Press Association Wigan, who have Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester City to look forward to, sit in the relegation zone with just three Barclays Premier League games remaining. But victory over the Swans will move the Latics out of the drop zone as Martinez plots another remarkable escape. “We have good links with Wigan, not just with the manager but also the assistant manager (Graeme Jones), the physio, the coaches and Jordi Gomez,” Britton said. “There are a lot of people there with links to Swansea so it would be strange if we went up there and got a result that dented their survival hopes. But we have to go and try to get a win so we will concentrate on doing that.” Britton did, however, pay tribute to the resilience shown by the Latics following their good sequence of results, which, similar to their late-season run of a year ago, has given them a chance of retaining their top-flight status. “With 10 games left of the season it looked like they were going down, but they have gone on this amazing run of form and picked up some great results,” said Britton. “They have done it the last two or three seasons. I don’t know what it is – I’m sure they would rather go on a run at the start of the season instead of leaving it to the last 10 games but I suppose as long as they are safe after 38 games they won’t mind how they do it.” Despite recent results, Swans boss Michael Laudrup believes just one more win would be enough to ensure his side finish in the top 10. But the Dane, who will be without leading scorer Michu due to a hamstring injury, knows just how difficult it will be to get the three points with Wigan scrapping for their lives. He said: “They will have been looking at the fixtures knowing they have two games left at home and they have Arsenal away. “They know getting something out of the Arsenal game will be difficult. Roberto Martinez is like every manager, he will be looking at the numbers and he will want six points from their two home games and hope it is enough. They will come at us with everything they have.” Leon Britton insists Swansea will not allow sentiment to get in the way when they face former boss Roberto Martinez’s relegation-threatened Wigan on Tuesday night.
Press Association Rangers’ two-year Barclays Premier League stint was brought to an end with a draw at Reading last weekend and manager Harry Redknapp has already claimed he wants to clear out a lot of the current squad and rebuild over the summer. Mbia moved to QPR from Marseille last summer and it appeared he had contacted Joey Barton, who moved to the Ligue 1 club on loan as part of the deal, on Twitter to ask if he would like to swap clubs. But both the player and representatives of QPR have claimed Mbia’s official Twitter account had been hacked and he had no idea of the incriminating messages. QPR midfielder Stephane Mbia has denied using Twitter to try and orchestrate a move away from the recently relegated club. A public message was sent from Mbia’s account to Barton, seemingly suggesting he was looking to leave Loftus Road during the summer. It read: “So… Seriously @Joey7Barton do you want rechange your seat with me ? #qpr #om” Ian Taylor, the club’s head of media and communications, said he had spoken to Mbia and released a statement via the social networking site. It read: “The club is aware of tweets from the official twitter account of #QPR midfielder Stephane Mbia. Stephane Mbia has informed the club he is not responsible for these tweets. The club will continue to investigate and deal with the issue internally.” Mbia also tried to clear up the matter, telling the Guardian: “I do not know how this happened. Someone must have got hold of my login and password because I did not write these things. “This was not me. I did not write the tweets, and I have made people at the club aware of that. I saw the messages this morning and spoke with the club about them, but now I see there are more appearing in my name.” Barton, who was sent off on his last appearance for QPR and was handed a subsequent 12-game ban, has repeatedly told of how he is enjoying his time in France with Marseille and was quick to respond to Mbia’s request. “How do I answer this politically? Er…Nope #allezLOM,” he replied. “If you go down with a team, you should stay and help them up mate. They need you all to stick together and help them back.”
Although the Swans beat Newcastle away last weekend – a victory that took them six points above the relegation zone with only three games left – Monk believes there is still work to be done. The 35-year-old former Swansea captain was put in charge following manager Michael Laudrup’s Liberty Stadium exit almost three months ago. Swansea will go into the home game against Villa without Spanish striker Michu, whose injury-hit season shows no sign of abating. He was sidelined for three months due to an ankle problem, and although he subsequently returned to action, ankle swelling is now keeping him out. “We can’t quite seem to get the swelling down,” Monk added. “It’s really small margins. “Along with our medical department, he has travelled to Spain to see the national doctor for information from him. We will know more today. “The bottom line is he just needs that rest. That is the only way you really get over these injuries. All players play with all types of injuries, and the only real cure is rest. “He will be out for the weekend, and we will see how it progresses next week. “We have to be careful. As much as we want him to play, and he wants to play in the remaining games of the season, the bigger picture is he is an important player for the club. It is important he gets that rest and he comes back as strong as ever. “I know how frustrated he is, but if it means him resting to come back strong and fit ready for next season for Swansea, which is the most important part, we will have to do it. “He is a big player for us, let’s not make any bones about that. He scores a lot of goals, he is a quality striker, a very good player and a good character in the changing room.” Swansea boss Garry Monk is adamant that he will not think about his own future until the Welsh club secure Barclays Premier League survival. Whether he keeps the role beyond this season remains to be seen, but Monk insists his sole focus is seeing Swansea maintaining their top-flight status. “We are not secure. It’s not mathematically done yet,” said Monk, ahead of Saturday’s clash against Aston Villa. “When that comes about, I am pretty sure that is when I will be able to sit down with the board and see what the future is. “The future for me was always to go into coaching and management. Who wouldn’t want to do a job like this? “If we go into these (last) three games and we don’t get any points and the other teams win, then we are relegated. It’s far from over for us. “When it is mathematically done, that is when I can sit down with the chairman and the club and see what the future is and what their thinking is. “I can only do what I am doing. My job is to keep the club in the league, and we are nearly there, but it is still on us to make sure that we complete the job. “In terms of my future, until that day is done, I don’t care about myself. When that day is done, that’s when I will start to think about myself and what the future is for me and also for the club.” Press Association
Javier Hernandez is looking for consistent playing time next season, whether it is at Manchester United or any other club. “Perhaps he didn’t want many players because we wouldn’t have played. Now the situation is different. “There will be a Champions League preliminary round to play, which means many more games and I think there might be more opportunities. “I think I have more options to play at United next season.” Despite a lack of playing time, Hernandez did impress at Real when called upon. He scored seven goals and set up four more in 23 league appearances for Real, who finished runners-up to Barcelona in La Liga. Moreover, a goal from Hernandez gave Real a 1-0 victory over city rivals Atletico Madrid to put Los Blancos into a fifth straight semi-final of the Champions League. “I have no regrets,” he said. “I’ve given everything I had at Real. “I’m very proud to have represented this club. “I went through hard times but also experienced beautiful moments. “I would be delighted if (new Real Madrid coach Rafa) Benitez called me to say he wanted my services,” he said. “But what any player wants is to play. “If that doesn’t happen at United, I will look for a team where I will be given more playing time.” Hernandez joined United from Chivas de Guadalajara in 2010 and is under contract with the Red Devils until June 2016. “I’m currently on holiday and awaiting news regarding my future,” Hernandez told Spanish sports newspaper Marca. “I imagine I will know something soon. “Real had a deadline to exercise the right to acquire my rights but they let it go. “Right now Real are like any other club and as of now I am a Manchester United player. “That’s the only reality. Above all, I want to join a team where I can play and have minutes. “If it’s at Manchester United or another team, I will be equally happy. My priority is to play.” Last summer Hernandez chose to go out on loan as United brought in Radamel Falcao on another temporary deal, although that move did not work out and Louis van Gaal will need a re-think in the forwards department once more. Hernandez indicated he would be happy to stay at United if there are opportunities available. “Last summer it was a different situation,” Hernandez said. “When Van Gaal arrived he wanted to restructure the team and reduce the number of players. They weren’t playing in Europe and he preferred to focus on the Premier League. The Mexico international spent the 2014-15 season on loan at Real Madrid but made just 11 starts in all competitions for the Spanish giants. Real turned down the option to make his stay permanent this month and the 27-year-old forward will be heading back to Old Trafford, where he has one year left on his contract. Press Association
Despite the huge financial backings flowing around for clubs in modern football world – a phenomenon many think is eroding the genuine love and passion for the game – some fairytale examples such as Atletico Madrid’s La Liga winning exploits in 2014 and Leicester City’s shocking run to the Premier League title earlier this year still continue to remind us of certain dynamics of the beautiful game.When the 2015/16 season of the Nigeria Professional Football League got underway in February this year, only a few followers (if there were any) of the game gave newly formed Rivers United a genuine chance of finishing among the front runners by the end of the season.Curtains fall on what has been quite an eventful football season in Nigeria this weekend and one of the stories of the season will have to be the Port Harcourt based Pride of Rivers.Coached by the league’s longest serving manager Stanley Eguma and playing its home games at the antediluvian Yakubu Gowon Stadium in the busy Elekhaia planes of the Garden City, United – indeed an amalgamation of Port Harcourt’s two hitherto struggling clubs, Dolphins and Sharks – quickly banished the ghosts of its ancestors by opening the season with a lone goal victory over Champions Enyimba, Eguma’s first victory over the former African Champions in 4 years.“That win gave us the kind of confidence we needed for a start,” acknowledged Eguma in a chat to www.npfl.ng“Before the league started, there were some internal issues as regards raising a formidable team and because of the short time at our disposal, we could not really get the sort of group we wanted but that win against Enyimba brought a lot of confidence to the players and that fired them to believe they can do well.” he reflectedThe euphoria that greeted the team’s mental victory had hardly died down when they were reminded of the swinging nature of the NPFL table. A run of three games winless streak (including two consecutive losses away from home) which culminated in United dropping points at home for the first time against Sunshine Stars in Week 8 saw the team drop slightly to the second half of the table, a development that saw the management of the team hand out a 3-game ultimatum to head coach Stanley Eguma. He also concedes that was a turning point for his team as his wards responded by winning six out of the following eight games.“Although it (the ultimatum) didn’t bother me much but it was important for us to help us focus properly. The ultimatum was not any form of pressure but it was a wake up call which we reacted to positively and we never dropped from the top spots from then.” added Eguma who has previously coached Oriental clubs like Gabros and Iwuanwayu Nationale.The highlights of United’s season came within that eight-game period. Their two away wins all season (to date) were part of those six wins as well as arguably their best performance of the season, a comprehensive victory over Rangers in Port Harcourt on Match Day 14.The victory over high-flying Rangers who were blown away by a rapid young United side within the opening 45 minutes instantly installed the Rivers state government sponsored side as one of the title contenders. Rangers had only lost twice in 13 league games at that point and that victory was a well crafted prognosis into what will become of Rivers United at the end of the season.United’s first choice goalkeeper and a veteran of the league, Rotimi Sunday highlighted the victories over Oriental sides Enyimba and Rangers in Port Harcourt as key to their successful season.“Those two wins were sweet,” relished Rotimi with great pleasure.“Nobody gave us the chance against Rangers because they were doing so well but we told ourselves we can do it and we really outclassed them.” said Rotimi a former captain of defunct Dolphins of Port Harcourt.United built on that result and pushed for an unlikely title in a three-horse race involving them, Wikki Tourists and Rangers.Despite starting the second stanza of the league with a 3-game unbeaten sequence including two home victories sandwiched by another away draw against Enyimba in Umuahia, United’s undoing had to be their dismal away form from that point – failing to score nor secure a point in seven successive away games. Some of their stars in the first stanza of the league had either suffered a dip in form or succumbed to serious injuries. Fredrick Obomate could not replicate the performances that earned him the League Bloggers’ Player of the Month award in February while all-rounder Chigozie Ihunda popularly called Turkey by United fans never recuperated from a serious injury.Eguma attributed some of the challenges faced in the second half of the season to injuries to some key components of his side although he insisted this is part of the round leather game.“The injuries were one of the areas we had issue. Though it is part of the game, we never expected it to have a prolonged effect on the team. Someone like Ihunda (Chigozie) who had stabilized with the team had an injury in Warri and it ruled him out of the season.“The injuries continued up till this moment affecting my captain Festus Austine, Ayo Asekunowo, Gabriel Olalekan and the accident we had which ruled out someone like Yusuf Jayeola.“It is really difficult to get players in during the mid-season break because the good players are always tied to their clubs but so far, I think we were able to manage thus far.” Eguma added, looking sombre at this point.As the team continued in their title challenge with Rangers as the league reach a climax, what seemed to be the final straw that broke the camel’s back was United’s goalless draw with Abia Warriors in their final home game of the season. On a day Rangers won away at Ikorodu United, United’s hopes were deflated and left hanging by a thread going into the final day of the season.“I think I can attribute our failure to beat Abia Warriors to anxiety and also maybe overconfidence,” said United’s goalkeeper on the day, Sunday Rotimi.“But it is not yet over for us. I believe a win in Uyo on the final day can still change things for us and we are working towards that.” Sunday, whose brother David plays for Owerri-based side Heartland reminded.His coach, Eguma however would not blame his players for Sunday’s result while expressing his utmost belief that his team will take this season’s experience in their stride ahead of the next season.“It’s football. The most important thing was that we created the chances. That has been part of our programmes in training. But unfortunately, that day it was bad we didn’t convert any. Days like that happen in football. It was only our second draw at home but I believe it is just how football is.“This season’s experience will help us next season. We were down at a time, we brought ourselves up and fought all the way. Even if we don’t win the title eventually, we know we have met the good and the bad part of the season and by next season, we will be able to do better and have a better team next season.” Eguma said after supervising his team’s morning training on Tuesday.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Countdown to Final DayBy Fisayo DairoOne of the very many reasons we love the round leather game of football is its tendency to spring up surprises when they are least expected or least imagined.
Published on February 1, 2016 at 10:43 pm Contact Connor: firstname.lastname@example.org | @connorgrossman With the final minute bleeding off the clock in a tie game, Alexis Peterson charged through the mosh of Miami players stationed under the basket.She threw up a layup too hard off the glass, and Cornelia Fondren’s hands emerged above the pack to smother the rebound. She tossed up an errant layup before the 6-foot-4 Briana Day bodied up Miami center Emese Hof and dropped in the go-ahead bucket with 45 seconds left.Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman clenched both fists and let out a yell as the Orange was on the doorstep of a conference upset on the road.“That was a post move I’ve been working on with (Day) for this entire year,” Hillsman said, “and she executed perfectly.”Syracuse stuck to its formula of incessant presses and points in transition to take down the Hurricanes on Monday night. SU (16-6, 6-3 Atlantic Coast) forced 26 turnovers — 17 in the first half — to keep No. 16 Miami (18-4, 6-3) off the ball in a 57-51 win.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPeterson returned to the court after missing Wednesday’s contest with a right-wrist injury and led Syracuse with 16 points. Ten of those points came in the fourth quarter as the junior guard helped SU outscore the Hurricanes, 19-12, in the final 10 minutes.“(Peterson returning) is great because we can get people back in their natural spots on the floor and get our rotation back the way it needs to be,” Hillsman said.Syracuse finally got out to a hot start after suffering through three straight first quarters in which it fell behind by at least 13 points.Isabella Slim splashed a corner 3 to build on a 14-2 Syracuse run midway through the first quarter. After a couple of made free throws by Fondren and a Brittney Sykes fast-break layup, the Orange built up a 16-7 cushion after being down 7-2.The Hurricanes went nearly seven full minutes between field goals in the first quarter until Erykah Davenport broke loose and scored an uncontested layup with 1:26 left in the quarter.“Just trying to execute our offense and get our pressure set to turn (Miami) over,” Hillsman said of SU’s first-half performance. “I thought we did a good job.”Miami struggled navigating Syracuse’s press and 2-3 zone as the game’s opening half came to a close. Peterson corralled three steals in a 90-second span, but her third was nullified by a Day giveaway.Syracuse’s lead evaporated on a Jessica Thomas 3-pointer that tied the game with 3:05 remaining in the second quarter. While shooting only 3-of-19 in the contest, two late 3s by Brianna Butler rescued SU and built a six-point halftime lead.“We did a really good job of being aggressive,” Hillsman said. “Our press did a very good job of getting organized, that was huge for us.”Coming out of the half, SU slowed its pace and was outscored, 15-8, in the third stanza. The Orange continued its aggressive defense, but Adrienne Motley burned Syracuse’s overexertion.Motley dropped in seven consecutive points to draw the Hurricanes within a point, and capped off her two-minute scoring spree beating Fondren down the court in a race to the basket.“We didn’t miss shots early, and we (started) missing shots,” Hillsman said. “We were playing … a little more unsettled than we were before.”But the Orange leaned on its pillars of success from the first half to close out the game in the final 10 minutes. Peterson scooped up a loose-ball turnover on the opening possession and was fouled on her way to the basket.She then marched through Miami’s interior defense a minute later and put the Orange ahead by two. She stole the ensuing inbound and was fouled while making a move toward the hoop.Peterson went to the charity stripe eight times in the final quarter and hit her last four tries in the final 21 seconds to cement the final score.For a Syracuse team that looked in flux without its ringleader against Boston College on Wednesday, it was Peterson who steadied the Orange in its second ACC win on the road.“Any time we can have her turn the corner making plays and playing like that,” Hillsman said, “we’ve got a chance to be good.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Published on March 17, 2016 at 5:45 pm Contact Jesse: email@example.com | @dougherty_jesse ST. LOUIS — Earlier this week, after Syracuse was selected to play in the NCAA Tournament and before it flew here for its game against Dayton, Dajuan Coleman received a Snapchat from Rakeem Christmas.This time last year, Christmas’ college career ended with a thud due to the Orange’s self-imposed postseason ban. Christmas was SU’s only departing senior and didn’t get to extend an All-Atlantic Coast Conference year into the NCAA Tournament. Now he’s in the Indiana Pacers organization and fighting for a chance in the NBA while his teammates prepare for a return to March Madness.His Snapchat message to Coleman was simple: Good luck and keep playing hard.“We really do it for the whole history of Syracuse, everyone who’s come through here,” Coleman, who’s since replaced Christmas at center, said in a Scottrade Center locker room on Thursday. “But we do it for a guy like Rakeem, too, who didn’t get a shot last year. That’s in our heads, for sure.”Christmas did get to play in three NCAA Tournaments and a Final Four in his career, but Syracuse’s decision to self-impose a ban last year justifiably affected him the most. The decision has also made 10th-seeded SU’s (19-13, 9-9 ACC) matchup with the seventh-seeded Flyers (25-7, 14-4 Atlantic 10), at 12:15 on Friday, a comeback of sorts. A comeback from a year and a half mired by NCAA sanctions. A comeback from a situation that penalized current players for infractions they took no part in. A comeback from watching on their couches as this all unfolded a year ago.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn Thursday, Jim Boeheim spoke with the media and last year’s self-imposed postseason ban was unsurprisingly brought up. Here’s the full transcription of what he had to say — which may be the most detailed description he’s ever given on this topic — including notes on Christmas, this year’s seniors and how to best execute a self-imposed ban with the future in mind.“Well, it was the right call, but not (because we’re playing in the Tournament this year). I mean, when we did the ban we were 14-7, better than we were this year. And we won 18 games and we narrowly lost a couple of games at the end of the year. So we could have made it last year if we would have gone to the tournament and done something, we certainly could have. We had great wins last year. We beat Louisville. We won at Notre Dame. We had some other wins.“But the misconception is that you don’t have to take this ban, you can wait. I don’t know where the media gets that from. There is no waiting. When you feel that you need to, you’re going to be out of the tournament, you don’t — you say, well, we’re just going to wait a year. You have to make that decision. It turned out to be beneficial because we might not have made it last year, and we did make it this year. And the other reason that I wanted to take the ban, and I thought it was the right move, is there was only two months left. We only had one senior (Rakeem Christmas) last year, and he had played in three tournaments and one Final Four. The two other seniors we had (Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije) were coming back. So we only really took it away from one guy, and it turned out we didn’t take it away from him anyway because we wouldn’t have gone. But he had been there three times. So it was… and the other thing is one month knowing you’re not going to the tournament is one thing. To sit in Syracuse and for 10 months know we’re not going to the tournament next year, that would not have been good.“So there’s a lot of reasons. It’s not just that part. Really the overriding reason is, if you’re going to take it you got to take it. You just can’t wait. But all those other factors that I just talked about, all play into it a little bit as well.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
The University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball team is set to kick off Big Ten play this weekend in the Field House as one of the seven undefeated teams remaining in DI volleyball (9-0).The No. 5 Badgers must continue to rely on exceptional play from freshman setter Sydney Hilley and middle blocker Dana Rettke. Hilley currently ranks fifth in the country in assists per set with 12.07, while Rettke ranks fifth in hitting percentage with .479.Despite the success of the freshman middle blocker, Hilley continues to do a good job distributing the ball to all her hitters and balancing the offense. Their two seniors, Kelli Bates and Lauryn Gillis, continue to act as mentors, and offer consistency for the young Badger team.Gillis missed the first five matches with an ankle injury, but has since been integrated into the starting lineup.It remains unknown if junior All-American, Tionna Williams will play this weekend. She did not play in the Badger Classic, and rather, freshman Nicole Shanahan earned her first start in the cardinal and white.Volleyball: Wisconsin sweeps Badger Classic, raises record to 9-0The University of Wisconsin volleyball team had yet another successful weekend, defeating both Marquette and Southern Mississippi in the Badger Read…The Badgers start the season against Michigan State Friday night. The Spartans (7-2), are a tough serving and experienced team. They start six seniors compared to two in the UW lineup. Their tough serving will place pressure on the Badger passers, and if they are not able to stay in system, their offense will have a difficult time scoring points.However, the Wisconsin defense prides themselves on leading the Big Ten in the fewest aces allowed. Overall, Michigan State is a solid team that will force the Badgers to fight for every point.Michigan State outside hitter Maddie Haggerty is the sister of Wisconsin outside hitter Molly Haggerty. After an extremely successful freshman campaign, Molly Haggerty has yet to see playing time for UW as she comes off a series of back surgeries.Volleyball: Sheffield brings wealth of talent to team in only four years timeWhen you think about all of the things that can be accomplished in just four years, revamping a volleyball team Read…Sunday afternoon, Wisconsin takes on the No. 20 Michigan Wolverines (10-2). Michigan’s two losses come from two ranked opponents, University of Southern California and Colorado State University.Both of Michigan’s outside hitters are playing six rotations, which gives the team the option of running a back row attack. They are also running a 6-2 offense, meaning that they have two setters. This information is important for the Badger block, as it means that neither of their setters can attack the ball above the net because they will technically be back row players.Every night is a battle in the Big Ten, and this weekend will not be an exception. Both Michigan schools will challenge the badgers after a smooth non-conference season.
Photo Courtesy of Nostalgia When the final whistle was blown in the semi-final Gold Cup match between Jamaica and Mexico at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California on Sunday night history was made in more ways than one.Most pundits are pointing to the fact that Jamaica’s soccer team became the first country from the Caribbean to make it to two consecutive Gold Cup finals. The Jamaica Reggae Boyz will play the USA in the finals on Wednesday, July 26.Specifically, history was created by two members of Jamaica’s coaching staff. These are head-coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore and goalkeeping coach Warren Barrett. Both are members of the historical 1998 Reggae Boyz team, the first English-speaking Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup. The Jamaican team on a historic day 19 years ago, defeated Mexico 1-0 at Kingston’s National Stadium to advance to the World Cup in France.Goalkeeping captain and inspirational midfielderBarrett was then the team’s goalkeeper and captain, and Whitmore an inspirational midfielder. The achievement of advancing to the World Cup prompted then Jamaican Prime Minister, PJ Patterson to declare a national holiday.Now both former players must surely be reveling that they are part of a coaching staff that saw Jamaica defeat the Mexicans against the odds to rewrite soccer’s history books.Interestingly, Jamaica’s most outstanding player in the tournament thus far, Andre Blake, is also the team’s goalkeeping captain.No stranger to making historyWhitmore has had a checkered past as coach of the Jamaican team. He is no stranger to making history. He scored two goals against Japan in the 1998 World Cup to become the country’s leading goal scorer in that tournament.The Jamaicans stand on the cusp of another history making performance. They’ll first have to conquer the hosts and overwhelming favorites, United States.It will not be an easy task, but the Jamaicans have worn the underdog tag well and with the same disciplined approach they have taken in previous matches, the task is not an insurmountable one.The Jamaicans carry the hopes of the Caribbean region on their shoulders and a win for Jamaica will translate to a victory for football in the region.
Source: BBC Plans to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams have been abandoned by Fifa.Fifa president Gianni Infantino said last year the expansion from 32 teams could be brought forward from 2026 to the 2022 tournament in Qatar.The change would have required Qatar to share hosting duties with other countries in the region.World football’s governing body said after a “thorough and comprehensive consultation process” the change “could not be made now”.Fifa also said it explored the possibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament on its own but has decided not to pursue those plans as there was not enough time “for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact”.In November, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said adding 16 teams to Qatar 2022 could create “many problems” and described the idea as “quite unrealistic”.Why does Fifa want to expand the World Cup?In January 2017, Fifa voted unanimously in favour of increasing the World Cup to 48 teams for the 2026 event – which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico.In October 2018 Infantino said “we have to see if it is possible” to bring the expansion forward to 2022.Infantino has been a strong advocate of the expansion and said the World Cup has to be “more inclusive”.“We are in the 21st century and we have to shape the World Cup of the 21st century,” he said when announcing the change.“It is the future. Football is more than just Europe and South America, football is global.”The expansion in 2026 will see an initial stage of 16 groups of three teams precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32.The number of tournament matches will rise to 80, from 64, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games.The tournament will be completed within 32 days – a measure to appease powerful European clubs, who objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule.