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Ezenwa: Eagles’ll progress after Croatia, Iceland games

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Ikechukwu Ezenwa has admitted the Super Eagles are in a “difficult” World Cup group, but he still expects the team to qualify for the knockout rounds after their two group games against Croatia and Iceland.
Nigeria tackle Croatia on June 16, before they face Iceland on June 21.
“We have the belief and confidence in the teams that by our first two games we will qualify for Round of 16,” he declared.
“We are in a difficult group, there are huge expectations and we are drawn against top football nations.
“Iceland were great at the Euros and Croatia are a team of superstars – (Luka) Modric, (Mario) Mandzukic, (Ivan) Rakitic – they will come all out.
“Argentina are a great football nation, we hit them in a friendly recently and we expect they will come all out against us this time.
“But we will fight to qualify to reach the knockout stage starting with Croatia.”
Russia 2018 will be Nigeria’s sixth World Cup appearance and they have qualified for the knockout rounds of the tournament thrice – 1994, 1998 and 2014.

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Eagles’ll prove FIFA wrong – Rohr

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Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr has said Nigeria will prove FIFA by emerging from Grop D of the World Cup despite being rated lowest in that section. Nigeria slipped in the current FIFA rankings; the Eagles are rated 56th in the world far behind Argentina, Croatia and even Iceland. Rohr is unfazed by the continuous tumbling of his team on FIFA rankings, saying the lads will prove their mettle when the tournament takes the centre stage in June.

“Everybody knows that FIFA is a respectable organization; they also know that we are ranked the lowest in our group but we want to prove to everyone what we can do by getting out of the group. We want go all the way in the competition and I trust my players they will do that,” the coach said at the venue of the NFF awards on Monday.

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Echiejile seeks to cement Eagles’ position

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Super Eagles’ left-back Elderson Echiejile is happy to return to the pitch after an injury spell in the past few months made him miss games for the country, AOIFootball.com reports.

The former AS Monaco player, who joined Belgium’s second division side Cercle Brugge on loan from Turkey’s Sivaspor on the final day of the winter transfer window, told AOIFootball.com exclusively that he was happy to be back and relished the opportunity to wear the Eagles’ jersey against Poland and Serbia next month. “It feels nice to be back after injury setbacks. I missed the games against Algeria and Argentina, but I’m back now and I want to always give my best for the country.

“The games against Poland and Serbia will be key to our World Cup preparations and I believe this kind of games can help us prepare well ahead of the tournament proper in June,” Echiejile said.

Echiejile further expressed confidence in cementing his left-back role, saying the competition is good for the team and will make the coaches select the best for the World Cup.

“Currently there are three or maybe four left-backs in the team; should I be scared? I don’t think so because this competition for places is a statement that the national team is returning to his glory days,” Echiejile concluded.

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles’ defender made his debut for second division side Cercle Brugge in a league game at the weekend. He featured for the entire duration of the encounter against St. Gilloise. He was booked for a foul in the 89th minute of the game.

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Supporters’ Club plans to take 20 lucky fans to Russia 2018

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National chairman of Nigeria Football Supporters Club, Reverend Samuel Ikpea, has confirmed plans to take 20 lucky Nigerian fans to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia through a planned raffle draw in Lagos on April 29.

Ikpea explained that following a partnership with Telecom Youth Games, 20 fans who would be picked at the April 29 draw would be sponsored to and fro Russia- including feeding, accommodation and transport “All Nigerians wishing to go to Russia to support the Super Eagles should do is to buy World Cup raffle draw tickets at the National Stadium, Lagos, State Football Association Secretariats nation wide for N200 only.

Once you are lucky to have your ticket picked at the draw, you are qualified for full sponsorship to and fro Russia,” concluded Ikpea. Meanwhile, the chairman has expressed shock over the death of Kano Pillars star, Chinedu Udoji in an auto crash. Udoji, a veteran of the league died on Sunday and Ikpea has described the sudden demise as a huge loss to Nigerian football. “On behalf of Nigeria Football Supporters Club, I sympathise with family of Udoji and Kano Pillars.

It’s indeed a painful death of a promising player. He was such a dedicated player from when he was captain of Enyimba of Aba before moving to Kano Pillars. “We at the Supporters Club pray God to give the Udoji Family, Kano Pillars F.C and the football fraternity the fortitude to bear the huge loss,” Ikpea said.

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