Nigeria World Cup arrangements almost complete | Tunde Folawiyo

Monday, March 31st, 2014

The World Cup is just three months away, and the Super Eagles are now nearing the end of their preparatory work for the tournament. The travel arrangements have been made, friendly matches have been scheduled, and the CAF (Confederation of African Football) has pledged to support the team throughout the event. Confirmation of this support was made following a meeting which the CAF had in Cairo earlier this month; a statement released by the organisation noted that it would be covering the costs of the teams’ accommodation throughout the World Cup.

Tunde Folawiyo

With the financial aspects of the trip now dealt with, the biggest question is – who will Keshi select for the final squad? As a fan of the Super Eagles, this is something which Tunde Folawiyo is probably quite curious about. Up until recently, Keshi has been less than forthcoming about who he wants on the squad, but in a recent interview, he did admit to having had a number of discussions with Imoh Ezekiel, the striker for Standard Liege, about the possibility of him representing Nigeria at the World Cup. Keshi stated that he had been in ‘constant contact’ with the player, and that Ezekiel had promised that he would make himself available for the World Cup.

Whilst the manager has begun to open up about this subject, he has not yet spoken about which goalkeeper he will choose. Fans of the Super Eagles, including Tunde Folawiyo, might be aware that Vincent Enyeama has been Keshi’s preferred keeper for quite some time, having made regular appearances on the pitch for Nigeria over the past twelve years.

But some have speculated that Enyeama is no longer the manager’s top choice, and that Austin Ejide might be in the running for the World Cup squad. Ejide performed well at the team’s matches against Cape Verde and Venezuela, and Keshi has spoken positively about his goalkeeping skills in the past.

With the exception of the squad selection, most of the larger issues relating to the World Cup have been addressed. Now, Keshi and the rest of the management staff are focusing on the finer points of the tournament, and are collaborating with Adidas, to ensure that the players look their best when they step out onto the pitch in June.

This month, the team were informed that they will be given brand new kits for their matches in Brazil; a representative from Adidas, their apparel sponsor, stated that the new uniform would feature a lighter green base, with dark green pinstripes. Adidas have imprinted their own iconic white stripes on to the sleeves, and have added the word ‘Nigeria’ onto the back of the shirt.

Keshi and Nigerian President discuss results of CHAN | Tunde Folawiyo

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Fans of the Super Eagles experienced mixed emotions after the team won the bronze medal at CHAN. Some were thrilled with the results, whilst others felt that the players could have done better. Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian President, seemed to be pleased with Tunde Folawiyothe Eagles’ performance at CHAN, rewarding the players with a prize of N31 million after the tournament. Speaking in Abuja, at a dinner which he hosted for the team, he said he had been particularly amazed at how well they had played in their match against Morocco, which resulted in a 4-3 victory.

Keshi, the Super Eagles’ manager, also said that he was delighted with how the Eagles had done. In a press conference, he expressed his gratitude to the Nigeria Football Federation, who had supported him and the team throughout the tournament, and praised the players, whom he said had followed his instructions well, and performed admirably on the pitch. He went on to say that the team were now beginning to better understand his strategies, adding that they had shown a great deal of ‘mental strength’ during their final match against Zimbabwe.

Super Eagles supporters, such as Tunde Folawiyo, might be surprised to learn that Keshi was not disappointed that they had not won the gold; the manager explained that his primary concern throughout the tournament was to determine which players were good enough for the World Cup squad. He then said that he would be taking the same approach to the upcoming friendly against Mexico – rather than worrying too much about the outcome of the match, he would be focusing on which individual players perform best.

With regards to which players he may choose, or exclude from the World Cup squad, the jury is still out. However, a number of sports commentators have suggested that Ugonna Uzochukwu has a good chance of being selected. Supporters like Tunde Folawiyo will probably know that, despite the fact that many people expressed misgivings about his presence on the team early on in the tournament, Uzochukwu performed outstandingly well, giving the Eagles their first goal in their match against Morocco.

Rabiu Ali is another player whom commentators believe might make it to Brazil this year; his consistently reliable performance in midfield, coupled with his ability to create goal scoring opportunities for others, have played a significant role in the Eagles’ success in CHAN.