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AFCON

Rohr Drops Igiebor, Calls 2 Goalkeepers for Corsica Camp

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

 

Only two goalkeepers, instead of three are called up for camping ahead of next month’s 2019 Africa Cup qualifying fixture with South Africa.

The two goalkeepers in a 25-man list released by the Nigeria Football Federation on Monday night are Ikechukwu Ezenwa of FC IfeanyiUbah and Dele Alampasu of Cesarense FC in Portugal.

The usual goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme of Wolverhampton, is ruled out due to recurring injury. Another glaring omission in the list is Nosa Igiebor of Turkish Süper Lig club, Çaykur Rizespor Kulübü.

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He was reported to have sensationally ruled himself out of any squad called up by Gernot Rohr. Conspicuously missing is Mikel Obi who is ruled out ostensibly due to injury. England –based duo Ola Aina (Chelsea FC) and Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC) have been granted permission to feature for their respective clubs in the English FA Cup final on May 27 before joining the squad in Paris.

The called up players are to report in Corsica, a mountainous Mediterranean island and one of the 13 regions of France. In the list is Kayode Olarenwaju whose 14 goals so far in the Austrian Bundesliga easily bring him out as the most lethal Nigerian striker in Europe this season.

Also included are two top scorers in the domestic league – the MFM duo of Sikiru Olatubosun and the controversial Stephen Odey. The other two home-based players are Ikechukwu Ezenwa of FC IfeanyiUbah and Akwa United’s Alhassan Ibrahim.

The lead scorer in the last U-17 FIFA World Cup, Victor Osimhen of Wolfsburg FC in Germany is also back in the squad.

The three-time African champions will open camp in Corsica on May 24 and then play against the Corsica team two days later.

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The match will however not count as full international as Corsica is just a region in France.

The Corsica team, tagged “Squadra Corsa di Balò” is an unofficial team of the French Island and is neither affiliated to UEFA nor FIFA. It had played against national teams only three times in history.

These were against France in 1967, Cameroon in the days leading to France ’98 and Congo in 2009. Super Eagles will therefore be the fourth national team to test strength with Corsica.

It is from the French island that the Super Eagles will travel to Uyo to face South Africa. Paradoxically, South Africa was the first team the Super Eagles ever played against in Uyo. It was that match that crumbled the dream to qualify for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, even though the team was not beaten.

Nigeria, unbeaten in a competitive game at senior level by South Africa since the Rainbow Nation returned to international football 25 years ago, go up against the familiar foes at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo on June 10.

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THE FULL LIST

 

Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah); Dele Alampasu (Cesarense FC, Portugal)

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Defenders: Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); William Ekong (KAA Gent, Belgium); Uche Agbo (CF Granada, Spain); Abdullahi Shehu (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Tyronne Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands); Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Gijon, Spain); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal)

 

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense, Portugal); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal); Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa United FC)

 

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Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Stephen Odey (MFM FC); Olanrewaju Kayode (FC Austria Wien, Austria); Isaac Success (Watford FC, England); Noah Serenren-Bazee (Hannover 96, Germany); Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg FC, Germany); Sikiru Olatubosun (MFM FC)

 

TO JOIN TEAM IN PARIS AFTER ENGLISH FA CUP FINAL

 

Ola Aina (Chelsea FC, England); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England)

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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

BREAKING! Nigeria Football Federation is finished with Finidi

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Following the poor run of the Super Eagles in the on going qualifying series for the 2026 World Cup which has seen the Super Eagles languishing almost at the bottom of a group in which they were previously the favourites, the Nigeria football Federation (NFF) that they has relieved Finidi George as the head coach of the national team.

Rising from a crisis-managing meeting, the NFF announced that it has resolved to employ an expatriate Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles in the coming weeks, ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and the remaining FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

 The deduction is that the tenure of Finidi George has come to an end after two competitive matches as a substantive coach and two others in friendly matches as a caretaker coach.

Also, the NFF resolved to beef up its Technical Department with more qualitative hands. Equally, the Technical and Development Sub-Committee will be re-jigged with immediate effect.

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AFCON

Struggling Super Eagles to know AFCON 2025 qualifying round opponents in three weeks

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It has not been a pleasant outing so far for the Super Eagles in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. They have another nine months to wait to reset their arsenal.

But while the World Cup qualifying series go on recess, attention now focuses on the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.

In exactly three weeks’ time, the Super Eagles will know their opponents in the qualification race for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Next year’s finals, which will be the 35th edition of Africa’s flagship football championship, will be staged by Morocco.

Preliminary stage survivors Chad, e-Swatini, Liberia and South Sudan will join 44 others for the draw that will hold at the SuperSport studios in Johannesburg, South Africa in the afternoon of Thursday, 4th July.

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The 48 countries will be drawn into 12 groups of four teams each, with the top two teams in each pool qualifying directly to the finals in Morocco.

The first two games of the qualification series will take place in the FIFA window in September (2nd – 10th), with two other matches in the window in October (7th – 15th) and the final two games in the November window (11th – 19th).

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are the runners up at the last edition.

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AFCON

Date and venue fixed for draw for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 Qualifiers

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The journey to the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 will resume with the draw for the Qualifiers on Thursday, 04 July 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The draw will be conducted at SuperSport studios in South Africa at 14h30 local time (15h30 Cairo time, 12h30 GMT).

48 Nations, including the four winners from the preliminary round (Chad, Eswatini, Liberia and South Sudan) will be drawn into 12 Groups of four teams each to battle it out for places at the finals.

Headlining the confirmed Nations for the draw are reigning African champions Cote d’Ivoire joined by Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini and Ethiopia.

Others include Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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The qualifiers are scheduled to kick-off in September 2024 to determine the first 24 nations that will compete for Africa’s biggest event, the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2025.

Fresh from the thrills and successes of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 where the host nation defied all odds to claim their third title, a line-up of intriguing matches is expected for the journey to the 35th edition of the showpiece continental sporting event.

In attendance will be selected CAF legends, representatives of the participating teams, members of the Local Organising Committee for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 amongst others.

-CAF

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