After various years of dire displays in the CAF competitions by Nigerian teams the four slots enjoyed by the NPFL was reduced to two, then due to administrative crises, the League provided Lobi Stars as its representative in the Champions League and Enugu Rangers on its own part merited by winning the CAF Confederations Cup.
However, a string of impressive performances from both teams saw them make the group stages of the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations Cup a feat which saw Nigeria’s four slots returned.
Despite being behind the schedule for 2018/19 season, the LMC adopted an abridged league format which ended with a PLAY-OFF competition which produced three CAF competitions representatives with Champions Enyimba, runner-up Kano Pillars taking the Champions League spots and Enugu Rangers snatching one confederation cup ticket.
The last Confederations Cup ticket was placed atop The Aiteo Cup for eventual winners, however, with Kano Pillars getting to the finals alongside Niger Tornadoes, the final ticket was automatically picked by Tornadoes. Here we look at a rough sketch of the Nigeria four CAF representatives for the 2019/20 season
CAF Champions League
Last Appearance: 2016(group stage)
Best finish: Winners x2
The Aba Elephants lifted the NPFL trophy after winning 4 games out of 5. The Usman Abd’Allah led team are no strangers to the CAF Champions League as they remain Nigeria’s sole winners in the history of the competition.
The team last participated in the Champions League in 2016 where they failed to move to the next round but tasted Continental football in 2018 after getting to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup losing to Wydad Casablanca on aggregate.
They hold Nigeria’s biggest hope in Winning any Continental title due to their pedigree and history in the competition.
CAF Champions League
Last Appearance: 2015 (group stage)
Best Finish: Semi-final 2009
Kano Pillars is one Nigerian team whose all CAF competition appearances have been only in the CAF Champions league, the Sai Masu Gida have not played in the Confederations Cup despite qualifying a Continental spot 5 times previously.
However, the last time the Kano based team played in the Champions League was in 2015, an agonising second-place finish at the NPFL Championship playoffs see them returned to the continent and the team could still end the season on a high with the Aiteo Cup final date with Niger Tornadoes on the horizon
CAF Confederations Cup
Last Appearance: 2019 (Group Stage)
Best Finish: Group Stage
The only team in the NPFL who are yet to be relegated are also Nigeria’s most experienced team on the continent having been playing on the continent since the 1970s which accumulated to 7 African Cup of Champions Clubs appearances from 1971 to 1985 and 3 appearances in CAF Champions League from 2006 to 2017.
They are also a one-time winner of the defunct cup Winners Cup and also played in the CAF Confederations Cups severally, a competition they will hope to go into its final stages as opposed to a group stage finish in the past season.
CAF Confederations Cup
Last Appearance: NIL
Best finish: Debut
Proper research into the archives may reveal past participants in CAF competitions but a very minimal number of them would have done so as a 2nd division club side but Tornadoes do this on their debut appearance.
Niger Tornadoes though formerly played in the CAF cup Winners Cup in 2001 but the quarter-final appearance in the now-defunct competition is the furthest they have gone. It must be stated though that the team have never played in the Champions League or its second tier.
It is now left to be seen how the team will shuffle it’s Nigeria National League campaign and a journey into Africa in a quest for glory and a return to the top flight. They may learn valuable lessons from Atlanta and Cardiff who played in the Uefa Cup Winners Cup in 1987 and 1960s respectively, as lower tier teams.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
READ ALSO: Mosengo-Omba Is CAF New General Secretary
The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
READ ALSO: Super Eagles: 9 Players Who Netted On Debut
Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.