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Cote D’Ivoire -Nigeria Match Ranks Among Top 10 Of AFCON Group Stage –

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Cote D’Ivoire -Nigeria Match Ranks Among Top 10 Of AFCON Group Stage -

The anticipated ‘Thunder and Blood’ encounter of Cote d’ivoire and Nigeria on Thursday is among the top 10 matches even CAF expects to be explosive.

Sports Village Square recalls that Nigeria have won the Africa Cup of Nations trophy on three occasions that the Super Eagles avoided defeats to Cote d’Ivoire.

This is a pointer to what is expected when both clash in what is expected to be the most explosive and possibly decisive in Group A leadership.

The opening match this evening of Cote d’Ivoire versus Guinea Bissau has the colouration of a routine encounter for the hosts. But in situations of this nature, nothing is too certain.   Below are the 10 matches CAF has designated as top picks

 

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  • Senegal – Gambia: 15 January, 14h00 GMT

On paper, the fixture seems unbalanced, but this is without knowing the rivalry between two border countries which are similar in several points. A David against Goliath that will be worth the detour.

 

  • Cote d’Ivoire – Nigeria: 18 January 17h00 GMT

A match of former African champions with five titles between them. Hosts Cote d’Ivoire have lifted the AFCON title twice while the Super Eagles have one so three times, setting up what promises to be an action packed encounter.

 

  • Egypt – Ghana: 18 January, 20h00 GMT

The meetings between these two nations has always been electric.  A total of 11  AFCON titles between them, with both sides looking at adding to their collection.

 

  • Senegal – Cameroon: 19 January, 17h00 GMT

The battle of the African lions is definitely one of the marquee fixtures. The Lions of Teranga against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will certainly be one to look out for.

 

Algeria – Burkina: 20 January, 14h00 GMT

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The last confrontations between these two teams has been full of suspense. They meet again on the 20thhoping to get a confidence boosting win at the start.

 

  • Tunisia – Mali: 20 January, 20h00 GMT

Two teams that never quit. From the World Cup qualifiers to the AFCON, there is always a confrontation between Aigles de Carthage and Aigles that keeps you in suspense.

 

  • Morocco – DR Congo: 21 January, 14h00 GMT

The Atlas Lions face a tricky opponent in DR Congo. While Morocco may be deemed as favourites, both sides have what it takes to clinch what should be an evenly balanced tie.

 

  • South Africa – Namibia: 21 January, 20h00 GMT

A southern derby that is fast growing into a fierce one. Bafana Bafana, winners of the 1996 edition welcome a highly motivated side led by the youngest coach of the tournament in Collin Benjamin (45)

 

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  • Guinea – Senegal: 23 January, 17h00 GMT

An exciting duel of a West African derby guaranteed to entertain. Guinea will be hoping to cause an upset against the reigning champions while the Lions of Teranga look to defend their title.

 

  • Tanzania – DR Congo, 24 January 20h00 GMT

With football in full expansion, the Tanzanian championship is full of several Congolese players who make it rain or shine. A derby also for supremacy.

Tanzanian football has been on the rise over the last few years, with a number of Congolese players plying their trade in the East African nation. The two nations clash on 24 January in what should be an interesting tie.

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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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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