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    Football in 2019: A look into what to expect in the new year


    To get a grasp of what football has for us in 2019, we take a look at what to expect. 

    2019 has a stockpile of football actions in store from the local scene in Nigeria to Africa, Europe and South America. 

    It’s still the second week of the new year and to get a grasp of what football has for us in 2019, we take a look at what to expect. 

    NPFL

    We start at home, Nigeria where all eyes are on the League Management Company (LMC) and how they would manage the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). 

    The 2018 season ended just after 24 games following the chaos in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). 

    With normalcy now restored to the NFF, a new resumption date has been announced for the 2019 season but there is still cause to be trepidation.

    The organisation seems rushed as a host of clubs do not look ready for the resumption of the new season. 

    All eyes are on the NPFL; will the league kick off successfully? And as whispers of prosecution of some top NFF officials, can the federation maintain stability to run a smooth league campaign all year?

    On the pitch, there will also be eyes on who can lift the title. Enyimba and Kano Pillars are already traditional favourites while the likes of Akwa United and Lobi Stars who finished last season as leaders are also primed for the challenge.

    AFCON 2019 

    The Super Eagles of Nigeria are back in the AFCON and will aim to win the title again in 2019
    The Super Eagles of Nigeria are back in the AFCON and will aim to win the title again in 2019

    Egypt have finally been chosen as the host of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and with Super Eagles return for the first since 2013, Africa’s premier football tourney will stoke interest in Nigeria. 

    How will the Super Eagles fare in North Africa? Can Mohamed Salah seal his legacy by winning leading Egypt to the title? Can Senegal with the likes of Sadio Mane finally get their hands on the title? 

    Super Falcons

    The Super Falcons of Nigeria won AWCON 2018 and are competing at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup
    The Super Falcons of Nigeria won AWCON 2018 and are competing at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup

    After scrapping to the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nation (AWCON) title in Ghana, the Super Falcons will compete in 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Super Falcons didn’t win the AWCON 2018 in dominating fashion they are used to, which could be a signal to the end of their commanding era. 

    It’ wasn’t a surprise anyway, as the team stayed a whole year without playing a single game after winning the AWCON title in 2016. For their preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the NFF have promised be different and have arranged a couple of high profile friendly games. 

    Will it be enough for the Super Falcons to have an impact on the world stage, will Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby prove his worth for the Super Falcons? These are questions we can’t wait to have answers to in 2018. 

    Age grade competitions 

    Nigeria are back to the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations and all eyes will be on the Flying Eagles as they aim to conquer Africa once more. Coach Paul Aigbogun has already started preparations but can his men qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup and get their hands on the U-20 AFCON title?

    After failing to qualify for the 2017 edition, the Golden Eaglets just like their U-20 counterparts are back on the continental stage with qualification for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in view and the U-17 AFCON.

    Europe

    Europe is where the action is and 2019 has a lot in store from the Premier League to the Champions League and the Nations League Finals. 

    Premier League 

    Liverpool and Manchester City are set for a two-way battle for the Premier League title
    Liverpool and Manchester City are set for a two-way battle for the Premier League title

    The Premier League race is getting tastier as leaders Liverpool are looking very strong with reigning champions Manchester City hot on their heels. Can Jurgen Klopp finally lead Liverpool to their first title since 1990? 

    How far will the Tottenham project go and how much progress will Chelsea and Arsenal muster under new managers Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery.

    The dark cloud that hovered over Manchester United seems to have gone with Jose Mourinho but is their new form under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær just a bust or the real deal? 

    Juventus and Barcelona look set to retain the league titles in Italy and Spain but it is in German where a resurgent and exciting Borussia Dortmund are threatening to displace superpowers Bayern Munich

    Champions League 

    All eys will be on Cristiano Ronaldo as he aims to continue his Champions League fantasy at Juventus
    All eys will be on Cristiano Ronaldo as he aims to continue his Champions League fantasy at Juventus

    Real Madrid have owned the Champions League for three years, but with their recent troubles, they are not expected to continue with their dominance. But who will be the kings of Europe? Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Juventus to their holy grail or is it time for an English club? 

    Paris Saint-Germain are also in search of the Big Ear and with superstars like Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, Thomas Tuchel will be largely judged with how his team performs in Europe.

    Summer 

    The excitement continues in the summer with AFCON 2019 in Egypt, the Copa America in Brazil and UEFA Nations League finals in Portugal. 

    Copa America

    Neymar will love to make up for 2018 FIFA World Cup disappointment by winning the Copa America title for Brazil on home soil.
    Neymar will love to make up for 2018 FIFA World Cup disappointment by winning the Copa America title for Brazil on home soil.

    The best talents will converge in Brazil for the Copa America in the summer and can the Samba Boys get their hands on the title to make for the 2018 FIFA World Cup disappointment. Will Lionel Messi return from international repose to have another crack at a major trophy with Argentina? 

    UEFA Nations League

    The finals of the UEFA Nations League will kick off in Portugal and will football ‘finally come home’ or will the resurgent Netherlands spoil the party? 

    Next season

    The thrill continues again after the summer as the new football season will kick off again. 

    The rebuilding will continue for Arsenal and Chelsea and all eyes will be on Manchester United who will announce a permanent coach. 

    Major tournaments in 2019

    U-17 Africa Cup of Nations: April 2019 

    FIFA U-17 World Cup: October 2019 

    FIFA Women’s World Cup: June/July 2019

    Africa Cup of Nations: June/July 2019 

    UEFA Nations League: June 2019 

    FIFA U-20 World Cup: May/June 2019 

    FIFA U-17 World Cup: October 2019 




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