WCQ: Onazi On Standby, Ighalo Returns As Nigeria Name Squad For Ghana Clash

(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, midfielder Joe Aribo, defender William Troost-Ekong, (bottom L-R) forward Kelechi Iheanacho, defender Ola Aina, defender Zaidu Sanusi, forward Moses Simon and forward Samuel Chukwueze pose prior to 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

 

Midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has been put on standby as Nigeria on Friday named their squad, which included Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2022 absentee, Oghenekaro Etebo, for the World Cup play-off against regional rivals Ghana later this month.

The long-time absentee was part of the Super Eagles side that won the AFCON in 2013.

Leicester City forward Ademola Lookman was also included in the provisional squad.  Nigeria take on Ghana at the 20,000–capacity Cape Coast Sports Stadium on March 25, with the reverse leg set for Abuja four days later.

READ ALSO: [Waldrum] Our Mission Is To See Super Falcons Compete Creditably With The World’s Best

The winners from the tie will earn one of Africa’s five tickets to the World Cup finals in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.

Lookman has been cleared by FIFA to play for Nigeria after he represented England at various age-grade levels.

He is one of three uncapped players selected by Nigeria, along with Calvin Bassey of Scottish champions Rangers and FC Copenhagen youngster Akinkunmi Amoo.

The enlarged squad also includes Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis and striker Odion Ighalo, who were blocked by their clubs from featuring at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, who missed the competition, was also invited.

Taiwo Awoniyi, Peter Olayinka, and Chidozie Awaziem, who all played at the recent AFCON, as well as long-term absentee Ogenyi Onazi, are on a seven-man standby list.

The training camp opens in Abuja on March 21 with a 24–man final list for the two play-off games to be released at a later date.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia/CYP), Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs/RSA), Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam/NED)

Defenders: Semi Ajayi (West Brom/ENG), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes/ESP), Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), William Ekong (Watford/ENG), Ola Aina (Torino/ITA), Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia/CYP), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto/POR)

Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford/ENG), Joe Aribo (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/ENG), Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford/ENG), Akinkunmi Amoo (FC Copenhagen/DEN)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk/TUR), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal/ESP), Victor Osimhen (Napoli/ITA), Moses Simon (Nantes/FRA), Sadiq Umar (Almeria/ESP), Odion Ighalo (Al-Hilal/KSA), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/ENG), Emmanuel Dennis (Watford/ENG), Ademola Lookman (Leicester City/ENG)

Standby: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor/TUR), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn/GER), Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin/GER), Paul Onuachu (Genk/BEL), Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague/CZE), Ogenyi Onazi (Al-Adalah/KSA)

AFP

First 11: Nigeria Vs Ghana Match Date Confirmation +This Week’s Biggest Sports Stories

First Eleven

 

After three weeks of action, the 2021 AFCON ended in Cameroon with a new champion. The uncertainty about the Super Eagles coaching job was also resolved. There was equally good news for Nigeria ahead of their 2022 World Cup playoff with rivals, Ghana. First 11 captures these and other stories that made the headlines, including’s Kurt Zouma’s travails.

The ‘Jollof’ Rivalry

(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, midfielder Joe Aribo, defender William Troost-Ekong, (bottom L-R) forward Kelechi Iheanacho, defender Ola Aina, defender Zaidu Sanusi, forward Moses Simon and forward Samuel Chukwueze pose prior to 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

 

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has fixed March 27th for the second leg of the 2022 World Cup playoff with Ghana, Secretary-General of the body, Ademola Olajire, said earlier in the week. In a statement, Olajire said the match will take place at the MKO Abiola National Stadium in Abuja but explained that the first leg of the encounter.

“Ghana Football Association now has to confirm whether the first leg inside the Cape Coast Stadium will be on Wednesday, 23rd March or Thursday, 24th March,” he said.

The winner of the tie will join four other countries to fly Africa’s flag at the global competition billed for late 2022 in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar. Qualification for the tournament will make Nigeria one of the few countries on the continent to have reached the FIFA World Cup more than six. The game is expected to rekindle the age-long rivalry between both West African nations.

Lookman Switches Allegiance

Ademola Lookman won the U-20 World Cup with England in 2017. Photo: [email protected] Leipzig

 

And in a major boaster for the Super Eagles ahead of the two-legged tie, Ademola Lookman is now qualified to wear Nigeria’s green and white. The former Fulham man was cleared by FIFA on Thursday; months after fans questioned his omission from the Nigerian side that featured at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon. The Leicester City forward had played for England at age-grade levels and had been courted for years by football authorities in Nigeria. Born in Peckham, England, Lookman won the 2017 U-20 World Cup with the English team and will be likely feature for the side during the clash with Ghana.

Eguavoen Stays!

File photo of Augustine Eguavoen

 

Before Looksman’s switch, the NFF had confirmed the retention of Augustine Eguavoen as the interim manager of the senior side but made former international, Emmanuel Amunike, his assistant. The football body explained that the move followed a recommendation from its technical and development committee. It also cited what it described as the “positive performance” of the Super Eagles at the 2021 AFCON despite an early exit.

“The NFF Board has approved a recommendation of the Technical and Development Committee retaining Augustine Eguavoen as Technical Director/Technical Adviser (interim) while Emmanuel Amuneke becomes the Chief Coach of the Super Eagles. Salisu Yusuf will be the 2nd Assistant Coach/Chief Coach of the CHAN team and Joseph Yobo will be 3rd Assistant while Aloysius Agu remains the Goalkeepers’ Trainer,” the NFF said.

Monday’s development finally ended the uncertainty surrounding the Eagles’ coaching role. In the wake of Gernot Rohr’s dismissal, football authorities in Nigeria had appointed Jose Peseiro as the team’s coach. The Portuguese was expected to be an observer at the AFCON before taking over. But the NFF said it did not sign a contract with the former Ah Ahly manager, yielding to calls for a local coach for the national team.

Peseiro Faults NFF

Venezuela’s Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro gestures during the Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match between Venezuela and Peru at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on June 27, 2021. EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Hours after the NFF’s decision, the Portuguese said he never agreed to go to the AFCON with the team, faulting the ‘Glass House’ for not reaching an agreement with him before announcing his appointment. Talks to take over the three-time African champions’ coaching role broke down due to financial disagreements, Paseiro posted on his Instagram page.

Up The Ladder!

Nigeria supporters cheer after their team won the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 football match against Guinea-Bissau at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 19, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

 

News of the NFF’s U-turn was quickly followed by the Super Eagles’ jump in the FIFA ranking despite an early ouster from the 2021 AFCON. Nigeria moved three places on the continental ranking to become the number three team on the continent. Before the latest ranking, the Super Eagles were 36th globally and 5th in Africa. Senegal are number one in Africa.

The Jinx Is Over

Senegal's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d'Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Senegal’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Their global ranking, which has moved from 20th to 18th, was a direct reward for their historic AFCON win. They defeated Egypt by a penalty shootout to claim the title for the first time after losing twice in the final. Senegal reached the final in 2002 and 2019. Their feat prompted wild celebrations across cities in the West African nation. The government also declared a national holiday to celebrate the win and also handsomely rewarded the team.

D’Tigress Keep W/Cup Hopes Alive

The D’Tigress in action during the game against France. Photo: [email protected] DtigressNG

 

On Friday, the D’Tigress defeated France 67-65 to make amend for their opening day loss to China at the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup qualifiers. The win keeps the team’s qualification hopes alive. The African champions had earlier lost – 90-76 – to China in their quest for a ticket for the competition billed for Australia in September. They will now play Mali in the last group fixture of the qualifiers.

Zouma’s Travails

West Ham United’s French defender Kurt Zouma warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between West Ham and Watford at the London Stadium, in London on February 8, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Away from Africa, former Chelsea defender, Kurt Zouma, made headlines for kicking his pet cat. Although he apologized after the video went viral, the French international was fined 250, 000 pounds by his club West Ham while kit maker, Adidas, ended their deal with the player. There are also calls for David Moyes to drop him for the club’s league game this weekend. But several players and fans have questioned the sanctions meted out to Zouma, describing them as overtly harsh.

Chelsea On the Cusp of History

Chelsea players celebrate their opening goal during the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup semi-final football match between Saudi’s Al-Hilal and England’s Chelsea at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on February 9, 2022. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Zouma’s former team defeated Al-Hilal by a lone goal to reach the final of the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup and moved a step closer to winning the title for the first time. The European champions will take on Palmeiras on Saturday, a game that could define Chelsea’s season.

The Blues have fallen off the pace in the Premier League after three wins in 10 matches but are still vying for multiple honours at home and on the continent. They will play Liverpool in the League Cup final later this month, four days after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against French club Lille. The defending champions are also in the running for the FA Cup.

“We are desperate to win this trophy. We could be the first team in Chelsea history to bring this trophy to London so we are happy that we are in such a big final,” said the midfielder, Mateo Kovacic. “We will do everything to win it on Saturday.”

Neymar’s Account Hacked

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar walks off the pitch after a red card during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Marseille (OM) at the Parc de Princes stadium in Paris on September 13, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Police authorities in Brazil have arrested a man for hacking into Neymar’s bank accounts and repeatedly stealing money to the tune of 40,000 dollars. According to officials, the suspect worked with an unidentified bank where the former Barcelona player and his business manager father had accounts. The hacker was arrested on Wednesday “for defrauding bank clients”, a police statement explained. While the security agents did not mention Neymar in the statement, the officer in charge of the case said it was Neymar. He also explained how the alleged theft occurred to Brazilian TV show Brasil Urgente.

Ex-AFN Scribe Arraigned Over $150,000 IAAF Fund

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

And back home, the anti-corruption agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arraigned a former Secretary-General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Mr Amaechi Akawu, for reported complicity in a $150,000 fraud. He was arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court 5 in Abuja on Friday over allegations bordering on money laundering and fraudulent diversion of public funds.

The ICPC filed 10 charges against him before Justice Ekwo, in which it accused Akawu of diverting monies released by the International Association of Athletics Federation for the hosting of the CAA Grand Prix Competition in Delta State, popularly known as the 2017 Warri Relay Competition. The offence was allegedly committed in July and August 2017, when he, on several occasions, fraudulently diverted funds from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development into personal use.

“Akawo entered a not guilty plea when the charge was read to him. His counsel, Emmanuel Aghedo, moved his application, praying the court to grant him bail on liberal terms,” the ICPC said in a statement. “Counsel to ICPC, Mashkur Salisu, who did not object to the bail application, however, urged the court to grant him bail on stringent terms that will ensure he stands trial.”

While ruling on the bail application, Ekwo reportedly admitted him to bail in the sum of N15 million, with one surety in like sum.

Buhari Congratulates Senegal On AFCON Victory, Bids Farewell To Outgoing Ambassador

President Muhammadu Buhari presents a gift to The outgoing Senegal Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E Mr. Babaca Matar Ndiaye during a farewell audience at the State House Abuja.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Senegal for winning the just concluded AFCON while bidding farewell to the outgoing ambassador Babacar Matar Ndiaye at State House, Abuja on Thursday.

The President asked him to convey Nigeria’s congratulations to President Macky Sall on the Teranga Lions victory at the biennial soccer fiesta.

“I’m sending the congratulations reluctantly because our own country got beaten in the tournament,” the President jocularly told His Excellency, Babacar Matar Ndiaye.

READ ALSO: [Aliou Cisse] The 2002 World Cup Hero Who Broke Senegal’s AFCON Jinx

President Muhammadu Buhari and The outgoing Senegal Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E Mr. Babaca Matar Ndiaye during a farewell audience at the State House Abuja.

 

He lauded him for a successful tour of duty in Nigeria, which lasted almost four years, and observed that “our relationship is very strong. I congratulate your President for keeping the country together. Please extend my best wishes to him”. President Buhari also wished the outgoing ambassador success in his next tour of duty.

Ambassador Ndiaye said Nigeria was like a second home to him, having first served in the consular section of the embassy, before he came back as ambassador for almost four years.

“Thanks for the success of my term. I will always have good memories of Nigeria,” Ambassador Ndiaye said.

Aliou Cisse: The 2002 World Cup Hero Who Broke Senegal’s AFCON Jinx


Senegal’s head coach Aliou Cisse holds a Senegalese flag as he celebrates after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Twenty years ago, Senegal’s golden generation of players, including ex-Liverpool star, El-Hadji Diouf, lost the Africa Cup of Nations crown to Cameroon. Aliou Cisse, who now coaches the team, missed the decisive kick in the penalty shootout as Cameroon won a second consecutive AFCON trophy in Mali.

Months later, the Teranga Lions bounced back from that heartbreaking defeat to stun France at the 2002 World Cup, beating the then-holders by a lone goal in their first game. Led by the iconic Bruno Metsu, they raced to the quarter-final of the Korea/Japan tournament but a ‘golden goal’ in the last eight saw them crash out to Turkey in their first World Cup outing.  Cisse was the captain of that golden generation that took the world by storm in the early 2000s.

Despite being perennially tipped as favourites since then, the West African side had failed to win the continent’s most treasured football medal. In 2019, they fell to Algeria in the final, the closest they have gone since the defeat to Cameroon.

“All of that is in the past,” Cisse said about the twin final defeats ahead of Senegal’s final match against Egypt on Sunday. “We have a different squad that is even better than 2002 and better than 2019. We will try to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes as in these finals, and we are very excited to have the chance to put the past behind us.”

Born in Senegal’s southwestern town of Ziguinchor on March 24, 1976, Cisse’s family moved to France when he was nine. They lived in a Paris suburb called Champigny-sur-Marne. His childhood dream of playing for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) became a reality as he featured for the Parisians between 1998 and 2002. The player later wore the colours of English sides, Birmingham City and Portsmouth, featuring as a defensive midfielder and occasionally as a centre back. Unlike his days with the Teranga Lions, his club career never caught the limelight as he retired at Ligue 2’s Nîmes in 2009.

READ ALSO: Senegal Declares National Holiday To Celebrate AFCON Win

A Winning Mission

Senegal's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d'Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Senegal’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

The former midfielder then delved into management and quickly worked for his badges before he got his big break as the assistant coach of the U-23 side between 2012 and 2013.  He later became the head coach between 2013 and 2015. In 2015, he replaced Frenchman Alain Giresse as the Teranga Lions coach after they crashed out of that year’s AFCON at the group stages.

Saddled with the responsibility of building a formidable team after one of the lowest moments of Senegalese football, the bespectacled Cisse had his work cut out.

“I have a lot of ambition for Senegal, but it can mostly be summed up in one word: win and win again,” he said in a televised interview following his appointment.

Under his guidance, the Teranga Lions fortunes took a new twist. Apart from helping the team become the best African side in the FIFA ranking, Cisse set up a flourishing side which allowed star men, Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy, Idrissa Gueye, Kalidou Koulibaly to play to their strengths. Aside from qualifying the team for the 2017 AFCON in grand style by winning all six qualifiers – a first in the country’s football history – he also led the Teranga Lions to the World Cup in 2018 to humble his critics.

READ ALSO: Dakar Explodes With Joy As Senegal Crowned African Champions

In his first AFCON outing, Senegal were sent out in the quarter-final stage of the competition after a penalty shootout loss to eventual winners, Cameroon. At the 2018 World Cup, the second in the nation’s history, Cisse’s men were hard hit by ill-luck after they went out of the group stage on disciplinary grounds. Tied on the same points and goal difference with Japan, the Africans left the competition having gotten six yellow cards, two more than the Blue Samurai.

After the disappointment of Russia, Senegal set their sights on the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Like previous tournaments, they were one of the favourites and lived up to that tag when they reached the final of the competition. But for the second time, the star-studded Lions of Teranga were beaten by Algeria.

“The last time Senegal reached this point was in 2002. The experience of big matches, we want to be here more often. We’re getting closer to winning,” the distraught coach said after Algeria defeated them in the final in Egypt, the second time in that tournament. “The team has been making progress these past five years. A final is decided by fine margins and we deserved better tonight.”

Indeed, the Senegalese deserved better but started the 2021 campaign on a cautious note, playing what many tagged as “dirty football” as they gathered momentum in Cameroon. In the group stage, they managed just one goal (a Mane late penalty against Zimbabwe) in three games to top the chart. Injuries and COVID-19 also hit as they played their first few matches without key players like Chelsea’s Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly; midfielder, Nampalys Mendy, and gifted winger, Ismaila Sarr.

Heading into the knockout phase with five points, the 2002 runners-up defeated Cape Verde 2-0 before seeing off Equatorial Guinea in the next round of clashes. They, however, showed their strong title credentials and depth when they swept away Burkina Faso 3-1 in the semi-final with Cheikhou Kouyate of Crystal Palace and Sarr coming off the bench to score.

“We know we can do better, but we know we’re getting stronger,” Koulibaly said after the quarter-final win over Equatorial Guinea at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde. “I think that after the first and second games, or even the group games, nobody saw us there, but today we can be happy.”

‘We Waited Long’

Supporters celebrate in Dakar on January 06, 2022, after Senegal won the Africa Cup of Nation (CAN) final against Egypt in Yaounde, Cameroon. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

 

In Senegal, the former midfielder is seen as more than a coach to the players. He was a fans’ favourite and was expected to deliver the nation’s first AFCON title. That wish materialised when former Southampton star, Mane, scored the decisive kick at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, leaving fans back home in an explosion of joy. A festive atmosphere erupted in the capital city as thousands of supporters trooped to the Independence Square, near the presidential palace, to celebrate the historic moment. Supporters were drowned in the sound of car horns, vuvuzelas, and firecrackers at the square. The Senegalese flag was hung from buildings, on vehicles, and on sidewalks. 

Fans hugged each other amid bonfires outside the streets of Dakar and across the country.

“I’m happy. It’s the best day of my life,” a 25-year-old car washer, Modou Ba, said.

“We waited a long time. (The cup) is finally here. We really needed it,” an accountant, Seydou Nourou Diop, said after the final whistle.

President Macky Sall, who had declared a national public holiday hours after the win, had earlier praised the team for bringing pride to the nation.

“African champions. What a game! What a team! You did it. Beautiful moment of football, beautiful moment of communion and national pride. Congratulations to our heroes,” he tweeted on Sunday night.

He had also cancelled his travel plans to welcome the triumphant men who are billed to hit Dakar at 1300 GMT Monday.

For Cisse, the AFCON win is a dream come true.  His former teammate, Salif Diao had quoted the coach as saying “If I don’t win it as a player, I will win it one day as a coach”.  But beyond the craving for personal glory, Sunday’s victory is the ultimate gift for a football-mad nation that fought hard to land the elusive title.

Dakar Explodes With Joy As Senegal Crowned African Champions

Supporters of Senegal national football team celebrate in Dakar on January 6, 2022, after Senegal won the Africa Cup of Nation (CAN) in the final match against Egypt in Yaounde, Cameroon. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

 

Dakar exploded with joy at the final whistle as Sadio Mane’s Senegal beat Mohamed Salah’s Egypt for their first ever Africa Cup of Nations crown.

“African champions. What a game! What a team! You did it. Beautiful moment of football, beautiful moment of communion and national pride. Congratulations to our heroes,” Senegalese President Macky Sall tweeted after the Lions’ win Sunday night.

Sall declared Monday a national holiday to celebrate the “brilliant victory”, public television announced.

The president, who had been due to visit Comoros at the end of a trip that took in Egypt and Ethiopia, also cancelled the last leg in order to welcome the triumphant Lions on their return to Dakar at 1300 GMT Monday, RTS television said.

Dakar erupted when Liverpool star Mane scored the decisive penalty to give Senegal the win in a shoot-out (4-2) after the final finished goalless at the end of extra time.

Hundreds of supporters in Senegal jerseys flocked to Independence Square, near the presidential palace in the heart of Dakar, to celebrate.

READ ALSO: Australia To Reopen Borders To Tourists On February 21

The square vibrated to the sound of car horns, vuvuzelas, whistles and firecrackers.

A festive atmosphere spread across the capital, with national flags hung from buildings, on vehicles and sidewalks.

At the massive African Renaissance Monument which towers above the capital from a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, dozens of fans hugged each other amid bonfires after the penalty shoot-out.

“I’m happy. It’s the best day of my life,” 25-year-old Modou Ba, a car washer, told AFP.

“We waited a long time. (The cup) is finally here. We really needed it,” said Seydou Nourou Diop, a 27-year-old accountant.

Student Khadim Lo, 21, said he was “very proud of our Lions. It’s exceptional.”

At the foot of the monument, supporters then left the fanzone to reach the street, some standing on cars and mingling with the crowds coming out of their homes to celebrate.

Earlier, the tense shoot-out saw some anxious supporters in tears and even unable to watch the screen, Mane having missed a penalty during normal time, his shot saved by Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal.

“He must not miss the penalty. For a final the great player does not miss. It’s unacceptable,” fumed Pape Mbaye, a 24-year-old driver.

The crowd started to relax as two Egyptian shots missed the mark.

They finally exploded with joy after Mane converted the last shot to make Senegal African champions.

Senegal Win AFCON 2021, Claim First Continental Title

Senegal's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d'Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Senegal’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Sadio Mane made up for missing from the spot in normal time to score the decisive penalty as Senegal overcame Mohamed Salah’s Egypt 4-2 in a shoot-out to win their first Africa Cup of Nations title after Sunday’s final finished goalless at the end of extra time.

Mane had seen Mohamed Abou Gabal save his seventh-minute penalty at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde but Egypt could not capitalise as they went all the way to extra time for the fourth consecutive game at this Cup of Nations.

Salah was due to step up to take Egypt’s fifth penalty but with Mohamed Abdelmonem hitting the post and Mohanad Lasheen having his kick saved by Edouard Mendy, the Liverpool star did not get his chance and was already on the verge of tears as his club team-mate Mane prepared to strike the decisive blow.

After two previous final defeats, Senegal are Cup of Nations winners at last, while Egypt missed out on a record-extending eighth continental crown that would also have been a first for Salah.


Senegal’s goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (C) celebrates with teammates after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Senegal’s celebrations followed a disappointing final, the fifth in the last 11 editions of the tournament to be decided in a shoot-out after a goalless draw.

Indeed Egypt had already twice won finals that had been settled on penalties after finishing 0-0, and they had already won in the same manner twice in the last fortnight, against the Ivory Coast in the last 16 and the hosts in the semi-finals.

 Salah’s night

This time their luck ran out as the tournament ended at the venue where eight people died and 38 were injured in a crush on January 24.

The country’s 88-year-old President, Paul Biya, attended the closing ceremony where he was paraded in an open-top car to hysterical crowds along with his wife, First Lady Chantal Biya.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino and CAF chief Patrice Motsepe were also in attendance although the biggest cheers were reserved for Cameroon great Samuel Eto’o, now the head of the country’s football federation, when his face appeared on the big screens.

A four-time African player of the year and two-time AFCON winner, Eto’o is one of the continent’s all-time great footballers, but this final brought together Africa’s current superstar duo in Salah and Mane.

Desperate to make up for losing the 2019 final to Algeria, Senegal had a golden early chance to take the lead when outstanding left-back Saliou Ciss was chopped down by Abdelmonem in the box.

Mane stepped up, but his kick was too close to the middle of the goal and Abou Gabal was able to save.

Salah needed nearly half an hour to make a genuine impact with a jinking run in from the right and a shot easily saved by Mendy, and the Chelsea goalkeeper then produced an excellent stop to tip a Salah effort over just before half-time.

Extra time again

Aliou Cisse’s Senegal team boast a plethora of stars based at major European clubs while Salah and Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny are exceptions in an Egyptian side still largely based at home.

Carlos Queiroz’s team are masters of the dark arts and the Portuguese coach himself was suspended here after losing his temper in the semi-final and being sent off.

Their coaching staff pulled the strings on the touchline, moving Salah into a central role after an hour, and substitute centre-forward Marwan Hamdy missed a glorious chance soon after as he headed wide from point-blank range.

By then it was clear that Egypt were willing to go to extra time again, sure that they could rely on more heroics from their goalkeeper.

Abou Gabal, nicknamed Gabaski, clawed away Boulaye Dia’s 100th-minute header after a fine cross by Ciss, and he also kept out a Bamba Dieng piledriver in the second period of extra time.

With Mendy saving from Hamdy at the other end, penalties were inevitable, and it proved to be Senegal’s night with Bouna Sarr their only player to miss his kick.

 

 

AFP

 

Senegal Vs Egypt AFCON Final Goes Into Penalty Shoot Out 


Egypt’s forward Marwan Hamdi (2R) reacts after missing a goal opportunity during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Senegal and Egypt went into a penalty shoot-out in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final with the score 0-0 at the end of 120  minutes.

Sadio Mane squandered the chance to put Senegal ahead inside seven minutes in Yaounde when his penalty was saved by Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal.

Senegal are trying to win the Cup of Nations for the first time while Mohamed Salah’s Egypt are chasing a record-extending eighth title.

AFP

AFCON Match Preview: Senegal Aim To Break Final ‘Curse’ Against Egypt

A photo combination showing Mane and Salah.

 

Senegal will battle Egypt in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday, aiming to exorcise demons of two defeats in the final of the continental showpiece.

The Teranga Lions have been to two AFCON finals but never tasted glory. In 2019, they lost to Algeria in Egypt. This came 18 years after suffering defeat to Cameroon in the 2002 final held in Mali.

Coach Aliou Cisse, who was in charge when the team lost in 2019, was also part of the side that fell to Cameroon 20 years ago, missing a penalty in the shoot-out.

Egypt, however, will be seeking to stretch their AFCON record. Having won the biennial competition seven times, a win in Sunday’s final will take their tally to eight, three more than Cameroon, the nation with the second-highest AFCON titles.

Liverpool duo of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah headline the final of the tournament. Both have had fine competition so far and fans expect them to give a spark to the game.

READ ALSO: Mane Urges Senegal To ‘Go All The Way’ And Lift Cup Of Nations

Senegal’s Road To Final

Senegal’s players (FromL) in back row, defender Abdou Diallo, midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, forward Famara Diedhiou, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, defender Kalidou Koulibaly, forward Bamba Dieng in front row defender Saliou Ciss, forward Sadio Mane, defender Bouna Sarr, midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye and midfielder Nampalys Mendy pose before the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match between Burkina Faso and Senegal at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on February 2, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Senegal were in Group B of the continental football competition. In their opening fixture, they defeated a determined Zimbabwe 1-0, thanks to a Sadio Mane late penalty. They, however, failed to win their last two group games, drawing goalless with Guinea and Malawi to secure a place in the knockout stages.

Despite a shaky start to the campaign, the West Africans beat Cape Verde 2-0 in the round of 16 before a resounding 3-1 victory over Equatorial Guinea at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in the quarter-final. Burkina Faso then slumped 3-1 to Senegal as they sealed a place in the final of this year’s edition of the competition.

Team News For Senegal

Senegal does not have any injury worries going into Sunday’s clash. Once more, they would be relying on Liverpool forward, Mane, to lead them to victory. Chelsea goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy and Napoli defender, Kalidou Koulibaly among others are all fit for the encounter.

Speaking ahead of the game, Coach Cisse said his players are ready for the battle. According to him, their opponents are not new to them. The push, for the side, the coach noted, is the desire to win a first continental crown.

“We are on the way to our objective of winning the title this Sunday evening. We must focus on the final, play it well, and thus succeed in our match. We will have to take advantage of the moment,” the coach, who played at the 2002 World Cup, added.

“We lost two finals in the past, but this time we will approach the match with more determination”.

The Pharaohs’ AFCON Journey


(Top L-R) Egypt’s goalkeeper Mohamed Abogabal, midfielder Amr al Suleya, defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim, midfielder Hamdy Fathy, forward Omar Marmoush, forward Mostafa Mohamed, (bottom L-R) forward Mohamed Salah, midfielder Mohamed Elneny, defender Omar Kamal, defender Mahmoud ‘El Wensh’ Hamdy and defender Ahmed Abou el Fotouh pose prior to the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match between Cameroon and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 3, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

After losing to Nigeria in their opening game, the record holders managed just two goals in the group stage, beating Guinea-Bissau and Sudan one goal each. Interestingly, all their knockout matches have gone into extra time, beginning with the victory (5-4 on penalties) over Ivory Coast. They later edged out rivals, Morocco 2-1 in the quarter-final. One of their biggest tests in the competition came when they faced hosts Cameroon in the semi-final. The 2006 champions, again, needed a penalty shootout to beat their opponents 3-1 after normal and extra time ended in a barren draw.

Egypt Team News

Starman, Salah, is expected to lead the Pharaohs as they file out against Senegal this evening. While he has been largely quiet this tournament when compared to Mane, he has two goals and an assist to his name so far. Aside from the 29-year-old, Egypt will be missing injured Mohamed Elshenawy. Mohamed Abu Gabal is expected to equally continue his heroics from the Cameroonian match as his country aim to stretch their continental dominance. Coach Carlos Queiroz will not be on the touchline following a red card in the semi-final win. He is serving a two-match ban but will work remotely with the team.

Egyptian manager, Wael Gomaa, admits that the extra time his time have played so far may impact their play, but he believes the players are ready to go the extra mile against a ruthless Senegal.

“The main thing for us is to win the trophy and offer it to all the Egyptian people who have been supporting us for several months,” he said in a pre-match conference.

“I would like to thank the medical staff who are doing a titanic job in order to prepare all the players after each match”.

Senegal Vs Egypt: Head To Head

Both sides have met 12 times. Senegal defeated Egypt on four occasions and drew two while Egypt recorded victory six times.

The North African side have won the competition in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010 while Senegal were runner-up in 2002 and 2019.

Time For Senegal Vs Egypt Match

The game will start at 8:00 pm Nigerian (WAT) time.

Egypt Call For Postponement Of AFCON Final Against Senegal 


Egypt’s players react as their goalkeeper stops a shot by Cameroon’s midfielder James Lea Siliki in a penalty shoot-out during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match between Cameroon and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 3, 2022.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Egypt called on Africa Cup of Nations organisers to delay this weekend’s final against Senegal to give them more time to prepare after overcoming hosts Cameroon on penalties in Thursday’s semi-final.

“I want to state to all CAF authorities that Senegal have one extra day to train and therefore maybe we should play the final on Monday,” suggested Egypt’s assistant coach Diaa al-Sayed, who was speaking after coach Carlos Queiroz was shown a red card during the semi-final.

READ ALSO: Mane Urges Senegal To ‘Go All The Way’ And Lift Cup Of Nations

Egypt won 3-1 in a shoot-out after a goalless 120 minutes in Yaounde, while Senegal overcame Burkina Faso 3-1 in normal time a day earlier.

The Egyptians had already needed extra time and penalties to get the better of the Ivory Coast in the last 16 before beating Morocco 2-1 in extra time in the quarter-finals.

AFP

Mane Urges Senegal To ‘Go All The Way’ And Lift Cup Of Nations

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane (C) is challenged by Burkina Faso’s midfielders Adama Guira (L) and Gustavo Sangare during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on February 2, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Sadio Mane hailed his Senegal teammates after they beat Burkina Faso 3-1 in Yaounde on Wednesday to reach their second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations final.

“It shows you the momentum we have. We knew it was not going to be at all easy to get to two straight AFCON finals, but the most important for us now is to go all the way and win it, whoever we come up against,” Mane said after scoring one goal and making another in the semi-final.

READ ALSO: CAF Sanctions Egypt, Morocco After AFCON Quarter-Final ‘Fight’

Abdou Diallo put Senegal ahead 20 minutes from time at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Cameroon’s capital, before Mane set up the second goal for Idrissa Gana Gueye.

He then netted the late third himself after Blati Toure had pulled a goal back.

“We were up against a really good Burkina side who caused us a lot of problems,” the Liverpool star added.

“We expected a tough game and it was but we stayed calm and created lots of chances. I think we deserved to win tonight.”

Mane, who now has three goals at the tournament, could not keep the smile off his face as he looked forward to the chance to win the trophy.

“I think you can see on my face how happy I am which is completely normal. I am really proud personally and very happy for myself, my teammates, and the country.”

Africa’s top-ranked national team, Senegal lost to Algeria in the 2019 final in Egypt.

They will play either the hosts Cameroon or Egypt in Sunday’s final at the Olembe Stadium.

Those sides are the most successful nations in AFCON history with 12 titles between them, while Senegal have still never won the continental crown.

Asked who he preferred to face in the decider, Mane added: “We have no preference.”

AFP

Senegal Beat Burkina Faso To Seal AFCON Final Spot

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane (C) is challenged by Burkina Faso’s midfielders Adama Guira (L) and Gustavo Sangare during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on February 2, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Senegal are through to a second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations final after breaking Burkina Faso hearts in their last-four tie in Yaounde on Wednesday, Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gana Gueye, and Sadio Mane scoring second-half goals to secure a 3-1 victory.

Aliou Cisse’s team had two penalties awarded in the first half only for the Ethiopian referee to change his mind both times following a VAR review.

However, they went ahead just after the midway point in the second period when Paris Saint-Germain defender Diallo popped up in the box to produce a striker’s finish.

The second arrived on 76 minutes as Mane provided a superb assist for Gueye, also of PSG, to score, and Mane completed the win late on after Blati Toure had pulled a goal back.

Africa’s top-ranked national team, Senegal will find out their opponents in Sunday’s final on Thursday, when hosts Cameroon take on Egypt in the second semi.

Those two nations are the most successful in AFCON history with 12 titles between them, while the Lions of Teranga are still searching for their first continental crown, two and a half years after losing to Algeria in the final in Cairo.

Their opponents here could not be underestimated.

Burkina Faso have shown themselves to be a talented young side and one driven on by the desire to give joy to supporters in a country reeling after President Roch Marc Christian Kabore was overthrown in a military coup last week.

That happened to a backdrop of a jihadist insurgency in the landlocked country, and their coach, Kamou Malo, talked of the events giving his team “added motivation”.

They showed plenty of fight and matched their opponents for long spells, but they did not trouble Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy in the Senegal goal often enough.

Mendy’s opposite number, Herve Koffi, was stretchered off half an hour in after landing horribly as he went up to punch the ball clear in an aerial challenge with Cheikhou Kouyate.

READ ALSO: Tunisia Sack Coach Kebaier After AFCON Exit

Senegal’s head coach Aliou Cisse (2ndR) comforts Burkina Faso’s head coach Kamou Malo at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match between both countries at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on February 2, 2022. Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

 

Referee Bamlak Tessema initially gave a spot-kick before changing his mind after a VAR review, as Kouyate was able to resume but Koffi could not.

Tessema also pointed to the spot in first-half injury time when a Gueye shot struck the arm of Burkina Faso’s Edmond Tapsoba in the area, but again he changed his mind after a review of the images showed the defender’s arm was in close to his body.

The breakthrough arrived with 20 minutes left, Kalidou Koulibaly trying an acrobatic attempt at a corner and inadvertently setting up Diallo to score, beating substitute ‘keeper Soufiane Farid Ouedraogo.

Senegal’s pressing made the second goal as Mane got to the byline and set up Gueye, who just beat Bamba Dieng to the finish.

It was always going to be huge ask after that for the Stallions against a Senegal side who had conceded only once in the whole tournament.

However, they reduced the deficit eight minutes from time as Issa Kabore’s cross was diverted in by Toure’s knee.

Mane had the final say, though, bursting clear in the 87th minute to make it 3-1.

He will find out on Thursday if he will come up against his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah and Egypt in the final.

CAF Sanctions Egypt, Morocco After AFCON Quarter-Final ‘Fight’

CAF

 

 

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has suspended several Egyptian and Moroccan players and dished out fines after their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final ended in a “fight”.

The sanctions fell Wednesday, on the eve of Egypt’s date with hosts Cameroon in the semi-finals after a locker room brawl following Sunday’s 2-1 win against Morocco.

The seven-time winners will be missing assistant coach Rogerio De Sa and left-back Marwan Daoud for the game in Yaounde.

The pair picked up match suspensions starting Wednesday, CAF said.

Trouble began after “altercations between Egypt assistant coach Rogerio Paulo Dos Santos Cesar De Sa and the President of the Moroccan FA Mr. Fouzi Lekjaa,” CAF said in a statement from their Cairo HQ.

“A general fight followed in which Morocco player Sofiane Boufal and Egypt player Marwan Mostafa Daoud were identified,” the CAF said.

Daoud’s suspension came due to “his violent conduct” while Rogerio De Sa’s was because of “using an obscene gesture”.

CAF also suspended Moroccan players Soufian Chakla and Soufiane Boufal for “violent behaviour”. That rules the pair out of Morocco’s World Cup play-off game against the Democratic Republic of Congo in March.

The confederation imposed a fine of $10,000 on the Moroccan Federation and $25,000 on the Egyptian Football Association.

It also imposed an additional $100,000 fine ($50,000 suspended) on Egypt for breaching the Cup of Nations’ media protocols and directives when failing to honour their pre-match press conference commitment.