Nigeria Foes Croatia Name Star-Studded 32-Man World Cup Provisional Squad

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday named Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic in his 32-man provisional squad for

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Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday named Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic in his 32-man provisional squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.

The provisional squad list was announced through the official Twitter handle of the Croatia  Football Federation.

The Croatian will face Nigeria, Iceland and Argentina in the group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Dalic named four goalkeepers, 12 defenders, eight midfielders and eight forwards to compete for places in the final 23-man squad for the Mundial.

Also included in the squad are Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona and Sime Vrsalijko from Atletico Madrid.

Also called up are the likes of Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Marko Rog, Milan Badelj, Ivan Strinic from the Italian Serie A.

Croatia will face Nigeria in their opening Group D game before battling Argentina and Iceland.

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Joel Obi Gets World Cup Boost, Returns From Injury For Torino

By Adeboye Amosu:                              Nigeria midfielder Joel

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By Adeboye Amosu:                              Nigeria midfielder Joel Obi boosted his chances of making the country’s squad to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia  after making a return from injury to the bench in Torino’s 2-1 win against SPAL in a Serie A fixture on Sunday, reports Completesportsnigeria. com.

Obi has missed Torino’s last three league games due to injury, which put his participation at the World Cup in doubt.

The former Inter Milan player last featured for Torino in their 1-1 draw against AC Milan on April 18 as a 57th minute for Tomas Rincon.

Obi has featured in 22 league games for Torino this season and has scored five goals.

Torino rallied back from a goal down to win the game.

Alberto Grassi put SPAL ahead in the 22nd minute but Torino  scored two goals through Andrea Belotti and Lorenzo Silvestri.

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Spotlight On Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup Group Foes: Iceland Goal Machine SIGTHORSSON

By Kayode Ogundare: With A Goal Every Two Games, How Can Nigeria Stop Iceland’s Recovering Kolbeinn Sigthórsson? Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, out injured for the better

By Kayode Ogundare:

With A Goal Every Two Games, How Can Nigeria Stop Iceland’s Recovering Kolbeinn Sigthórsson?

Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, out injured for the better part of the last two seasons, has chosen the perfect time to overcome his injury woes and staged a return to the Iceland team preparing for their debut at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Though the Nantes striker missed Iceland’s last two friendly games against Mexico and Peru, it would be unfair to keep Sigthórsson out of the World Cup-bound team given his intimidating international scoring record of 22 goals in 44 games, averaging 0.5 each match.

He was one of the stars of Iceland’s fairytale run at the 2016 European Championships in France, scoring the winner in the Round of 16 game against England and his team’s solitary goal in the 5-2 loss to host country France in the quarter-finals.

He ended up as joint-highest goal scorer for his country at their first-ever international championship.

The 28-year-old first came into prominence when he scored five goals in AZ Alkmaar’s 6-1 defeat of VVV Venlo in the Dutch Eredivisie in 2011.

For Sigthórsson, however, scoring in bulk is nothing new: “I once scored ten goals in a match for the youth team,” he said. “Of course these five goals are fantastic for me. It gives you a lot of confidence. As a striker you need to score – I am always looking to score goals – so I am very happy with this tally.”

BEST POSITION: Sigthórsson plays mainly as arrowhead of the attack but, when occasion demands, can also play in a withdrawn no 10 position although he prefers the no. 9 spot.

STRENGTHS: Quick with the ball,Sigthórsson is deadly in aerial duels and also able to contribute a shift in defensive duties when the need arises. Has an eye for long surprise shots and can quickly transit from his own half into the opposition area within the twinkle of an eye.

WEAKNESSES: Slightly built but his all-action style of play makes him injury-prone, like the long lay-off which set him back since 2016 but when fully fit, he’s almost unplayable.

STYLE: Skilful, creative and classy,Sigþórsson makes as many goals as he scores. He likes to do flick-ons and turns on the style with little pieces of magic unusual for an out and out attacker like him.

NATIONAL TEAM STATS: Since his debut for the national team in 2010,Sigthórsson has just 44 caps with 22 goals, placing him second on the all-time record goals scorers list behind former Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen.

DISCUSSION: Which Super Eagles defender do you think is capable of shutting out Sigthórsson?

DO YOU KNOW?

  1. Iceland is the smallest country to ever qualify for the World Cup.Iceland is the first country in World Cup history to have less than a million people and successfully qualify to compete on soccer’s biggest stage. Iceland’s population is a mere 334,252, with approximately one-third of the island’s people living in the capital of Reykjavik.
  2. Their Coach is a Dentist. Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is a part-time dentist…and a World Cup coach. When the Icelandic team isn’t practicing or playing, Hallgrimsson tends to be found at his dental practice, which he says he runs mainly so he can keep up with his patients and the people he misses.

To connect with fans, he started a tradition where he’d meet with supporters at a pub in Reykjavik before home matches and discuss the team’s lineup and tactics. That tradition continues to this day — and Iceland hasn’t lost a competitive match at home in four years, going 10-3-0 since its last home defeat in a qualifier.

  1. The lack of stars outside of Gylfi Sigurdsson of Everton, the team’s leading goal scorer, fits perfectly with Iceland’s reputation for getting the job done with their work rather than with their talent. More than that, it’s how they’ve made history.
  2. Iceland’s goalie, Hannes Halldórsson, began his professional career relatively late as he had long been battling a shoulder injury. Hannes is also a film director and directed the television series Atvinnumennirnir okkar, which follows some of Iceland’s professional sportsmen.
  3. Gylfi Sigurðsson, Iceland’s star player, is currently the highest paid Icelandic footballer, receiving around 40 million ISK in salary per month. Gylfi plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Swansea City.
  4. Iceland’s supporters are called “Tólfan” (The Twelve), as they are the “twelfth man on the field”. The club was founded in 2007 by a small group of supporters who felt the Icelandic national team needed to be cheered on by spectators. The club has since grown and, as has become evident during Iceland’s games, is extremely supportive of its team.

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Onazi: Super Eagles Not Afraid Of Croatia’s Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic

By Johnny Edward: Trabzonspor midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has stated that the Super Eagles will not be fazed when they take

By Johnny Edward:

Trabzonspor midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has stated that the Super Eagles will not be fazed when they take on the star-studded Croatian team in their opening game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.

The Croatian team have in their ranks the duo of Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic who have been in impressive form for their respective teams.

“The fact that we will face top players like those you mentioned will give us more zeal to go for a win,” Onazi told CSN.

“We have a great team that can stop them so we won’t fret over the names of their influential players. Their biggest strength lies in their midfield and I believe that as a team we will stop them.”

The former Lazio of Italy midfielder added that he is looking forward to the Super Eagles pre-World Cup friendlies.

“We have three friendlies to play before our first game and I’m confident we will be in top shape for the opening game which is a must win for us,” Onazi said.

Onazi will be making his second appearance at the World Cup finals if he is included in Nigeria’s final 23-man squad to Russia.

Nigeria are drawn alongside Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Russia.

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Inter’s Icardi Set To Make Argentina’s Provisional World Cup Squad

Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi is reportedly to be included in Argentina’s provisional 35-man list for the 2018 FIFA World

Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi is reportedly to be included in Argentina’s provisional 35-man list for the 2018 FIFA World Cup which will be announced on Monday.

According to mundoalbiceleste, despite reports that Icardi, 25, will not make the final 23-man squad which will go to the World Cup, he is still expected to be named in coach Jorge Sampaoli’s provisional list.

Icardi made his debut for Argentina on October 2013, coming on in the 82nd minute in a 3-2 away loss to Uruguay in the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The striker has only made a total of four appearances for Argentina without scoring.

He has netted 28 goals in 32 appearances for Inter Milan in the Seria A this season. He is currently second behind Lazio’s Ciro Immobile (29 league goals) in the top scorers chart.

Argentina are in Group D at this year’s FIFA World Cup alongside Nigeria, Iceland and Croatia.

They will start their Russia 2019 campaign on June 16 against Iceland.

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Ugbade Backs Super Eagles To Shock The World In Russia

By Richard Jideaka, Abuja: Former Nigeria international defender Nduka Ugbade has said that the Super Eagles can go all the

By Richard Jideaka, Abuja:

Former Nigeria international defender Nduka Ugbade has said that the Super Eagles can go all the way to the final of the World Cup in Russia if the team show a high level of unity and commitment, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.

“The present Super Eagles may not have world class players but they have youthfulness, energy, pace and commitment to make up and take the World Cup by storm going all the way. These boys are hungry for success and I believe that hunger will see them go far,” Ugbade, who captained the Golden Eaglets to the first FIFA U-17 World Cup title in 1985, told CSN.

“Honestly, I see this set of Eagles surpassing expectations in Russia if there is unity in the team and the players give it their all. The youthfulness, energy and speed of the Eagles will be their biggest assets in Russia.”

Ugbade, who also assisted Manu Garba as a coach to win the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2013, said coach Gernot Rohr faces selection dilemma in picking the right players who will do Nigeria proud in Russia, adding that Rohr must get his selection right to excel at the World Cup.

Ugbade also feels that the Super Eagles must play their hearts out to win their opening game against Croatia to make their qualification easy but a loss will make things very difficult to progress.

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Iceland Coach Sends Provisional World Cup Squad To FIFA, Names Possible Final 23

By James Agberebi: Iceland’s coach Heimir Hallgrimsson has released his 35-man provisional squad ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup

By James Agberebi:

Iceland’s coach Heimir Hallgrimsson has released his 35-man provisional squad ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.

Hallgrimsson’s provisional squad was confirmed on Icelandic football Twitter handle on Friday.

Iceland will be making their debut at the 2018 World Cup where they will face Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia in the group stage.

Top of the squad list are currently injured Everton star Gylfi Sigurðsson, Burnley’s Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, who just renewed his contract with the Premier League club, Alfreð Finnbogason of Augsburg, who has scored 12 goals and is currently eighth in the Bundesliga goal scorers chart, PSV’s Albert Guðmundsson and Aberdeen’s Kári Árnason.

Also included are Birkir Bjarnason of Aston Villa, Jón Daði Böðvarsson of Reading FC and Cardiff’s Aron Einar Gunnarsson.

Meanwhile, Hallgrimsson’s possible 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup was also unveiled on Friday.

They will open their campaign against Argentina on June 16.

Iceland’s possible 23-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Hannes Þór Halldórsson (Randers), Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson (Nordsjælland), Frederik Schram (Roskilde).

Defenders: Ari Freyr Skúlason (Lokeren), Hörður B. Magnússon (Bristol City), Ragnar Sigurðsson (Rostov), Kári Árnason (Aberdeen), Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson (Levski Sofia), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Rostov), Birkir Már Sævarsson (Valur), Samúel Kári Friðjónsson (Valerenga).

Midfielders: Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson (Everton), Aron Einar Gunnarsson (Cardiff City), Emil Hallfreðsson (Udinese), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Burnley), Ólafur Ingi Skúlason (Karabukspor), Arnór Ingvi Traustason (Malmö), Rúrik Gíslason (Sandhausen).

Forwards: Alfreð Finnbogason (Augsburg), Björn Bergmann Sigurðarson (Rostov), Jón Daði Böðvarsson (Reading), Albert Guðmundsson (PSV).

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Iceland Coach, Hallgrimsson: Our Goal Is To Progress From Tough World Cup Group D

Iceland coach, Heimir Hallgrimsson, is confident his side will advance to the Round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World

Iceland coach, Heimir Hallgrimsson, is confident his side will advance to the Round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup from the Group D that has pitted them against tough opponents like Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia.

With just a population of 340,000 and a pool of only around 100 professional footballers, Iceland are the smallest country to have qualified for the FIFA World Cup.

They will open their World Cup campaign with a difficult game against Argentina on June 16.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters at the FIFA Museum, Hallgrimsson stated that Iceland look to replicate their 2016 European Championship where they got to the quarter-finals.

“They are going to be a tough three games against teams who all have big experience at the World Cup and we have none. But at Euro 2016, we played our best games against the big teams.

“Our goal is to progress from the group, and because our group is so strong, if we qualify we shouldn’t fear any opponent after that. We won’t come across many better teams than those three.

“Icelanders are very optimistic. We always think we are going to win the game and we think we are going to win the game after that.

“Success is not just about going to the World Cup and how we perform there. It’s a continuous journey in the right direction.”

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Rohr Wary Of El Clásico Croatians Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic

Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr is wary of the threat the Real Madrid duo of Luka Modrid and Mateo Kovacic as

Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr is wary of the threat the Real Madrid duo of Luka Modrid and Mateo Kovacic as well as Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic will pose when the

Super Eagles play the Vatreni of Croatia in their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup game on June 16 at the 35,000 capacity Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Rohr believes the three players are the pivot on which coach Zlatko Dalic has built his team on and the Nigeria boss sees that as a clear and considerable area of strength. The Nigeria boss stresses that his Super Eagles must be set up in their opening match to combat “one of the best midfields”  in the competition. If fit, Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic look likely to form a formidable triumvirate in central midfield for Croatia at Russia  2018. Add in competition for places from the likes of Fiorentina’s Milan Badelj and Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic, and it is no wonder that this department of Dalic’s team is held in such high regard.

Dalic believes Modric gives the team the fuel to perform on the field.

The coach said: “He is our best player – he’s the engine that makes us go. He’s also a captain who leads by example. He always gives his maximum, he sets high standards with his attitude, aggression and energy on the pitch, and with his behaviour off it.

”While Rakitic has an incredible season in the LaLiga, helping Barcelona set an unbeaten run in the 35 games the has played so far this term, Kovacic is described as the future of the Croatia team, described as an incredible talent.”

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Rohr Is 24th Best Paid Coach To Russia 2018, Low Highest Paid

Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr will be the 24th highest paid coach at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in

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Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr will be the 24th highest paid coach at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, according to a report published in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Rohr, who is leading Nigeria for their sixth World Cup finals with the Super Eagles going unbeaten during the qualifying campaign, earns £436,600 per annum, according to Dutch media and entertainment company Zoomin TV.

In Africa, Rohr is the third highest paid coach behind Egypt’s Hector Cuper, who earns £1.30m per annum and Herve Renard of Morocco with a take home pay of £681,000.

Cuper is the 11th highest paid coach while Renard is 21st. Tunisia head coach, Nabil Maaloul, is the fourth best paid coach aming the African coaches. Maloul earns £305,500 per annum.

Senegal’s Aliou Cisse is the lowest-paid of the 32 coaches in Russia this summer, taking home £174,500-a-year.

Germany head coach Joachim Low will be the highest earner in Russia when the Germans defend their title. He earns £3.31million and he is followed by Brazil boss Tite and Didier Deschamps of France, who both clear £3.02million.

Spain’s Julen Lopetegui, Stanislav Cherchesov of Russia and Portugal’s Fernando Santos, Iran’s Carlos Queiroz, Gareth Southgate of England, Jorge Sampaoli of Argentina and Oscar Tabarez complete the top ten.

WORLD CUP COACHES EARNINGS TABLE

1: Joachim Low (Germany) £3.31m

2: Tite (Brazil), Didier Deschamps (France) £3.02m

4: Julian Lopetegui (Spain) £2.58m

5: Stanislav Cherchesov (Russia) £2.21m

6: Fernando Santos (Portugal) £1.91m

=7: Carlos Queiroz (Iran), Gareth Southgate (England) £1.69m

9: Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina) £1.55m

10: Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay) £1.47m

11: Hector Cuper (Egypt), Jose Peckerman (Colombia) £1.30m

13: Juan Pizzi (Saudi Arabia) £1.23m

14: Bert van Marwijk (Australia) £1.03m

15: Ricardo Gareca (Peru) £960,000

16: Juan Osorio (Mexico) £880,000

=17: Age Hareide (Denmark), Akira Nishino (Japan), Roberto Martinez (Belgium) £810,000

20: Vladimir Petkovic (Switzerland) £740,000

21: Herve Renard (Morocco) £681,000

22: Helmir Hallgrimsson (Iceland) £611,000

23: Zlatko Dalic (Croatia) £478,500

24: Gernot Rohr (Nigeria) £436,600

=25: Janne Andersson (Sweden), Shin Tae-yong (South Korea) £392,500

27: Hernan Gomez (Panama) £349,000

=28: Nabil Maaloul (Tunisia), Oscar Ramirez (Costa Rica) £305,500

30: Mladen Krstajic (Serbia) £261,400

31: Adam Nawalka (Poland) £235,600

32: Allou Cisse (Senegal) £174,500

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