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AFCON 2025 bid: CAF officials inspect Nigeria’s facilities

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Chairman of DSSC, Chief Okowa with the inspectors at the Stephen Keshi Stadium on Sunday.    

Inspectors appointed by the Confederation of African Football are checking out the stadia and related facilities that Nigeria has put forward in a joint bid with Benin Republic to host the 35th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in the year 2025.

On the cards for evaluation are the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja; Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo; Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba; Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos; Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City and; Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.

Already, the four-man team of Jean-Louis Romain, Emma Bollet, Didier Levy and Timour Tawfik (accompanied by a couple of Nigeria football officials) has assessed the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in the nation’s capital; Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos; Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba and; the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.

In the nation’s showpiece arena in Abuja, the team was received on Friday night by the Deputy Director (Facilities) of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mallam Mohammed Rabiu and the stadium managers. They were taken through several sections of the arena and made some observations about some sections.

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On Saturday night, the team stopped over at the Teslim Balogun Stadium which is currently under extensive renovation, and were received by the Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Sola Aiyepeku alongside the Director General, LSSC, Mr Toyin Gafaar Bolowotan and; the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Grassroots Development, Mr Anthony Adeyinka Adeboye.

At the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Sunday, the Executive Director of Delta State Sports Commission, Chief Tonobox Okowa (who is also President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria) was joined by the Director General, DSSC, Chief Chris Anazuih and the Chairman of the Delta State Football Association, Chief Kenneth Nwaomucha as the team went round the facility.

In Benin City, also on Sunday, the Chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission, Mr. Yusuf Alli was in company with the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Sabina Chikere; Chairman of the Edo State Football Association, Mr. Abu Rowland and; the Director of Facilities, Mr. Victor Edokpayi as they inspected several sections of the magnificent facility.

A common refrain has been the need to reconfigure facilities in a way that different client-groups in the football arena, such as VIPs, Players and their officials, Media Representatives and the Fans will have seamless and distinct entry and exit points to play their part without any group obstructing the other.

The inspectors will also check out the Stade Charles de Gaulle, Porto Novo in Benin Republic.

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Nigeria hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, and co-hosted with Ghana 23 years ago. The country has hosted a number of major football and general sporting events such as the All-Africa Games (1973 and 2003), the FIFA U20 World Cup (1999) and the FIFA U17 World Cup (2009).

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.

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AFCON

Nigeria’s AFCON 2025 fixtures almost in same pattern with World Cup qualifiers

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Confederation of African Football (CAF)  has now released the full fixtures of the qualifying series for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.

The fixtures for the Nigerian team is almost in the same pattern with that of the 2026 World Cup qualification which has seen the Super Eagles wobbling.

Like that of the World Cup, the Super Eagles will begin their quest for qualifcation for AFCON with a home game in Uyo as they will host Benin Republic.

As it was in the World Cup, they will then head to Rwanda. Last November, their second match was played in Rwanda which hosted Zimbabwe home match. This time the Super Eagles will be facing Rwanda, the same team they will meet when the World Cup qualification series resume in March next year.

On Match Day 3, the Super Eagles will host Libya and will have the reverse fixture immediately after that of Match Day 3.

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Later they travel to Benin for Match Day 5 before hosting Rwanda on the last match day.

The Fixtures

  • September 2 – Nigeria vs Benin Republic; Libya vs Rwanda
  • September 6 – Rwanda vs Nigeria; Benin Republic vs Libya
  • October 11 – Nigeria vs Libya; Benin Republic vs Rwanda
  • October 16 – Libya vs Nigeria; Rwanda vs Benin Republic
  • November 11 – Benin Republic vs Nigeria; Rwanda vs Libya
  • November 15 – Nigeria vs Rwanda; Libya vs Benin Republic

The top two teams qualify for AFCON 2025

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

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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.

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 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.  

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“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.”

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Coaches react after intriguing Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Draw

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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.

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“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

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“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”.

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 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

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