more than done, they have no problem. ,The La Liga and the Copa Del Rey will be theirs at the end of the season.

 

“As I told Napoli: ‘I love you a lot, I gave you a lot, but now my priority is the national team.”

“And so you can go and lift the Cup in Russia. It is essential that he (Messi) prepare himself mentally and physically for his last chance.”

Maradona also advised Jorge Sampaoli, to pick Manchester United’s goalkeeper Sergio Romero as his first choice for the World Cup ahead of River Plates’ Franco Armani.

​”Armani is a good goalkeeper, Chiquito Romero is a great goalkeeper,” he said.​

FIFA World Cup Trophy Arrives Nigeria

The FIFA World Cup trophy has arrived in Nigeria, as it continues its tour of 91 cities in 51 countries across six continents before the opening ceremony.

During its stay in the country, the iconic prize of world football visited the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, where President Muhammadu Buhari had a feel of it and deliver a welcome address.

 

President Buhari handed the FIFA World Cup trophy

 

In continuation of the tour, the trophy and its accompanying team will visit Lagos on Friday morning, to be received by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick and NFF First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, are part of the team.

Football fans will also have to opportunity to view the trophy before it leaves on Saturday.

Super Eagles’ World Cup Foes Argentina To Face Italy, Spain In Friendlies

Two- time  world champions, Argentina, will begin their preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia with two friendly matches in March against Italy and Spain
According to online news outlet, Ole.com.ar , Argentina with the nicknameAlbiceleste will come up against Italy who failed to qualify for the mundial in Basel on March 23, while their encounter against Spain which  will take place four days latter is billed for Madrid.
The Argentina Football Federation are also working on the possibility of having the team play a farewell game on May 30 at La Bombonera before heading off to Barcelona for a one- week training camp at the Joan Gamper Sports Centre on the outskirts of the city.
Reports earlier suggested that the friendly affair will be against Bolivia in  Buenos Aires.
A training match with Israel as the probable opponent is planned for June 8 before leaving Spain for their Bronnitsy training centre base camp in Russia the next day.
Jorge Sampaoli’s men are drawn in Group D along with Nigeria, Croatia and Iceland.
The South Americans will face the Super Eagles in their third group game on June 26 at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.