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Switzerland not only spoilt the day for the captain of Northern Ireland, the team stepped closer towards earning qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia after first-leg victory in their two-leg European zone play-off tie on Thursday evening. Switzerland scored a second-half penalty to earn a valuable away 1-0 win in Northern Ireland.

The Irish have a mountain to climb in the return leg on Sunday. No team managed to qualify after losing a World Cup qualifier play-off first leg at home.

It was an unpleasant milestone for Irish captain, Steven Davis who reached his 100th cap for the national team but ended up losing at home.

He had made his international debut on February 9, 2005 in a 1-0 defeat to Canada.

The Swiss, hosts to FIFA and UEFA win a tightly-contested opening leg affair against Northern Ireland in Belfast. A goalless first half saw the visitors create the best opportunities, with Haris Seferovic forcing a good save from Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern.


The decisive moment of the match came just before the hour mark, as Switzerland were awarded a penalty after Corry Evans was adjudged to have handled the ball in the Northern Ireland penalty area.

Ricardo Rodriguez stepped up to convert the spot-kick for his third goal in Russia 2018 qualifying and the visitors’ first-ever win at Windsor Park.

Both sides now turn their attentions to the decisive second leg in Basel on Sunday, with Northern Ireland needing to overcome a one-goal aggregate deficit away from home.



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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World Cup

Super Eagles to hail Nigeria next week Friday




Super Eagles’ coach, Finidi George may just have to include one more item in the lessons to his players who are expected to assemble any time now for their Match Day 3 duel in the World Cup qualifiers.  

  The players will have to learn the lyric and the tune of the former but now current Nigeria National Anthem – Nigeria We Hail Thee.

 Even the coach may also have to learn the anthem which will certainly be sang at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on 7th June when Nigeria host South Africa.

Finidi George was just seven years old when the anthem was changed in October 1978 by the administration of the then General Olusegun Obasanjo.


 The “Nigeria  We Hail Thee” was last sung during an international match, possibly in error, on 22 November 1986 at the Zamalek Stadium, Cairo when Nigeria U20 team faced Egypt.

  The Egyptian military band rendered the “Nigeria We Hail Thee”, as Nigeria national anthem. The psychologist of  the team, Dr. Olatunde Makanjuola ran to the sidelines and urged the Flying Eagles to render the “Arise, O Compatriots.”

  To avert an embarrassment of rendering a wrong anthem for Nigeria, the NFF in conjunction with the  foreign affairs ministry will have to provide the audio tape of the “Nigeria We Hail Thee” to the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan ahead of the Match Day 4 World Cup qualifiers against Benin Republic hold on Monday June 10.

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World Cup

CAF confirm dates and times for June’s World Cup 2026 African Qualifiers



The African Nations will resume their road to qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2026 next week.

Match Day 3 and Match Day 4 of the Qualifiers will be played between 05-11 June 2024.

Nine African teams are guaranteed to compete at the World Cup. Another will participate in the Play-off Tournament as the global showpiece will host 48 teams for the first time ever.

Winners of each Group will automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ 2026.

The four best runners-up (from the Groups) will play in a CAF Play-Off tournament.


The winner of the CAF Play-Off Tournament will play in the FIFA Play-off Tournament.

Below are the fixtures for the matches to be played over the next seven days. (all kick-off times in GMT)

Match Day 3

Wednesday – 05 June, 2024

Sierra Leone v Djibouti (Group A) | 1600 | El Jadida, Morocco


Togo v South Sudan (Group B) | 1600 | Lome, Togo

Central African Republic v Chad (Group I) | 1600 | Oujda, Morocco

Namibia v Liberia (Group H) | 1600 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Tunisia v Equatorial Guinea (Group H) | 1900 | Rades, Tunisia

Thursday – 06 June, 2024


Malawi v  Sao Tome e Principe  (Group H) | 1300 | Lilongwe, Malawi

Guinea Bissau v Ethiopia (Group A) | 1600 | Bissau, Guinea Bissau

Mauritania v Sudan (Group B) | 1600 | Nouakchott, Mauritania

Libya v Mauritius (Group D) | 1600 | Tripoli, Libya

Congo v Niger (Group E) | 1600 | Kinshasa, DR Congo


Egypt v Burkina Faso (Group A) | 1900 | Cairo, Egypt

Senegal v DR Congo (Group B) | 1900 | Diamniadio, Senegal

Benin v Rwanda (Group C) | 1900 | Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Algeria v Guinea (Group G) | 1900 | Algiers, Algeria

Mali v Ghana (Group I) | 1900 | Bamako, Mali


Friday – 07 June, 2024

Zimbabwe v Lesotho (Group C) | 1300 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Mozambique v Somalia (Group G) | 1300 | Maputo, Mozambique

Kenya  v Burundi (Group F) | 1300 | Lilongwe, Malawi

Uganda v Botswana (Group G) | 1600 | Namboole, Uganda


Madagascar v Comoros (Group I) | 1600 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Angola v Eswatini (Group D) | 1600 | Luanda, Angola

Nigeria v South Africa (Group C) | 1900 | Uyo, Nigeria

Morocco v Zambia (Group E) | 1900 | Agadir, Morocco

Cote d’Ivoire v Gabon  (Group F) | 1900 | Korhogo, Cote d’Ivoire


Saturday – 08 June, 2024

Cameroon v Cape Verde (Group D) | 1300 | Douala, Cameroon

Gambia v Seychelles (Group F) | 1600 | Berkane, Morocco

Match Day 4

Sunday – 09 June, 2024


Sao Tome e Principe  v Liberia  (Group H) | 1300 | Oudja, Morocco

Djibouti v Ethiopia (Group A) | 1600 | El Jadida, Morocco

Congo DR v Togo (Group B) | 1600 | Kinshasa, DR Congo

Mauritania v Senegal (Group B) | 1600 | Nouachott, Mauritania

Namibia  v Tunisia  (Group H) | 1600 | Johannesburg, South Africa


Monday – 10 June, 2024

Somalia v Botswana (Group G) | 1300 | Maputo, Mozambique

Equatorial Guinea  v Malawi  (Group H) | 1300 | Malabo, Equatorial Guinea 

Madagascar v Mali (Group I) | 1300 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Guinea Bissau v Egypt (Group A) | 1600 | Bissau, Guinea Bissau


Benin v Nigeria (Group C) | 1600 | Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Uganda v Algeria  (Group G) | 1600 | Namboole, Uganda

Guinea  v Mozambique (Group G) | 1900 | El Jadida, Morocco

Ghana  v Central African Republic  (Group I) | 1900 | Kumasi, Ghana

Burkina Faso v Sierra Leone (Group A) | 1900 | Bamako, Mali


Tuesday – 11 June, 2024

South Sudan v Sudan (Group B) | 1300 | Juba, South Sudan

Mauritius v Eswatini (Group G) | 1300 | St. Pierre, Mauritius

Zambia v  Tanzania (Group E) | 1300 | Ndola, Zambia

Kenya v Cote d’Ivoire (Group F) | 1300 | Lilongwe, Malawi


Lesotho v Rwanda (Group C) | 1600 | Durban, South Africa

Cape Verde  v Libya (Group D) | 1600 | Praia, Cape Verde

South Africa v Zimbabwe (Group C) | 1600 | Bloemfontein, South Africa

Congo v Morocco (Group E) | 1600 | Kinshasa, DR Congo

Chad v Comoros (Group I) | 1600 | Oujda, Morocco


Angola v Cameroon (Group D) | 1900 | Luanda, Angola

Gabon v Gambia (Group F) | 1900 | Franceville, Gabon

Seychelles v Burundi (Group F) | 1900 | Berkane, Morocco


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World Cup

South Africa, Benin Republic get good news as Osimhen is out of World Cup duels



BREAKING! Osimhen Left Behind As Super Eagles Depart For Bouake -

Reigning African footballer of the year, Victor Osimhen, has been ruled out of the two World Cup qualifying matches Nigeria will play in June against South Africa and Benin Republic.

 According to, the striker is injured. The Super Eagles who had a bad head-start in the qualifiers are due to play what is potentially their most difficult game in the 10-match series as they confront South Africa in Uyo on June 7.

The Nigerian side is currently third on the log of Group C which they were the initial favourites to lead all throughout.

 Osimhen, who missed the first two matches of the qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe will therefore miss another two match days. He was the initial choice to anchor Nigeria’s strike force.

  In his absence, Coach Finidi George has reportedly turned to the local league where he picked Enugu Rangers defender, Kenneth Igboke in place of the striker.

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