Super Eagles’ Goal Is To Win Next AFCON, Says Peseiro

Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro. [email protected]

 

Super Eagles Head Coach Jose Peseiro has set his sights on winning next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). 

Nigeria last won the competition in 2013 and were one of the favourites heading into the 2021 tournament but surprisingly capitulated to Tunisia in the round of 16. The three-time continental champions also lost the 2022 World Cup ticket to rivals Ghana.

But Peseiro, who took over after the twin disappointments, is optimistic about Nigeria clinching the next edition of the championship.

“Algeria is a good team. Of course, our goal is to win the next AFCON, but for that, we need to create the habit to win, it’s the main point,” the coach said ahead of the friendly tie with the 2019 champions.

“You introduce some younger players, introduce the tactical works, introduce the situation and dynamics, but at the same time, you want to win; you must create the habit to win. Every time, we want to win, to become the best national team in Africa, we must create that habit, and we want to win.”

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Precautionary Move

The Portuguese also spoke about the injury to Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi who left the team’s camp on Thursday.

He said: “I think I have a better relationship with our older players and Ndidi, when he came, the fitness coach from Leicester City sent for our fitness coach because we have that connection with them saying that he (Ndid) complained in the last match.

“He (Ndidi) did training, small training because of the condition of the hamstring. I was around yesterday and I said I think it’s better we don’t use them because I don’t want to use an injured player in a friendly match because he can get more injured.”

Ndidi last featured for Nigeria in the AFCON tie against Tunisia. He missed out on the double-legged World Cup playoff with the Black Stars of Ghana.

Nigeria’s game against Algeria will hold on Tuesday, September 27th, 2022 in Oran, Algeria. The time for the match is 8:00 pm (WAT).

WCQ Preview: Nigeria, Ghana Renew Rivalry For A Place In Qatar

Nigeria and Ghana share an eternal rivalry stretching beyond football.

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will battle Ghana for a place at the 2022 World Cup, renewing a long history of rivalry dating back several decades.

The rivalry between the West Africans stretches beyond sports. Both nations pride themselves as the best maker of jollof rice, the red and spicy cuisine. While the banters and debates over jollof rice would not be ending soon, at least one of the countries will be absent at the global showpiece later in the year.

Nigeria travel to Ghana for the first leg of the double-header as the Super Eagles seek to banish the disappointments of a shocking exit from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in February.

The 1994 continental champions were eliminated by Tunisia in the Round of 16 despite an impressive start to the tournament. They had won all three group games –  the only team to do so – but in an anti-climax, slumped to the Carthage Eagles who struggled to finish as one of the third-best placed countries.

READ ALSO: Super Eagles Arrive In Ghana Ahead Of Crunch Tie

Nigeria Team News And Key Men

Although Nigeria went to the AFCON missing top players like Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and the experienced Odion Ighalo, barring the absence of influential midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi, the coaching crew has a full complement of players to pick from.

Ademola Lookman’s invitation is also expected to boost the attacking options for the three-time AFCON winners.  The Leicester City winger only recently switched nationality to Nigeria after playing for England at age-grade levels.

Rangers Leon Balogun and Dennis Emmanuel of Watford are also back on the team after they missed the AFCON. Former Arsenal star Alex Iwobi is suspended. Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye has been ruled out due to illness and was replaced by John Noble.

The continental powerhouse made it to the playoffs after topping a group that included Cape Verde, needing just a draw in their last game to book a date with Ghana. And following the AFCON ouster, Nigeria rejigged their backroom staff, adding ex-winger Emmanuel Amunike to the roster.

Ahead of the game, Nigeria’s coach Austine Eguaveon said his boys are ready to face Ghana, insisting that they will give their best.

“All we have as our goal now is to put in all efforts and cross the line, qualify for the World Cup in Qatar,” he told the CAF website.

“It’s a special game indeed, it’s the final game of the qualifiers, the first and the second leg determines our place in the World Cup in Qatar, but I guarantee we are well prepared, every member of the team is working round the clock as Ghana is not a pushover. They are a very strong team and our matches with them have been explosive, this time, we are bringing the game on again.”

Ghana Team News And Key Men

Having struggled in recent games, culminating in a horrifying AFCON outing where they crashed out in the group stage with just one point, Nigeria’s opponent will head into the tie expecting a reversal of fortunes.

The Black Stars qualified for the playoffs following a controversial victory over South Africa in the last game of the previous qualification round.

But a woeful outing in Cameroon ended in a humiliating loss to lowly-placed Comoros. In the wake of the crash, Ghana sacked their Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac and appointed former player Otto Addo. Otto, who is one of the second team coaches at Borussia Dortmund, is assisted by a former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton for the two games.

Several players who featured at the AFCON were not invited for the tie.  Instead, six players including AS Roma youngster Felix Afena-Gyan were handed their debut call-ups. Fulham defender Denis Odoi and Hearts of Oak star Dennis Korsah also got their maiden call-ups.

Ghanaian skipper Andre Ayew is absent due to a suspension. In his stead, Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey is expected to inspire the Black Stars to victory over their perennial rivals.

Despite the team’s poor run of form, Addo says Ghana can book a ticket to the competition. Games between Nigeria and Ghana are “difficult” but with support and “strategies”, the Black Stars will land in Qatar, the coach maintained.

“We all expect Ghana to qualify for the FIFA World Cup (Qatar 2022) but that won’t be easy as we need to do our best to make it to this tournament,” Addo said in an interview with the CAF website.

“Matches between Ghana and Nigeria are always difficult but we believe in our players, we believe in our strategies, and we believe in the unflinching support of all Ghanaians as we go into these two matches.”

Ghana Vs Nigeria: Head To Head, Team Form 

In their last five matches, the Super Eagles have drawn one, lost another but were victorious on three occasions. For Ghana, however, their last five games have resulted in three defeats, one draw, and a victory.

The four-time African champions have met Nigeria 56 times with the former triumphing in 25 games while their opponents have only won 12. There are 19 draws between the sides.

Nigeria have qualified six times for the World Cup, just one shy of Cameroon, the only African team that have participated the most in the competition. Ghana have played thrice at the World Cup but missed out on the 2018 edition in Russia.

Time For Nigeria, Ghana Match

The first leg of the fixture between Ghana and Nigeria will take place by 8:30 pm (WAT) at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Friday. Four days later, Tuesday,  the second leg will hold at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria. This will kick off by 06:00 pm (WAT/Nigerian time).

NPFL 22: Enyimba Lose Again As Remo Stars Maintain Lead

Remo Stars have had a good start to the new season. Photo: Remo Stars

 

Kano Pillars defeated Enyimba 2-0 in a Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) game on Sunday, the second consecutive loss for the Peoples Elephants in the league.

Enyimba had lost by a lone goal to Rivers United in matchday 3 of the NPFL, after a sterling start to the new season that saw them winning their first two games.

Captain Rabiu Ali gave the Kano-based side the lead just before halftime after he converted a penalty.

In the 56th minute, Kokoette Udoh doubled the scoreline for the Sai Masu Gida. The defeat leaves Enyimba on ninth on the table with six points after four games.

On the other hand, Kano Pillars are now 13th having lost two games, drawn one, and won one.

READ ALSOUnsettled Chelsea Star Lukaku Dropped For Liverpool Clash – Reports

Another game on Sunday saw Remo Stars maintain their grip on the table despite a 1-1 draw against Dakkada FC in Uyo. The newcomers are on eight points after four games but Kwara United will leapfrog them if they beat Abia Warriors.

A Samuel Anakwe goal cancelled Dakkada’s early lead from Muritala Lawal to keep the Blue Stars at the zenith.

Nasarawa United also beat defending champions, Akwa United 2-0 in Lafia.

Elsewhere, Rangers International defeated Niger Tornadoes 4-0 in Nnewi thanks to a brace from Kenechukwu Agu, and a goal each from Aseigbu Shedrack, and Nnaji Christian.

This was as Plateau United returned to winning ways when they dispatch Heartland 3-0.

Meanwhile, MFM’s poor run continued following a 3-0 defeat to Wikki Tourists in Bauchi. The Olukoya Boys have only three points from four games and are 17th on the table.

And in Port Harcourt, Rivers United could not replicate the form that saw them beat Enyimba on matchday 3. They managed a goalless draw against Sunshine Stars at the Port Harcourt Stadium.

NPFL Fixtures

Three games will be played on Monday and they are as follow:

Abia Warriors Vs Kwara United
Gombe Vs Lobi Stars
Shooting Stars Vs Katsina

Chelsea Comeback Dents Liverpool’s Title Race Revival


Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger hugs Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on January 2, 2022. The match ended in a draw at 2-2. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Chelsea came from 2-0 down to earn a point from a pulsating 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday that does little for either side’s hopes of catching Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

City’s lead now stands at 10 points from Chelsea with Liverpool a point further back, albeit with a game in hand.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was absent along with three key players due to positive coronavirus cases, but the Reds still raced into a two-goal lead thanks to parting gifts from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah before they head off to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel made the bold call to drop record signing Romelu Lukaku after the Belgium attacker went public with his displeasure at being used sparingly by the German.

The Blues still had the firepower to fight back before half-time thanks to Mateo Kovacic’s stunning strike and Christian Pulisic.

READ ALSOUnsettled Chelsea Star Lukaku Dropped For Liverpool Clash – Reports

But Chelsea have now won just one of their last five league games, while Liverpool have taken just two points from their last three matches to allow City to streak towards a fourth title in five seasons.

A thrilling 90 minutes that raged from end to end from the first whistle took just six seconds to explode into life when Mane was lucky to escape with just a yellow card for the use of an elbow on Cesar Azpilicueta.

Liverpool were missing goalkeeper Alisson Becker, Joel Matip, and Roberto Firmino due to Covid infections.

However, Alisson’s understudy Caoimhin Kelleher proved his worth by saving an early one-on-one with Pulisic.

Chelsea’s frustration at Mane’s reprieve was only heightened when the Senegalese took advantage of Trevoh Chalobah’s error to round international teammate Edouard Mendy and smash home his first goal in 10 games.

Liverpool will now have to cope without their two top goalscorers for up to a month with Salah and Mane headed to Cameroon on international duty.

The return of standing to English top-flight football for the first time in 26 years as part of a trial contributed to a fervent atmosphere with full crowds still permitted despite record levels of Covid-19 infections in England.

But Salah momentarily silenced most inside Stamford Bridge with a stunning moment of quality to double Liverpool’s lead.

The Egyptian killed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass, eased beyond Marcos Alonso, and then slotted the ball in at Mendy’s near post for his 23rd goal of the season.

Chelsea’s English midfielder Mason Mount (L) is tackled by Liverpool’s English midfielder James Milner during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on January 2, 2022. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Chelsea then had their own disciplinary reprieve when Mason Mount was not punished by a VAR review for a kick out at Kostas Tsimikas.

That proved pivotal as the European champions hit back with two goals in four minutes to go in level at the break.

Kovacic’s goals are few and far between, but often spectacular and the Croatian’s volley in off the post was a goal of the season contender.

With Liverpool still reeling, Pulisic made amends for his earlier miss by lifting the ball over Kelleher.

Mount nearly completed the comeback in first-half stoppage time as his shot trickled wide.

The pace did not relent in the second half and only the goalkeepers ensured there were no more goals.

Mendy was forced to full stretch to deny Diogo Jota, Salah, and Mane.

At the other end, Kelleher stood up well to parry Pulisic’s powerful effort.

But a share of the spoils meant City were the real winners of the weekend after they beat fourth-placed Arsenal 2-1 on Saturday.

AFP

CAF Probes Cancelled Champions League Match In Egypt

File Photo

 

African Football Confederation (CAF) officials confirmed Monday that they are investigating why a CAF Champions League match scheduled for Egypt at the weekend was not played.  

Zamalek of Egypt were due to meet Generation Foot of Senegal in Cairo Saturday in the second leg of the last-32 tie with the west Africans holding a 2-1 aggregate lead.

But Zamalek decided last Friday to move the match to Sunday in Alexandria, a coastal city 220 kilometres (137 miles) northwest of Cairo, citing unspecified “security reasons”.

There were protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last Friday, but they did not prevent domestic league matches being played in Cairo on Saturday.

Generation rejected the new date and venue and turned up Saturday at the original match venue only to be barred from entering the stadium.

Zamalek pitched up at the new venue in Alexandria the following day and the referee waited 15 minutes after the kick-off time before calling off the match.

Senegalese officials insist that, according to CAF rules, a match date and venue can be changed only if both teams agree.

“The relevant CAF bodies and representatives are currently examining the situation and further information and updates will be issued in due time,” a CAF statement said.

Whichever club wins the disputed tie will join 15 others in the October 9 group phase draw and be guaranteed at least $550,000 (500,000 euros) prize money.

The losers drop to the less lucrative second-tier CAF Confederation Cup, where the minimum prize money is $275,000, half that of the Champions League.

AFP

Eighth Body Found After Morocco Football Match Flood

 

Morocco authorities said Monday they had found the body of a person missing after a flood hit a football pitch, bringing to eight the number of people killed in last week’s tragedy.

The flood took place when a nearby river burst its banks in the southern region of Taroudant on Wednesday.

A 17-year-old boy and six elderly men were killed and have since been buried, while rescuers continued the search for an eight victim who was swept away by the flood, authorities said.

The last body was found some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the village of Tizret near where an amateur football tournament had been taking place.

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Photographs and videos shared on social media showed muddy waters carrying away people who had clambered on top of a building flattened by the flood.

Authorities have opened an investigation and the government has promised to take several measures to avoid such tragedies in the future.

Morocco’s national weather service had warned of the risk of stormy rains on Wednesday afternoon in several provinces.

The heavy downpour followed a dry spell, making the floods more violent, local media reported.

Floods are common in Morocco. In late July, 15 people died in a landslide caused by flash floods on a road south of Marrakesh.

In 2014, floods killed around 50 people and caused considerable damage in the south of the country.

Between 2000 and 2013, a series of 13 major floods killed a total of 263 people in Morocco and caused considerable damage to infrastructure worth $427 million, according to the World Bank.

A study published in 2015 pointed to multiple failures in infrastructure maintenance, prevention, warning and emergency management.

Djokovic Thrashes Murray In Open Practice Match

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic plays a forehand shot during a practice session in Melbourne on January 10, 2019, ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE / AFP

 

World number one Novak Djokovic exposed Andy Murray’s frailties in a practice match ahead of the Australian Open on Thursday, with the Scot calling it a day while losing 6-1, 4-1.

Three-time major winner Murray is on the comeback trail after missing 11 months with a hip injury which has seen him slump to 230 in the world.

He was bundled out of the Brisbane International warm-up last week in round two by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and headed straight to Melbourne to fit in some much-needed practice.

Long-time rival and six-time Australian Open champion Djokovic offered to share a court with him, but Murray called time after less than an hour with his movement around the baseline appearing restricted.

The pair have met four times in Australian Open finals, with the Serb winning them all. This year’s edition of the season’s opening Grand Slam in Melbourne Park begins Monday.

Speaking ahead of Brisbane, Murray said “I still have some pain in my hip”, but that “I’m in a better place than I was a few months ago”.

AFP

Arsenal Concede Defeat To United

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (R) vies with Arsenal’s Spanish defender Hector Bellerin (L),  Manchester United won the game 2-1. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Arsene Wenger was honoured by Manchester United on his final visit to Old Trafford as Arsenal manager but left beaten once more on the field as Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time header handed the hosts a 2-1 win.

Wenger was greeted by former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and current manager Jose Mourinho before kick-off and even presented with a glass momento.

However, the Frenchman was left empty-handed when it came to points as defeat left sixth-placed Arsenal mathematically out of the race for a top-four finish.

Fellaini rose highest to flick home the winner after Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s second-half strike against his former club had cancelled out Paul Pogba’s early opener.

United have now sealed their place in the Champions League next season and move closer to their target of finishing at least second best to champions Manchester City by opening a five-point gap on Liverpool.

Ferguson told the United website ahead of the game that his clashes for many years with Wenger’s strongest Arsenal sides over a decade ago “made the Premier League.”

But it was a sign of how far Arsenal have fallen that Wenger made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday as he had already given up hope of a top-four finish.

Alexis Sanchez became the latest of a number of leading Arsenal players to leave towards the end of Wenger’s reign in search of more success and more money in January.

And in his first appearance against his former club, the Chilean was heavily involved in the opening goal on 16 minutes.

Romelu Lukaku picked out Sanchez at the back post and after his header was deflected onto his own post by Hector Bellerin, Pogba had the simple task of tapping into an unguarded net.

Wenger included club record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, who was the makeweight for Sanchez to move in the other direction, among a side littered with youngsters.

But it was the visitors who posed the greater threat for the remainder of a soporific first 45 minutes.

Mkhitaryan dragged a shot from the edge of the box just wide before Aubameyang’s tame header was too close to David de Gea.

United suffered a blow at the start of the second period when Lukaku limped off to be replaced by Marcus Rashford.

And the hosts soon also lost their lead when Mkhitaryan pounced on some slack United defending to fire across De Gea into the bottom corner to muted celebrations despite enduring a troubled 18 months under Mourinho before joining the Gunners.

United struggled to create in their search for a winner, but Arsenal failed to heed their warning when Rashford was denied by the offside flag after Fellaini’s header came off the post a minute from time.

Moments later Fellaini rose highest once more to meet Ashley Young’s cross and the Belgian’s looping header found the far corner to leave Arsenal still without a point away from home in the Premier League this year.

AFP

Djokovic Crashes Out Of Mexican Open

Novac Djokovic Crashes Out Of Mexican OpenSecond seeded Novak Djokovic suffered a shocking defeat on Thursday night at the Acapulco International competition in Mexico.

The Serb was defeated 7-6, 7-5 by Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals of the Mexican Open.

He was seen off in straight sets by his 21-year-old opponent, who produced the best performance of his career.

The one hour 47-minute clash was the first ever meeting between the pair.

Kyrgios fired amazing 25 aces in the match to edge past 12-time grand slam winner Djokovic.

The Australian faces American Sam Querrey in Friday’s semi-finals.

 

 

Keshi Gets Support From NFF Over Players Call-up

Nigeria’s football management body, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has backed former Super Eagles captain and now Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Keshi over team selection despite the loud protest by the team captain Joseph Yobo.

Yobo was very livid to learn that he was left out of the selection that will be facing the Harambee Stars of Kenya for the World cup qualification clash in Calabar last month.

Several other big players of the Super Eagles criticized Keshi’s act but Yobo who was definitely embittered was of the loudest as he openly criticized Keshi for leaving him out of the team after their victorious return from South Africa as the Super Eagles were crowned the African champions.

One official of the NFF said Stephen Keshi will always get the support of the federation as they have already resolved earlier to give him their support and allow him a free hand.

“We appointed Keshi for the Super Eagles job and we have resolved to give him a free hand to pick the players he deems fit to prosecute matches and thus far his selections have produced results,”.

According to an executive member of the NFF; Chris Green, there are several issues which is in the top drawer of the federation which has be addressed and be addressed in good time too, because it is in the interest of the federation to promote peace in the team for without peace the sole purpose of having a coach to steer the team is defeated.

Green made mention of the Yobo vs Keshi, Osaze and Keshi, Emmanuel Emenike, Danny Shittu issues as part of the issues to be addressed in meeting in Abuja.

“We are going to look at the issues objectively. A coach is a coach and is in charge of the team and can decide the players who could best play a game for him.”

“However, when players begin to complain and senior players for that matter, there is need for us to mediate because the team can only achieve more when they are united.

“Our concern is not to fan the ego of anyone, but for peace to reign in the Eagles. We appointed Keshi for this job and we believe in his ability, therefore we must do everything to make sure his job is easy and void of whatever distraction,”

It would be recalled that Joseph Yobo didn’t feature in most of the matches that Nigeria played during the Afcon 2013 in South Africa due to injury.

However, the captain who returned to his club and started playing immediately stated that he is not down with injury as he has been active for his Turkish club since the Nations cup, knocking off the issue of injury being responsible for being excluded from the Super Eagles call-up.