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14 amazing facts on Nigeria-Sierra Leone Afcon qualifiers

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are characteristically hoping to pick qualifying, with one match to spare,  ticket for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals due to hold in January 2024 in  Cote d’Ivoire.

 In the last three major tournaments the Super Eagles featured – the Russia 2018 and Africa Cup of Nations 2019 and 2021, qualifications were obtained ahead of conclusion of series.

They are already on this familiar path and could qualify after Sunday’s match with Sierra Leone while the last match with already eliminated Sao Tome & Principe turns a mere formality.

As usual, www.sportsvillagesquare.com takes an insightful look at the fixture and comes out with the following points of interest.

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  • When Sierra Leone held Nigeria to a 4-4 draw at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in 2022, it was the highest number of goals Nigeria conceded at home since their 6-1 home defeat to in Lagos in 1959.
  • Both teams had their first international encounter facing each other 73 years, eight months and 11 days ago today.
  • Both teams first met on 8 October 1949 when the Nigerian side made a stopover in Freetown in their return voyage from UK.
  • The match at Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia  will be the 25th encounter of both teams. Nigeria’s Super Eagles have the upper hand, winning 15, drawing seven times and losing just two.
  • Nigerian football legend, Segun Odegbami, second highest scorer for the national team scored the first of his 21 goals for Nigeria in a World Cup qualifying match against Sierra Leone on 30 October 1976.
  • Segun Odegbami made his international debut for Nigeria when he came in as a 40th minute substitute for Baba Otu Mohammed in a 16 October 1976 World Cup qualifier in Freetown.
  • Former Africa Cup of Nations’ best left winger, Kunle Awesu played his last international match for Nigeria in a 30 October 1976 World Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone in Lagos.
  • It was against Sierra Leone on 30 October 1976 that Muda Lawal  first started a match for Nigeria from the bench . He later came in for Christian Madu in the 73rd minute.
  • Sierra Leone spelt doom for former Nigeria’s Dutch coach, Johannes Bonfrere who last handled the Super Eagles when the team lost 1-0 on 21 April 2001 in a World Cup qualifying duel in Freetown.
  • The match against Sierra Leone was the last that Peterside Idah played for Nigeria on 21 April 2001.
  • The duel  will be Nigeria’s 121st  Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifying match. For Sierra Leone, it will be their 81st  in the qualifying series since their debut entry for the 1974 edition.
  • When the Super Eagles played against Sierra Leone in 2020, it was the fourth time an Africa Cup of Nation qualifying match was played in Benin City. The first time was when the then Green Eagles played a goalless outing with Morocco on 14 August 1983. The second time was the 1-0 defeat of Madagascar on 2 June 2001 while the third was the 2-2 draw with Angola on 21 June 2003 in the qualifying duel for Tunisia 2004.
  • Although Nigeria defeated Sierra Leone 2-0 when they first met 74 years ago, an own goal by Sierra Leone’s Ashman was Nigeria’s first ever international goal. Tesilimi Balogun scored the second goal.
  • Nigeria’s Joseph Yobo goes into the record book as the first player to score for both Sierra Leone and Nigeria in a competitive series. Yobo scored Nigeria’s lone goal in the 1-0 defeat of Sierra Leone in Freetown in a 7 June 2008 World Cup qualifying match. In the reversed leg played on 11 October 2008 in Abuja, Yobo scored an own goal in the 4-1 defeat of Sierra Leone.

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.

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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