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.

An Ex-Madrid Assistant Coach… Six Things To Know About New Eagles Manager

File photo:  Former Venezuela 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

 

Following weeks of deliberations and consultations, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Wednesday named Jose Peseiro as the new coach of the Super Eagles. 

The 61-year-old will be taking over from German gaffer, Gernot Rohr, who was dismissed earlier in the month after some unconvincing performances by the three-time African champions.

While his much-awaited appointment came when the senior national team’s camp had opened for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the federation clarified that the Portuguese coach will not be taking Nigeria to the competition.

It instead explained that interim manager, Austin Eguaveon, will be in charge as the country pushes for a fourth continental crown in Cameroon early next year.

Despite a handful of names making the news in the quest for a new Eagles manager, fans are divided over the NFF’s choice.

READ ALSO: Osimhen Tests Positive For COVID-19 Again

Below are six things to know about the Super Eagles latest handler: 

A Spell With Real Madrid

Peseiro is reputed to have had spells with some top clubs in Europe including Real Madrid.

He was an assistant to compatriot Carlos Queiroz in 2003.  The Los Blancos finished fourth that season, leading to their dismissal from the job.

Quit Last Job Over Unpaid Wages

With less than two weeks to a triple-header of World Cup qualifiers, he resigned from his job as Venezuela’s coach in August 2018, citing unpaid wages.

President of the Venezuela Football Federation, Jorge Gimenez, admitted that Peseiro was owed “no more and no less than one year” of salary, adding that “he’s hardly been paid anything from his tenure.”

First Time Coaching African National Team

While the former FC Porto coach is not new to African football having managed the Egyptian side, Al Ahly, the Nigerian job is the first time he will be in charge of a national team on the continent.

At Al Ahly, he, however, did not last more than the 2015/2016 season with the African Super Cup holders.

Managed/Worked With High-Profile Teams/Coaches

Apart from Real Madrid, Peseiro has also had stints with some top clubs in Europe.

The coach has worked with top Portuguese sides like FC Porto and Sporting CP, playing in the Champions League with the latter. In addition, the new Nigerian manager at some point worked with Jose Mourinho and Carlos Queiroz.

Well-Educated

Nigeria’s new coach has a Master’s degree in sports science, a big plus for the Super Eagles.

Began Coaching In 1991

Having retired from playing football at 34, the Portuguese started his coaching career as a player-coach with Union Santarem in the Portuguese fourth division.

‘Winning Is The Goal:’ Simon Moses Aiming For AFCON Glory With Nigeria

simon-moses
File photo: Simon Moses was part of the Nigerian team that won a bronze medal at the 2019 AFCON. Photo: Twitter/Simon27Moses

 

FC Nantes forward, Simon Moses, has set his sights on winning the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles and does not mind going the extra mile to make that happen.

“Actually, winning is the goal because the last one [2019 edition], we were third but right now we have to do everything possible to get a gold medal,” the former Gent winger told Ligue 1.

According to him, he can play in any position to ensure the team lifts the trophy.

“Whenever I am called up, I will give my best. It does not matter which position I play,” the 2019 AFCON bronze medalist, added.

“If any coach says, ‘Hey, I want you to play as a goalkeeper because I believe in you,’ I will stay in the goal.”


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‘No Easy Group’

A Nigerian supporter dances during the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match between Nigeria and the Central Africa Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Nigeria, in Group D of the competition alongside Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea Bissau, are among favourites to win the competition but the player says the 1994 African champions will not underrate any team in the competition.

“Some will say it is an easy group but I think in Africa, there is no easy group. Now every team is stronger, wiser,” the player maintained.

“Everybody knows football now. So, I believe there is no small group but all I know is that we are going to qualify from that group. I think every country is wiser now.”

He also believes the national side, which he says is “a thing of joy” representing, needs to ” fight together” if they want to win the competition.

“It does not matter how we play,” Simon said. “All we just need is just to win.”

Rohr To Know Fate Next Week, Says Sports Minister

File photo: 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, will know his fate next week, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said.

The minister gave the hint during the weekly ministerial briefing in Abuja on Thursday, days after Nigeria endured a nervy 1-1 draw with minnows, Cape Verde, to book a spot in the next round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Tuesday’s outing had renewed calls for the sacking of the German gaffer who has been in charge of the Super Eagles since 2016 but Dare said a decision on Rohr’s future would depend on a report to be submitted by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in the coming days.

According to him, the football body’s report would contain a review of the team’s performances in recent times.

His ministry follows due process in addressing issues concerning the national team and their coaching staff before actions are taken, Dare explained during the meeting organised by the presidential media team at the State House.

Dare has, however, assured of his ministry backing to ensure the three-time African champions make it to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.


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 World Cup Qualifier: Rohr Happy To Have Ighalo For Cape Verde Clash


File photo: Nigeria’s players line up before the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match between Nigeria and the Central Africa Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

The minister’s comment is the latest in reignited calls for the sack of the Super Eagles coach.

Nigeria’s recent performances, including a shocking home defeat to lowly-rated Central Africa Republic (CAR), were followed by a drab 1-1 draw against Cape Verde in Lagos.  That was enough to see Nigeria to the play-off stage of the qualification race for the quadrennial competition billed for the Middle East country.

Despite this, many football fans and former players, who have repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with Rohr, claim he lacks the technical nous to lift the 1994 AFCON winners to the zenith of African football.

A Nigerian supporter dances during the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match between Nigeria and the Central Africa Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Rohr, is, however, enjoying the backing of the Glass House. According to the president of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, the coach is staying abroad because most Eagles players are based in Europe.

While debates over the German’s future continue, fans are waiting with bated breathe to know Nigeria’s foes in the next round of qualifiers set to take place in March.

But before then, the Super Eagles will be heading to Cameroon for the AFCON, a tournament they last won in 2013.

‘I Have Not Said Yes Or No’: Ighalo Mulls Super Eagles Return

Ighalo retired from the national team in 2019. Photo: [email protected]

 

Striker Odion Ighalo is undecided on a possible return to the Super Eagles, more than two years after he retired from the national team. 

Super Eagles Head Coach Gernot Rohr had recently hinted at a potential return for the former Watford forward.

But Ighalo, who is enjoying an impressive form with Saudi Arabian top side Al Shabab, is yet to make a decision on the matter.

“They have been in contact with me about the possibility of coming back, Amaju and coach,” the former Manchester United star told ESPN. “I don’t know. I have not said yes or no. I haven’t made any decision concerning the national team.”


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‘No Reason Not To Take Him’

File photo: Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr (2nd-R) celebrates with forward Alex Iwobi (R) and Odion Ighalo during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Cameroon at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 6, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Football authorities in Nigeria have never hidden their desire to see the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) top-scorer make a u-turn on his international career.

Earlier in the year, Rohr had said he would not rule out the possibility of a national team return for the 32-year-old.

“There’s no reason not to take him if he’s doing well. The question is if he wants to come back,”  the German said in an interview on the Super Eagles YouTube channel. “We hope so because he’s an experienced player. He can be very useful to his partners. We’re waiting…”

The coach, who made the comment just as Ighalo joined the Middle East side after a loan spell with Manchester United, believed the switch would help the Nigerian gain fitness.

“He’s fit, playing regularly for his new club (Al Shabab), a big club in Saudi Arabia, and doing well,” Rohr maintained.

“There’s no reason not to have him back. We also had Ahmed Musa when he was playing in Saudi Arabia.”

Ighalo featured 35 times for the Nigerian senior national team after making his debut in 2015. He scored 16 goals.

News about the former Shanghai Shenhua man’s possible return to the three-time AFCON winners will be a major boost for the Eagles in their quest for a 2022 World Cup ticket.

They will play two games next month –  Liberia and Cape Verde – in the final round of group stage qualifiers for the competition in Qatar.

Eagles Land In America For Mexico Friendly

 

The delegation of Nigeria’s Senior Men National Team has arrived in Los Angeles, the United States of America for Saturday’s international friendly match taking place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, popularly referred to as LA Coliseum.

The match Organisers are expecting a good turn-out at the 77,500- capacity match venue at Saturday’s match, which would make it the most attended game globally since the restrictions that followed the coronavirus pandemic which broke out last year.

Team Nigeria is made up of 22 players and a number of officials, including the Nigeria Football Federation General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi. President of the NFF and FIFA Council Member, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, who honoured an invite by the Government of the State of Maryland in Baltimore on Wednesday, will meet up with the contingent in Los Angeles on Friday.

 

As a result of injury to goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, the NFF had to fast-track National Exempt papers for Tottenham Hotspur of England U-23 goalkeeper, Joshua Oluwayemi. He is expected at the team hotel on Friday to beef up the goalkeeping department that has only Enyimba FC’s John Noble and Lobi Stars’ Stanley Nwabali.

NFF’s FIFA Match Agent, Jairo Pachon of Eurodata Sport has now confirmed that the match will kick off at 8pm LA time on Saturday (4am in Nigeria on Sunday). It will be the sixth confrontation between the
senior teams of both countries, four of which have ended in draws. The only win in the series has gone to Mexico who a US Gold Cup encounter in Dallas (State of Texas) 2-1 on 24th June 1995.

Close-fought confrontations include a 1-1 draw at the FIFA Intercontinental Tournament for the King Fahd Cup (now FIFA Confederations Cup) in Saudi Arabia on 13th January 1995 (Mexico prevailed 5-4 on penalties in the quarter final match), and 0-0 draws in friendly matches in Houston and Atlanta the previous decade. A friendly game in Mexico also ended 2-2.

 

EAGLES IN AMERICA

Goalkeepers: Stanley Nwabili (Lobi Stars); John Noble (Enyimba FC)

Defenders: Olisa Ndah (Akwa United); Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors); Tope Olusesi (Rangers International); Enyinnaya Kazie (Rivers United); Imoh Obot (Enyimba FC); Tebo Franklin Degaulle (Nasarawa United); Lawal Oriyomi Murtala (Kwara United)

Midfielders: Anthony Shimaga (Rangers International); Seth Mayi (Akwa United); Uche Onwuasonaya (Plateau United); Ibrahim Olawoyin (Rangers International); Anayo Iwuala (Enyimba FC)

Forwards: Stephen Jude (Kwara United); Charles Atshimene (Akwa United); Chinonso Ezekwe (Rangers International); Auwalu Ali Malam (Kano Pillars); Neurot Emmanuel (Plateau United); Abdulmutalif Sanusi (Katsina United); Mohammed Zulkifilu (Plateau United); Sunday Adetunji (Rivers United).

 

Nigeria Records Victory Against Egypt In Friendly

Nigeria’s Super Eagles celebrate after scoring a goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier final against Seychelles in Asaba, the Delta State capital on March 22, 2019. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Super Eagles of Nigeria started their preparations for the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament with a 1-0 win over the pharaohs of Egypt on Tuesday.

The only goal of the game came at the first minute of the game by Paul Onuachu.

READ ALSO: AFCON 2019 Qualifiers: Ighalo Tops Goal Scorers Chart

The team showed more confidence in the game, after a 3-1 win against Seychelles on Friday.

Libya Stun U-23 Eagles In Olympic Games Qualifier

Libya Stun U-23 Eagles In Olympic Games Qualifier
A file photo of U-23 Eagles during a training session at the Ben Guerdane Stadium in Tunisia on March 19, 2019. Photo: [email protected]

 

Libya stunned Nigeria’s U-23 Eagles 2-0 Wednesday in the first leg of a 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games second round qualifier.

Montenegro-based Zakaria Alharaish scored after six and 69 minutes in a match moved from Libya to Ben Guerdane in neighbouring Tunisia for security reasons.

Nigeria, who are former gold medallists, suffered a major blow just before half-time when goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar was sent off for handling outside the box.

The teams meet again on Monday in Asaba with Nigeria, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics champions, seeking to avoid a shock early exit.

Olympic qualifiers are restricted to under-23 footballers with three over-age players permitted at recent finals.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a strong football nation but with a poor age-limit competitions record, built a 2-0 home lead over Morocco in Kinshasa thanks to Jackson Muleka.

The striker from the top Congolese club, TP Mazembe, put the home side ahead just before half-time and netted again midway through the second half.

DR Congo have never qualified for an Olympics football tournament while Morocco have achieved the feat seven times, most recently for the 2012 London Games.

Sudan were another country to build a 2-0 first-leg lead at home, against highly rated Kenya in Omdurman, with in-form Waleed Bakhet bagging a brace.

Bakhet has played a pivotal role in Al Hilal reaching the CAF Confederation Cup quarter-finals, scoring six goals.

He struck after 33 and 60 minutes, leaving Kenya needing to score at least twice in Nairobi when the teams meet again on Tuesday.

Guinea edged Senegal 2-1 in a showdown between western African neighbours with Morlaye Sylla snatching the winning goal three minutes into the second half in Conakry.

Jules Keita had converted a Guinean penalty after 34 minutes and Ibrahima Ndiaye equalised four minutes later with a potentially crucial away goal for the Senegalese.

Zambia look set to secure a place among the qualifiers for the third round during June after building a 1-0 lead away to Malawi in Blantyre.

Fashion Sakala scored after 77 minutes and Zambia need only draw the return match in Lusaka this Sunday to progress.

There were two 0-0 draws, between Burundi and Congo Brazzaville in Bujumbura and surprise qualifiers South Sudan and Tunisia in Juba.

Africa has been allocated three places for Tokyo and Cameroon, winners of the 2000 Sydney gold medals, are already through to the third round after Sierra Leone were disqualified.

AFP

Mikel To Miss Eagles’ AFCON Qualifier Against South Africa

Mikel To Miss Eagles AFCON Qualifier Against South Africa
Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel attends a press conference in Kaliningrad on June 15, 2018, during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Nigeria have again left out captain Mikel John Obi from next month’s crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in South Africa after they named a 23-man squad.

China-based Mikel Obi, who made his Nigeria debut in 2005, has not played for the country since he captained the team to the World Cup in Russia in June.

Officials have said the former Chelsea star was previously left out of the squad to allow him time to recover from niggling injuries.

But he has since fully recovered and is now playing regularly for his Chinese club, Tianjin Teda.

Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has recalled Sporting Charleroi striker Victor Osimhen and midfielder Mikel Agu, who is based in Portugal.

Villarreal young forward Samuel Chukwueze has been handed his first call-up.

Nigeria play South Africa in Johannesburg on November 17.

They top Group E with nine points from four matches, a point ahead of second-placed South Africa.

Nigeria will also host Uganda in a friendly at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on November 20.

Nigeria squad:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Elche/ESP), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United/RSA)

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino/ITA), Adeleye Aniyikaye (Ifeanyi Ubah), Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United/ENG), Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS), William Ekong (Udinese FC/ITA,), Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion/ENG,), Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes/SPA), Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07/GER)

Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC/ENG), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva/ISRl), Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal FC/POR)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr/KSA), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/ENG), Moses Simon (Levante/ESP), Victor Osimhen (Royal Charleroi/BEL), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai/CHN), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal/ENG), Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux/FRA), Isaac Success (Watford/ENG); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal/ESP)

Standby: Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray/TUR), Chidozie Awaziem (Porto/POR), Nyima Nwagua (Kano Pillars), Sunday Adetunji (Enyimba), Junior Lokosa (Kano Pillars)

AFP

Eagles Need ‘Big Fighting Spirit’ To Beat Libya In Rematch – Rohr

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

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr says he expects a challenging Africa Cup of Nations qualifier rematch against Libya on Tuesday despite trouncing the north Africans at the weekend.

Odion Ighalo, the former Watford striker now at Chinese club Changchun Yatai, bagged a hat-trick as Nigeria thrashed Libya 4-0 in the southern town of Uyo on Saturday.

They will square up again in Sfax in Tunisia, the adopted home of war-ravaged Libya.

Rohr said he expected the Libyans to provide a stiffer challenge as they seek to avenge the heavy loss.

“We need a big fighting spirit to beat Libya again,” he insisted.

“It will be a difficult game because after losing 4-0 in Uyo they will be aggressive, they want revenge.”

Rohr added: “We have to be stronger to win again. It’s not finished yet.

“Libya was not defensive (in Uyo) and they could also have scored. They played well, they were fighting.”

The Franco-German coach said the Super Eagles won because their strikers outran Libya’s flat-footed defense.

“Our quick strikers tried to be efficient against the slow defenders of Libya,” Rohr explained.

“We scored an early goal from good pressing and in the second half, they left space in their defense because they tried to score also and we had more opportunities to score.”

Turkey-based Ogenyi Onazi and Shehu Abdullahi have been ruled out of Tuesday’s match after picking up injuries.

Onazi has an inflamed Achilles, while Abdullahi did not complete Saturday’s game due to a leg muscle injury.

Nigeria is now second in Group E with six points from three matches, a point behind leaders South Africa.

Libya is third with four points, while Seychelles have yet to record any points.

The top two teams in the group will advance to the finals in June 2019.

AFP

Eagles Overtake Michael Jackson With Biggest Selling Album

The Eagles – Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Timothy Schmit and Don Henley – have been named as the artists with the best-selling album of all time.

 

A box set of The Eagles’ greatest hits has surpassed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as the biggest selling album ever in the United States, according to a new ranking by the Recording Industry Association of America.

RIAA said “The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-75,” a compilation of the country-rock group’s first four albums, has now sold 38 million units, topping “Thriller’s” 33 million.

The set had long held the top spot for US album sales but was overtaken in 2009 by “Thriller” following a surge of sales for the album after Jackson’s death.

“Hotel California,” the Eagles’ 1976 album with the hit single of the same name, was ranked third, with 26 million units sold.

The new ranking includes sales both of discs and via streaming, which had not been calculated for the Eagles since 2006, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

“We are grateful for our families, our management, our crew, the people at radio and, most of all, the loyal fans who have stuck with us through the ups and downs of 46 years. It’s been quite a ride,” Don Henley, 71, the group’s lead singer and co-founder, said in a statement carried by Rolling Stone.

After the death of Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey in 2016 at the age of 67, the group was reconfigured and resumed touring the following year. It has scheduled a series of concerts in the United States in September.

AFP

2018 CHAN: Eagles Beat Equatorial Guinea To Reach Quarter-Finals

File Photo

 

Nigeria has qualified for the quarter-final of the 5th African Nations Championship in Morocco after coming from a goal down to thrash Equatorial Guinea 3-1 in Agadir.

The Super Eagles created useful chances in each of their first two matches against Rwanda and Libya, but had only Sunday Faleye’s 79th-minute winner against Libya to show their goalscoring quality at the tournament before kick-off at the Stade d’Agadir.

The string of misses continued against Equatorial Guinea. Faleye missed from inside the box after good work from Emeka Ogbuh on the right and Osas Okoro’s shot from a 23 –yard free kick in the 25th minute was simply wayward.

From a corner kick, Equatorial Guinea took the lead with five minutes to half-time as Nsi Eyama’s powerful header flew past goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and defender Daniel James into the net.

Faleye had a great opportunity to level up three minutes later as Anthony Okpotu chested down a pull out for him, but he fluffed it with only the goalkeeper to beat.

In the second half, the Eagles bungled two further opportunities to level up within seven minutes, before Okpotu sneaked in –between two defenders to power home a header from Osas Okoro’s in-swinger for the leveller, in the 59th minute.

Three minutes later, veteran Rabiu Ali came in for Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, and it was the 2014 bronze medallist who made the second goal and scored the third.

From a loose ball, he found an on-rushing Dayo Ojo whose rocket from 25 yards flew past the Guinean goaltender and into the net on 69 minutes, and then scored from the penalty spot seven minutes from time after Okpotu was double-teamed in the box.

Substitute Mohammed Nur could have scored a fourth but he completely missed another Okoro in-swinger.

The result meant Nigeria finished as Group C winners and will return to the more familiar Grand Stade Tanger for their quarter-final against the second-placed team in Group D on Sunday.

Victory in that game will mean another city movement, this time to Marrakech for the semi-finals on Wednesday next week.

In other quarter-final matches, hosts Morocco will take on Namibia in Casablanca on Saturday afternoon, while Zambia play Sudan in Marrakech on Saturday evening.