Connect with us

AFCON

Iwobi says Nigeria will bounce back after shock loss to Guinea-Bissau

Published

on

Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi promised that Nigeria will bounce back after suffering a shock 1-0 home loss to Guinea-Bissau on Friday in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

It was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition as Mama Balde scored for the Wild Dogs, who are 81 places below the Super Eagles in the FIFA world rankings.

“As players and staff, we know we have to react to this result,” said Iwobi, one of three Premier League stars in the starting line-up.

“All we can do is improve and, to the fans, all I can say is that they should stick by us and support us because we give 100 percent not just for ourselves, but also for our nation.

“Next time we are going to do our best and make the country proud,” he added, referring to a Group A rematch in Guinea-Bissau on Monday.

Balde, who plays for French top-tier club Troyes, scored on 30 minutes in Abuja to take the Portuguese-speaking nation to the top of the table.

Advertisement

Guinea-Bissau have seven points, Nigeria six, Sierra Leone two and Sao Tome e Principe one, halfway through the six-round mini-league. The top two finishers progress to the finals.

Nigeria, whose line-up included prolific Napoli scorer Victor Osimhen, were firm favourites to win at home.

But after a bright start, with Osimhen coming close to scoring on 16 minutes, the home side battled to create clear-cut scoring opportunities in the capital city.

As the match reached the half hour mark, Balde raced on to a lofted pass and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.

Osimhen, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United or Arsenal, became increasingly frustrated as poor service and close marking restricted his threat.

Advertisement

– South Africa drama –

It was the fifth loss in seven matches for Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro, and another defeat next week in Bissau could spell the end for the Portuguese.

“We could have been here for another hour and not scored,” said Peseiro.

“I am not happy. I am sad, like my team, but they did the maximum. If you play like we played, you can beat any team, not only Guinea-Bissau.”

In Soweto, Belgium-born South Africa coach Hugo Broos stormed back to the dressing room before the final whistle after seeing his side surrender a two-goal lead in a 2-2 Group K draw with Liberia.

Advertisement

Lyle Foster put the hosts two goals ahead by half-time, but Tonia Tisdell halved the deficit entering the final quarter and Mohammed Sangare levelled in added time.

Broos initially refused to attend the post-match press conference, then spoke briefly and refused to answer questions.

“There are too many disappointments, too many frustrations and too much anger in my body. If I say anything, it will not be nice,” he said.

“In the past, I have always been ready to answer your questions — even difficult ones. But I hope that you understand that tonight it is going to be very, very difficult to do that.”

The draw meant 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco, who had a bye, became the first team to book a place at the finals apart from hosts the Ivory Coast, who qualify automatically.

Advertisement

Elsewhere, some of the biggest names in Africa were among the goals, including Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Sebastien Haller.

Returning to the Senegalese line-up after missing the World Cup due to a leg injury, Mane scored the second goal in a 5-1 Group L rout of Mozambique in Dakar.

Salah claimed the first goal and played a role in the second as Egypt beat Malawi 2-0 in Cairo to rise from last to first in Group D.

Haller, who resumed playing last month after successful treatment for testicular cancer, notched the second goal for the Ivory Coast in a 3-1 Group H victory over the Comoros in Bouake.

Tanzania won an east African showdown against Uganda in Group F 1-0 thanks to a superb second-half strike from Simon Msuva.

Advertisement

-AFP

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

AFCON

Rohr roars warning to Benin; Nigeria, Rwanda will not be easy

Published

on

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Former Nigeria manager, Gernot Rohr now handling Benin Republic has warned The Cheetahs of Benin not to expect an easy match when the team meet Rwanda and Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers later this month.

 Last month, he led his team to defeat both Rwanda and Nigeria in World Cup qualifying duels in Abidjan, where Benin Republic are compelled to play their home matches following inadequate facilities at home.

 Benin’s 1-0 defeat of Rwanda was Rohr’s first victory with the team. Days later, he followed up with a 2-1 defeat of Nigeria, the first Benin Republic victory in over 65 years.

 Those wins have put Benin in the frame of possible qualification for the World Cup. They are now to meet Nigeria and Rwanda again in World Cup qualifiers.

Advertisement

 It won’t be easy, remarked Rohr.  Hear the Franco-German as he spoke in French but translated into English for the Sports Village Square: “From September we will play against Nigeria before facing Libya and Rwanda.  

“These are three difficult opponents.  We had already played Rwanda and Nigeria but be careful, it’s not because we won Rwanda and Nigeria that it will be easy matches.

“ We know that it is possible to achieve good performances again.  We know that Nigeria with its great players will want to take revenge against us.

“ I think it will probably be an interesting match in Uyo before continuing against Libya.  I suppose in Abidjan because in September the Mathieu Kerekou friendship stadium  will not be ready.  

“Everything will be decided in three months in September, October and November.  It’s a difficult group but it’s playable.  

Advertisement

“You have to finish in the top two.  We had a team that is becoming solid, where the players are like brothers, accomplices.  I hope we will recover the players who were absent.  We are confident.”

Continue Reading

AFCON

Coaches react after intriguing Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Draw

Published

on

The journey towards qualification to the  Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 shifted a gear higher on Thursday, after CAF officially conducted the draw of the qualifiers in Johannesburg South Africa.

A total of 48 nations will vie for the 24 places that will contests the 35th edition of Africa’s most prestigious competition.

This is what some of the coaches has to say in reaction to the draw outcomes.

Emerse Fae, Cote d’Ivoire coach

“I am satisfied because we are going to play against Zambia, a team that we know very well. In our last qualifying campaign, we lost against them. We know what mistakes to avoid.

Advertisement

“I am also satisfied because I did not want to have countries geographically far from Cote d’Ivoire which will lessen the travel load. That said, in Africa, there are no longer small teams. All the teams will want to challenge us because we are the reigning champions”

Leslie Notši

“The draw is very interesting because when you have the host in your group, it means they qualify automatically for the tournament, and you have to double your efforts to secure the remaining qualification spot which will be contested by the three other teams in the group.

“We will work very hard to see to it that we are competitive side and try as much as we can to get maximum points in matches against countries that are with us in our group. It will be very important to do well in our home games and I know all eyes will be on “Morocco as the hosts and a powerhouse in our group. We will draw inspiration from recent games where we played the likes of Nigeria as well as Cote d’voire and were able to frustrate them”

Amir Abdou, Mauritania Coach

Advertisement

“Quite a complicated draw. Egypt will be the big contender for qualification. They have a good track record that speaks volumes.

“Seven times African champions – that’s no small thing. We also have Cape Verde who eliminated us during the last AFCON.

“This team is made up of many quality players. We have Botswana, they are having a good qualifying campaign for the World Cup. We have a pretty strong group. It’s up to us to believe in ourselves. We will do everything we can to achieve our fourth participation in the AFCON”.

Kévin Nicaise, Chad coach

 “We are already having the reigning African champions facing the last qualified team in the FIFA rankings. These will definitely be very difficult matches played at high intensity. We will fight to defend our nation’s pride. The group remains relatively open, and we will approach these qualifications with humility and ambition”.

Advertisement

 Badou Zaki, Niger coach

“We have every chance of qualifying. For me, Ghana is a football country with a team that is blessed with great professionals. But this is not the team of 5 or 6 years ago. Even at home, they can lose.

“Angola had a good showing at the last AFCON with their beautiful, modern and fast football. It’s a team that shook up the big teams in Cote d’Ivoire.

“I know Sudan very well. They are first in their World Cup qualifying group. They are going to be dangerous, but we know our strengths and we know we can go far”

-CAF

Advertisement
Continue Reading

AFCON

BREAKING! Nigeria to begin 2025 Afcon qualifiers with away duel against Libya

Published

on

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

The Super Eagles will begin their quest for qualification for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations with an away match with Libya. On the same day, Rwanda will host Benin Republic. Both teams met last month in Abidjan in the qualifying series for the 2026 World Cup.

 Even though the groups for the Afcon 2025 qualifiers were drawn, CAF did not immediately release the match fixtures. Sports Village Square has gathered that the top seeded teams of the groups will be away to the third ranked teams while the fourth ranked host the second ranked.

  That same format will be applied to the remaining groups. In Match Day 2, Benin Republic will host the Super Eagles in a grudge-laden duel. Benin last month inflicted their first ever defeat on Nigeria since November 1959.

The Benin team is being handled by former Nigeria manager, Gernot Rohr.

Advertisement

Nigeria last met Libya in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. The Super Eagles won the match played in Sfax Tunisia 3-2 to follow up an earlier 4-0 win.

Continue Reading

Most Viewed