How will the Super Eagles fare at the World Cup? | Tunde Folawiyo

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Whilst Stephen Keshi might be a favourite amongst Super Eagles’ fans, the Nigeria Football Federation has expressed its frustration regarding the coach’s behaviour over the past two months or so, and are now asking that he explain himself. Sports fanatics like Tunde Folawiyo may have heard that the NFF is unhappy with Keshi not requesting permission before he decided to attend a media function, rather than going to the scheduled meeting with the NFF’s technical committee a few weeks ago. In addition to this, they have asked him to justify his recent trip to the USA last year, which resulted in him missing the event hosted for the Eagles by President Goodluck Jonathan.(1)

Although Keshi is required to send in a formal response to this complaint, this is probably the least of his concerns right now; with the World Cup drawing closer, he is undoubtedly more worried about preparing the team, and ensuring that they perform at their best when the time comes. Eagles fans such as Tunde FolawTunde Folawiyoiyo may be aware that Vincent Enyeama, the Eagles’ goalkeeper, has stated that he has some doubts about how well they will fare against Iran and the other teams that they will be facing in Group F. He warned the rest of his teammates not to underestimate their opponents who, he argues, are just as determined to progress to the next stage.

Henry Nwosu, on the other hand, seems very confident regarding the Eagles’ abilities, and has said that he believes players like Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses will help to guide the team towards victory. Speaking to a journalist at the Tom-Tom event in Lagos last week, he described Emenike as ‘fantastic’, and said that his quick-footedness would make life very difficult for opposing teams.

Regardless of how things turn out, the Eagles will have a great deal of support; Dr. Rauf Ladipo, who serves as the President of the Nigeria Football Supporters club, has indicated that there will be at least 10,000 fans travelling to Brazil to cheer them on. Like Nwosu, Ladipo hinted at this whilst speaking to the press at the aforementioned Tom-Tom evening. He stated that he had spent 11 days travelling around the major cities of Brazil, encouraging Nigerian football fans to attend the upcoming matches.

Developments in Eagles’ World Cup preparations | Tunde Folawiyo

Monday, April 14th, 2014

With just a couple of months left until the World Cup begins, the excitement surrounding Nigeria’s participation in this tournament is palpable. However, there are some concerns which supporters such as Tunde Folawiyo probably want addressed.

For instance, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the sports chairman and minster for the National Sports Commission, was removed from his post last week, after having served in this position for just under three years. The reasons for his dismissal are unclear, and members of the press have asked whether this person’s removal from the organisation, so close to the World Cup, will cause problems for the team.

But Oyuki Obaseki, the former chairman of the NPL (Nigeria Premier League) has assured questioners that there is no reason to be alarmed by the sudden departure of Abdullahi, and that in fact, it is a ‘welcome development’, which would not have any impact on the Eagles’ preparations for the upcoming tournament.

Aminu Maigari, the NFF chairman did not mention Abdullahi in his recent statement to the press; he did however, address the worry that the squad chosen by Keshi for the World Cup would be too inexperienced. He noted that having a group of young players would actually work to their advantage, rather than hinder their chances of winning. Keshi himself promised that he would only offer positions to players based on their overall skill levels and technical ability, and would not be inviting anyone simply because they play for a prestigious club.

Tunde Folawiyo

Maigari also spoke optimistically about Nigeria’s participation in the World Cup, stating that the team would make the continent proud, and that they would show football fans that the standard of skills amongst African football teams has improved tremendously over the past couple of years.

As an Eagles’ fan, Tunde Folawiyo is most likely aware that Keshi has not released the names of his squad, but this may be because he has not yet finalised the list. After all, the players do have one more opportunity to impress him, during the upcoming friendly against Scotland. This is to be held on the 28th of May in Craven Cottage. During a press conference, Keshi said that he and the team were ready for the match, and that they were ‘delighted’ to have the chance to play against Scotland. He finished by saying that he hoped plenty of Nigerians around London would make the effort to support their national team, as this will be the final game the Eagles will play before they are sent off to Brazil.

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.

The Pride of the Nigerian National Football Team | Tunde Folawiyo

Friday, March 21st, 2014

With a rich team history dating back to 1949, the Nigeria National Football Team, – nicknamed the Super Eagles – are the 3-time Africa Cup of Nations champions, honours demonstrating the team’s vast talents in the sport of football. Inspiring millions of fans such as Tunde Folawiyo, the Super Eagles have housed some of Africa’s greatest athletes. Among their many revered accomplishments, the Super Eagles once ranked 5th in the FIFA World Rankings in 1994 – the highest ranking in history for an African football team – solidifying the team’s significant role in the world of African sports.

Tunde FolawiyoControlled by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Nigerian National Football Team has accomplished great fetes in their 70-year team history. These various honours include, most notably, a gold medal win in the 2nd All-Africa games. The Super Eagles, formally nicknamed the Green Eagles, have twice qualified for the FIFA World Cup round of 16 and have appeared in five of the past six World Cups. With this, they became the first African football team to win gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, before going on to win the Silver Medal in Beijing.

Throughout their accomplished history in the world of football, the Super Eagles have served as home to some of football’s most respected athletic talents including Kanu Nwankwo, who – as a striker – remains one of Africa’s most decorated footballers. Kanu Nwankwo is one of few footballers to win the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal. As a two-time African Footballer of the year, Nwankwo served his team from 1994 until 2010, concluding his international career following the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. His time as captain of the Super Eagles is forever embedded in the team’s history. Amidst his athletic accomplishments with the Super Eagles, Kanu Nwankwo was diagnosed with a serious heart defect and underwent heart surgery in November of 1996. Known throughout Africa for his philanthropic work, Kanu Nwankwo founded the Kanu Heart Foundation, an organisation that helps predominantly young African children who suffer heart defects and whose work was expanded to provide aid for homeless children in 2008. He, along with other revered Nigerian players such as Patrick Olusegun Odegbami and Augustine Azuka “Jay-Jay” Okocha will forever be cemented in the team’s history as some of the greatest players to wear the green jersey. Through the support of fans like Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others throughout the continent and beyond, the Super Eagles will continue to showcase their immense talent to the masses.

Nigeria lose to Ghana in penalty playoff | Tunde Folawiyo

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Shortly before their recent semi-final match against Ghana, the Super Eagles were promised a payout of $100,000 – in addition to the NFF’s match win bonuses – if they defeated their opponents. The same offer had been made before the Eagle’s clash with Morocco last month, and seemed to work well, as the former emerged victorious, with a final result of 4-3. But this time, the monetary incentTunde Folawiyoive simply wasn’t enough; Ghana managed to beat Nigeria 4-1, following a round of penalties taken at the end of extra time. This probably came as quite a shock to fans of the team, like Tunde Folawiyo, as the Eagles have performed consistently well for the past year or so.

During the opening minutes of the match, Nigeria appeared to be the superior side, retaining possession of the ball and attacking with great skill.  However, throughout the rest of the game, neither team managed to gain the upper hand. Ghana came close to scoring in the 10th minute, when Attobrah attempted to kick the ball in from the corner, but the Eagles were quick to defend themselves; in the end, his efforts proved fruitless. Just a couple of minutes later, Ibrahim almost provided Nigeria with the lead, but his shot was just wide of the net.

Ghana was dealt a blow in the 64th minute, when the referee decided to send off Adusei, following his second bookable offence. This left the team with just 10 players, and provided Nigeria with a clear advantage; but whilst the Eagles made several valiant attempts, they were unable to overcome Ghana’s strong defence and as the whistle blew, the score remained 0-0.  During extra time, Afful nearly gave the Black Stars a goal, but his efforts were thwarted by Agbim. Nigeria were given a similar scoring opportunity during the 118th minute, but Imenger failed to convert – by the end of extra time, neither team had managed to score, and the match went into penalties.

Kwambe, the Eagles’ defender, delivered a powerful kick, but the ball never reached the net, as the Black Star’s keeper, Adams, performed a skilful save. Uzochukwu’s endeavour was equally unsuccessful. Ghana’s chosen players,  Ainooson, Anobaah, Akuffo and Attobrah, each scored one goal, and in doing so, dashed Nigeria’s hopes of winning the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) – a fact which is likely to disappoint Tunde Folawiyo, and other supporters. Following this loss, the Eagles must now battle against Zimbabwe for the tournament’s bronze medal.

Super Eagles triumph in match against Bafana Bafana | Tunde Folawiyo

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

The Super Eagles emerged as victors in their recent match against Bafana Bafana, finishing with a score of 3-1. For those who, like Tunde Folawiyo, have supported Nigeria for some time, this win should come as no surprise; these two teams have played against each other eight times over the past 22 years, but Bafana Bafana have only managed to defeat the Eagles on one occasion – the Nelson Mandela Challenge of 2004.

Prior to the match, Gordon Igesund, the South African team’s coach, made several changes to the team, replacing Thato Mokeke and Buhle Mkhwanazi with Tebogo Langerman and Tefu Mashamaite, and Itumeleng Khune with Moeneeb Josephs. The match itself was a tense one, with both teams having players – Solomon Kwambwe and Vuyo Mere – sent off.

Tunde FolawiyoThe lead was taken by the Eagles 22 minutes in, when Uzoenyi decided to show off his technical ability by taking a pass from Ede and immediately sweeping it into the net. Just ten minutes after this, they scored a second time, via a free kick taken by Ede. At half-time, Igesund attempted to improve the situation by making further substitutions, replacing Vilakazi with Chabangu.

His efforts were to no avail however, with the Eagles’ tripling their advantage in the 63rd minute, thanks to some skillful footwork  by Uzoenyi. This third goal seemed to energise Bafana Bafana, and although at this point, it was clear who would win the match, they made an impressive effort to reduce the deficit, with Park successfully slotting the ball in a few minutes before the final whistle. His opportunity came about via a penalty, which was awarded after the midfielder Mashego took a tumble, because of an error made by Uzochukwu.

Whilst Tunde Folawiyo and other Eagles’ fans were most likely thrilled by the team’s amazing performance, South African supporters will undoubtedly be very disappointed by the result. This loss spells the end of the road for Bafana Bafana in the CHAN tournament; following their draw against Mali, they needed to win this match in order to qualify for the next round.

In an interview afterwards, Gordon Igesund was diplomatic about the team’s defeat, stating that the Eagles’ victory was ‘well deserved’ and that there were no excuses for how poorly his team had played. He added that Nigeria were clearly faster and physically stronger, and that they had, quite rightly, taken full advantage of the mistakes made by the South Africans.