‘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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‘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.

 

 

 

Super Eagles Beat Cape Verde 2-1 In World Cup Qualifier

(File Photo) Super Eagles players pose for a group picture before the start of the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have beaten the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde 2-1 in the World Cup Qualifiers in Mindelo.

Victor Osimhen’s strike and Kenny Rocha Santos’ own goal helped Nigeria come from behind to beat Cape Verde in their qualifying game.

Two defensive blunders from the hosts secured maximum points for the Super Eagles as they clinched back-to-back wins in Group C, thus helping the three-time African champions grab a crucial win on the road as they stretched their dominance in the group.

However, a 75th-minute own goal by Cape Verde earned the Eagles the victory, a result that propelled the Super Eagles’ leadership of the pool as they await a home-and-away fixture against Central African Republic next month.

Dylan dos Santos steered the home team in front after 19 minutes of an intense back-and-forth by both sides, when he slipped behind the Eagles’ rearguard and slammed a rocket of a shot past goalkeeper Maduka Okoye.

Tuesday’s win in two games has pushed the Eagles three points clear at the top of Group C ahead of Liberia, Central African Republic and Cape Verde.

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The Blue Sharks drew first blood in the 19th minute after Dylan Dos Santos beat an offside trap to fire his left-footed shot past goalkeeper Maduka Okoye.

Five minutes later, Ryan Mendes tried to test the Super Eagles shot-stopper with another shot but it went off target.

Osimhen and Ejuke linked up a few minutes later as Nigeria kept pushing for an equaliser and the CSKA Moscow winger forced Cape Verde’s Vozinha to parry his long-range shot for a corner-kick.

Their push finally paid off as Osimhen capitalised on a defensive error to draw both teams level in the 29th minute.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare has commended the Super Eagles on their second consecutive win of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

He also hailed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for ensuring that the team travelled in comfort.

“Congratulations to Nigeria, congratulations to all Nigerians and the Super Eagles. The team has made us proud once again,” Dare said.

“I salute everyone for the roles they played. The NFF ensured the team travelled in comfort and the coaches had to overcome a lot of setbacks owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the game we had to dress only 19 players as against the 23 allowed by FIFA for World Cup qualifiers, added to this, we had to fight from a goal down to snatch all three points at stake.

“In spite of this victory, I will like to charge everyone that the journey to Qatar is still a long one. We must keep fighting and working hard until the World Cup ticket is firmly in our hands.”

World Cup Qualifier: Super Eagles Arrive In Mindelo Ahead Of Cape Verde Clash

File photo of the Super Eagles.

 

 

The Super Eagles have landed on the island of Mindelo for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying match with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde.

21 players touched down in Cape Verde on Monday, following the departure of UK-based players who returned after the unchanged stance of UK authorities concerning protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to the country after visiting a country on their COVID-19 red list.

The match will take place on Tuesday evening at the 5,000 capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, provides an opportunity for other players who didn’t feature in last week’s Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos.

The absence of Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong and Leon Balogun will give a chance for Italy–based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal and Kenneth Omeruo to start against the Blue Sharks.

The departures of Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi also open the door for perhaps Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru. But it is in the midfield that Coach Gernot Rohr would have to empanel entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.

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Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo have all returned to the UK. Coach Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu to midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia–based Chidera Ejuke, Italy–based former junior international Kingsley Michael and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are all available.

Captain Ahmed Musa is likely to earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, 11 years after he won his first cap against Madagascar in Calabar, if he takes any part in Tuesday’s encounter.

Three points will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum three points ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star are victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.

SUPER EAGLES PLAYERS IN CAPE VERDE

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Valentine Ozornwafor (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy);

Midfielders: Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Kingsley Michael (Bologna FC, Italy); Adekunele Adeleke (Abia Warriors);

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece).

Iheanacho Shines As Nigeria Beat Liberia In World Cup Qualifier

Nigeria’s players celebrate after scoring a goal during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice as Nigeria beat Liberia 2-0 in Lagos on Friday to go top of an African World Cup qualifying group.

He struck after 21 and 45 minutes for a nation that has competed at six of the last seven World Cup tournaments, without ever getting past the second round.

Both goals in the Nigerian economic capital were set up by another English Premier League star, Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi.

 

Nigeria’s forward Kelechi Iheanacho (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

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Nigeria were among the luckier teams in the African group draw, being paired with Cape Verde, the Central African Republic and Liberia.

Only Cape Verde, who drew away to the Central African Republic two days ago and host Nigeria on Tuesday, are expected to mount a serious challenge to the three-time African champions in Group C.

 

Players fight for the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Iheanacho and eight other Britain-based Nigerians cannot travel to Cape Verde because the island state is on the United Kingdom coronavirus “red list”.

 

Nigeria's coach Gernot Rohr (R) speaks with Nigeria's striker Victor Osimhen before the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr (R) speaks with Nigeria’s striker Victor Osimhen before the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Any footballer returning to Britain from a red-listed country must quarantine for 10 days, and Premier League and Football League players have been barred from visiting such nations.

Germany-born Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr insists all three rivals are “tricky opponents who we have got to be at our best against”.

“The job has been done,” he said, referring to the win over Liberia. “We had to win our first game at home and we did not concede a goal.

 

Nigeria’s German coach Gernot Rohr (R) speaks with his players during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

“We will be without nine players (in Cape Verde) — that means it will be another team and it is not easy to build a new team within days.

“We will also play on a synthetic pitch. This will be a challenge. It will be more difficult than against Liberia.”

 

Nigeria’s forward Kelechi Iheanacho controls the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Liberia’s midfielder Allen Njie runs with the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Nigeria’s players pose for a group picture before the start of the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Nigerian supporters blow saxophone during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Players fight for the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Players fight for the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Liberia’s British coach Peter Butler (L) speaks with his players during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Liberian supporters applause during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

South Africa disappoint

Meanwhile, South Africa drew 0-0 away to Zimbabwe in a scrappy Group G match that marked the debut of Belgian Hugo Broos as coach of underperforming Bafana Bafana (The Boys).

South Africa will be notable absentees from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January having finished only third in a group from which Ghana and Sudan qualified.

They face Ghana again in the World Cup and, judged by the performance in Harare, are unlikely to finish above the west Africans.

South Africa threatened to score only twice — when a Teboho Mokoena shot was brilliantly fisted away by goalkeeper Talbert Shumba and when a goal-bound Bongokuhle Hlongwane shot was cleared.

Zimbabwe were even less dangerous, worrying South African goalkeeper Ronwen Williams just once as Khama Billiat unleashed a close-range drive that was tipped over.

Later, Ghana edged Ethiopia 1-0 in Cape Coast through a Mubarak Wakaso goal on 35 minutes to occupy first place.

Zambia, another team that failed to secure a place at the upcoming Cup of Nations, made an impressive Group B debut by winning 2-1 in Mauritania.

Enock Mpewu and Prince Mumba scored either side of half-time for the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) in Nouakchott before Mamadou Niass halved the deficit.

Tunisia lead Zambia on goal difference after Dylan Bronn, Ellyes Skhiri and captain Wahbi Khazri scored in the second half to deliver a 3-0 victory over Equatorial Guinea in Rades.

Cameroon, whose seven World Cup appearances is an African record, began their Group D campaign by beating Malawi 209 in Yaounde through goals from Vincent Aboubakar and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui.

In the same section, an Ivory Coast side lacking many first choices because opponents Mozambique are on the British “red list” drew 0-0 in Maputo, where Max Gradel came closest to scoring off a free-kick.

Saturday is a World Cup rest day in Africa and the 20-fixture second round kicks off on Sunday and lasts three days.

Qatar 2022 Qualifier: Super Eagles Prepare For Liberia, Cape Verde Games

In this photo released on August 30, 2021, Coach Gernot Rohr addresses the Super Eagles during a gym session ahead of their match against Liberia in Lagos. Source: Facebook- Nigeria Super Eagles

 

Captain Ahmed Musa and 19 other Super Eagles players have arrived at the Super Eagles camp in Lagos ahead of the opening match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification race.

The three-time African champions will face the Lone Star of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium from 5pm on Friday in the Day 1 clash, with the Eagles flying out of Lagos to the Island of Mindelo to take on the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in a Day 2 fixture on September 7.

Veteran defender Kenneth Omeruo was among the first arrivals that included South Africa-based goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, England-based quartet of Alex Iwobi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Former junior international Kingsley Michael, Abia Warriors’ Adekunle Adeleke, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, as well as forwards Henry Onyekuru and Chidera Ejuke have also arrived.

However, midfielder Joseph Ayodele-Aribo and forward Paul Onuachu are expected to come into town on Tuesday.

A photo released on August 30, 2021, shows the Super Eagles during a gym session ahead of their match against Liberia in Lagos. Source: Facebook- Nigeria Super Eagles

 

The team will have its first training session at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Tuesday.

Friday’s encounter will be the first FIFA World Cup qualifying game in Lagos since the Eagles defeated the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the adjacent National Stadium, Surulere in June 2000.

 

Super Eagles Thrown Out?

Meanwhile, reports emerged that the players were thrown out of the gym at a hotel where they were camped in the Victoria Island of Lagos.

But the Media Officer of the Super Eagles, Babafemi Raji, who faulted the claims, stated that he was present at the gym session.

Rather, he explained that it was a minor misunderstanding between an assistant manager at the hotel and his members of staff on the usage of the gym facilities.

According to Raji, some officials of the team had to get involved after the manager’s action caused a huge distraction to the team’s training.

“We were scheduled to train just within the hotel with the gym session coming first then the outdoor volley session next,” he was quoted as saying on the verified Facebook page of the Super Eagles.

Super Eagles at a gym session on August 30, 2021, ahead of their match against Liberia in Lagos. Source: Facebook- Nigeria Super Eagles

 

“However, just as we wrapped up the gym session, one of the hotel managers came in to inspect and while the team trained at a section of the gym just doing light stretches, he yelled at his members of staff and that caused a distraction to the team’s session which, although light, required concentration.

“While the back-and-forth between the manager of the hotel, his staff, and some officials of the Super Eagles was on, the gym session continued and lasted 45 minutes, which was 15 minutes more than the earlier scheduled 30 minutes.

“Coach of the team, Gernot Rohr called the entire team together to give instructions on the next session which was the volley outdoor session.”

Fifteen players, according to Raji, were involved in the training on Monday evening ahead of the game against Liberia on September 3.

But 20 players have already arrived in camp.

They are Maduka Okoye, Terem Moffi, Jamilu Collins, Valentine Ozornwafor, Innocent Bonke, Moses Simon, Shehu Abdullahi, Ahmed Musa, Samuel Kalu, Daniel Akpeyi, Adekunle Adeleke, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Oghenekaro Etebor, Francis Uzoho, Henry Onyekuru, Chidera Ejuke, Kingsley Michael, Wilfred Ndidi, Kenneth Omeruo in camp.

Qatar 2022 Qualifier: Rohr Invites 30 Super Eagles Players For Liberia, Cape Verde

A file photo of Super Eagles players.

 

Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has called up 30 players for next month’s opening rounds of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign.

The Franco-German Rohr has stuck largely with his regulars as Nigeria host Liberia in Lagos on Friday, 3rd September (Day 1) and take on Cape Verde in Mindelo on Tuesday, 7th September (Day 2) in the race to Qatar.

Goalkeepers Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho, defenders William Ekong, Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem and Leon Balogun, midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo, and forwards Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon and Victor Osimhen are on the roster.

The situation with UK-based players, who may not be heading to Cape Verde (which is on the red list of the British Government with regards to the global coronavirus pandemic) has enlarged the roster, and should the situation remain unchanged, the eight UK-based players on the list would head back to base after the clash with Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Friday.

There is a return for Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Kevin Akpoguma and Greece-based forward Henry Onyekuru. Former junior international Kingsley Michael is also called, as Innocent Bonke from Sweden joins the Nigerian camp for the first time.

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The Super Eagles, who have featured in six of the past seven FIFA World Cup finals, will host the Lone Star of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Friday, 3rd September (kickoff is 5pm) and then travel to the island of Mindelo to tango with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde on Day 2 of the series on Tuesday, 7th September.

Central African Republic is the other team in the group, and they will honour home-and-away encounters with the Super Eagles in October.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany)

Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium)

SEVEN OTHERS: Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Valentine Ozornwafor (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy); Kingsley Michael (Bologna FC, Italy).

AFCON 2021: Nigeria Grouped With Egypt, Sudan

A file photo of Super Eagles.

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been grouped in Group D with Egypt in the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, which is scheduled to hold in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022.

The other teams in the group include Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, who have been transformed from minnows to qualifying three times in a row.

Meanwhile, Algeria will face the Ivory Coast, the only team they failed to defeat in winning the last Africa Cup of Nations.

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The teams drew 1-1 after extra time in the quarter-finals and the Desert Foxes advanced by winning a penalty shootout.

Matches decided by spot-kicks are officially classified as draws by FIFA, and it was the only time in a seven-match march to the title that Algeria needed a shootout to succeed.

Algeria and the Ivory Coast were placed in Group E with Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea when the draw was made in Yaounde on Tuesday.

It would be a shock if the Algerians and Ivorians did not fill the top two spots, leaving the other two countries to fight for possible qualification as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Although ranked third in the continent this month behind Senegal and Tunisia, Algeria are the form team as they boast an African record 27-match unbeaten run since November 2018.

Cameroon, seeking a sixth Cup of Nations title, were put in Group A with Burkina Faso, who they will face in the opening match in Yaounde, Ethiopia and Cape Verde.

It is hard to imagine the Indomitable Lions failing to make the last 16 and Burkina Faso will also be confident of progressing.

Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal, beaten by Algeria in both the group stage and the final two years ago, will be hotly fancied to top Group B, which includes Zimbabwe, Guinea and Malawi.

Tunisia, who have qualified for every Cup of Nations since 1994, are in Group F with Mali, Mauritania and the Gambia, who along with the Comoros are debutants.

Morocco, whose only Cup of Nations success came in 1976, and four-time champions Ghana look the strongest contenders in Group C, which the Comoros and Gabon complete.

Speaking ahead of the draw, Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe said he hoped for an “exciting, competitive and successful” tournament as Cameroon play hosts for a second time.

Cameroon were originally due to stage the African football showcase in 2019 but fell behind with preparations and Egypt stepped in as late replacements.

The 2021 tournament dates have changed twice, first because of fears that torrential seasonal rains could affect the tight schedule, and then because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Draw

Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cape Verde

Group B: Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi

Group C: Morocco, Ghana, Comoros, Gabon

Group D: Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau

Group E: Algeria, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast

Group F: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia

Note: Group winners and runners-up and the four best third-placed teams qualify for knockout stage

Super Eagles Captain Musa Leaves Kano Pillars For Turkish Club

Musa, Iwobi, Ighalo Nominated For CAF Award
File photo:  Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring Nigeria’s opener during the game. His strike also represents Nigeria’s first goal at Russia 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has teamed up with Turkish club side Fatih Karagumruk from Kano Pillars. 

The Super Lig team confirmed the signing of the 28-year-old on their Instagram handle on Thursday evening.

“We added the 28-year-old Nigerian offensive player to our squad. During his career, he played for clubs such as VVV Venlo, CSKA Moscow and Leicester City,” the club wrote but did not give details about the contractual agreements.

“He scored 15 goals in 87 matches for the Nigerian National Team. We wish success to Ahmed Musa under the Karagümrük jersey, signed by our Vice President Serkan Hurma and our Sporting Director Murat Akın.”

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Musa first played for Pillars before he left for VV Venlo in The Netherlands. He thereafter moved to CSKA Moscow where he stayed until he signed for Leicester City for a then club-record fee of 19.5 million Euros in 2016.

In 2018, he joined the Saudi side, Al-Nasr for 16.5 million Euros.

Since making his debut for Nigeria over a decade ago, Musa has played 87 games and scored 15 goals for the national team.

Eagles Land In America For Mexico Friendly

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

EAGLES IN AMERICA

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

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

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

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

 

Super Eagles Goalkeeper Okoye Wins Sparta Rotterdam’s Player Of The Season

maduka okoye
Maduka Okoye made his debut for Nigeria in 2019 in a friendly game against Brazil. Photo: Sparta Rotterdam

 

Super Eagles goalkeeper Maduka Okoye has won Sparta Rotterdam’s Player of the Season for his impressive performance for the Dutch side in the 2020/2021 campaign. 

The 21-year-old played 28 games for the Eredivisie outfit during the campaign and kept ten clean sheets to earn the club’s top prize.

“Supporters of Sparta Rotterdam were given the opportunity to vote for their Player of the Season, an election that was won by Maduka Okoye,” Sparta said while announcing the shot-stopper as the winner of the award.

“The goalkeeper, who played 28 league games and managed to keep his goal clean ten times, received the prize this morning from Henk van Stee.”

The youngster joined the Rotterdam-based side in the summer of 2020 on a free transfer from German team Fortuna Dusseldorf II.

Although he had a somewhat hard time finding his feet in The Netherlands, he has now become a key part of Hendrikus “Henk” Fraser’s side.

His performances for the club helped them to finish the campaign in eighth position.

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A ‘Wonderful’ Debut Season

Maduka Okoye made his debut for Nigeria in 2019 in a friendly game against Brazil. Photo: Sparta Rotterdam

 

Before this recent award, he was named in the Eredivisie Team of the Season in his debut campaign in the country.

“With competitors such as Remko Pasveer from Vitesse and Sergio Padt from FC Groningen, the choice was not easy, but Okoye had a wonderful season at Sparta,” the organisers of the award and Dutch newspaper Voetbalzone wrote on its website.

He conceded 35 goals and saved 33% of the penalties he faced during the season under review.

Okoye made his debut for Nigeria in a friendly game against Brazil in October 2019 and has since then emerged as the three-time African champions first-choice goalkeeper.

 

27 Years After, FG Allocates Houses To Keshi, Siasia, Other 1994 AFCON Winners

Super Eagles
Nigeria have won AFCON thrice. Photo: [email protected]

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has allocated a three-bedroom flat each to members of the 1994 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) winning squad, 27 years after the federal government made the promise.

Presidential aide Garba Shehu announced this in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja.

“Following a memo by Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, the President approved the allocations in their states of preference, noting that six players and three technical crews received their houses already,” the statement explained.

Former Nigerian captain and coach Stephen Keshi, Uche Okafor, Wilfred Agbonavbare, and Thompson Oriha – all members of the squad that won the competition in Tunisia – have died. Six players and three crew members had previously gotten their houses.

The players include Peter Rufai, Alloy Agu, Ike Shorounmu, Uche Okechukwu, Samson Siasia, Efan Ekoku, Sunday Oliseh, Benedict Iroha, Isaac Semitoje, Mutiu Adepoju, Emmanuel Amunike, Victor Ikpeba, and Austin Eguavoen.

Others are Christian Chukwu, Dr Akin Amao, Stephen Edema, Col. A Asielue and B. Aromasodun.

Honouring National Heroes

President Buhari in a post on his Instagram handle described the development as historic.

“Another historical promise fulfilled by our administration. These heroes did our nation proud, and the least we can do is honour the Federal Government’s promise to them,” the Nigerian leader wrote. “They will be allocated the houses in their States of preference.”

Nigeria – led by Clemens Westerhoff – beat Zambia 2-1 in the final of the 1994 AFCON.

The federal government had promised to give the players houses following their exploits in the North African country over two decades ago.

No Winner In Nigeria vs Cameroon 2nd Friendly In Vienna

 

The second international friendly match between Nigeria and Cameroon in Vienna has ended in a goalless draw.

Last week Friday, at the same venue, the Indomitable Lions won the first game by a lone goal and the Super Eagles were hoping to put up a better performance to avenge that defeat but the plan failed to manifest for Gernot Rohr’s team.

Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa who is back in the Nigeria Professional Football League with Kano Pillars made the starting line-up and produced some trademark runs but the Cameroonians did some good defending particularly in locking up Paul Onuachu and ensuring he caused minimal problems in attack.

Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, defender Chidozie Awaziem and midfielder Wilfred Ndidi showed some good level of purpose and desire. With the absence of Oghenekaro Etebo, Ndidi’s work rate improved and he produced an impressive physical performance.

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The Indomitable Lions had their moments. As early at the 5th minute, Tolo Nouhu tested goalkeeper Okoye through a fine attack they initiated from the flanks. Moments later, Onuachu’s shot from a delightful Musa pass was diverted for a corner kick.

In the 11th minute, Alex Iwobi made a goal-line clearance. Okoye was already beaten. Brice Moumi Ngamaleu had a clear chance to put the Cameroonians ahead but failed to scored. Ignatius Ganago’s effort was only good for the side-net while Awaziem had to clear his lines when Arnaud Djoum and Jean Charles Castelletto threatened in the 23rd minute.

Nigeria had another opportunity to finish a counter-attacking move but couldn’t finish it.

Coach Rohr is impressed that his team didn’t concede a goal despite the number of players that were missing. “I’m very happy for Valentine, a lot of people did not understand why he was with us but today he showed reasons why he can play with the team. He did so well in central defence,” he said.

“In these friendlies, the result is not the most important. What is important is to test new players and we did just that. We wanted to score but we couldn’t because we were missing players like Osimhen, Chukweze, Kalu, Aribo Onyekuru but the players available did a good job,” Rohr concluded.