Friday, 11 October 2013

Nigeria versus Ethiopia. Will the Super Eagles Live Up to the Headlines?

Nigerians are looking forward to the World Cup Qualifying match against the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia billed for October 13 in Addis Ababa.
Already the pages of Newspapers are a washed with all kinds of headlines in both countries. 

On paper, Nigeria parades the quality of players that are expected to humiliate the Ethiopian counterparts and the Nigerian press is not hiding it. In the past, the Super Eagles have performed better when they were written off. A clear case is the recent African Cup of Nations. Nobody believed they were going to win the tournament, a situation that spurred them into action. They crushed every opposition on their way and emerged victorious at the end of the tournament.

The headlines on the build up to the clash against Ethiopia is a complete departure from what obtained in the recent past. The Eagles appear to have restored hope to their fans and also to the press who had more often than not shape the opinions of fans towards the National team.
Going by the articles I have seen so far, nothing short of victory is acceptable from the Super Eagles of Nigeria and that they know very well. According to Stephen Keshi, “the spirit in the Eagles’ camp is high and the expressions on the faces of the boys say it all.”

Let’s  run you through some of the popular headlines in Nigeria as regards the upcoming encounter.

Ethiopia Feeling Eagles’ Heat
Ogu: We'll Fight to be in Brazil

Do you agree with the headlines or do you nurse some fears about the outcome of the match against the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia?

We will love to hear from you.

Monday, 7 October 2013


Few teenagers have attained the level of fame and attention that Romelu Lukaku currently enjoys. A top scorer in Belgium last season, a full international and with all of Europe's elite clubs taking a keen interest in his progression, it is remarkable to consider that one of the continent's most recognisable young talents is still at school.

But in football terms, his education is largely complete. At the age of only 16, Anderlecht striker Lukaku finished the 2009-10 Belgian campaign as the league's top scorer with 15 strikes from 33 appearances, despite often being utilised as a substitute. His impact also extended to the Europa League, where, in December 2009, he became the third youngest goalscorer in European club competition when netting against Ajax at the age of 16 years and 218 days.
Lukaku replicated his form in the 2010-11 season and continued to be linked with a move away from Anderlecht. Jose Mourinho admitted he wanted to bring the striker to Real Madrid while the teenager was pictured wearing a Chelsea shirt during a tour of Stamford Bridge - sparking speculation that West London could be his destination.
Finally, in August 2011, Lukaku agreed a deal in the region of £20 million to join the Blues and new boss Andre Villas-Boas hailed him as a ''very exciting young talent''.
Strengths: An imposing physical specimen, Lukaku is strong, tall and quick, and possesses the positional awareness and quality of finishing to mark him out as a superb all-round striker. He is also a focused and determined character.
Weaknesses: Few, though there is a concern that sitting on the Chelsea bench will stunt his development a touch. He may benefit from developing a more rounded game, rather than being honed as a lone striker.
Career high: Finishing the 2009-10 Belgian season as the league's top scorer, despite still attending school.
Career low: Missing out on a place in the 2010-11 Champions League when Anderlecht were defeated by Partizan Belgrade in a penalty shoot-out in the play-offs.
Style: Dominant, explosive, prolific. A potential phenomenon.
Quotes: "I don't like people talking to me about the Champions League. It wasn't me but my team that won. Chelsea really wanted me last summer and paid a lot for me but, after a while, I thought, 'Are you just throwing money around?'" Romelu Lukaku, May 2012
Do you think Chelsea is right to send Romelu Lukaku on loan to Everton this season?
Have your say in the comment box.

Additional information: ESPN

Thursday, 3 October 2013


The Champions League season may barely have begun, yet there is extra excitement, a greater intensity and ambition, when the lights of European competition are switched on.
Goals are not everything, but the way they are scored — and made — define the great players.
On Tuesday it was Mesut Özil’s turn to score with a breathtaking volley and to set up another goal with a dexterous touch early in Arsenal’s 2-0 home victory over Napoli.
Goallllllll! Shouted Arsenal fans over Lagos. The name Ozil rented the air all over. Arsenal fans have not been seen to be this happy for as many games as Arsenal have played in the recent past. Last season, most of the fans had their heart wrecked. It only took the courageous ones to openly argue for or against their darling team.
Many vowed that Wenger had lost touch with modern football and consequently called for his replacement. The new season appears to have taken off on a clean slate and fans attribute the club’s turnaround to the new man, Ozil.
The game against Napoli was a perfect example to what Ozil could bring to party. It was pure class.What was more enlightening was the way that Özil prompted and orchestrated Arsenal to such extent that the London team utterly perplexed a Napoli side that is undefeated so far in Italy this season.
Napoli had beaten Borussia Dortmund in the first round of Champions League games, yet Napoli was blown away inside 15 minutes. Özil, the German-Turk who cost €50 million, or $68 million, was both the architect and executioner.
In the eighth minute, after Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey had slipped in behind the Neapolitan defense on the right, Özil finished off their excellent approach by scoring from 18 yards, on the very edge of the penalty box.
Scoring makes it sound so simple, and to Özil it clearly was. He anticipated Ramsey’s cut back, glided into free space and then seemed to just caress the ball, cushion it with his instep, guiding it with disguised swerve beyond the reach of goalie Pepe Reina.
No fist-pumping gesture from Özil. No leap of joy.
Nothing but a modest smile, and a back-to-business resumption of play. Seven minutes later, he was integral again, this time the instigator of a goal. His acceleration over five yards burned off a Napoli defender, and his pass rolled off the outside of his foot like snow falling off a leaf.
Giroud was there, reading the pass, tapping the ball across the goal line from three yards.
Of course, the coaches will say Napoli’s defense was culpable. Of course, Giroud said afterward that Özil makes it easy to play, easy to move and find the spaces because the German has this vision, this selflessness, to help others express themselves.
But it is clear that Giroud, in his second season as an Arsenal striker, is finding his feet now.
“I have more confidence now,” said the big Frenchman. “I am settling in the team, in my new English life. But Mesut? He’s really unbelievable.”
Indeed, he is. A month in a new environment, he is facing a new language, a new culture, a different pace to the team’s pattern, with different faces and talents all around. And he, with six assists and now a special goal, is already the fulcrum of an Arsenal side that has won 10 straight games, home and away, in all competitions.
One player, our fathers and their fathers always said, does not make a team.
Agreed. But, when Arsène Wenger first started to manage Arsenal, he found a Dutch playmaker, Dennis Bergkamp, to illuminate the style he wanted the team to perform. Seventeen years later and still the coach, Wenger has Özil.