By RON FANFAIR
Africa has declined to compete for a chance to host the World Cup of soccer in 2022.
The International Football federation (FIFA) has confirmed that 11 candidates will make official bids to host the tournament in 2018 and 2022. Under FIFA’s rotation rule, African countries were prevented from bidding for the finals in 2018, but could have bid for the 2022 championship.
Egypt was thought to be considering a shot at 2022 after FIFA included it on a list of potential bidders to have expressed an initial interest in staging the tournament. But the country’s soccer association subsequently denied it had any interest in making a bid.
The North African country bid to host the 2010 World Cup finals, but lost out to South Africa, which will become the first African nation to stage the event.
Nine countries have expressed an interest in staging the tournament in either 2018 or 2022 while two are bidding for 2022.
Those applying for both are England, Russia, Australia, the United States, Japan, Mexico, Indonesia and joint bids from Portugal-Spain and The Netherlands-Belgium.
Qatar and South Korea have applied to host the 2022 tournament only.
Applicants must next submit their bidding agreements by December 11 this year, with FIFA’s 24-man executive committee choosing the winning candidate in December 2010.
■ Samson Siasia has replaced Ladan Bosso as Nigeria’s new Under-20 coach. The change comes in the wake of the country’s third-pace finish at the African Youth Championship in Rwanda in January.
Although they have secured a place in this year’s FIFA Under-20 finals in Egypt, Nigeria’s performance was regarded as sub par by the local media and fans.
The Nigeria Soccer Federation, however, claims it was not pressured to appoint Siasia, who is considered the best youth coach in the country.
“We take decisions in the interest of Nigerians, the voice of the people matters but, more significantly, Bosso has had three opportunities,” said Nigeria Soccer Association spokesperson, Ademola Olajire. “He failed to deliver, hence we felt a change was necessary.”
Siasia, who led Nigeria to a silver medal in the Beijing Olympics, says he’s ready for the new challenge.
“Now that I have been called once again, I have no other alternative but to come to the fore,” he said. “I am confident we can turn things around as soon as possible and, for the Under-20 World Cup, I need the support of everyone to succeed. We have all the material we need in Nigeria to achieve success, but good attitude, professionalism and dedication from all matter a lot.”
Siasia is a former Nigeria striker and was part of the side that went to the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
He won the African Under-20 title as coach in 2005 and led the team to the final of the World Youth Championship in the same year when they lost to Argentina 2-1.