Super Eagles Rank Better, Argentina, Croatia, Iceland Drop In Fifa Ranking

The Super Eagles of Nigeria moved up the ranking five table from 52nd to 47th position in the latest FIFA world ranking released on Thursday.

The ranking was published on FIFA’s official website.

The Eagles’ friendly games against Poland and Serbia was a pivotal reason for their rise in the rankings. They secured a 1-0 win against Poland away from home before losing 2-0 to Serbia in London.

In Africa, the Super Eagles are now in the sixth position.

There was no improvement for the Eagles’ 2018 Group D World Cup opponents as they all dropped places.

Argentina dropped one spot to fifth, Croatia dropped three places to 18th and Iceland dropped to 22nd.

For the Eagles’ 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group E opponents, only South Africa moved up as Libya and Seychelles dropped.

South Africa rose four places to 72, while Libya and Seychelles dropped to 100th and 194th respectively.

In the top 10 ranked countries, World Cup holders Germany remain number one, with Brazil in second, Belgium are third, Portugal are in fourth and Argentina fifth.

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

The next Coca Cola FIFA World Ranking will be released on May 17, 2018.

Makinwa: Super Eagles Need To Improve On Their Games

Former Super Eagles striker Ayodele Makinwa reckons there is a lot of work to be done in every department of the team if they are to surpass their best finish at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The Super Eagles have never moved passed the second round at the World Cup, the same stage they reached in 1994, 1998 and 2014.

But ahead of the Super Eagles sixth appearance at the World Cup in Russia, Gernot Rohr’s men were not especially spectacular in their performances in friendlies against Poland and Serbia.

The Super Eagles defeated Poland 1-0 on Friday before losing 2-0 to Serbia in their second game on Tuesday.

“Friendly games are meant to try out various players and patterns to know how prepared they are for the World Cup but the players featured showed us so many lapses,” Makinwa, who regularly featured for the Eagles in the mid 2000s, told CSN.

“The Super Eagles were not impressive but it’s good this is happening now as there’s still time to correct some of the shortcomings.

“But I believe they can improve as they still have some more games to prepare.

“The defence still looks shaky with some players missing which should not be, likewise the midfield.

“If they don’t improve we will struggle in Russia.”

NFF Top Shots Visit Ikeme In Hospital

The top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF)  have paid a very heart warming visit to  Super Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.

Wolves goalkeeper Ikeme had been the super Eagles first choice before the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup preliminary fixture against Swaziland and the first match of the group phase against Zambia in Ndola.

But in some few months ago, he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia after returning “abnormal blood tests” during pre-season testing at English Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers and had to undergo chemotherapy.

On Monday, as the Super Eagles prepared for tonight’s World Cup friendly against Serbia in London, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, led a delegation of NFF top shots and team staff to visit Ikeme at The Christie Clinic in Manchester, where he is being treated, the NFF said in a press release on Monday.

In the delegation also were NFF 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, Super Eagles’ Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi, Eagles’ goalkeepers’ trainer Alloy Agu and team media officer, Toyin Ibitoye.

Pinnick said: “We have come on behalf of the Government of Nigeria and the NFF to check up on you, find out how your recovery is going and to tell you that you are still very much on our minds and a member of the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

“We have also come to seek your permission to be our special guest at the pre- World Cup friendly game against England at the Wembley Stadium on 2nd June. We want you to perform the customary kick-off of that game and if you approve of it, we will immediately request this of The Football Association.”

Pinnick further assured the goalkeeper that he would be fully captured in the team’s financial benefits for Nigeria’s qualification for the FIFA World Cup “as we all remember the role you played in helping us get off to a winning start in the final phase of qualifiers in Ndola against Zambia.

“We believe this is just a phase that will pass away. You will come out of it stronger and still be able to do what you love to do the best, both for your club and the Super Eagles of Nigeria.”

Enebi, said: “On behalf of the team, we want to reassure you of our love. The entire team would have been here to see you if we were not playing against Serbia. Coach Gernot Rohr, the technical and backroom staff are all praying for your speedy recovery. The team asked that I present this autographed jersey, signed by all the players, to you. It is our new kit for the World Cup.”

Agu, who is a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, said: “As your goalkeeper coach in the national team, I know you are a fighter, you never give up. I believe these attributes will see you through. We will always be there for you as you recover from this illness.”

An ecstatic Ikeme, moved by all the kind words, responded: “I am so overwhelmed by this show of love. I am indeed grateful to Nigerians who daily flood my phone with prayers and well wishes. I feel their love everywhere, everyday, on social media. I thank the Government of Nigeria and the NFF for all the support and I appreciate my teammates so much for being there for me.”

Serbia Fidget Over Physical Eagles

Serbia coach Mladena Krstajic says his team will have to step up their game to overcome the powerful Nigeria in their friendly match at The Hive Stadium  in London on Tuesday,  but believes they can play themselves to winning the game.

Serbia was defeated 2-1 by Morocco in their Russia 2018 World Cup  preparatory fixture  at  Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino in Turin  on Friday, and the upset Eagles manager Krstajic has told his charges to go all out and beat Nigeria’s Super Eagles.

Nigeria defeated Poland after Victor Moses converted a penalty in their World Cup warm-up clash at the Municipal Stadium  in Wroclaw on Friday.

Krstajic will  look to adopt a familiar 4-3-3 formation for today’s game with Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic or PAOK’s Aleksandar Prijovic leading  the scorer of the team’s  only goal against Morocco Dusan Tadic and Filip Kostic in the attack.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is likely to stick with the  4-4-1-1 formation which helped his team  to nullify the threat of Poland’s Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski, West Brom midfielder  Grzegorz Krychowiak and Borussia Dortmund right-back Łukasz Piszczek against Serbia in London.

Former Werder Bremen defender Krstajic, who is  desperate for a win to instil confidence in his team ahead of Russia 2018,  urged them to  go all out for a win.

“Nigeria have a solid team with  many  of the players playing  for  European clubs,” HotSport.rs quoted the former Schalke 04  star as saying on Monday.

“I expect a good reaction from our players and I think with good concentration, we can achieve a good result.

“I repeat, the most important  thing is the result, everything else is irrelevant.”

He added, “Nigeria have  a lot of good players, we expect a very  tough  game, physically very demanding. So, we must prepare well and make everything look better than against Morocco.”

Southampton’s Dusan Tadic also admits they face   physical   opponents in London.

Nigeria have  a lot of good players, we expect a very physically game,”  Alo.rs  quoted the  forward as saying. “They  have players in Leicester and  Chelsea, they are physically dominant, fast and strong.”

Meanwhile,  Nigeria captain Mikel  Obi  has ruled himself out of playing in  the encounter  as he is yet to resolve his work permit issue in China.

The Tianjin Teda star could not travel to Poland for Friday’s fixture in Wroclaw due to the problem, and the former Chelsea midfielder has now confirmed that he will also miss today’s clash against Serbia.

The 2012 UEFA Champions League winner wrote  on his Instagram account on Monday, “Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I will not be on the field for our game v Serbia tomorrow (Tuesday). I am sad, and frustrated, but giving my full support to the team for another WIN!.”

Rohr has since invited Turkey-based midfielder Mikel Agu to replace the ageing player.

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: Poland And Nigeria Will Benefit From The Friendly

Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr believes both his side and Poland’s will benefit greatly  from Friday’s international friendly in Wroclaw

The Eagles will officially kick start for the 2018 FIFA World Cup when they face the Poles, who will also be in Russia, from 8.45pm Friday night.

After the game in Poland, the Eagles will then travel to London to face the Serbs in the friendlies.

Speaking at a press conference, Rohr stated why Poland picked the Eagles for a friendly.

“We know very well the Senegalese team who play good football, they have a strong team,” Rohr said during his pre-match press conference on Thursday night.

“I suppose we are invited because they (Poland) are playing Senegal (at the World Cup). And we and Senegal are the only two black African teams at the World Cup, the other three African teams (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco) are from North Africa.

“It will be good preparation for Poland but also for us because Croatia has very high level. And we play Serbia next Tuesday in London so we have two good preparation games for the World Cup.”

Rohr also revealed that young Deportivo La Coruna goalkeeper Francis Uzoho will make his first start for the Super Eagles in the game against Poland.

Uzoho made his first appearance for the Eagles when he came on for Daniel Akpeyi in the 4-2 win against Argentina on November 14, 2017.

Super Eagles Camp In A Great State  

The training camp of the Nigerian National Football team, the Super Eagles, was agog on Wednesday with invited players arriving in camp and participating in the first training session.

The Super Eagles  on Friday take on Polish national team at the Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw, Poland, come March 23.

According to tweets from the official Twitter handle of the Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles), among the early arrivals to camp on Wednesday were: Troost Ekong, Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, Brian Idowu and Leon Balogun.

They were followed by Francis Uzoho, Elderson Echiejile, Stephen Eze, Joel Obi, Shehu Abdullahi, John Ogu, Moses Simon, Kenneth Omeruo.

Later in the day, the team announced the arrival of Odion Ighalo, Ogenyi Onazi, Uche Agbo and Ahmed Musa to the camp.

This brings the number of players in camp to 18 as others are expected to arrive later.

One of the players invited by coach Gernot Rohr for the friendlies against Poland and Serbia, Shehu Abdullahi, said he was delighted to be invited.

“I’m delighted to have received an invitation for the friendlies against Poland and Serbia. It’s a great honour to represent my dear country! Thanks, @thenff, Gernot Rohr and my fans in Nigeria.”

The pre-World Cup friendly match between Nigeria and the Polish national team, who are ranked 8th in the recently released FIFA Ranking, will kick off on Friday at 8:45 pm Nigerian time.

The Super Eagles will then take on the Serbian national team on Tuesday, March 27 in London.

Matic: Nigeria Are A very Good Side, I Know Mikel And Moses

Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic believes Nigeria is a country blessed with gifted and fantastic players and he is looking forward to facing the Super Eagles on March 27 in an international friendly at the Hive stadium in London.

The Manchester United star who was newly named the assistant captain by coach Mladen Krstajic admitted that the super eagles are a very good side and playing against them will be an encounter to enjoy.

“Let’s see in these two games where we are,” Matic told kurir.rs.

“We do not know Morocco, but the expert staff has saved the material. Nigeria is good, I know some of their players, and it will be a game to enjoy,”

The former Chelsea star played alongside Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Ola Aina at Stamford Bridge before he switched to United last season.

Matic has also faced Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi, Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo in English Premier League encounters.

All seven players are expected to feature for the Super Eagles against his Serbia team next Tuesday.

Matic has scored twice for Serbia in 36 international appearances since he made his debut against Poland in the 14 of December, 2008.

Eagles’ Camp Opens In Wroclaw

The camp of the Super Eagles Of Nigeria will officially be opened on Monday in Wroclaw, a city in Poland ahead of Friday’s international friendly against the Bialo-Czerwoni (White and Red) or Eagles, as the Senior National Team of Poland is popularly known as.

Both teams who have made it to the group stage of the Russia 2018 will battle it out at the 43,000 –capacity Stadium Wroclaw on Friday, 23rdMarch 2018.

Nigeria’s 28 –man playing squad has been empaneled to also serve the purpose of the friendly against equally Russia 2018 –bound Serbia, at The Hive, London (home ground of Barnet FC and London Bees) four days later.

Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi Achor confirmed to thenff.com on Sunday that the Eagles would be staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Wroclaw.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC); Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa)

Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Tyronne Ebuehi (Ado Den Haag, The Netherlands); Olaoluwa Aina (Hull City, England); Elderson Echiejile (Cercle Brugge KSV, Belgium); Brian Idowu (Amkar Perm, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes FC, France); William Ekong (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa FC, Turkey); Stephen Eze (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria)

Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Tianjin Teda, China); Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas, Spain); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Uche Agbo (Standard Liege, Belgium); Joel Obi (Torino FC, Italy)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Junior Ajayi (Al Ahly, Egypt); Gabriel Okechukwu (Akwa United)

FIFA Rankings: Nigeria maintains 52nd, Poland Rise; Serbia, Argentina Remain Static

The Super Eagles have not moved in the latest FIFA World Rankings released on Thursday on FIFA’sofficial website as the Nigerian side remain 52nd in the world.

Also, the Eagles maintain their position in Africa sitting still on the 7th position in the continent.

Poland who will challenge Eagles in an international friendly on March 23rd, are the only movers in the top 20 as they climbed one spot to joint-sixth with Spain.

Serbia who will also play the Eagles in another friendly billed for March 27, maintained 34th position.

The Eagles 2018 World Cup Group D opponents Argentina are still in fourth spot, Croatia remain 15th and also Iceland stay 18th.

For the Eagles’ 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying Group F opponents, South Africa moved one spot to 76th, Libya stayed at 99th and Seychelles rose one place to 191st.

The next FIFA Coca-Cola rankings come up April 12, 2018.

 

 

Super Eagles Not Scared Of Messi, Claims Rohr, Ezenwa

Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa say the form of the Argentine superstar isn’t giving them any problems ahead of the world cup games in Russia later in 2018.

The Eagles are in Group D alongside Argentina, Iceland and Croatia at the Mundial and would clash in the Saint Petersburg with their South American foes in their final group game on June 26.

Both teams have clashed four times consecutively  in the World Cup with the more illustrious South Americans triumphing on all occasions.

Messi has been in terrific form in La Liga helping Barcelona claim top spot with 72 points in 28 matches, eight points above second-place Atletico Madrid and 15 points above champions and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

In separate interviews, Rohr and Ezenwa said they were not shaken by the dazzling displays of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who was excused from La Albiceleste’s friendly 4-2 defeat to the three-time African champions in Krasnodar, Russia, last November.

“We know he’s (Messi) one of the best players in the world but we are not worried about anybody because we have a good team. The game against Argentina will be a tough one and it will be very interesting going into the group’s last games,” Rohr said

“Perhaps we don’t have players we had in the 1990s, when only one player could make the difference. But now, we have a young team playing good and quality football, not only one or two quality players who can make the difference.”

Enyimba keeper and Eagles current first choice Ezenwa also reiterated his coach’s view when asked if he could stop the sleek Argentine.

Ezenwa copped an injury in January at the 2018 CHAN but despite initial fears that he might be sidelined from the trip to Russia, he’s back and hoping to stop Messi if he gets the nod to man the posts at the Mundial.

Asked if he could stop the Argentine from scoring, Ezenwa replied curtly with a smile, “Yes, I can stop Messi.”

“We play as a team always and collectively we have been doing well. That’s the mentality we are taking to the World Cup. If I get chosen by the coach, I will do my best always to stop any player from scoring,” Ezenwa said.