Spain captain Sergio Ramos said the pain of exiting the World Cup to Russia will motivate him to stay with the national team up until the 2022 tournament in Qatar – even if at 36 by that stage he is sporting a white beard.
Andres Iniesta, 34, and Gerard Pique, 31 – who won the World Cup alongside Ramos in 2010 — have already confirmed that they are leaving the national setup following a third straight disappointment at an international tournament, with other members of Spain’s golden generation including David Silva, 32, and Pepe Reina, 35, also expected to bow out now.
However, 32-year-old Ramos said he plans to keep adding to his tally of 156 senior international caps, and told reporters in the Luzhniki stadium mixed zone that he was positive about the younger players coming through the ranks.
“I am not in favour of many changes,” Ramos said. “This is not the end of a cycle, Pique and Iniesta are players who have been very important, but other people are coming up strongly from below. This team has a very good youth system, players with a lot of personality. I would like to keep going many more years. I am leaving this World Cup with a terrible pain. I feel obliged to reach Qatar with a white beard.”
Sergio Ramos wants to continue with Spain despite their unexpected World Cup exit against Russia.
Fernando Hierro is not expected to continue as coach ahead of the UEFA Nations League, although Ramos praised how the former Spain and Real Madrid player had dealt with a job he found himself doing unexpectedly just days before the tournament began.
“We are proud of the coach,” he said. “It fell to him in a delicate moment, and we should be thankful that he had the courage to take it on. He did very well, despite the results. I’ve always thought that in football the coaches end up being ex-players. In this sense we were very comfortable with Fernando. It does not depend on us, but we would not mind if Hierro continued. As captain I just want the best for Spanish football.”
AFCON 2019 QUALIFIER: Ahmed Musa, Ighalo, Awaziem Shoots Eagles To Victory Over Seychelles
Goals from Skipper Ahmed Musa, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Jude Ighalo were all the Super Eagles needed to revive their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 African Cup of Nations slated to hold in Cameroon.
Gernot Rohr opted for the trio of Ighalo, Musa and Iheanacho to lead the team’s attack, while debutant Samuel Kalu, Wilfried Ndidi and Ogenyi Onazi were saddled with the midfield role.
The Nigerian side, who started the game on the front foot, broke the hosts’ resistance through Musa’s streamer, which beat Collins Esther after 15 minutes from kick off.
Portugal-based Awaziem doubled the lead from a tap in the 34th minute of the tie.
On resumption for the second half, Nigeria kept piling pressure on The Pirates of Seychelles.
They kept the momentum until Kalu was infringed on in the box and the referee awarded a spot kick to Nigeria.
Ighalo stepped up to convert the kick in the 57th minute as Nigeria maintained a comfortable lead.
Nigeria now has three points from two games in the qualifiers.
Messi Hails Ronaldo, Tips Juventus To Win Champions League Trophy
Barcelona ace, Lionel Messi has said that Juventus are clear favourites to win this season’s UEFA Champions League now that they have forward, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo left Madrid as their all-time highest goalscorer to join the Italian giants earlier this summer in a 100-million-euro deal.
Messi believes that Madrid is less strong without Ronaldo, adding that he was surprised by the Portuguese’s decision to leave the Santiago Bernabeu to joined Juve.
“Real Madrid is less strong without Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad, as obviously, he is one of the best in the world,” Messi told Catalunya Radio.
“Juventus are a clear favourite to win the Champions League now they have Cristiano Ronaldo. I was surprised by his decision, as I didn’t expect him to leave Madrid or go to Juventus. It’s a very good team.”
Messi added, “We’ve gone out in the quarter-finals for three years running and the last one was the most painful for the way it came about. We have to aim for the trophy because we can do it.
“We missed out because of details, in the Pep Guardiola era against Inter, and Chelsea. Other clubs are strong, have a lot of money and sign many players, like the two Manchesters, Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG, various Italian clubs, they all have a lot of money.
“Plus when things don’t go our way, we struggle to react, as we did against Roma. We did not react the right way during the game.”
Nigeria vs Seychelles: Why I Invited Ighalo – Rohr
Despite criticism in some quarters over the inclusion of Odion Ighalo in the 28 players invited to prosecute the country’s September 7 Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifier against Seychelles in Victoria, Head Coach Gernot Rohr, has appeared unperturbed.
The German tactician has rather stuck to his decision as the national team gets set to open its camp in Abuja before jetting out for the September 7, away clash.
He noted that though Ighalo who last scored for the Eagles a year ago against Cameroon in Uyo, missed begging chances against Argentina in Russia which failed to impress some of the fans, he nonetheless deserves another opportunity to make amends.
He insisted that Ighalo still has a role to play in his formation to secure the maximum 3 point in the crucial duel adding that “this is an opportunity for him(Ighalo) prove his critics wrong.”
Rohr continued, “He has been scoring in China and he is very motivated to do so for the Super Eagles now.”
On Sunday, the 29-year-old striker scored his 16th goal in the Chinese Super League. The Nigerian international emerged the hero of Changchun Yatai after he scored the equaliser to make sure they didn’t lose at home to Hebei CFFC in a game which ended 2-2.
The former Watford striker who scored 15 goals for Changchun Yatai last season put a smile on the faces of Changchun Yatai fans as he scored in the 89th minute to level the goal margin.
A breakdown of the 28-man squad released on Friday showed that 24 players were listed as regulars, while four players were listed as stand-by, comprising Uche Agbo who plays for Standard Liege, Belgium, Eze Stephen who stars with Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Musa Mohammed starring for Hnk Gorica, Croatia and Blessing Eleke.
The 24 invited players are goalkeepers Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC) and Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa).
Eight defenders were invited including Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Semi Ajayi (Rotterdam United, England); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain) and Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany).
Rohr picked six midfielders comprising Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto, Portugal) and Joel Obi (AC Chievo Verona, Italy)
Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia) leads the list of strikers which include Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone FC, Italy); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England) and Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux FC, France).
Team Administrator Dayo Enebi Achor revealed on Friday that the invited players are expected to fly directly to Seychelles, arriving on Monday, 3rd September, while the one player (goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa) and team officials travelling from Nigeria will fly into Victoria on Sunday, 2nd September.
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