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International Football

“We’ll set the fields on fire in New Zealand and Australia”, says Onome Ebi

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With less than 100 days to go until the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand, CAFOnline spoke to Nigeria’s Captain Onome Ebi on how the Super Falcons are preparing for their record ninth appearance at the global extravaganza.

The multiple African champions have been drawn in Group B where they will battle out against Canada, Ireland and hosts Australia, and the ambitious Nigerians are slowly folding their sleeves and getting ready to work for a good performance down under.

Q: We are 100 days away from the start of the World Cup. How is Nigeria getting ready?

Our preparation is going on okay and we are focusing on improving on all fronts; from defense to attack. We are adjusting everything to be ready for the World Cup which is fast approaching. We are focusing on the small details which we don’t want to miss and also, we don’t want to repeat mistakes that we have had in the past.

Q. What are your ambitions for this World Cup?

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Our ambition, definitely, is to do our best. We approach this World Cup with the mindset of performing to our utmost best and conquering. We had some disappointments at the last TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations where we did not put the best performance.

We have the opportunity at the World Cup where we do not want to disappoint again. I have faith in my team and I like our current state of mind. The team is united and I believe we will be able to do great things at the World Cup. We are motivated and we want to hoist Nigeria’s flag to the highest point.

The ball is in our court as players and we have to do everything to be on fire physically and mentally for this opportunity.

Q. A word about Asisat Oshoala who is having an excellent season. She was injured during the last Cup of Nations. What can we expect from her at the World Cup?

It’s a blessing to have her in this team. She is a great professional and an example for the whole team. Her performance at club level is incredible. Many people forget that few months ago she was injured and today she is up on the pitch putting up huge performances both in the local league and the Champions League.

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She is one of the best players in the World and speaking to her, she is also hugely waiting for the World Cup and has already set her targets for the tournament. She is doing everything she can to be on top form.

Q. Nigeria are in Group B with Canada, Ireland and Australia. What do you think of this group?

We are aware that we are in a difficult pool. We have the reigning champions Canada who we have faced twice before, losing one and drawing one. Then we have Ireland and Australia who we have not played against.

We know it will also be very tough against Australia because they will be playing at home. We are under no pressure however and we are calm about these matches.

All of these teams have qualified and earned their right to be at the World Cup. We have to be ready to face them.

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-Cafonline

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.

International Football

Former Italy international Roberto Baggio robbed at gunpoint

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at his home in northern Italy while watching his country’s match against Spain in the Euro 2024 tournament on Thursday, local police said.

Burglars broke into Baggio’s house near Vicenza, hit him on the head with a gun butt and locked him and his family in a room while they stole jewellery, watches and cash, daily Il Corriere della Sera reported. It said he suffered a deep wound.

“Luckily, the violence I suffered only resulted in a few stitches, bruises and a lot of fear. Now it is to overcome the fear,” Baggio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

Baggio, 57, played for clubs including Juventus (JUVE.MI), opens new tab, AC Milan and Inter Milan. He also played 56 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals, and is widely seen as one of his country’s all-time greats.

After the robbery, Baggio, widely known as the “divine ponytail”, was treated at a local hospital where he received stitches for the head wound, Italian media reported.

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Italy lost to Spain 1-0 on Thursday and now must avoid defeat by Croatia to guarantee progression in the tournament.

-Reuters

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International Football

New twist in Cameroon football coach crisis

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The coaching crisis in Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions has taken a new dimension as the football federation, FECAFOOT, led by former international, Samuel Eto’o goes in direct confrontation with the coaching crew appointed by the sports ministry which also picks the bills.

  According to a Cameroon official who will not like to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, the claims and counter claims of both the sports ministry and the FECAFOOT led by Eto’o had been heard and decided by the conciliation and arbitration chamber of the Cameroonian national Olympic committee, which is a court in charge of sports cases in Cameroon.

  “What is in contention is not the position of the Belgian coach, Marcc Brys, but that of the Cameroonian assistants attached to him.”

  The source explained to Sports Village Square that although the employment of Brys by the sports ministry was initially contested by Eto’o, the former player has come to accept the situation.

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  “In Cameroon, there is always a techenical crew of nine to 11. The foreign coach is allowed to bring in two foreign assistants, while the others are always Cameroonians.

  In this case, the sports ministry approved the list of two foreign assistants by Brys while also announcing another set of local assistants that included former international, François Omam-Biyik, one of the stars of Italia ‘90  and the scorer of the goal that gave Cameroon a 1-0 win over a Diego Maradona-inspired  Argentina.

  “That is where the problem is. FECAFOOT also submitted a list of technical crew that included Brys and his two foreign assistants but dropped the names of the local assistants with new ones.”

  In essence, there are two lists with both having three names as same, but differ on the rest.

 According to the source, the list submitted by the sports ministry was upheld by the tribunal which threw aside that of FECAFOOT.

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  In another twist, FIFA has already removed the name of Marc Brys from the profile of Cameroon on its website. Only the name of national women’s coach, Jean-Baptiste Bisseck is listed.

The removal of Brys’ name is happening a second time as it was first removed at the end of last month before being reinstated.

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International Football

Cameroon’s appointment of Brys as manager suspended by sports tribunal

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Marc Brys

Cameroon’s appointment of Belgian Marc Brys as head coach was suspended by the country’s top sports tribunal on Tuesday following the petition of an amateur football club.

The country’s sports ministry stirred controversy last month when it named 61-year-old Brys as manager of the Indomitable Lions without consulting the football federation (FECAFOOT).

The move sparked a dispute between the sports ministry and FECAFOOT, which said the government had made a unilateral decision.

In response, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours, deepening its standoff with the sports ministry.

Eto’o kept Brys as head coach but named different assistants, technical, medical and administrative staff.

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An amateur club, meanwhile, took the matter to the Arbitration and Conciliation Chamber of the Cameroon National Olympic and Sports Committee.

In a provisional ruling on Tuesday, the court suspended the FECAFOOT appointments while it fully examined the matter. Concerned parties have 24 hours to appeal.

FECAFOOT in response said it “reserves the right to refer these decisions to FIFA, as they hinder the preparation process for the forthcoming sport events.

“The Emergency Committee of FECAFOOT will meet immediately to take appropriate measures,” it said in a statement.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations and has frequently banned countries when governments get involved in federation affairs.

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The president of the Cameroon Association of Amateur Football Clubs, Balla Ongolo Henri, had previously said Eto’o’s appointments would damage Cameroon’s image and disrupt preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers next June.

Brys, 61, penned a contract on May 8 as head coach of the Indomitable Lions following the dismissal of Rigobert Song in February. FECAFOOT did not attend the signing ceremony.

The sports ministry says it has acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

Reuters

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