Remain Focused And Determined, Buhari Tells Super Eagles

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the Super Eagles of Nigeria for defeating the indomitable lions of Cameroon 3-2 and advancing to the quarter-finals stage of the African Cup of Nations in Egypt.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari recognised the hardwork and sportsmanship of the team.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Defeat Cameroon To Clinch AFCON 2019 Quarter Finals

“President Buhari recognises the hardwork, team spirit and sportsmanship the boys have exhibited in the tournament, which are good signs for a team destined to excel.

“The President urges the team and their handlers to remain focused and determined, assuring them of the fervent prayers and support of all Nigerians.”

African Cup Of Nations’ Tickets Prices Reduced After Local Fans Backlash

US World Cup Defender Clavijo Dies At 63

 

The African Cup of Nations’ organising committee on Wednesday reduced ticket prices after a backlash from Egyptian football fans last month over exorbitant costs.

Tickets for the Egyptian national team’s matches in the summer tournament, which will take place in the country, were initially priced at 200 pounds (about $12, around 10 euros) for the cheapest admission and graduated up to 600 pounds.

“The committee… has decided to reduce the price of general admission tickets for Egypt’s matches in the first round for the competition from 200 to 150 pounds (about 10 to 8 euros),” it said on Twitter.

The reductions took place “to ease the burden off of Egyptian soccer fans”.

The average monthly salary in the north African country hovers around 200 euros, according to official figures.

Living costs have soared since Egypt devalued their currency and slashed subsidies in order to receive a $12 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Egypt will host the competition for the fifth time this June and July, with 24 teams participating for the first time in an expanded format.

Other games not involving the host nation are still set at a slightly lower price.

Local supporters were allowed to attend domestic league games regularly for the first time in three years only last season.

Heavy restrictions had been imposed due to repeated violent incidents between fans and security forces resulting in dozens of deaths.

AFCON 2019: Rohr, Musa Describe Group B As ‘Tough’

Nigerian Coach Gernot Rohr looks during the African Cup of Nations qualification match between Nigeria and Libya in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria, on October 13, 2018.
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Super Eagles’ head coach, Gernot Rohr and team captain, Ahmed Musa have described Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) group B pairing as a ‘tough one’, insisting that the team must be at its best to get out of it.

Nigeria was drawn in group B with Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi for the tournament holding in Egypt between 21 June – 19 July 2019.

“It is a tough group and we have to be at our best and our fittest. Guinea has a young, tough team and we will have to be at our best against them. Burundi eliminated Gabon even with their Pierre Aubameyang. Madagascar was the first team to qualify. It would be a great showpiece of football, but it is important for our players to avoid injuries as the season heads towards the end.”

READ ALSO: AFCON 2019: Nigeria Gets ‘Comfortable’ Group As Cameroon Faces Four-Times Winners Ghana

Also, Super Eagles’ captain Ahmed Musa said: “I think it is a tough group for the Super Eagles. It is important for us to stay fit and avoid injuries so that everyone would be in great shape in Egypt. We have a young team who have played at the World Cup but have not played at the AFCON. For me, we are ready for any country in Egypt. It would be an interesting experience.”

Rohr revealed that plans are in place for the team’s preparation with friendly games against “Ghana (in Nigeria), and maybe Senegal.”

The two top –placed teams in each group, as well as the best third –placed teams from four out of the six groups, will qualify for the knock-out rounds.

Nigeria will play its group games in Alexandria with fixtures against Burundi on June 22 (7pm), Guinea on June 26 (4.30pm) and Madagascar on June 30 (6pm).

GROUP A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe

GROUP B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi

GROUP C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania

GROUP D: Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Namibia

GROUP E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola

GROUP F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin Republic, Guinea Bissau

AFCON Exit: Nigeria Shifts Focus to 2018 FIFA World Cup

nffAfter failing to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations in Gabon, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says special attention will be given to ensure the Super Eagles feature at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.

According to the Federation, the board remains united and resolute in its commitment to building a sustainable football culture for the country, by employing resources at its disposal diligently, purposefully and responsibly.

The Nigeria Football Federation issued a statement following the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals:

The NFF, like most Nigerians, are saddened by the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final competition, following a 1-0 defeat by seven –time African champions Egypt in Alexandria on Tuesday, 29th March 2016.

We see this failure to qualify as an unfortunate turn of events, because it came despite the undoubted efforts of the Coaching crew led by Coach Samson Siasia and the players led by the captain, Mikel Obi, and the efforts of the NFF leadership who not only supported the technical crew but also provided necessary support regarding comfortable traveling arrangement and accommodation for the team’s home and away matches.

. Football being the paramount national pastime in our dear country, we understand and share the disappointment in the land. But we crave the indulgence of all to continue to support the team and the NFF going forward as we continue to nurture and navigate a painful but positive path towards a glorious future for Nigeria football.

It is rather unfortunate that Chad, one of the teams in the qualification group, suddenly pulled out of the race, leaving only three teams left in the group, and only the winner of the the group guaranteed qualification. This appeared to have taken away our worst –case scenario of qualification. However, our legal unit is looking at the propriety of changing the rules midstream.

. In the next one week, the Technical and Development Committee will meet to make recommendations to the NFF Board on the way forward for the Super Eagles, but already, we can disclose that the NFF has now fully shifted its focus to activating its already prepared plan to give the team all the support it needs to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while continuing to build a sustainable football culture for Nigeria in order to make Nigerian football once more a force to be reckoned with.

Failure to reach the Africa Cup of Nations remains a gnawing pain, but we have decided to take a number of positives from the unsuccessful campaign and in particular the two matches against Egypt. The development of a new and youthful team playing swashbuckling, strong, resolute and exciting kind of football Nigeria has been known for was a soothing balm even in the face of the challenging campaign.

. In preparing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting later this year, the NFF will ensure that it utilizes all FIFA windows for international friendlies for the Super Eagles, starting in June with two games against teams of high ranking. The outstanding Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania in September would also serve as a tune –up for the World Cup qualification games.

. We want to use this medium to commend the efforts of Samson Siasia and Emmanuel Amuneke, who took very seriously and professionally the job of preparing the Super Eagles for the matches, with only three weeks to do the job. They have shown extraordinary courage and purposefulness, and the NFF will never forget their contributions to Nigeria football.

As it is, Nigeria is one of only three teams that will represent Africa at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, having won the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal in December 2015. The NFF will give Coach Siasia all the support to excel at the Games, by winning the football gold. We will also continue to support the U-20 men squad, managed by Amuneke, in order to ensure the team’s qualification for the 2017 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations and the U-20 World Cup, as well as the U-17 boys for the 2017 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations and the U-17 World Cup, for which we are the defending champions.

. We are also working on maximum support for the women’s National Teams ahead of the African Women Cup of Nations, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – all taking place this year.

Our sincere appreciation goes to the Federal Government for continued support for Nigeria football, and our sponsors for the invaluable role they play in the nation’s football development. We particularly commend the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, for their very kind gesture and solid support for the Super Eagles in both matches against Egypt, and indeed other matches before these.

Nigeria missed out of the 2012 edition, won the title in 2013 in South Africa, failed to qualify for the tournament in 2015 and will not compete in the 2017 edition in Gabon.

Oliseh Calls Up 23 Home-based Players for Tanzania Clash

OlisehNew Super Eagles Coach, Sunday Oliseh, has invited 23 home–based players to kick–start preparations for next month’s 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifying game in Tanzania.

It will be Oliseh’s first match in charge of the team.

Leading the selection is Warri Wolves’ forward Gbolahan Salami, who scored one of the goals when the Eagles opened the race with a 2-0 win over Chad in Kaduna.

There are also regular faces like Solomon Kwambe and Nelson Ogbonnaya.

Oliseh has also called up some members of the U-23 squad that survived a stern test in Brazzaville on Sunday to qualify for the African Championship finals, alongside former junior international goalkeepers Olufemi Thomas and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, as well as a number of new faces, led by top scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football League, Tunde Adeniji of Sunshine Stars.

The invited players are expected to report to camp in Abuja on Monday, August 17.

Nigeria play Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on September 5 in one of the Match day 2 games of the qualification series for Gabon 2017.

Full List

GOALKEEPERS: Olufemi Thomas (Enyimba FC); David Obiazor (Heartland FC); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Sunshine Stars)

DEFENDERS: Orji Kalu (Enugu Rangers); Solomon Kwambe (Warri Wolves); Idris Aloma (Enyimba FC); Chima Akas (Sharks FC); Nelson Ogbonnaya (Heartland FC); Samson Gbadebo (Lobi Stars); Jamiu Alimi (Shooting Stars); Stephen Eze (Sunshine Stars)

MIDFIELDERS: Ifeanyi Mathew (El-Kanemi Warriors); Usman Mohammed (FC Taraba); Azubuike Okechukwu (Bayelsa United); Lawson Ichul (Warri Wolves); Kingsley Sokari (Enyimba FC); Etebo Oghenekaro (Warri Wolves)

FORWARDS: Ezekiel Bassey (Enyimba FC); Gbolahan Salami (Warri Wolves); Bright Ejike (Heartland FC); Tunde Adeniji (Sunshine Queens); Bright Onyedikachi (FC IfeanyiUbah); Prince Aggrey (Sunshine Stars)

NFF Mandates Amodu To Work With Keshi

amodu
NFF Technical Director, Amodu Shaibu

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed that Super Eagles Chief Coach, Stephen Keshi, will work with the federation’s Technical Study Group.

The NFF also says Keshi will no longer make a unilateral decision in the selection of the Super Eagles squad for international matches but will be supervised by Technical Director, Amodu Shaibu.

The President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, disclosed that the NFF Technical Director, Shuaibu Amodu and the Technical Study Group headed by former Eagles Captain, Austin Okocha, will oversee the process of selecting players for the team’s assignments.

While stating that the invitation of players in the Nigerian Super Eagles will no longer be an exclusive duty of Stephen Keshi, Pinnick noted that the Coach “will still have his input” in calling up players.

Reports say Amodu has been directed by the football federation to wield his powers as Technical Director as he will be held responsible for the team’s failure and not Keshi

Nigeria kicked off their campaign in the 2017 AFCON qualification with a 2-0 win in Kaduna last Saturday with Gbolahan Salami and Odion Ighalo getting the goals.

The Nigeria Football Federation re-engaged Mr Stephen Keshi as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles in April 2015. Keshi tutored the Eagles to a Nations’ Cup victory in 2013.

Keshi Signs New Contract As Super Eagles Coach

keshiThe Nigeria Football Federation has re-engaged Mr Stephen Keshi as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

At a contract signing ceremony in Abuja, the Acting President of the federation, Mr Seyi Akinwunmi, said that the federation remains committed to the development of football in Nigeria.

Mr Keshi who tutored the Eagles to a Nations Cup victory in 2013, however appealed to Nigerians to support the national team in order to achieve greater success.

Stephen Keshi had, earlier in the month, appealed to Nigerian football fans to forgive the technical crew and the team for failing to qualify for the 2015 Nations Cup.

Speaking to Channels Television in Abuja, Mr Keshi said that his second coming as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles would witness a total turn around for the team and the development of Nigerian football.

He further appealed to football loving fans to support the Super Eagles at all times, promising an improvement in the performance of the team.

There had been reports that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had agreed a new deal with Stephen Keshi, after a meeting between his representatives and the NFF in March.

Nigerians would be looking forward to the qualifiers for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) where Nigeria is pitched in group G along with 7-time African champions, Egypt, Tanzania and Chad.

Stephen Keshi has been managing the Nigerian National Team since 2011.

Keshi Apologizes to Nigerians

keshiThe Coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi, has appealed to Nigerian football fans to forgive the technical crew and the team for failing to qualify for the last Nations Cup.

Speaking to Channels Television in Abuja, Mr Keshi said that his second coming as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles would witness a total turn around for the team and the development of Nigerian football.

He further appealed to football loving fans to support the Super Eagles at all times, promising an improvement in the performance of the team.

There had been reports that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had agreed a new deal with Stephen Keshi, after a meeting between his representatives and the NFF.

Sources said that the discussion between the two parties went well with a formal pronouncement still being expected.

Keshi’s apology comes as Nigerians look forward to the qualifiers for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) where Nigeria is pitched in group G along with 7-time African champions, Egypt, Tanzania and Chad.

Stephen Keshi has been managing the Nigerian National Team since 2011.

AFCON: Algeria, Senegal Fight Back To Top ‘Group of Death’

AFCONAlgeria and Senegal made winning starts to their African Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaigns on Monday with dramatic come-from-behind victories in Group C.

Moussa Sow scored with the last kick of the game at the Estadio de Mongomo to see Senegal to a 2-1 win over Ghana while South Africa missed a penalty and scored an own goal as they allowed Algeria to fight back and win 3-1.

The victories left both Algeria and Senegal on course for a knockout place if they win their next group games on Friday.

Senegal were behind after just 13 minutes when their captain Bouna Coundoul brought down Christian Atsu and Andre Ayew converted the penalty.

But patient play allowed Senegal to take command in the second half as they out-muscled a Ghanaian side who had new coach Avram Grant in charge for the first time.

Mame Biriam Diouf grabbed the second half equaliser when he reacted quickest to a rebound before Senegal snatched the win deep in stoppage time.

A long upfield punt by Coundoul fell kindly for substitute Henri Saivet, whose crisp one-two with Diouf released Sow in the heart of the penalty box and the striker gave goalkeeper Razak Brimah no chance with a first-time shot into the far corner.

“We might have been behind at half-time but we always knew we had the potential to win the game,” said coach Alain Giresse.

South Africa coach Ephraim Mashaba declared the “best team lost” after watching his men squander an early lead and lose in front of a capacity 15,000-strong squad.

But that was unfair on the top-ranked Algerians, who finished strongly to confirm their status among the favourites.

Thuso Phala scored after a slick passing move for South Africa in the 51st minute and they then won a penalty just minutes later for a chance to go 2-0 ahead.

But Tokelo Rantie blasted his kick against the crossbar as a set of calamitous errors cost his side dearly.

Thulani Hlatshwayo mistimed a clearing header to concede an own goal in the 67th minute to allow Algeria back into the game. An innocuous-looking chip shaved the top of his head and beat goalkeeper Darren Keet.

Algeria were ahead four minutes later through as full back Faouzi Ghoulam scored from the right side in the 71st minute.

Islam Slimani made sure of the win with a third goal in the 82nd minute as the ball slipped under Keet’s body in another error from the South Africans.

“It was an intense game and it could have been catastrophic. But things turn quickly in football and we played well to come back and win,” said Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff.

Equatorial Guinea To Host 2015 African Cup Of Nations

Nations CupThe Confederation of African Football (CAF) have announced that Equatorial Guinea will host the 2015 African Nations Cup after Morocco was stripped off the event hosting right, having asked for it to be postponed over fears of the spread of the Ebola virus.

Oil-rich Spanish-speaking Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s smallest countries with a population of just over 600,000, hosted the 2012 finals with neighbours Gabon but will take on the 16-team tournament on its own from January 17 to February 8.

Morocco was on Tuesday stripped off the right to host the finals with the north African country also disqualified from taking part in the tournament after its request for a postponement was rejected by CAF.

The decision on the new hosts was made after a meeting in Malabo on Friday between Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang and CAF President Issa Hayatou.

“The head of state of Equatorial Guinea agreed to host the competition. As a result, the CAF executive committee confirm that the tournament will go ahead and Equatorial Guinea will compete as the host nation,” a statement from African soccer’s governing body said.

African football’s governing body also announced that Equatorial Guinea will play in the tournament – despite the team being disqualified in July for fielding an ineligible player in a preliminary qualifier against Mauritania on May 17.

Matches will be held at four venues in Bata, Ebebiyin, Mongomo and the capital Malabo. In 2012, the tournament was hosted in Malabo and Bata.

The draw for the finals will be in Malabo on December 3.

Nigeria Invites 23 Players For AFCON Qualifiers

AFCON QualifiersAfrican Champions, Nigeria, have called up 23 players for the 2015 Nations Cup qualifying matches against the Red Devils of Congo and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.

The list released by the Nigeria Football Federation features goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama; defenders, Kenneth Omeruo and Efe Ambrose; midfielders, Ogenyi Onazi and John Mikel Obi, and forwards, Ahmed Musa and Emmanuel Emenike.

Monaco of France defender, Elderson Echiejile, who missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup due to injury, Nosa Igiebor and Schalke 04’s Chinedu Obasi are all back for the qualifiers.

Home–based quartet, Chigozie Agbim, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kunle Odunlami and Gbolahan Salami, who were part of Nigeria’s third place finish at the African Nations Championship in South Africa earlier in the year, would be making a return to Capetown.

Enugu Rangers’ topman, Christian Osaguona also add to the number of players from the domestic league.

Nigeria starts its AFCON qualifiers with Congo in Calabar on September 6, and later leave for Cape Town to take on the Bafana Bafana on September 10.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille OSC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United, Nigeria)

Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco FC, France); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor FC, Turkey); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves, Nigeria); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough FC, England); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars, Nigeria)

Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Ramon Azeez (Almeria FC, Spain); Joel Obi (Inter Milan, Italy); Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain); Omatsone Aluko (Hull City, England)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Chinedu Obasi Ogbuke (Schalke 04, Germany); Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen FC, Netherlands); Nnamdi Oduamadi (AS Varese 1910, Italy); Gbolahan Salami (Warri Wolves); Christian Osaguona (Enugu Rangers)   

Didier Drogba Retires From International Football

Didier DrogbaDidier Drogba has announced his retirement from International Football after 12 years of playing for Ivory Coast.

The Ivorian Striker, who recently re-signed for Chelsea, has made his 104th appearance and played in three World Cups with a record of 65 goals.

In a statement, Drogba acknowledged his teammates and support from fans through his years of playing football for Les Elephant.

“It is with much sadness that I have decided to retire from international football.

“I am very proud to have been captain of this team for eight years and to have contributed to placing my country on the world stage of football, taking part in three World Cups and two African Cup of Nations finals.

“I cannot convey enough thanks to the fans for all the love and support during these years. All my goals, all my caps, all our victories are for you.

“I also owe much gratitude to my team-mates – the players with whom I have shared all these emotions – and I wish you all much success for the future and a very warm welcome to the new manager, Herve Renard,” Didier Drogba said.

The two-time African Footballer of the Year returned to London club, Chelsea for a second spell this summer.