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DAY 9 WORLD CUP PREVIEW/STATS/H2H: Can Nigeria Set Up A Cracker Against Argentina By Beating Iceland, Costa Rica Looking To Upset Brazil PLUS Serbia & Switzerland

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Friday 22 June

Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D) – Volgograd – 3pm
Brazil vs Costa Rica (Group E) – St Petersburg – 6pm
Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E) – Kaliningrad – 9pm
Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami is receiving treatment for a muscle problem but is still likely to play.
Head coach Vladimir Petkovic could name the same side that drew 1-1 with Brazil, with Haris Seferovic continuing as a lone forward.
Serbia’s Luka Milivojevic may be available despite picking up a minor knock in the win over Costa Rica.
Head coach Mladen Krstajic is not expected to make major changes but he could hand winger Filip Kostic a start.
Serbia are the lowest ranked team in Group E but come into this game in pole position after their 1-0 win over Costa Rica, while the Swiss earned a creditable 1-1 draw with joint-favourites Brazil in their opening game.
The Brazilians were frustrated by Switzerland’s physical approach and also filed a complaint about Steven Zuber’s equaliser after he appeared to push Miranda before nodding home.
“Sometimes there’s a lack of recognition and that’s a pity because we played very well,” grumbled Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic in the aftermath of that game.
“I hope that people will take notice of us and take us seriously.”
One team that has definitely taken notice is Serbia. “We know everything about Switzerland,” stated their head coach Mladen Krstajic after their first match, which was also his first competitive game in charge of the side.
If Krstajic can mastermind a second win then the Serbs would reach the knockout stage for the first time as an independent nation.

Head-to-head
Switzerland have never faced Serbia before.
However, Switzerland and Yugoslavia have met 13 times, with the Swiss winning six of those meetings (D5, L2).
Yugoslavia won the last time these sides met, claiming a 2-1 friendly victory in Basel in September 2001. Current Serbia head coach Mladen Krstajic scored the winner that day.
Their only previous World Cup meeting was a 3-0 group stage win for Yugoslavia in 1950.
Switzerland’s last win over Yugoslavia was a 2-0 friendly victory in October 1983.

Serbia
Serbia (as Yugoslavia) have qualified for the knockout stage on three of the last four occasions when they’ve won their opening World Cup fixture.
A win for the Serbs would send them into the last 16 for the first time since 1998 (as Yugoslavia).
Their last four World Cup wins have all been 1-0.
Serbia have lost five of their last six World Cup group games, winning the other.
Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 14 goals in his last 17 starts for Serbia.
Branislav Ivanovic made his 104th appearance against Costa Rica and became his country’s most-capped player, surpassing the record of Dejan Stankovic (103).
Aleksandar Kolorov’s goal against Costa Rica was the first direct free-kick scored by a player from Serbia or Yugoslavia at a World Cup since Sinisa Mihajlovic scored one in a 1-0 victory over Iran in 1998.

Switzerland
Switzerland are on a seven-game unbeaten run (W4, D3).
They have only lost one of their last 23 games (W16, D6), a 2-0 defeat to Portugal last October.
Steven Zuber has scored four goals and registered two assists in his last six international starts.
Stephan Lichsteiner is in line to make ninth World Cup appearance in this game, which would be a Swiss national record.
Against Brazil, Valon Behrami became the first Swiss player to appear in four different World Cup finals (2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018).
Costa Rica have scored from just one of their last 31 shots at the World Cup.


Nigeria’s vice-captain Ogenyi Onazi could return to the side after being dropped for the opening defeat by Croatia.
Oghenekaro Etebo scored an own goal in that match and could make way, while Ahmed Musa is also in contention.
Iceland could be without Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who sustained a muscle injury against Argentina.
Rurik Gislason came on for Gudmundsson in that game, and may replace him in the starting line-up.
Nigeria have the youngest squad on average at this World Cup, but the biggest concern heading into a crunch game with Iceland is that age-old problems remain. While it would be convenient to blame Nigeria’s defensive frailties in the defeat by Croatia on the relative inexperience of their squad, a weakness at set-pieces has long been the Super Eagles’ Achilles heel.
Since making their World Cup debut in 1994, 14 of the 27 goals they have conceded have come from a set-piece (52%), the worst percentage of any nation during that period, including an own goal from a corner in their group opener.
Conversely, organisation is very much Iceland’s strength, as their impressive draw with Argentina demonstrated. Expertly drilled and rigidly disciplined, they frustrated the South Americans while giving up few clear-cut chances on their World Cup debut.
Worryingly for Nigeria, Iceland also looked threatening with a direct, long-ball orientated game that could cause a discombobulated defence no end of trouble. A second defeat for Nigeria, and they are out. Howevr, a win for them will set up a final group cracker with Argentina who lost yesterday to Croatia.

Head-to-head
In their only previous meeting, Iceland triumphed 3-0 in a 1981 friendly.

Nigeria
All five of Nigeria’s wins at the World Cup have come against European sides.
The Super Eagles have won just one of their last 13 World Cup games (D3, L9), with that victory coming against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014.
They have failed to progress from the group stage on both previous occasions they have lost their opening game.
Nigeria are currently on a World Cup losing streak of three games, their worst run since losing four matches between 1998 and 2002.
They have failed to score in six of their last 11 World Cup matches.

Iceland
Iceland drew their first ever World Cup game against Argentina. The last side to avoid defeat in their opening two matches were Senegal in 2002.
Alfred Finnbogason has scored in his last three appearances for Iceland, though they’ve failed to win any of those matches (D2, L1).
After recording eight shots in the first half against Argentina, Iceland failed to register an attempt on goal in the rest of the match.
Kari Arnason won 13 aerial duels against Argentina, the most by any player in the opening round of matches.


Forward Neymar will be in Brazil’s starting XI for Friday’s Group E clash with Costa Rica despite hobbling out of a training session on Tuesday.
The Paris St-Germain forward, who broke a bone in his right foot in February, felt pain in his right ankle but took part in another session on Wednesday.
Costa Rica will look to emulate Switzerland’s efforts against Tite’s side, who had to settle for a point.
Los Ticos now face an uphill task to progress after losing 1-0 to Serbia.
Brazil began the World Cup as one of the favourites, but opened up in underwhelming fashion by drawing with Switzerland, despite going ahead through Philippe Coutinho’s wonderful, curling effort.
However, the five-time champions, appearing in their 21st consecutive tournament, will not worry about qualifying for the knockout phase just yet.
Unbeaten in their last 13 World Cup group games, winning 10 and drawing three, Brazil have topped their first-round group in every World Cup since 1982 and last failed to progress past this stage in 1966.
While Costa Rica will not have given up on progressing to the knockout stages for a second consecutive finals, manager Oscar Ramirez will need to retune his team offensively.
Penalty shootouts excluded, Costa Rica were one of only three sides to remain unbeaten in the 2014 World Cup but have toiled in front of goal at the finals, scoring just once in their last four World Cup games.
They sprung a surprise by progressing in a group consisting of Uruguay, Italy and England four years ago – but have it all to do now in Russia.

Head-to-head
Brazil have won nine of their 10 previous internationals against Costa Rica, losing only in a friendly in March 1960.
This is the third meeting between Brazil and Costa Rica at the World Cup, with the former inflicting Costa Rica’s first-ever defeat on them at the tournament in 1990 (1-0), before a 5-2 victory in 2002

Brazil
Philippe Coutinho’s goal against Switzerland was his 11th for Brazil – five of those have come from outside the box.
Brazil are winless in three World Cup matches (D1 L2), their worst run since June 1978, when they went four matches without a win.
Brazil conceded from the first shot on target they faced at the 2018 World Cup – from their last 13 shots on target faced at the World Cup, they have conceded 10 goals.
Brazil’s Neymar was fouled 10 times in their opening match against Switzerland – it was the most a player has been fouled in a World Cup match since 1998, when England striker Alan Shearer was fouled 11 times against Tunisia.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s only previous World Cup victory against South American opposition came in the 2014 tournament (3-1 vs Uruguay).
Costa Rica lost their first match against Serbia, ending a five-game unbeaten run at the World Cup finals – they haven’t lost back-to-back World Cup games since June 2006, when they lost four in a row.
Against Serbia, striker Marco Urena had just 14 touches in 67 minutes for Costa Rica, with three of those in the opposition box – his replacement, Joel Campbell, had 24 touches and four in the opposition box.

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MESSI: Suarez Was Unfairly “Forced” Out…

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Argentinian star and Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi has expressed emotional grief after the departure of Uruguayan counterpart Luis Suarez to rivals Atletico Madrid for £5.5m on a two-year deal.

The 33 year old had one more year to run on the contract he signed with Barca in 2016, but was told by new head coach Ronald Koeman last month that he was not part of his plans.

Suarez and Lionel Messi struck up a strong friendship on and off the field at Barcelona.

With Messi, Suarez won La Liga titles, four Copa del Reys, the Champions League, the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup during his hugely successful time at the Nou Camp.

Suarez was filmed leaving Barcelona’s training ground in tears on Wednesday as his transfer to Atletico neared completion.

Suarez departs Barcelona as their second-highest goal-scorer of all time, having scored 198 goals since signing from Liverpool in 2014.

Lionel Messi has aimed fresh criticism at the Barcelona hierarchy, following Suarez’s departure from the club to Atletico.

Messi, who came close to leaving the Nou Camp earlier in the transfer window before reversing his threat to end his contract unilaterally, has hit out at the club’s management of Suarez’s departure from the Spanish giants.

He wrote on Instagram: “You deserved a fitting farewell for the person that you are: one of the best players in the club’s history, having achieved incredible things both individually and collectively. You didn’t deserve to be pushed out the way they did, but the truth is nothing surprises me anymore.

 

Via SkySports

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Kajoba Has No Excuse Of Not Retaining The League Title For Vipers – Coach Makumbi…

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Former Bunamwaya FC coach, Richard Makumbi has said that Fred Kajoba will have no excuses for not winning the Uganda Premier League title next season.

Makumbi who is the current head coach, for Mbarara outfit Nyamitoobora in the FUFA Big league added that Vipers management have given Kajoba everything he needs like; signing players of his choice and recruiting experienced Paul Kiwanuka from Bright Stars as his assistant coach.

Coach Makumbi says there will therefore be no excuse if Kajoba doesn’t win the league, because he has been given what he asked for to retain the league.

“If you are given what you ask for, you have to get the job done, there’s is no excuse for that, coach Kajoba must make sure Vipers are crowned league champions,” Makumbi emphasized.

The experienced coach however also cited the need for coach Kajoba to make winning at home traditional, and register victories on the road,  as part of his bargain.

Makumbi who was baptized the ‘King of promotions’ after leading various clubs to the Uganda Premier League from the FUFA Big League tipped Vipers for the title crown.

He however also noted that KCCA and URA have prepared well and are in for some stiff competition.

 

By Juma Ali

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COVID19 Has Left Us Penniless, We Now Need Support – Boxing Council Boss Katongole Cries Out…

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Uganda Professional Boxing Council (UPBC) Vice President, Simon Katongole has said that their lives have been negatively affected since the outbreak of the COVID19.

In an interview with theGrapevine, Katongole said that the cancellation of all boxing fights buried their source of income.

Katongole disclosed that before the lockdown, three international fights had been arranged, one at Hotel Africana and two at International University of East Africa (IUEA).

Frank Kiwalabye was scheduled to take on a South African opponent while heavy weight boxer Shafic Kiwanuka was set to face an Egyptian.

Katongole said that they now need support like all the other organisations that have been affected by COVID19, “We are broke, we don’t have anything in our pockets.”

Katongole further hinted that even if government opens up sporting activities including boxing, as long as fans are excluded from attending these events, they will still struggle financially.

 

By Juma Ali

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