AFCON Match Preview: Nigeria Battle Tunisia In A Clash Of The Eagles

(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

 

Nigeria will continue its quest for a fourth continental title when the knockout stages of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) begin on Sunday. They will take on the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in a Round of 16 tie in Garoua.

The match is one of the mouth-watering games to look out for in the knockout phase of the competition.

The Super Eagles come into the clash on the back of dominant displays that saw them win all three group games in Cameroon, a feat no team achieved. They have also managed to shake off the turbulence –sacking of long-serving coach, Gernot Rohr and the absence of key players – that marred their buildup to the tournament.

In a group containing record-holders, Egypt; Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau, the three-time African champions outclassed their foes, earning them a competition-favourite tag. Coach Austine Eguavoen’s side have scored six goals so far and conceded one. But the team have not let in any goal in open play with Sudan breaching their defense via a penalty in their second match.

The West Africans have not lost in their last six games heading into Sunday’s cracker at the Roumde Adija Stadium. Aside from the draw against Cape Verde at home in a 2022 World Cup qualifier, Nigeria have recorded wins in all matches to date.

They parade a mean defence with William Troost-Ekong in the heart. The 2013 African champions have conceded twice in their last five games.

Nine goals in five matches (plus the flurry of missed chances in Cameroon), is a testament to Nigeria’s deadly attacking force which includes in-form Simon Moses, Samuel Chukwueze, and Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi.

In fact, Nigeria’s six goals at the 2021 AFCON have come from six different players, a record that only speaks to the depth of offensive talents at Eguavoen’s disposal.

Nigeria Team News

For Sunday’s encounter, the Super Eagles are expected to stick to a familiar lineup since the competition began. Maduka Okoye, Zaidu Sanusi, Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, and Ola Aina will most likely retain their places in defence.

Joe Aribo of Rangers and Leicester City’s midfield enforcer, Wilfred Ndidi, will man the centre. Simon Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, and Taiwo Awoniyi will also be in contention for a starting berth.

The team has no injury worries or COVID-19 issues ahead of the Tunisia match. The only outfield player that has so far not tasted action in Cameroon is Chidozie Awaziem.

Tunisia: The 2004 Champions

The Super Eagles’ opponent, have, however, had a tumultuous ride so far in the competition. Regarded as one of the powerhouses of African football, the Carthage Eagles suffered a poor start to the campaign. They lost to Mali 0-1 in their opening fixture at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium but shook off the defeat with a 4-0 demolition of minnows, Mauritania.

In their last game against The Gambia, the 2004 winners were expected to earn all three points at stake. Mondher Kebaier’s men, however, fell agonizingly to the debutants all thanks to Ablie Jallow’s 93rd-minute winner.

The victory took the Scorpions to the knockout stages, leaving Tunisia to finish as one of the third best-placed sides.

A look at the team’s form showed that they have lost three and won three of their last six matches. At the AFCON, the North Africans have lost twice and recorded a victory in one.

Tunisia Team News

The Carthage Eagles have been severely hit by COVID-19 cases. Ahead of the clash with The Gambia, seven of their players tested positive for the disease.

This included skipper, Wahbi Khazri, who netted twice in the victory over Mauritania. In his absence, Seifeddine Jaziri, was picked and has so far made two consecutive starts in the competition. The Zamalek star is expected to line up against Nigeria on Sunday.

But the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Tunisian camp has jumped from seven to 12 players. Aside from the trio of Aissa Laidouni, Ellyes Skhiri and Anis Ben Slimane, Coach Kebaier has also been ruled out of the tie.

Goalkeeper Ben Mustapha is on suspension following his red card against The Gambia while Hamza Mathlouthi will be out of action in the match due to accumulated yellow cards.

Nigeria Vs Tunisia: A Head-To-Head Record

The last 16 encounters will be Nigeria’s 20th meeting with Tunisia at the international level. Both sides claimed victory in six games while eight of them have ended in draws.

At the AFCON, Nigeria and the North Africans have clashed three times since the 2000 edition of the championship. In 2004, Tunisia beat Nigeria on penalties in the semi-final en route to lifting the trophy. But in 2006, it was time for revenge as the Super Eagles defeated them in the quarter-final.

Tunisia and Nigeria were to lock horns again at the third-place match during the last continental showpiece. An early strike from former Watford forward, Odion Ighalo, settled the scores in 2019 as Nigeria won bronze.

Goals from Mohamed Drager and Leicester City star, Kelechi Iheanacho, also saw both teams sharing the spoils in a friendly game in 2020.

Nigeria Vs Tunisia 2021 AFCON Match Time

The match between Nigeria and Tunisia at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will start at 8:00 pm (WAT).

Nigeria To Battle Ghana In Qatar 2022 World Cup Playoffs

The Super Eagles 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

 

Nigeria, the top performers so far in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, were paired with arch-rivals Ghana in the African World Cup play-offs draw in Douala on Saturday.

Ghana will have home advantage first and both legs will be played between March 21 and 29 with the aggregate winners securing a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Egypt face Senegal, Cameroon meet Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo play Morocco and Mali tackle Tunisia in the other ties.

READ ALSO: Medvedev, Tsitsipas March Into Last 16 As Halep Fires Warning

Only Mali among the 10 contenders have never qualified for the world football showpiece while Cameroon hold the record for appearances by an African team with seven between 1982 and 2014.

Nigeria brushed off a troubled build-up to the Cup of Nations, including the sacking of German coach Gernot Rohr, to be the only team among the 24 in Cameroon to win all three group  matches.

While the Super Eagles look forward to a last-16 clash with Tunisia on Sunday, Ghana were shock first-round casualties, finishing bottom of a group after a stunning 3-2 loss to minnows the Comoros.

Serbia-born Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac, who guided the Black Stars to the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, insisted he would not resign after the humiliating loss.

“My primary ambition from the time I took over as coach last October was to qualify Ghana for the World Cup in Qatar,” he said, amid rumours that he faces the sack.

Nigeria are seeking to qualify for the World Cup a seventh time and, since 1994, have missed only one of seven editions. The last of three appearances by Ghana was in 2014.

Algeria, the defending champions and shock early departees from the tournament, will face Cameroon, another in-form team with captain Vincent Aboubakar scoring five times in three group games.

After going 35 matches unbeaten since last 2018, Algeria lost to Equatorial Guinea and were then outplayed by the Ivory Coast to make an embarrassingly early exit.

Egypt boss Carlos Queiroz is another coach who insists his priority is the World Cup, saying “the main goal when I signed was to qualify for the 2022 World Cup”.

Mali will fancy their chances of a historic first appearance at the finals after defeating Tunisia in Cameroon last week through an Ibrahima Kone penalty.

 

See below the full result of Saturday’s draw:

Egypt v Senegal

Cameroon v Algeria

Ghana v Nigeria

Democratic Republic of Congo v Morocco

Mali v Tunisia

First 11: Nigeria Await W/Cup Playoff Foes + This Week’s Biggest Sports Stories

 

The draw for the 2022 World Cup playoffs for Africa will hold on Saturday (today) with the Super Eagles possibly facing Egypt, Cameroon, and Ghana. Earlier in the week, Nigeria were also paired with Tunisia in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) round of 16.

These and more are part of stories that make First Eleven this week!

W/Cup Qualifiers:  Who Will Nigeria Play?

(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

 

Nigeria will know their opponents in the playoff for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. The Super Eagles had a tumultuous journey en route to this stage. They lost at home to the lowly-ranked Central African Republic in one of their games and survived Cape Verde in their last match to make the final lap of qualification for the competition.

The team, which is already without long-time manager, Gernot Rohr, after the uninspiring showings, are in Pot 1 for the draws billed for Saturday in Cameroon.

Africa’s football ruling body had ranked the teams based on the November 19 FIFA ranking which will see the three-time continental champions avoid some of the heavyweights.

Nigeria is in Pot 1 alongside Algeria, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal. This means the Super Eagles won’t be meeting any of these sides. Their opponents, will, however, come from Pot 2 which includes Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, and DR Congo.

The playoffs will take place in March with the first leg set to be played at the home of the lower-ranked sides.

2023 AFCON Draws

Apart from the draws for the playoffs, pairings for the third round of 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers will also be held in the Cameroonian city of Douala. The competition is billed for the Ivory Coast next summer.

Battle Of Eagles

A giant replica of the trophy of the Africa Cup of Nations is seen during the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football tournament at Stade d’Olembé in Yaounde on January 9, 2022. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Saturday’s draws will be coming days after the pairings for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) were confirmed. High-flying Super Eagles – who won all group stage games – are up against 2004 winners, Tunisia.

Nigeria, seeking a fourth AFCON title, face the Carthage Eagles in Garoua on Sunday. The time for the game is 8:00 pm (WAT).

In another mouth-watering round of 16 clash, Ivory Coast – who sent defending champions, Algeria, packing from the tournament –  take on Egypt.  The full fixtures are here.

NFF’s Dilemma

File photo of Austin Eguaveon

 

While the Super Eagles have everything going for them at the AFCON, that is not the fate of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) which is in dilemma over the team’s coach, Austine Eguaveon.

The former international was appointed on an interim basis following Rohr’s dismissal. He had one thing to do: take the boys to the AFCON. Weeks after his new role, the federation named Portuguese, Jose Paseiro, as the substantive manager of the 2013 champions. Paseiro was expected to take over at the end of the competition and lead Nigeria to the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

But that might not be the case as calls to retain the 1994 AFCON winner gathered momentum. Eguaveon has won the hearts of millions of Nigerian fans following Nigeria’s stellar showing in Cameroon.

The president of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, admitted that Eguaveon might be retained if he wins the competition as against the earlier announcement. Calls for indigenous coaches to handle the team have also heightened in recent weeks.

Discounted World Cup Tickets

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 10, 2021 a view of the Education City Stadium in the Qatari city of Ar-Rayyan. – Qatar World Cup ticket sales were launched at reduced prices on January 19, 2022 with residents and migrant workers able to attend games for just $11 as concerns persist over Covid-19. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

Away from Nigeria, tickets for the next World Cup have gone on sale at discounted prices. While authorities are yet to confirm if fans will be allowed to attend the games as concerns over COVID-19 persists, migrant workers can attend the matches for just $11.

FIFA opened a draw that gives individuals match tickets for as little as $69 for international fans. This is about one-third lower than in Russia 2018. But a ticket for the final could cost up to $1,607.

FIFA’s Best

Lewandowski narrowly lost the Ballon d’Or to Messi. Photo: Credit: [email protected]_Official

 

And in what seems like a consolation for missing out on the Ballon d’Or, Roberto Lewandowski, won the FIFA Men’s Player of the Year.

The Bayern Munich forward beat 2021 Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, to take home the prize in a ceremony held on Monday.

Egypt and Liverpool striker, Mohamed Salah, was also in contention for the award. Lewandowski was not the only winner on the day. Manchester United forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, also claimed the FIFA Special Award. Chelsea and Senegal goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, picked up the goalkeeping prize.

Djokovic Deported!

Novak Djokovic was denied aces to participate in the Australian Open despite ab exemption from two panels of medical experts
In this file photo taken on October 22, 2020, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic attends an open-air press conference in Belgrade. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Moving on to tennis! Serbian star, Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open vaccination row ended in deportation. Djokovic was deported by the Australian government on Sunday after a protracted dispute over his vaccination status.

The Australian government said it took the decision so as not to encourage vaccine hesitancy. It also insisted that the country’s laws must stand irrespective.

Djokovic’s deportation also triggered reactions from across the globe. Fans back home hailed the tennis star’s insistence, with the family saying, like the player, that they were disappointed.

Osaka Crashes Out

Defending Champion Naomi Osaka crashes out of the Australian Open
Japan’s Naomi Osaka reacts as she plays against Amanda Anisimova of the US during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2022. William WEST / AFP

 

In spite of the drama, the Australian Open continued seamlessly. Naomi Osaka’s defeat is one of the shocking losses recorded so far in the championship.

The Japanese player lost to unseeded American, Amanda Anisimova, in the third round of the competition on Friday morning.  The former world number one had won the first set on Margaret Court Arena but did not close out the match with Anisimova winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10/5). Friday’s victory sets Anisimova with Ashleigh Barty.

Benitez Fired

File photo of Rafa Benitez

 

Before Osaka’s ouster, there was also another dismissal. This time, it was former Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez, who got the hammer.

The Spaniard was sacked as Everton manager, about 200 days after he took over the job. Benitez paid dearly for a series of poor results that saw Everton lose nines of their last 13 games.

“Benitez, who joined Everton in June 2021, has left the club with immediate effect,” the club added.

Manchester United legend, Wayne Rooney – who currently manages Championship side, Derby – is favoured to take over the job!

Robinho Sentenced

Robinho Handed Nine-year Term For Rape
This file photo taken on September 28, 2013, shows AC Milan’s Brazilian forward Robinho during the Italian Seria A football match AC Milan vs Sampdoria, on September 28, 2013, in San Siro stadium in Milan.  Olivier MORIN / AFP

 

The former Liverpool manager’s dismissal came in a week where a court in Italy upheld Brazil’s Robinho’s nine-year sentence for the gang rape of a young woman.

The former AC Millan player’s lawyer, Jacopo Gnocchi, said that judges “deemed that the appeal filed by the player was inadmissible and that therefore the sentence is final”.

Judges at the Court of Cassation in Rome said the sentence dates back to January 2013.

Jacopo Gnocchi said that judges “deemed that the appeal filed by the player was inadmissible and that therefore the sentence is final”.

The 37-year-old did not attend any of the hearings relating to the case. He was among a group of six men accused of taking part in the rape of an Albanian woman celebrating her 23rd birthday in a Milan nightclub.

“A total of 15 Italian magistrates consider the accusations to have been widely proven. Our wish is that Brazil carries out the sentence,” Gnocchi noted.

In 2017, the Brazilian had the conviction and sentence confirmed for a second time. This followed his loss at the Milan Court of Appeal in December 2020.

Eguavoen: A Steady Pair Of Hands For Nigeria As New Coach Waits In Wings

File photo of Austin Eguavoen

 

In Augustine Eguavoen, Nigeria are relying on an interim appointment to lead them at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, albeit a familiar face who knows what it takes to be a continental champion.

The Super Eagles defeated Guinea-Bissau in their final group game in Garoua on Wednesday having already secured a place in the last 16 as winners of their section with two victories from two outings, including one over Mohamed Salah’s Egypt.

Garoua is a short hop from Cameroon’s border with Nigeria, where fans could be forgiven for already feeling optimistic about their team’s chances of winning a fourth Cup of Nations.

Their smooth start to the tournament has been in contrast to their tumultuous build-up which saw long-serving German coach Gernot Rohr sacked in December and Eguavoen named as a caretaker.

The vastly experienced Rohr, 68, had been at the helm since 2016, notably leading Nigeria to third place at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt. Many in the country felt Rohr had overstayed his welcome.

READ ALSO: [Christian Chukwu] Unlike Rohr, Eguaveon Brought Out Eagles’ Attacking Flair

Eguavoen, 56, had been working as the Nigeria Football Federation’s technical director before being asked to replace Rohr and fill in on the bench until Portugal’s Jose Peseiro takes over.

The interim boss belongs to a golden generation of Nigerian players. He was stand-in captain as the team raced to victory in the 1994 Cup of Nations final against Zambia.

A defender, Eguavoen played alongside Jay-Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Daniel Amokachi, and Emmanuel Amunike, the last match-winner in 1994.

Nigeria also reached the last 16 of that year’s World Cup and Eguavoen later led the team to a third-place finish at the 2006 AFCON.

This is his third spell in charge. This time it came as a surprise to many in Nigeria where the decision to hand him the reins was not warmly received.

Many felt he was too close to the current leadership of the NFF in his role as technical director.

 Commands Respect

(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

 

Remembered as a big and effective central defender, Eguavoen is a gentleman off the pitch and commands respect without being as popular as the likes of Okocha or Oliseh.

Yet he is confident of what he can achieve with a strong squad that is particularly fearsome in attack with Europe-based stars like Samuel Chukwueze, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, and Taiwo Awoniyi.

Nigeria have started well and a favourable path is opening up to the latter stages. Should they go all the way, it could leave the NFF in an awkward position.

Peseiro, who has notably coached Sporting in his homeland, Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Saudi Arabia, is due to start work after the Cup of Nations, meaning he will be tasked with ensuring they qualify for the World Cup.

Yet NFF president Amaju Pinnick hinted that Eguavoen could keep the job should he lead Nigeria to glory in Cameroon.

“We know that Eguavoen can do the job expertly, but we also know that he will be more useful controlling the technical department,” Pinnick said following his appointment.

“If Eguavoen won the Cup of Nations, we might have a rethink. In that case, the foreign coach would become the technical director.”

For now, though, Eguavoen is not getting carried away.

“It is important for us to sustain the winning mentality while we keep our heads on our shoulders,” he told Nigerian media this week.

“We are yet to win anything here except points.”

AFP

Nigeria To Play Tunisia In AFCON Second Round

(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

 

Nigeria is set to play Tunisia on Sunday in the second round of the Africa Cup of Nations being held in Cameroon.

Tunisia, who lost to Gambia 1-0 on Thursday, booked their place to the knockout phase as one of the four third-placed countries.

READ ALSO: Ivory Coast Send Reigning Champions Algeria Crashing Out Of AFCON

On the other hand, the Super Eagles topped their group, claiming the maximum nine points after winning all three matches.

Meanwhile, Egypt, who finished second in Nigeria’s group will have to step up and beat Ivory Coast for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

 

The full fixtures:

23 JAN
Burkina Faso v Gabon – 17:00
Nigeria v Tunisia – 20:00

24 JAN
Guinea v Gambia – 17:00
Cameroon v Comoros – 20:00

25 JAN
Senegal v Cape Verde – 17:00
Morocco v Malawi – 20:00

26 JAN
Ivory Coast v Egypt – 17:00
Mali v Equatorial Guinea – 20:00

AFCON: Buhari Hails Emphatic Progress Of Super Eagles

A combination photo of President Buhari and the Super Eagles

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Super Eagles of Nigeria for keeping hope alive in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon by winning all their group matches and advancing to the second round of the tournament in grand style.

In a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, the president urged the Austin Eguavoen-led team to maintain and even surpass the terrific form that made them leaders in the group stage, as Nigeria hopefully looks forward to a total of seven emphatic wins in this competition.

Read Also: Nigeria Beat Guinea-Bissau, Become Only Team To Claim Nine Points

President Buhari said he trusts that the positive reputation of good sportsmanship the traveling fans, sportswriters and the football team have demonstrated in Cameroon will continue to enliven the importance of sports, particularly football, as an enabler of development, peace, tolerance, friendship and cooperation.

The President wished the Super Eagles the very best, pledging that his administration would continue to support the efforts of international, regional and national football organisations to use the sport as a tool to build a better and peaceful world.

Super Eagles Set To Confront Guinea-Bissau, Awaziem Returns To Full Fitness

Super Eagles Of Nigeria
(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, 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 Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Egypt at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 11, 2022.
Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

The Super Eagles squad has been strengthened ahead of their final Group D match at the Africa Cup of Nations with the return of versatile defender Chidozie Awaziem to full fitness.

Awaziem, who can play in central defence, is likely to get a taste of AFCON action when the three-time champions clash against the Wild Dogs of Guinea-Bissau at the Stade Roumdé Adjia in Garoua on Wednesday night.

The Alanyaspor FC of Turkey player did not play any part in the team’s two previous games against Egypt and Sudan and is keen to have a taste of the action in his second Africa Cup of Nations outing. He was a member of the 2019 bronze-winning squad in Egypt.

READ ALSO: AFCON 2021: Sunday Oliseh Tips Cameroon As Credible Contenders

Nigeria top Group D with six points and are insurmountable going into the last round of matches, with three-pointer Egypt, who are second on the log and also with the arithmetic possibility of ending up with 6 points, having lost to the Eagles in their first match and therefore inferior to Nigeria on the head-to-take rule that takes premium in team ranking here.

Head Coach Augustine Eguavoen reiterated that his team will take nothing for granted as they go all out for the three points, even as some fresh legs may see action on Wednesday night.

“There is no room for complacency. We want to remain at the high level that we have found ourselves and that means putting in the solid shift that will continue to guarantee victory in our matches,” he said.

In the second match of Group D, Egypt’s Pharaohs will contend with Sudan’s Falcons of Jediane. The Sudanese have only one point and would be able to proceed if they snatch all three points from the seven-time champions.

The match between Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau will kick off on Wednesday by 8 pm Nigerian time.

Eguavoen Warns Super Eagles Not To Be Complacent Against Guinea Bissau

Super Eagles Of Nigeria
(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, 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 Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Egypt at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 11, 2022.
Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Super Eagles Head Coach, Augustine Eguavoen, has warned his team not to be complacent when they confront Guinea Bissau at the Stade Roumdé Adjia in Garoua on Wednesday.

Nigeria have made it into the Round of 16 as group leaders, with a match to spare, courtesy of the wins over Egypt and Sudan in their two matches and the combination of other results, notably Egypt’s defeat of Guinea Bissau on Saturday.

Yet, Eguavoen says his team will deduct nothing from their consolidated one-match-at-a-time and win-all strategy adopted for the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations, even as there is no serious pressure going into that final group phase encounter.

“It is important for us to sustain the winning mentality while we keep our heads on our shoulders. Just as I told the boys after the match against Egypt, we are yet to win anything here except points. Guinea Bissau need the three points because they have only one so far and we must be prepared for a massive fight.

“If we let down our guard, we could be punished, and that would not be good for the team’s psychology. We will go for the three points,” he said.

Guinea Bissau drew 0-0 with Sudan in their first match, losing a penalty awarded to them late in the game, and then fell to a Mohamed Salah goal in a match they gave their all and even felt they should have been awarded an equalizer that was cancelled late in the encounter.

“With a little more luck, they could have beaten Sudan and could have drawn with Egypt. That is the kind of opposition we face on Wednesday. Nobody will tell me they’re pushovers,” added Eguavoen.

Nigeria vs Guinea Bissau Officials

The Confederation of African Football has appointed Kenyan official Peter Waweru Kamaku as referee for Wednesday’s encounter. The 39 –year old has a doctorate degree in Pure Mathematics and is a university lecturer. He will be assisted by compatriot Gilbert Cheruiyot (assistant referee 1), Mozambican Arsenio Maringule (assistant referee 2) and Moroccan Redouane Jiyed (fourth official).

The match commissioner will be Youssouf Guedi Guirreh from Djibouti. The match will be played by 8:00 pm Nigerian time.

Eguavoen’s AFCON Record

The former Super Eagles defender, Eguavoen is the only man to have managed Nigeria to win all three matches in the group phase of the AFCON since the country started participating at this level since 1963.

He was head coach when the Eagles defeated Ghana 1-0, Zimbabwe 2-0 and Senegal 2-1 at the Al Masry Stadium, Port Said to sweep the stakes at the 2006 finals.

In 14 previous matches across three stints, the 1994 AFCON winner and two-time FIFA World Cup defender has left the field victorious in 12 matches, losing only two – the 0-1 defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in the semi-final of the 2006 finals and a 2012 AFCON qualifier in Guinea that was embroiled in circumstances of uncertainty, which the team lost by the odd goal.

As he monitored his team during training and thereafter entertained questions from the media, the former defender smiled easily at a suggestion that his team could end up playing hosts Cameroon in the final match, as he also was involved as a player in the 1988 final against the Cameroonians in Morocco that Nigeria lost by a lone goal, and the bronze medal match of the 1992 edition that the Super Eagles won 2-1.

“That is still a long way off. We are focused on the match against Guinea Bissau. One game at a time,” he concluded.

Christian Chukwu: Unlike Rohr, Eguaveon Brought Out Eagles’ Attacking Flair

 Austin Eguaveon
File photo of Austin Eguaveon. Credit: [email protected]_Supereagles

 

Super Eagles legend, Christian Chukwu, has hailed Austine Eguaveon for his handling of the team, saying the Nigerian side have been transformed since he took over from long-time coach, Gernot Rohr.

The former international said this during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Sports.

“Based on what I have seen, I give thanks to Eguaveon. He has turned around the team. We are now playing as Nigerian Super Eagles. And if they continue this way, we are to win the cup at the end of the day,” Chukwu, a former coach of the team, added.

“You can see attacking force in the team, unlike when Rohr was there. Our game has changed completely and if they continue like this, I can assure you we will get to the final and, if possible, lift the cup.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Put Three Past Sudan To Qualify For Round Of 16

Chukwu also accused the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) of undervaluing local coaches, insisting that foreign managers cannot do better than their indigenous counterparts.

“I can assure you that the present Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) does not believe in Nigerian coaches,” he noted.

“Nigerian coaches can perform even better than foreign coaches but our federation doesn’t have respect for the Nigerian coaches,” the former defender said.

Chukwu joins fans and pundits who maintain that the Super Eagles need a local handler, citing the fact that all World Cup-winning teams were handled by their nationals.

Eguavoen, who led the Nigerian side to a bronze medal finish at the 2006 edition of the continental showpiece, was appointed as the team’s interim boss in November following the dismissal of Rohr.

The NFF had in a statement said the German coach was sacked to avoid a “disaster,” adding that the former Niger Republic coach lost the dressing room.

But weeks after the move, the football body also appointed Jose Peseiro who is expected to take over once the AFCON finishes.

Present NFF Does Not Believe In Nigerian Coaches, Says Christian Chukwu

Ex-Coach of the Super Eagles, Mr Christian Chukwu. Credit: NFF

 

Super Eagles legend, Christian Chukwu, believes the present leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) does not value indigenous coaches.

Chukwu said this on Sunday, hours after the Super Eagles, led by a former international, Austine Eguavoen – appointed on an interim basis to replace long-time coach, Gernot Rohr – booked their spot at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) round of 16.

“I can assure you that the present Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) does not believe in Nigerian coaches,” the former player fondly called “The Chairman,” told Channels Television’s Sunday Sports.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Put Three Past Sudan To Qualify For Round Of 16

‘Our Game Has Changed’

Super Eagles Of Nigeria
(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, 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 Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Egypt at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 11, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Chukwu joins fans and pundits who maintain that the Super Eagles need a local handler, citing the fact that all World Cup-winning teams were handled by their nationals.

Using Eguavoen as a reference point, the 1980 AFCON winner praised the former defender for turning around the Super Eagles fortunes with their display so far in Cameroon.

“I am happy with what Eguavoen is doing now. Within a short period, Eguaveon was given the job, you can see how he has turned the team around. Nigerian coaches can perform even better than foreign coaches but our federation doesn’t have respect for the Nigerian coaches,” he noted.

Eguavoen is a former Nigerian defender.

 

He said the team is now playing as “Nigerian Eagles” and sees the side going all the way to winning the competition.

“Based on what I have seen, I give thanks to Eguavoen. He has turned around the team. We are now playing as Nigerian Super Eagles. And if they continue this way, we are to win the cup at the end of the day,” Chukwu, a former coach of the team, added.

“You can see attacking force in the team, unlike when Rohr was there. Our game has changed completely and if they continue like this, I can assure you we will get to the final and, if possible, lift the cup.”

Nigeria Put Three Past Sudan To Qualify For Round Of 16

Nigeria's forward Samuel Chukwueze (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during 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
Nigeria’s forward Samuel Chukwueze (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during 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

 

The Super Eagles on Saturday put up a strong performance to beat Sudan 3-1 in their second match at the 2021 Africa Nations Cup being held in Cameroon.

The Eagles have now qualified for the Round of 16 regardless of what happens in the other remaining Group D games.

After beating Egypt in their first game, many Nigerians were hoping the Eagles would outclass their North African counterparts. They did not disappoint.

READ ALSO: Ghana’s Tetteh Banned Three Games For Throwing Punch

Samuel Chukwueze opened the scoring as early as the third minute with a clinical finish before a set-piece saw Taiwo Awoniyi fortuitously head into the net on the stroke of half-time.

Nigeria began the second half as they finished the first. Moses Simon, who was later announced as the Man of the Match, went on one of his daring runs to finish past the stranded Sudanese goalkeeper in the 46th minute.

Nigeria's forward Samuel Chukwueze kicks the ball during 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
Nigeria’s forward Samuel Chukwueze kicks the ball during 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

 

Although Sudan pulled one back in the 70th minute after Ola Aina was adjudged by VAR to have been guilty of a foul in the 18-yard box, the Falcons of Jediane never really threatened the Super Eagles’ dominance for the rest of the game.

Nigeria now face Guinea-Bissau in the final group game on Wednesday and will only need a draw to finish top.

Supreme control

Former Super Eagles star Augustine Eguavoen, in temporary charge after last month’s sacking of German coach Gernot Rohr, stuck with the same line-up that defeated Egypt 1-0 in their opening game.

Nigeria took control with barely two minutes gone when Nantes winger Simon controlled a long throw into the box by Ola Aina, teeing up Chukwueze to steer past Sudan goalkeeper Ali Abu Eshrein.

William Troost-Ekong, the Nigeria captain, saw his volley kept out superbly from a free-kick, and Sudan rode their luck again moments later when Joe Aribo hit the post and Simon poked the rebound against a defender sat on the line.

A Nigeria supporter cheers 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
A Nigeria supporter cheers 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

 

Nigeria grabbed a second goal in slightly fortunate circumstances as Troost-Ekong headed Kelechi Iheanacho’s cross against a defender, the ball ricocheting off the head of Awoniyi and squirming in under the keeper.

Simon all but secured the victory 34 seconds after half-time when he combined with Awoniyi before tapping home after bursting into the area.

Sudan cut the deficit 20 minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty following a VAR review as Aina was punished for a foul on Mustafa Mohammed, with Khidir tucking away from the spot.

First 11: AFCON Refereeing Drama + Other Big Sports Stories This Week

 

Actions continued at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) this week. Several teams including hosts, Cameroon, booked their spots in the next round of the competition. Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open ordeal also took another twist. 

These and more are some of the stories that make up Sports Eleven for this week. Enjoy! 

Refereeing Errors Mar AFCON

A giant replica of the trophy of the Africa Cup of Nations is seen during the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football tournament at Stade d’Olembé in Yaounde on January 9, 2022. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 continues to make headlines across the world. But just days into the tournament, a refereeing error from Janny Sikazwe triggered more conversations about the level of officiating in the biennial competition.

In Mali vs Tunisia game which the Eagles won by a lone goal, the Zimbabwean had ended the match twice before time, stirring pushbacks from the 2004 champions.

The Tunisian press had in the wake of the controversy, slammed the decision and labelled it a “scandal.”

Although the Carthage Eagles had filed an appeal for the match to be replayed, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) dismissed the protest.

“After examining the protest of Tunisia and all the match officials’ reports, the Committee decided to dismiss the protest lodged by the Tunisian team,” the continent’s leading football body said in a short statement late Thursday. ”It also decided that the match result will stand as 1-0 in favour of Mali.”

Push For Knockout Berths Intensifies

Cameroon football fans are pictured in a street in Douala on January 9, 2022. The opening match in the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) will be played at Stade d’Olembé in Yaounde on January 9, 2022, between Cameroon and Burkina Faso. Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

And as the second round of matches intensifies at the competition, the push for a place in the next stage of the AFCON has also increased. Host nation Cameroon were the first to seal a round of 16 place after a comfortable 4-1 win over Ethiopia. The Indomitable Lions had beaten Burkina Faso 2-1 in the AFCON 2021 opener.

Cameroon were not the only side to have reached the next round of the soccer fiesta. A day after their win, the North African team, Morocco, also got to the knockout stage following a 2-0 win over debutants, the Comoros Island on Friday.

Later on, Malawi revived their hopes of qualification after a 2-1 victory against Zimbabwe. Senegal drew with Guinea and will need to wait until the final round of games to seal a round of 16 spot.

Super Eagles Aim For Qualification

Super Eagles Of Nigeria
(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, 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 Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Egypt at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 11, 2022.
Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Nigeria are confident of sealing a place in the next stage of the tournament when they take on Sudan in their second Group D tie.

The Super Eagles are favoured to take all three points against the Falcons of Jediane, days after they beat record-holders, Egypt.

Ahead of the game, Coach Austine Eguaveon said his team are focussed on winning the game and will take each match as they come.

“I am happy with the players and their ability to give their best on the pitch. I am focused on winning against Sudan at the moment,” the 1994 AFCON winner said.

“I am not thinking about anything else or how we will start our third match. We are completely focused on our match against Sudan. Beating Egypt was not easy, and we are looking forward to continuing our victories and qualifying for the next round.”

In the other game in the group, Egypt will want to reignite their campaign against Guinea-Bissau.

Djokovic’s Vaccination Drama Continues

Novak Djokovic was denied aces to participate in the Australian Open despite ab exemption from two panels of medical experts
In this file photo taken on October 22, 2020, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic attends an open-air press conference in Belgrade.(Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Away from football, tennis star, Novak Djokovic’s vaccination drama continued as the Australian authorities delayed his deportation.

This is pending his renewed legal challenge. During an emergency hearing, Stephen Lloyd told a judge that the Australian government could not detain Djokovic before an interview with immigration officials on Saturday morning and he would not be deported before his case is heard.

The vaccine-sceptic Serbian won a court battle to remain and has been training at Melbourne Park and was included in the draw for the competition.

Winter Olympics: Germany Warns Athletes 

File photo, employees work at the athletes’ village for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Zhangjiakou in northern China’s Hebei province on July 14, 2021. (Photo by Noel CELIS / AFP)

 

Weeks before the Winter Olympics, German authorities have warned its athletes to avoid Chinese food.

The German Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) fears that athletes may risk ingesting clenbuterol, a steroid that is used to fatten pigs and calves before they are sent to slaughter.

“The consumption of meat should, therefore, if possible, be avoided, and the alternatives should be discussed with the nutritionist,” said NADA in its on Monday.

Man Linked With Okagbare’s Doping Arrested

Blessing Okagbare
In this file photo taken on July 30, 2021, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare reacts after winning her race in the women’s 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.  Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

An American,  Eric Lira, has been arrested in connection to Blessing Okagbare’s failed drug test.

He was arrested on Wednesday in El-Paso, Texas for enabling doping in international sports. One of the charges against Lira claimed he gave performance-enhancing drugs to the sprinter during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

NPFL Enters Matchday 6

NPFL logo.

 

On the local scene, matches are billed to take place this weekend in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).

In one of the big games, Rangers International will host MFM in Enugu on Sunday. Other matches will see Abia Warriors take on Heartland; Gombe United welcome Enyimba in another encounter on Sunday while Rivers United and Kwara United battle each other.

NWFL Gathers Steam

Logo of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL).

 

Just as the men, the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL) games have also gathered steam. Earlier in the week, six games were played across the country.

Edo Queens defeated Nasarawa Amazon 2-1; Adamawa Queens beat Confluence Queens by a lone goal while Osun Babes down Pelican Stars 2-0 in Group A of the league.

And in Group B,  Bayelsa Queens devoured Royal Queens by 3-0; Sunshine Queens FC snatched a win over FC Robo Queens. The other match saw Rivers Angels clip Abia Angels’ wings 4-0.

FIFA Suspends Pape Gueye

In this file photo taken on November 25, 2021, Galatasaray’s Romania’s midfielder Alexandru Cicaldau (L) and Marseille’s Senegalese midfielder Pape Gueye (R) fight for the ball during the UEFA Europa League football match between Galatasaray S.K. and Olympique de Marseille (OM) at the Nef Stadium, in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Senegal’s Pape Gueye has been suspended by FIFA due to a transfer dispute. His Senegalese coach, Aliou Cisse confirmed this on Friday.

“There were problems between Watford and Marseille on a transfer. FIFA has suspended him,” he said.

Midfielder Gueye, who is with the Teranga Lions at the AFCON – began his career at Le Havre and was due to become a free agent in the summer of 2020.

In April of the year, Gueye sealed a pre-contract with Watford before changing his mind and agreeing to a deal with Marseille.

He has since played 61 times for the Ligue 1 side in all competitions.

Sterling Wins Player Of The Month

 

Raheem Sterling. Photo: [email protected] Sports

 

England striker, Raheem Sterling, has won the Premier League Player of the Month for December.

The Manchester City forward netted give league goals and also provided one assist in the month under review. His efforts helped City win all seven domestic matches.

Sterling, who became the first Manchester City player to win the prize this season, beat teammate, Joao Cancelo.

Guardiola Scoops Manager of the Month

In this file photo, Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola celebrates during the Premier League trophy award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021. Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP

 

Sterling’s boss, Pep Guardiola, also claimed the Premier League Manager of the Month for December.

The win is the Spaniards 11th award as the manager of the month, moving him third on the overall standings. Only former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, and ex-Manchester United coach, Alex Fergusson have more awards.