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2026 FIFA WORLD Cup: Guild of Sports Editors calls for NFF Board, Finidi resignation

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Following the poor run of the Super Eagles in the 2026 World Cup qualifying series, the Guild of Sports Editors in Nigeria has asked the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to be ready to resign Nigeria fail to make it to the finals.

It will be the first back-to-back miss of the World Cup by the Super Eagles since 1994.

 Should the board also heed the call for resignation, it will be the second time ever that all members of the Nigerian football governing body will leave enmass. On 27 November 1964, all members of the then NFA resigned.

  In a media release issued by the head of the guild, Tony Ubani, the body viewed with dismay the poor performance of the Super Eagles.  

It added that it is unacceptable that Nigeria is struggling in fifth position in a group that comprises Lesotho, Rwanda, Benin Republic, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

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  According to the media release from the body which comprises all the managers of sports departments in the country’s major media organizations, the resolution was the product of its meeting on Tuesday.

 The Guild said that although the situation in Group C looks irredeemable after four games, Nigeria could still qualify for the World Cup if the NFF puts its house in order.

  In a communiqué signed by its president, Mr Tony Ubani, the Guild said: “We are shocked by the manner Nigeria’s bid to return to the World Cup after missing the 2022 edition is being mismanaged by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) through wrong and belated decisions and inability to set the rules for the national team.  

  “The NFF waited until just a month to the resumption of the qualifiers before naming a coach through a process flawed by many stakeholders because it did not follow due process.

  “They kept quiet when some of the members of the new technical crew rejected their appointments; they have not shown leadership even when some of the players rejected invitation to the national team.

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  “Now is not the time to apportion blames, but the NFF must know that Nigerians cannot tolerate failure to qualify for the World Cup, especially now that Africa’s slot has been increased to nine countries.”

  The Guild called for a complete overhaul of the NFF’s technical department, saying that the committee should contain only football persons with sound technical knowledge of the game.

  “The technical department is supposed to be the engine room of the federation, which should direct what happens at the national teams. It is not a place for politically-correct individuals who know little or nothing about the game.”

  The editors lamented that Nigeria could only secure three out of 12 available points after four matches to languish in fifth position in Group C, saying that such poor form could have been avoided if the relevant persons did their jobs properly.

  To arrest the situation, the body urged the NFF to scout for more corporate support for the Super Eagles, saying that the federation should spread its net to generate the resources that would aid its preparations for the remaining matches in the qualifying series.

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  It added: “The NFF must change its priority and take the national teams as the first among its responsibilities. The practice of packing the country’s delegation to matches with states’ FA chairmen and nebulous stakeholders, who add nothing to the Super Eagles, must be stopped. Monies saved from estacodes that are paid to these ‘stakeholders’ should be used to address issues in the national team, including remuneration for assistant coaches.”

  The body also urged the NFF to check the way players are invited to the national team, saying that most of the players in the current Super Eagles’ squad have no place in the team.

  “Some of the players are no longer relevant in the Super Eagles; their cycle is done. The entire Super Eagles system needs an overhaul and those officials, who have nothing more to add to the team, should go.

  “The NFF should also investigate the players’ attitude to these qualifiers to find out if their output is a form of protest. We say this because some players can do anything to sack the coach if they don’t like him.

  “So going forward, the NFF must ensure that only players willing to serve the country are invited to the national teams. It is embarrassing to see players pulling out of national assignments. It suggests that the NFF did not do its homework before inviting such players to camp.

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  “The NFF must also ensure that going forward players do not stroll into camp two days before any match. There must be a timeline for players to join the camp and appropriate sanction for anybody that flouts that timeline.”

  On the technical crew, the editors said that Coach Finidi George has failed to galvanise his players to serve the country to the best of their ability, adding that Skipper William Troost-Ekong, who was left out of the last two games, should be brought back to offer leadership to the squad.

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.

World Cup

Home grounds of Barcelona, Real Madrid among 11 proposed World Cup 2030 venues

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- Real Madrid celebrate winning the Champions League - Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - June 2, 2024 General view inside the stadium and Real Madrid's Toni Kroos during the Champions League celebration with fans REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

Spain’s soccer federation (RFEF) has proposed 11 stadiums as candidates to host matches during the 2030 World Cup, including the home arenas of LaLiga clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Spain, who will co-host the tournament with Portugal and Morocco as well as centenary hosts Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, will also have 45 additional grounds as team bases, the RFEF said on Friday.

Other LaLiga clubs whose home arenas have made the list include Sevilla, Malaga, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Las Palmas and promoted Espanyol.

Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, despite being the fifth-largest stadium in LaLiga with a capacity of 49,430, was not included in the list of potential venues.

“In order to define the venues, all the possibilities have been analysed, including the option of expanding to 13, an option that must be taken unanimously by the three federations,” the RFEF said in a statement.

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The tournament will have a maximum of 20 venues, the RFEF added.

Co-hosts Morocco last year announced plans to build a stadium near Casablanca and upgrade six others before the World Cup.

-Reuters

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It’s 28 years since Super Eagles’ worst competitive defeat

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Denmark unexpectedly beat Nigeria 4-1

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

Denmark face Germany on Saturday hoping to recreate their famous victory at the Euro 92 when they secured their first title, although they were the underdogs.

 This day 28 June, a day before their Round of 16 Euro 2024 clash with Germany also brings the memory of their famous Round of 16 win over Nigeria at the France ‘98 World Cup.

Their 4-1 defeat of the Super Eagles remains the biggest defeat that the Nigerians have gotten in a competitive duel in nearly 30 years.

 It was an unexpected result considering that the Super Eagles contributed to the elimination of one of the tournaments favourites, Spain.

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A goal down under two minutes and two down under 12 minutes presented a huge mountain for the Super Eagles to climb.

 What a twist of an event most had thought the Nigerian team would be the dominant side.

The world was awaiting a match-up of Nigeria and Brazil in the quarter-finals.

It was to rekindle the memorable encounter of both countries’ Olympic teams two years earlier when Nigeria famously defeated Brazil 4-3 in a golden goal decider at the semi-finals.

     A rematch at the quarter finals of France ’98 would have brought up a novel match-up of reigning Olympic gold medallists and reigning World Cup holders. It turned out a mere dream.

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 Nigeria’s manager, Bora Milutinović fielded a starting line-up with seven midfielders and no attacker.

Could that had been a new tactical formation in football in a knockout game Nigeria had to score and win? Call it the 3-7-0. Call it overconfidence.

      Even Nigeria’s manager was reportedly half-kiddingly remarked before the match: “We’ve got a very important match coming up in Nantes” – a reference to a possible quarter-final meeting  with Brazil.

  Member of the team, Mutiu Adepoju told Sports Village Square that poor tactical approach cost Nigeria the match.     “The game was taken as a routine one and hence, no special preparation for it.

  “The coaches did not even border to get insight into the Denmark team”, said Adepoju who was called ‘Headmaster’  for his heading skill. It was with an header that he scored Nigeria’s first goal that put scores at 1-1 in a 3-2 defeat of Spain in the opening match.

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  He dismissed a well publicised claim by teammate, Taribo West that the players had busy nights with women prior to the match.

  He however admitted that there was discontentment in camp and that the coaching crew lost control of the team.

  It came light that the players did not sleep all night as the now very familiar agitations for enhanced match bonuses came up.

As published in the on-line version of Al-Jazeera in 2014, Sunday Oliseh was quoted as saying: “We wasted too much energy on the eve of our game haggling over bonus, something like that should not be the focus at a big tournament like the World Cup. “We lost that game off the pitch and not on the pitch.”           

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FIFA awards win to Niger after Congo no-show in World Cup qualifier

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FIFA has awarded Niger a win and the full three points in a 2026 World Cup soccer qualifier with Congo that was postponed this month, the world governing body said on Wednesday.

Congo had refused to travel to Kinshasa, capital of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, for their home game after their stadium in Brazzaville was deemed not to have met hosting requirements.

Niger did travel, and were awarded the game 3-0, which leaves them second in Group E on six points, three behind leaders Morocco. Congo are stuck on zero points from their three matches.

Only the top team in each of the nine pools is guaranteed a place at the expanded World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to declare the match lost by forfeit 3-0 by the representative team of Congo,” FIFA said in a statement.

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It said the Alphonse Massemba-Debat Stadium in Brazzaville could not have been used until renovations, including the laying of a new pitch, were completed

Congolese Sports Minister Hughes Nguilondile declared the stadium ready in late May, but it was deemed too late to move the fixture. FIFA ordered it to go ahead in Kinshasa as originally planned, leading to Congo’s withdrawal in protest.

-Reuters

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