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World Cup

Cote d’Ivoire enjoy goal feast but Cameroon labour to victory

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Cote d’ivoire enjoyed a goal rout at the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign but fellow African heavyweights Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia made heavy work of home games against lowly opposition on Friday.

The Ivorians, who will host January’s Africa Cup of Nations, won 9-0 at home to the Seychelles in their Group F opener in a bright start to their bid for a place at the 2026 finals when the World Cup will be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

Teenage striker Karim Konate and substitute Hamed Traore both scored twice in a game that might have seen a bigger victory had it not been for some fine saves by Carlos Simoen.

Tunisia captain Youssef Msakni was among the scorers as they won 4-0 at home to 186th ranked Sao Tome e Principe in Group H.

Cameroon, who have been to more World Cups than any other African nation, had to battle for a 3-0 win against Mauritius, 134 places below them in the FIFA rankings.

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Bryan Mbuemo’s close-range finish on the stroke of halftime opened the scoring and the Indomitable Lions added two more late goals in their Group D game in Douala.

There was an even more laboured home win for Ghana, who finally broke the deadlock six minutes into stoppage time at home to Madagascar in Group I as former Spain international Inaki Williams scored his first goal for the Black Stars.

The Comoros Islands won 4-2 in the same group against the Central African Republic at home in Moroni, while 30-year-old debutant Youssoufou Niakate was among the scorers as Mali beat Chad 3-1 in Bamako in their game in the section.

Patson Daka scored twice as Zambia began their Group E campaign with a 4-2 home win over Congo in Ndola, fighting back from a 2-1 deficit after 15 minutes.

POOR FACILITIES

Seydouba Cisse netted four minutes into stoppage time to hand Guinea a 2-1 win over Uganda in Group G in a match played in Berkane, Morocco.

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Guinea are among the 19 African countries forced to move their home qualifiers to neutral venues because of poor facilities or concern over the security situation in their country.

Despite the absence of skipper Naby Keita, Guinea took an early lead but Uganda, with Belgian coach Paul Put in charge for the first time, levelled through Fahad Bayo on the half hour.

Eswatini hosted their Group D clash over the border in Nelspruit, South Africa but lost to Libya for whom Ahmed Ekrawa scored the only goal early in the second half.

In Group H, Malawi won 1-0 in Liberia as substitute Chifundo Mphasi scored in Monrovia and there was another away upset in Group A where Guinea Bissau held Burkina Faso to a 1-1 draw.

A further three qualifiers will be played on Saturday to complete the first round of matches in the African zone.

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There are nine groups in the African preliminaries where the winner qualifies for the 2026 finals. The four best runners-up get a further chance to qualify in a two-tier playoff system.

-Reuters

 

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

Can of worms discovered in Super Eagles camp

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

All is not well at the moment with the Nigeria’s Super Eagles who have gone seven World Cup qualifying matches since November 2021 without a win.

The dwindled fortunes contrast sharply for a team noted before now as the African sides with the longest unbeaten streak in the World Cup qualifiers. At time, they were unbeaten since losing through a late goal to Angola in Luanda on 20 June 2004 till 10 November 2017 when their 1-1 draw with Algeria was converted to a 3-0 forfeiture owing to NFF featuring an unqualified player. At  the time, Super Eagles had raked 35 unbeaten run. At another time from 2012 to 2013, the team had an unbeaten run of 18 matches from 3 June 2012  when they beat Namibia 1-0 in Calabar to 21 June 2013 when they were beaten 2-1 by Uruguay in a FIFA Confederations match in Brazil.

 Yet the same outfit has turned laborious after losing its flairs. A source close to Finidi George told Sports Village Square that the coach complained that the NFF just heaped all the blames of the team’s current precarious situation on him while exonerating the players.  

  He also reportedly remarked that the NFF did nothing to mobilise crowd support for the Super Eagles in the back-breaking encounter with Benin Republic in Abidjan despite the presence of large Nigerian community in the Ivorian commercial capital city.

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 A Benin Republic sports journalist confirmed this to Sports Village Square. The journalist remarked that it was true that there “were not many Nigerians at the Félix Houphouet Boigny stadium even though Nigeria has a strong community in the Ivory Coast.  I see that the defeat against the Republic of Benin really hurts.”

  Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, the President General of the Nigeria Football and other Sports Supporters’ Club (NFSP) had earlier made the same assertion on the neglect of crowd mobilisation for the Super Eagles and that those who made it to Uyo and had auto accident on their way back were not even given a mention by the NFF.

 He had since 1991 established the first of the international cells of the supporters club. They were not mobilised for the game against Benin Republic.

 On players attitude, a member of the NFF confirmed that the Super Eagles camp in Uyo was loose as players went to camp with their girl friends.

 That could also explain their dismal forms in the back-to-back destiny shaping encounters with South Africa and Benin Republic.

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BREAKING! Finidi George formally resigns

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Nigeria Super Eagles’ coach, Finidi George has resigned from his post as Super Eagles’ coach, two days after the Nigeria Football Federation announced it was going to employ a foreign technical adviser.

A source close to Finidi told Sports Village Square that Finidi sent his resignation letter to Ibrahim Gusau “3o minutes ago.”

 Finidi was said to be livid that the NFF leadership met with the sports minister two days ago, but failed to mention that players reported late to the camp and that they didi nothing to mobilise Nigerians in Cote d’Ivoire to come out to support the Super Eagles in last Monday’s match with Benin Republic.

“He complained that the NFF heaped all the blames on him”, said the source.

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  Calls to NFF officials to verify the information were not answered.  

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World Cup

UPDATE: NFF may spare Finidi George

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Under fire Super Eagles’ coach, Finidi George may excape sack afterall. A source close to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) told Sports Village Square that Finidi may not be sacked.

 He would however work under the foreign technical adviser that the football governing body is planning to hire in the next few weeks.

  The source who was privy to the Wednesday’s ‘hybrid mode’ meeting of the NFF informed that Finidi George will be designated as ‘Chief Coach’ while the expatriate will be the technical adviser.

It is however unclear how the NFF will foot the wage bill of the technical adviser, who may also come with his personal crew as Finidi George  also already have his own foreign assistants.

There is also no word on the loud absence of Daniel Amokachi who was designated as Finidi George’s assistant, but failed to show up at the Super Eagles’ camp leading to the ill-fated World Cup match day 3 and 4 encounters with South Africa and Benin Republic.  

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