Salisu Calls Omoyele, Ashadi, Nwakali, 20 Others For Friendly With Atletico

Ahead of Tuesday’s glamour friendly match with newly –crowned Europa League kings, Atletico Madrid FC of Spain at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Super Eagles’ B Head Coach Salisu Yusuf has invited 23 players, among them highly –rated Plateau United striker Tosin Omoyele and Katsina United defender Destiny Ashadi.

 

There were also call-ups for Akwa United FC goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo, Enyimba FC forward Isiaka Oladuntoye, FC IfeanyiUbah defender Adeleye Olamilekan and Lobi Stars’ duo of Olufemi Kayode and Ebube Duru.

 

A sprinkle of foreign –based actors, including the nimble –footed Alhassan Ibrahim, former U17 World Cup –winning captain Musa Muhammed and the Nwakali brothers (Chidiebere and Kelechi) was also included.

 

All invited players are expected to arrive at the Bolton White Apartments Hotel, Abuja on Friday, 18th May before the contingent moves to Uyo at the weekend.

 

INVITED PLAYERS

 

Olufemi Kayode (Lobi Stars)

Olorunleke Ojo (Akwa United)

Olufemi Thomas (Rangers International)

Musa Muhammed (Lokomotiv Plovdiv)

Stanley Okoroma (MFM FC)

Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars)

Ikouwem Utin (Enyimba FC)
Adeleye Olamilekan (FC IfeanyiUbah)

Austin Opara (MFM FC)

Isiaka Oladuntoye (Enyimba FC)

Chinedu Ajana (Katsina United)

Raphael Ayagwa (Plateau United)

Destiny Ashadi (Katsina United)

Kelechi Nwakali (MVV Maastricht, Netherlands)

Alhassan Ibrahim (FK Austrian Wien)

Chidiebere Nwakali (Aberdeen FC, Scotland)

Usman Mohammed (Norway)

Dayo Ojo (Sunshine Stars)

Emem Eduok (Kasimpasa FC, Turkey)

Sadiq Umar (NAC Breda, Netherlands)

*Tosin Omoyele* (Plateau United)

Kadiri Samadi (Lobi Stars)

Ibrahim Alhassan (Kano Pillars)

We Are Not Afraid Of Super Eagles Opponents In Russia – NFF

The Super Eagles are not afraid of any opposition in Russia at the World Cup because they are well motivated; the Nigeria Football Federation’s 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwunmi, has said.

Seyi Akinwunmi told the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos that the NFF had confidence in the team.

“Nigeria is blessed with young talented footballers who are capable of bringing good results.

“We are not scared of the teams in our group, we are happy with the team, we have a blend of experienced and young and fit players; a good squad with a good coach.

“The friendly matches are good testimonies of the Eagles preparation for the World Cup. We have played Argentina and Poland and we defeated both teams; both games are good enough to test the waters.

“Before those games, nobody gave us a chance, but football is football, as long as players give their all, the result will be positive.

“Our youth development system is working because we said few years ago that we want to lower the average age of our senior team which we have achieved,’’ he said.

Akinwumi said though Nigeria had yet to reach the height expected, the football house would stop at nothing to improve the lots of the national team.

“Although it is not yet uhuru for us, we are still working on something that is enduring for the team, so we are hopeful.

“We have a team well motivated enough to face any opposition at the World Cup; individually we are not scared of any team. The team’s responsibility is just to play football.

“What we have done is to prepare better for the World Cup than what we have done in the past. We have everything prepared in terms of logistics, training, accommodation and welfare.

“We are happy with what we have on ground and there is no worry in the camp at all, anything that may come up will be just a minor issue,’’ he said.

NAN reports that Nigeria is in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Argentina for the Mundial.

(NAN)

Nwankwo: I’m Happy With The Opportunity To Vie For Spot In Super Eagles’ W/Cup Squad

Crotone of Italy forward, Simeon Nwankwo says he will prove he is worthy of a place in the Super Eagles following his surprise inclusion in the 30-man provisional list for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Nwankwo, 26, and Kano Pillars striker, Junior Lokossa are the notable first-time call-ups in the list released by Nigeria head coach, Gernot Rohr on Monday who overlooked the likes of Brown Ideye, Junior Ajayi and Sadiq Umar.

The former Gil Vicente of Portugal player has earned rave reviews recently following his impressive performances for Crotone in the Italian Serie A.

He has scored seven goals in 22 league appearances for the club this season an improvement from the three he netted in 21 league games last term.

The striker however has a tough task in his hands as regards making the final 23 for the mundial with forwards, Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa all favoured to be on the plane to Russia.

“The last few days have been a good one for me, my club and family. I have received a lot of congratulatory messages on the invitation and I’m happy with the way things have turned out for me so far,” Nwankwo stated in an interview with Lagos based radio station, Brila Fm monitored by CSN.

“Playing at the World Cup is the dream of every player . This is an opportunity for me to showcase my talent and prove myself to the coaches.

“Already, we have some friendly matches lined up before the World Cup which is a big opportunity for every player to fight for a place in the team, especially those of us coming into the team for the first time

“I will give my best and see what happens at the end of the day.”

The Super Eagles are expected to begin preparation for Russia 2018 on May 22 in Uyo where they will train for a couple of days before proceeding to Port Harcourt for a friendly match against Democratic Republic of Congo on May 28.

The Three-time African champions will play in Group D in Russia along with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland.

Pinnick: Why Ebola Outbreak Won’t Affect Super Eagles Vs Congo Friendly

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has allayed fears arising from the outbreak of the dreaded Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo which is threatening the proposed pre-World Cup friendly international against the Super Eagles billed for Port Harcourt, Rivers State on May 28.

According to Amaju Pinnick, President of the NFF who was a guest on a Lagos television on Monday morning, the outbreak is not an epidemic capable of stopping the game from going ahead.

He said: “We are in touch with the Congolese FA and we have been reliably informed that the Ebola outbreak is in a very remote part of the country so there’s nothing to really fear. Besides, about 98% of the Congolese players are based outside the country.

“They’re flying in to Nigeria and we have got them a chartered flight which will touch down in Port Harcourt at 6pm on the 25th of May, three days to the match. The aircraft will wait and take them back after the game. As a further precaution, we have written to the Ministry of Health to test them on arrival. We have really covered that and there’s nothing to be worried about.“

On the proposed friendly between Spanish giants Atletico Madrid and the Super Eagles billed for Uyo, the President revealed that the game is a result of the collaborative efforts between the Shehu Dikko-led League Management Company and LaLiga and, as such, will not cost the NFF financially.

“We are not paying Atletico a dime. That’s the beauty of what Dikko is doing at the LMC. Mamelodi Sundowns (of South Africa) are paying Barcelona about $4 million for a friendly but we are not paying anything,” Pinnick explained.

“It’s an arrangement that the LMC had with LaLiga a couple of years back. You know LaLiga have an office here, they employ Nigerians and also pay their taxes here. They have got their landing permits and we already took their advance party to see the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo and they were awed that we have such a beautiful structure here. They loved it. So everything is set for that game.”

The Super Eagles are billed to also play England in Wembley Stadium on June 2 before taking on the Czech Republic on June 6 in Austria as part of preparations for the World Cup.

Nigeria Confirm Friendly With Atletico Madrid

Nigeria will face Atletico Madrid in a friendly at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Tuesday, May 22.

While LaLiga and the Nigeria Football Federation have been heavily involved in organizing the event, prominent video entertainment giants MultiChoice Nigeria – provider of digital terrestrial platform GOtv is bringing Los Rojiblancos to play in the maiden edition of the GOtv MAX Cup.

There, the 2018 Europa League finalists will test the Super Eagles’ readiness for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia where they take on Iceland, Croatia and Argentina.

“We are delighted to bring one of the three biggest clubs from LaLiga to Nigeria in what we believe will be a historic visit,” said Martin Mabutho, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, MultiChoice Nigeria.

For LaLiga president Javier Tebas, Atletico are giving Nigerian a chance to see their stars up close.

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.

Babangida: Super Eagles Must Remain Humble Ahead Russia 2018

Former Super Eagles winger Tijani Babangida has advised the team to remain humble ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia following Friday’s 1-0 win against Poland.

The three-time African champions edged out the Poles 1-0 at the Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw with Victor Moses scoring the winner from the spot in the 61st minute.

The victory followed November’s 4-2 impressive win against two-time world champions Argentina which saw the Super Eagles come from a two-goal deficit to emerge winners.

Despite the recent success achieved by the team, handler of the team, Gernot Rohr has warned the players against over optimism ahead of the finals an opinion shared by Babangida.

“I would advice that we must not put too much pressure on the team ahead of the World Cup. It is also important for the players not to raise the bar too high,” Babangida, a member of Super Eagles side to the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.

 

“It is good when you do well and win in friendly games before a major tournament like the World Cup but it is also important to be cautious because things will be different in competitive games.

“I like the fact that we are playing these friendlies against top quality sides which is good for our preparations for the World Cup.

“I hope we get things right at the World Cup and surpass our previous achievements in the competition.”

Onazi: Poland Players Are Fast Players, A very Good Test For Us

Nigeria midfielder Ogenyi Onazi says the Super Eagles will be up against a very fast Polish side when both countries meet on Friday night in an international friendly.

The Super Eagles and Poland are using the clash as preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

After the game against Poland, the Super Eagles will be in London to take on another World Cup-bound team Serbia on Tuesday.

“It’s always good to play against strong teams with big players as well,” Onazi, who should captain the Super Eagles in the absence of Mikel Obi, said during a pre-match press conference on on Friday night.

“It will be a nice time for us to play against them and I am looking forward to the match. For Poland, they are all European teams, they play similar patterns and they have fast players.”

Onazi, who was a member of the Super Eagles squad that got to the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, stated that playing against Poland and Serbia, is also a chance for Gernot Rohr to assess fringe players in the Super Eagles.

He added: “As our coach has said earlier, it is an opportunity for him to see other players as well. So this is a good opportunity for us for some of the players that have not played so much in the national team.

“It is left for him to make the decision for the players who are going to play but for us the two friendlies will help us.”

Rohr To Test Iheanacho In Mikel Role Vs Poland As Eagles Change Formation

Gernot Rohr will hand Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho the No.10 role, usually played by Mikel Obi, in the Super Eagles starting line-up when they face Poland in an international friendly on Friday.

Mikel will miss the encounter billed for the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw as he is battling to renew his work permit in China, where he features for Tianjin Teda, but he is expected to join up with the squad in London for the game against Serbia on Tuesday.

According to a camp source, Iheanacho has been playing off centre forward Odion Ighalo in a 4-2-3-1 formation in training and he the Leicester star is expected to keep his place for the World Cup friendly.

“Iheanacho will play Mikel’s position against Poland barring any last minute tactical switch,” the source, a member of the squad, told CSN.

“That’s his preferred role and I think he will do well there. He is solid and quick in his decision making.”

The 21-year-old Iheanacho is expected the most advanced midfield ahead of the deeper central midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Ogenyi Onazi for the game.

In the Super Eagles last game against Argentina, Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi were paired in attack as Gernot Rohr deployed a 3-5-2 formation.

The former Manchester City forward curled in a brilliant free-kick as Nigeria came from a goal down to beat Argentina 4-2 at the Krasnodar Stadium in Russia last November.

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.