AFCON 2021: Things Nigeria Got Wrong Against Tunisia – Ex-Eagles Keeper

Senegalese referee Maguette N’Diaye (C) gives a red card to Nigeria’s forward Alex Iwobi (unseen) during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 23, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Idah Peterside, says Nigeria crashed out of the ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as a result of many irregularities.

Peterside, who spoke on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme Sunrise Daily, listed some of such irregularities to include lack of planning, failure to switch tactics, and unnecessary promises for the players, among others.

“We should have won that game,” he said in reaction to Nigeria’s defeat to Tunisia on Sunday night at the Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua, Cameroon. “We were on the better side. We didn’t do what we should have done at the beginning of the game.

“They gave us so much rest and we should have utilised that opportunity. The game was a little bit slow. Tunisia players tried to slow it down; they knew we were quicker and better. We should have gotten that first goal and things would have changed.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Crash Out Of 2021 AFCON After Loss To Tunisia

“Tactically, they were superior. They knew what they wanted to do. They slowed down the game and frustrated us. They knew our strength was from the left.”

 

‘Don’t Promise’

The Television pundit said the Eagles coach, Augustine Eguavoen, also should have changed tactics at a point in the match and the assistant coach could have helped out, even if the coach didn’t see that.

 

“This is where the assistant comes in. When you watch the English Premier League, you will see the assistant coach once in a while come to whisper something to the coach. We didn’t see that happen too many times yesterday. You need to change tactics,” Peterside added.

He said the mind of the players should have been focused on the match, but they were probably distracted by some officials who went to the dressing room to promise them cash rewards.

“In our mind, we all felt this was a foregone conclusion. We were already calling ourselves champions when we had not qualified. News filtered that some officials – not football coaches – were going to the dressing room to address the players.

“There’s a psychology of football. A footballer has to think about the match 100%. This is football, don’t promise them,” Peterside stated.

Tunisia shocked the Super Eagles to set up an AFCON last-eight showdown after Youssef Msakni scored two minutes into the second half to give the previously unimpressive North Africans a second-round triumph over 10-man Nigeria.

Nigerians’ hopes of equalising were dealt a huge blow midway through the second half when Alex Iwobi, initially yellow-carded for a stamp on Msakni, was sent off after the referee checked the VAR monitor.

Ivory Coast Send Reigning Champions Algeria Crashing Out Of AFCON

Algeria's forward Riyad Mahrez reacts after Ivory Coast scored their fourth goal that did not count during the Group E Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Ivory Coast and Algeria at Stade de Japoma in Douala on January 20, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez reacts after Ivory Coast scored their fourth goal that did not count during the Group E Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Ivory Coast and Algeria at Stade de Japoma in Douala on January 20, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

The Ivory Coast crushed an abject Algeria 3-1 on Thursday with Nicolas Pepe among the scorers as the reigning champions crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the group stage.

Franck Kessie and Ibrahim Sangare scored in the first half for the Elephants in Douala, while Pepe added another goal after the break as the Ivorians finished top of Group E.

Riyad Mahrez hit the post with a second-half penalty before Sofiane Bendebka pulled one back for Algeria with their first goal since arriving in Cameroon, but by then it was too late.

READ ALSO: Qatar World Cup Ticket Sales Launched At Reduced Prices

It is the fifth time in the last six Cups of Nations that the reigning champions have failed to make the AFCON knockout phase, but there has arguably never been a worse title defence.

“A failure, simple as that,” was how Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi summed it up.

“We never managed to take our chances, right from the start of the competition. Even penalties we had difficulty with. We just weren’t good enough.”

Algeria came to the tournament on an unbeaten run stretching back over three years but they were held by Sierra Leone in their opening match and then lost to Equatorial Guinea to suffer a first defeat in 36 matches.

They would have gone through with a win against an Ivory Coast side already guaranteed their place in the knockout rounds, but that never looked likely.

Their demise was lapped up by the fans at the Japoma Stadium in Cameroon’s economic capital, with the 50,000-capacity ground filling up as the game went on.

By the time the match was over it looked like fans had taken up more seats than the 60 percent capacity limit imposed as part of coronavirus restrictions, and many invaded the pitch in chaotic scenes of celebration.

The Ivory Coast clearly had the backing of the crowd and they will stay in Douala for a heavyweight last-16 tie against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt.

“I am very, very satisfied about what my team has done tonight,” said the Ivory Coast’s French coach, Patrice Beaumelle, who has twice won the AFCON as an assistant coach and had some sympathy for Algeria and their failed attempt to retain the title.

“It is always difficult because it is a coveted trophy and when we won it with Zambia in 2012 that inspired a lot of teams as well.”

Equatorial Guinea through

Equatorial Guinea go through in second place in Group E after defeating Sierra Leone 1-0 in Limbe thanks to a superb first-half strike from Pablo Ganet.

Kei Kamara missed a penalty for Sierra Leone as they go out while Equatorial Guinea will stay in Limbe for a last-16 tie against whoever wins Group F between Gambia, Tunisia and Mali.

The Group E results also ensured that debutants the Comoros go through and play hosts Cameroon next.

The Ivorians conceded a stoppage-time equaliser in their last game to draw 2-2 with Sierra Leone following a comical mistake by goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare.

He then learned of the death of his father later that night, but he kept his place in the Elephants line-up.

They went ahead midway through the first half at the end of a great move as Pepe cut the ball back for Kessie to finish.

It was 2-0 six minutes before the interval as the unmarked Sangare headed in Serge Aurier’s free-kick.

Algeria did not come out fighting after the restart and they might have fallen further behind before Pepe finished superbly in the 54th minute to make it 3-0.

Mahrez then hit the upright on the hour mark from a spot-kick awarded for a soft foul on Youcef Belaili.

They did get a first goal in over four hours of football when Aissa Mandi turned the ball back across goal for substitute Bendebka to score in the 73rd minute, but were spared extra misery when Sebastien Haller’s late header was disallowed for offside.

 

AFP

AFCON 2021: Nigeria Grouped With Egypt, Sudan

A file photo of Super Eagles.

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been grouped in Group D with Egypt in the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, which is scheduled to hold in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022.

The other teams in the group include Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, who have been transformed from minnows to qualifying three times in a row.

Meanwhile, Algeria will face the Ivory Coast, the only team they failed to defeat in winning the last Africa Cup of Nations.

READ ALSO: Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham Completes $47 Million Move To Roma

The teams drew 1-1 after extra time in the quarter-finals and the Desert Foxes advanced by winning a penalty shootout.

Matches decided by spot-kicks are officially classified as draws by FIFA, and it was the only time in a seven-match march to the title that Algeria needed a shootout to succeed.

Algeria and the Ivory Coast were placed in Group E with Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea when the draw was made in Yaounde on Tuesday.

It would be a shock if the Algerians and Ivorians did not fill the top two spots, leaving the other two countries to fight for possible qualification as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Although ranked third in the continent this month behind Senegal and Tunisia, Algeria are the form team as they boast an African record 27-match unbeaten run since November 2018.

Cameroon, seeking a sixth Cup of Nations title, were put in Group A with Burkina Faso, who they will face in the opening match in Yaounde, Ethiopia and Cape Verde.

It is hard to imagine the Indomitable Lions failing to make the last 16 and Burkina Faso will also be confident of progressing.

Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal, beaten by Algeria in both the group stage and the final two years ago, will be hotly fancied to top Group B, which includes Zimbabwe, Guinea and Malawi.

Tunisia, who have qualified for every Cup of Nations since 1994, are in Group F with Mali, Mauritania and the Gambia, who along with the Comoros are debutants.

Morocco, whose only Cup of Nations success came in 1976, and four-time champions Ghana look the strongest contenders in Group C, which the Comoros and Gabon complete.

Speaking ahead of the draw, Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe said he hoped for an “exciting, competitive and successful” tournament as Cameroon play hosts for a second time.

Cameroon were originally due to stage the African football showcase in 2019 but fell behind with preparations and Egypt stepped in as late replacements.

The 2021 tournament dates have changed twice, first because of fears that torrential seasonal rains could affect the tight schedule, and then because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Draw

Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cape Verde

Group B: Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi

Group C: Morocco, Ghana, Comoros, Gabon

Group D: Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau

Group E: Algeria, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast

Group F: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia

Note: Group winners and runners-up and the four best third-placed teams qualify for knockout stage

CAF Fixes Date For Next Africa Cup Of Nations In Cameroon

AFCON trophy.

 

The Africa Cup of Nations tournament will be staged in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6 next year, a Confederation of African Football (CAF) official confirmed on Thursday.

A virtual executive committee meeting chaired by recently elected president Patrice Motsepe from South Africa also decided that a draw to divide the 24 qualifiers into six groups will be held on June 25.

Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Comoros, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe have qualified.

The remaining place rests between Benin and Sierra Leone, whose fixture in Freetown this week did not take place because the visitors challenged Covid-19 results after five of their key players tested positive.

File Photo

 

A CAF statement said the match had been rearranged for the May 31-June 15 international window, following which Sierra Leone launched an appeal against that decision.

READ ALSO: Top Seeds Medvedev, Osaka Crash Out Of Miami Open

The Sierra Leone Football Association said the appeal was based on the “failure (of Benin) to report for a match and/or refusal to play”.

Sierra Leone trail Benin by three points in Group L and must win to replace them in the second qualifying place and go to the Cup of Nations for the first time since 1996.

Pre-match Covid-19 tests are currently performed in CAF competitions by the host national team or club and there have been numerous allegations of false positive results depriving opponents of stars.

The CAF meeting acknowledged that having hosts in charge of testing was problematic and is planning, with World Health Organization (WHO) assistance, to use independent medical staff instead.

Concern was also expressed by the executive at the degradation of football infrastructure in many African countries, highlighting a long-standing problem of poor stadium maintenance.

AFP

Malawi Qualify For Third AFCON 

Malawi is making it to their third AFCON. Photo: [email protected]

 

Richard Mbulu scored after 16 minutes to give Malawi a 1-0 Group B victory over Uganda on Monday, and qualification for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 27-year-old forward headed powerfully past Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango off a cross from former Atletico Madrid youth squad member Robin Ngalande.

It was the second time in six days that a goal from the South Africa-based attacker proved decisive as he also scored in last Wednesday’s 1-0 win over South Sudan.

The son of a former footballer, Mbulu was based in Mozambique twice and Portugal before signing a three-year contract with South African Premiership club Baroka in 2019.

READ ALSO: Matriarch Of Obama Family Dies Aged 99 In Kenyan Hospital

Hosts Malawi needed maximum points at Kamuzu Stadium in commercial capital Blantyre to secure a first appearance since 2010 while a draw would have sufficed for Uganda.

Victory temporarily took Malawi to the top of the table with 10 points — they were overtaken three hours later when fellow qualifiers Burkina Faso defeated South Sudan 1-0 in Ouagadougou.

Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore scored the Burkinabe goal on 50 minutes as the team finished unbeaten a six-match qualifying campaign spanning 17 months.

Popularly known as the Flames, Malawi are ranked 123rd in the world, 40 places below Uganda, and will be making a third appearance at the finals after first-round exits from the 1984 and 2010 editions.

They are the 19th qualifiers after Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

– Salah scores twice –
The match in Blantyre was the only one of eight staged Monday that involved qualification, with just pride at stake in the others.

Joint leading Premier League scorer Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scored twice as Egypt netted four times in 10 minutes during the first half to hammer the Comoros 4-0 in Cairo and top Group G.

Kenya claimed a first win in the same section with goals from Hassan Abdallah and Masoud Juma, off a penalty, delivering a 2-1 win in Togo.

Captain Riyad Mahrez scored as Group H table-toppers Algeria finished with a 5-0 rout of Botswana in Blida, which stretched an unbeaten record in competitive and friendly matches to 24.

Zimbabwe, the other qualifiers from the section, fell 2-0 to neighbours Zambia in Harare with Patson Daka netting twice to become the leading scorer in qualifying with five goals.

Both Group D qualifiers lost with Gabon beaten 2-0 by Angola in Luanda and the Gambia going down 1-0 to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa.

Manuel ‘Show’ Cafumana and Loide Augusto scored to end a five-match winless run by Angola in the group while Kazadi Kasengu was the Congolese match-winner, converting a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The remaining five places will be filled Tuesday with the Central African Republic, who have never qualified for the premier African national team competition, among 12 hopefuls.

They host Mauritania in Bangui and a victory will take them to Cameroon unless Burundi achieve an unlikely away win over Group E winners Morocco.

AFP

Rohr Replaces Idowu With Anaemena As Eagles Prepare For Squirrels

World Cup: Gernot Rohr Says Russians Will Support Nigeria
A file photo of Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

 

Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, has called up Enyimba FC defender, Ifeanyi Anaemena, to the team’s camp.

This comes as the team prepare to open their 2021 AFCON qualifying campaign against Benin Republic’s Squirrels on Wednesday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

Anaemena will also be part of the squad for the Day Two clash with Lesotho in Maseru on Sunday next week.

But Russia-based left-back, Bryan Idowu, who submitted his international passport for renewal will not be available because the document is not ready for him to travel to Nigeria for the encounter.

In October, Anaemena was impressive for the Eagles team B in their 2020 African Nations Championship qualifier against Togo at the Agege Stadium.

He has also been a key player for Enyimba, two-time CAF Champions League winners, as they reached the group phase of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup competition.

Captain Ahmed Musa and 13 other players arrived at the Eagles’ Ibom Meridien Hotel and Resorts on Monday while the remaining nine squad members re expected on Tuesday morning.

The 14 who trained on Monday evening are Musa, goalkeepers – Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi and Maduka Okoye; defenders – Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem, Olaoluwa Aina, Jamilu Collins and Oluwasemilogo Ajayi; midfielders – Alex Iwobi, Ramon Azeez and Wilfred Ndidi; and forwards – Samuel Kalu and Victor Osimhen.

Those arriving on Tuesday morning are defenders William Ekong, Anaemena, and Abdullahi Shehu; midfielders Mikel Agu and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo; as well as forwards Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Paul Onuachu, and Emmanuel Dennis.

Ayodele-Aribo, who plays for Glasgow Rangers in Scotland, has scored in the Eagles’ last two games – against Ukraine (2-2) and Brazil (1-1) – incidentally the only two matches he has played for Nigeria.

The Super Eagles will train at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Tuesday evening before their match with the Benin Republic on Wednesday.