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Guinea Bissau Top Scorer, Zinho Gano Promises To Deal With Cote D’Ivoire In AFCON Opener –

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Guinea Bissau Top Scorer, Zinho Gano Promises To Deal With Cote D’Ivoire In AFCON Opener -

Top scorer for Guinea-Bissau during the  Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023 Qualifiers with four goals, Zinho Gano, is hopeful of impressing at the tournament.

The Zulte Waregem striker in Belgium, who is preparing to makes his TotalEnergies CAF AFCON debut intends to keep the momentum.

The “Djurtus” share Group A with hosts Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea – a group Gano believes is possible to make it out of.

Exclusively speaking to CAFOnline ahead of their opener to be played at the majestic Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe on 13 January, the 30-year-old discusses his country’s chances and personal ambitions for the tournament.

 

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How was the trip from Bissau to Abidjan?

It was long, we are all tired. But the most important thing is that we arrived safely, everything went well and we are happy to be here.

 

What are your first impressions since your arrival in Cote d’Ivoire?

We arrived Monday evening and we were well received, both at the airport and at the hotel. Everyone is happy to be here. It is now up to us to show something.

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How do you describe the atmosphere within your group?

The atmosphere is good, we work hard, we work well and the atmosphere off the field is good. So I hope we continue like this.

 

What does the  CAF AFCON mean to you, personally?

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It’s a proud moment to be here. As a player, its a great platform to show what you can do.

 

You will have the honor of playing the opening match against the organizing country. Does that put a certain pressure on you in the group?

No, no pressure. On the contrary, for us it is an honor to play a match like this. The opening match is something special, there will be maybe at least 60,000 people in the stadium. I am a professional footballer, so it is for this type of match that we practice this profession. I’m really looking forward to playing a match like this.

 

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During these three previous participations, Guinea-Bissau have never managed to get past the group stage. Is your goal for this edition at least to surpass this first stage of the competition?

Of course! We didn’t even win a match. So our first goal is to win a match and then, to manage to get past the first stage. I know its a difficult group with Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria but we will see. In football, anything is possible.

 

In this group, we have Nigeria who have already won the s CAF AFCON three times, Equatorial Guinea which was semi-finalist in 2015 before reaching the quarter-finals during the previous edition in Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire which, in addition to being the organizing country, has already won the competition twice. What do you make of this?

We know that these are very big countries, but this is an opportunity for us to show that we are there too. We have a good group and we are also here for the fourth time, it shows that we are worth something too.

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You were Guinea-Bissau’s top scorer during the qualifiers with four goals. The final phase is a different story. Do you have any personal goals for this CAF AFCON?

Its just about scoring as much as possible for my team and for myself. I hope I score in the opening match against Cote d’Ivoire, that would be great.

 

Finishing top scorer in the competition, doesn’t the idea cross your mind?

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Why not! In football, as they say, anything is possible. For me, that would be wonderful.

 

What is the main instruction circulating within your team regarding this competition where you represent the hope of an entire nation?

Everyone must believe that anything is possible. Even for this opening match. With opening matches, there are always surprises and why not, with us. We can win like everyone else, even if it’s Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria or Senegal. The match is 11 against 11 and anything is possible.

 

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Do you have a special message to send to the Guinea-Bissau public for this AFCON?

Just being behind us, we need his support. Its up to us to show that we will give everything for them and for ourselves.

 -CAF

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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Liberia, Eswatini hold upper hand in AFCON 2025 preliminary qualifiers –

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Liberia, Eswatini Hold Upper Hand In AFCON 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers -

After commanding victories in the first leg matches of the Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, qualifiers, Chad, Liberia, and Eswatini find themselves in advantageous positions as they gear up for the return fixtures scheduled for Tuesday.

As the second leg of the preliminary fixtures approach, all eyes will be on these teams as they vie for their coveted spots in the group phase of the qualifiers, with the hopes of making their mark on the continental stage.

Chad emerged victorious with a narrow 1-0 win over Mauritius, joining Liberia and Eswatini in the lead after their impressive triumphs earlier last week.

Liberia secured a 2-0 victory against Djibouti, while Eswatini displayed their dominance with a 3-0 win over Somalia.

The second leg promises to be fiercely contested, particularly for Chad, who will face a challenging encounter against Mauritius on the latter’s home turf.

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Coach Kevin Nicaise’s players are keen to defend their slender lead and secure their spot in the next phase of the qualifiers but the trainer admits they have an arduous task.

“We are far from perfect, far from being a top team in the world. We are in the construction phase. There are still things to work on and improve,” coach Nicaise said after their first-leg win.

“It is not overnight that we will be a top team in the world, we are aware of that, however we are working hard with the group and the staff to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, Liberia will host Djibouti, aiming to build on their first-leg success and seal their progression to the next round.

Eswatini will host Somalia with confidence, seeking to maintain their winning momentum and secure passage to the next stage of the tournament.

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South Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe will also face off in what is expected to be a closely contested encounter, following their goalless draw in the first leg.

With both teams eager for victory, the match promises to be a thrilling battle for supremacy.

-CAF

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Liberia and Eswatini took commanding leads in their respective Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, preliminary round ties after claiming impressive away victories on Wednesday.

Liberia captain Murphy Dorley scored one of two first-half goals as the Lone Stars defeated hosts Djibouti 2-0 in the opening leg in  Marrakech.

Mohammed Sangare broke the deadlock from the penalty spot on 23 minutes before Dorley coolly slotted home Sebastian Teclar’s cross 12 minutes later.

Djibouti struggled to lay a glove on their more illustrious opponents as the Lone Star side kept them at bay to take two away goals into next week’s second leg in Monrovia.

Eswatini were also celebrating after demolishing Somalia 3-0 in the Moroccoan  city of El Jadida to put one foot in the group stage qualifiers.

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Striker Sabelo Ndzinisa was the hero, netting twice either side of Felicio Figuareido’s 40th minute opener for the visitors.

Somalia now face an uphill battle to qualify when they travel to the Mbombela Stadium in the South African city of Nelspruit for the return on March 26th.

The opening leg victories give Liberia and Eswatini a huge advantage heading into the second legs as they target a place in the group stage on the road to next year’s finals in Morocco.

Back from the locker room, Somalia still couldn’t play its game.

Worse, Eswatini widened the gap with Ginindza who scored his double of the evening in the 56th minute. 3-0, the score remained unchanged on the scoreboard until the final whistle.

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Victory for Eswatini which will still have to perform in the return leg to ensure its qualification for the qualifiers.

 

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Road to Morocco 2025 begins today

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Following last month’s grand closing to the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations held in Cote d’Ivoire where the hosts were crowned champions for the third time, Africa’s biggest competition is now shifting its focus to the 35th edition set to be held in Morocco next year.

A total of 52 Nations will be engaged to compete for a place in the 24-nation competition.

To mark the start of the qualifiers following the draw that was held in Cairo on 20 February 2024, eight lowest ranked nations will compete in the Preliminary Qualifiers starting on Wednesday, 20 March over a two-legged format that will decide the four nations that will join the other 44 African nations to make up the group stages of the qualifiers.

The CAF AFCON Morocco 2025 journey officially gets underway on Wednesday, 20 March with two fixtures as Somalia plays host to Eswatini, while Djibouti faces Liberia.

Two days later, Chad locks horns with Mauritius before Sao Tome and Principe takes on South Sudan.

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The return legs will conclude on Tuesday, 26 March with all matches set to take place on the day to officially decide the preliminary phase of the competition.

 

 AFCON Morocco 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers:

First Leg Fixtures:

Wednesday, 20 March 

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  • 18:00 GMT | Somalia – Eswatini
  • 22:00 GMT | Djibouti – Liberia

 

Friday, 22 March

  • 18:00 GMT | Chad – Mauritius
  • 19:00 GMT | Sao Tome and Principe – South Sudan

 

Return Leg Fixtures:

Tuesday, 26 March

  • 13:00 GMT | Eswatini – Somalia
  • 16:00 GMT | Liberia – Djibouti
  • 17:00 GMT | South Sudan – Sao Tome and Principe
  • 15:00 GMT | Mauritius – Chad
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