WORLD CUP DIARY: Belgium confident of quarterfinal win over Brazil

03 July 2018 - 18:34 By Nick Said
Japan's defender Gen Shoji (L), Japan's goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (C) and Japan's defender Yuto Nagatomo (R) react as Belgium's players celebrate their winning goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Belgium and Japan at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don on July 2, 2018.
Japan's defender Gen Shoji (L), Japan's goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (C) and Japan's defender Yuto Nagatomo (R) react as Belgium's players celebrate their winning goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Belgium and Japan at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don on July 2, 2018.
Image: Jack GUEZ / AFP

The final two matches in the World Cup Last 16 are played on Tuesday before we look forward to the quarterfinals starting on Friday.

We have news from Nigeria‚ Belgium‚ Germany‚ Denmark and an offer of some charity work by Diego Maradona.

CATCH AND RELEASE

Kidnappers have freed the father of Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi‚ who was snatched last week.

Police confirmed on Tuesday that Michael Obi had been released after his son paid a ransom of some R400‚000 for his release.

“Michael Obi‚ the father of the [Super] Eagles captain‚ has regained his freedom‚” spokesman for Enugu state police in southeast Nigeria‚ Ebere Amaraizu‚ said.

Obi senior was unharmed‚ but forced to walk some five kilometres for his freedom.

It is not the first time he has been kidnapped either‚ he was also snatched in 2011.

BELGIAN RELISH BRAZIL CHALLENGE

After their thrilling 3-2 success over Japan on Monday night‚ Belgium are confident they can beat Brazil in their quarterfinal clash on Friday.

It is a “dream” match-up for the Belgians‚ who have a number of global stars in their ranks such as Eden Hazard‚ Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku‚ but will still be regarded as underdogs.

"When you play against Brazil‚ you need to understand they are the best team in the competition‚" coach Roberto Martinez said.

"We can enjoy it from the first minute. I don't think anyone expects us to go through to the semifinals."

Brazil booked their quarterfinal place with a 2-0 win over Mexico.

DEATH THREATS

The Danish Football Association has reported death threats against striker Nicolai Jorgensen to police‚ the organization confirmed on Tuesday.

Jorgensen missed a penalty in the post-match shoot-out in Sunday’s World Cup Last 16 clash after his side had drawn 1-1 with Croatia.

Although three Danish players in all missed penalties‚ his was the last and decisive error.

"Stop. Our society must never accept death threats - neither against World Cup stars‚ politicians or others. It is completely unacceptable and indecent‚" the Danish FA said on Twitter.

"We are reporting the case to the police to end this madness."

GERMANY STICK WITH JOGI

Germany will not sack coach Joachim Loew despite their dismal failure at the World Cup‚ the country’s football federation confirmed on Tuesday.

Loew has already been in charge of the team for 12 years and has a contract that runs up until 2022‚ which at this stage looks as though it will be honoured by his employers.

"We are all firmly convinced that with Jogi Loew‚ we have a national coach who will analyse [the situation] very precisely‚ take the right steps and lead our team back on the road to success‚" DFB president Reinhard Grindel said in a statement.

Loew won the World Cup with Germany in 2014‚ but their form in the last nine months has been below par.

"My disappointment is equally big‚ but I want to start the reconstruction with all my strength.

"I will now analyse everything with the team‚ we will have talks and (I) will draw my conclusions prior to the season start in September‚" Loew said.

FREE DIEGO

Diego Maradona is so convinced he can turn around the fortunes of Argentina that he has offered to coach the team for free.

The legendary former striker was reacting after the team were ousted 4-3 by France in the Last 16 of the World Cup this past weekend.

Maradona‚ who has been ridiculed for his bizarre behaviour in the stands at the tournament‚ was formerly coach of the side in 2010 in South Africa‚ where they lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarterfinals.

"Yes‚ and I would do it for free‚" he said on a Venezuelan TV show. "I wouldn't ask for anything in return.

"People think I am happy but my heart is heavy. I feel really bad that everything we built with so much effort‚ we destroyed so easily."

"People think I am happy but my heart is heavy‚" Maradona said about Argentina's elimination.

"I feel really bad that everything we built with so much effort we destroyed so easily."

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