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World Cup was expanded to help Scotland qualify, FIFA’s Infantino jokes –

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World Cup Was Expanded To Help Scotland Qualify, FIFA's Infantino Jokes -

FIFA’s decision to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 teams was made to give Scotland a chance to return to the finals after nearly 30 years, FIFA President Gianni Infantino joked as he hailed their qualification for the Euro 2024 in Germany.

Scotland last appeared at the World Cup in France in 1998 where they finished bottom of Group A behind Brazil, Norway and Morocco. They have failed to qualify for the last six editions of the global tournament, which featured 32 teams.

After reaching a second successive Euros this year, the Scots are hopeful of making it to the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico – the first finals to be played with the expanded format.

“Scotland qualified quite brilliantly for the European Championship,” the FIFA president told BBC Scotland, opens new tab on Saturday after attending St Mirren’s 2-1 home win over Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership following an IFAB meeting in Loch Lomond.

“Letting you in on the secret, we decided to increase from 32 to 48 to allow Scotland to participate.

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“Scotland will have a great chance and if they do qualify I’m sure Scotland fans will have great fun.”

Scotland missed out on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, losing to Ukraine in the semi-finals of the European playoffs.

In the eight editions of the World Cup they have played, Scotland, who have the second oldest national FA in the world after England, have never got past the group stages.

-Reuters

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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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BREAKING! Finidi George formally resigns

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Nigeria Super Eagles’ coach, Finidi George has resigned from his post as Super Eagles’ coach, two days after the Nigeria Football Federation announced it was going to employ a foreign technical adviser.

A source close to Finidi told Sports Village Square that Finidi sent his resignation letter to Ibrahim Gusau “3o minutes ago.”

 Finidi was said to be livid that the NFF leadership met with the sports minister two days ago, but failed to mention that players reported late to the camp and that they didi nothing to mobilise Nigerians in Cote d’Ivoire to come out to support the Super Eagles in last Monday’s match with Benin Republic.

“He complained that the NFF heaped all the blames on him”, said the source.

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  Calls to NFF officials to verify the information were not answered.  

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UPDATE: NFF may spare Finidi George

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Under fire Super Eagles’ coach, Finidi George may excape sack afterall. A source close to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) told Sports Village Square that Finidi may not be sacked.

 He would however work under the foreign technical adviser that the football governing body is planning to hire in the next few weeks.

  The source who was privy to the Wednesday’s ‘hybrid mode’ meeting of the NFF informed that Finidi George will be designated as ‘Chief Coach’ while the expatriate will be the technical adviser.

It is however unclear how the NFF will foot the wage bill of the technical adviser, who may also come with his personal crew as Finidi George  also already have his own foreign assistants.

There is also no word on the loud absence of Daniel Amokachi who was designated as Finidi George’s assistant, but failed to show up at the Super Eagles’ camp leading to the ill-fated World Cup match day 3 and 4 encounters with South Africa and Benin Republic.  

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Mali sack head coach Eric Chelle

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Africa Cup of Nations - Round of 16 - Mali v Burkina Faso - Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium, Korhogo, Ivory Coast - January 30, 2024 Mali coach Eric Chelle REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

Mali have fired head coach Eric Chelle, the West African nation’s soccer federation said on Thursday.

In a statement, reported on national television, it gave no reason for the decision but the sacking comes days after Mali were held to a goalless draw by 10-man Madagascar in a Group I World Cup qualifier in Johannesburg.

“The executive committee of the Malian Football Federation, meeting in extraordinary session today unanimously decided, with the agreement of the supervisory authority, to end the collaboration between the coach of the National Team Senior, Mr. Eric Sekou Chelle and the federation,” the statement said.

Chelle, 46, born in the Ivory Coach to a French father and a Malian mother, was brought up in France. He played at club level mostly in France and for Mali at the international level where he made five appearances between 2004 and 2006.

He was appointed as Mali’s head coach in May 2022 and led the team to the quarter-finals of the 2023 African Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast earlier this year.

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Before managing Mali, Chelle’s previous coaching experience was at Martigues and Boulogne in the French lower divisions.

-Reuters

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