A belting Mailbox. Keep them coming to email@example.com…
Punched in the bollox .
The only way I feel accurately describes last night. Yes it’s Ireland, yes it’s easy to say we play shite football (we do) but bloody hell we should have done better than that. Martin O’Neill getting some shtick for an interview where he says that we haven’t done all that badly over the campaign (which is also true) but that was humiliation. The world cup is poorer without us, and you can f*** right off if you think otherwise, the whole thing is about spirit, passion, atmosphere and having a good f***ing laugh. Who’s gonna bring that to Russia, the Danish?
I have one Danish fellow in my language class later today and feel like failing him this semester just to appease my petty rage. Will it make amends for last night? Not even close.
Adam L. (and he’s f***ing called Erikson as well) Irish Gooner in France.
…The Henry handball hurt because it felt like we were cheated. Northern Ireland’s loss to Switzerland will linger and rankle for the same reason.
However, there can be no anger tonight. We were totally outclassed. The players gave their all – as they always do – but there were just too many mistakes. Ward gift wrapped two goals for Eriksen; although both were taken extremely well. We allowed a 2 v 1 overlap for the short corner that gave Denmark their first, and it wasn’t even a quick one… Christ, even Bendtner scored!
However, a massive chunk of the blame must rest at O’Neill’s feet. Taking off Meyler and Arter – our only defensive midfielders – at half time and allowing galaxies of space for Eriksen to roam in was madness… The desperate punt of a housemate who’s taken ten hammerings in a row in FIFA. And even then, they know that McGeady is not the answer. Never is.
Still, as I say, disappointment, but no anger. I’m proud of the effort that squad put in over the qualification campaign, as all Irish football fans should be. After all, we were fourth seeds to begin with and we ended up in a play-off… However, on the night – and over the two legs – the better team won. Unquestionably so.
Also, as much as it pained me to watch him this evening, the World Cup is a stage that needs talent such as Eriksen’s… What a player!
John (Wouldn’t have been worth going anyway seeing as Italy aren’t there to guarantee us three points in the group stages), Ennis
Detailing Ireland’s problems
Well after what felt like an eternity without a goal, they really flew in in the Aviva. Unfortunately too many from the boot of Eriksen to make it a memorable game from an Irish perspective. So where to begin when dissecting the disaster?
The general crux of the problem is that Ireland simply aren’t producing enough players of a decent quality to even carve out mediocre careers in the Premier League. Without being disrespectful to the great work Sean Dyche has done at Burnley, but for Stephen Ward- and anonymous duo Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick- to be our highest ranked players in terms of league position is an accurate reflection of how far our stock has fallen. There is no-one within an asses roar of a standard any higher than mid-table at present.
Even an arbitrary glance at the Danes in comparison, shows that five of the players used on the night are currently playing for clubs in this season’s Champions League (including arguably Chelsea’s best defender and one of Europe’s best playmakers), while the likes of Werder Bremen, Leicester, Udinese and even Celta Vigo would be of a far higher stock than any of the Irish players’ clubs.
Apologists will point to the fact that we were fourth seeds in the group and were ninety minutes away from reaching the WC, but that is to ignore the fact that Martin O’Neill is so rigid and static in how it sets up that it borders on prehistoric. It also ignores the fact that Wales were suffering a post-Euro 16 hangover and Austria were a shambles. Klopp has received considerable flack for the predictability of the timing of his subs. Well MON is far worse- literally the same 14/15 players are used game on game (depending on availability), and what’s worse there has been very little young blood assimilated into the first team, even at a gradual basis.
The result of this is that when Wes Hoolahan, Jonathan Walters, John O’Shea and Glenn Whelan more than likely retire in the coming weeks, that there is no-one ready to make the immediate step-up to competitive action. Okay, Callum O’Dowda was a surprise inclusion for the first leg, and has shown a completely un-Irish trait of “head-up and take on the man” football, but the likes of Conor Hourihane, Scott Hogan, Sean Maguire and Daryl Horgan and whoever else fits into the “next campaign” category have been criminally under-used.
In my opinion, a root and branch reformation is needed within the game in Ireland. Those with blinkered views towards other sports competing with their beloved soccer tend to blame the popularity of GAA in particular for adversely affecting the talent pool. At the end of the day though, the FAI is structurally miles behind most of Europe, and decades behind when it comes to developing young talent and coaching them to a high level. It has a CEO that pockets 200,00 euro a year, yet very little money trickles down to the Airtricity League, where attendances are low and marketing is virtually zilch.
In fact, if it continues on this unhappy path, I genuinely cannot envisage a scenario where an Irish player will be a regular for a top-six Premier League side for the foreseeable future. We aren’t technical enough, and have fallen into the ether now that the sport has become more results driven and polluted by money. Why take a chance on a young Irish lad, when you just know that someone of a similar age from the continent will be more technically rounded and tactically flexible? Don’t want to come across as a Guinness-drinking, potato-eating version of a PFM, but that’s the sad reality unfortunately.
Brian (and the “greatest fans in the world” did more singing when we were 1-4 down than we did when we were potentially still in the game at 1-2), Wexford
And how to fix them
Watching Ireland I’d say the two biggest reasons why Ireland are miles behind playing semi decent football are short sightedness at top level with managerial appointments and ole ole brigade.
Martin O Neill is a manager that probably overachieved with that group (excluding mad ht subs) but that’s what FAI are concerned about while our whole game is neglected. O Dowda Arter etc brought in and other Granny rule players looked at while all other potential options ignored such as proper coaching structures and producing technical competent players that are tactically adept.
Then there the fans which I’m one and involved in this problem. Every weekend there are thousands of Irish fans at Dublin airport heading to London, Manchester etc…. to spend money and put it into large Russian American tycoons pockets and the national game is being neglected. Irish players do not exist at these clubs anymore. We as Irish fans pay no heed to our underage teams like our administrators and so our youth is falling miles behind. Jack Byrne our one time big hope at Man City couldn’t make it at Blackburn and now is at Oldham.
Our best player ironically Seamus Coleman came through the domestic league while arguably our most important player McClean did also.
How to fix the problem? How do I know, I’m not on obscene money like our Chief Executive. But surely as an Administration and as fans we need to invest directly in our game and young players.
Ferdia, Cavan Ireland
Happy to admit that Southgate is impressing me
I’m happy to admit I was less than impressed when Southgate was appointed, and whilst I still have my reservations about his quality, he’s winning me over with his team selections and boldness (albeit with a raft of injures making it somewhat easier to do) with not just picking a young and inexperienced squad, but playing said players.
Which other manager in years past (with such an inexperienced squad) would have left e.g. Cahill on the bench for these 2 games and not just any 2 games, but against the best 2 teams in the world? Which other manager would give a debut to FOUR 20 year olds, who only have 80 top flight, 1st team appearances between them?
Twelve players were involved in last night’s game (playing / bench) who’d not have been old enough to recall watching Owen score ‘that goal’ or Beckham being sent off in 1998.
The Futures bright , the future’s beige.
Neil. somewhere over there
…Watching England over the last two weeks I’ve found myself feeling optimistic for the first time in years. I don’t know if I am alone in this but I’m also revising my previous low opinion of Southgate as a manager.
I watched the WC qualifiers desultorily, thinking that if we couldn’t get out of that group we weren’t going anywhere (literally) but that even if we did we wouldn’t get past the group stages in Moscow, so what did it matter? Now I think we can survive the group stages and, after that, it depends on the draw and we may get lucky and have a decent tournament result. Hardly ambitious but probably realistic for the moment.
What has impressed me about Southgate is that he said, after the qualifiers, that there was a lot of work to be done (I agreed, who didn’t?) and some of that work at least seems to be being done. England have started playing as a team. The players seem to know what they are supposed to be doing, together. There is still a lack of talent, particularly world class talent, in important positions. Where, for instance, is our Gazza (Silva, Eriksen, Fabregas, etc) but Southgate can’t do much about that. If Southgate can can maintain and improve the team play, we have sufficient talent to get through the WC group stages and that is more than I had been expecting two weeks ago.
Ian (CFC) Hugo
…I’ll say something I haven’t said in a long long time. I quite enjoyed that England game. Don’t get me wrong we were insipid and overwhelmed whenever we went forward but that’s not the point with this particular line up. I think the majority of us would say the most important thing when setting up a new team is to build from the back. 2 clean sheets against Germany and Brazil is a pretty good place to start.
I always felt that the thing really missing from England was a system that the team buys into and it feels like we’ve found that. This was obviously a damage limitation game from the outset but especially against Brazil to shut them out and reduce them to arguably a hand full of chances is very impressive. The back 5/6 in the last 2 games have been solid and then played out well from the back.
I understand some will moan about how little we’ve created but with Kane, Alli, Lallama, Sterling and dat guy (as well as a host of other maybes) all to return for once I would be far more comfortable and confident with us being able to compete at International and cater a team to the opposition if needed. I’d also forgotten how much I enjoy watching players come on and play for the shirt. I hope these ‘kids’ don’t lose that vibe like the vast majority of English players once the money, fame and hype inflates their egos and changes privilege to expectation.
A Germany World Cup ladder
I hope this International Break has done you lot well. I thought you might enjoy a German World Cup Ladder for 2018. I think this might be more controversial at the top as there are no players who are head and shoulders above their competition like in England, so separating them will be harder. I promise they become shorter as I go on.
1. Joshua Kimmich – Controversial, but, considering the other right-backs in or around the squad are centre-back Matthias Ginter, central midfielder Sebastian Rudy and Benjamin Henrichs of 3 caps, Joshua Kimmich is irreplaceable in this squad. Germany have no other player capable of doing what he does and the tactical flexibility he gives them is extremely important. He is intelligent and a warrior and rarely puts a foot wrong.
2. Mesut Ozil – This one will either anger or surprise some Premier League fans, but Mesut Ozil is Germany’s best player. Not only that, but there is no one else in the squad who offers nearly the same quality in possession in the final third. The likes of Neuer, Boateng, Hummels and Kroos have quality replacements but there is no attacking midfielder that plays nearly as well as Mesut Ozil for Germany.
3. Toni Kroos – Not much needs to be said. Germany doesn’t work well without him in the side. Everything ticks when he’s on the pitch and Germany are exhilarating when he’s at his best.
4. Thomas Muller – When it comes to the World Cup, sometimes logic and reason have to be thrown out the window. Thomas Muller has been astonishingly bad for more than a year and a half. He should be nowhere near the squad. However, Thomas Muller could quit football, gain 30 pounds and lose a foot but he will still go to the World Cup and rightly so.
5. Mats Hummels – Has begun to act more like a quarterback for both Bayern and Germany as more and more teams become adept at pressing central midfielders. Incredibly important player and has grown as a leader throughout Jerome Boateng’s continuous lay-offs.
6. Jerome Boateng – At the end of the day, no matter the quality of the back-up, you always need your first-choice player and at his best Jerome Boateng is the best in the world. Another quarter-back with ambitious passing. He specialises in last ditch feats of superhuman defending and you can’t put a price on that.
7. Sami Khedira – He’s been surprisingly sturdy in the last few years. He is a warrior and a leader. His partnership with Toni Kroos is better than any other two midfielders in world football including Kroos and Modric. Incredibly important considering Schweinsteiger is gone and his replacement is Emre Can, who is very good for Germany, but hasn’t done it at the biggest stage yet.
8. Manuel Neuer – The best goalkeeper on the planet. When De Gea plays as a goalkeeper, a sweeper and a centre-back for an entire game we can talk. His injury has become more and more of a concern. Injuries or not, he’s unlikely to be higher up this list as ter Stegen has become better and better.
9. Leroy Sane – I’m cheating a little bit on this one. As of now, Joachim Low still considers Julian Draxler more important but I don’t see this lasting throughout the season if they each keep up their current form. His ability to just burst past people and slide the ball across the goal in front of everyone because he’s too quick is perfect for Thomas Muller’s far post prowess.
10. Julian Draxler – Joachim Low seems to have placed his trust in him. Captain at the Confederations Cup, Julian Draxler does a lot of things very well. He can take charge and bring the ball forward as well as he can pass it and as well as he can run in behind defences.
11. Niklas Sule – Not my favourite player. A very good defender but his lack of mobility and lack of pace can be exposed. Not the best passer of the ball and the fear in his eyes is infuriating once you’re used to watching Boateng and Hummels. However, he is another that Joachim Low has chosen to trust even though Rudiger and Tah are better options in my opinion.
12. Marc-Andre ter Stegen – Has proven himself to be one of the best keepers in the world since Bravo’s move to City. He is becoming more important considering a foot injury is much more of a concern to Neuer than any other goalkeeper.
13. Timo Werner – Most Germans have issues with him. He is very effective at getting behind defences but his finishing isn’t clinical nor does he have an effective style. His shtick is to run straight at the goalkeeper and continue to do so until the goalkeeper becomes a shell of himself and makes himself small. He then slides it around them but doesn’t add any curl or distance. We’re not very talented in the centre-forward department.
14. Jonas Hector – Loved by everyone around him. Incredibly dedicated and hard-working player. Our other options at left-back are inexperienced but his cruciate ligament injury sees im drop down the list.
15. Emre Can – Our second option at defensive midfield. Much better for Germany than Liverpool.
16. Sebastian Rudy – A hard-working and technically gifted water carrier. A defensive midfielder by trade but decent at right and centre back. He’s basically our Eric Dier.
17. Matthias Ginter – We have two Eric Diers.
18. Marvin Plattenhardt – Joachim Low doesn’t fancy either Schmelzer or Durm so if Jonas Hector can’t make a return, he’s likely to start at left-back if we play with a 4.
19. Ilkay Gundogan – Would likely force Joachim Low into a tactical reshuffle if fit, but no one is placing their bets on him even making the squad. Would be out of the 30 if he wasn’t so bloody good.
20. Mario Gotze – I hate him. I hate his work ethic. I hate his attitude. I hate how he’s living off his golden boy status.
21. Antonio Rudiger – I see him rising up the ranks in the coming months if David Luiz continues to be absent. Could become one of the best in the world.
22. Bernd Leno – Severely screwed his chance at the Confederations Cup but will make it as third choice.
23. Leon Goretzka – One of my favourites. Imagine if Aaron Ramsey was good. Still lacks a little quality in the passing department to push himself closer to the starting line-up
24. Julian Brandt – An average season so far has pushed him down the pecking order. Probably needs a move next year or risks going stale.
25. Julian Weigl – A poor season has pushed him out but I wouldn’t bet against him making it.
26. Shkodran Mustafi – Apparently very vocal. At one point his continuous inclination to slide tackling anything that moves has to be diagnosed as ineptitude.
27. Benjamin Henrichs – Very promising but weirdly hasn’t been given many chances considering how fragile we are at right-back.
28. Maximilian Philipp – Has been good this season but nothing that screams ‘pick me.’
29. Lars Stindl – Unfortunately.
30. Marcel Halstenberg – Back up left-back.
31. Timo Horn
32. Benedikt Howedes
33. Sebastian Rode
34. Kai Havertz
35. Maximilian Arnold
36. Serge Gnabry
37. Sandro Wagner
38. Marco Reus
39. Jonathan Tah
40. Mahmoud Dahoud
I was just comparing this to your England one when I noticed that Marco Reus and Theo Walcott are both number 38. It’s funny how two previously promising, similarly injury prone, unambitious wide forwards with stagnated, unfulfilled careers on the brink of collapse ended up together
An updated Nigeria ladder
This is updated after drawing with Algeria and Beating Argentina (yes, that Argentina).
1. Mikel Obi (1) – Yes I know he has gone to play in the Chinese Super League but he’s still number one on our team sheet, so there
2 Leon balogun (2) Was immense again against Algeria, but not so much against Argentina. Still, he’s starting the first game
3 William Troost Ekong (4) – So is this guy. His game intelligence get’s better and better and so does their partnership.
4 Wilfred Ndidi (5) – Still the best of our defensive midfielders. If he’s good enough to kinda replace Kante he’s good enough for us.
5 Shehu abdullahi (8) – Still plays in Cyprus and we seem to have 427 right-backs. Was a place higher after the Algeria game but the Argentina match means he may need to improve as a wing-back.
6 Victor Moses (6) – Didn’t play in the double header which was fine until Argentina. The gap between this position and 14th is nothing right now.
7 Moses Simon (10)- A bit of a showboat and can be a bit inconsistent. Will be looking over his shoulder after Iwobi and Iheanacho’s exploits on Tuesday and needs to be fit by match
8 Ogeniyi Onazi (7) – Really should worry Ogu especially didn’t stink up the place . Watch this space
9 Odion Ighalo (11) – Shouldn’t get too comfy either we’ve still got 6 more months for some more of the 1427 strikers to impress .He also seems to only be the resident battering ram which may not be a spot we will use if playing 3-5-2.
10 Ikechukwu Ezenwa (3) – Was awesome for three games then we weren’t sure if he was actively trying to ensure that Algeria scored and the pitchforks were out. Should make the plane but knows we are actively looking for a replacement.
11 Elderson Echejile (9) – Only still makes the first 11 because he played in the qualifiers so might be the managers sentimental choice. However, most of the full backs were good in the two games Is as likely to travel as he is to be the surprise name watching the World Cup from his sofa.
12 Alex Iwobi (12) – Wasn’t great against Algeria but was outstanding against Argentina. He will definitely travel to Russia.
13 kelechi Ihenacho (14) – Same as Iwobi, good against Argentina and bad against Algeria. They seem to bring out the best in each other at international level. I think he has done enough to be in Russia as well.
14 john ogu ( 24) – No one took his chance over the international break better than Ogu. MOTM in the first game solid in the second. Forget going as Mikel’s understudy he might actually take Onazi’s first team spot.
15 Felix Uzoho (NE) No one knew who he was a month ago. Since then he’s debuted for Deportivo la Coruna and made his debut in the second half against Argentina. If Ezenwa keeps dropping clangers he might be first choice that is both mind blowing and frightening at the same time.
16 Ola Aina (17) Well he played so he will likely be the bonus right-back. I thought on Saturday, however, that he should be worried as he’s currently a right back playing on the left and on the right two players have already impressed. Needs to plead to be allowed to play on the right.
17 Mike Agu (13) – Dude when you haven’t yet convinced everyone that you should travel, the worst thing that can happen to you is other players impressing which is what John Ogu did. Still in for now because he’s supposed to be versatile.
18 Ahmed Musa (16) – Still makes it as we don’t seem to be testing other wingers and helped himself with an assist against the Argies.
19 Oghene Etebo (15) – Is there space for two Mikel Obi understudies? His second half against Algeria should get him to Russia, but the fact he didn’t get on the field against Argentina should worry him
20 Chiedozie awaziem (18) – Look we have to take at least three central defenders and he has been in the squad and even got to start on Tuesday. Will probably travel even though Gernot Rohr (the coach) probably prays to whatever God he worships that Balogun and Troost Ekong stay fit.
21 Brian Idowu (NE) – I’ll say this about us we do a lot of scouting this guy was called up for the Russia friendly. And proceeded to score the go-ahead goal with his first touch all while looking comfy in the left full back role. I’m not sure he has a passport yet (he’s half Russian). He probably will have it before March
22 kenneth omeruo 28– Only got invited from the standby list after 6 injuries . Wasn’t even in the first 23 on Tuesday morning .Proceeded to play in the second half so I’m not writing him off.
23 daniel akpeyi (20)– Really Just jn because we need three keepers. After having his second stinker against Argentina will be a miracle if he make it.
24 Tyrone ebuehi 25- Would have been worried he hadn’t made his debut until Tuesday took his chance and has made the fullback battle very interesting
25 Anthony Nwakeme – Had his debut didn’t set the world alight has the build of Andy Carroll even though a pony tail is out of the question but we already have a battering ram type
26 Henry Onyekuru (26) – He got to play looked a bit lively will probably get in if Nwakeme fails again
27 kayode olanrewaju (27) – May need club form to usurp someone .At least he got some minutes
28 Carl Ikeme (20) – Is in the manager’s thoughts surely but we all need a miracle for him to have overcome his Leukemia by May
29 Dele ajiboye ( 22) – Really should worry that there is a keeper issue and he’s getting overlooked needs game time
30 Uche Agbo (21) – Was in the initial list but still got overlooked when it was time to play is probably 5th choice defender and might fall further
31 Chidebere Nwakali – Got invited as well so he’s in the manager’s thoughts there are a lot of midfielders ahead of him though.
32 Vincent Enyeama – 50 Below this line are the wildcards who didn’t get a call up. There’s only two more matches before end of the season and one might be an AFCON qualifier. Enyeama was supposed to be the punchline no. 50 who wouldn’t move, but unfortunately the rumours of his return have intensified and he’s in with a real chance now
33 Victor Oshimen (32) – You feel he’s the next striker cab off the lot still widely regarded after his youth team exploits needs to push on at club level
34 Aaron Samuel – There are going to be lot’s of unhappy strikers
35 Samuel Kalu (43) -He’s Moses Simon’s understudy at club level and he’s getting game time could sneak in if there
36 Felix Udokhai (NE) look this is pure speculation right now we need a central defender in case the Oyibo wall (Balogun and Ekong ) as they are called get injured this Wolfsburg central defender maybe worth giving a call if he’s interested its not like we have to scout him that hard he plays in the same team with Oshimen.
37 Joel Obi (RE) – Has had a horrible two years of injury but seems to be getting back on his feet for Torino
38 Isaac Success 31- Still injured and with the amount of strikers ahead of him there’s more chance of him getting his money back from those prostitutes than going to Russia
39 Anderson esiti (36) Defensive midfielder and sometime central defender in Belgium might go if we need a jack of two trades
40 Dele Alampasu – Gone from Nigeria’s Number 4 to Nigeria number 6. Rob Green would be proud. Might still get a chance with our current keeper situation.
41 Tammy Abraham (30) – Has chosen England apparently and is probably higher up on the England ladder. How long before Nigerians be like we didn’t want him anyway
42 Tosin Adaroboyio (40) – He hasn’t chosen England yet and he’s the type of defender we have chased (raised somewhere else)
43 Stephen Odey (34) – Playing in the local league might only going to work for Ezenwa. Everyone else may need to move abroad to climb higher
44 Stephen Eze (35) – Not Ezenwa either so same rules applies .
45 Kelechi Nwakali (NE) – Star turn at the last U 17 tournament Nigeria won on Arsenal’s books probably to early to
46 Umar Sadiq 38- Has a build that would prove useful to us but he’s overshadowed by Bellotti at his club. Unfortunately both might not be in Russia
47 Ademola Lookman (40) – Not being talked about as much anymore maybe England will take him first.
48 Jordon ibe (41) – Can’t England just choose him as well; you already called up Solanke.
49 Literally Anyone (NE) This is not a wind-up, we are that crazy. We will panic and chose someone from our archives or someone no one on the planet knows plays football. You want an example? In 1994, after trying out and being linked to 100s of players, we chose some guy out of nowhere who didn’t play one qualifier or in the nations cup but ended up playing every game of the World Cup. He would use this as a platform and twenty years later ended up somehow being technical director at Chelsea. Yes, I mean Michael Emenalo.
50 (50) – Shola Ameobi
I can’t swear that anyone besides the top four names is a cert for the squad and it might still get crazier after March.
Timi, Super Eagles
And, erm, another one
Wonderful game by the Super Eagles yesterday. 4 against an Argentine defence with Otamendi and Mascherano is awesome. With that, let me get into the mind of Rohr and make a WC ladder.
1. Mikel Obi (MF) – Captain. Legend. Boss. The team is built around him and plays better with the Eagles. Not only is he on the plane to Russia, he’s the pilot.
2. Victor Moses (WF) – Didn’t play the friendly against Argentina, but has been our best player in 2017 by a long mark. Was phenomenal through the qualifiers and was our highest scorer despite missing 2 games. Plays a different role for the Eagles compared with Chelsea.
3. Wilfred Ndidi – Highest number of successful tackles in the EPL so far shows we have a gem on our hands. Will be important in Russia as we will be having less of d ball against bigger teams.
4. Alex Iwobi – Starting to make it a duty of scoring important goals for the Eagles. Had a great game against Argentina with a nice brace. The 2nd was unbelievable. I’m sure Mascherano is still stranded in Russia. Reminds me of the great Kanu with his first touch and grace. Helps he’s the legendary Okocha’s nephew. Definitely going to Russia.
5. Kelechi Iheanacho – Had a poor beginning to the season that dropped his confidence but he’s still the country’s golden boy. Has a wand of a left foot and his free kick goal against ARG was excellent. Needs to clock more game time in Leicester.
6. Leon Balogun – Forms half of the “Oyinbo” wall. Reads the game superbly and good in the air. However made some uncomfortable errors yesterday and his lack of pace can be exploited when we play a high line. He’s going.
7. Troost-Ekong – The other half of the wall. Took a while to get into the team but has developed a telepathic understanding with Balogun. He’s the ‘Vidic’ in this union.
8. Shehu Abdullahi – Turning out to be the fans’ favorite and that’s working out in his favour. A brilliant midfield player converted fullback, he’s never had a bad game in an Eagles jersey. Gives a 7/10 on his worse day. Call him the Nigerian Azpilicueta.
9. Onazi – I don’t rate him; as he slows the game down, lacks football intelligence and cant hit a barn door with a pass. The Coach likes him and thats what count. He’s going to Russia
10. Odion Ighalo – Had a fantastic game against Cameroon at home. Can be a frustrating player tho’ as he’s so inconsistent. Would hope Iheanacho doesn’t get back into form. Should be on the plane though.
11. Moses Simon – Currently injured. Add pace and trickery to the team. Going.
12. John Ogu – Had a bad game against ARG. Made Ndidi’s job harder. Should get better.
13. Elderson Echiejile – Poor footballer. Has the turning circle of a truck. Lack pace and cant cross.
The whole country except probably his family hopes he misses the plane. Do us a favor Elderson, miss it.
14. Francis Uzoho – Came onto the scene at the right time. Good Nigerian goalkeepers are rare commodities lately.
15. Chidozie Awaziem (CB) – 3rd choice CB. Would start if Rohr continues with the 3 at the back. Going to Russia.
16. Etebo – Favorite of mine. Fell down the pecking order due to the coach pushing Mikel forward to accommodate Ndidi and Onazi in the team. A talented ball carrying player though. Think Wilshere.
17. Ola Aina – Still not convinced by him yet. Anything to keep mishap Echiejile out of the team though.
18. Ahmed Musa – If this was done January last year, he would have been on the top of the list. Has had a woeful 2017. Slowly being pushed out the door.
19. Tyronne Ebuehi – Had a fantastic game against ARG after coming on. Can he displace the equally brilliant Shehu?
20. Mikel Agu – Has played 4 times. Been woeful in all. Period.
21. Ezenwa (GK) – Three months ago, he would have been at the 3rd position. Ikeme was injured, Akpeyi was Akpeyi, and he came on the scene and performed well. However, had bad games against Cameroun and Algeria away. Might be on the plane. Has a lot of ‘ifs’ involved.
22. Brian Idowu – Scored on his debut against Argentina, plays in Russia and can play in CB. Wont need a plane.
23. Kelechi Nwakali – For the future.
24. Henry Agbo – One cap.
25. Henry Onyekuru – See Kelechi Nwakali.
26. Olanrewaju Kayode – 24 now and still on 4 caps.
27. Vincent Enyeama (GK) – Rejected the last call up, stating he needs to be fit. Could still be in Russia. Depends on our GK status by May. Fingers crossed
28. Kenneth Omeruo – 4th choice CB. Should go if Rohr continues with 3 at the back.
29. Daniel Akpeyi – The worst GK I have had the priviledge of watching. Always ensures he makes the wrong decision. Lacks confidence, no discernible strong point to his game, calamitous and plain woeful. Should never come near the team after his perfomance against ARG.
30. Ajiboye – Current 4th choice GK behind a woeful queue.
31. Alampasu – 5th choice GK. Always the first to jump off the bench when the team scores. Making himself useful.
32. Nosa Igiebor
33. Victor Osimhen – Golden boy for the future. Watchout
34. Isaac Success – An enigma.
35. Brown Ideye – Last call-up was Nov 2016
36. Stephen Eze
37. Aaron Olanare
39. Maarouf Youssef
40. Celestine Babayaro
Dare (Bored medical student) OOUTH, Nigeria
A dream World Cup
OK. Here’s the challenge. Lots of talk today about how the World Cup won’t be the World Cup without Italy. But what would be your dream 32-team World Cup lineup?
You need 32 teams made up of:
– 3-5 from North America
– 4-6 from South America
– 13-14 from Europe
– 5-6 from Africa
– 4-6 from Asia
– 0-2 from Oceania
That’s based on the current allocation of 31 places between the six federations, and with one extra place which would go to the host country.
I’d go for:
– From North America, Mexico and USA would have their absence felt. As the third side I’ll go for Jamaica. They were fun.
– From South America, I have to pick Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Then Chile for passion and unpredictability and Peru for the kit.
– From Europe, I have to pick England, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands. Belgium are good right now. Iceland, Ireland and Scotland will bring the party with them. And I’m a bit light on Eastern Europe, so let’s go for Russia and Bulgaria (I remember 1994).
– It’s Equatorial Africa that have lit up World Cups, so I’ll start with Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. And let’s throw in Egypt for the huge crowds they get in qualifiers.
– In Asia, Japan, South Korea and Australia go straight on the list. Then let’s have China. Big population and an air of mystery. Finally, one from left field. India at a World Cup would be awesome. And if they have to host it to qualify, so be it.
– Finally, everybody loves New Zealand.
Can anybody beat that?
Properly old school F365
Ed’s reminiscences and quotes from the F365 Snyder post-apocalyptic piece obligate me to weigh in…because Ed is citing just one example amongst the rich history of F365’s penchant for giving us high quality comedic dalliances and divergences over the years.
The Neville Diaries (and spin-off Michael Ballack Diaries) are immortal, but really should be considered entry level next to much more devious F365 endeavors.
Now, a true classic is when F365 spearheaded a populist movement to collect Sol Campbell jerseys from betrayed Spurs supporters and donate the kits to needy teams, just after Campbell slithered off to Arsenal. Nice! But bigger picture, kids, this was social media crowd-sourcing in its infancy. For real.
And once upon a time around 2000-01, there was a Man U fan website run by an over-the-top, fanatical supporter of hazy Asian origins named Kok Wee…(geddit?) …who was behind it? You guess. (This is probably THE original “fake news” website.)
Finally a deep cut…David Icke’s short-lived F365 column – well, who wouldn’t want an ex-pro soccer personality that believes in alien lizards…writing for their website?
History is worth knowing.
Russell, Birmingham, AL