Nigeria’s Escape From World Cup Disaster Emmanuel Okogba

But for the unassailable fourteen-point dominant lead Nigeria stamped on the earlier touted “zone of death”, the Group B of Africa’s World Cup qualification efforts, the nation could have been thrown into deep mourning after it was sanctioned by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

FIFA had announced the deduction of three points from our fourteen points and awarded them to Algeria over the fielding of an ineligible player, Shehu Abdullahi, in the final leg of the qualification for the tournament which will hold in Russia in 2018. Abdullahi was given a one-match ban which he had not served when he was drafted to play in the second leg of Nigeria’s away tie against Algeria.

FIFA ruled as follows: “The Nigeria Football Federation is liable for having breached Article.55 paragraph.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and article 8 of the 2018 Regulations of the FIFA World Cup Russia. “The match played within the frame of the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between Algeria and Nigeria on 10 November 2017 is declared to be lost by forfeit by Nigeria (3-0).”

Nigeria was also fined 6,000 Swiss Francs or N2.2 million. Luckily and happily, the deduction did not affect our standing at the top of the log as Nigeria had already qualified for the tournament before the Algeria match.

This kind of blunder which escaped the attention of the coaches led by Gernot Rohr and also the Technical Department of the Nigerian Football Federal (NFF) is as unconscionable as it is potentially dangerous. If the country had had a narrow lead, its qualification could have been nullified. The euphoria that is still the toast of our football circles would have been cut short. It would have been a massive shocker in the soccer world where Nigeria has established a foothold as a major force from the African continent.

Such a turn of events could have sparked off riots leading to the destruction of lives and property in view of the deep love Nigerians have for football which stands as perhaps the only unifying factor for the citizenry. The mistake of a few unconscionable officials could have reversed the thrill of our most commanding world cup qualification in history.

Our football house has remained a sorry symbol of the general incompetence and unwholesomeness of our public institutions, which is why the country is so poorly governed. The NFF has been severally sanctioned by FIFA for age cheating, bribery, corruption and other misdemeanours.

We call on the football governing body to probe and punish those responsible for the blunder. It should wake up from its slumber, clean up its acts and give Nigerians the quality football administration they deserve.

Algeria Assembles Best Players For Nigeria Clash

Algeria with nothing to gain from their last Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria, Coach Rabah Madjer is still bent on assembling the best of the country’s players for the last qualifying game against the Super Eagles.

Nigeria is the only one to have picked the only ticket from Group B of the African qualifying series, which means that the November 10 game is inconsequential as far as qualifying for the competition is concerned.

Yesterday, Madjer, who assumed leadership of the team following Milovan Rajevac’s resignation as manager of the Fennecs, announced a 23-man roster for the match scheduled for the Mohamed-Hamlaoui Stadium in Constantine next week.

Algeria has lost four of their five qualifying matches in Group B, which also houses Cameroun and Zambia.

In the team listed by Madjer are three goalkeepers, nine defenders, five midfielders and six strikers.

Notable among the players are former English Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City and his teammate, Islam Slimani.

Nabil Bentaleb, who scored in the Algerians’ 1-3 loss to the Eagles in Uyo, is also in the squad alongside Porto midfielder, Yacine Brahimi, RSC Anderlecht’s Sofiane Hanni and Napoli defender, Faouzi Ghoulam.

Algeria Squad
The goalkeepers in the team are Faouzi CHAOUCHI (MC Algiers, Algeria), Chamseddine RAHMANI (CS Constantine, Algeria) and Abdelkadir SALHI (CR Belouizdad, Algeria).

To vie for positions in the defence are Mohamed Khouthir Ziti (ES Setif, Algeria), Youcef Attal (KV Kortrijk, Belgium), Faouzi Ghoulam (SSC Napoli, Italy), Houari Ferhani (JS Kabylie, Algeria), Aissa Mandi (Betis Sevilla, Spain), Liassine Cadamuro -Bentaïba (Nîmes Olympique, France), Rami Bensebaïni (Stade Rennais, France), Ayoub Abdellaoui (USM Alger, Algeria) and Carl Medjani (Sivasspor, Turkey).

The midfielders are Abderraouf Benguit (USM Alger, Algeria), Nabil Bentaleb (FC Schalke 04, Germany), Ismael Bennacer (Empoli FC, Italy), Yacine Brahimi (Porto FC, Portugal) and Abdelmoumen Djabou (ES Setif, Algeria).

Joining MAHREZ and Slimani in the attack are Zinedine Ferhat (Le Havre AC, France), Baghdad Bounedjah (Al Sadd Sport, Qatar), Hilal El Arabi Soudani (Gnk Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia) and Sofiane Hanni (RSC Anderlecht, Belgium).

Immediately after the dead rubber game against Nigeria on November 10, Algeria will meet the Central African Republic in a friendly four days later.

Rohr Believes Eagles Wont Make Algeria Mistake

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has delivered a stern warning to his team ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambia in Uyo on Saturday.

The Super Eagles are in a commanding place to book their place in the Russia finals after amassing 10 points from four games to sit atop the World Cup qualifying Group B. They are followed by Chipolopolo in the second place on seven points, while African champions Cameroon are third in the group on three points and Algeria last in the table on one point.

Zambia defeated Algeria in their qualifying double-header (3-1 in Lusaka on September 2 and 1-0 in Constantine three days later) to breath a fresh life into their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Chipolopolo, who are seeking their first World Cup appearance, opened their qualifying campaign with a 2-1 home loss to the Eagles in Ndola on October 9, 2016 before earning a point in their 1-1 draw against Cameroon in Limbe on November 12, 2016.

Nigeria could back themselves into a corner with a bad result in Uyo, giving Zambia, who play their last qualifier against Cameroon at home on November 6 (with Algeria hosting Nigeria in Constantine the same day), a huge advantage in the race to Russia.

And Rohr, whose side need a win on Saturday to book their Russia 2018 ticket, has sounded the alarm on the threat posed by the highly motivated opponents.

“I have seen a lot of videos of the Zambian team and I must confess they are a very good side much better than the team we played last October but we are not afraid,” the German manager said in an interview with Cafonline.com on Tuesday.

“We only have to give them respect but we won’t make the mistake Algeria made by underrating Zambia; they have quick strikers but we shall be ready for them.”

The former Burkina Faso and Gabon coach, who has only lost one competitive game since he replaced Sunday Oliseh last year, added, “I can’t predict the scoreline against Zambia because it would not be an easy match.

“Zambia can be dangerous because they also have a good team; I don’t think it would be a 4-0 win for us but the most important thing for us is to win even if it’s by one or two goals.”

Rohr insists the Eagles must show their fighting spirit to overcome the East Africans’ physical approach.

He said, “We are going to show a good fighting spirit; we want to go to Russia to show the world that we are a very good team with a good fighting spirit. In this game against Zambia, the players would show what they can do defensively and offensively.

“Our goal is to win the game and there is no doubt about that. It’s a good situation for us because even a draw is still okay but we want to win.”

 

Algeria Name New Coach For Nigeria Showdown

The Algeria Football Federation have announced Serbian Milovan Rajevac as the new head coach of Les Fennecs.

The 62-year-old replaces Christian Gourcuff who left his position in April after a fall-out with the Algerian Federation.

Rajevac has had stints with Qatar and was in charge of the Back Stars of Ghana at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa helping them to reach the quarter-finals.

The Algerian Football Federation didn’t disclose the details of his contract but it is expected that he will guide the team towards qualifying for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.

Rajevac is also likely to lead the number one-ranked team in Africa to the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon as Algeria look to win her first continental title since 1990.

Les Fennecs will have to contend with the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Zambia and Cameroon in Group B of the final round of the Africa zone of the World Cup qualifiers.