*Current format not fair to Africa
By Oluwole Francis
FIFA’s new format, to be introduced by giving Africa a total of nine slots in the 2026 World Cup which has just been expanded to 48 teams from its current 32 has received nods from stakeholders in the continent.
Super Eagles current coach, Gernot Rohr, said it would ensure that more African teams participated in the World Cup.
“You’ve seen the groups and the criteria for qualification in Africa. It’s a very difficult process, “only one team each from the five groups can qualify which I think isn’t fair.”
“Each team normally must have a chance rather than just one. Perhaps, if two can be given a chance to qualify with the introduction of the new system, which will be interesting.
“Forty eight teams are a lot, nine slot for Africa but I think it would change the mode of the competition and there would be a lot of knock out games as well,” he said.
Otunba Sunday Dele-Ajayi, an Executive Board member of NFF and the Chairman of Ondo Football Association said the decision was good, adding that it was the best thing to ever come out of FIFA.
“I think it is a good thing because teams all over the world have developed over time and expanding the scope to accommodate 48 teams will bring the best out of the World Cup.
“It will give an opportunity to both the weaker teams and stronger ones as they come together to slug it out for a shot at the World Cup title. With the nine slots allotted to Africa, there is a possibility of teams like Benin Republic, Rwanda, and the likes making it past the first round or beyond
“Beyond the round of 32, the straightforward knockout contest will also make the tournament interesting to watch,” he said.
He also noted that FIFA President Gianni Infantino, was a man of his words as he had fulfilled a promise he made during 2016 election campaign.
“The young man has shown that he is a man of integrity indeed and I hope we leaders can also learn from his example.