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International Football

CHAN 2018: To Be or Not To Be for Nigeria?

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Is the old order changing? Will Nigeria miss out from another CAF competition for national teams? Will Nigeria pick a qualification ticket in Kano for the very first time?
These are the three crucial questions begging for answers as the Nigerian home-based national team squares up this Saturday, with counterparts from the neighbouring Republic of Benin.
It is the quest for qualification for the African Nations Championships which finals are holding next January in Kenya. Ahead of the second leg duel in the soccer crazy and densely populated ancient city of Kano, Benin Republic comes with a goal advantage, prompting the poser: Is the old order changing?
Last Sunday’s late and surprised 1-0 defeat of Nigeria was the first time ever in 21 clashes that spanned across 58 years that the Nigerian western neighbours won a match against a Nigerian national team.
Before then, it could have been normal that pre-match thoughts would have been on margin of victory rather than a contemplation of draw, let alone a loss.
In fact, Benin Republic over the last decade or so had to build its national teams around Nigerians who defected. Such was the situation that cerebral Nigerian journalist, Ojeikere Aikhoje once wrote an article titled: “The other ‘Super Eagles’ in Benin Republic”.
He enunciated from goalkeeper to several outfield players and concluded that one day, the national team of Benin, the Squirrels, will one day field a complete ‘Republic of Benin Super Eagles’ against Nigeria’s Super Eagles as there were a dozen of Nigerian-born players who have been drafted into the Benin team.
Sports Village Square recalls the last competitive clash of Nigeria and Benin Republic at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Benguela, Angola. Nigeria struggled to get a 1-0 win over Nigerians-powered Benin Republic which had players like Mouri Ogoubiyi (real name: Muri Ogunbiyi), Razack Omotoyossi (Razak Omotoyosi) among others.
So tough was the encounter that Nigeria was saved by a 42nd minute penalty kick converted by Yakubu Aiyegbeni. Before then, virtually every encounter with Benin ended with unmitigated defeat of the Nigerian western neighbours.
Typical results included the 10-1 humiliation in an Nkrumah Cup encounter on November 29, 1959. Recall another 7-0 defeat of February 14, 1977 when Adokiye Amesimaka, as a Law undergraduate at the University of Lagos made his debut international appearance.
The 7-0 defeat was also repeated on the same date the following year with Amesimaka scoring a brace and defender, Godwin Odiye scoring his only goal for Nigeria to atone for an own-goal he scored barely three months earlier.
Even the Nigerian second string national team had also made a mince-meat of Benin when on August 10, 2005 the Benin national team was beaten 6-0 at the Abuja National Stadium.
But is the old order changing? This explains why the Salisu Yusuf boys more look beyond just a two-goal margin win over Benin. Sports Village Square also recalls that another neighbor, Niger Republic eliminated Nigeria in the quest for the 2011 edition.
Nigeria, beware of your neighbours! Recall that the elimination of Nigeria by Niger was completed in Kano on March 27, 2010. Will another dream be buried in Kano this weekend? The home-based Super Eagles must work hard to eliminate Benin and remove any jinx that any adverse result will bring to the football-loving city of Kano.
It was in that city that the dream for the 2006 World Cup literarily died following a 1-1 draw that gave Angola the edge. Niger Republic also held the home-based Super Eagles to a goalless draw in that city seven years ago after having won the first leg 2-0 at home.
Arise, Ikechuwu Ezenwa and others, Nigeria’s call obey!

Nigeria Previous 21 Encounters with Benin Republic
P    W    D    L    F    A
Nigeria         21  15     5    1   61    9
Benin Rep.  21    1     5   15   9    61

• 8 Nov.1959 (Nkrumah Cup) Benin 0-1 Nigeria
• 29Nov.1959(Nkrumah Cup)Nigeria 10-1 Benin
• 25Jan.1963 (Nkrumah Cup) Benin1-1 Nigeria
• 2 Feb.1963 (Nkrumah Cup) Nigeria 4-1 Benin
• 2 Jan.1965 (AAGq) Nigeria 1-1 Benin *Abandoned
• 11 December. 1965 (F) Nigeria 1-0 Benin
• 27 Feb. 1966 (F) Benin) 1 -2 Nigeria
• 20 Dec. 1972 (F) Nigeria 3- 0 Benin
• 14 Feb. 1977 (F) Nigeria 7- 0 Benin
• 14 Jan.1978 (3 AAGq) Nigeria 7-0 Benin
• 17 Jan.1978 (3AAGq) Nigeria 2-0 Benin
• 14 Oct. 1979 (F) Benin 1-1 Nigeria
• 4 Nov. 1979 (F) Nigeria 5-0 Benin
• 1 Feb. 1987 (SCSA) Benin 1-1 Nigeria
• 30 Sept. 1990 (ACNq) Benin 0-1 Nigeria
• 27 April 1991 (ACNq) Nigeria 3-0 Benin
• 2 Feb 2004 (ACN) Benin 1-2 Nigeria
• 10 Aug, 2005 (F) Nigeria 6-0 Benin
• 28 Jan.2008 (ACN) Benin 0-2 Nigeria
• 16 Jan. 2010 (ACN) Benin 0-1 Nigeria
• 13 Aug. 2017 (Chanq) Benin 1-0 Nigeria

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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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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International Football

Nigeria’s Nnadozie, Malawi striker, Chawinga scoop top awards in France

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Malawi striker Tabitha Chawinga and Chiamaka Nnadozie of Nigeria have been named the best player and best goalkeeper respectively in the French women’s league.

Chawinga wasted no time in making an impact upon her arrival in France after joining Paris Saint-Germain from Inter Milan in less than one year.

 The Malawi captain joined PSG in the summer of 2023 and has quickly showcased her talent, resulting in the top award on Monday night.

She played 25 matches, scoring 18 goals and providing 10 assists while donning the iconic red and blue jersey.

As a semifinalist in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, PSG’s number 22 became the first Malawian to score a goal in a European competition.

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Meanwhile, Nnadozie has had an exceptional season with Paris FC which had led to dethrone Christiane Endlerthe – long standing best goalkeeper in the French women’s top-flight.

The Nigerian goalkeeper boasts 10 clean sheets in 28 appearances in the French league.

For the first time in her career, Nnadozie has been recognized in this category, ending the dominance of Endler, who was named the best goalkeeper in the French league from 2019 to 2023.

Chawinga and Nnadozie’s achievements highlight the growing influence of African players abroad as their performances will pave the way for future generations of footballers from the continent to shine on the global stage.

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What a twist of fate! Before now, Morocco and Algeria were  allies

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When FIFA Suspended Morocco for Supporting Algeria’s Independence

Despite Morocco’s historical solidarity with Algeria, the regime continues to politicize sporting events in search of opportunities to undermine Morocco’s territorial integrity.

Algeria continues to push with its obsessive tendency to undermine Morocco’s territorial integrity despite the country’s long-standing solidarity with its National Liberation Front (FLN) in international sporting events.

Last week, the Algerian regime confiscated the jerseys of a Moroccan club RS Berkane ahead of a CAF Confederation match in Algeria due to the fact that they featured a full map of Morocco.

The decision drew outrage from Moroccans and international observers who decried Algeria’s politicizing of sporting events and its constant search for opportunities to undermine Morocco’s territorial integrity.

On Saturday, Algerian journalist and political analyst, Oualid Kebir, took to social media exposing the regime’s disregard for Morocco’s historical support for the Algerian FLN in international sporting events.

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Kebir highlighted Morocco’s “heroic” and “strong supportive stances” during Algerian’s challenging times during French occupation. “Morocco’s historical and heroic stance at that time is added to the honorable and strong supportive stances at that time towards Algeria,” the post read. 

Kebir’s statement referred to Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) organizing a match in 1958 against the FLN team despite the fact that the team was not recognized by FIFA. The team consisted then of French Muslim (Algerian) players who had been suspended by the French Football Federation.

FIFA’s justification at the time for punishing Morocco was due to the licensing of the FRMF clubs to play against the FLN team. 

“Today, the military regime disguises ingratitude and compels Algerian clubs and sports teams to refuse to play and confront their Moroccan counterparts who display the map of Morocco on their jerseys!” Kebir wrote, decrying Algeria’s ungratefulness to Morocco’s historical support.

“This is the reward for standing with us during difficult times?!” he stressed.

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Attached to the post was the official document from FIFA outlining its decision to revoke the affiliation of the FRMF due to Morocco’s authorization of its clubs to play matches against the Algerian national team, despite FIFA’s objections. 

Algeria’s blatant attacks on Morocco’s sovereignty have especially peaked over the past days with the country staunchly attempting to politicize yet another sporting event.

One such event occurred during the Arab Championship this week, where the Algerian U-17 national handball team withdrew in protest of Morocco’s jersey featuring a full map of Morocco that includes its southern provinces. 

After the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced RS Berkane to be the winner of the Sunday match, Algeria relentlessly appealed the decision, losing the appeal in the process.

However, the regime announced that they would take their case to a higher court, alleging that the jerseys include a political symbol.

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In January 2023, Algeria orchestrated a similar attack on Morocco through the African Nations Championship (CHAN). During the tournament, the Algerian regime denied the Moroccan team the right to participate and defend their title, while using the tournament’s opening ceremony as a political platform to express support for the Polisario Front. 

-Morocco World News

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