Nigerian president unbans Super Eagles; Manuel tries to justify World Cup ticket spend; Shortlist for Brazilian coaching job announced; Semi-finals referees named; Joachim Loew and his lucky blue jersey.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has lifted the ban on the Super Eagles’ participation in international competition for the next two years. Earlier Fifa had given Nigeria a 48-hour ultimatum to rescind the ban or face suspension. The ban was withdrawn just minutes after the official deadline and following a meeting between Jonathan and the Nigerian Football Federation. Three top NFF officials, including the president of the federation, were fired on Sunday, and the NFF apologised unreservedly to Jonathan and the country for the soccer team’s dismal performance in the World Cup. Fifa will discuss the situation on Tuesday although, since the ban has been lifted, there is no reason to continue with Nigeria’s suspension from the world soccer governing body.
National planning minister Trevor Manuel has come to the defence of parastatals that have spent huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on World Cup tickets for staff and clients. His thinking is that purchases by state-owned entities should be viewed differently to those by government departments, as they are businesses that need to interact socially with clients. That may well be true-ish, but doesn’t quite justify the enormity of certain parastatals’ ticket bills, especially considering the financial trouble they’re in. Eskom reportedly spent a massive R80 million on tickets and SAA R23 million.
The Brazil Football Federation (CBF) has wasted no time in drawing up a shortlist of candidates to replace sacked national soccer coach Carlos Dunga. The five names on the list are Palmeiras coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, Mano Menezes of Corinthians, Fluminense’s Muricy Ramalho, Ricardo Gomes of Sao Paulo and former AC Milan coach Leonardo. Scolari is viewed as the frontrunner, having previously taken the Samba Boys to World Cup glory in 2002. He has stated that he’s not immediately available, owing to his current contract with Palmeiras – then again, he might change his mind if he’s actually offered the job.
Fifa has announced the referees for the World Cup semi-finals. Uzbekistan’s Ravshan Irmatov will officiate in the Uruguay vs The Netherlands match, while Hungary’s Viktor Kassai will referee Spain vs Germany. Irmatov also had the honour of refereeing at the opening match of the tournament, which saw Bafana Bafana play Mexico. The UK press seem slightly puzzled as to why English referee Howard Webb has been overlooked, despite having a great tournament so far (he wasn’t given a quarter-final game either), although they’re talking up his chances of officiating in the final. Refereeing has been a poisoned chalice this World Cup, so we wouldn’t be complaining if we hadn’t been selected.
Germany’s Joachim Loew is undoubtedly the best-dressed coach at the World Cup. But his superstitious players aren’t letting him experiment with his wardrobe any more. Loew wore a now-famous blue jersey to Germany’s 4-1 drubbing of England, and the same garment to his team’s decisive 4-0 victory over Argentina. Subsequently, the players and other coaching staff have demanded that he continue to wear it to matches bring luck to the team. “I am not even allowed to wash it now and I think I will wear it again (against Spain),” he said. We hope Loew isn’t worrying too much about the resultant lack of sartorial variety – he can always accessorise with a dashing new scarf.
20:30, Uruguay vs The Netherlands, Cape Town
By Theresa Mallinson
Photo: Germany’s coach Joachim Loew celebrates the team’s third goal during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match against Argentina at Green Point stadium in Cape Town July 3, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach