Sources close to former Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni have rubbished reports claiming the veteran coach has signed a contract with 2014 World Cup finalists Ivory Coast.
A report in prestigious sports daily ‘Gazzetta Dello Sport’ claimed the veteran coach has just signed a four-year contract with Ivory Coast, which would initially involve working with youth team players but which could see him take over the senior national team after this summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
Furthermore, it also suggested that the 75 year old Italian trainer’s right hand man in the Ireland set-up,Marco Tardelli, would also be working as his number two with the African team.
The Gazzetta report stressed his appointment would have no impact on the current Ivory Coast coach, Sabri Lamouchi. Ivory Coast are are grouped with Colombia, Greece and Japan in the first round of this summer’s World Cup.
A source close to him admitted to the Irish times that whilst it is true that Trapattoni met with the Italian Honorary Consul to the Ivory Coast in Milan this week, no deal had been concluded.
Furthermore, the consul, Fabrizio Iseni, was in no way delegated to ‘negotiate” on behalf of the Ivory Coast Football Federation.
Although it appears that some sort of tentative negotiations had been opened with Trapattoni, his advisors this evening categorically ruled out any future negotiations or deal with the Ivory Coast.
Uruguay inflicted its latest defeat on Africa when they were bundled Nigeria out of the Fifa Under-20 World Championship in Turkey with a 2-1 win over the Flying Eagles on Tuesday.
The West Africans once again failed to end the South American hoodoo hovering over their heads in the Fifa Under-20 World Cup as Nicolas Lopez’s spot kick inside the last 10 minutes put them to the sword.
The defeat will be painful for African as the South American side have once again succeeded in eliminating an African country from a football tournament after booting Ghana out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
There was not much to choose from both teams with an even play in the first half though Nigeria had the better scoring opportunities.
Inside the opening 20 minutes, Aminu Umar’s cross provided Olarenwaju Kayode with the best chance of the half from just six yards out from Uruguay’s goal but he could not connect.
Within a minute, Gino Acevedo ghosted past two of his Nigerian markers into the goal area but blazed the ball wide off target.
Seven minutes before the break, Abdullahi Shehu’s long cross from the right channel was met by Umar’s half volley which Uruguay goalkeeper, Guillermo De Amores palmed away before Jim Varela cleared.
And just four minutes to half time, Nigeria were reduced to 10 men when Shehu was shown a straight red card by Serbian referee, Milorad Mazic, for a two-footed tackle on Diego Laxalt.
Shehu had just received a yellow card a minute earlier as the half petered away with little talking point.
Five minutes into the restart, Kayode’s looping effort was deflected off target.
Uruguay then went close to taking the lead when Laxalt’s volley could only be palmed away by Samuel Okani in Nigeria’s goal.
The skilful Giorgian De Arrascaeta later stung Okani’s palms from range via a free kick.
Nigeria defence was left in sixes and sevens including Okani as Lopez tapped home De Arrascaeta’s deflected dead-ball for the opening goal from close range into an empty goal in the 65th minute.
Kayode then produced a solo finish four minutes later after running all alone before shooting from 25 yards past De Amores to put Nigeria level.
The game sparked into life as Michael Olaitan almost made it 2-1 to Nigeria four minutes later after his effort missed target by inches.
But Wilfred Ndidi fouled Diego Rolan, who dribbled past an onrushing Okani with seven minutes left and Lopez coolly scored to restore the South Americans’ lead again.
In added time, Nigerian defenders, Ndidi and Kingsley Madu, came close to making score 2-2.
Uruguay will now face Spain in the quarterfinals as the South American jinx continue to haunt the Nigerian under-20s.
Nigeria will take on Uruguay in a FIFA U20 World Cup Round of 16 match on Tuesday night in Istanbul.
Uruguay finished second in Group F on six points after they smashed four unreplied goals past erstwhile group leaders Uzbekistan in their final group game on Saturday in Antalya.
Croatia won the group to avoid a second straight clash with Nigeria when they defeated New Zealand 2-1 in Bursa.
The Flying Eagles defeated the Croats 4-2 at Colombia 2011.
The winners of the match-up between Nigeria and Uruguay will advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
The South Americans started their campaign at Turkey 2013 on a losing note when they fell 1-0 to Croatia.
They then rallied back to beat New Zealand 2-0 before their convincing win over the Uzbeks on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Flying Eagles resumed training Saturday morning after a day off on Friday.
They will also train on Sunday night ahead of the match against Uruguay.
Kick-off for the match is 9pm local time, which is 7pm Nigerian time.
Goalkeeper Samuel Okani has declared Nigeria are capable of winning the U20 World Cup in Turkey after they reached the Round of 16.
The 19-year-old Enyimba goalkeeper was excited to have kept a clean sheet against Korea Republic in a last group match on Thursday.
“After winning today (Thursday), we could be contenders for the trophy,” said Okani.
“I’m really happy we’ve made the next round, and I kept a second clean sheet in a row.”
He appeared bewildered by the attention focused on him, remaining true to his innate modesty and even appearing a little timid. He had no reason to be, because although he is the shortest goalkeeper at the tournament, he has laid down impressive credentials so far.
“I’ve always played in goal, and right from the start I only ever wanted to play between the sticks, even as a little boy,” he told FIFA.com
He is motivated by the desire to emulate his biggest idol.
“I’m amazed by Iker Casillas,” he freely admitted.
Obuh regards Okani as one of the cornerstones of his team, the kind of player he rates as irreplaceable.
“Chukwunenye is a terrific lad and he was top class again today,” the Nigerian coach said to FIFA.com, “My players look up to him.”
The 53-year-old almost certainly didn’t realise the delicious irony in his choice of phrase.
“What makes him special is his extraordinary leaping ability, and his skill and composure with the ball at his feet.”
Mali crashed out of the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup when they were beaten 4-1 by Mexico in their final Group D match in Gaziantep, Turkey, on Friday evening.
The result saw the African side finish bottom of the group and suffer elimination, while Mexico could still qualify for the quarterfinals as one of the best four third-placed sides in the first phase.
Mali got off to the worst possible start when goalkeeper Germain Berthe attempted a second-minute clearance that travelled straight to Marco Bueno. The Mexican attacker controlled the ball with his right foot, before shooting into an unguarded net with his left to make it 1-0.
Just over ten minutes later Mexico doubled their advantage, with ‘keeper Berthe once again at fault. From a free kick he allowed the diminutive Jesus Corona to place a looping header into the back of the net.
Mali, despite finding themselves 2-0 down, actually dominated possession for most of the first half, but their attack lacked a cutting edge and El Tri goalkeeper Richard Sanchez was rarely called into action.
Coach Moussa Keita opted for a bold double change just after the half hour mark, withdrawing Hamidou Traore and Ousmane Keita for Souleymane Sissoko and Ichaka Diarra respectively.
However, the substitutions made little difference initially and the half ended with Mexico two goals up and Mali headed for the exit door. The West Africans then made their third and final change at the restart, with striker Adama Traore coming off the bench.
And they very nearly made it 2-2 in the 69th minute, only for Traore to have his effort cleared off the line by a combination of the goalkeeper and a defender when it seemed inevitable that he would score.
Mexico then stunned Mali on a counter attack in the 70th minute, with Jesus Escoboza firing a low, left-footed shot past the goalkeeper to make it 3-1 and effectively end the match as a contest.
Ghana could miraculously make it to the knock-out stage of the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup if they beat USA on Thursday and hope other results go their way.
The Black Satellites can finish as one of the best four third-placed finishers if they accrue three points at the Kadir Has Stadium.
But USA hold the aces after equalising late on in their 1-1 draw with France to move third on the table with one point.
Ghana have a mathematical chance and the coaches are determined to avoid a humiliating exit from the tournament.
The 2009 world champions made a false start after losing 3-1 to France in Istanbul.
Satellites coach Sellas Tetteh is likely to ring changes in his starting line-up again as he searches for his first win.
There are no injuries and suspensions for the former Rwanda national team coach who has faint hopes of his side going through.
Ghana failed to qualify to last edition of the FIFA U20 World Cup in Colombia two years which was won by Brazil.
Nigeria will go for broke in Thursday’s final U20 World Cup Group B match against South Korea for automatic passage to the round of 16.
The Flying Eagles are third in the standings with three points from two matches with Korea second on four points.
Portugal are top also on four points but are widely expected to crush bottom team Cuba to go through.
So, it is really a battle for second place between Nigeria and Korea.
“We have to beat South Korea on Thursday,” declared Nigeria U20 assistant coach Jurgen Press.
“We don’t want to subject ourselves to the lottery of finishing as one of the four third best teams going into the next round.”
Second place in Group B will also ensure the Flying Eagles stay put in Istanbul to take on the runners-up of Group F, which has Uzbekistan, Croatia, Uruguay and New Zealand.
The Flying Eagles have detailed information about their Thursday’s opponents having watched them at the recent Toulon Tournament as well as at their first two games here in Turkey.
The entire stayed back to watch the first half of Monday’s pulsating 2-2 draw between Korea and Portugal in Kayseri.
They are a very organised team, have great stamina and are mentally strong.
Korea are the most consistent team from Asia at the U20 World Cup as this is their 13th appearance in the competition and they have qualified for the last six editions.
Their best result in this tournament was achieved 30 years ago in Mexico when they reached the semi-finals before they were edged out by eventual champions Brazil 2-1.
The class of 2012 won the Asian U19 championship courtesy of a win after a penalty shootout against Iraq. The last time the country won this competition was in 2004.
They barely scraped a 2-1 win over Cuba in their opening game in Turkey, but stepped up their game against two-time champions Portugal in their next game to earn a draw.
Nigeria defence will therefore face a major test as they will come face-to-face with a well-oiled attack led by Hyun Kim and Seungwoo Ryu.
Both Kim and Ryu were on target in the surprise draw with Portugal and will again fancy their chances against the six-time African champions.
Kick-off time is 5pm local time, which is 3pm Nigeria time.
Tottenham Hotspurs have confirmed the signing of Under 17 World Cup wonder-kid Souleymane Coulibaly.
The 16-year-old stole the show at the recent tournament in Mexico by finishing top scorer with nine goals in four games for the Ivory Coast.
His tally included a hat-trick against Brazil and four against Denmark as he equalled former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle’s record from ten years ago in three fewer games.
The striker has been dubbed the new Didier Drogba and was reportedly being tracked by Real Madrid.
Coulibaly joins from newly promoted Serie A side Siena, where he failed to make a first team appearance.
He joins goalkeeper Brad Friedel and fellow youngster Cristian Ceballos in moving to White Hart Lane this summer.
Defending champions Cameroon will battle west African opponents; Ghana and Senegal at this year’s All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
Uganda rounds up Group B in what many believe is the ‘Group of Death’ at the draw which took place at the Caf headquarters in Cairo on Tuesday.
South Africa are in Group A with hosts Mozambique, surprise inclusions Libya and Madagascar.
Only Mozambique and Cameroon were seeded for the draw conducted by Confederation of African Football general secretary Hicham el-Amrani.
This heightened the risk of a lob-sided draw and that is what happened with Group B looking much stronger than Group A.
South Africa ousted Angola, Malawi and Zimbabwe to reach a second consecutive All-Africa Games after sneaking into qualifiers they forgot to enter thanks to the withdrawal of cash-strapped Namibia.
None of the other Group A contenders kicked a ball with Mozambique automatic qualifiers as hosts and Libya and Madagascar receiving walkovers when Egypt and Seychelles withdrew.
Former champions Egypt pulled out on the eve of the draw after receiving a walkover when Libya withdrew because of an ongoing armed rebellion against Colonel Gaddafi.
Cameroon have won four of the last five All-Africa Games football titles in a tournament restricted to under-23 footballers.
Mozambique, South Africa, Cameroon and Ghana appear favourites to occupy the top two places in the groups after the round-robin action and reach the semi-finals of a major attraction at the multi-sport African ‘Olympics’.
In the Womens division, Mozambique, Cameroon, Guinea and Algeria are paired in Group A while South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Ghana battles it out in Group B.
The All Africa Games will be held from 3-18 tournament in Mozambique capital, Maputo.
Souleymane Coulibaly has received the award for emerging top goalscorer at the just ended U-17 World Cup which was won by hosts, Mexico.
The budding talent grabbed the world’s attention with his early scoring spree which ended him with nine of the eleven goals scored by Elephanteaux.
The Ivorians appeared set on their way to the grand finale until their fine progress was halted by France in dramatic circumstances and Coulibaly was quick to recognize the role played by his teammates in making him the tournament’s star man.
“I want to thank all those who said good things about me,” Coulibaly told Fifa’s website after receiving his accolade.
“My team-mates and I had a wonderful moment in Mexico. The defenders ignored some spaces which I exploited to score those goals. But mostly, this recognition goes to my team-mates who assisted me.”
Coulibaly lives with his father in Italy where he plays for the youth team of Siena.
Tagged as the ‘new Drogba’, a host of top clubs have shown interest in the lad, including Real Madrid and Tottenham.