The world Cup draw has been received with mixed reaction from Algeria after the side were placed with Russia, Belgium and South Korea.
They have largely managed to avoid the so-called ‘big-guns’ and might expect to get positive results against Russia and South Korea.
Belgium are a strong side with a good young side and top seeds in the pool, but abit inexperienced at the World Cup finals.
Algeria forward Islam Slimani feels it is a difficult draw though.
“It is a difficult draw, we must not hide it,” Slimani said. “It’s going to be a big fight between all the teams of the group. It’s true that we could have ended with stronger teams, but against Russia, Belgium and South Korea, which is used to this competition, it is not going to be easy.”
National captain Madjid Bougherra has a different view, suggesting that Algeria had got off lightly.
“The draw has been lenient towards us compared to some other groups but we will have to fight hard against Russia and Belgium,” he said.
Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah remains confident of his team’s chances after Ghana were drawn against Germany, Portugal and the U.S in the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Ghana at the last World Cup finals in South Africa clashed with both Germany and the U.S at the group stage and will go head-to-head again in Group G at the finals in Brazil.
Appiah knows a thing or two about World Cup, having experienced one during his role as an assistant coach in the previous tournament.
Though the Black Stars face a daunting task to advance past the group stage, Appiah insist his side are much better than the last time.
“It’s nice to meet Germany, and also USA who we beat in Round of 16 in 2010. We are a better team than in 2010 and I’m sure there will be a lot of surprises in this group,” the Ghana coach said after the draw on Friday in Brazil.
“Once you are prepared to go to the World Cup, you must be prepared to face any team that comes your way.
“If you want to win the World Cup, you need to beat all the teams in your group.
“Portugal has a very strong side as well [but] the most important is that we need to prepare very well so that we will be able to face any team that comes our way. It’s not going to be easy but we need to make sure that if we want to go to the next round we need to make sure that we beat them.”
Ghana will open their World Cup group campaign against the United States on June 16.
After the opening match in Natal with the Americans, Kwesi Appiah’s team will take on the Germans in Fortaleza on June 21.
Ghana will conclude the group action on June 26 in Brasilia against the Portuguese
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have drawn Argentina for the fourth World time in their five World Cup appearances.
The African Champions were drawn in Group F with the South Americans along with Asian side Iran and debutants Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Nigeria have previously been drawn with the former champions in 1994, 2002 and 2010 and have lost all three games.
They lost 1-2 in 94, and 1-0 in 2002 and 2010.
Neighbors Ghana got a much difficult Group of the African countries, getting pooled with Germany, Portugal and the USA.
Africa’s number top-ranked team Côte d’Ivoire found themselves in a very winnable group with Colombia, Greece, Côte d’Ivoire and Japan.
Cameroon will face hosts and five-time champions Brazil in Group A, along with Croatia and Mexico.
And Algeria find themselves drawn alongside Belgium, Russia and Korea Republic.
The 2014 World Cup Groups:
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C: Columbia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Group E: Switzerland, Equador, France, Honduras
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic
Kevin Prince Boateng will have face his brother Jérôme Boateng once again, as Ghana and Germany were drawn together in Group G for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
Both men started when the two sides met in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with younger brother Jérôme coming out on top when Germany emerged with a 1-0 win in Group D at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
The group at the time was considered one of the two “groups of death”, which featured Brazil and Portugal in the other Group.
The goalscorer on that day was new Arsenal face Mesut Özil, and Germany went on to win the group, with Ghana finishing second.
The Africans went out on penalties against Uruguay, while Germany lost to eventual winners Spain in the semi-finals – an eerie foreshadowing considering the Champions League semi-finals in 2012 featured only German and Spanish sides.
Ghana has been handed a difficult task in the World Cup draw in Group G alongside Germany, the United States and Portugal in the first round of next year’s World Cup.
Ghana will be meeting Germany for the second time after both teams were paired in the same group at the 2010 World Cup.
The Black Stars will also meet familiar opponents, the United States, who have also been drawn into their group and Portugal.
With the exception of Portugal, Ghana, Germany and the U.S were all in the same group at the previous tournament in South Africa.
The draw, made at Costa do Sauipe in Bahia Friday afternoon, appears to have given the African country some tough opposition.
Hosts, Brazil will open the tournament against Croatia in Group A.
Group A - Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
Group B - Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C - Colombia, Greece, Cote d’ Ivoire, Japan
Group D - Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Group E Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
Group F Argentina, Bosnia Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Group G Germany, Portugal, Ghana, U.S.A
Group H Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic
AS Monaco have slapped an £80 million price-tag on star striker Radmael Falcao.
The Daily Star says Chelsea will have to part with £80m to secure Monaco star Falcao or offer Fernando Torres or Demba Ba in part-exchange.
Chelsea had hoped to take Falcao on-loan in January – and the Colombian has pushed for such a proposal.
But Le 10Sport says Monaco are not keen on letting the former River Plate man go on a temporary basis and will only consider a permanent transfer.
The Ligue 1 club have placed an £80m price tag on Falcao, however would also be willing to accept a bid of under their original valuation if Torres or Ba were included as part of the deal.
A minute’s applause is to be held at Premier League matches in tribute to former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95.
The first match is Manchester United against Newcastle, with six more Saturday games, two on Sunday, and Swansea v Hull on Monday.
There will also be applause at Football League and FA Cup second-round matches.
Coach Stephen Keshi has called up 30 players, while putting six on standby in preparations for the 3rd African Nations Championship in South Africa.
Keshi said he is looking forward to a good outing on the country’s CHAN debut.
“We are going to the CHAN for the first time, but we want to be the best at our very first outing,” he said in Salvador on Thursday morning.
Nigeria are in Group A alongside hosts South Africa, Mali and Mozambique.
The training camp will open in Abuja on Monday.
Players on the standby list will have opportunity to join the team only if a player on the main list gets injured.
THE FULL LIST
Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers); Daniel Akpeyi (Heartland FC); Isah Danladi (Sharks FC); Sunday Alampasu (Abuja Football College)
Defenders: Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves); Ebenezer Odunlami (Sunshine Stars); Benjamin Francis (Heartland FC); Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars); Bright Esieme (Enyimba FC); Yinka Adedeji (Sharks FC); Reuben Ogbonnaya (El-Kanemi Warriors); Umar Zango (Kano Pillars); Chibuzor Madu (Enugu Rangers)
Midfielders: Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers); Etebo Oghenekaro (Warri Wolves); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Ogonna Osuchukwu (Enugu Rangers); Achiv Douglas (Lobi Stars); Kelechi Iheanacho (Taiye Academy, Owerri); Mohammed Ajia (Bayelsa United); Christian Pyagbara (Sharks FC)
Forwards: Muhammad Gambo (Kano Pillars); Ifeanyi Edeh (Enyimba FC); Barnabas Imenger (Lobi Stars); Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers); Ezekiel Mbah (Akwa United); Obiozor Christian (Enugu Rangers); Abubakar Aliyu (Nasarawa United); Gbolahan Salami (3SC); Taiwo Awoniyi (Imperial Academy, Ilorin)
Standby: Happy Okuoka (Heartland FC); Bello Ikeleji (Insurance FC); Obinna Nwachukwu (Heartland FC); Izuegbu Abonima (Enugu Rangers); Paul Ikenna (Sunshine Stars); John Austin Igenepo
Frenchman Claude LeRoy has been appointed as the new coach of Congo Brazzaville.
The 65-year-old was in charge of neighbouring DR Congo at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, with whom he was enjoying a second spell in charge.
He has signed a two year contract and his first major task will be to qualify Congo for the Nations Cup in Morocco next year when qualifying begins next year.
LeRoy succeeds fellow Frenchman Kamel Djabour.
Congo at one stage needed just a win to qualify for the 2014 World Cup play-offs but missed out as they finished just a point behind Group E winners Burkina Faso.
He has also had spells with Malaysia, Oman and Syria.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has described the late Nelson Mandela as one of the “greatest humanists of our time” after the former South African president passed away on Thursday.
“It is in deep mourning that I pay my respects to an extraordinary person, probably one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,” said Blatter, who is in Brazil for Friday’s World Cup draw.
Blatter paid warm personal tribute to Mandela, who famously embraced South Africa’s predominantly white rubgy team after they won the 1995 World Cup on home soil in a poignant moment of racial reconciliation.
“He and I shared an unwavering belief in the extraordinary power of football (and sport generally) to unite people in peace and friendship, and to teach basic social and educational values as a school of life,” said Blatter.
The FIFA chief recalled how Mandela was feted at the football World Cup in South Africa in 2010, the first time the continent had hosted the event.
“When he was honoured and cheered by the crowd at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium on 11 July 2010, it was as a man of the people, a man of their hearts, and it was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced. For him, the World Cup in South Africa truly was ‘a dream come true’,” Blatter reminisced.
“Nelson Mandela will stay in our hearts forever. The memories of his remarkable fight against oppression, his incredible charisma and his positive values will live on in us and with us.”
FIFA said that to in respect of Mandela’s memory, flags of its 209 member associations will fly at half-mast at its Swiss HQ and said a minute’s silence will be held before the next round of international matches.