NIGERIA is still ranked number 47 in the world. In the FIFA ranking released recently for March, Nigeria has maintained the previous 47th position held by the Super Eagles last month. Although the country’s position is unflattering, it has increased its points from 616 in the February ranking to 626 this month.
By the latest ranking Nigeria has also moved from its previous eighth position in Africa to seventh on the continent. The first six countries, according to the ranking, are Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Egypt, Cape Verde Island, Ghana and Tunisia.
Cote d’Ivoire, which leads the other African countries with 839 points, is now rated 23rd in the world, while Algeria, second in Africa with 819 points, is 25th in the world.
The rankings showed that Egypt garnered 790 points to be third in Africa, Cape Verde Island, 739 points; Ghana, 729 points and Tunisia, 641 points.
In Africa, Egypt has the highest movement going up by 12 spots to be 26th in the world from its 38th position in the February ranking. The country garnered 61 points within the month of February to make up its present 790 points.
The global scene, however, witnessed less movement than it did last month, with Spain, Germany, Argentina, Portugal and Colombia remaining unchanged in the top five spots, respectively. FIFA said that 67 matches were taken into account out of which 57 were friendlies with the other 10 games being AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
The next monthly the FIFA/Coca-Cola World rankings will be published on April 10.
Schumacher Fights On
THE family of Michael Schumacher, former Formula One world champion, is optimistic about his recovery. According to an update released by the family, Schumacher appears to be responding positively to treatment. The statement said the former motor race champion had shown “small, encouraging signs” and “remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up.”
The German suffered severe head injuries during a skiing accident in France at the end of December, but doctors at the Grenoble Hospital started to bring him out of a medically induced coma at the end of January. Most of the statements since then said that his condition remained unchanged and that the process of making him get better could not be rushed. The family thus, reminded supporters that it would take a slow procedure to get him back to health, but there were plenty of positive signs as well.
“We are and remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up,” his agent Sabine Kehn said in a written statement, adding: “It was clear from the start that this will be a long and hard fight for Michael. We are taking this fight on together with the team of doctors, whom we fully trust. The length of the process is not the important part for us. It is heart-warming to see how much sympathy his family is shown and I can say that the family is extremely grateful for it.”
Farah Prepares for London Marathon Despite New York Collapse
MO FARAH, a British athlete, is “feeling good” despite collapsing shortly after finishing the New York half-marathon recently. The 30-year-old Farah, who fell during the race after being tripped and taken away in a wheelchair. “It’s not a big deal,” insisted the double Olympic champion, who finished second to Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai. Discussing his fall, he said: “I was seeing stars. Everything was kind of blurred to me. I just wanted to keep going. I didn’t want to stop and drop.”
Five miles into the race, Farah was in a leading group of eight but was accidentally tripped from behind and tumbled to the ground, allowing Mutai and compatriot Stephen Sambu to break clear. Although Farah overtook Sambu with metres to spare, he could not catch Mutai, finishing 18 seconds behind in 1:01.08. He collapsed after the race and was placed into a wheelchair and taken from the course area
“I would have done exactly the same thing if I was him in the race,” admitted Farah, who won 5,000m and 10,000m gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. I’m not sure what happened. I just remember falling and hitting the ground quite hard. I got caught on my hip, my ankle, the whole right-hand side. At that point, I just wanted to get back up and get up with the group. It did take quite a lot out of me. My aim was to just close the gap slowly, but I couldn’t quite close the gap. Then, the last four miles, I struggled a bit. I just tried so hard.”
Farah, who is preparing to make his full marathon debut in London in April, had said he was targeting his own British half-marathon record of one hour 59 seconds set in New Orleans in 2013. In 2009, the athlete collapsed after finishing second at the European Cross-Country Championships in Fingal, Ireland. Farah later appeared in good health at the post-race media conference.
Sally Kipyego of Kenya won the women’s event. Kipyego set a new event record with a time of 68 minutes and 31 seconds, finishing 29 seconds clear of Ethiopian Bizunesh Deba, with Molly Huddle of the United States third, 34 seconds behind the Kenyan.
Djokovic Wins Indian Wells
NOVAK Djokovic fought back to beat Roger Federer in a deciding tie-break 3-6 6-3 7-6 in the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells, recently. The 26-year-old Serb lost the opening set but, despite not being at his best, clawed his way back to win the event for the third time. It was a revenge for his loss to Federer in Dubai last month.
Djokovic said: “It was a proud achievement. It was not just winning the trophy but the way I came back from a set down in a couple of matches. That gives me a lot of confidence.”
A single break decided the opening two sets, but the game burst into life in a thrilling decider.
Trailing in the final set after dropping his serve in the third game, Federer broke back to keep his hopes alive and from there, they went to a tie-breaker that was all Djokovic.
Federer sent a backhand long on the first point of the breaker and Djokovic seized a quick 3-0 lead with an overhead smash and another errant backhand from the Swiss. Federer saved one match point with an ace, but Djokovic ended it on his first opportunity on his own serve when Federer smacked a backhand into the net.
“I said after my semi-final that very few points will decide the final – and I was right,” Djokovic said. Yet the Serb trails Federer 17-16 in head-to-head meetings.
— Mar. 31, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT