Nigeria Record Biggest-Ever Win, Thrash Sao Tome And Principe 10-0

The Super Eagles line up against Sao Tome and Principe. [email protected] Andrew

 

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen scored four goals as the Super Eagles walloped Sao Tome and Principe 10-0 in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Monday to give Nigeria their biggest win in history.

Osimhen opened the score sheet in the 9th minute of the tie, before adding one each in the 48th, 65th, and 84th minutes. This was his first hat-trick and haul for the senior team.

Terem Moffi netted twice, just as Oghenekaro Etebo, Simon Moses, and Ademola Lookman got one each in the tie.

Watford star Emmanuel Dennis, who was introduced in the later stages of the match, grabbed a goal to complete the demolition in the game played in Morocco.

READ ALSO: [AFCON 2023] Super Eagles Labour To Beat Sierra Leone In Abuja

Osimhen scored his first hat-trick for the Super Eagles in the game. [email protected]

 

Last week, Jose Peseiro’s men beat Sierra Leone 2-1 in Abuja to open their 2023 AFCON qualifier account. The Super Eagles now top the Group A standings with six points followed by Guinea Bissau on three but with a game at hand.

With five goals, Osimhen is now the top scorer in the qualification series for the competition billed for next summer. Nigeria’s next game in the race for the biennial showpiece is in September when they take on Guinea Bissau.

Osimhen Wins Serie A U-23 Most Valuable Player Award

File photo of Victor Osimhen

 

Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen has won the Italian Serie A Most Valuable Player (MVP) for U-23 footballers. 

The Napoli hitman beat Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic and AC Milan’s Rafael Leao to the prize which was announced on Friday evening.

“Goals, goals, goals. A young striker with the experience of a veteran:
@victorosimhen9 is the best Under-23 of this #SerieA,” the league tweeted on its official handle while unveiling the former U-17 World Cup champion as the winner.

READ ALSO: [India 2022] Flamingos Close To Qualifying After Victory Over Ethiopia In Addis Ababa

Osimhen, 23, was out for two months due to a facial injury but managed 14 league goals in 26 games for Napoli who are set to finish the season under review in 3rd spot.

Four out of his 18 goals in 31 games in all competitions were scored in Napoli’s Europa League campaign.

The Nigerian’s future has been a subject of rife speculations for months. Reports are linking him away from the Italian side whom he joined in 2020 for a club and African record fee of €81.3m.

He has been linked to several sides including Arsenal, Manchester United, and lately, Newcastle United.

African Players In Europe: Osimhen Scores 13th Serie A Goal


Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen celebates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Napoli vs Sassuolo at Diego Armando Maradona stadium in Naples, on April 30, 2022.
Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

 

Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen netted his 13th Serie A goal over the weekend as Napoli beat Sassuolo. 

Also, Naby Keita enjoyed a rare day in the spotlight for second-placed Liverpool by scoring the goal that earned a 1-0 Premier League win at Newcastle United and kept the pressure on leaders Manchester City.

Guinea midfielder Keita usually operates in the shadows for the Reds while Senegal talisman Sadio Mane and Egypt captain Mohamed Salah take turns at fulfilling the star role.

A few hours after Liverpool triumphed to go top, City thumped lowly Leeds United 4-0 to regain a one-point advantage with four rounds to play in a thrilling English title chase.

READ ALSOEverton Shock Chelsea To Boost Premier League Survival Hopes

Here, AFP Sport highlights some of the top African performances in European leagues at the weekend:

ENGLAND NABY KEITA (Liverpool)

The match was only 19 minutes old when three players brought into the side by Reds manager Jurgen Klopp combined to break the deadlock. James Milner snapped into a tackle on Fabian Schar and, while Newcastle were furious no free-kick was given, the visitors played on with Diogo Jota finding Keita, who kept his cool to round Martin Dubravka and fire into the unguarded net for quadruple-seeking Liverpool.

WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

The Ivory Coast striker came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner as Palace won 2-1 at Southampton. Not fit to start because of ankle problems, Zaha secured all three points for the London club when he cleverly rolled away from Southampton centre-back Jan Bednarek and let fly with a low shot from the edge of the box that went in via the post for his 12th league goal this season.

SPAIN SAMUEL CHUKWUEZE (Villarreal)

Chukwueze in action during the match. [email protected] CF

 

The 22-year-old grabbed his first La Liga goal since last December, but that could not prevent his side from suffering a 2-1 loss at Alaves. But the Nigerian and his teammates’ focus will be on their Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool on Tuesday when the ‘Yellow Submarine’ will be looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit.

ITALY VICTOR OSIMHEN and KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)

Napoli’s two African stars were key to Luciano Spalletti’s side thrashing Sassuolo 6-1 and securing Champions League football next season. Senegal captain Koulibaly led a blitz that put Napoli four goals ahead in the first 21 minutes by heading home the opener from a Lorenzo Insigne corner before Nigeria forward Osimhen netted in almost identical fashion to take his Serie A tally to 13 in 24 appearances.

FRANCE KARL TOKO EKAMBI (Lyon)

The Cameroon international continued his fine run of form with a late goal in Lyon’s 3-0 win at second-placed Marseille. Toko Ekambi has now scored five goals in as many games.

ANDY DELORT (Nice)

The Algerian’s 13th Ligue 1 goal of the season gave Nice a crucial 1-0 win at struggling Bordeaux which kept their Champions League hopes alive. Nice trail third-placed Rennes by two points with three matches left in the season.

GERMANY ERIC MAXIM CHOUPO-MOTING (Bayern Munich)

The Cameroon striker started alongside Robert Lewandowski in a 3-1 defeat at Mainz as newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayern suffered a hangover from their title celebrations. A week after being confirmed champions for the 10th consecutive season, Bayern were 2-0 down before Choupo-Moting’s pass found Lewandowski, who slipped his marker and fired in.

AFP

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).

Ten Players Including Musa Arrive Eagles Camp Ahead Ghana Showdown

(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, defender Kenneth Omeruo, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, midfielder Joe Aribo, defender William Troost-Ekong, (bottom L-R) forward Kelechi Iheanacho, defender Ola Aina, defender Zaidu Sanusi, forward Samuel Chukwueze and forward Moses Simon pose prior to the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Sudan at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 15, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Ten players including Ahmed Musa have arrived at the Super Eagles camp in Abuja as of 6:00 pm ahead of the team’s 2022 World Cup playoffs with Ghana.

The team confirmed their arrival in a tweet on Monday evening, hours after most of them finished their club engagements.

“Update! Stand up and greet Senior Man Kelz…Kelechi Iheanacho has hit camp….10 players in camp now…William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Semi Ajayi, Ola Aina, Frank Onyeka, Odion Ighalo, Daniel Akpeyi, Ahmed Musa, Oghenekaro Etebo, Kelechi Iheanacho,” the tweet read.

READ ALSO: [2022 WCQ] Nigeria Call Up Bonke To Replace Ndidi For Ghana Clash

The team is still expecting new boy, Ademola Lookman, and others with reports suggesting that the Leicester City star is sick and hopes of featuring in the double-header still hanging.

Already, the three-time African champions are without Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi who picked up an injury in his side’s Europa Conference League tie with Rennes last week.

But in-form strikers, Victor Osimhen and Odion Ighalo are back in the squad. The players missed the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) earlier in the year due to injury and club commitments. Watford’s Dennis Emmanuel is also expected to hit the camp following his absence from the biennial continental competition held in neigbouring Cameroon.

Nigeria will travel to Ghana for the first leg of the encounter billed for Friday 25th March while the return fixture takes place in Abuja the following Tuesday.

Qualification for the Super Eagles will be a huge compensation to the teeming Nigerians fans who were disappointed after the team’s ouster from the AFCON despite an impressive start to the competition.

Coach Austine Eguaveon is also expecting to join the list of gaffers that have gotten a World Cup ticket for Nigeria.

The 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar from November. Four other countries will join the winner of the Nigeria/Ghana clash as Africa’s representatives in the Asian country.

Osimhen Recovers From COVID-19, Set For Italy Return

Osimhen was part of the Nigerian side that won a bronze medal at the 2019 AFCON, playing only one match. Photo: [email protected] Eagles.

 

Super Eagles forward, Victor Osimhen, has recovered from COVID-19, about ten days after he tested positive for the disease. 

His Italian side, Napoli, confirmed this via their social media platforms on Sunday afternoon.

“Victor is negative for COVID and will return to Italy in the coming hours,” the Serie A team said.


RELATED:

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Osimhen Tests Positive For COVID-19 Again
Cameroon Set To Host AFCON Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

First 11: Ighalo’s AFCON Absence And This Week’s Biggest Sports Stories

Mane, Ndidi, And Other Stars To Watch At The Cup Of Nations

AFCON 2021: Cameroonians Ready For Football Fun


 

 

The player is expected to undergo medical examinations on his return to Italy. Osimhen was earlier ruled out of Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) team after he contracted the disease.

“Lively forward Victor Osimhen’s positive test to the coronavirus pandemic a couple of days ago and injury to the versatile Abdullahi Shehu have constrained changes to Nigeria’s final 28-man list for the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations starting in Cameroon next weekend,” the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said while announcing his absence from the competition.

The development is a major blow to a Super Eagles’ side aiming for a fourth continental title in Cameroon with fans accusing Napoli of not wanting the player to feature for the team.

In his stead, the three-time African champions called up Henry Onyekuru for the tournament.

The 23-year-old is also recovering from surgery after he smashed his cheekbone in Napoli’s encounter against Inter Milan late last year.

Early last year, the former U-17 World Cup winner had also tested positive for the disease following his return from the Christmas holidays in Nigeria.

Eagles Loss To Central African Republic + 12 High, Low Moments Of Nigerian Sports In 2021

top-moments-in-sports-2021-nigeria
Nigerian sports witnessed the good and bad in 2021.

 

2021 was an interesting year for sports in Nigeria. During the year, sports lovers had reasons to cheer just as they were times the tears flowed freely.

From football to athletics, January to December, there were moments that redefined a sporting year punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Channels Television highlights some of the low and high moments of sports in Nigeria in the outgone year.

 Iheanacho Wins Big

Iheanacho netted five times in three EPL games. Photo: Leicester City.

 

In March, Kelechi Iheanacho’s brilliant form saw him become the fourth Nigerian to win the Premier League Player of the Month award.

Peter Odemwingie, Austine Okocha, and Odion Ighalo were the others to have won the prize before the former Manchester City star’s feat.

The 24-year-old Leicester City forward was in devastating form for Brendan Rogers’ side in the period under review, scoring five goals in three league outings.

In total, he netted seven goals for the Foxes in all competitions in March 2021.

Shattered Dreams

A file photo taken on July 30, 2021, shows Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

Months after Iheanacho’s record in England, Nigeria had a major upset at the Olympics after star athlete Blessing Okagbare and ten others were disqualified from the Games.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the body managing all integrity issues in sports, said the Nigerian medal hopeful at the Tokyo Games was suspended after testing positive for Human Growth Hormone hours before she was billed to take part in the semi-finals of the 100m race.

Before Okagbare’s suspension, the body had taken similar action on ten other athletes, citing non-compliance to out-of-competition drug testing requirements.

In September, the Nigerian lost an appeal to overturn the AIU decision and is reportedly serving a four-year ban.

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) had in the wake of the suspensions expressed shock at the decision but took responsibility for the lapses.

Something To Cheer

Despite the setbacks, Nigeria managed two medals at the competition – bronze and silver from Ese Brume and Blessing Oborududu respectively.

Paralympians Shine In Tokyo

Team-Nigeria Paralympians
Nigerian Paralympians were treated to a rousing welcome by the Federal Government.

 

Although the Olympians performed below expectations, Nigerian had a fairly good outing at the Paralympics.

At the end of the 2020 Paralympic Games in early September, the country raked in ten medals  –  four gold, a silver, and five bronze medals.

Nigeria, making its eighth appearance, had gone to the competition with 22 athletes.

Wild Beasts Clip Eagles’ Wings

Nigeria’s Super Eagles fight to defend their goal during the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match against the Central African Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

In football, and what many believe was one of the lowest moments in Nigerian sports in recent times, the Central African Republic stunned the Super Eagles 0-1 in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in Lagos.

The lowly-rated Wild Beasts needed a 90th-minute goal to silence the home crowd at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on October 7. But the Nigerian team avenged the loss in the reverse fixture a few days later, beating their opponents 2-0 in their adopted Cameroonian ground.

Pinnick Lands FIFA Job

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to be elected into the FIFA Council. Photo: [email protected]

 

Earlier in the year, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, became a member of the FIFA Executive Council. Pinnick was elected during the 43rd CAF Ordinary General Assembly in the Moroccan capital of Rabat in March.

He defeated Malawi’s Walter Nyamilandu to become the third Nigerian to be elected into the FIFA Council. Late Etubom Orok and Amos Adamu were former members of the council.

Osimhen’s AFCON Wrangling

Osimhen was part of the Nigerian side that won a bronze medal at the 2019 AFCON, playing only one match. Photo: [email protected] Eagles.

 

While Pinnick may have gotten his foot into the FIFA Council and a new CAF president elected in the year, the squabbles over Europe-based players’ availability for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) made headlines for weeks.

In Nigeria, star striker, Victor Osimhen, was the subject of debate. The Napoli forward had earlier been ruled out of the competition following a head injury. But about a month later, the player indicated his availability for the competition, a move which saw him included in Nigeria’s 28-man team for the Cameroon party.

But the Italian club were not happy with the former U-17 World Cup winner’s decision, and had in multiple reports, frowned at the move. A few days after the list emerged, the Naples side said the player had contracted COVID-19 and would follow the recommended protocols.

The development forced the NFF to remove Osimhen from the team heading to the competition. Reports indicated that the player had also asked to be left out due to health reasons.

He was also not the only player replaced in the team. According to the football body, three others including Watford’s in-form striker, Dennis Emmanuel, were replaced.

Rohr Bows Out, Peseiro Steps In

Rohr was Nigeria’s longest-serving coach.

 

Players’ availability for the 2021 AFCON was not the only major issue ahead of Nigeria’s participation in the competition. With less than two months until the AFCON, the NFF sacked long-time coach, Gernot Rohr, as the Super Eagles manager.

Pinnick told Channels Television the decision was taken to avoid a “disaster” as he claimed that the German had lost the dressing room.

In his place, a former international and one-time coach, Austine Eguavoen, was mandated to take charge of the three-time African champions on an interim basis.

Although weeks after the move, Nigeria appointed Portuguese, Jose Peseiro, as the new head coach, the NFF said the former Real Madrid assistant coach will be on observer mission at the biennial football showpiece.

A Historic Feat

The D’Tigress pose for a photo following their Afrobasket win. Source: Facebook/NBBF.

 

Away from football, Nigerian sports had one of its proudest moments in 2021 when the senior women’s basketball team, the D’Tigress, won a historic third Afrobasket championship in a row.

They defeated Mali 70-59 in Yaounde, Cameroon, adding to their previous wins in 2017 and 2019.

But the team’s stellar showing was marred by wranglings over payment of bonuses.  The girls had protested over unpaid wages and allowances weeks after winning the competition.

South Africa Stun Nigeria

aisha-buhari-cup
Aisha Buhari Cup was contested by six nations. Credit: Facebook/Aisha Buhari Cup.

 

As the D’Tigresses continue to dominate the continent, the Super Falcons’ superiority in Africa appears to be fading fast. South Africa stunned the Nigerian girls to win the maiden Aisha Buhari Cup in September.

Bayana Bayana defeated the defending African champions 4-2 at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos State to emerge champions of the six-nation invitational championship.

Usyk Ends Joshua’s Reign

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk (L) fights British heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua at the end of their heavyweight boxing match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London on September 25, 2021. Usyk defeated Joshua on points. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

A few days after South Africa’s win, Anthony also Joshua lost his heavyweight belt to Oleksandr Usyk in front of the Londoner’s home crowd.

Usyk triumphed with a unanimous points decision, hampering dreams of a ‘Battle of Britain’ unification bout with fellow world title-holder Tyson Fury.

The Ukrainian won 117-112, 116-112, and 115-113 on the scorecards of the three judges in just the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion’s third bout as a heavyweight.

Adesanya’s Suffers First Career Loss

 

aiming to become the fifth double-weight world champion in UFC history.

 

Like Joshua, Israel Adesanya equally lost to Jan Blachowicz. It was Adesanya’s first professional loss

Judges scored the fight 49-46, 49-45, and 49-45 in the Pole’s favour to retain his world light heavyweight title at UFC 259 in Las Vegas in March.

The 31-year-old middleweight titleholder was aiming to become the fifth double-weight world champion in UFC history.

Kamaru Retains Title

Kamaru Usman punches Colby Covington in their welterweight title bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021, in New York City. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/AFP

 

And just a little over a month ago, Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman defeated Colby Covington by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-7, 49-46) to retain the UFC welterweight championship.

November’s fight  – was held at UFC 268 at the Madison Square Garden in New York, US –  was Kamaru’s second-time victory over Covington.

Before the recent win, the Nigerian beat Covington in the first fight with a fifth-round knockout but admitted that his opponent had gotten better after the first loss.

First 11: NFF Consults Mourinho Over Eagles Job + Other Top Sports Stories

A photo collage used to illustrate the story.

 

It was yet another fun-filled and exciting week in sports as FIFA ramps up its push for a biennial World Cup. 

The move, which has triggered debates in the football world, was not the only talking point in a busy sports circle. FIFA, the global football body, is also leading calls to fix the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the off-season.

But CAF says the competition will hold as planned. Several teams, including the Super Eagles, have also named their squad for the tournament.

First Eleven captures this and other major sports stories that made headlines this week. 

Nigeria Unveil AFCON Squad

Ahmed Musa Augustine Eguavoen Victor Osimhen

 

With the AFCON less than two weeks away, Nigeria on Saturday named a 28-man squad for the competition billed for Cameroon.

Interim coach Austine Eguavoen released the list which included captain Ahmed Musa, and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen.

Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Watford hitman, Dennis Emmanuel, also made the cut as the three-time African champions begin their quest for a fourth continental crown.

In Search For Rohr’s Successor

A photo combination of Mourinho and Wenger.

 

Another story that triggered conversations was the revelation from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) that it consulted some top coaches in the search for a new Super Eagles manager.

The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, had told journalists in a media parley that former Arsenal long-time coach, Arsene Wenger, and Portuguese gaffer, Jose Mourinho, were contacted for counsel.

“These are some of the best coaches in the world. And there is nothing wrong with it because he [Wenger] is equally concerned just the way we are,” a few weeks before the commencement of the AFCON.

FG Fixes Date For National Sports Festival

A photo taken on April 10, 2021, shows athletes running in the Women’s 400M Semi-Finals of the 20th National Sports Festival at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, the Edo State capital.

 

Away from the AFCON, the Federal Government has fixed November 2 to 15, 2022 for the National Sports Festival.

The competition is billed to hold in the country’s oil-rich Delta State, according to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare.

“Interestingly, Delta State came first at the recently concluded Edo 2020,” he said.

“Now, we are happy that they have the opportunity not just to host, but to validate their first position.”

NPFL Enters Second Week 

Remo Stars and MFM FC. Photo: Remo Stars

 

The restart of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) equally made the news.

Ten matches were played in the opening weekend of the season, leading to some shocking results. Akwa United began their title defence on a good note, just as MFM FC lost to new boys, Remo Stars.

Action returns again this weekend in the elite league as teams seek to consolidate on their first-week gains.

Kano Pillars, NSCDC Crowned Champions

Credit: Facebook/Supporters of Kano Pillars in Malaysia.

 

Earlier in the week, Kano Pillars and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) won the men and female categories of the 2021 National Volleyball Premier League respectively.

Their victories followed 10 days of action at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

Kano Pillars (male) beat Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) 3-0 (32-30, 25-20, 22-25,), as the NSCDC defeated Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) 16-2, 25-19, 23-25,22-25).

Nigeria Gets AFCON Boost

Nigeria’s forward Victor Osimhen (C) is challenged during the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match against Central Africa Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

While talks about the AFCON is still making frontpages, Nigeria received a boost ahead of the January competition when hitman, Victor Osimhen, indicated he will be available for selection.

The former Lille star had been ruled out for three months following a head collision. After the incident in a Serie A game, Osimhen had surgery and was expected to miss the party in the Central African country.

But in a recent social media post, the Napoli forward said he is ready to play for the 1994 African champions, raising hopes among fans in Nigeria. Reports, however, suggest that his club might not allow him feature in the competition over COVID-19 fears.

An Optimistic CAF

AFCON trophy.

 

Napoli’s comment about Osimhen is not the first opposition to the tournament. Several European clubs had raised concerns about the competition due to the pandemic.

As calls to push the competition to the summer gains traction, CAF insists there is no going back. During his visit to Cameroon, CAF President Patrice Motsepe said it will hold despite the challenges of COVID-19. He noted that fans would, however, need negative COVID-19 results to enter the stadiums much to the delight of the Cameroonian authorities.

Promises of a Biennial World Cup 

File photo: The World Cup winner’s trophy is seen during the 68th FIFA Congress at the Expocentre in Moscow on June 13, 2018. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

And as preparations for the continental showpiece enter the final stages, FIFA is also preaching the gospel of a biennial World Cup already backed by CAF.

Gianni Infantino in a meeting on Monday said the proposal will improve the financial fortunes of the game to the tune of  $4.4 billion despite opposition from Europe and South America.

A report commissioned by UEFA recently estimated a shortfall of between 2.5 and three billion euros ($2.8 to 3.4 billion) over four years for European federations if FIFA’s plan goes through, however.

Game On!

Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder Ferran Torres (C) scores his team’s fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) /

 

Before FIFA’s recent remarks, English Premier League clubs earlier confirmed that there won’t be a COVID-19 break.

The decision came on the heels of a surge in infections leading to the postponement of games in the English topflight.

“The health and wellbeing of all concerned remain our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution,” the Premier League said in a statement.

Pele Discharged

In this handout file photo released by WEF and taken on March 14, 2018, Brazilian football legend Pele smiles during the opening plenary at the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2018 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 14, 2018. Benedikt VON LOEBELL / World Economic Forum (WEF) / AFP

 

It was not all gloomy for sports in recent days. Brazilian legend, Pele, was discharged from the hospital on Thursday after two weeks of chemotherapy for a colon tumor.

The 81-year-old is stable and will continue treatment for the disease, the Albert Einstein Hospital said in a statement three months after the Brazilian spent a month in hospital.

Pele’s latest health challenge is expected to decrease the aging star’s public appearances.

Al Ahly Continues Dominance

Ahly’s players celebrate with the winners trophy following the CAF Super Cup football match between Egypt’s Al-Ahly and Morocco’s Raja Club Athletic (Raja Casablanca) at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in the Qatari city of Ar-Rayyan on December 22, 2021. KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

In Africa, Egyptian giants, Al Ahly, have continued their dominance of club competitions on the continent after they won the CAF Super Cup.

Pitso Mosimane’s men defeated Raja Casablanca of Morocco 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 in a thrilling encounter in Qatar.

Wednesday’s victory seals Al Ahly’s position as a dominant force in Africa. They now have 23 titles — 10 in the CAF Champions League, eight in the Super Cup, four in the Cup Winners Cup, and one in the Confederation Cup.

I Will Be Available For AFCON 100 Per Cent – Osimhen

File photo: Nigeria’s forward Victor Osimhen (C) is challenged during the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match against Central Africa Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Super Eagles forward, Victor Osimhen, has confirmed his availability for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Osimhen, who was injured after a clash of heads during Napoli’s defeat at Inter Milan in November, was initially ruled out of action for three months.

But in a statement on social media, the U-17 World Cup winner said he will be available for the tournament billed for next month in Cameroon.

“I will be available for AFCON 100% unless I’m not among the players picked to represent Nigeria,” he wrote.


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 Osimhen Suffers Multiple Face Fractures After Head Clash


 

Earlier, the former Lille forward underwent surgery after suffering multiple facial fractures during the collision

“Victor Osimhen was operated on this morning by Prof. Tartaro, assisted by dr. Mario Santagata and in the presence of dr. Canonical, for a reduction and restraint operation of multi-fragmentary and displaced fractures of the malar bone, of the zygomatic arch and pommel, of the floor and lateral wall of the orbit, and of the diastasis of the frontal-zygomatic suture;” the club said in a statement.

“The prognosis is estimated to be around 90 days.”

Osimhen’s comment will be a major booster to the Super Eagles fans and interim coach, Austine Eguavoen, as they prepare for the continental showpiece.

Nigeria, in Group D alongside Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea Bissau, will begin the quest for a fourth AFCON title against the Pharaohs on January 11th.

Osimhen Pledges More After Winning Serie A Player Of The Month Prize

File photo:  Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (C) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group C football match between Leicester City and Napoli at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on September 16, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Super Eagles star, Victor Osimhen is ready to do more following a spectacular start to the season which culminated in a Serie A Player of the Month prize for the Nigerian.

Osimhen, who scored seven goals in all games for Luciano Spalletti’s men last month, beat Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella, Brahim Diaz of AC Milan and Fiorentina’s Giacomo Bonaventura to win the September Serie A Player of the Month.

“I am very proud of this recognition given to me by @assocalciatori for what I did in September in @serie A,” the Nigerian posted on his Instagram handle, hours after he scooped the award. “I thank those who voted for me and I hope to continue to do well!”

READ ALSO: ‘I Need To Continue Working Hard’: Osimhen Pledges More After Sampdoria Brace

Serie A: Osimhen Shines Again, Scores Fourth League Goal

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‘Very Few’ Can Defend Against Osimhen

Of Osimhen’s seven goals, four came in the Serie A. The Nigerian opened his goal account for the season with a strike in Napoli’s 4-0 thrashing of Udinese.

He followed it up with a brace in another 4-0 routing of Sampdoria before he netted once in the Parthenopeans’ 2-0 defeat of Cagliari.

His goals shot Napoli to the zenith of the Italian league with 21 points from seven games.

“Sent to the vote by the editorial team of the Last Man, together with other decisive players in the good start of their teams (Barella, Brahim Diaz and Bonaventura), Osimhen won with more than half of the total votes – which, it must be remembered, assign his colleagues Serie A players on request AIC,” organisers of the award, the Italian Footballers’ Association wrote on its website.

“Osimhen showed exceptional determination, transforming chaotic actions into golden opportunities, forcing the defenders to continuous physical duels, aiming for depth with an exhausting constancy. Very few in Serie A can defend Osimhen’s mix of speed and power.”

The Nigerian, who is on international duty with the three-time African champions, is expected to replicate his red-hot form for Coach Gernot Rohr’s team as they take on the Central African Republic (CAR) in a 2022 World Cup qualifier double-header.

Serie A: Osimhen Shines Again, Scores Fourth League Goal

Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (R) celebrates with Napoli’s Italian forward Lorenzo Insigne after opening the scoring during the Italian Serie A between Napoli and Cagliari on September 26, 2021 at the Diego-Maradona stadium in Naples. Carlo Hermann / AFP

 

Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen scored as Napoli maintained their perfect start to the Serie A campaign on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Cagliari which ensured they reclaimed top spot, while Lazio won an eventful derby 3-2 to down Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

Luciano Spalletti’s side cruised to their sixth victory in as many league games against a Cagliari team coached by former Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri thanks to Osimhen’s sixth goal in all competitions this month and a second-half penalty from Lorenzo Insigne who pre-match celebrated his 400th Napoli appearance.

They are two points ahead of AC Milan after another confident display that ends a week in which they scored 10 goals without reply in three league matches.

“The best way to celebrate was to win and score a goal,” said Insigne to DAZN, who is four goals away from Diego Maradona’s Napoli total of 115.

“We did it together as a team. We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground, keep our heads down and work because there is a very, very long way to go.”

Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (R) celebrates after opening the scoring during the Italian Serie A between Napoli and Cagliari on September 26, 2021 at the Diego-Maradona stadium in Naples. Carlo Hermann / AFP

 

Next weekend Napoli travel to Fiorentina in what will be the first true test of their title credentials, as their 2-1 win over Juventus earlier this month came against a team missing a host of starters.

They made easy work of a passive Cagliari, with Osimhen making it four Serie A goals in five appearances this campaign in the 11th minute when he met Piotr Zielinski’s low cross with a typically assured finish.

Osimhen was involved again when a low-key match was settled in the 57th minute, the in-form Nigeria attacker being cleaned out by Diego Godin and Insigne lashing home the subsequent penalty to ensure a simple win.

The Nigerian had scored a brace as Napoli outclassed Sampdoria 4-0 in a Serie A game on Thursday evening.

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Juventus Win First Serie A Game Since Ronaldo’s Departure

Lazio Win Derby Honours


Lazio’s players celebrate at the end the Italian Serie A football match Lazio vs AS Roma at the Olympic stadium in Rome on September 26, 2021. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

 

Goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Pedro and Felipe Anderson gave Lazio a tight derby win over Roma at a raucous Stadio Olimpico which saw two teams attack each other for 90 minutes.

Maurizio Sarri’s side were winless in three league matches heading into the weekend but now sit sixth on 11 points, seven behind Napoli and just one behind fourth-placed Roma, who twice pulled goals back through Roger Ibanez and Jordan Veretout.

In the aftermath Mourinho lashed out at referee Marco Guida and the VAR officials after what he saw as a clear foul on Nicolo Zaniolo just before Lazio launched the counter-attack which ended with former Roma player Pedro putting Lazio 2-0 ahead in the 19th minute.

“The referee and VAR weren’t up to the standards of a match of this level. From 2-0 it could have been 1-1, the referee made a mistake on the field and VAR made a mistake… they all made a mistake,” Mourinho said to DAZN.

Dybala Misses Chelsea

 


Juventus’ Argentine forward Paulo Dybala (L) reacts after opening the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Sampdoria on September 26, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

 

Juventus will have to face Chelsea in the Champions League without Paulo Dybala after the Argentina forward limped off with a thigh injury early in their 3-2 win over Sampdoria.

Dybala opened the scoring with nine minutes on the clock at a wet Allianz Stadium, with Leonardo Bonucci and Manuel Locatelli netting the other goals to move Juve ninth on eight points, but soon afterwards the 27-year-old left the field in tears after the latest in a long line of injuries.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side host European champions Chelsea on Wednesday and the coach said Dybala and centre-forward Alvaro Morata, who also exited with a thigh problem towards the end of the match, would be out of action until after the next international break which runs from after next weekend’s matches to October 15.

Fiorentina bounced back from midweek defeat to Inter Milan with a battling 1-0 win at Udinese which moved them into fifth on 12 points, six behind Napoli.

Promoted Empoli are threatening the European places after beating Bologna 4-2 to win their second match on the bounce and climb up to eighth, while Salernitana remain rooted to the bottom of the league with a single point after losing 1-0 at Sassuolo.

AFP

‘I Need To Continue Working Hard’: Osimhen Pledges More After Sampdoria Brace

Osimhen is expected to lead Napoli’s push for the Serie A. Photo: Napoli website.

 

Super Eagles forward Victor Osimhen says he is determined to do better following a stunning start to the season. 

The Nigerian scored a brace as Napoli outclassed Sampdoria 4-0 in a Serie A game on Thursday evening to take his goal tally in all competitions to five.

But Osimhen, who admitted the impact of the COVID-19 and injury on his performance last season, has expressed readiness to continue working hard for the remainder of the campaign.

“Last year I had COVID and then got a bad injury. I’m in good shape this season,” the 2015 U-17 World Cup winner told Napoli’s website, one week after he netted a brace against Leicester City in a Europa League game.

“I’m training consistently and I’m listening to the advice the coach gives me and the help I get from the team. I’m pleased with what I’m doing but I know I need to continue working hard. We all need to continue down this track.”

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Juventus Win First Serie A Game Since Ronaldo’s Departure

‘Victor Is Doing Well’

File photo: Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (L) vies with Granada’s Spanish defender German Sanchez during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg football match between Granada FC and Napoli at Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on February 18, 2021.
JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

On Thursday,  he opened the scoring chart in the 10th minute after beating  goalkeeper Emil Audero and completed his brace five minutes into the second half before Piotr Zielinski sealed the win for the Parthenopeans. 

Shortly after the match, an excited Osimhen singled out the club’s coach, Luciano Spalleti for praise following his impressive form this term.

“I’m really happy,” he added.  “It was important for me to start the season well and I want to thank the coach for his confidence in me. I’m honored to play for this club.”

Osimhen’s recent form, reminiscent of his start to life in Naples, has also caught Spalletti’s attention.

The Italian, 62, lauded the Nigerian’s technical abilities and commitment to doing more.

“Victor is doing well and working hard for every ball,” the coach said. “He finishes his chances very well. I think we did well to read the game, both when there were challenges and when there were more positive moments.”

Before the Sampdoria game, the 22-year-old was also on target as Napoli thrashed Udinese in another league match on Monday.

Osimhen began his Serie A career in the 2020/2021 season following a reported £45m switch from Ligue 1 side, Lille.

In the 2019/2020 campaign, his debut season in France, he netted 18 goals in 38 games.