Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has assured Nigerians that the Super Eagles are mature, professional, and ambitious enough to deal with any pressure when taking on the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in Tuesday’s crucial game of Group C of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying African series.
Nigeria leads the group after five matches with 12 points while Cape Verde follows closely with 10 points, and that explains the importance of the encounter in Lagos.
After a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Liberia in Tangier, the former Leicester City forward confirmed the team has the right mindset to execute the mission.
“There will always be all kinds of pressure when you are out there on the football field, as a professional sportsman or woman,” said Musa. “You just must have strong fibre to cope with the pressure from everywhere, focus on getting the result and get the job done.
“Pressure is never an excuse not to put out your best; sometimes, it helps you to get beyond your level best.”
At a pre-match press conference on Monday in Lagos, Musa who holds Nigeria’s record international appearance also said a number of players in the squad have yet to feature at the FIFA World Cup finals and that would serve as good motivation.
“The FIFA World Cup is the biggest stage for every professional football player. They all want to be there; you don’t need any more motivation than that.
“We said after the match with Liberia in Tangier on Saturday that we will not be going for a draw against Cape Verde. Nothing has changed,” he stated.
Musa also gave an assurance that the Eagles would not be complacent or underrate the Sharks but go all out as from the blast of the whistle by Algerian referee Mustapha Ghorbal.
Head Coach Gernot Rohr, who will be in charge of his 54th game for the Nigerian senior men’s team on Tuesday, was confident that the three-time African champions would collect all three points against the Sharks, just as they did when both teams met at the Estadio Municipal Adérito Sena on the island of Mindelo on September 7.
“We have a job on our hands and that is to win tomorrow (Tuesday). It is important to win so as to be sure of where you will be at the end of the day. We are top of the table now and a win keeps us there and sends us to the final knockout round,” he said.
“I really don’t think we are under any pressure. We have 12 points – two more than the opponents. They are the ones with the big pressure to come out and look for a win. Our approach for tomorrow will be to win. The players are looking forward to doing that.”
Forward Odion Ighalo, who was unable to play any part in Saturday’s encounter in Tangier because he arrived in Morocco only two days to the match as he was taking his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Riyadh, is likely to be involved against the Sharks at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
It would be his first run-out with the squad since he announced his retirement from the international scene after the 2019 AFCON, where he was the tournament’s top scorer.
Cape Verde’s lost 1-2 to the Eagles two months ago in the first leg fixture but a 2-1 victory over Central African Republic in their last match put them in a confident mood ahead of the final group clash with the Super Eagles.
The Central African Republic and Liberia are third and fourth with four and three points respectively.
Only the group winners will advance to the third round where two-legged matches will be played to decide the five countries that will represent Africa at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Saturday’s win puts Nigeria in a pole position to secure the sole ticket to the third round.
But the Super Eagles will have to avoid defeat against Cape Verde on Tuesday in the final round of matches to confirm their progress.
Cape Verde, an island nation of 560,000 people that have never competed at the World Cup, kept their hopes alive by coming from behind to beat the Central African Republic 2-1 in Mindelo.
Julio Tavares netted early in the second half to cancel the lead Isaac Ngoma gave the visitors after 11 minutes, and Ianique ‘Stopira’ Tavares notched the 75th-minute winner.
Cameroon outplay 10-man Malawi
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast will take a one-point lead over Cameroon to Douala on Tuesday for a showdown that will decide who progresses from Group D.
Goals from Max-Alain Gradel, Burnley forward Maxwel Cornet and Jean-Michael Seri gave the Ivorians a 3-0 win over Mozambique in Cotonou a few hours after Cameroon had outplayed 10-man Malawi 4-0 in Soweto.
Malawian John Banda was red-carded in the opening half for handball and captain Vincent Aboubakar converted the resultant penalty for Cameroon, whose seven World Cup appearances in an African record.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa added a second before half-time and a late brace from substitute Christian Bassogog completed the rout.
Cameroon are the only country in the section able to play at home with the other three teams using neutral venues due to inadequate stadiums.
Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper Andre Onana made his first appearance in the qualifying campaign for Cameroon after completing a lengthy doping ban this month.
Group B was thrown open after a close-range thunderbolt from Pablo Ganet gave Equatorial Guinea a 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten Tunisia in Malabo.
It was the first goal conceded by the Tunisians in five qualifiers and left them ahead of the Equatoguineans on goal difference with both teams having 10 points.
Zambia kept alive a slim chance of finishing first in the section by hammering Mauritania 4-0 in Lusaka with Rangers forward Fashion Sakala scoring a hat-trick.
Tunisia host Zambia, who are three points behind the leaders, and Equatorial Guinea visit Mauritania on Tuesday in the final round.
Egypt, Mali, Morocco, and Senegal have secured play-off places and Ghana or South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo or Benin will join them on Sunday.
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has teamed up with Turkish club side Fatih Karagumruk from Kano Pillars.
The Super Lig team confirmed the signing of the 28-year-old on their Instagram handle on Thursday evening.
“We added the 28-year-old Nigerian offensive player to our squad. During his career, he played for clubs such as VVV Venlo, CSKA Moscow and Leicester City,” the club wrote but did not give details about the contractual agreements.
“He scored 15 goals in 87 matches for the Nigerian National Team. We wish success to Ahmed Musa under the Karagümrük jersey, signed by our Vice President Serkan Hurma and our Sporting Director Murat Akın.”
Musa first played for Pillars before he left for VV Venlo in The Netherlands. He thereafter moved to CSKA Moscow where he stayed until he signed for Leicester City for a then club-record fee of 19.5 million Euros in 2016.
In 2018, he joined the Saudi side, Al-Nasr for 16.5 million Euros.
Since making his debut for Nigeria over a decade ago, Musa has played 87 games and scored 15 goals for the national team.
Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, made a winning return to Kano Pillars, providing an assist for Rabiu Ali to score in Sai Masu Gida’s hard fought 1-0 victory over Adamawa United on matchday 21 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Asides from the dazzling run Musa made in the opening minutes, and Fahad Usman’s curled free-kick in the 15th minute, the first-half action at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna failed to produce talking points.
Adamawa United showed Pillars no respect. They contested aerial balls, chased the game, and took it to their opponents. The first half ended goalless.
Pillars doubled their efforts in the second half. In the 70th minute, they cracked the walls of Adamawa United when Rabiu Ali was brought down in the box and a penalty was awarded to Pillars.
Ali stepped up to the task and sent the ball to the heavens. Relief for the visitors. That’s the first time the reliable Ali will be missing from the spot this season.
Ten minutes later, he made amends for his miss when he received a fine pass from Musa to score his eighth goal of the season. That goal meant so much to Pillars league ambition.
Sai Masu Gida have now recorded 12 wins this season, they are third on the log. It’s the 13th defeat for Adamawa United and they are still bottom of the log.
Unstoppable Akwa United
Akwa United extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches with a 2-0 victory over Dakkada FC in the Uyo derby. Man on fire, Charles Atshimene scored both goals for coach Kennedy Boboye’s team.
As early as 10 minutes into the match, Atshimene received an assist from Etim Matthew to smash Akwa United into the lead from 15 yards.
When the second half resumed, Atshimene wasted no time in securing his brace. Assisted by Akarandut Orok, he curled in the ball from 20 yards to score his 6th goal of the season. The win ensured Akwa United stays unbeaten with 40 points now and retain the top position on the log.
Akwa United’s next match is a home fixture against Rangers International Football Club.
Kwara United returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Plateau United. Coach Abdullahi Biffo’s team lost top spot position after losing to Nasarawa United on matchday 20. Still the surprise team of the season, the Harmony Boys are second on the log, they are still unbeaten at home and yet to drop below the top four.
Away Teams Prevail
Matchday 21 produced a tale of away victories. Four!
In Ozoro, MFM Football Club of Lagos stunned Warri Wolves 0-2 to keep their season’s hopes alive.
First-half goals from Ifeanyi Onyebuchi and Clement Ogwu secured the 7th win of the campaign for the Olukoya boys who are now 13th on the log. The hosts had a chance to pull one back in the 68th when they were awarded a penalty but Mark Daniel failed to score from the spot.
He sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, but his effort went wide. Warri Wolves were condemned to an 11th defeat this season, they’ve won just 5 games and dropped to 17th on the log.
Nasarawa United travelled to Bauchi to secure a crucial 1-2 win over Wikki Tourists. The Solid Miners needed to consolidate on their 2-1 victory over Kwara United on Matchday 20 and they did just that. Same guys who got the job done in Lafia, continued their fine form in Bauchi.
It was the home side that opened the scoring in the 22nd minute through Manu Garba. It didn’t take long before Anas Yusuf leveled up for the visitors. Silas Nwankwo scored the winner in the opening minutes of the second to seal the 6th spot on the log for coach Bala Nikyu’s team.
In Enugu, an early goal scored by Godwin Aguda from close range was good enough to give Rivers United victory over Rangers International FC. It is the 6th defeat of the season for the Flying Antelopes who were hoping to consolidate their chase for the top spot. The win shot the Pride of Rivers into the top four.
The Struggles of Sunshine Stars, FC Ifeanyi Ubah
FC Ifeanyi Ubah struggles continued with a 2-0 loss to Lobi Stars in Makurdi. Ossy Martins and Monday Akile goals gave coach Kabiru Dogo’s team their 9th win of the season.
In Owerri, Heartland FC made it back-to-back wins in the league with a 2-0 win over Katsina United.
The first half by Bright Onyedikachi and Kelechi Chimezie secured maximum points for coach Fidelis Ilechukwu’s team and shot them to 7th on the table.
In Akure, the winless run of Sunshine Stars continued after they played a goalless draw with Jigawa Golden Stars. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote’s team have failed to record a win since their matchday 7 victory over Rangers International. It’s now 14 games without a win and they are comfortably in the relegation zone.
“Free agent Ahmed Musa has agreed to a contract until the end of the Nigerian league season in June.”
The four-time Nigerian champions expressed their joy at having their export back at the club, promising their continuous support for the 28-year-old.
“Ahmed Musa is our own and Kano Pillars welcome him back and will continue to support him,” Pillars said.
Also welcoming the move by the 3-time Russian professional league champion to his former side was Senator Shehu Sani in a tweet, who lauded it as the “best strategy” to improve local football in the country.
Ahmed Musa’s return to Kano Pillars is one of the best strategy to improve and attract interest in our local football teams and National league.After global come local.Its better than hanging and idling in Europe.There will always be a place for you at home.@thenff
Super Eagles skipper and forward, Ahmed Musa has apologised over his team’s 4-4 draw display against the Leone Stars in Benin on Friday evening.
The Super Eagles were quick to assert their dominance as early as the 4th-minute with a low strike from Iwobi and they followed it up with goals from Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze in the 29th minute. The Leone sides managed to get one back in the 41st minute to give some glimmer of hope.
The second half was a different tale with the Leone stars coming from behind to get three goals in a space of 14 minutes with goals from Kamara and Mustapha Bundu; to get the much decisive draw.
In the 52 second video posted on the official Twitter handle of the Super Eagles, the Nigerian forward was in a somber mood admitting to the flaws shown in the match by him and his teammates.
He had this to say: “Dear Nigerians, on behalf of myself and my teammates we are really sorry for the disappointment of the game tonight,”
“We know we made a very big mistake in the game but there is nothing we can do, that’s football. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose” he further added.
“We will correct our mistakes in the next game. By God’s grace, we will go there [Sierra Leone] and do our best to see we qualify for the Afcon and we know we can do it.
“We are sorry for the game tonight and we will make it up, thank you very much.”
The Super Eagles will travel to Freetown for the return leg on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, with victory over the Leone stars giving the Nigerian side a possible early ticket to the 2022 African Nations Cup in Cameroon.
“It has come to my notice that certain individuals have decided to post false news about me testing positive to COVID-19,” Musa said.
“This is a pandemic taking peoples lives in thousands; so it is sad that some people want to use this to gain followers or views on their pages by spreading falsehood.”
He explained that he came back from Saudi Arabia with his family and they went on self-isolation in line with government’s directive.
“My family and I came in from Saudi Arabia and decided to follow the government’s rule of isolation for 14 days, not because any of us have the virus. We are perfectly okay and have not tested positive to the virus,” he added.
The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) winner, therefore, warned people not to fall for the malicious messages circulating about him and his family.
“Stay safe, maintain social distancing,” he added.
Channels Television has won the AITEO-Nigeria Football Federation award for the second consecutive year, for promoting football at the grassroots.
The Channels International Kids Cup, a corporate social responsibility programme of the TV station, started in 2009 as a Lagos state competition and has evolved into an international event featuring participants from the Benin Republic and Ghana.
The tournament received the development award at the maiden edition of the NFF awards for constantly improving on the objective of discovering and nurturing young talents under the age of 13 in primary schools.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles’ stand-in captain Ahmed Musa and Super Falcons’ opposite number Onome Ebi took the big gongs at the second edition of the awards that held in Lagos on Monday night.
Among the winners were Super Falcons’ coach Thomas Dennerby, Super Eagles’ ace winger Samuel Chukwueze and Enugu Rangers’ coach Olugbenga Ogunbote.
The project started only last year, but, like the first edition, dignitaries and guests came from all over Africa and other parts of the world.
The highlight of the night, by miles, was the special recognition of the Super Eagles’ Class of 1994 – the squad widely nicknamed ‘Golden Generation’ after qualifying Nigeria for her first ever FIFA World Cup finals, winning the Africa Cup of Nations on away soil for the first time and coming within 100 seconds of a quarter-final place at the World Cup in the United States of America.
Physically present and bathed in applause were goalkeepers Peter Rufai and Alloy Agu, defenders Austin Eguavoen, Uche Okechukwu, Benedict Iroha, Nduka Ugbade and Taribo West, midfielders Mutiu Adepoju, Austin ‘JJ’ Okocha, Sunday Oliseh and Edema Fuludu and forwards Finidi George, Samson Siasia and Daniel Amokachi. Omoyemi Yekini, daughter of the ‘goalsfather’ Rashidi Yekini, stood in for her late father as well as the four others who had passed on: team Captain Stephen Keshi, goalkeeper Wilfred Agbonavbare, defender Uche Okafor and midfielder Thompson Oliha.
Emmanuel Amuneke, Michael Emenalo, Emeka Ezeugo, Efan Ekoku, Isaac Semitoje and Chidi Nwanu could not make it down to Nigeria for the ceremony. While a couple of the players present on Monday night did not make the final cut for the World Cup in America, six members of the group went ahead to join the Dream Team and return to America to conquer – by winning Africa’s men’s football gold at the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta two years later.
Secretary-General of FIFA, Ms Fatma Samoura (the first African/first woman to occupy the position) was honoured with the NFF Order of Merit Award, as Presidents of 18 Member Associations of FIFA, the Abia State Governor (Chief Okezie Ikpeazu), the Acting Governor of Edo State (Comrade Philip Shaibu), two Governors-elect (Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Abdulrazak Abdulrahman of Kwara State) and captains of industry, political juggernauts, A-class artistes and heavyweight stakeholders of the game watched at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Members of the NFF Executive Committee and Management, Members of the NFF Congress and chairman of various Clubs were also in attendance.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation and First Vice President of CAF, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, once more eulogized the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for providing the conducive environment for football to thrive and for total support for the NFF and the various National Teams, while calling on Nigeria’s other billionaires and well-heeled companies to emulate AITEO Group and boost the development of football in Nigeria.
Business mogul and politician, Chief M. K. O. Abiola was honoured with the NFF Presidential Award, while Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his hefty support for football projects and programs of the National Teams.
There were several members of the CAF Executive Committee, namely Dr Danny Jordaan of South Africa, Suleiman Waberi of Djibouti, Aisha Johansen of Sierra Leone, Moses Magogo of Uganda and Sita Sangare of Burkina Faso. All noted the good and great works that Samoura, who spent 21 years working for the United Nations, has been doing as chief accounting officer of FIFA since she assumed office three years ago.
NFF First Vice President and Chairman of the Awards organizing committee, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi said the Federation decided it was apt to honour the Super Eagles’ Class of 1994, 25 years to their AFCON –winning exploits and FIFA World Cup performance. It would be recalled that Nigeria was named the second most entertaining team of the USA 1994 World Cup.
Responding on behalf of the 1994 Eagles, defender Austin Eguavoen expressed deep appreciation of the squad to the NFF for the honour, while also using the opportunity to plead that NFF should help the players pursue the Federal Government’s promise of a house for each member of the squad, following the AFCON triumph in Tunisia 25 years ago.
2ND AITEO-NFF AWARDS WINNERS
Young Player of the Year (Female): Anam Imo
Young Player of the Year (Male): Samuel Chukwueze
Fair Play Award: Akwa United FC
Fans of the Season: Kano Pillars FC Fans
Coach of the Year (Female): Thomas Dennerby
Coach of the Year (Male): Olugbenga Ogunbote
Goal of the Year: Ahmed Musa
Team of the Season: Super Falcons
NFF Development Award: Channels Television (Channels International Kids’ Cup)
The footballer who plays as a forward and left winger for Saudi Arabian team Al-Nassr tweeted two photos and wished that she would soon get back on her feet, to announce to her family, that she was “back in action”.
“I am sure being tucked in bed is not the best thing you know how to do. All your children are waiting for you to get out of bed and say ‘I am back in action’. Get well soon Sweet Mum!” he said.
I am sure being tucked in bed is not the best thing you know to do. All your children are waiting for you to get out of bed and say ‘I am back in action’. Get well soon Sweet Mum!❤️🙏 pic.twitter.com/LC9gIEaXgI
English Premier League leaders, Chelsea plan to enter contract talks with Super Eagles forward, Victor Moses in the coming weeks after it emerged he has become a transfer target for Barcelona.
Moses’ performances in a new wing-back role have been key to Chelsea’s stunning turnaround in form since switching to a 3-4-3 formation, sparking a seven-game winning run in the EPL.
Victor Moses continued his fine form by scoring the winning goal for Chelsea in the 2-1 victory over Tottenham on Saturday, having previously found the net in wins against Burnley and champions Leicester City.
The result also ended Spurs’ unbeaten run and put the Blues at the top of the league table, a point above Liverpool and Manchester City.
Nigerian winger, Ahmed Musa was a second half substitute for Leicester City as they struggled to a 2-2 draw against Middleborough.