It starts here… Africa Cup of Nations 2015 – 2nd round qualification preview

July 21, 2014

“In early May the long journey towards Morocco and the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 began for the sizeable percentage of African sides – indeed for Mauritania that voyage started way back in April with a preliminary round fixture against Mauritius. Before Africa’s elite, including champions Nigeria, endure the rigors of qualification the rest must be whittled down to just seven – having seen 14 sides depart during May’s first round, that number will be halved once again in the second round.” Just Football


Exit Happiness: Nigeria’s World Cup Run Comes to an End

July 2, 2014

“‘I haven’t heard the halftime yet,’ said Obie, one of the many Nigeria supporters on hand for the Super Eagles’ watch party at the Nigerian comfort-food spot Buka. He motioned toward a projection of the currently level France-Nigeria match and the broadcasters breaking it down at halftime, albeit inaudibly. ‘We’re so loud.’ Noise is a good thing to keep in mind when thinking about Nigeria’s presence in the round of 16 — noisy in appearance because of its lime-green jerseys, noisy because of Africa’s waning presence in the World Cup and the rallying cries joining the Eagles, noisy because of the atrocities happening in the northern part of their home country.” Grantland


World Cup: France sees off Nigeria to reach last eight

July 1, 2014

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“Redemption is not easy to attain. Four years on and the scars still remain. When France’s footballers left for Brazil, they were under no illusions — it cannot happen again. At South Africa 2010, ‘Les Bleus’ became a laughing stock as players and coaches clashed, strikes were threatened and results embarrassed a nation. Players were suspended, the entire country waged war on a group which had imploded and exited at the group stage after failing to win a single game. Four years ago the picture was grim.” CNN

France 2-0 Nigeria: France prosper when returning to a one-striker system
“France took a while to show their best football, but dominated the final half hour. Didier Deschamps’ big decision was whether to start striker Olivier Giroud or left-winger Antoine Griezmann, with Karim Benzema’s position dependent upon that choice. Giroud got the nod. Stephen Keshi was without Michael Babatunde through injury, and his latest attempt to solve the problem at number ten was playing Victor Moses there, behind Emannuel Emenike. Nigeria started strongly and dominated the first quarter of the game, but France slowly showed their quality.” Zonal Marking

Exit Happiness: Nigeria’s World Cup Run Comes to an End
“’I haven’t heard the halftime yet,’ said Obie, one of the many Nigeria supporters on hand for the Super Eagles’ watch party at the Nigerian comfort food spot Buka. He motioned toward a projection of the currently level France-Nigeria match and the broadcasters breaking it down at halftime, albeit inaudibly. ‘We’re so loud.’ Noise is a good thing to keep in mind when thinking about Nigeria’s presence in the round of 16 — noisy in appearance because of its lime green jerseys, noisy because of Africa’s waning presence in the World Cup and the rallying cries joining the Eagles, noisy because of the atrocities happening in the northern part of their home country.” Grantland

World Cup Players to Know: France’s Midfield General, Paul Pogba
“… But the brief on Pogba is thus: grew up outside of Paris, joined Manchester United at 16 under allegations that the club had, in effect, bribed his parents, played three games for the Red Devils in three years, refused to pen a new contract in 2012 because, he says, Sir Alex Ferguson “didn’t show me enough that he wanted me in his squad,” joined Juventus on a free transfer, was painted in the press by his former coach as a bigger problem than he was worth, and then promptly became one of the best midfielders on the planet.” Grantland

World Cup Tactical Analysis | France 2-0 Nigeria: Super Eagles’ impressive possession game not enough
“Paul Pogba lead a determined France through to the quarter finals against a Nigerian team that wasn’t going to give up that easily with Enyeama between the sticks. An own goal at the end however, killed the dreams of the African country that was never afraid to dream.” Outside of the Boot


Nigeria’s Coach Makes History

June 30, 2014

“Stephen Keshi is the first African to lead an African team to the second round. Progress in African soccer should not be measured only by how the continent’s teams progress through the World Cup brackets. You can also judge the pace of evolution by looking at who’s standing in the technical area. On Monday in Brasilia, Stephen Keshi will be inside the dotted white lines as his Nigeria side face France for a place in the quarterfinals. Even this early in the tournament, Keshi is a pioneer: the first African head coach to lead a team into the round of 16.” Fusion


Nigeria and Iran lower World Cup pulse with forgettable goalless draw

June 17, 2014

“Well, it had to happen some time. But at least it was a long time in coming. Thirteen games into the 2014 World Cup there was finally a match that was not very good. Not that it quietened this arena: there was noise in Curitiba, and lots of it, there was just not much else. For a moment this felt as if it was going to be enjoyable, the momentum with Nigeria, but that moment was brief; the opening seven minutes were exciting; the remaining 83 were not. And so Brazil has its first draw as well and a 0-0 draw at that.” Guardian


2014 Fifa World Cup: Guide to Argentina’s Group F

May 31, 2014

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“Style & formation: Argentina often fielded a bold 4-3-3 formation in qualifying, although a more conservative 5-3-2 was deployed for tricky away fixtures. The former system allows Lionel Messi to play as a classic number 10 behind two strikers – typically Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain – who stretch play. But with Angel Di Maria deployed as part of a midfield three, the formation offers little defensive protection.” BBC – Argentina, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran, Nigeria

World Cup 2014 Tactics: How will Argentina set-up at the 2014 FIFA World Cup?
“The two-time winners topped the South American qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and, as ever, will go into the tournament as one of the favourites. An Albiceleste victory on Brazilian soil would be the perfect way to rub salt into the wounds of the hosts and Alejandro Sabella’s men will be desperate to repeat the feats of ’78 and ’86.” Outside of the Boot


WC2014 Expert Interview: Why are expectations low despite Nigeria being African champions?

May 28, 2014

“A lot of Nigerian’s ply their trade in Europe. Do you think that doing so brings them an unfair share of attention, and hence greater chances of selection? Or is their experience in Europe deserving of a spot in the World Cup squad? The truth is that playing in Europe will more often than not give you a better chance of catching the attention of the national selectors. This has been more the rule than the exception over the years. However, coach Stephen Keshi has been bold enough in his three years in charge to give players from the domestic league a more decent run in his team so much so that the home-based players are no longer just mere ‘training materials’.” Outside of the Boot


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