FIFA President Congratulates Yobo

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By Duro Ikhazuagbe
With barely four days to the grand ceremony to formally pull out former Super Eagles captain Joseph Yobo from football in Port Harcourt, President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, has sent in a congratulatory message to the Ogoni-born ex international.
The much-talked about testimonial tagged the Joseph Yobo Centenary Game slated for Friday in the Garden City and bankrolled by the Rivers State Government, is to attract several top current and former players from the English Premiership.

In a letter personally signed by Infantino and addressed to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, the FIFA chief wrote: “Many thanks for your letter dated 17 May 2016 and informing us of the testimonial match in honour of former international player and Nigeria Captain Joseph Yobo.
“On this occasion, allow me to congratulate and send my best wishes to Joseph Yobo for his future activities.”
The Joseph Yobo’s testimonial game, slated for the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, will feature a Team Joseph Yobo (comprising of Super Eagles’ players of Yobo’s generation) and a Rest of The World squad.

Already, the NFF has released Super Eagles skipper John Mikel Obi and his assistant, Ahmed Musa, to honour Yobo in Friday’s testimonial game, leaving them out of the international friendly with Mali in France on the same day.
Meanwhile, FIFA will next month announce the top five seeds for the African zone of the 2018 World Cup qualifying tournament with Nigeria most likely to miss out.
FIFA will announce the top seeds between June 8 and 10 ahead of the main draw on June 24 in Cairo, Egypt.
The qualifiers to be played on a league basis of 20 teams divided into five groups will begin in October with the winners of the five groups qualifying for Russia 2018.
Experts are currently speculating that the current FIFA rankings will be one of the yardsticks to be used and this will most certainly work against Nigeria, who is now a disappointing 14th ranked team in Africa and is not likely to achieve any remarkable jump by the June rankings.

Africa’s top five ranked teams by this month are Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal and Egypt in that order.
Previous World Cup records will also be taken into consideration and this could well help Nigeria’s cause after Super Eagles reached the Round of 16 in Brazil two years ago.
With the seedings, Africa’s top teams will avoid themselves on the road to the next World Cup in Russia.