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Neymar Has attracted many fans as Brazil trains in Russian Soil

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Brazil attracted an army of excited youngsters — including one who managed to get onto the pitch for a selfie — as they held their first training session on Russian soil ahead of the World Cup on Tuesday.

Around 5,000 locals turned out to watch the relaxed session at the Yug-Sport Stadium, next to the Brazilian squad’s hotel in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

Tuesday is a national holiday in Russia and many fans opted for vantage points along the road leading to the stadium, while others filled the stand in blazing sunshine.

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One young boy broke through security barriers and managed to get close to a group of Brazil players including Neymar, taking a photograph before being led away.

However, most fans contented themselves with chanting the name of the world’s most expensive player, who arrived with his teammates in Russia in the early hours of Monday fresh from scoring in a 3-0 friendly win over Austria in Vienna.

The 222-million-euro ($261 million) Paris Saint-Germain forward made his first start in that game since undergoing surgery on a foot fracture at the start of March. He had come off the bench to score in the win over Croatia in Liverpool a week earlier.

“Neymar is doing great, thanks to God. I think the way the whole process has been dealt with was perfect. He has fully recovered,” goalkeeper Alisson told reporters.

“It’s logical that, at first, when he started kicking the ball again, he felt the need to take extra care of himself.

“He has had to deal with the fear, which is normal after a serious injury, but step by step he has built up his confidence.”

Members of the Selecao had a treat in store for Philippe Coutinho at training, marking the Barcelona midfielder’s 26th birthday by pinning him to the ground, breaking an egg over his head and covering him in flour.

Those who started the final pre-World Cup warm-up against Austria spent most of Tuesday’s session apart from the rest of Tite’s squad, while Manchester United-bound midfielder Fred was not involved as he continues to nurse an ankle injury.

Eager to put their humiliation on home soil in 2014 firmly behind them, the Brazilians appear confident and at ease in surroundings which in this lush part of Russia are not completely unlike home.

“Our first impressions are positive, with the beauty of the city and the beach, and to be able to have lunch with views looking out over the sea,” added Alisson.

Brazil play their opening game at the tournament on Sunday, when they take on Switzerland in Rostov-on-Don. They will also come up against Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.

Source: The Punch

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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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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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