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AFCON

The Super Eagles have landed! –

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The Super Eagles Have Landed!  -

Three-time champions Nigeria have arrived in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan for the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals.

 

The chartered aircraft that conveyed players and officials of the Super Eagles touched down at 11.23am Cote d’Ivoire time (12.23pm Nigeria time), with the contingent dressed in Nigeria traditional kaftan attire with cap to match.

 

Their colour and pomp matched the ambience and flavour of the Send Forth ceremony organized for the team by the Lagos State Government on Tuesday night, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu as chief host.

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Also present were Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Enoh, NFF President Ibrahim Musa Gusau and members of NFF Executive Committee, FIFA Council Member Amaju Pinnick, NFF General Secretary Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, First Lady of Lagos State Dr. Ibironke Sanwo-Olu, top officials of the Lagos State Government, Chairman and Board Members of the Lagos State Football Association, representatives of NFF Partners and Sponsors, some other corporate chieftains, some members of the NFF Management, former Nigeria captain Segun Odegbami, former Super Eagles’ star Ogenyi Onazi, former international and Chairman of Anambra State FA Chikelue Iloenyosi, leading artistes, top celebrities and influencers.

Group photograph of players and officials on arrival in Abidjan.  

President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau told the audience that he has the assurance of the Head Coach, Jose Peseiro, and the top players that they are going on an onslaught for a fourth continental title in Cote d’Ivoire.

 

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“I have spoken to the Head Coach and the Captain, and also a good number of the players, and they have assured me of their determination to push strongly for triumph in Cote d’Ivoire, thereby winning the trophy for a fourth time.” He added that the NFF is very grateful to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR for approving funds for the team’s preparation and participation at the continental finals.

 

Sanwo-Olu harped on the fact that football is Nigeria’s biggest unifying factor, reiterating that “our peoples from different regions and religion, cultures, norms and social and economic backgrounds come together to cheer our National Teams whenever they are playing. Football brings us all together.

 

“I am making a pledge to be personally present at the Africa Cup of Nations to support you. We know you are all geared to perform at the AFCON and make our country proud. We will give you all the support and encouragement that you require.”

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Senator Enoh charged the players to approach each of their matches with the fabled Nigerian Spirit, with which they can always surmount obstacles, odds and hurdles and achieve glory. “With over 200 million Nigerians eagerly watching and supporting, your performance holds the hopes and dreams of our entire nation.

 

“Take the fight to your opponents and show the Naija Spirit that you carry.”

 

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Captain Ahmed Musa acknowledged the power of football and stated that even though he knows the joy of winning the Africa Cup trophy, having been part of the squad that triumphed in South Africa in 2013, he is eagerly anticipating another touch of the coveted trophy.

 

“We are ambitious and we will do our best. The AFCON is an important tournament for every African player, and we are all looking forward to giving our best to do the nation proud.”

 

The Confederation of African Football has scheduled a photo shoot for the Super Eagles for Wednesday afternoon.

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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

African champions Cote d’Ivoire ring changes with new backroom staff

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Emerse Fae during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal with DR Congo

Cote d’Ivoire head coach Emerse Fae has overhauled his backroom team following the Elephants’ Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023, success earlier this year.

Fae, who took over from Frenchman Jean-Louis Gasset during the tournament in January, has brought in three new faces as he builds towards qualifying for the 2025 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations and 2026 World Cup.

Former Cote d’Ivoire goalkeeper Gerard Gnahouan, 45, joins as goalkeeping coach after working in this role with French Ligue 2 side Sochaux.

Gnahouan, capped 10 times by the Elephants between 2002 and 2011, takes over as goalkeeping coach and will be tasked with getting the best out of first-choice Yahia Fofana.  

Moroccan Samir Anba, previously with French club Nice and Morocco’s Under-17s, takes over as fitness coach, while Jeremy Antonio arrives as video analyst after working with Fae at French side Clermont.

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“This new composition of the technical staff marks the start of a new era for the Cote d’Ivoire national team, and expectations are high,” said Fae.

Fae kept faith with assistant Guy Demel while former international Alain Gouamene joins as the second assistant coach of the AFCON-winning team.

The 40-year-old led an all-local setup to a surprise African title in March after being promoted from Gasset’s number two following their near exit at the group stage.

The new backroom additions have a huge challenge ahead, with Cote d’Ivoire facing crunch matches in June as they bid to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

The Elephants top their qualifying group after beating Gambia and Seychelles in the opening two matches  in Group F of the qualifiers under caretaker Gasset.

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-CAF

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Liberia, Eswatini hold upper hand in AFCON 2025 preliminary qualifiers –

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Liberia, Eswatini Hold Upper Hand In AFCON 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers -

After commanding victories in the first leg matches of the Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, qualifiers, Chad, Liberia, and Eswatini find themselves in advantageous positions as they gear up for the return fixtures scheduled for Tuesday.

As the second leg of the preliminary fixtures approach, all eyes will be on these teams as they vie for their coveted spots in the group phase of the qualifiers, with the hopes of making their mark on the continental stage.

Chad emerged victorious with a narrow 1-0 win over Mauritius, joining Liberia and Eswatini in the lead after their impressive triumphs earlier last week.

Liberia secured a 2-0 victory against Djibouti, while Eswatini displayed their dominance with a 3-0 win over Somalia.

The second leg promises to be fiercely contested, particularly for Chad, who will face a challenging encounter against Mauritius on the latter’s home turf.

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Coach Kevin Nicaise’s players are keen to defend their slender lead and secure their spot in the next phase of the qualifiers but the trainer admits they have an arduous task.

“We are far from perfect, far from being a top team in the world. We are in the construction phase. There are still things to work on and improve,” coach Nicaise said after their first-leg win.

“It is not overnight that we will be a top team in the world, we are aware of that, however we are working hard with the group and the staff to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, Liberia will host Djibouti, aiming to build on their first-leg success and seal their progression to the next round.

Eswatini will host Somalia with confidence, seeking to maintain their winning momentum and secure passage to the next stage of the tournament.

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South Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe will also face off in what is expected to be a closely contested encounter, following their goalless draw in the first leg.

With both teams eager for victory, the match promises to be a thrilling battle for supremacy.

-CAF

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AFCON

Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Liberia and Eswatini took commanding leads in their respective Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, preliminary round ties after claiming impressive away victories on Wednesday.

Liberia captain Murphy Dorley scored one of two first-half goals as the Lone Stars defeated hosts Djibouti 2-0 in the opening leg in  Marrakech.

Mohammed Sangare broke the deadlock from the penalty spot on 23 minutes before Dorley coolly slotted home Sebastian Teclar’s cross 12 minutes later.

Djibouti struggled to lay a glove on their more illustrious opponents as the Lone Star side kept them at bay to take two away goals into next week’s second leg in Monrovia.

Eswatini were also celebrating after demolishing Somalia 3-0 in the Moroccoan  city of El Jadida to put one foot in the group stage qualifiers.

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Striker Sabelo Ndzinisa was the hero, netting twice either side of Felicio Figuareido’s 40th minute opener for the visitors.

Somalia now face an uphill battle to qualify when they travel to the Mbombela Stadium in the South African city of Nelspruit for the return on March 26th.

The opening leg victories give Liberia and Eswatini a huge advantage heading into the second legs as they target a place in the group stage on the road to next year’s finals in Morocco.

Back from the locker room, Somalia still couldn’t play its game.

Worse, Eswatini widened the gap with Ginindza who scored his double of the evening in the 56th minute. 3-0, the score remained unchanged on the scoreboard until the final whistle.

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Victory for Eswatini which will still have to perform in the return leg to ensure its qualification for the qualifiers.

 

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