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International Football

Biennial FIFA Series Of Friendly Games To Launch In March –

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FIFA are launching a new series of friendly matches in one location during the international window called the FIFA Series, with a pilot project kicking off in four countries next month, world soccer’s governing body said on Monday.

Although there are no trophies or prize money, the series is designed to benefit national teams that do not have the opportunity to play teams from other confederations, with FIFA set to cover travel costs.

A soft launch of the FIFA Series will take place from March 18-26 at four locations — Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka. Four teams will be based in one location and will play two matches each.

“Some countries have never played teams outside their confederations,” Elkhan Mammadov, FIFA’s Regional Member Associations Director for Europe, told reporters.

“They can gain competitive experience playing teams outside their own confederation, playing teams with a completely different style of play.

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“Currently we have 20 teams for the pilot edition. For the 2026 edition we hope to have many more.”

Saudi Arabia will host two groups although the hosts themselves will not be involved in the matches, which are designed to benefit teams that have never qualified for the World Cup.

“The next World Cup (in 2026) will have 48 teams which means you may have many member associations who never played in a World Cup,” said Kenny Jean-Marie, FIFA’s Chief Member Associations Officer.

“They may arrive in the U.S., Mexico or Canada with no international experience outside their continent.”

Mammadov said they are currently working on fixing television broadcast deals for the Series while they will also look to stream matches on the FIFA+ platform.

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He added there were no disagreements with confederations regarding scheduling these tournaments as they were being played during the international break. The next edition in 2026 could see bigger teams looking to take part.

“We’ve started discussions with high-ranked teams and they hope to play and even host the next edition in March 2026. There is interest to host,” he said.

With FIFA only facilitating and not organising the tournaments, Mammadov said they were inviting member associations with their own sponsors on the ground to sponsor the Series.

“But if companies approach to sponsor the FIFA Series, FIFA will not close the door,” he added.

FIFA SERIES – MARCH 2024

ALGERIA

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Teams: Algeria, Bolivia, Andorra, South Africa

AZERBAIJAN

Teams: Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Tanzania, Bulgaria

SRI LANKA

Teams: Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Bhutan, Central African Republic

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SAUDI ARABIA

Group A: Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Cambodia

Group B: Guinea, Vanuatu, Bermuda, Brunei

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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International Football

Grudgingly, Eto’o accepts new Cameroon coach Brys, but fails to attend ceremony

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Cameroon’s new coach Marc Brys penned a contract on Monday but the Belgian’s appointment by the government remains contentious as the football federation did not attend the signing ceremony.

Brys has been handed a 2-1/2-year contract by Cameroon’s sports ministry but the federation (FECAFOOT) was conspicuous by its absence at the event in Yaounde.

Last week, FECAFOOT criticised the unilateral decision of sports minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombito to appoint the 61-year-old Brys, who has no prior experience as a national team coach and has not previously worked on the African continent.

FECAFOOT president Samuel Eto’o issued a statement on Monday, excusing himself from the unveiling event.

“We thank you for inviting us to the ceremony. Following this, we inform you of the fact that we received the letter two hours before the said ceremony,” wrote Eto’o.

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“Unfortunately, we are busy organising the funeral of our late Dad, and for this reason we will not be able to attend presence at the ceremony.”

His father’s funeral is to be held at the weekend.

Eto’o balked at Brys’ appointment and is now in a deepening standoff with the minister.

In Cameroon, the government has long paid the salary of the national team coach and therefore held powerful sway over FECAFOOT’s affairs, even if such state interference is frowned upon by world football’s governing body FIFA.

Any heightened dispute risks a potential ban from international competition for Cameroon, one of the heavyweights of African football.

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FECAFOOT held an emergency meeting on Saturday and asked Eto’o to propose an alternative coach for the national team.

Earlier on the weekend, the minister had defended the appointment, saying he had acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

In a letter to FECAFOOT, Kombi said his ministry’s appointment of coaching staff “in no way affects the autonomy of FECAFOOT and does not violate any of the ‘supranational regulations”.

He said FECAFOOT had suggested three candidates to the ministry but their salary demands ranged between 1.5 million euros and 2.5 million euros ($1.63 million and $2.71 million) per year.

“These are excessive amounts never paid to any coach in the history of the Indomitable Lions,” Kombi said.

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-Reuters

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Cameroon FA to propose national coach after emergency meeting –

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BREAKING! Turmoil In Cameroon Federation Over Naming Of New National Coach Brys -

Cameroon’s football federation (FECAFOOT) held an emergency meeting on Saturday and asked its president to propose an alternative coach for the national team, deepening a standoff with the sports ministry.

FECAFOOT on Wednesday accused the ministry of unilaterally appointing Belgian Marc Brys as coach and other staff to manage the Indomitable Lions, who are five-times African champions.

The dispute risks a potential ban from international competition as world soccer’s governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations.

In a statement, FECAFOOT said its emergency committee had met on Saturday and unanimously confirmed that the federation had not been involved in the appointments in alleged contravention of regulations.

As a result, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours.

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Responding to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the ministry said the result of the FECAFOOT meeting was “an appeal. It is not yet a decision.”

On Friday, Sports Minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombi wrote to FECAFOOT to defend the coaching appointments, which he said were in accordance with national and international rules.

In a letter seen by Reuters, Kombi said the ministry’s move “in no way affects the autonomy of FECAFOOT and does not violate any of the ‘supranational regulations’.”

A spokesperson for the ministry confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

Kombi’s letter also said the salaries requested by three candidates earlier proposed by the federation for the position of coach ranged between 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) and 2.5 million euros per year.

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“These are excessive amounts never paid to any coach in the history of the Indomitable Lions,” Kombi said.

FECAFOOT did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.

-Reuters

 

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BREAKING! Turmoil in Cameroon federation over naming of new national coach Brys. https://www.sportsvillagesquare.com/2024/04/03/breaking-turmoil-in-cameroon-federation-over-naming-of-new-national-coach-brys/

Soccer Cameroon appoint Brys as new head coach https://www.sportsvillagesquare.com/2024/04/03/soccer-cameroon-appoint-brys-as-new-head-coach/

 

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National team and club-mate Owolabi commiserates with grief-stricken Odegbami –

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National team and club-mate Owolabi commiserates with grief-stricken Odegbami -

Powerful left-wing back in his playing days, Felix Owolabi has expressed great grief over the loss of a son of former teammate, Segun Odegbami.

Both Felix Owolabi and Odegbami share common traits as the earliest tertiary institution footballers featuring for clubs and the national team.

While Odegbami was a mechanical engineering student at The Ibadan Polytechnic, Owolabi was an undergraduate at the University of Lagos.

Both were players of the then rampaging IICC Shooting Stars and the Africa Cup of Nations winning team of 1980. The crucial goals that won the cup for Nigeria were scored by the duo.

While Owolabi’s goal against Morocco sent Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations final match for the first time, Odegbami’s two goals in the final against Algeria put a stamp of definity to Nigeria’s victory before another club-mate Muda Lawal put in the third.

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“We have come a long way”, remarked Owolabi in a message to the Sports Village Square  Thursday morning.

“I have just arrived from Morocco on a national assignment trying to adjust and deal with the extreme and gruelling hot weather here in Nigeria when I got the sad news of the sudden death of the son of my dear brother and senior colleague Dr Olusegun Odegbami.

 

“Hearing the death of Oluwagbeminiyi Omo Odegbami,  I paused for a moment and did not know what to say.

“All the media both print and electronics carried it as a breaking news.

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“And that was when it dawned on me that I had to call ‘Big Sheg’ as he is fondly called by me.

“His authoritative confirmation about it dealt a blow on me and put me total darkness.What would have happened to this our vibrant and such an enterprising Oluwagbeminiyi?

“Why would death be so so wicked to suddenly take this gentleman away from us without notice. Going on a journey that he will need not to look at anybody, an eternal journey till Christ come.

“My heart and  that of my entire family are with you and the rest of the family”, remarked Owolabi.

“It is well. I pray that God grant him eternal rest. I pray also that the almighty God grant you the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Today the death of Oluwagbeminiyi has made me to believe and conclude that death is real and it is universal

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