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International Football

Goalkeeping Tension Grips Super Eagles

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There was palpable tension in the Hotel Crowne Plaza camp of the Super Eagles ahead of Thursday’s friendly match with Teranga Lions of Senegal following injury suffered by first choice goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme and the non availability of substitutes.

At the height of the tension, team handler, Gernot Rohr, had to draft in relatively unknown Tope Okeowo of England non league side, Peckham All Stars as replacement. Okeowo was a former Golden Eaglets player.

But according to a release by the NFF Media Department, the arrivals of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning respectively doused the tension.

The injury to Ikeme brought to three the number of players in the original 22 to have dropped out for the same reason. Ezenwa and Akpeyi were initially held back by visa hitches in Nigeria and South Africa.

Nigeria –based goalkeeper Ezenwa eventually got his visa on Tuesday evening and flew out of Lagos to London on Wednesday, alongside Coach Salisu Yusuf and a few other officials.

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South Africa –based Akpeyi’s UK visa was delayed by a public holiday in South Africa but he did the 11 –hour haul from Johannesburg to London overnight and arrived at Crowne Plaza London Ealing after breakfast on Thursday.

Team doctor Ibrahim Gyaran told thenff.com: “Carl (Ikeme) has been having hamstring and Achilles tendon issues but we did a scan on Wednesday night and we await the result. It is however good that the other goalkeepers are here.”

Rohr, who has been having several meetings with his technical team as he seeks a winning formula against Africa’s highest ranked team, Senegal at The Hive on Thursday, said: “It was the first time in my life that I had to start planning for a big match without goalkeepers on ground!

“But I am happy (Ikechukwu) Ezenwa and Daniel (Akpeyi) are finally here and we can think positively.”

The Super Eagles are on a five –match winning streak, from defeating Mali (in France) and Luxembourg (in Luxembourg City) in friendly matches in the summer of 2016, to piping Tanzania in a Cup of Nations qualifying match in Uyo in September and defeating Zambia and Algeria in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in October and November respectively.

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Senegal will arrive at The Hive with pumped –up spirit after becoming Africa’s highest ranked team, and despite failing to light up the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, are a tough call any day.

Liverpool FC’s Sadio Mane, as well as Mame Biram Diouf, Cheikh Kouyate and Idrissa Gueye are among their top performers.

Nigeria boast a young and vibrant squad that has been achieving results of late, with the likes of Leon Balogun, William Ekong, Abdullahi Shehu, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, John Ogu, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon and Alex Iwobi now joined by Tyrone Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem, Isaac Success, Olanrewaju Kayode and new boy Noah Bazee.

Akpeyi, Ekong, Shehu and Etebo were in the Nigeria U23 team that took bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Yet, the spine is still there with the experienced Ogenyi Onazi, Kenneth Omeruo, Elderson Echiejile and Ahmed Musa also here in camp.

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Onazi, Omeruo and Kayode were in the Nigeria squad that finished second at the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2009. Ndidi, Iheanacho, Success and Musa Muhammed were in the Nigeria U17 squad in 2013.

Both nations first clashed at senior level on 27th February 1963, Nigeria winning an Nkrumah Cup game 4-0, but the Senegalese replied in equal measure six weeks later, hammering the Eagles 5-1 in a Friendship Games match in Dakar.

Senegal then stopped Nigeria from the race to the Munich ’72 Olympics, winning 3-2 on aggregate, but Nigeria also constituted stumbling block to Senegal in the race to the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana, winning 4-3 on aggregate.

Nigeria defeated host Senegal 2-1 in the opening match of the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations, and won by the same margin when eliminating the Teranga Lions in the quarter -finals of the 2000 edition that was co-hosted with Ghana.

The Lions paid back by beating Nigeria (same score line) in the semi finals of the 2002 Cup of Nations in Mali.

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But Nigeria have won the past two encounters between both nations, both at the 2006 Cup of Nations in Egypt: a group phase match in Port Said that ended 2-1 and the bronze medal match that ended 1-0 in Cairo.

 

MATCH OFFICIALS

 

Referee: Anthony Taylor

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Assistant Referee 1: Harry Lennard

Assistant Referee 2: Constantine Hatzidakis

Reserve Referee: Andre Marriner

 

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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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International Football

New twist in Cameroon football coach crisis

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The coaching crisis in Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions has taken a new dimension as the football federation, FECAFOOT, led by former international, Samuel Eto’o goes in direct confrontation with the coaching crew appointed by the sports ministry which also picks the bills.

  According to a Cameroon official who will not like to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, the claims and counter claims of both the sports ministry and the FECAFOOT led by Eto’o had been heard and decided by the conciliation and arbitration chamber of the Cameroonian national Olympic committee, which is a court in charge of sports cases in Cameroon.

  “What is in contention is not the position of the Belgian coach, Marcc Brys, but that of the Cameroonian assistants attached to him.”

  The source explained to Sports Village Square that although the employment of Brys by the sports ministry was initially contested by Eto’o, the former player has come to accept the situation.

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  “In Cameroon, there is always a techenical crew of nine to 11. The foreign coach is allowed to bring in two foreign assistants, while the others are always Cameroonians.

  In this case, the sports ministry approved the list of two foreign assistants by Brys while also announcing another set of local assistants that included former international, François Omam-Biyik, one of the stars of Italia ‘90  and the scorer of the goal that gave Cameroon a 1-0 win over a Diego Maradona-inspired  Argentina.

  “That is where the problem is. FECAFOOT also submitted a list of technical crew that included Brys and his two foreign assistants but dropped the names of the local assistants with new ones.”

  In essence, there are two lists with both having three names as same, but differ on the rest.

 According to the source, the list submitted by the sports ministry was upheld by the tribunal which threw aside that of FECAFOOT.

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  In another twist, FIFA has already removed the name of Marc Brys from the profile of Cameroon on its website. Only the name of national women’s coach, Jean-Baptiste Bisseck is listed.

The removal of Brys’ name is happening a second time as it was first removed at the end of last month before being reinstated.

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Cameroon’s appointment of Brys as manager suspended by sports tribunal

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Marc Brys

Cameroon’s appointment of Belgian Marc Brys as head coach was suspended by the country’s top sports tribunal on Tuesday following the petition of an amateur football club.

The country’s sports ministry stirred controversy last month when it named 61-year-old Brys as manager of the Indomitable Lions without consulting the football federation (FECAFOOT).

The move sparked a dispute between the sports ministry and FECAFOOT, which said the government had made a unilateral decision.

In response, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours, deepening its standoff with the sports ministry.

Eto’o kept Brys as head coach but named different assistants, technical, medical and administrative staff.

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An amateur club, meanwhile, took the matter to the Arbitration and Conciliation Chamber of the Cameroon National Olympic and Sports Committee.

In a provisional ruling on Tuesday, the court suspended the FECAFOOT appointments while it fully examined the matter. Concerned parties have 24 hours to appeal.

FECAFOOT in response said it “reserves the right to refer these decisions to FIFA, as they hinder the preparation process for the forthcoming sport events.

“The Emergency Committee of FECAFOOT will meet immediately to take appropriate measures,” it said in a statement.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations and has frequently banned countries when governments get involved in federation affairs.

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The president of the Cameroon Association of Amateur Football Clubs, Balla Ongolo Henri, had previously said Eto’o’s appointments would damage Cameroon’s image and disrupt preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers next June.

Brys, 61, penned a contract on May 8 as head coach of the Indomitable Lions following the dismissal of Rigobert Song in February. FECAFOOT did not attend the signing ceremony.

The sports ministry says it has acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

Reuters

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Amokachi, Adebayor and Amanda Dlamini confirmed for CAF African Schools Championship Finals

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African football legends, Emmanuel Adebayor, Daniel Amokachi and Amanda Dlamini are some of the top names that have been confirmed for the Continental Finals of the CAF African Schools Football Championship 2024 scheduled in Zanzibar between 21 – 24 May 2024.

The CAF African Schools Football Championship is the school’s competition that includes over 44 African countries with over 800 000 participants of Boys and Girls under the age of 15.

This is the second edition of the competition that is not only focused on Football but also on a number of programmes including Young Referee’s Programme, Young Reporter Programme and Safeguarding. 

Adebayor, CAF Player of the Year in 2008, represented Togo at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for their only appearance at the tournament. Ex-striker for Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and others, the Togolese star has had a successful career, earning over 85 caps with Les Eperviers.

Nigerian football star Amokachi played 42 international matches for the Super Eagles. He participated in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups and was part of the team that won the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and the Olympic Games in 1996.

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Former Banyana Banyana (South Africa) captain Dlamini played in two TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations competitions where they finished third and second in 2010 and 2012, respectively. She is one of the few footballers, both in the men’s and women’s national teams to reach 100 caps.

Dlamini recently made history when she became the first female to be part of the world commentary feed at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.

Also on the list are local stars Abdi Kassim Sadalla, former Tanzanian National Team Captain, and Hilda Masanche, Head coach of the Tanzania U17 Women’s National Team.

The Legends will feature in various activities to promote and support football development among African youth.

The finals will bring together talented young players from across the continent, providing them a platform to showcase their skills and passion for the game.

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-CAF

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