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International Football

VIEWS FROM ELSEWHERE: FIFA RANKING IS NONSENSICAL

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SB Nation is a sports news website owned and operated by Vox Media. Established in 2005, the site comprises 320 blogs covering individual professional and college sports teams, and other sports-oriented topics. Kevin McCauley of SB Nation gives his views on the FIFA ranking.

He headlines his views thus:

 

 

The FIFA rankings stink. Here’s what the 2018 World Cup would look like with good rankings.

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The FIFA men’s rankings are almost universally derided as nonsensical.  They are not predictive in any way, and they are easily manipulated with smart scheduling.

This is a problem, given that they’re the basis for seeding in international tournaments. The 2018 World Cup draw has been set, and the pots are based on FIFA’s bad rankings. But what if they were based on considerably less bad rankings?

Currently, the best thing we have to go on is ELO, a system used to rate chess players. No one’s publicly released a widely respected and proven ranking system like KenPom or Sagarin (which uses ELO as a component) for soccer, but we do have reason to believe that ELO is a lot better than FIFA’s men’s rankings.

Even FIFA seems to have some idea that this is case, since their women’s rankings are based on ELO and much more predictive than their men’s rankings.

Using information from ELOratings.net, here’s what the World Cup draw pots would look like if ELO was the ranking system, leaving Russia as a Pot 1 team for being hosts.

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Pot 1: Russia, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Argentina, England

Pot 2: Colombia, Belgium, Peru, Uruguay, Switzerland, Croatia, Mexico, Poland.

Pot 3: Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Iran, Serbia, Senegal, Japan, Costa Rica.

Pot 4: Australia, South Korea, Nigeria, Morocco, Panama, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia.

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And for comparison, here are the actual World Cup Draw pots. Some big differences stand out.

 

England and Spain are underrated, Belgium and Poland overrated

Poland got a top seed for the real World Cup draw, but ELO only ranks them as the 15th best qualifier.

Conversely, Spain is a Pot 2 team in real life, but ELO thinks they’re the third best team in the world. Belgium and England also swap pots if ELO is used to rank teams, which English fans will likely find outrageous.

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Don’t sleep on Asia’s best

You probably haven’t heard much hype for Japan or Iran, but ELO likes them quite a bit more than FIFA. Whichever groups they get drawn into in December are unlikely to be considered the “Group of Death,” but perhaps they should be.

 

What are the best possible groups in the World Cup?

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It’s fun to consider what the draw might look like with good rankings, but it’s probably even more fun to use ELO to look at the best possible real life draw scenarios.

The group with the highest possible ELO rating is: Brazil, Spain, Iran and Serbia. But some other scenarios are even juicier.

There’s also a great way to get two almost equally nasty groups of death. Brazil, Spain, Sweden and Japan could be in one group, while Germany, Colombia, Iran and Serbia could make up another. Argentina, England, Denmark and Australia would make up the next strongest possible group in that scenario, leaving us with three groups where every game is must-watch.

 

What’s the weakest possible group?

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Unsurprisingly, all of the weakest possible groups feature Russia. The hosts’ ELO rank of 45 means they’re probably better than FIFA’s ranking of 65 suggests, but they’re only ahead of four other teams. They also all feature Saudi Arabia, the lowest-rated team in the World Cup.

Russia, Mexico, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia would make up the worst possible group, according to ELO. While El Tri supporters might not be a fan of that disrespect, they’ll certainly be pleased if that group pops up during the draw on 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

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

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.

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  “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.

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  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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Reuters

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International Football

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

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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.

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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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-CAF

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