Lionel Messi has said God was behind Argentina after Marcos Rojo scored a late winner to ensure the South Americans beat Nigeria 2-1 to book a place in the round of 16 at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.
“We were confident that we would win this game. It’s wonderful to have won it this way. It is a well-deserved joy,” Messi said after the game.
“I knew that God is with us and he was not going to leave us out. I thank all the people who are here, for all their sacrifice, and all those who are in Argentina who were always with us. The shirt of the National Team is above all.”
AFCON: Super Eagles Set For Burundi Clash
Nigeria will begin their journey at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with their opening match against Burundi at the Alexandria Stadium in Egypt on Saturday (today).
The three-time African champions, who are returning to the competition after missing the previous two editions, will be hoping for a winning start against the debutants, who were unbeaten in the qualifiers.
Nigeria finished top of their AFCON qualifying group, which had South Africa, Libya and Seychelles with a game to spare, while Burundi came second behind Mali in Group C of the qualifiers.
Eagles’ striker, Odion Ighalo, who is expected to lead his team’s attack at the tournament, finished the qualifiers as top scorer with seven goals.
Before the AFCON game, Nigeria had only played the Itamba of Burundi once, beating them 2-0 at the MKO Abiola Stadium, January 23, 1999 in a qualifying game for the 2000 AFCON.
While Nigeria boast many stars playing across various leagues in Europe and Asia, Burundi’s biggest star is Saido Berahino, who plays for Stoke City, same club as Eagles’ Oghenekaro Etebo in the English Championship.
This year’s AFCON is the 18th time the Nigerian side will be appearing in the African football showpiece.
The team will be presenting 20 debutants at the football showpiece, with the trio of captain Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa, and Kenneth Omeruo the only ones to have been at any other AFCON.
While many have seen the encounter as an easy ride for the Nigerian side, Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, believes it is their toughest tie.
“We prepare to face them with humility because they were unbeaten in the qualifiers. It’s difficult because all the big countries are here, but I believe the competition will be wonderful with passionate fans and nice pitches,” he said on Friday.
In terms of match day selection, Rohr seems to have made up his mind on players to use, with his preferred central defence pairing of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong set to start.
Obi, Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi, Shehu Balogun, Moses Simon, and Ighalo are also assured of starting shirts barring any last minute injuries.
Women World Cup: Super Falcons Release Strong Starting Eleven Ahead Of Germany Cracker
The Super Falcons have released a strong starting XI to face Germany at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup round of 16 tie.
According to Allnigeriasoccer, Super Falcons coach, Thomas Dennerby, made only two changes to his starting line-up that loss 1-0 to France at the group stage a few days ago after the suspension of Ngozi Ebere (red card) and Rita Chikwelu (accumulated bookings).
Barcelona striker, Asisat Oshoala, will lead the reigning African champions’ attack line.
The former Liverpool star will be assisted by Ordega and Oparanozie.
Nnadozie will be in goal, while Ayinde and Okobi will be at the midfield.
Evelyn Nwabuoku, Ohale Osinachi, Okeke and Ebi will mount the defence back four.
The kick-off time for the match is 4:30pm.
Amaju Pinnick In Trouble As FG Slams N4bn, $8,400 Fraud Charges On NFF President
The Federal Government has charged the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick and four others with alleged misappropriation of $8,400 belonging to the football body.
In a 17-count charge, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday, the money was said to have been paid by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to the NFF as appearance fees in the group state of the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Named with Pinnick in the charge, are NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh.
The defendants were also accused of “moving dishonestly and intentionally the sum of about N4bn” belonging to the NFF without the consent of the NFF.
The five are also accused, in the charge filed by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), led by Okoi Obono-Obla, of failing and neglecting to declare their assets.