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Egyptian Player Mohammed Salah hopeful of making World Cup opener for his Country

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Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is confident he will be fit enough to take part in Egypt’s World Cup opener against Uruguay in Yekaterinburg next Friday, Spanish newspaper Marca reported on Saturday.

The 25-year-old went off with a shoulder problem in the first half of Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in last month’s Champions League final.

But the speedy forward expects to play some part in Egypt’s first Group A fixture in Russia.

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“Now I’m feeling better,” Salah told the Spanish daily. “I’m hopeful of being able to play in our first game, but this will depend on how I feel when the day comes around.”

Salah laughed off Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos’s claim that he would have been able to continue in Kiev had he taken a pain-killing injection.

The Liverpool attacking midfielder, who scored the penalty that sealed Egypt’s place at its first World Cup appearance in 28 years, insists they are not in Russia to make up the numbers.

“We’ve got a great team and a great coach. We want to get into the next round and do things well there,” he added.

“We’re strong as a group, we all have the same objective, which is to win and that’s the most important thing. We don’t just have one strong point, but the main thing is we play together as a group.

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“The pressure was to qualify for the World Cup. Of course, you can then say ‘right, we’ve got there, that’s that’, but for me, it’s not like that. We want to make history and achieve something different.

“It’s not a simple case of going, playing three games and thank you very much. That’s not going through my head.”

Saudi Arabia and hosts Russia are the other teams in Egypt’s group.

(Reuters/NAN)

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Celebrity

Teranga Lions of Senegal lift African Spirits

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Senegal’s Teranga Lions made Africans here in Moscow proud on Tuesday evening with a 2-1 defeat of Poland at the Spartak Stadium in their opening Group H match.

Africans at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia have been wearing forlorn faces after four of their five teams lost.

But Senegal gave signs of making the difference by holding their own before the 44,190 crowd who were witnessing a match fought from end to end in the opening minutes.

The Poles did hold the advantage in possession though, but after a neat move in the 37th minute, Senegal opened scoring. Idrissa Gueye’s shot was deflected in by Thiago Cionek to give the Lions a deserved lead.

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Senegal knew what they needed to do thereafter, holding off Poland to take their advantage into the second half, when they tightened the back and still surged forward on the break. Midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak was soon to make a costly error, playing a high, aimless back pass.

Striker M’Baye Niang controlled the ball ahead of an advancing goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny before tapping into an empty net. Krychowiak however pulled a goal back in the 86th minute with a header from Kamil Grosicki’s free-kick but Senegal held on.

Poland are the group’s highest-ranked side at number eight, but they struggled to create further chances with a free-kick from captain Robert Lewandowski one of just four shots on target. Senegal who are making only their second World Cup appearance now lead the group ahead of Japan, who beat Colombia 1-0 earlier on Tuesday.

Senegal’s victory has now become a breath of fresh air for Africa since Friday when Egypt lost their opening Group A match to Uruguay at Ekaterinburg. The Egyptians had lost to a Jose Gimenez 89th minute goal, and since then three other African teams have lost their opening group games.

Hours after Egypt’s loss, Morocco lost 0-1 to Iran at Saint Petersburg in a Group B match, through Aziz Bouhaddouz’s own goal in the fifth minute of added time. Nigeria worsened the situation by losing 0-2 to Croatia at Kaliningrad on Saturday in Group D, through an Oghenekaro Etebo own goal and a Luka Modric penalty kick.

Tunisia went on to add to Africans’ misery on Monday by losing 1-2 to England in Group G at Volgograd. They gave the game away in the first minute of added time when Harry Kane completed his brace with the winning goal. Egypt face hosts Russia later on Tuesday in their second Group A game needing victory to stay on in the competition.

On Wednesday, Morocco too will be facing Portugal in a Group B match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow needing a win to stay on. Nigeria are playing on Friday at Volgograd, also needing to win to stay on from Group D.

Source: The Vanguard

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Entertainment

Super Eagles World Cup in numbers

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As the Super Eagles prepare for the first match of their sixth appearance at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, Goal gives an account of Nigeria’s outing in the competition’s history in numbers.

1- The number of red cards received by any Nigerian player since making their debut in 1994. Sani Kaita was sent off in the 33rd minute against Greece in 2010.

2 – The number of goals scored by Kalu Uche, Daniel Amokachi and Emmanuel Amuneke who are Nigeria’s joint highest goalscorers at the World Cup.

3 – The number of times Nigeria have drawn a game at the group stages of the competition –a goalless draw against England in 2002; a 2-2 draw against South Korea in 2010 and in the goalless draw with Iran in 2014.

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4 – The number of times Nigeria have faced Argentina. They will meet in Russia for a record fifth time.

4 – This number also represents the most goals conceded in a single match by Nigeria at the Mundial. The Eagles were spanked 4-1 by Denmark in a second-round encounter in 1998.

5 – The number of games Nigeria have won at five World Cups. The Eagles have lost 10 matches.

5 – The number of victories over European countries by the Eagles. They defeated Bulgaria and Greece in 1994, Spain and Bulgaria in 1998 and Bosnia in 2014.

7- Most goals scored in a tournament–achieved in 1994 where the Eagles found the back of the net seven times in four games.

8 – The number of minutes when Samson Siasia scored Nigeria’s fastest World Cup goal. It was against Argentina in 1994.

10 -The most appearances made by a Nigerian player in World Cup games. Joseph Yobo played 10 matches in three World Cups.

15 – The number of times Nigeria failed to make it to the World Cup since 1930.

17- Femi Opabunmi is the youngest-ever Nigerian to have represented the country at 17 years, three months and nine days.

18 – The number of matches Nigeria have played at the World Cup, making them the second-highest playing African country in the history of the competition after Cameroon.

20 – Julius Aghahowa is the youngest Nigerian player to score at the World Cup at the age of 20 years and four months.

Source: The Punch

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Russia World Cup: Lionel Messi wary of Super Eagles

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Lionel Messi has admitted that though the current Nigerian team is ‘unknown’ to him and his Argentina side, the Super Eagles physicality could make them very difficult to beat when both teams clash in their final Group D game at the 2018 World Cup.

Argentina and Nigeria are scheduled to meet for the fifth time at the World Cup in Saint Petersburg on the June 26 with Nigeria yet to record a win over the La Albiceleste in their last four games at the in 1994, 2002, 2010 and 2014.

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Both teams will also face Iceland and Croatia in Group D.

“Our challenge is to be champions,” Messi told UK tabloid, Express.co.uk.

“We know it won’t be easy but I’m certain that Argentina has a squad capable of being a champion in Russia. If the players all believe the same then we can be contenders.

“If Argentina goes out there and plays as we know we can then it will be very difficult to beat us. We have experienced World Cups before and we know that every rival will come out to try and beat us and play the game as if it is a final. That always makes it more complicated. But we are used to it.”

“It will be important to start strongly. Iceland did well in their last tournament so the first match will not be comfortable. But these are the ones to win if you don’t want the next matches to be even more complicated.

“Croatia is a good team with players in the big European leagues and that makes them dangerous. We don’t know so much about Nigeria but the African teams are normally compact, tough and strong. So it will be no walkover.”

He also played down talks of him retiring from international football after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“I don’t want to speak about my future. For now, I’m only concerned about the present and doing the best I can in this World Cup.”

Source: The Punch

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