WORLD CUP DIARY: Tough ride for the African sides in Russia

Senegal's forward Sadio Mane signs autographs to fans after a training session of the Senegal's national football team on June 15, 2018 in Kaluga during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament.
Senegal's forward Sadio Mane signs autographs to fans after a training session of the Senegal's national football team on June 15, 2018 in Kaluga during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament.
Image: ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

It has already been a World Cup of upsets with heavyweights Germany‚ Brazil and Argentina all failing to pick up expected wins in their opening matches.

It has also been a tough ride for the African sides so far and we have news on Nigeria and Senegal today‚ as well as a fuming Tim Cahill and why Spain have no worries with David De Gea in our SowetanLIVE World Cup diary.

ROHR KEEPS THE FAITH

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr remained confident his side could still qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup despite a dismal showing in their 2-0 opening loss to Croatia.

The Super Eagles must now likely beat Argentina and Iceland in their next two games to have any chance of making the second round.

Their result comes after 1-0 losses for Egypt and Morocco in their opening games at the tournament‚ a poor start for the African continent with Tunisia to take on England on Monday night.

"We are disappointed. We recognise that Croatia had the better team and my young players made mistakes‚ again on the corners‚” Rohr said.

“The first goal was a corner‚ the second goal a penalty from a corner.

"There were also many fouls in the other box‚ they could have also given a penalty for us. Now we have to win against Iceland. If we win the next game‚ all is possible for qualification."

SWITCH FOR SENEGAL

Senegal have made a late switch to their World Cup squad after defender Saliou Ciss was ruled out through injury.

He has been on the sidelines for a month and has failed to recover in time‚ meaning the west Africans have called on French-based Caen star Adama Mbengue as a replacement.

Teams are allowed to change their squads for injuries up to 24 hours before their first game‚ with Senegal to open their campaign against Poland on Tuesday.

HANDS-OFF DE GEA!

Spain coach Fernando Hierro has backed under-fire goalkeeper David De Gea after the latter let a Cristiano Ronaldo shot squirm through his hands in Friday’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Portugal.

Manchester United keeper De Gea made a rare error‚ but Hierro says the player just needs “time and oxygen” and he will be back to his best.

"He's had difficult moments but you can get over everything with time. Goalkeepers have a special psychology‚ and sometimes action-reaction is not enough. De Gea needs time and oxygen‚" Hierro told reporters.

"All players need confidence and I'm going to give that to them. De Gea has taken everything naturally‚ we have to get used to debate because it's part of the job.

"No-one has given him anything for free‚ and we need to be fair with him."

TINY TIM ‘FUMING’

Australia veteran Tim Cahill was reportedly ‘fuming’ that he was left on the bench during Saturday’s 2-1 loss to France.

The former Everton midfielder is hoping to become one of just a handful of players to score at four World Cup finals and was denied the chance to make an impact against the French.

The 38-year-old wants to join Brazilian legend Pele (1958‚ 1962‚ 1966‚ 1970)‚ German strikers in Uwe Seeler (1958‚ 1962‚ 1966‚ 1970) and Miroslav Klose (2002‚ 2006‚ 2010‚ 2014)‚ and Cristiano Ronaldo (2006‚ 2010‚ 2014‚ 2018) on the exclusive list.

Australia still have games against Denmark and Peru in their group.

TITE NOT FAZED BY DRAW

Brazil might have joined South American rivals Argentina in making a limp start to the World Cup‚ but coach Tite is not fazed by their stalemate with Switzerland.

Lionel Messi missed a penalty as Argentina drew 1-1 with tiny Iceland‚ while champions Germany were beaten 1-0 by Mexico on the opening weekend.

Tite felt that all Brazil lacked was a bit of composure in the box and said they would find that in the coming matches.

"We need to stay cool when we shoot and be more precise‚" he told reporters.

"The draw will not shake us‚ some good teams have started the tournament losing‚ we're focused on our next game‚ where I'm sure we will play well and go all out for the win."

Next up for Brazil is a clash with Costa Rica on Friday.

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