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AFCON

Tunisia’s Man Utd midfielder Mejbri opts not to play at AFCON

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FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Tunisia Training - Al Egla Training Site 3, Doha, Qatar - November 29, 2022 Tunisia's Hannibal Mejbri during training REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

Tunisia will be without Manchester United’s Hannibal Mejbri at the African Cup of Nations as the midfielder decided he was not ready to be in the squad, manager Jalel Kadri said on Thursday.

The 20-year-old Mejbri made the decision to skip next month’s tournament amid media speculation that he is close to securing a loan move away from Old Trafford.

“Hannibal told me that he did not feel ready for the African Cup of Nations because he is going through an important situation at his club,” Kadri told a press conference.

Experienced midfielder Ferjani Sassi has been excluded from the final 27-man squad along with full back Mohamed Drager, while Sheffield United midfielder Anis Ben Slimane returns after missing the recent World Cup qualifying matches.

Tunisia are scheduled to face Namibia, Mali and South Africa in Group E at the tournament in the Ivory Coast.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mouez Hassen (Club Africain), Aymen Dhamen (Al Hazem), Bechir Ben Said (US Monastir).

Defenders: Ali Abdi (Caen), Montassir Talbi (Lorient), Yassine Meriah (Esperance de Tunis), Oussam Haddadi (Greuther Furth), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Hamza Jelassi (Etoile du Sahel), Yan Valery (Angers), Wajdi Kechrida (Atromitos), Alaa Ghram (Sfaxien).

Midfielders: Houssem Tka (Esperance de Tunis), Hamza Rafia (Lecce), Anis Ben Slimane (Sheffield United), Aissa Laidouni (Union Berlin), Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane (Ferencvaros), Ellyes Skhiri (Eintracht Frankfurt), Hadj Mahmoud (Lugano), Bassem Srarfi (Club Africain).

Forwards: Youssef Msakni (Al Arabi), Haythem Jouini (Stade Tunisien), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Kuwait SC), Sayfallah Ltaief (Winterthur), Naim Sliti (Al Ahli Doha), Mortadha Ben Ouanes (Kasimpasa), Elias Achouri (FC Copenhagen)

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-Reuters

 

 

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

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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AFCON

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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AFCON

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

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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.

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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.

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