NFF to send Keshi on refresher course abroad

President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick has given a hint that Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi won’t be fired by his board, but rather would send him for a refresher course abroad.

Upon announcing the sacking of Keshi a month ago, Pinnick revealed the coach and his assistant turned down the opportunity to go for refresher courses to be sponsored by the board.

However, events took a different turn when an order from the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan forced the NFF to reinstate the coach and his technical crew.

According to Pinnick, his board is fully focused on ensuring the Eagles prepare well for the 2017 AFCON and 2018 World Cup qualifiers by sending the team handlers to new courses abroad to broaden their scope and knowledge.

“In the short term package to reposition our football we will send some of our coaches and ex internationals to England for refresher courses in match reading,” said Pinnick.

“They will also receive orientation abroad on crisis management and other related courses that would help us improve on the quality of information to be given the coaches before, during and after games.”

He also confirmed the Eagles will play most of their friendly games at home starting with the 25 March 2015 friendly against Brazil at the Uyo township stadium.

The idea of playing most of the proposed friendly games in Nigeria is to showcase the county’s huge tourism potential and culture as a way of putting the country on a positive footing in the eyes of the world.

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Chelsea’s Mourinho faces ex-Blues boss Di Matteo

Jose Mourinho comes up against the only coach to have steered Chelsea to the Champions League title when the Blues travel to Roberto Di Matteo’s Schalke 04 on Tuesday.

Victory will confirm Chelsea’s place in the Champions League‘s knock-out phase, but the focus will be on Mourinho’s opposite number on the Schalke bench.

Chelsea coach Mourinho, the self-styled ‘Special One’, won the Champions League title as Inter Milan coach in 2010 and Porto boss in 2004, but the European crown has so far eluded him in his two stints at Stamford Bridge.

Premier League leaders Chelsea are unbeaten in their first 12 league matches — a club record — and strolled to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at home on Saturday with goals by Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.

Chelsea face Schalke in Gelsenkirchen as Group G leaders, three points clear of their second-placed German hosts, but the Premier League side have a much better goal difference.

Di Matteo has won all four of his home matches since taking charge of Schalke last month and is in his first role since being sacked by Chelsea in November 2012, just six months after winning the Champions League title.

Mourinho clearly did not like to be reminded that he will be up against the only coach to bring the Champions League to Stamford Bridge and insisted it is Chelsea against Schalke, not him against Di Matteo.

“I don’t play against him,” said Mourinho dryly.

“If I play against him, he wins because he plays better than me. Unless I am fitter, which I don’t know, but normally he wins because he is much better than me.

“It is Chelsea against Schalke, it is not me against Di Matteo.”

Schalke earned a point at Stamford Bridge in September, before Di Matteo took charge, when Cesc Fabregas’s early goal for the hosts was cancelled out by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s second-half equaliser.

Mourinho said his team’s aim is to finish top of their group and have their place in the knock-out stage confirmed as quickly as possible.

“The group is easy to analyse, we can finish first, second or third,” he said.
“To finish third and go to the Europa League should be something that would be against the evolution of this team.
“This team wants to be a very good team and to be a very good team you have to play against the best teams in the best competitions.”

Di Matteo’s Schalke enjoyed a 3-2 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday, which ended Wolves’ eight-match winning streak and pushed the Royal Blues up to seventh in the table.

The Italian, also a former Chelsea player, said there will be no room for sentiment on Tuesday.

“For me personally, I’ll just concentrate on my work of trying to win the game for Schalke. Chelsea also played on Saturday and they are in the same position as us in terms of recovery,” he said.

“We have the Champions League game on Tuesday where everything is still open and anything can happen, but we want to take at least a point from the home game.”

Di Matteo has said he is considering using the 5-3-2 formation which worked well against Wolves, with full-backs Atsuto Uchida of Japan and Austria’s Christian Fuchs given licence to attack.
It paid off initially as Schalke raced into a 3-0 lead with Cameroon striker Eric Choupo-Moting scoring twice and Fuchs firing home a free-kick before Wolfsburg fought back.

Chelsea have Costa back to full fitness with the 11-goal striker saying he is “totally recovered” from nagging groin and hamstring injuries after a fortnight of rest during the international break.

“It’s easy to see the difference in him now. He can run, he can sprint, he can get behind people, he can challenge for every duel,” Mourinho said.

“It was very important for him to have these two weeks to recover properly.”

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NFF Must Sit up, says Rafiu Ladipo

President of the Nigeria football and other sports supporters club, Rafiu Ladipo has expressed grief over the non-qualification of the Super Eagles to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations billed for Equatorial Guinea.
Stephen Keshi’s men needed just a win against the South Africans but were stunned as Rantie’s brace denied the African champions a place in the next edition of the biannual Africa football showpiece.
In a no hold barred chat with the gaffer of the supporters club said something severe needs to be done to ensure the country qualify for the next edition of the competition.
“Wednesday was a sad day in the history of Nigeria football especially the followers of the game in the country. It was a day we had every opportunity to pick the ticket to the Cup of Nations. Unfortunately, our players messed up and threw everybody into mourning,” Ladipo lamented.
“This is not a good development for Nigeria football and I want to say that something drastic has to be done.

“Drastic in the sense that having failed to qualify, there will be another competition in the next two years and we have to start preparing.
“Are we going to wait for the eleventh hour to start preparing? Or are we going to wait till when the competition is near to start assembling the best legs?, I think we should start now.
The seasoned football administrator also fingered the Super Eagles players for their lackadaisical attitude against Bafana Bafana which nailed the country’s hopes of featuring in Equatorial Guinea while also advocating that the NFF should start preparing for the nest edition of the championship.
“Those players did not play with commitment. How on earth will a striker be free with the goalkeeper on three occasions without scoring?, he queried.
“If you create chances without converting them, then how do you win a match? The South Africans had two good chances and they convert them and that was all. For me, the players failed us.
“Also, the technical crew are also culpable because they cannot be exonerated. The way forward is that the Nigeria Football Federation should sit up and start preparing for the next African Cup of Nations, the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
“We need players who can do us proud. It is clear we have good materials across the world and even if they are average players, they can be turned to world beaters. We equally have players in the Nigeria Premier League that can be assisted to be world’s best.
“Something has to be done now because you cannot toy with the fate of every Nigerians. Nobody is happy. Anyway, we have the opportunity to rebuild because if you go with this kind of players to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, we will be out rightly disgraced,” he concluded.

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Enyimba Emerges Nigeria Federation Cup Champions

Kadiri Ikhana’s side put up a commanding display against the Pride of Rivers for their fourth Federation Cup triumph
Enyimba have emerged the Nigeria Federation Cup champions after defeating Dolphins 2-1 in a breathe taking final played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
Second half strikes Mfon Udoh and Chinonso Okonkwo were all the defending champions needed to lift their fourth title in six years.
Dolphins were the better side in the first fifteen minutes of the game but could not break the deadlock as the Peoples’ Elephant’s defence line stood resolute with goalkeeper Femi Thomas making some brilliant saves.
First, it was Chidiebere Okolie who in the second minute forces Thomas to a top class catch before man of the match, Emem Eduok ensured the former Ocean Boys’ goalkeeper spill his wicked right footed drive.
Stanley Eguma’s team went into the half time break with heads held high as they proved to be the better side though their major undoing was missing glaring goal scoring attempts.
On resumption of the second half, Kadiri Ikhana’s side took charge of possession and were rewarded in the 52nd minute after Udoh opened the floodgates of goals.
He got the ball in the midfield from Markson Ojobo, breezed past three Dolphins defender before unleashing a rocket past helpless Sunday Rotimi who was in goal for Dolphins.
With less than 20 minutes to the end of the game,  Okonkwo doubled his side’s lead as he converted from a very close range.
Though, Eduok pulled one back for the Pride of Rivers in the 80thh minute but that proved as consolation as the Aba Millionaires successfully defended their trophy to the excitement of their fans.

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Man City on brink ahead of Bayern test

Manchester City are teetering on the brink of a third Champions League group-phase elimination in four seasons ahead of Bayern Munich’s visit to the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

City’s dismal 2-1 loss at home to CSKA Moscow in their previous outing left them bottom of Group E with only two points and they will be knocked out if they fail to beat Bayern and there is a winner in the Russian champions‘ home game with Roma.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side can draw some solace from the fact that Bayern, who shaded September’s reverse fixture 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal by former City player Jerome Boateng, are already guaranteed to qualify as group winners.

City will also take inspiration from their 3-2 win away to Bayern in the group phase of last season’s competition, although the circumstances then were quite different, with the visitors having already secured a place in the last 16.

City’s hand has been weakened by suspensions to Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, both of whom were sent off — the former for a petulant shove — during the defeat by CSKA Moscow on November 5.

And although City came from behind to beat Swansea City 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday, midfielder Samir Nasri knows that Pep Guardiola’s ruthless Bayern side will be a very different proposition.

“We are really lucky to still be in with a chance of qualifying because, with two points and two games left, normally you are out,” said the former France international.

“Now is our chance. We have to take it and play with nothing to lose. We can take a lot (from beating Swansea), but a game against Bayern Munich will not be the same as a game against Swansea.

“No disrespect to Swansea, who are a great team, but Bayern Munich have world-class players in every position.”

Bayern have gone 18 games without defeat since losing to Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup on August 13, winning all four of their games to date in the Champions League.

The 2013 European champions extended their lead at the Bundesliga summit to seven points by crushing Hoffenheim 4-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Bastian Schweinsteiger made his first competitive appearance since starring for Germany in the World Cup final, coming on as a late substitute, and Guardiola has hinted that he could feature again at City.

“It’s good news for him and for us. I have seen how important Bastian is for the club and the fans,” said Guardiola, who is bidding to win his third Champions League title as a coach after two previous successes with Barcelona.

“With Philipp (Lahm), David (Alaba), (Javi) Martinez and Thiago (Alcantara) out, we now have a super midfielder back, but he has only trained for a week with us.

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I’m the right man for Eagles, says Keshi

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is adamant that he is the right man to lead the Super Eagles into the future.

Disaster struck last week for Nigeria when they failed to qualify for Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament they won in its most recent edition, 2013.

Keshi, who was relieved of his duties before being recalled for Nigeria’s last two qualifying matches, does not feel that firing him again would be the way to go.

“If a team fails, sacking the coach won’t solve the problem. The authority should look beyond the coach to find solutions to the problem.

“I can’t deny it is a shame that we failed to qualify. On my part, I failed the nation but my players took South Africa for granted, a match they needed to win,” Keshi said.

Keshi’s agent, Emma Addo, also feels that the former Super Eagles AFCON winning captain is not to blame for the team’s current failure.

“No explanation will be acceptable now by Nigerians, but Super Eagles problems go beyond coaching. If some issues are not resolved, no one can succeed for long with the team,” Addo told the sl10.ng website.

“We shouldn’t forget where Keshi picked this team from in 2012, almost same place like they are now, but nobody cared about how they got there, that is why it happened again,” Adoo added.

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Arsene Wenger Frustrated Over Loss to Man Utd

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, has expressed his frustration after
Arsenal dominated the game against Manchester United, but lost 2-1.

Antonio Valencia saw his cross-shot deflected off Kieran Gibbs, before
Wayne Rooney made it 2-0 from a counter-attack. Olivier Giroud pulled
one back for the Gunners in injury time, but it was too late.

“It was one-way traffic and we lost the game, we have to take it on
the chin. I know we’ll be criticised for it but you have to respect
the energy levels we put in,” Wenger said.

“We paid for the slightest mistake and it’s very frustrating to come
away with nothing.

“We had the best chances and we could have finished better. At 1-0 we
should have been more cautious not to give the second goal away. There
was plenty of time to come back and that’s where we made the mistake.

“In our job when you don’t win, you’re very concerned but there are a
lot of positives in this team. If we can keep this going with the
quality and the energy levels we have, we can bounce back very
quickly.”‎

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