Archive | June 2014

World Cup 2014 – Round of 16 Preview: France vs. Nigeria

Even though it doesn’t look good for the Super Eagles, let’s have a little faith!

Wheels and Goals

France vs. Nigeria

How did they make it through?
France stormed through Group E with a couple of impressive performances. The 1998 World Cup winners began their campaign with a convincing 3-0 win over Honduras, with Karim Benzema bagging two goals. France continued their impressive form into their second group game, when they thrashed Switzerland 5-2. Benzema was again amongst the scorers, along with Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena and Moussa Sissoko. The French played some great football in their opening two matches, allowing them the luxury of being able to rest players for their final group game. This ended up being a 0-0 draw with Ecuador, with the French missing plenty of chances to win the game.

Benzema is in great form Benzema is in great form

Players to watch out for:
Real Madrid striker Benzema has been in excellent form so far in this competition and I expect him to be the danger man again tonight. He already has three goals to his name, along with…

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2014 World Cup Group F Live: Argentina, Nigeria Advance To Round Of 16

Lineups for the currently tied game

Phil Walter
Argentina and Nigeria meet in Porto Alegre with first place in Group F up for grabs. Neither head coach has made changes to their lineups from Saturday, so let’s look at how the two teams will start the match.
Alejandro Sabella has made no changes to his lineup that pulled off a late 1-0 victory overIran on Saturday. With first place not yet confirmed, it makes sense that Sabella has decided to not rest any starters, with the idea being to ensure they finish on top of Group F. Lionel Messi, who was the hero against Iran, starts in the attack, with Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.


Nigeria’s lineup is unchanged as well from their win over Bosnia. Head coach Stephan Keshi was a bit limited with change options anyway with Victor Moses and Godfrey Oboabona both unavailable due to injury. Peter Odemingie scored the winer for the Super Eagles on Saturday, and will hoping to lead his team to a win or draw that would see them through to the knockout round.

Argentina lineup (4-3-3): Sergio Romero; Marcos Rojo, Ezekiel Garay, Federico Fernandez, Pablo Zabaleta; Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago, Angel Di Maria; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero

Nigeria starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Vincent Enyeama; Juwon Oshaniwa, Joseph Yobo, Kenneth Omeruo, Efe Ambrose; Ogenyi Onazi, John Obi Mikel; Michel Babatunde, Peter Odemingie, Ahmed Musa; Emmanuel Emenike.

Nigeria’s Finance Minister: The World Bank makes me sad

In a wide-ranging conversation at the Fortune Most Powerful Women International event in London, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala discussed the missing Chibok girls, fighting corruption and running for the World Bank presidency.

You may recognize Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s name from 2011 headlines. For the first time since its founding, the World Bank agreed to a merit-based presidential election that year. (Historically, the president of the World Bank is a U.S. citizen and the head of its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund, is a European citizen.) Okonjo-Iweala had just begun her second stint as Nigeria’s minister of finance, but that didn’t stop a group of African presidents from recruiting her to run for the World Bank’s top job. She was up against U.S. candidate Jim Yong Kim, then Dartmouth College’s president, and Okonjo-Iweala was often touted as the more experienced candidate; she had previously spent 21 years at the World Bank. It seemed like Okonjo-Iweala could make history.

But she didn’t. Despite the rule change, the World Bank went with Kim. “If you say you are going to do things based on a certain set of rules, and then you go around and do them on another set of rules, what sort of example does that set for the world?” Okonjo-Iweala asked the audience at the FortuneMost Powerful Women International conference in London on Tuesday. “I was a little sad…that people would write one thing in the rules and actually do the opposite.” Luckily, the experience didn’t dishearten the finance minister too greatly. “I believe that the next time I run it will not be the same,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Until that day comes, Okonojo-Iweala stays busy running 25% of Africa’s economy, a task not without its challenges. She’s led investigations of corrupt oil companies and reformed payroll platforms to minimize leakage. “You have to roll up your sleeves,” she explained. But her push for change sometimes comes at a price. In 2012, opponents of her attempts to clean up oil subsidy fraud kidnapped her 82-year-old mother. They didn’t want money; they wanted Okonojo-Iweala to resign. “I was sitting there in my room, feeling very depressed not knowing what would happen,” she said. “And [my father] came up and said, ‘This is what they want. They want you depressed. You have to get up and go to work.’” Okonojo-Iweala put on a brave face and went to her office, even presenting during a cabinet meeting that day. “That image of not being intimidated, of carrying on, may actually have helped,” she said. Her mother was shortly returned.

Another case of kidnapping is on Okonojo-Iweala’s more immediate radar. A group of more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped in April by the Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist group. Their whereabouts are still unknown and the Nigerian government has received immense criticism for their inaction. “I think that the mistake we made is that we allowed a gap in communication, which allowed people to characterize the government as doing nothing,” Okonojo-Iweala  said. The kidnappers are unpredictable, deeply inhumane people, she added, and Nigeria’s president wants to be careful to ensure that every girl is found alive. “From what I know, this is something that is near to our hearts. All avenues are being pursued to try and locate the girls and get them back.” Nigeria’s also received help from the U.S., U.K., France, China and Israel. “I just want the world to know that this matter hasn’t been left alone or forgotten.” To help combat attacks like the one on the Chinok school, Nigeria announced last week the Safe Schools Initiative, funded by the government and former U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown. The campaign will first focus on improving the safety and security of schools in emergency states where the Boko Haram is most threatening before spreading to other parts of the country.

Okonojo-Iweala admitted her job is exhausting– and her four children and two grandchildren help recharge her. “What is so pleasing is when they look at you and they don’t remember the career. They are very supportive, but they make you feel like a human being,” Okonojo-Iweala said. “I’m running all the time. Those 18 hour days… It’s grueling. But when somebody pulls you back to the more human or mundane things, that’s what makes life worth it.”

Nigeria vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2014 World Cup preview: Crunch clash in Group F


With both Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina failing to win their opening World Cup games, their meeting on Friday is a very important affair.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

Nigeria has a solitary point after the first slate of Group F games, while Bosnia and Herzegovina are sat on a big fat zero thanks to an opening defeat to Argentina. However, it’s paradoxically the Dragons who are probably more content with their position, knowing they still have this clash with the Super Eagles and minnows Iran still to play. For them, progression into the knockout stages is still a very realistic prospect.


Nigeria, meanwhile, could well head into the final matchday having to pick up points against World Cup contenders Argentina to progress into the knockout stages. That would be the case if Bosnia earns at least one point in this match and then have enough left to beat a stubborn Iran. In short, this game is a must-not-lose for Bosnia, and in all likelihood a must-win for Nigeria.



Argentina beat Bosnia and Herzegovina

Team news

Nigeria were very disappointing in their opening draw with Iran. Coach Stephen Keshi may, therefore, opt to make changes to his starting lineup, with Shola Ameobi and Peter Odemwingie alternative attacking options. They’ll hopefully have defender Godfrey Oboabona fit to play after he picked up an ankle injury in the opening game.

Bosnia have been boosted by the news that their captain Emir Spahić is set to quickly bounce back from a knee problem. Otherwise coach Safet Sušić should have a full complement of players to choose from. He may well start an unchanged lineup from the one that lost 2-1 to Argentina in their opening game, though veteran forward Vedad Ibišević could come in alongside Edin Džeko up top after scoring their consolation from the bench.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Vincent Enyeama; Juwon Oshaniwa, Joseph Yobo, Kenneth Omeruo; Efe Ambrose; Ogenyi Onazi, John Obi Mikel; Victor Moses, Ramon Azeez, Ahmed Musa; Emmanuel Emenike.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (4-2-3-1): Asmir Begović; Sead Kolašinac, Emir Spahić, Ermin Bičakčić, Mensur Mujdža; Muhamed Bešić, Miralem Pjanić; Senad Lulić, Zvjezdan Misimović, Izet Hajrović; Edin Džeko.


Key matchups

Nigeria’s attackers vs. Muhamed Bešić – One of Bosnia’s star performers in their defeat to Argentina was defensive midfielder Muhamed Bešić, who was effectively the only true defensive anchor tasked with shielding the Dragons’ centre-backs. With Nigeria often playing extremely narrow when they venture forward — Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa both like to drift inside — the defender-turned-midfielder Bešić will have to be just as impressive once again.



Goalless stalemate against Iran

Nigeria’s defence vs. Miralem Pjanić and Edin Džeko – Bosnia’s creative midfielder Miralem Pjanić and their powerful centre-forward Edin Džeko will surely stand out as the two most talented names on this game’s teamsheet. With Pjanić having impressed in an excellent season at AS Roma, Nigeria will have to work hard to keep him quiet. He’s not quite as comfortable in a midfield pivot as he would be with the freedom to break forward in a 4-3-3, though his incisive passing will still be a big threat. If he can find the lethal Džeko in space in the box, the ball will probably end up in the back of the net.


This game is very difficult to predict, not least given how the importance of the occasion could lead to some cagey football. However, if these sides’ opening group games are anything to go by, it’s the Dragons who should just about have the edge. 2-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina.

India overtakes US as Nigeria’s biggest oil importer

Drilling platform in the Niger Delta
At 2.5 million barrels per day, Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer
India has taken over from the US as the largest importer of Nigerian oil, the West African state’s national oil company has said.

The US has “drastically reduced” its demand for Nigeria’s crude oil in recent months, the Nigerian National Oil Corporation said.

The country is currently buying about 250,000 barrels a day.

India now buys considerably more – about 30% of the country’s 2.5 million barrels of production.

US demand for imported oil has fallen sharply because of increasing domestic shale gas and oil production – so much so that the International Energy Agency and oil giant BP both forecast that the country will be largely energy independent by 2035.


Nigerian economy leads frontier market opportunities

Companies such as Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank and Nigerian Breweries have put Nigeria at the forefront of frontier market opportunities, according to Baring Asset Management. 

Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, recently rebased its GDP upwards to USD500 billion for 2013, ranking the country as the 26th largest economy in the world1, and the forthcoming general elections in 2015 could provide further opportunities for investors in a country undergoing significant reforms.
Nigeria represents 13.2 per cent of the Baring Frontier Markets Fund, the largest single country holding, followed by Saudi Arabia (9.7 per cent), Kuwait (9.6 per cent) and the United Arab Emirates (9.2 per cent).  While the MENA region represents 42.2 per cent of the Fund, African holdings now account for 21.6 per cent, ahead of Asia (13.8 per cent) and Eastern Europe (8.6 per cent). 
In April, the Baring Frontier Markets Fund celebrated its first anniversary with one-year performance of 24.8 per cent.
Michael Levy, manager, Baring Frontier Markets Fund, says: “The core reasons to consider frontier markets in an investment portfolio remain the same today as when we launched the fund: these markets represent significant potential for long-term growth in a low-growth global economy; they are inefficient markets at an early stage of development, providing many mispriced investment opportunities; and they offer low correlations with developed and emerging equity markets.
“Return on equity and dividend yield forecasts for frontier markets in 2015 are significantly ahead of developed and emerging markets, reflective of higher relative economic growth rates and early stage opportunities.  GDP growth is also forecast to be at a premium to peers in the near term and for decades to come.”
A good example of a frontier market opportunity is Zenith Bank.  While the second-largest bank in Nigeria has benefitted from a cautious approach to risk, we forecast loan growth to sustainably and profitably top 15 per cent per year going forward, and its highly liquid balance sheet has a capitalisation ratio among the highest in the world.  Other frontier market stocks we like include Kenya’s Safaricom and the largest auto dealer in Laos, Kolao Holdings, which is benefitting from rising car ownership in Laos as well as neighbouring Cambodia and Myanmar.
Africa is forecast to become more important to frontier market investors, believes Barings, following the recent announcement that, as of 2 June 2014, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will be reclassified from the MSCI Frontier Markets Index to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.  Qatar and the United Arab Emirates currently have a 36.3 per cent weighting and their reclassification will proportionately increase the exposure to the long-term growth potential of markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as other markets in the Middle East such as Kuwait and Oman.
Levy says: “We have said before that Africa is a region where we see strong long-term investment potential, and one consequence of this change in the index is that we expect to see increased attention directed to markets in the continent.  It’s one of the characteristics of the frontier markets universe that it continues to evolve as economies develop, and one of the key reasons it remains such an exciting asset class for investors.”

Iran v. Nigeria 9:00 PM

Iran vs Nigeria: Stats, facts and team news for Curitiba clash

  • Iran face Nigira in the second game in Group F
  • Argentina beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 in the first group game
  • Charlton’s Reza Ghoochannejhad is the key man for Iran



Group F: Iran v Nigeria

Venue: Iran v Nigeria 

Kick-off: Arena de Baixada, Curitiba

TV coverage: BBC1, from 7.30pm

Odds: Iran 13/5, Draw 21/10, Nigeria 23/20 

Referee: Carlos Vera (Ecuador)

Final preparations: Iran train ahead of their game with Nigeria

Final preparations: Iran train ahead of their game with Nigeria

Key clash: Reza Ghoochannejhad v Joseph Yobo

Charlton’s Ghoochannejhad is the key to Iran’s counterattacking play and Nigerian captain Yobo will be keen to keep him under lock and key as he is likely to be troubled by the youngsters pace. Iran will work hard in defence and then hope Ghoochannejhad can make the breakthrough.

One to watch: Kenneth Omeruo (Nigeria)

Chelsea youngster Omeruo spent time on loan at Middlesbrough last season but has recently been a key man in Nigeria’s defence despite his youthfulness. The 20-year-old starred as Nigeria won the African Cup of Nations and will be looking to put himself on the map ahead of another likely loan move this summer.

Head-to-head record: Played 1 Nigeria wins 1

Star man: Nigeria's defender Kenneth Omeruo is a man to watch

Nigeria manager Stephen Keshi believes opposite number Carlos Queiroz is Iran’s biggest threat at the World Cup.

The sides meet in Curitiba on Monday and it is a game which could provide the best chance for either side to take three points.

Iran came into the tournament as perhaps the least fancied of all 32 nations but in Quieroz they have a well travelled campaigner at the helm.

He has managed his native Portugal, as well as South Africa and the United Arab Emirates at international level, had a brief tenure at Real Madrid and spent several years as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United.

As for his own side, Keshi is relying on an experienced spine to steer an otherwise youthful group.
Queiroz knows Iran are up against it on the biggest stage of all, but has a simple game plan to maximise their chances.

He has called for focus, enjoyment and a refusal to admit defeat.

Iran's: Reza Ghoochannejhad

Strong at the back: Joseph Yobo


Probable line ups

Opta stats 

  • Iran have won only one of their nine games at the World Cup, against USA in 1998 (2-1).

  • Carlos Queiroz’s side have never kept a clean sheet in a World Cup game.

  • Nigeria are winless in their last eight World Cup games (D2 L6). It’s the longest current drought among the 32 teams taking part in 2014.

  • The one previous meeting between Iran and Nigeria came in a friendly in 1998; the Super Eagles won 1-0.

  • No team scored more goals than Iran in the 2014 Asian World Cup qualifiers (30).

  • Nigeria’s three goals at the 2010 World Cup all came from set piece situations (one penalty, one direct free kick and one from a throw-in).

  • Over half (11/21) of the goals that Nigeria have conceded at World Cups have come from set plays, however (three corners, two direct free kicks, four indirect free kicks and two penalties).

  • No goalkeeper kept more clean sheets in the top five European leagues in 2013/14 than Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama (21, for Lille).

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Super Eagles arrive Brazil for 2014 World Cup

Published: June 11,2014

Super Eagles of Nigeria

The Eagles are grouped with Argentina, Bosnia and Iran.


Nigeria’s Super Eagles early Wednesday morning arrived Sao Paulo, Brazil, as they join other countries getting set to compete in the FIFA 2014 World Cup.

Twenty-two players as well as team officials headed by Coach Stephen Keshi made the long flight from Miami to the Samba country where attention will be for the next 30 days as the best of football will be on display. Ejike Uzoenyi, who was recalled after the injury to Elderson Echiejile, is expected to join his teammates later on Wednesday from Nigeria via South Africa.

The team was said to have been sent off from Miami by a sizeable number of Nigerian fans, who wished the Africa champions all the best as they head to the Mundial.

As confirmed by FIFA, Nigeria will travel to Campinas to start their preparation to face Iran (June 16), Bosnia-Herzegovina (June 21) and Argentina (June 25) at Estadio Brinco de Ouro da Princesa Team Base Camp.

It has not been the best of preparations for Nigeria as the Eagles could not muster any win in all their test matches. That nonetheless, the players and officials have insisted that there was nothing to worry about.

The Eagles are grouped with Argentina, Bosnia and Iran and will kick off their World Cup campaign with the game against Iran.

Africa is rising and open for business

 By Don LaGuardia and Mo Meghji

In this sound bite-based information age, the big news headlines emanating from Africa focus largely on negative stories: Boko Haram kidnapping school girls and exploding car bombs in Nigeria, the Westgate Mall attack and other Al Shabaab terror activities in Kenya, Mali’s separatist battles with religious zealots, South Sudan’s war-ravaged starvation crisis and ceaseless pirate hijackings in Somalia.  The headlines continue to reiterate The Economist’s May 2000 cover story, which dubbed Africa the “Hopeless Continent,” a region teetering on the brink of collapse with terrorism, disease, corruption and coups the norm rather than the exception.

The broader reality of Africa today is very different from this seemingly ubiquitous negative narrative.  While the deplorable acts by extremists must be given the utmost attention to resolve, they should not be allowed to distort the tremendous success occurring across the continent. 



In December 2011, The Economist cover story, “The Hopeful Continent: Africa Rising,” highlighted recent successes on the continent including the rapid growth of many African countries, the increasing education level of the population entering the workforce, the enthusiasm for technology which is boosting growth and attracting the attention of international investors such as China and other non-Western countries.

While Africa still faces its share of challenges, it is the missing headlines that are the real story for Africa. And it is a story of opportunity, entrepreneurialism, and hope. “How many network newscasts have been interrupted to announce that, amongst countries with more than 10 million people, 6 of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies in the past decade have been African?  Or that 7 of the fastest growing economies for the next five years are expected by the IMF to be from Africa?” 

If only the less dramatic stories could catch the attention of today’s mile-a-minute viewers and readers: Ugandan woman can afford first cell phone. Nigerian man opens first bank account. Sierra Leone student finds employment. Kenya farmer buys crop insurance. It is these stories and the drivers behind them that excite us as investors. They may not sell newspapers or boost ratings, but they more accurately depict the transformation that is occurring on the African continent. 

The drivers of this growth are numerous throughout the 55 countries that comprise this misunderstood continent. The three C’s of Frontier Markets investing – consumption, construction, and commodities – are common drivers of growth throughout the continent.  Likewise, technology has had transformative effects on economic growth as well as serving as a force to combat some of the political challenges that plagued the continent for much of the last century.

Africa is now open for business. For those investors and entrepreneurs willing to look beyond the headline risk, opportunities abound. 

LaGuardia is co-founder and managing partner of LR Global, a Frontier Markets investment firm founded in 1997.  LR Global manages over $200 million in Frontier Markets equities globally. Meghji is founder and CEO of M-III Partners, LLC, a New York-based merchant bank and private equity firm focused on sub-Saharan Africa. Meghji is originally from Kenya but has lived in North America for the past 25 years.

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