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Super Eagles adopt ‘Let’s Do It Again’ mantra for AFCON trophy quest

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Kanu leads out the Super Eagles against Saudi Arabia in Wattens on 25 May 2010.

Three-time champions Nigeria say they have adopted the catch-phrase ‘Let’s Do It Again’ as their battle cry towards winning a fourth Africa Cup of Nations title in Cote d’Ivoire early next year.

The proposition was tabled and unanimously endorsed before the final AFCON 2023 qualification match against the Falcons and True Parrots of Sao Tome and Principe in Uyo last month, and was the basis for players and officials donning a tee-shirt with the inscription after the match at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo. The Eagles won that match 6-0.

Nigeria won the 1980 AFCON that she hosted, and also won the 1994 edition in Tunisia and the 2013 finals in South Africa. Team captain William Ekong says the playing body and crew have taken to the new mantra like bees to honey.

“We like the phrase because it gives us confidence and the go-go push. We have done it before so we can do it again. Winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire is our goal and we have the team to do just that.”

Defender Kenneth Omeruo added: “I look around and I see players who have the capacity to make it happen. We are all ambitious. The team is a blend of old and wise heads and exciting new talents. We will go for the trophy in Cote d’Ivoire.”

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The song continues on Friday when the Super Eagles take on Saudi Arabia in a friendly game at the Estadio Municipal de Portimão in Portugal, with the bulk of the squad that blew away Sao Tome and Principe on ground.

It is only the second time both countries will be clashing at senior international level. The only previous encounter was also a friendly, played in the Alpenstadion, Wattens in Austria on 25th May 2010 as part of final preparations for the Eagles for the FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa. Nwankwo Kanu, one of only two players to have featured for Nigeria at three different editions of the FIFA World Cup, captained the Super Eagles in that scoreless encounter.

Incidentally, current Super Eagles’ Head Coach, Jose Peseiro, was Coach of Saudi Arabia that day.

The Eagles have another friendly encounter on Monday, against the Mambas of Mozambique at the same venue, before 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Lesotho and Zimbabwe in November.

 

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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.

International Football

Two Moroccan football players lost at sea, says club official

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Abdellatif Akhrif, IRT player reported missing off the coast of M'diq this Saturday, July 6, 2024. © COPYRIGHT: IRT

Two Moroccan players from top-flight soccer side Ittihad Tanger have been missing at sea since Saturday after strong currents drifted their small yacht, a club official said on Sunday.

They were in a group of five players from the club who went cruising off the northern city of Tangier when strong currents and heavy winds drifted their yacht away as they were swimming in deep waters, club deputy president Anass Mrabet told Reuters.

“Three players have already been rescued on Saturday, while research is still ongoing for the missing Salman Harraq and Abdellatif Akhrif,” he said.

The players did not have buoys on them when they jumped from the small yacht to swim, he said citing recounts by rescued players.

While Akhrif, 24, is already a full member of the squad, Harraq, 18, was about to move up to the senior team this year, Mrabet added.

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Ittihad Tanger have been in the Moroccan top flight since 2015 and won the league title for the first and only time in their history in the 2017-18 season. However, they have struggled in the lower half of the standings in recent years.

-Reuters

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International Football

FIFA launches ‘Football Manager’ World Cup with $100,000 in prize money

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FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development and former soccer manager Arsene Wenger speaks during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

FIFA will host its first ever FIFAe World Cup of Football Manager this year to crown the best virtual manager on the highly-popular video game, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

FIFA is partnering with Sports Interactive, the developers of the game that has sold millions of copies and has also been used by several football clubs to scout players and opponents thanks to its extensive database.

Players will compete for $100,000 in prize money in the final event from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

“This competition requires participants to demonstrate a profound understanding of football strategy and tactics,” said former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is the ambassador for the esports event.

“Success demands not only mastery of game mechanics but also in-depth football knowledge, making this format a fascinating blend.”

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FIFA said in the inaugural year of the event, selected member associations will be invited to be represented at the final event.

Member associations from all six confederations are expected to be invited while players can sign up on FIFA’s website.

-Reuters

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio robbed at gunpoint

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at his home in northern Italy while watching his country’s match against Spain in the Euro 2024 tournament on Thursday, local police said.

Burglars broke into Baggio’s house near Vicenza, hit him on the head with a gun butt and locked him and his family in a room while they stole jewellery, watches and cash, daily Il Corriere della Sera reported. It said he suffered a deep wound.

“Luckily, the violence I suffered only resulted in a few stitches, bruises and a lot of fear. Now it is to overcome the fear,” Baggio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

Baggio, 57, played for clubs including Juventus (JUVE.MI), opens new tab, AC Milan and Inter Milan. He also played 56 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals, and is widely seen as one of his country’s all-time greats.

After the robbery, Baggio, widely known as the “divine ponytail”, was treated at a local hospital where he received stitches for the head wound, Italian media reported.

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Italy lost to Spain 1-0 on Thursday and now must avoid defeat by Croatia to guarantee progression in the tournament.

-Reuters

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