Super Eagles Slip In FIFA Ranking As Iceland Rise; Argentina, Croatia Steady

Nigeria dropped one place in the latest FIFA ranking released by the football governing body on Thursday.

The Super Eagles were 51st in the world with 651 points in January but are now 52nd with 606 points, according to the ranking on FIFA’s official website on Thursday.

Nigeria, who were losing finalists at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco recently, however remain seventh in Africa, where Tunisia are the top ranked country.

Senegal, DR Congo, CHAN champions Morocco and Egypt make up Africa’s top five, while Cameroon are sixth.

Ghana, Burkina Faso and Algeria are eighth, ninth and 10th in Africa.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Russia 2018 World Cup opponents Iceland are the biggest movers in terms of points in the ranking. The tiny European country moved up two spots from 20th to 18th and gained 58 points from 959 to 1017.

Croatia and Argentina, Nigeria’s other group opponents in Russia in June, did not move, staying in 15th and fourth respectively.

Incidentally, Nigeria and Libya played the most matches (six) in the period under review.

FIFA World Ranking: Nigeria Maintain 51st Position, 9th In Africa

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have maintained their 51st position in the latest Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Coca Cola World Ranking released on Thursday.

The latest rankings was published on FIFA’s official website.

The Eagles retained their ninth position in Africa.

Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D foes, Argentina were non movers as they remain fourth in he world

But the Super Eagles’ two other World Cup group opponents, Croatia and Iceland moved up two places. Croatia stepped up to 15th, while debutant Iceland moved two places to 20th.

Super Eagles opponents in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group E qualifiers, Seychelles remained 192nd. Libya who top Group E dropped one spot to 89th and South Africa rose three places to 78th.

Meanwhile, the top 10 ranked countries in the world are Germany – number one, Brazil , Portugal, Argentina and Belgium in fifth position

In sixth is Spain, Poland are seventh, Switzerland occupy eight, France ninth and Chile are 10th.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 15 February 2018.

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, , 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.

NFF Confirms Poland Friendly For Eagles

The Nigeria Football Federation has granted Gernot Rohr’s request to lead the Super Eagles against Poland in a friendly affair.

Both teams are searching for warm-up encounters ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Poland, who are housed in Group H alongside Japan, Colombia and Senegal, confirmed on December 11 the White and Reds manager Adam Nawałka had agreed to lead the Eastern European nation against the Eagles on March 23.

Poland open their Russia 2018 campaign against the Lions of Teranga in Moscow on June 19, and Nawalka believes playing a strong side like Nigeria would help him prepare his team to match the physical style of play of the Senegalese.

Nigeria are drawn in Group D alongside Croatia, South American powerhouse Argentina and tournament’s dark horses Iceland.

The Eagles, who will be making their sixth World Cup appearance in Russia this year, are looking to win their first game against Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 16, and Nigeria coach Rohr sees a friendly against Poland as good contest to prepare for the Croats, who have a similar playing style to the Polish.

And the NFF, who had refused to confirm or deny that Poland had approached Nigeria for a friendly after it was leaked to early in December by Rohr, revealed on Sunday the game would be played in Warsaw on March 23.

The federation tacitly confirmed reported friendly fixtures against Egypt in May and England at Wembley in June.

“The World Cup is the big one next year and I believe we are going to be very ready when the tournament kicks off,” the NFF president Amaju Pinnick was quoted as saying on the

“We have lined up four friendly matches starting with the game with Poland in Warsaw on March 23. There will be other matches on March 27, May 28 (in Nigeria) and June 2.”

Pinnick expressed the federation’s satisfaction with on-field and off-field results for Nigerian football last year, believing the country would win more honours this year.

He said, “Largely, it was an excellent year, on and off the field. The bookmakers, analysts and football fans all over the world thought we were going to find it difficult in our World Cup qualifying group, but we made it to Russia with a match to spare. Now, we have already kick-started the preparations to the finals with a landmark agreement with the team on funds and renewal of the coach’s contract to keep him fully focused on the job.

“Like the World Cup, qualification for the CHAN was also down to hard work and focus. We are ready to work even harder and focus much more ardently on our objectives in the year 2018, because we want to win the CHAN and achieve our best-ever outing at the World Cup.”

Nigeria, Iceland Drop In FIFA Rankings As Croatia Rise; Argentina Stable

The Super Eagles dropped one place from 50th to 51st position in the latest FIFA men’s world rankings released on Thursday on FIFA’s official website.

Following their drop in the rankings, the Eagles are now number nine in Africa.

The Eagles’ Group D 2018 FIFA World Cup opponents Argentina, Croatia and Iceland also did not move too much in the rankings.

Africa’s other representatives at next year’s World Cup Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco are 23rd, 27th, 31st and 40th respectively.

Argentina maintained their number four spot, Croatia moved up one spot to 17th while Iceland dropped to number 22.

Seychelles who will be hosting the Eagles on matchday two in Group E of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in October next year, were down three places to 192.

Group E leaders Libya did not do better as they dropped to 88 and South Africa remained 81st.

World champions Germany remain number one and are followed by Brazil. European champions Portugal are number three and Argentina are number four.

In number five are Belgium, Spain are sixth, Poland are seventh, Switzerland are eighth, France ninth and Chile 10th.

Can The Super Eagles Cage Messi In Russia

In the beginning, God created a field and a sport. Now, the field was formless and empty. And God said, ‘Let there be football!’, and there was Messi.

It is not clairvoyant to understand that Nigerians lately decided to tighten the noose on tithe because of the age-long extravagant and vainglorious lifestyles of some clerics, whose pretentious facade masks the rotten logs in their eyes. Since I was a kid growing up and playing “omolere” plastic football on the streets of Mushin in Lagos, conmen and fake spiritualists has ripped their victims of money and belongings. A common sight it was to see adults, male and female, suddenly stripping, wailing and rolling on the ground upon realising they had been duped.

As a youngster, I had the privilege of witnessing the golden age of club football in Nigeria when Rangers International of Enugu and IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan represented the best of our values of hard work, courage, competence, perseverance and diversity. Those were the days when the Oracle of Ibadan, the late Prof Sam Akpabot, bedecked in all-white agbada, would, on match day, wave at the crowd from the bleachers before a match and raise four fingers high up, signifying that the Green Eagles or the Nigerian club on duty would defeat their opponents by four goals. If the outcome of the match belied Akpabot’s prediction, you can rest assured that the foremost Ibibio professor, composer, author and ethnomusicologist would explain the reasons why his prediction failed, in his next column in the Daily Sketch or the Nigerian Tribune. This was also the period when we had the renowned India-trained parapsychologist, Prof Godspower Oyewole, and stargazer, Dr Gabriel Akenzua, perusing their crystal balls and predicting that the sun would rise in the east and set in the west.

No doubt, the three co-travellers – football, religion and politics – had long been subjected to exploitation in this neck of the wood called Nigeria.

Nigeria staked her claim to continental football glory on the national scene on March 22, 1980 when the “Chairman” Christian Chukwu-led Green Eagles walloped the Fennec Foxes of Algeria 3-0 at the National Stadium, Lagos, with two goals from “Mathematical” Segun Odegbami while the late midfield maestro, Mudashiru Lawal, added the icing on the cake. During this era, there was discipline in our sports, which blossomed on the wings of fair and competitive team selection.

As every era comes with its challenges, Nigerian football was kidnapped by a mafia in the 1990s when the late Stephen Keshi led the Super Eagles to another Nations Cup glory in Tunisia in 1994. The mafia dictated who was called to the national team, who played and whom the ball was passed to. The historic opening goal scored against Bulgaria by the most potent Super Eagles striker ever, the late Rashidi Yekini, was to the eternal agony of the mafia. By April 1994, the Super Eagles were fifth in FIFA World Rankings – the highest position ever achieved by any African team.

But Nigerian football never rose from the ruins of the destruction wreaked by the mafia and maladministration despite an unpredictable spasm in 1996 when the Dream Team returned home from Atlanta with the Olympic soccer gold medal after defeating Argentina 3-2 in the final. It is easier to destroy than to build, goes a popular saying. It took Nigeria 19 long years to reclaim the African Nations Cup in South Africa by 2013. Coach Keshi, who led the Super Eagles to African Nations Cup glory in 2013, failed to qualify the team for the biennial championship in 2015. In 2014, the team paraded, in the main, anonymous players at the World Cup, turning in a most dismal performance amid allegations of corruption in team selection.

The floundering continued from 2013 until last August when the Nigerian Football Federation picked a former Bayern Munich defender, Gernot Rohr, as the manager of the national team. Before Rohr roared the Eagles back to reckoning, a former Eagles captain, Sunday Oliseh, who, on account of his brilliant football analyses, was handed the coaching job, had abandoned the team midstream just as French coach, Paul Le Guen, turned down the offer to manage the team.

Success is a bastard. Now that Rohr has qualified the team for the World Cup, some former players of the team and a handful of unknown ones plying their trade in fringe leagues abroad have been making newspaper headlines in the bid to catch the attention of the unassuming German.

Joy has a slender body that breaks too soon, says Ola Rotimi in ‘The gods are not to blame’. For our World Cup joy not turn into ashes in our mouths, we must watch it. With our unenviable history of failing on the biggest occasions, caution is the word. The woe list is unending: November 12, 1977, Tunisia snatched the World Cup ticket at the National Stadium; in October 1981, Algeria went away with the World Cup ticket at the National Stadium just as Zamalek also defeated IICC Shooting Stars at the National Stadium to go home with the then elusive African Cup of Champions in 1984. Nigeria, painfully and controversially, lost Nations Cup finals to Cameroon in 1984, 1988 and 2000.

I’ve read stories calling for the invitation of former Eagles captain and goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, back to the fold. The Eagles had trod this familiar path to failure when Christian Chukwu was recalled in 1981 for a crucial World Cup qualifier against Algeria. Enyeama has served his fatherland well, let him enjoy his retirement.

Lack of maintenance culture is of the plagues of Nigeria’s development. Planning is another. The signs and repercussions of our planlessness as a country are etched in our current backwardness. And I wish we do not take this garbage to the greatest sport spectacle on the planet, the World Cup, taking place between June 14 and July 15, 2018.

I fear that our 4-2 friendly win over Argentina recently will go into our heads. I fear that our infectious optimism will not be matched with a deserving strategy and professionalism. I fear. I’ve not forgotten that the Eagles against Burkina Faso, on July 27, 1991, had to play in their tracksuits which were cut into shorts when officials forgot to bring players’ jerseys to the stadium. I’ve also not forgotten that players’ passports had been forgotten once. And how can anyone sanely explain the fielding of twice yellow-carded Shehu Abdullahi in the World Cup match against Algeria? Thank God Nigeria still qualified after FIFA deducted the one point earned for the 1-1 draw.

The big stage is here again and encomiums are pouring in for the Eagles. Analysing Group D, which has Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria, in New York Times, Rory Smith said, “Probably the most delicately balanced, most interesting, and most competitive of all the groups. Argentina only just qualified, Croatia has an abundance of individual talent; Iceland, a tremendous collective strength and Nigeria was, possibly, the toughest fourth seed to draw. Argentina will not be happy at all.”

A former Argentine midfielder, Sebastian Veron, said, “Nigeria is unpredictable. They always come to us in the group. African players are actually unstable and depend on what they have a day before and how they feel ahead of the game.”

Unlike the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, the greatest footballer ever, Lionel Messi of Argentina, doesn’t share the same birthday with me. But thoughts of the Lion of Argentina have been on my mind ever since the World Cup draws came up at the Kremlin in Moscow some days ago. What cruel fate made the Super Eagles draw the Lion again? I wish we had saved that our 4-2 friendly victory over Argentina for the World Cup. That win has put the Eagles on the back of the lion. They must not descend. The lion is livid. Pep Guardiola said it all, “When Messi decides to play, no force on earth can stop him.”

The Barcelona phenomenon and record setter is on the way to his sixth Ballon d’Or having dragged Argentina by the scruff of the neck to the World Cup finals and scored 18 goals in all competitions this season – leaving in his trail, Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo with a dismal four goals in the La Liga but a commendable eight goals in the Champions League.

Can the Eagles cage the lion?


Odesola, a journalist, wrote from the United States of America

NFF To Increase Gernot Rohr’s Salary

The Nigeria Football Federation has given Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr a pay rise in the new contract offer made to the coach who guided Nigeria through a seamless World Cup qualification campaign.

The German-born Rohr has already signed the contract that will see him in charge of the Super Eagles beyond 2019. “We offered him a new contract which he has accepted,” NFF president Amaju Pinnick said.

“They are going about the documentation now. His contract expires after the World Cup but we have offered him another two years with a slight pay increase. “He has radiated being that father figure for the team and has made the players understand that if “I lead well, you guys will follow well”.

The team spirit is what has been counting for us on the field and off the field. “He has been able to instil in the boys a sense of patriotism, a sense of discipline, and he’s been able to show them that if you are not disciplined then you cannot make an impact. “Gernot has been exceptional as a coach.”

Pinnick also paid tribute to Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi. “Mikel Obi has been super,” added Pinnick. “He has carried the team so well and they believe in him.” “We are very happy with what we have been able to mould together because it is very rare in Nigeria.

In the past, you’ve had several leaders in the Super Eagles but now we have just one Super Eagles. “The team spirit is what has been counting for us on the field and off the field.”

Nigeria Seal June Friendly With England

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are set to play England in a World Cup warm-up game in June, the general secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation Mohammed Sanusi has said.

“We plan to play a friendly against England in June, before the World Cup,” he said, adding that the venue and other details of the match were still to be worked out.

Both Nigeria and England will feature at next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The Super Eagles are drawn in Group D along with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland, while England are in Group G with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.

Both countries have clashed once at this level, in November 1995, when England won 1-0 at Wembley courtesy of a David Platt headed goal.

Sanusi also said the Eagles would play at least one friendly before Russia 2018 in the country’s capital Abuja to show the team’s appreciation for the support of both the Nigerian government and people.


FG Budgets N3Bn For Super Eagles #Russia2018 Campaign

The Federal Government has planned N3bn to empower the Super Eagles to have have a successful outing at the 2018 World Cup 2018 which begins on June 14 in Russia.

The Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, udisclosed this to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

Dalung said while sponsors and partners would raise part of the money, the substantial part of the “conservative budget” would be provided by the Federal Government.

“We have a preservationist spending plan of about N3bn however out of that N3bn, FIFA will raise about N900m; our sponsors and partners are likewise going to raise N600m. Government will moderately raise about N2bn or N2.5bn to complement,” the minister said.

He said plans were in progress to guarantee that the players get their allowance latest by March 2018.

“One of the difficulties we have been facing in sports administration is the welfare of the players and the officiating team and we plan to set a new approach to deal with the topic of welfare.

“By March, we intend to start paying the players their allowances, camping allowances upfront. That will go a long way to boost the morale of the players and their confidence too.

“The new strategy for administration in football has taken the pattern of change We will likewise guarantee that there is solidarity inside the football family.

“Unity, too, is a key factor going by some of the reports we had in the past where poor performances were attributable to lack of unity between the family, the technical team, the officials and the players. This time, unity has to be promoted.

“finally, we will likewise guarantee that government makes funds available on time. That is the reason the budget has since been sent to the President for a unique intervention

He said the government was comfortable with the group the team belong to despite the presence of Argentina.

He said, “We are comfortable with the team because having tested Argentina which is a highly ranked team in the group, we can say confidently that with good work, good training, good welfare for the players and team spirit, we will top that group going by the disposition of our national team

“After the groupings, Nigeria falls within Group D and we appear to be the underdog going by the ranking of the teams.

“But I think ranking is more or less a paper job, what is very important is how you will perform and I believe that we are comfortable with the teams.

“Some people have been arguing that Argentina did not present their best, but we also have some players we didn’t invite and we also intend to invite them. It is an issue that is going to be determined practically by the level of preparation of the Nigerian team. Don’t forget that the Nigerian team had enjoyed a formidable home support and they are inspired to deliver.

“So we will engage in more friendlies to try and determine our strength and areas of improvement before the final competition.”

Dalung said the government would mobilizen3 a strong delegation that will support the team because of its belief that sports is an about number.

Rohr: First Game Vs Croatia Crucial; Eagles Will Make Nigerians Happy

Technical Adiviser of the Super Eagles Gernot Rohr has run the rule over Nigeria’s Group D opponents at next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia and revealed that the team will have a good start to the competition if they get a favourable result against Croatia in the opening match on June 16, 2018.

Speaking moments after the draw were conducted at the Kremlin Palace here in Moscow on Friday, Rohr also said he is wary of ‘dark-horses’ Iceland and South American powerhouse Argentina but will pay special attention to the Europeans.

“The first game (against Croatia) is the most important because you need to start well for your confidence,” Rohr said.
“Croatia are better ranked than us by FIFA so we are supposed to be the weakest team in the group. If we win the first game, it will help us against Iceland in the second game because we will not be under pressure.”

The German also called for quick and efficient planning and preparation as the Super Eagles will be playing their three games in different parts of the Russian Federation which are very far from each other.

He said: “Our first game is in Kaliningrad which is in the western part of the country. Then we travel to Volgograd in Central Russia to face Iceland before goint to St Petersburg for the final game against Argentina. All of these require planning and preparations.”

Rorh was also full of praises for his young team which he said was getting better with each passing game.

“We have a young team. We are getting better so we will be humble and continue to work hard in other to bring happiness to the Nigerian people,” he added.

Russia 2018: Super Eagles Draw Argentina Again As Morocco Get Spain, Portugal

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn for the fifth time against Argentina, 1998 bronze medal winners Croatia and debutants Iceland in Group D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The draw was held at the Kremlin Palace here in Moscow, Russia on Friday.

According to the draw which was conducted by legends like Diego Maradona, Cafu, Carles Puyol, Gordon Banks and Diego Forlan, the Super Eagles will open their account against Croatia, while Argentina will do battle with Iceland.

Africa’s other representatives Egypt are in Group A with hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

Senegal are in Group H with Poland, Colombia and Japan, while Morocco are in Group B with Spain, Portugal and Iran, while Tunisia are in Group G with Belgium, England and debutantes Panama.

The opening game of the 2018 World Cup is between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will run from 14 June to 15 July in 11 host cities.

2018 World Cup Groups:

(Group A)
Saudi Arabia

(Group B)

(Group C)

(Group D)

(Group E)
Costa Rica

(Group F)
South Korea

(Group G)

(Group H)