President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad is hopeful that Nigeria makes history in next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia by surpassing their previous records in the global mundial.
The CAF President who was recently in Nigeria for a football stakeholder forum described Nigeria as the strongest African contender tipped to lift the World Cup in July next year.
FIFA placed Nigeria as 5th best African football nation in its current ranking, this, Ahmad disagree with stating that Nigeria will lead an upset from the continent at the football fiesta.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are currently behind Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Congo DR, although they moved three places in the global ratings from 44 to 41st in the world.
“Nigeria is the strongest team from Africa going to the World Cup, hence much is expected of the Super Eagles in Russia next year.
“No doubt, going to Russia and we expect so much from the Super Eagles and Amaju Pinnick ( President, Nigeria Football Federation) has been spot-on in at least two major decisions this year: to support the change at CAF and to get the Nigerian fraternity to work assiduously towards Nigeria’s qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
And the effort has to be doubled to make Africa proud. I know Nigeria is up to the task of making Africa proud at the tournament,” he said.
Nigeria’s participation in Russia 2018 will be a record of sixth appearance of the last seven FIFA World Cups. Since the first World Cup appearance in USA’94 where they reached the second round they have only missed the Germany 2006 FIFA World Cup and reached the round of 16 three times.
… As Russia gives assurance on stadia
Russia’s first Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities, Leonid Stavitsky, has revealed that preparations for next summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup remain on track with all stadia to be completed by the end of the year.
“The construction of sporting venues, including in Kaliningrad, has now entered its final stage,” Stavitsky is quoted from the communications arm of Russia’s Kaliningrad Region, via Russian news agency TASS.
“The focus is now on preparing all the necessary documentation.
“All facilities must be commissioned without delay by late December this year.” A working group was set up by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko to prepare and hold the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup.
Its aim is to coordinate the work of all bodies and companies taking part in the construction project.
Russia selected 11 host cities as World Cup venues and 12 stadia for the tournament to be held between June 14 and July 15, and they are: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
Two of the stadia are located in the Russian capital. Recent reports have stated that the Kaliningrad stadium is 83 per cent ready and is due to host test matches in March and April.
Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic exclave, will host four group stage games next summer.
Two weeks ago Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov revealed that the 45,000-capacity Samara Arena, which will host several games, remains behind schedule and that the company building the venue had been fined.
“There are some delays at different stages of construction at the stadium in Samara,” he was reported as saying by Reuters.
The contractor of the venue announced in August that the stadium had fallen 30 days behind its construction schedule.
Sergei Ponomaryov, the deputy head of general contractor PSO Kazan, insisted, however, that major construction work would be complete by the agreed deadline of later this year.
n an attempt to make stadiums safer, Russia will issue special identity cards.
The country has also relaxed visa regulations for travelling fans.
Alexey Sorokin, chief executive of the Russia 2018 Organising Committee, claims that FIFA has spoken highly of preparations for the World Cup.
“The inspectors have already visited Yekaterinburg, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk and Rostov-on-Don,” he said.
“To date, FIFA, as a whole, has had a favourable view of the degree of the host cities’ readiness for the tournament.”