1. This will be the 21st World Cup. 2. The first qualifier was played on March 12, 2015 between Timor-Leste (the national team of East Timor) and Mongolia. Timor-Leste won 5-1 on aggregate but the games were later awarded to Mongolia after it was revealed that Timor-Leste had fielded ineligible players. However, the decision took so long that Timor-Leste had already progressed, so Mongolia were not reinstated. Perhaps it was an omen… 3. This will be the penultimate World Cup with 32 nations. From 2026 onwards there will be 48 teams. 4. Iceland and Panama have qualified for their first ever World Cup. 5. One hit wonders. The list of teams to play one World Cup makes for great reading. It's a long one, but here are some of the nations not often heard of in world sport, let alone on its biggest stage: Wales, Jamaica, Cuba, Kuwait, Iraq, Indonesia, Haiti and Canada. 6. The distance between the easternmost (Kaliningrad) and westernmost (Ekaterinburg) host … [Read more...] about 100 things to know ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia
France russia world cup squad
Northern Ireland What personnel changes have there been? The defender Chris Baird has hung up his international boots after 79 appearances, removing valuable experience and versatility from the squad. Aaron Hughes’s international days are numbered at the age of 36 and following a move to Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League. On the plus side, Chris Brunt, cruelly deprived of an appearance at Euro 2016 by a knee ligament injury, could make a welcome return midway through the qualifiers. How do their qualification prospects look? Reaching their first World Cup since 1986 will entail surpassing their achievement of getting to Euro 2016 because their qualification group is much tougher. The manager, Michael O’Neill, says he is targeting second place and a play-off spot, having accepted that his team are unlikely to finish above Germany in Group C, even if they have a history of upsetting aristocrats in one-off games. To do that he says his team must take maximum points … [Read more...] about Road to Russia 2018: how will Northern Ireland, the Republic and Wales fare?
‘NFF has failed; No, blame security agencies’ *Kojo, Maigari, Okala, Odegbami, Taribo, Etta Egbe, speak By Jacob Ajom IT has been one long bad dream that has refused to go away. A nightmare that forces one to remain awake because once the eyes are closed the nightmare returns with renewed aggression. For those who witnessed the glory days of Nigerian football, the appalling state of football in the country is nothing short of a nightmare. It all boils down to one clear and loud index of the poor manner football is run in the country. Football enthusiasts in Nigeria are suddenly nursing a growing disenchantment towards their national teams. The Super Eagles, CHAN Eagles, Super Falcons, Flying Eagles, Falconets, etc are all groaning under the weight of non-performance. Former Nigeria international, Emeka Ezeugo lamented, “The beautiful game in Nigeria is dead and we should be worried about fixing it,” he told www.brila.net. The Super Eagles went to the World … [Read more...] about Nigerian football turns victim of politics, poor guidance
ARSENAL have been handed a major boost in their chase for Thomas Lemar after club legend Robert Pires revealed he will leave Monaco. The Gunners are just one of the top clubs across Europe tracking his signature. And Pires, who spent six years with Arsenal, has given the green light for his former club to sign his fellow Frenchman. He told bwin: "Thomas Lemar will leave Monaco after the World Cup this summer. “I think he needs a new challenge and would love to experience a new country. “Arsenal were of course interested last year but I don’t know if that’s still the case now that Arsene Wenger will no longer be manager. He would be suited to the Premier League.”Liverpool are set to rival Arsenal for the 22-year-old who is valued around £60million. Lemar, who has scored twice and assisted eight this season, has a contract until 2020 but has rejected the chance to extend his current deal. And when quizzed on his future in March he revealed: "I've kept … [Read more...] about Arsenal handed major boost in race to sign Thomas Lemar after Robert Pires reveals the player’s future