Senegal gets Africans accolades after beating Poland 2-1

By SportDesk,

At Spartak Stadium in Moscow Senegalese football team was not short of support and with accolades that have not seized coming from Africa on Tuesday after it beat Poland 2-1, in spite of overwhelming crowd of Poles and other European supporters.

As gathered, an estimated 95 per cent of stadium crowd of 44,190 must have rooted for Poland during the Group H match, but the game favor the African side.

Many of them were Poles who came in across the borders, while many others were Russians and other Europeans who felt their affinities lay with Poland.

But Senegal were not alone as other Africans were in the crowd fervently praying and rooting for the West Africans, ostensibly because they wanted the Lions to win for Africa.

They had cause to smile and dance as Senegal had the match under control for most moments of the game.

Even, in the VIP stands of the stadium, Senegal had another segment of supporters.
Senegalese President, Macky Fall, was there with the country’s Ambassador to Russia, Abdousalam Diallo, alongside ambassadors of six other African countries to Russia.

They were ambassadors from Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Ahmad Ahmad; FIFA Secretary-General, Fatma Samoura; former Senegal striker, Khalilou Fadiga and former Cote D’Ivorie Captain, Didier Drogba, were also on the stand and strengthened the support.

Egypt out of World Cup after Russian 3-1 defeat

By NewsDesk,

After Egypt World Cup first game defeat, the country’s football team failed to salvage its reputation as Africa’s football power house, falling 1-3 to hosts Russia, in its second game in Group A on Tuesday.

Despite that star striker Mohamed Salah scored a penalty at the 73rd minute, it was not enough to salvage the Pharaohs, as Russia romped home to victory at Saint Petersburg.

The loss made the Egyptians certain to be the first team to head home from the tournament, with no point so far.

Russia meanwhile are at the brink of qualifying for the knockout stage, having got the maximum six points in their two games.

Uruguay and Saudi Arabia, the other teams in the group will play on Wednesday. Uruguay already have three points off Egypt and would hope to extend their winning streak in the match against Saudi Arabia.

A three goal blitz in the space of 15 minutes early in the second half put the Russians firmly in command of the game in St. Petersburg before Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, who had a subdued game on his return from injury, struck from a penalty, awarded after a video review.

Should Uruguay (3 points) beat Saudi Arabia (0 points) on Wednesday, it will ensure the South Americans and the Russians go through to the round of 16 with a game to spare. A draw would also send the hosts through.

It is an unexpectedly positive situation for a Russian side that came into this tournament amidst scepticism and pessimism at home. After the two confident victories, with eight goals, the public appear to have taken the team to their hearts.

Far from being over-awed by the pressure on them to perform, there is a real look of confidence and at times swagger about Stanislav Cherchesov’s side, who beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game.

Egypt, whose final group game is against the Saudis, have only the slimmest of chances of staying in the tournament although they will at least be hopeful of picking up a first win in what is their third World Cup.

Hector Cuper’s side looked confident given the return of their talisman Salah, but the forward was short of full sharpness and made little impact in what was a tight first half.

But just two minutes after the interval, Russia got their breakthrough and they never looked back.

Aleksandr Golovin’s cross was punched out by Egyptian keeper Mohamed El-Shenawy, only as far as Roman Zobnin whose low drive was heading wide until Ahmed Fathi’s outstretched leg turned the ball into his own net.

Remarkably, it was the fifth own goal of the tournament so far. The record amount for a World Cup is six in 1998.

If there was some good fortune to the opener, the Russians’ second was pure quality.

Alexander Samedov pushed the ball out wide to Mario Fernandes, the Brazilian born right back who had powered forward from deep to deliver a perfect pull-back into the path of Denis Cheryshev who slotted home his third goal of the tournament.

Two minutes later it was 3-0 via a route one play, as target man Artem Dzyuba chested down a long ball, bustled past Ali Gabr and drove home.

England wins first group stage game, beats Tunisia 2-1

By NewsDesk,

England team has won its first group stage at on Russian World Cup, with Captain Harry Kane coming to the country rescue with two goals, second a dramatic injury-time winner, beating Tunisia 2-1 on Monday.

Gareth Southgate’s men almost paid a heavy price for missing a slew of first-half chances when Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi slotted home a softly-awarded penalty 20 minutes before half-time.

And the north Africans were still level as the game went past the 90-minute mark, before Harry Kane’s brutal header that inflicted serious pain on the Tunisian Eagles.

Harry Maguire had won a header from a corner and Kane was on hand at the far post to nod in the winner before being mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.

“I’m so proud of the lads,” Kane said. “They kept going, kept going to the last second.

“I am absolutely buzzing, everyone on the staff is. It shows good character to get the job done.”

England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes.

First Jordan Henderson’s lofted first-time pass released Dele Alli and when the ball eventually broke to Jesse Lingard he saw his shot from six yards saved by the outstretched left boot of Mouez Hassen in the Tunisia goal.

Kane had been kept quiet in the opening salvos but he exploded into action in the 11th minute when he cut inside from the left and saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide for a corner.

Ashley Young delivered the set piece for John Stones to rise highest and meet with a powerful header. Hassen saved acrobatically but Kane was on hand to tap home the rebound with his right foot and open his World Cup account.

Hassen, who had injured his left shoulder making an earlier save, could not continue and left the field in tears as he was replaced in goal by Farouk Ben Mustapha.

England continued to press and were made to pay for not converting a succession of chances when they conceded a soft penalty.

Kyle Walker swung a lazy arm across Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who fell as if poleaxed and Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot, with his decision being upheld by the VAR.

Ferjani Sassi took one step and fired home confidently past the hitherto unemployed Jordan Pickford and Tunisia who had been outplayed for the first half-hour were somehow level 10 minutes before half-time.

Still there was time for Lingard to come close again twice, first from a goalbound shot and then a dink over the keeper which agonisingly struck the post.

Alli too hit the woodwork with a header and England went into half-time wondering how they had not sealed victory already.

England still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but could not find the same zip and penetration they had enjoyed at the start of the first half.

The ineffective Sterling gave way to Marcus Rashford with just over 20 minutes to go and the Manchester United man almost fashioned a chance straight away with a jinking run into the box.

Mexico defeats defending champion, Germany, during Russian World Cup first match

By SportDesk,

Russian World Cup group stage first march did not favor defending champion, Germany, by crashed to first defeat in its opening game of the tournament since 1982 as Hirving Lozano’s clinical finish earned Mexico a shock 1-0 victory on Sunday.

The highly-rated PSV Eindhoven forward struck the winner on 35 minutes after a blistering counter-attack at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow as Mexico beat Germany for just the second time in history.

Said Mexico Coach Juan Carlos Osorio: “We always thought of having two quick players on the wing. We chose Hirving [Lozano] who is our fastest player. In the first half we managed to play defensively with a great deal of intelligence and hit them on the counter. In the first half of the match we were the superior team. In the second we knew full well that Germany have an outstanding team.

“We prepared for the use of Mario Gomez up front. Yesterday we practiced defending with four midfielders and three players up front and that was how we almost got the second goal today. Mexico showed that we have a bright future.”

In contrast, Germany’s preparations for the tournament were plagued by poor results and controversy, and their problems were magnified in the Russian capital, leaving their proud record of never being eliminated in the group stage of a World Cup already in danger.

Joachim Loew started eight of the nine 2014 World Cup winners in his squad, with Mesut Ozil returning from a knee injury and Manuel Neuer back in goal following his lengthy absence for the Group F clash.

Jerome Boateng’s build-up to the finals was also hampered by a groin injury, but the Bayern Munich centre-back was on the alert inside 60 seconds to thrust himself desperately in front of a Lozano effort.

A remarkably open start saw Timo Werner sprint in behind the Mexico defence before dragging across the face of goal, while Mats Hummels shot straight at Guillermo Ochoa after a botched clearance.

Neuer held well twice in quick succession, first from a long-range Hector Herrera strike and then again to keep out Hector Moreno’s header, as Mexico attacked the Germany backline with regularity.

Carlos Salcedo nearly diverted a teasing cross into his own net, while Timo Werner hit tamely at Ochoa when an umarked Julian Draxler appeared the better option.

Mexico continued to threaten, Miguel Layun narrowly unable to latch onto a through ball, but their goal arrived 10 minutes before the break as Germany were again sliced apart.

After Sami Khedira lost possession, Javier Hernandez triggered a lightning counter before finding a charging Lozano, who cut inside a covering Ozil and lashed low inside Neuer’s near post to spark deafening roars from the sizeable Mexico support.

Germany hit back, Toni Kroos rattling the crossbar with a 25-yard free-kick that needed the fingertips of a scrambling Ochoa to keep it out, but Mexico barely clung on to their advantage.

Marco Reus was introduced on the hour as Loew sought to invigorate a struggling side, while 39-year-old Rafael Marquez became just the third player to feature at five World Cups as he was brought on the tighten Mexico’s defence.

Joshua Kimmich’s acrobatic overhead kick looped onto the roof of the net, with substitute Edson Alvarez then blocking bravely to thwart Draxler.

Reus also hammered a volley over from a narrow angle before a frenetic finale saw Julian Brandt, just on for Werner, smack the outside of the post with a thunderous effort from 20 yards.

One desperate last attack had Neuer come up for a corner, but a towering header from the veteran Marquez and subsequent claim from Ochoa allowed Mexico to close out an unforgettable triumph.

“I don’t know if it’s the biggest [victory in Mexico’s history], but it’s one of the biggest for sure. It’s great to start on the right foot, against the reigning world champions. It’s a great result and shows our hard work,” said Hirving Lozano, scorer of the winning and only goal of the match and Budweiser Man of the Match.

“It’s the best goal I’ve scored in my entire life. We all dream of playing in a World Cup – and to start in such a positive and important way – I think it’s my best goal so far,” he added.

While Mexico will next meet South Korea, Germany will face Sweden in the Group F.

Switzerland draws Brazil 1-1 tighten World Cup group E

By SportDesk,

Switzerland team was able to secure draw 1-1 draw with Brazilian after a second half header from Steven Zuber cancelled out a sensational early goal from Philippe Coutinho, with Group E World Cup opener remaining tight.

With 20 minutes gone, Coutinho gathered a 25-yard clearance from goal and curled a shot into the far corner off the post to give the five-time world champions the lead.

However, Switzerland, who had looked toothless throughout the first half, got back on level terms five minutes into the second half.

Zuber rose unmarked to head home a corner kick and Coutinho had Brazil’s best chance after the break but shot wide.

The result means that Serbia lead Group E after beating Costa Rica 1-0 earlier in the day.

Super Eagles disappoint Nigerians after 0-2 loss to Croatia

By SportDesk,

The Super Eagles has downed spirit of sea of supports with unimpressive start to 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign on Saturday, with a 0-2 loss to Croatia.

Besides its loss, it would have to doubt efforts to qualify for knockout stage, having dropped to bottom of Group D and facing next hard-fighting Iceland and later wounded Argentina.

Coach Gernot Rohr lamented at the end of the game that the team had disappointed Nigerian by lossing the game with Croatia.

“We’re really disappointed we lost this game. Croatia were the better team. We could have come back into it in the second half after we started very well before the penalty against us. We’re a young team, we’re learning and I hope in the next game against Iceland we will do much better.”

The Super Eagles made a slow start into the game, holding off the charging Croatians and making flank runs which yielded no clear-cut advance at goal.

The Croatians were tenacious, with Ivan Perisic’s shot flying over the bar in the 14th minute and Andrej Kramaric’s shot inches wide of the far side upright two minutes later.

The game went a gear up, with the Eagles now pushing them back through flank runs by Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses, which came off good midfield build-ups.

Croatia took the game in hand in the 32nd minute when Kramaric at the far side dived to head down a right flank corner kick.

The ball hit part of Oghenekaro Etebo’s body to roll past goalkeeper Francis Uzoho’s hands into the net for the opening goal.

Nigeria’s fightback was immediate but feeble, as Odion Ighalo failed to get the needed service from the flanks and middle, with Croatia just easily stifling their offensive moves.

The Eagles continued with their languid and cautious display, and were not able to threaten the Croatians who were by now more confident and sitting on their lead.

They forced Croatia into giving away a number of free kicks and corner kicks, but the Europeans were the more threatening offensively.

The entry of Ahmed Musa, a 62nd minute substitute for Alex Iwobi brought hopes of something better, but the Croatians had a better luck as a penalty kick advantage widened their lead.

William Ekong’s 70th minute infringement on Mario Mandzukic earned Croatia the penalty which Luka Modric scored by sending Uzoho the other way.

It looked all over by then, with the Eagles now disjointed in their moves and the 71st minute entry of Kelechi Iheanacho for Ighalo not making any impact.

Musa and Iheanacho did liven the Eagles’ attacking efforts thereafter, but with team captain Mikel Obi off for Simeon Nwankwo in the 87th minute, the game seemed ended as a contest.

The handful of Nigerian supporters in the stadium’s 31,136 crowd only waited for the four minutes added to wear out as Croatia only threatened thereafter to add to the scoreline.

It was reported that the result meant Nigeria are at the bottom of their group after Argentina and Iceland had earlier drawn 1-1.

Nigeria will now face Iceland in Volgograd on June 22 in their second match, while Croatia take on Argentina in the group’s other game

Ronaldo safes Portugal from Spain’s 3 goals attack

By NewsDesk,

Eventual Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick has denied Spain perfect response to a turbulent week following sacking of Julen Lopetegui in a thrilling 3-3 draw in Sochi.

Spain’s troublesome week looked set for a much-needed win until Ronaldo curled home a sensational free-kick to cap a hat-trick and salvage Portugal a point two minutes from time.

Ronaldo had scored just three goals in his previous three World Cups, but already looks a strong favourite to win the Golden Boot as he won then.

He dispatched a fourth minute penalty and took advantage of an uncharacteristic error from David de Gea to twice put Portugal in front before the break. He was voted man of the match.

Diego Costa had silenced suggestions he is incompatible with Spain’s short-passing game with a double of his own before Nacho’s wonder strike looked to have sealed the perfect debut for Fernando Hierro just two days after he was handed the job as Spain coach.

But the five-time World Player of the Year wasn’t to be denied when he lined up a free-kick 20 yards from goal before bending it over the Spanish wall and dipping perfectly into the top corner.

Ronaldo is the 3rd player to score a hat-trick for Portugal at the World Cup after Eusébio (4 goals v Korea DPR in 1966) and Pauleta (3 v Poland in 2002).

Portugal head to Moscow for their game against deflated Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday, with table leader, Iran facing Spain in Kazan later the same day.

Dogara inspires Super Eagles ahead match against Croatia

By NewsDesk,

The House of Representatives’ Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, has charged Super Eagles exhibit best of their talents and players to make Nigerians proud as they prepare for first match with Croatia in 2018 World Cup in Russia on Saturday.

Dogara, who urged the team in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, on Friday in Abuja, also implored Nigerians to pray for success of the Super Eagles, just as he appealed to the players to put in their best to ensure that they win group matches and advance to next stage of the competition.

He added that “over the years, football has been a major source of unity in Nigeria, we should, therefore, collectively pray for the Super Eagles as they brace up for the match against Croatia.

“Super Eagles proved to be a strong team during the qualifiers with their record and we expect them to replicate same zeal, spirit and patriotism in the World Cup.”

He said with team work and commitment, the Super Eagles would surely triumph over their opponents in group and knockout stages of the World Cup.

Iran wins first World cup match after 20yrs

By SportDesk,

Iranian football fans could have explainable reason to thank their stars after Morocco substitute, Aziz Bouhaddouz, scored an own goal in injury time, that handed Iran its first win in a World Cup match in 20 years.

Bouhaddouz mistakenly deposited the ball inside his own net with a diving header at the near post in the 95th minute (5 minutes into the injury time) as Morocco defended a left-wing free-kick.

The result was harsh on the African side, who wasted numerous chances in the first half and were denied several scoring chances including a late attempt that Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand saved from Hakim Ziyech.

Morocco started as the stronger side, but the best chance the side could muster for all their dominance was a goal-mouth scramble when Younes Belhanda saw a shot blocked before Medhi Benatia’s follow-up was kept out by goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Iran grew in confidence toward the end of the half and should have been in front when Vahid Amiri sent Sardar Azmoun through for a goal, but the striker got the ball stuck in his feet and by the time he got a shot off, goalkeeper Munir had come off his line to make the save.

The Asian side at the end sealed the victory to make it their second win in World Cup history after a 2-1 win over the United States at France 1998.

Morocco became the second African side to concede a late winning goal in the World Cup on Friday, after Egypt lost 0-1 to Uruguay in Group A, thanks to a last-minute header from Jose Gimenez.

Both goals against Egypt and Morocco came from almost the same point and time.

Saudi threatens football team after Russian 5-0 defeat

By NewsDesk,

Saudi Arabia Government has threatened to hold members of its national football team accountable should the country failed to perform beyond  the team’s World Cup opening match against host nation, Russian, which ended in defeat 5-0.

However, the government’s reaction came on Friday, a day after Russia defied expectations as the lowest-ranked side in the tournament by thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in front of an ecstatic home crowd in Moscow.

The match was attended by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who sat a couple of seats away from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The result was disappointing and unsatisfactory,” Adel Ezzat, president of the Saudi Football Federation, told Al-Arabiya television Friday.

A “number of players” including goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf would be held accountable, he added.

The team had been trained so they could rise to the occasion, Ezzat said.

“The collapse was not because of fitness, but errors in passing the ball, technical errors,” he added.

Alongside the goalkeeper, Ezzat named two other players — defender Omar Hosawi and striker Mohammed al-Sahlawi — without specifying what action would be taken.

Saudi sports authority chief Turki al-Sheikh, who is leading the kingdom’s multi-billion dollar push for global footballing influence, said he took “full responsibility” for the defeat.

But he also lashed out at the players, the42 reports.

“We did everything for them… we provided them the best coaching staff,” Sheikh said in a video posted on Twitter.

“Let no-one tell me (Argentinian coach Juan Antonio) Pizzi is not a known coach. But these are our players. They did not do even five percent of what was required of them. This is a reality that we should admit.”

Regional Arab media also blasted the “Green Falcons” for their humiliating defeat.

“Falcons brought down to earth”, read a headline in the English-language Arab News, a Saudi daily, quoting fans’ dismay over the poor showing.

“The bear eats the falcons”, said Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba, while the Oman Daily called the defeat “the peak of disappointment” for Arab fans.

Privately-owned Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm decried the “painful fall of Saudi Arabia”.

This year is the first World Cup finals tournament Saudi Arabia has reached since 2006. Football’s global governing body FIFA last week ranked the team 67th in the world, ahead of Russia in 70th.

Head coach Pizzi took over the Saudi team in November last year after the football federation sacked Edgardo Bauza, a fellow Argentinian who had only been in charge for two months.