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AFTER SHOCK WORLD CUP ELIMINATION, US COACH RESIGNS

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Last Wednesday’s elimination of the United States’ team from 2018 World Cup qualification has forced its coach, Bruce Arena to resign this Friday.

United States were eliminated to the joy of banned-for-life former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner following a 2-1 loss to Warner’s country, Trinidad & Tobago.

It is the first time since 1986 that US will be missing at the World Cup. The U.S. Soccer released a statement from Bruce Arena on Friday.

“It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country’s National Team, and as I leave that role today I am honoured and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career,” Arena said in a statement.

“When I took the job last November, I knew there was a great challenge ahead, probably more than most people could appreciate.

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“Everyone involved in the program gave everything they had for the last 11 months, and in the end we came up short. No excuses. We didn’t get the job done, and I accept responsibility.”

The 66-year-old, who previously coached the U.S. from 1998 to 2006, took over following the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann in November.

He led the U.S. to a 10 wins-two draws-six losses record in his second stint, winning the Gold Cup title in July, but oversaw a side that collapsed late in qualifying while failing to secure a World Cup berth for the first time since 1986.

No replacement was immediately announced for him. Arena had drawn scrutiny for his line-up choices against Trinidad & Tobago, as he eschewed the heavy rotation he used in past qualifiers and chose the same starting XI that recorded a 4-0 win over Panama on Friday in Orlando, Florida.

Arena defended his decision by pointing to the fact that the Soca Warriors made minimal adjustments after their own match Friday, a 3-1 loss in Mexico.

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“You can say I could’ve played this guy, that guy, and then you’d come back the next day if we had lost and said, ‘Why did you make those changes and play those guys?’” Arena told the Washington Post.

“The job we have doesn’t allow us to be the Monday morning quarterback. [T&T] played almost the same team that played against Mexico on Friday, so there’s no difference. So that’s all a bunch of baloney. It has nothing to do with formations or not making changes. We didn’t get the job done.”

Arena also chose not to call in some of the key players from the Klinsmann era. He left out many of the national team’s European-based players, opting to feature an MLS-heavy side for the final two World Cup qualifiers.

Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron was benched in favour of Omar Gonzalez, while Arena kept his entire German-American contingent at home. Borussia Moenchengladbach starter Fabian Johnson was the main absence, with Timmy Chandler and Danny Williams also being left out.

The future of the U.S. program is now completely up in the air. Gulati is up for re-election, but fans, former players and media are calling for changes at the very top to right the ship.

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And Arena’s departure is a start, with Tab Ramos expected to take over coaching duties as the search for a long-term replacement begins.

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.

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Floored twice in two months, South Africa tremble ahead of treble with Nigeria

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Sadiq Umar, Ndidi And Awoniyi Return To Super Eagles As NFF Secure Friendly Duel With Ghana And Mali In Morocco -

Exactly four months after they were bumped and relegated to the third-place match of the Africa Cup of Nations by the Super Eagles, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana are in jitters as they will come up against the three-time African champions again, in a crucial 2026 World Cup qualifying match in Uyo.

Only three days ago, the Super Falcons pushed the Banyana Banyana, reigning African champions, off the bus to this year’s Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, instead grabbing the ticket to make sure of a first appearance at the glamour tournament for the first time in 16 years.

The assured manner of Nigeria’s victories in the two fixtures have left the hierarchy of South African football flummoxed, and there is no adequate time to recover or rejig strategies before the Bafana Bafana come up against the Super Eagles in a Day 3 encounter of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying series at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Friday, 7th June.

With two points from their previous two matches, but aware of the hold they have over the Bafana Bafana, the African vice champions are confident of the three points on the day, which could see them fly to the top of the pool.

It was on 7th February at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake that the Super Eagles kicked Bafana to the third-place match of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations. Despite achieving parity late in the game, the Bafana were cut to size during the penalty shootout with Nigeria’s South Africa-based goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali saving two of the kicks by the Bafana.

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South Africans’ boasts of bouncing the Super Falcons in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament fixture in revenge, ended belly-up with the Banyana failing to score a goal in 180 minutes of action, with the two teams separated by Rasheedat Ajibade’s goal from the penalty spot in Abuja on Friday, 5th April.

Despite being a point ahead of the Super Eagles in their World Cup qualifying group, the Bafana will fall behind once they submit to the superior strength, skill and savvy of the Super Eagles on another Friday in June.

It can be recalled that when the two teams also met at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, at the quarter-final stage, Nigeria triumphed 2-1 in Cairo.

Players of the Super Eagles are already getting in the mood to deliver the big punches to Bafana in Uyo in a few weeks’ time. Only on Thursday night, top striker Victor Boniface returned from the injury that kept him out of the AFCON, by coming off the bench to score in Bayer Leverkusen’s Europa League quarter-final duel with West Ham of England.

African Player of the Year Victor Osimhen has also been unable to stop scoring for his Italian Serie A side, SC Napoli.

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Goalkeeper Nwabali remains in awesome shape, and midfielder Alex Iwobi and Ademola Lookman shone brightly in the defeat of Ghana in a friendly in Morocco last month.

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Morocco To Launch World’s Biggest Stadium Ahead Of 2030 World Cup –

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Morocco To Launch World’s Biggest Stadium Ahead Of 2030 World Cup -

There is no end to aspirations. That is what Morocco is doing as they planned the world’s largest stadium as one of their package for the milestone 2030 World Cup which marks the 100th year of the tournament.

A British firm, Populous has reportedly won the  bid for the design of the what is called Morocco’s Grand Casablanca Stadium. It is being designed to hold 115,000 spectators in its bowel.

According to Populous in its website, the stadium derives its identity from the culture of the “season” in Morocco, as its structure is located under a large tent roof that appears as an exciting intervention in the forest landscape, noting that the stadium site extends over an area of 100 hectares in the city of Mansouria in the province of Benslimane (38 km north of Casablanca).

The British company explained that the stadium will be compatible with the FIFA standard. The company’s president, Francois Clément, said that the expected pace of construction “indicates the commitment of all parties concerned to deliver this project on time and within budget, and will constitute a rich asset for the Kingdom of Morocco, as well as raise it to the highest global platform for the development of sports infrastructure.”

The proposed stadium will compete with the Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou stadiums in Spain. Morocco is co-hosting the World Cup with Spain and Portugal Preparatory work has already begun to build the stadium on a 100-hectare site after funding for the project was approved last October.

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According to the Morocco World News website, the budget for the new stadium project amounts to 5 billion Moroccan dirhams (460 million euros).

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Japan Handed 3-0 Win After North Korea Call Off World Cup Qualifier –

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Japan Handed 3-0 Win After North Korea Call Off World Cup Qualifier -

Japan have been awarded a 3-0 victory after North Korea called off a World Cup qualifier between the sides that was scheduled to be held in Pyongyang earlier this month, Japan’s Football Association (JFA) said on Saturday.

The JFA said FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee had informed them that the match had been forfeited, which means Japan are guaranteed a top-two finish in their group which also includes Syria and Myanmar.

With 12 points after four games, Japan have qualified for the third round of World Cup qualifiers as well as the 2027 Asian Cup. Japan beaten North Korea 1-0 in another qualifying match in Tokyo this month.

“Although the players lost an important opportunity to play, I see this as a positive step forward,” Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said in a statement.

“Naturally, we will not be satisfied with this result, but will continue to build up our strength for the national team activities in June, the final qualifying round, and the World Cup.”

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North Korea, which has no formal diplomatic relations with Tokyo, decided not to stage the match in Pyongyang over worries about infectious diseases in Japan and had asked for the game to be moved to a neutral venue.

FIFA said the game would not be rescheduled due to the lack of dates on the fixture calendar.

-Reuters

 

 

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