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International Football






The 32 coaches whose teams made it among the 209 that went through the qualifying series must have heaved sigh of relief the moment their teams secured the qualification for Russia 2018.

Now other sets of worries come in. Before the thought of teams’ compositions, the thoughts are now focused on which teams are potential opponents.

The riddle will be solved at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow when the Final Draw ceremony will hold.


Some of the coaches are new comers to the grand event. One of such is Nigeria’s manager, Gernot Rohr.  This is his first World Cup and will be attending the December 1 Draw thinking more of the Super Eagles’ potential opponents.

He carries a lot of burden. Sports Village Square recalls that in an interview he granted last month to French popular sports publications, L’Equipe, he told his interviewers that his target was to take Nigeria to the semi-finals, a point no African team had reached in the past 21 competitions.What goes on in Gernot Rohr’s mind as the World Cup Final Draw beckons?

Only Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana moved as far as quarterfinals in 1990, 2002 and 2010 respectively.

Realizing the lofty objective of reaching the semi-finals begins with getting favourable group draw.

Getting to the semi-finals is not a weird dream as the trio of Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana were within seconds of reaching the stage before mother luck went against them. Take Cameroon for instance in 1990.

Facing England, Cameroon almost caused upset. David Platt had put England ahead midway into the first half. Cameroon levelled up through an Emmanuel Kunde penalty kick. Before England realized what has happened, Cameroon had turned the form books upside down.


Eugene Ekeke put Cameroon ahead off a flick of a pass from ageless Roger Milla. Cameroon were at the brink of semi finals before two penalty kick awards to England changed the tide.

In 2002, Senegal stretched their quarterfinals opponents, Turkey, almost to a breaking point until after extra time when İlhan Mansız of Turkey broke the deadlock by scoring the match’s sole goal in the 94th minute.

Ghana were even more daring but unlucky. Missing a possible match winning penalty kick award and eventually crashed out to Uruguay in a penalty shootout.

With Nigeria expectedly in Pot 4, it means the Super Eagles will not draw opponents from the weaklings as sporting consideration was the sole determinant of the allocations to the pots.

It means Nigeria will not face any of Serbia, Australia, Japan, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Being in Pot 4 means that Nigeria will be drawn into a group with one team from each of Pots 1, 2 and 3.


In Pot 3, the choice is limited as geographical consideration will ensure that Nigeria is not drawn with any of Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal. Therefore, the scope is narrowed down to Denmark, Iceland Costa Rica, Sweden and Iran.

Here, a repeat of past fixtures of Nigeria in the World Cup looms large. Nigeria faced Denmark at France ’98, Sweden in 2002 World Cup and Iran at Brazil 2014.

The two teams Nigeria had never faced in the World Cup finals are Iceland and Costa Rica, even though the then Green Eagles played a friendly match with Iceland in 1981.

In Pot 2, Nigeria has history of past encounters will seven of the eight teams. Croatia is the only team Nigeria had never met before. But drawing teams like England, Uruguay, Spain or Mexico could be challenging.

Not easy too are possible match up with Colombia or Peru. In Pot 1, the possibility of Nigeria playing the opening match exists if drawn with Russia.


That way, it will be fourth time an African team will be playing the opening match after that of Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and South Africa in 2010.

Incidentally, none of those African teams lost the opening games. Argentina is in Pot 1. A Nigeria versus Argentina match has been a recurring fixture in the World Cup since 1994. The only exception to such recurring fixture was France ’98 where Nigeria drew Paraguay.

The alternative South American team Nigeria could draw is Brazil. A typical group involving Nigeria often has a South American side, one or two European teams or an Asian opponent.

For regional consideration, if Nigeria draws either Uruguay or Colombia from Pot 2, a fixture with any of Brazil or Argentina will not be possible. But if Uruguay and Colombia do not fall into Nigeria’s group, then Argentina or Brazil will come knocking.

Hypothetically, Nigeria’s group will have Argentina/Brazil from Pot 1, any of England, Switzerland and Croatia from Pot 2 and from Pot 3, Iran/Costa Rica or any of the following European teams – Denmark, Iceland and Sweden.


The permutation continues until the draw of December 1.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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International Football

New twist in Cameroon football coach crisis




The coaching crisis in Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions has taken a new dimension as the football federation, FECAFOOT, led by former international, Samuel Eto’o goes in direct confrontation with the coaching crew appointed by the sports ministry which also picks the bills.

  According to a Cameroon official who will not like to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, the claims and counter claims of both the sports ministry and the FECAFOOT led by Eto’o had been heard and decided by the conciliation and arbitration chamber of the Cameroonian national Olympic committee, which is a court in charge of sports cases in Cameroon.

  “What is in contention is not the position of the Belgian coach, Marcc Brys, but that of the Cameroonian assistants attached to him.”

  The source explained to Sports Village Square that although the employment of Brys by the sports ministry was initially contested by Eto’o, the former player has come to accept the situation.


  “In Cameroon, there is always a techenical crew of nine to 11. The foreign coach is allowed to bring in two foreign assistants, while the others are always Cameroonians.

  In this case, the sports ministry approved the list of two foreign assistants by Brys while also announcing another set of local assistants that included former international, François Omam-Biyik, one of the stars of Italia ‘90  and the scorer of the goal that gave Cameroon a 1-0 win over a Diego Maradona-inspired  Argentina.

  “That is where the problem is. FECAFOOT also submitted a list of technical crew that included Brys and his two foreign assistants but dropped the names of the local assistants with new ones.”

  In essence, there are two lists with both having three names as same, but differ on the rest.

 According to the source, the list submitted by the sports ministry was upheld by the tribunal which threw aside that of FECAFOOT.


  In another twist, FIFA has already removed the name of Marc Brys from the profile of Cameroon on its website. Only the name of national women’s coach, Jean-Baptiste Bisseck is listed.

The removal of Brys’ name is happening a second time as it was first removed at the end of last month before being reinstated.

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International Football

Cameroon’s appointment of Brys as manager suspended by sports tribunal



Marc Brys

Cameroon’s appointment of Belgian Marc Brys as head coach was suspended by the country’s top sports tribunal on Tuesday following the petition of an amateur football club.

The country’s sports ministry stirred controversy last month when it named 61-year-old Brys as manager of the Indomitable Lions without consulting the football federation (FECAFOOT).

The move sparked a dispute between the sports ministry and FECAFOOT, which said the government had made a unilateral decision.

In response, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours, deepening its standoff with the sports ministry.

Eto’o kept Brys as head coach but named different assistants, technical, medical and administrative staff.


An amateur club, meanwhile, took the matter to the Arbitration and Conciliation Chamber of the Cameroon National Olympic and Sports Committee.

In a provisional ruling on Tuesday, the court suspended the FECAFOOT appointments while it fully examined the matter. Concerned parties have 24 hours to appeal.

FECAFOOT in response said it “reserves the right to refer these decisions to FIFA, as they hinder the preparation process for the forthcoming sport events.

“The Emergency Committee of FECAFOOT will meet immediately to take appropriate measures,” it said in a statement.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations and has frequently banned countries when governments get involved in federation affairs.


The president of the Cameroon Association of Amateur Football Clubs, Balla Ongolo Henri, had previously said Eto’o’s appointments would damage Cameroon’s image and disrupt preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers next June.

Brys, 61, penned a contract on May 8 as head coach of the Indomitable Lions following the dismissal of Rigobert Song in February. FECAFOOT did not attend the signing ceremony.

The sports ministry says it has acted in accordance with national and international regulations.


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International Football

Amokachi, Adebayor and Amanda Dlamini confirmed for CAF African Schools Championship Finals



African football legends, Emmanuel Adebayor, Daniel Amokachi and Amanda Dlamini are some of the top names that have been confirmed for the Continental Finals of the CAF African Schools Football Championship 2024 scheduled in Zanzibar between 21 – 24 May 2024.

The CAF African Schools Football Championship is the school’s competition that includes over 44 African countries with over 800 000 participants of Boys and Girls under the age of 15.

This is the second edition of the competition that is not only focused on Football but also on a number of programmes including Young Referee’s Programme, Young Reporter Programme and Safeguarding. 

Adebayor, CAF Player of the Year in 2008, represented Togo at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for their only appearance at the tournament. Ex-striker for Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and others, the Togolese star has had a successful career, earning over 85 caps with Les Eperviers.

Nigerian football star Amokachi played 42 international matches for the Super Eagles. He participated in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups and was part of the team that won the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and the Olympic Games in 1996.


Former Banyana Banyana (South Africa) captain Dlamini played in two TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations competitions where they finished third and second in 2010 and 2012, respectively. She is one of the few footballers, both in the men’s and women’s national teams to reach 100 caps.

Dlamini recently made history when she became the first female to be part of the world commentary feed at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.

Also on the list are local stars Abdi Kassim Sadalla, former Tanzanian National Team Captain, and Hilda Masanche, Head coach of the Tanzania U17 Women’s National Team.

The Legends will feature in various activities to promote and support football development among African youth.

The finals will bring together talented young players from across the continent, providing them a platform to showcase their skills and passion for the game.



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