Stadiums at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon will have their capacity capped at 80 percent for the host’s matches due to the coronavirus pandemic, the African Football Federation said Tuesday.
Other fixtures in the competition starting on January 9 and finishing on February 6 will only be played in front of 60 percent of the ground’s capacity.
Sunday’s opening match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso will be played at the 60,000-seater Olembe stadium in Yaounde.
“After many consultations with the Cameroonian government, in light of the evolution of the health crisis and the challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, AFCON, and the local organising committee have agreed an upper limit of between 60 percent-80 percent for the capacity of stadiums in the Africa Cup of Nations,” CAF (African Football Federation) said.
Strict coronavirus regulations have already been put in place for the tournament, postponed from last year due to the virus.
Spectators must be vaccinated and present a negative test before being granted entry into matches.
Many sides have been impacted by infections, including Nigeria who will be without Napoli striker Victor Osimhen and Gambia who have had to pull out of two pre-AFCON (African Cup of Nations) friendlies.
Nigeria on Tuesday suspended a training strike over unpaid bonuses at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt following last-minute pleas by the country’s football officials.
The team finally agreed to train in Alexandria, 30 minutes after schedule, after the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) promised to pay a win bonus from their 1-0 victory over Burundi on Saturday, by the end of the week.
NFF spokesman, Ademola Olajire,
told AFP “the matter has been resolved”, conceding that funds for the tournament had arrived late.
“The NFF received part of the money meant for the tournament today and is in the process of converting it to dollars to pay the players and officials”, he said.
“The only money they’re owed is the win-bonus for the Burundi match”, he added.
The bonuses were expected to be paid by the NFF after Saturday’s game ended.
Officials close to the team, who spoke under anonymity, told AFP that following reassurances from the NFF “the team captain spoke to the players, asking them to show some understanding after which the team agreed to train”.
The players had earlier boycotted the official pre-match conference.
Other NFF officials disclosed that the players have been paid a daily training allowance of $200-a-player from June 2 to June 30.
Guinea has accepted to stage the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations instead of the 2023 edition, a move that confirms Cameroon as the 2021 hosts, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president said Monday.
“I am delighted with this change in the organisation of the calendar that will see the Nations Cup take place in Guinea in 2025 and I am proud that the president of Guinea, Alpha Conde, has himself accepted,” Ahmad Ahmad said.
Ahmad, who held talks with Conde on Sunday, told reporters it was a similar situation to Cameroon, which will stage the 2021 tournament having been stripped of hosting this year’s edition.
In 2014, CAF awarded hosting rights to Cameroon (2019), Ivory Coast (2021) and Guinea (2023).
Following the decision to remove this year’s edition from Cameroon because of severe delays in building stadiums and security concerns, Egypt and South Africa have bid to step in as hosts.
CAF will announce on Wednesday which of the two countries has won the right to host the tournament, with the clock ticking to the June 15 kickoff.
Sierra Leone have been disqualified from the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying competition, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Monday.
Football’s world governing body FIFA had suspended the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) in October due to “government interference”.
CAF’s decision means Kenya and Ghana are assured of first and second place in Sierra Leone’s Group F and have therefore booked their place in next year’s finals.
“Sierra Leone is disqualified from the qualifiers and all its matches are annulled,” CAF said in a statement.
The row stems from the decision of Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption commission to sack SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara during an ongoing probe into corruption and mismanagement.
In October, CAF cancelled two matches pitting Sierra Leone against Ghana due to the dispute between Freetown and FIFA.
The 2019 finals have been plunged into uncertainty chaos after CAF last week stripped Cameroon of the right to host the tournament, citing delays caused by infrastructure work.
CAF The organisation has yet to determine the new host country but said it would reach a decision by the end of the year.
The Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF) has released the final list of players that will compete at the U-21 Men’s African Nations Volleyball Championship in Nigeria.
The 17th edition of the Championship will take place in Abuja from 10th to 20th September 2018.
The players are; Patrick Davou, Bruno Tochukwu, Ibrahim Adamu, Sylvanus Zachariah, Nwachukwu Arinze and Moses Gana. Others are; Izuchukwu Nwachukwu, Mayowa Bello Afeez, Chidiebere Emmanuel Okeke, Chinedu Ekechi, Emmanuel Udaa, Emmanuel Briggs, Prince Anyasodike and Hillary Simon. Coach Elam Elishama (Head Coach), Denis Eleri (Assistant Coach) and Anthony Torbunde (Trainer) will lead the team when they start their campaign.
According to the Technical Director of the federation, Martin Melandi, the selection was based on merit.
“Honestly, everyone that made the list is a star player. Even the players that did not make the team are equally good. We’ve been having a sleepless night to come up with the list”.
Melandi added that the Confederation of African Volleyball has agreed to send its officials to inspect the venue and related facilities of the indoor sports hall at the National Stadium in Abuja
Meanwhile, with the level of preparations for the tournament, Coach, Elam Elishama is confident Nigeria can win the championship.
The African Nations Cup finals are set to be expanded to 24 teams and moved to dates in June and July but will continue to be held every two years after recommendations on the tournament at a symposium in Morocco on Wednesday (July 19).
The decision must still be ratified by the Confederation of African Football’s executive committee, but that could come as early as Thursday when they meet in Rabat.
The timing of the Nations Cup finals has been contentious as it has been played in January, in the middle of the league season in Europe. The majority of Nations Cup players come from European clubs and increasingly found themselves drawn into a club versus country tug-of-war.
The increase in teams follows the expansion of the European Championship last year, which African observers said had been a success.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has shifted the matches scheduled to hold in Ebebiyin and Mongomo in Equatorial Guinea to Bata and Malabo, after the group-stage matches left the pitches damaged beyond use.
The tournament officials confirmed the two venue switches on Tuesday and said that all Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final ties will take place in Bata and Malabo.
Originally, the last-eight showdown between Tunisia and hosts Equatorial Guinea was scheduled to take place in Ebebiyin on Saturday.
Similar problems occurred in Mongomo where a quarter-final match was originally slated to take place on Sunday, but that will now be held in the capital Malabo.
That match will kick off at 16:00, which means the remaining quarter-final, also taking place in Malabo, has been pushed back to start at 19:30.
Consequently, the CAF Executive Committee feels that the eight teams qualified for the quarter-final stages onwards should be given the opportunity to play on grounds that provide the highest standards, specifically those of Bata and Malabo, to ensure the quality of play remained at the highest possible level.
There have already been instances of overcrowding at matches earlier in the tournament and police being overrun by supporters.
Moving the match to Bata Stadium, which will also host the final on 8 February, means an extra 30,000 fans will be able to attend.
Report also has it that it is the first time in the history of the Nations Cup that quarter-finals matches have been relocated, but the logistics of holding the tournament in Equatorial Guinea at short notice have presented unique problems.
After reaching the quarter -final of the Africa Cup of Nations, the Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan said his team is not afraid of any other.
Ghana pulled through after defeating South Africa 2-1 and will meet the Group D runners-up in the quarter-finals on Sunday evening.
Confident of his team’s performance, Gyan said “with this team we can take on anyone in this competition.”
The Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff said: “It was not easy to get out of this group,” as the team qualified as Group C runners-up.
Gyan scored Ghana’s late winner in their second game against Algeria which ultimately helped them finish top of the table on head-to-head record.
“I have played at five cups of nations, but this group was the hardest,” he added.
“We were very strong mentally, even after conceding the first goal. We kept believing and fought to the end knowing that we could win.”
Ghana manager Avram Grant said: “We deserve it because South Africa were not better than us.
Grant also said “We have finished first in the group of death, which is not bad. After losing the first match we showed great attitude in the second and continued along the same lines today , we started the match very well with two or three good chances. We had the match in our hands. I am very happy that the players showed, just as in their last match, a good spirit and good attitude.”
Former Sports Commissioner in Ogun State, Bukola Olopade, believes that the decision to relieve former Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, of his appointment was a normal decision expected in football.
“When the heroics of Stephen Keshi came out after he won the Nations Cup, he was praised by the whole world and if the performance indicators are now showing that there is diminishing returns from his performances and contributions to the national team, every reasonable body anywhere in the world will sit back to reevaluate,” he said.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, Mr Olopade explained that such decisions in sport is to reinvigorate the team, and usually the injection of new personnel galvanizes teams to do better.
Avoiding the use of the word ‘sack’, he noted that Nigerians should not forget that Keshi was not the only one asked to leave his positions, as the backroom staff were also asked to leave, with the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, offering the opportunity for them to go on refresher courses.
This, according to Olopade, shows that the decision made was in the interest of all parties involved, adding that it further means that Keshi “would always come back”.
“There is no other position you can attract Stephen Keshi with than the job of the Chief Coach of the Super Eagles,” he said.
“We should not shout about Keshi alone, This is not alien to football. The law of the game is hire and fire and once it has happened I don’t think we should be crying too much.”
The non-inclusion of some of Nigeria’s best performing players in the Super Eagles has been highlighted as a major wrongdoing of Coach Keshi.
Olopade berated Keshi for putting personal sentiment ahead of national interest by leaving players like in-form Ikechukwu Uche, and Kalu Uche out of the Super Eagles despite apologies and appeals from the players themselves.
He said that although, there had been allegation that both players were arrogant, their patriotism can not be questioned.
Olopade also threw his weight behind the idea of hiring a foreign technical head for the national team.
He said that several Nigerian coaches engage in activities that are counterproductive because of their closeness to players or financial inducement, especially as regards player selection.
He noted, however, that having a foreign coach does not necessarily mean hiring an European coach, expressing joy that the NFF led by Amaju Pinnick had shown that they would not be deceived into hiring just any coach.
The Sport Entrepreneur said that having heard names like that of Egyptian man and former Coach of the Pharaohs, Hassan Shehata, being mentioned meant that the NFF wants to make an understanding of African football and Nigerian players their priority.
Olopade also had good words for interim coach, Amodu Shuaibu, whom he referred to as “the only coach you can call from within Nigeria that will just get into the national team and get things working. He has gone through this two times successfully.
“Unfortunately for him, on both occasions he got us to Eldorado and he was dropped.”
Despite the directive by the Nigeria Premier League on the tussle over the ownership of Afcon 2013 superstar midfielder, Sunday Mba, Nigeria’s football regulatory body, the Nigeria Football Federation, has ordered that a committee be set up to liaise with the Interim Management Committee of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) on the ownership tussle.
This comes as another club has joined Warri Wolves and Enugu Rangers in laying claims to Sunday Mba. According to AllAfrica.com, Dolphins FC of Port Harcourt have claimed that Sunday Mba is their player.
The Nigeria Premier League (NPL) had ordered that the Super Eagles duo of Sunday Mba and goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim belong to Warri Wolves and the football body wrote a letter to that effect, which was signed by the Executive Secretary of the NPL, Tunji Babalola, and circulated to media houses by the management of Warri Wolves, where it was stated clearly that the players belong to Wolves and not Rangers.
Now, Dolphin FC claim they loaned the player to Warri Wolves while Enugu Rangers management are also insisting that Dolphins improperly loaned Mba to Warri Wolves.
Babalola, on behalf of the NPL in a letter dated February 13, 2013, addressed to Warri Wolves and copied to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) General Secretary and Rangers International FC, it said: “We are in receipt of your correspondence on the above subject. From our records, it is established that Chigozie Agbim and Sunday Mba are bonafide players of Warri Wolves FC.
“Consequently, the ownership of the players is not subject to controversy and any club that requires their services should contact the management of Warri Wolves for negotiation,” the letter stated.
But explaining his own side of the story, Mba claimed that he had been contracted to Enugu Rangers by Warri Wolves, a statement the management of Warri Wolves frowned at.
The Nigeria Premier League has waded into the on-going feud between Warri Wolves and Enugu Rangers over the ownership of Sunday Mba and Chigozie Agbim by ruling that the Super Eagles duo belong to Warri Wolves.
Enugu Rangers is laying claim to Mba, insisting he has always been their player and had been training with them before the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa.
However, in a letter signed by the executive secretary of the NPL, Tunji Babalola, Mba and Agbim have been declared as players of Warri Wolves.
The league interim management committee has, therefore, asked any club interested in the players to contact Warri Wolves.
A tussle arose between Warri Wolves and Enugu Rangers over the ownership of the 24-year-old Eagles midfielder since foreign clubs started showing interest in the player after the Afcon 2013.
Spokesman of the Warri-based professional football club, Moses Etu, said on Sunday that the Delta State-owned team was not ready to join issues with Rangers on the player as Mba knew he had a two-year contract with Warri Wolves.
“Sunday Mba has only spent one year out of the two-year contract he signed with us. It is on the basis of this that we are giving him up till Friday, March 1 to return to our camp ahead of the new football season we are preparing for,” observed.
The Warri Wolves media officer hinted that the matter has been reported to the Nigeria Football Federation.
“We have absolute confidence in NFF believing that they will follow the path of justice. We have the documents signed by Mba and requests by Rangers for us to clear the players for them which we refused to do,” he said.
“We have also written the NFF to apply the relevant sanctions regarding inducement and misleading of the public by Rangers International on this matter.”
Etu further warned that Warri Wolves would not hesitate to report the matter to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the world football governing body, FIFA if need be.
“We have confidence in NFF but we won’t hesitate to take the matter to CAF and FIFA. Rangers can be banned from further participation in the CAF Champions League while the player faces the prospect of being banned for years,” stressed the club spokesman.
Although some foreign clubs are said to be making enquiries on how to sign the Super Eagles players, the current ownership struggle between the two NPL clubs may scuttle such moves. Warri Wolves last week placed a one million euro transfer tag on the player now under dispute.
The defender rose to stardom after he scored two goals for Nigeria at the Nations Cup, which put Nigeria in reckoning and ultimately claiming the 2013 Afcon trophy.
Now the hitherto unknown local player is now the talk of several transfers within European clubs.