Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has joined the teeming number of expectant football fans who are backing Nigeria’s Super Eagles to defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina in their second group game of the World Cup on Saturday.
Okonjo-Iweala who is Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance took to social media to register her support for the team who have come under intense criticism after their draw with Iran.
“Go, Nigeria! We can still do it. Bosnia, here we come!” she tweeted.
Nigeria are expected to defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday in order to boost their chances of qualifying for the next round of the World Cup.
The team have already arrived in Cuiaba, and resumed training yesterday at the pitch of the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso. (kickoffnigeria)
We’re still in it – Toure
Ivory Coast captain, Yaya Toure believes his team are still on track for qualification from the group stage despite their 2-1 loss against Colombia on Thursday. The Elephants saw out a goalless first-half, yet conceded two goals in the space of seven minutes as James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero found the back of the net for the South Americans, before Gervinho’s finished a fine solo run to give his side a glimmer of hope.
But it was not to be, as Colombia held on for all three points and securing qualification, leaving Ivory Coast to battle it out with Japan and Greece for the remaining spot in Group C.
And star midfielder Yaya Toure feels his side is still on course for progression to the knockout stages of the tournament.
“We should not give in to discouragement,” said the Manchester City star. “That is also what football is about.
“Today things didn’t go our way, but the qualification is not compromised.”
Toure said the focus now will solely turn to their last group encounter against Greece.
“We are going to get back to work, approach in the best possible way our game against Greece and qualify for the knock-out stage,” he said.
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi has acknowledged that nothing less than a positive result against Greece will suffice.
“We are going to head back to Sao Paulo and get ready for the next game,” he said.
“To qualify, we must beat Greece, there are no two ways about it.” (kickoffnigeria)
Onazi relishing Bosnia challenge
Nigeria midfielder Ogenyi Onazi is looking forward to Saturday’s clash against Bosnia-Herzegovina with great optimism as the Super Eagles arrive Cuiaba for their second group game.
Speaking after the team’s arrival at Cuiaba were they will face Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Arena Pantanal , Onazi said that he is relishing the prospect of facing his SS Lazio teammate – Senad Lulic – who will feature from the left side of the Dragon’s attack. “One of the players of the Bosnian side is my teammate at Lazio, he plays from the left side of the attack and I want to prove to him that I am a great player on the world stage,” he said. The Super Eagles left the Campinas Airport at about 12h15 local time and arrived Cuiaba which operates a different time zone from Sao Paulo, which is an hour ahead at exactly 1:10 pm after a one hour and 45 minutes flight.
The team was immediately checked into its Hits Pantanal Hotel, which is less than ten minute’s drive from the airport. Pockets of soccer loving Brazilians dotted the route and the front of the hotel to welcome the African champions.
On the team’s entourage were some members of the Nigerian National Assembly, noticeable among them, Alhaja (Hon) Ayo Omidiran, who is the Deputy Chairman of the House Of Representatives Committee on Sports and a former Executive Committee member of the Nigeria Football Association. (kickoffnigeria)
Gerrard admits England’s desperation with early exit signs
England captain, Steve Gerrard is aware his team are “clutching at straws” after their 2-1 defeat to Uruguay leaves them facing a World Cup group exit for the first time in 56 years.
“Italy are a fantastic team and capable of winning both games but we’re clutching at straws,” Gerrard said.
“The position we’re in is the position we didn’t want to be in coming into the tournament, relying on other people’s results. It’s very difficult at the moment.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens in tomorrow’s fixture. The manager will have to wait and see what happens before deciding what he is going to do.
“If there’s nothing to play for then I don’t know if he’ll play a completely different team. But it’s a very tough moment, at this moment.” (kickoffnigeria)
Suarez delighted with Uruguay’s display against England
Uruguay striker, Luis Suarez was naturally thrilled with his match-winning display against England on Thursday, saying it was one of his finest performances.
The Liverpool ace – who has courted controversy for much of his Premier League career – netted either side of Wayne Rooney’s first World Cup goal to give his side a crucial 2-1 win in Sao Paulo.
Victory kept the South Americans on track for progression, while the English look destined for first-round elimination.
“It was one of the best games I’ve played,” Suarez said. “It’s an amazing moment for me.
“Maybe a few days ago I thought this wouldn’t be possible.
“Before the game too many people in England laughed about my attitude over the last few years.
“This is a very good time for me. I want to see what they think now,” added the 27-year-old, who missed his country’s tournament opener with a knee injury.
Suarez, though, had sympathy for Reds and Three Lions skipper Steven Gerrard, whose header back to goal allowed him to score the decider.
“I told him to keep going,” Suarez said. “He’s the best player I’ve played with on the pitch.
“This is an unlucky moment for him. I don’t like it when he hurts like this. I said ‘Keep going, forget this game, you’re one of the best’.” (kickoffnigeria)
Colombia qualifies after Japan fail to crack 10-man Greece
Colombia qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time in 24 years after Japan and 10-man Greece played out a dire 0-0 draw in Natal on Thursday.
Japan failed to take advantage of the Greeks being reduced to 10 men
from the 38th minute when captain Konstantinos Katsouranis was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Both sides picked up
their first point and can still qualify from Group C, although they must win
their final matches
to do so.
Greece will play Ivory Coast, who are on three points, in their final match while Japan tackle Colombia, who have a perfect six points.
Japan winger Shinji Kagawa’s terrible year continued as after a miserable season with Manchester United
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni dropped him to the bench after a poor showing against Ivory Coast.
Japan controlled affairs in the first-half thanks to the surging runs of left-back Yuto Nagatomo and the tight, short passing of a potent midfield being marshalled superbly by Keisuke Honda.
Greece’s chances of taking something from the game lessened dramatically during a disastrous five minutes in the first-half.
First leading striker Kostas Mitroglou’s injury nightmare, which saw him barely play a game for Fulham after a multi-million pound move in January, continued as he hobbled off in the 35th minute.
Three minutes later he was followed by his captain Katsouranis, though for a less commendable reason as he was sent for an early shower after being booked for a second time in the game.
Greece coach Fernando Santos reacted to Katsouranis’s red card by turning to the experience of substitute Georgios Karagounis, Greece’s most capped player of all time, and sacrificing Genoa midfielder Ioannis Fetfatzidis.
Greece, though, have shown that they are never more dangerous than when their backs are against the wall and soon after they produced their best chance of the half, Vasilios Torosidis stinging the palms of Eiji Kawashima with a fierce drive from the right of the area.
Zaccheroni eventually sent on Kagawa on 57 minutes as Greece appeared to be comfortably holding their opponents.
Greece, however, again came closest to breaking
the deadlock as Kawashima did brilliantly to get down and turn away for a corner a header from Theofanis Gekas.
Japan found their rhythm again and carved out a fine opportunity when Kagawa sighted Atsuto Uchida ghosting in deep on the right, but after the defender’s delivery across goal Yoshito Okubo could only splice wide from a tight angle.
A Nagatomo delivery then caused confusion in the Greek box, but Uchida spurned another chance with a sliding effort that was just off target.
A speculative 30-metre drive from Okubo forced Orestis Karnezis to parry on 77 minutes and Japan’s final chance fell to Yasuhito Endo in the 90th minute when a free kick was awarded on the edge of the area, but the midfielder’s curling effort was parried to safety by Karnezis at his far post.