Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses are the big names in Nigeria’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup, with John Obi Mikel as captain.
Iwobi, Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho offer coach Gernot Rohr a variety of options up front, while the 2-meter (6-foot-6) striker Simeon Nwankwo is included after earning his first cap Monday against Congo.
Left-back Bryan Idowu, who was born and raised in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, could play in his home city when Nigeria takes on Argentina in Group D, after Nigeria revealed its final squad on Twitter on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa is the only squad member who plays for a Nigerian club after fellow ‘keeper Dele Ajiboye and the Nigerian league’s top scorer Junior Lokosa were both cut from the provisional squad.
Nigeria travelled Sunday to a training camp in Austria after its 2-1 friendly loss to England in London on Saturday. The Nigerians’ final World Cup warmup is against the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
Nigeria starts its sixth World Cup campaign against Croatia on June 16 in Kaliningrad before taking on Iceland in Volgograd on June 22 and then Argentina in St. Petersburg on June 26.
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United).
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Den Haag), Elderson Echiejile (Brugge), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes), William Ekong (Bursaspor), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa).
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin TEDA), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone).
The national debate over French identity
France’s last World Cup win in 1998 triggered a national debate over French identity, after the slogan Black-Blanc-Beur (Black, White, Arab) was coined to describe the multi-ethnic team.
It was a striking development, because discussing race or religion is officially considered irrelevant to French identity – even frowned upon.
The French state collects no data on the ethnic origins of its citizens; a way of underlining the principle that all are equal, and equally French.
The reality is somewhat less “colour-blind”, though, according to many of those who come from immigrant backgrounds, and especially from France’s former colonies in Africa. They say many areas of French life – such as getting a job – are more difficult with an immigrant name or a non-white face.
France’s colonial past has left uncomfortable divisions here; divisions which have been exacerbated by city planning around its major cities, and – some would say – a Republican ideal that is often seen as rooted in France’s white Christian history. The recent debate around the place of Islam has highlighted these tensions again.
The national squad is still a rare symbol of multicultural France, but 20 years on from their last World Cup win, the image of a team from many different backgrounds has triggered less focus on French identity here and more wry comment on the country’s current stance on immigration.
The feud comes after Khaled Beydoun, a US author on Islamophobia, called in a Twitter post for “justice” for Africans and Muslims in France because they “delivered you a second World Cup”.
The tweet was widely shared and garnered criticism and praise. Some were worried it would hamper race relations in a country that had witnessed its political discourse become inflamed following a migration crisis and a number of terrorist attacks.
In a related report ,US-based South African comedian Trevor Noah has defended himself after being criticised by a French diplomat for saying “Africa won the World Cup”.
The Daily Show host made the comments on his satirical show a day after France beat Croatia to win football’s most coveted prize on Sunday.
More than half of the French squad can trace their heritage back to Africa.
The French ambassador to the US said the comedian was denying their “Frenchness” by calling them African.
“This, even in jest, legitimises the ideology which claims whiteness as the only definition of being French,” Gérard Araud said in a stern letter to Noah.
“They were educated in France, they learned to play soccer in France, and they are French citizens. They are proud of their country, France.”
The Daily Show posted a video of the South African comic reading out the letter on Wednesday (later tweeted by the French embassy in the US) – and going on to argue that the players’ African identity should be celebrated.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 19, 2018
Noah said he understood where the ambassador was coming from and how his comment could be perceived as “joining the attack” with France’s far right.
But he said his statement should be put in context: “When I am saying, ‘They are African’, I am not saying it as a way to exclude them from their Frenchness, but using it as a way to include them in my Africanness.”
To deny that duality was something he “vehemently” disagreed with.
Earlier in the week, Noah had also posted to his Instagram account a cartoon by M Rifai showing a boat full of migrants handing the World Cup trophy to France.
Mr Noah expanded on the concept, using as an example Malian migrant of Mamoudou Gassama, who was recently given French citizenship after climbing a building to rescue a child dangling from a balcony.
“They said, ‘You are now French.’ So now I am going, ‘Is he now no longer African?'” Mr Noah asked.
Former US President Barack Obama has also waded into the debate about the identity of the French football squad.
During his Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg earlier this week, he pointed to the positive side of immigration: “Just look at the French football team. Not all of those folks looked like Gauls to me, but they are French – they are French.”
In his letter, Mr Araud stressed that the players “rich and varied backgrounds is a reflection of France’s diversity”, to which Mr Noah replied: “Now I am not trying to be an asshole but I think it is more of a reflection of France’s colonialism.”
France’s founding principles and universal values means it does not collect data or statistics on its racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds.
Iwobi: Nigeria must learn from 2018 World Cup
ARSENAL and Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi, hopes that the Super Eagles can learn from its 2018 World Cup and build for the future.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the Arsenal forward said: “The squad is young and we picked important lessons that will hopefully help us going forward. Attention will soon shift to the Nations Cup and we must make our World Cup lessons count.”
Nigeria finished third in Group D after defeats by Croatia and Argentina either side of a 2-0 win over Iceland.
The victory over Iceland had kept Nigeria in contention but their campaign ended just four minutes from the end of their final match against Argentina, only for Marcos Rojo’s late strike to knock them out.
“We had a lot of hopes and believe that we could do well. We are very proud of ourselves and are going to take the positives of course,” Iwobi said.
“We are just unfortunate about the last minute goal that came against Argentina led to a defeat that knocked us out of the group. We are taking positives but we are very happy with what we did.
“It’s not just me or my tournament, it’s Nigeria’s tournament,” he added. “The coach didn’t put me in that position because he wanted to try something new, try something else, so I had no problems because at the end of the day it is what the manager decides is what goes.”
Nigerian FA crisis deepens as league suspended indefinitely
The resumption of Nigeria’s domestic league has been postponed indefinitely amid a leadership crisis that has caused total gridlock with a FIFA ban imminent.
Earlier this month, Chris Giwa, founder of a rival faction in the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), seized control insisting he was elected NFF president in a disputed vote back in August 2014. However, FIFA recognises Amaju Pinnick as the Federation’s chief and Gianni Infantino has warned the Nigerian authorities to expect a ban if they do not comply with the regulations over government inference.
According to local reports, Giwa himself is currently under a worldwide ban even though he is backed by Nigeria’s Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.
Domestic football was due to resume today after taking a break during the World Cup but has been postponed “based on the current adverse circumstances in the administration of football in the country as a result of which sponsors, partners and service providers have expressed strong concerns and are reviewing their involvement in the league.”
Pinnick represented Nigeria at the World Cup and in a dangerous snub to FIFA and Infantino, Giwa told the News Agency of Nigeria that the threatened ban was “a creation of the media; FIFA has not written to lodge any complaint to us.”
Further describing Infantino’s threat as a “mere fallacy orchestrated by the press”, he added: “There was an election and there was a litigation on which the Nigerian judiciary made a pronouncement. I am not the judiciary. I only went there to seek for justice. We have a system in Nigeria. Anyone with any grievance against that system must go through the same system to ventilate his concerns.”
Leicester City Set To Be Offered £30m For Nigerian Attacker: Should Puel Let Him Leave?
After yet another season that saw them finish in the top half of the league table, Leicester City have missed out on the chance to compete in Europe. However, Claude Puel has big plans for the squad at the King Power and is busy scouting for players who can improve the first team at the club.
However, he is also looking to get rid of dead wood this summer and one such player who is now inching towards an exit is Ahmed Musa. The 25-year old produced a moment of brilliance to take Nigeria past Iceland in the group stages of the World Cup recently but that remains the only highlight of his season, which he spent in two different countries.
Musa joined Leicester City in 2016 and scored just two league goals in 21 matches in his debut campaign and did not show enough promise to steal a regular place in the starting XI last season. He started just one League Cup game under Puel and was sent out on loan to Russia after the turn of the year.
The Nigerian international came to the King Power to act as a backup to Jamie Vardy and fight for a place to play alongside him in a 4-4-2 system with the likes of Shinji Okazaki, Islam Slimani and Kelechi Iheanacho. His versatility was an added asset but the French manager does not seem to be impressed with what he has on offer.
He showed decent quality in the Russian league and also had his moments in the World Cup, At 25, Musa has a decent future ahead of him but it does not look like he is set to stay at Leicester.
Reports in Nigeria claim that Musa is close to joining Saudi Arabia side Al Nassr Riyad, who are readying a huge bid for him. It is understood that the financial incentives are expected to lure him to the Middle East to join former Premier League star Nordin Amrabat, who has left Watford to join the same club.
Al Nassr Riyad are happy to pay close to £30m for the attacker and it is hard to see the Foxes reject such an advance. Puel has already lost Riyad Mahrez this summer and is rebuilding his squad for the next season. Musa may have had a place in it, but a £30m offer is sure to seal his future.
He is a decent talent but Leicester City and Puel now have the liberty to spend on players that can make an immediate impact on the squad next season. Musa’s exit is expected to be confirmed in the coming days, so we can expect the Foxes to make some star signing before the end of the transfer window.
UK Based Nigerian Welterweight Boxer Wins IBF Title
UK based Nigerian boxer, Larry ‘The Natural’ Ekundayo, last night at the York Hall, Bethnal Green (the home of British Boxing) defeated John Thain to win the European IBF title in the welterweight division.
Ekundayo in an impressive performance won the contest unanimously, with all three judges scoring him as winner.
In a fight that lasted 12 rounds, Larry Ekundayo showed class as he outboxed Thain who suffered from a broken nose and was left bleeding for about 6 rounds.
While Thain looked worn out as the rounds progressed Ekundayo did not break sweat and looked confident and agile till the last bell.
Ekundayo now hopes to challenge for the world title and in a video made available after the fight, Ekundayo who spoke in Yoruba, said that he wants to defend his title in Nigeria.
Ekundayo hopes to visit Nigeria with his belt soon to thank Nigerians for their support and has promised to give back to Nigeria by helping young boxers develop their talent to international standards.
Paul Pogba: Did you see what the Man Utd ace did after France won the World Cup? WATCH
THIS is the moment Paul Pogba DABBED with the World Cup trophy.
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) July 15, 2018
Manchester United man Pogba helped France to their second World Cup triumph today with a thrilling 4-2 win over Croatia.
Didier Deschamps’ side secured their first World Cup win since lifting the trophy on home soil in 1998.
France took the lead after 18 minutes when Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick deflected in off Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic.
Croatia – who were the better side in the opening 45 minutes – equalised 10 minutes later thanks to Ivan Perisic’s left-footed finish.
But a questionable penalty was buried by Griezmann just before the break to give France the lead heading into the second half.
Pogba got his name onto the score sheet after 59 minutes when he made it 3-1.
A stunning 25-yard strike from teenager Kylian Mbappe six minutes after Pogba’s goal looked to wrap it up for France.
But an error from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris offered Croatia some hope when Mandzukic found the back of the net to score their second goal.
However, the Croats were unable to find a way back into their first ever World Cup final.
France players celebrated hard after the final whistle and Pogba couldn’t resist pulling off one of his signature moves when he had his hands on the World Cup trophy.
The Manchester United man – with a French flag tied around his waist – stood in front of photographers and ‘dabbed’ with one hand while holding the trophy in the other.
Ifeanyi Ubah’s World Cup Gift to Ndi Anambra
By James Eze
There is something fascinating about Ifeanyi Ubah. Almost infinitely so! When he is not taking on the giants of Nigeria’s economy paradox and crashing the price of petroleum products, he is flexing his political muscles across Nigeria as the brain behind TAN or ‘A Handshake Across the Niger’ or better still, ‘Afa Igbo Efuna.’ And when he is not doing any of these, Ubah is in his own football stadium in Nnewi; living his vision as a club owner, fertilizing the dreams of young footballers across Nigeria and beyond.
I have never met Ifeanyi Ubah. But I find him intriguing. I find him fascinating. And I think we should all pay a close attention to him. For though we may not all like him but we cannot always ignore him.
I found myself paying a close attention to Ubah lately when he single-handedly sponsored over 50 Anambra youths to the World Cup in Russia. He simply wanted to give the youngsters the World Cup Experience. It has never been done before by anyone I know in Africa. Ubah took care of the youngsters while in Russia, tending to them, ensuring that nothing went wrong with them for almost two weeks. They only returned when Nigeria crashed out of the competition. Had Nigeria waltzed her way to the final being played today, Ubah and his large Anambra contingent would have been there to cheer the Super Eagles to victory. Ubah is not the richest man in Nigeria today. But he is the only one who has thought of giving people who ordinarily would not have seen a World Cup game live, the chance to see it. I think it is important.
I have never seen a World Cup game live. In other words, I have never had a World Cup experience. But I am told that nothing quite compares to it. My closest chance of being at the World Cup was when it came to Africa. But while South Africa played host to the game in 2010, I was holidaying in the US; far away from home and in a country where football is a distant echo. A friend of mine swore that he would not let the chance pass him by. He gave up something very important to him to be able to squeeze out enough money for his return ticket and expenses in South Africa. He came back with memories that would follow him to the grave. He regaled me with that experience for a long, long time and blamed me for choosing a wrong time to visit America. What he did not ask me was whether I would have been able to afford a World Cup experience all on my own if I had stayed back. So, there are many ways to make life rich. And if my friend’s stories are true, then a World Cup experience is one amazing way of spraying the life of a football lover with dazzling colours!
Please don’t get me wrong. I have heard people say that he did it because he is running for senate. That may be true. However, I have studied politics enough to know that no shrewd strategist would consider sponsoring young people to the World Cup a wise way to run for office. In the Nigerian context, the sum of money Ubah may have spent in giving these people a World Cup experience would have been enough to win him a gubernatorial election in some states. I think his decision was driven by something deeper and perhaps more ennobling than the quest for political power. I have observed Ubah for a few years now. I have not always agreed with his methods but I have never quite been indifferent to him. Ubah never leaves any observer with the comfort of indifference, anyway. Not when he never tires to try.
Not when he is not easily fazed by the height of incredible odds against him. And certainly, not when he invests every undertaking with so much zeal and passion. I remember how his support for Governor Obiano’s re-election bid upturned the political calculations in Nnewi last November. I remember hearing him chant ‘ama nwude Ojukwu n’aka’ as he heaved his massive bulk around in an effort to mobilize the electorate to vote for Obiano in Nnewi. His political vehicle for the election, ‘Afa Igbo Efuna’ struck an instant chord among Ndigbo at home and in the Diaspora and revved up the collective effort to save APGA, the only political party with firm roots in Igboland.
I also remember how he brought the political leaders of Ndigbo and the Yoruba together early this year for a historic ‘handshake’ across the Niger in Enugu. I sat in the audience and listened to Ayo Adebanjo recall the efforts of the founding fathers to give Nigeria a better union than the contraption we have at the moment. I remember hearing Adebanjo remind the audience that the experience he was sharing was not gleaned from a book but from his own direct personal involvement in the political evolution of Nigeria. I remember the leaders of the various nationalities in the Middle Belt and the South South share their agonies and fears about Nigeria under one roof. But I also remember that the ROOF was provided by Ifeanyi Ubah.
So, as the World Cup ends today, I think we should also REMEMBER that Anambra State was in Russia. And that Ifeanyi Ubah made that possible when he gave over 50 Anambra youths the World Cup EXPERIENCE!
Riyad Mahrez confident he will move to another level after joining Manchester City from Leicester City
Riyad Mahrez is confident he can take his game to another level after finally joining Manchester City from Leicester City.
The Algeria winger, 27, has been a long-term target for City, and moves to the Premier League champions on a five-year-deal.
The terms of the transfer were not revealed in Tuesday night’s announcement, but the fee has been reported to be in the region of £60million. Leicester said in a statement the deal was a “club-record”.
“I am so pleased to have joined City, a side playing great football under Pep Guardiola. Watching them from afar has been a pleasure,” Mahrez said on the City website.
“Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is perfect for me, and City’s performances last season were outstanding. They’re redefining the English game and I wanted to be a part of it.
“I think we can be successful over the coming years and I believe my own game can develop under Pep’s management.”
Leicester rejected City’s offer of £50m plus winger Patrick Roberts – valued at £15m – in January, and Mahrez missed two games during the saga.
Mahrez was given extra time off by the Foxes after playing in Algeria’s international games in June and had been set to return to pre-season training before confirmation the protracted transfer had finally been concluded.
City director of football Txiki Begiristain is confident Mahrez will prove a valuable addition as the champions look to mount a successful defence of their Premier League title and succeed in Europe.
“Riyad is a hugely talented player. He beats defenders and creates space,” Begiristain said on the club’s website.
“Over the past few years, he has established himself as one of the Premier League’s most exciting players. We’re sure he will bring additional attacking quality to our squad.”
Leicester had already brought in cover with the £24m arrival of attacking midfielder James Maddison from Norwich.
Mahrez helped Leicester to a shock Premier League title triumph in 2016, scoring 17 times, and then played a major role in the club reaching the Champions League quarter-finals during the following campaign.
The Algerian, who signed from Le Havre for £400,000 during 2014, leaves the Foxes having made 180 appearances, scoring 48 times.
Despite the saga having at times taken its toll on the relationship between club and player, Leicester wished Mahrez well for the challenges ahead with Manchester City.
A statement on the Leicester website read: “In the four-and-a half years since Riyad signed for the Foxes, he has played his way into the hearts of all Leicester City supporters.
“His moments of magic will live long in the memory as the club and its fans continue to build a long-term legacy for the success delivered by the teams to which Riyad so memorably contributed.
“Riyad leaves with the best wishes of everybody who has worked with him at Leicester City Football Club. He will be welcomed back to King Power Stadium as both an opposition player and a friend of the club.”
N’Golo Kante: Chelsea begin £200,000 contract talks with France World Cup star
CHELSEA have opened talks with midfielder N’Golo Kante over a new contract worth around £200,000 a week.
The France star has become a key part of the Chelsea midfield since joining from Leicester in a £32 million deal in the summer of 2016, winning the PFA player of the year in his first season.
Kante, 27, still has three years left on his original deal, but Chelsea want to tie him down to a new five year contract, making him one of the best paid players at the club and securing his long-term future.
French giants Paris St Germain and Juventus have both been linked with Kante, who won the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge and the FA Cup last year.
The midfielder has been an instrumental part of France’s success at the World Cup so far and is expected to start in Sunday’s final.
Chelsea have been quiet so far in the transfer window, and with exactly a month until the start of the season, they will be looking to shape together the core of their team.
Cristiano Ronaldo salary: Juventus sign £105m Real Madrid star – how much will he earn?
CRISTIANO RONALDO will earn a huge salary at Juventus after completing a stunning transfer from Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo has completed a stunning transfer to Juventus after nine years at Real Madrid – and he will be earning an eye-watering salary in Turin.
The 33-year-old has sealed a four-year deal with the Serie A giants and comfortably sits at the summit of Juventus’ top earners chart.
Ronaldo is just one of three players earning over the £100,000 milestone, though his wage far exceeds that number several times over.
Gonzalo Higuain also rakes in a huge amount of cash, though Ronaldo’s wage could cause a stir among his new dressing room.
Video Clip Credit : The GuardianUK
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