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Curious But True! Guinea Bissau Player Is The First Scorer On Lagos National Stadium Pitch –

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Curious But True! Guinea Bissau Player Is The First Scorer On Lagos National Stadium Pitch -

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

That Guinea Bissau upset Nigeria in the qualifying series for the on-going Africa Cup of Nations is a well known fact. Unexpectedly, the Portuguese- speaking country were in Abuja last year and beat the Super Eagles 1-0.

That was the third time any team had beaten Nigeria at home in an Africa Cup qualifying match in 10 years. The first was the 3-2 loss to Congo in 2014 in the qualification for the 2015 edition. Next was that of South Africa’s 2-0 win in Uyo in 2017.

But before the feat of Guinea Bissau last match at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, they had left a mark on the turf of the Lagos National Stadium.

It is curious, yet true. Guinea Bissau, hold an everlasting record in Nigerian football history.

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Not many will believe that the country, previously known as Portuguese Guinea, had played against Nigeria decades ago.

In fact the team produced the first ever scorer on the turf of the present-day National Stadium, Lagos.

That was on 2 October 1960 at the old National Stadium which was later demolished and rebuilt on the same site. The turf remains the same till this day.

The old National Stadium was the venue of sporting activities that marked Nigeria’s independence.

The first official match was the October 2, 1960 semi-finals of the Kwame Nkrumah Cup that pitched Nigeria against Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea Bissau). Nigeria won 4-1.

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But the very first goal of the match was scored by a Portuguese Guinea player, Ulisses Monteiro. He scored in the midst of confused Nigerian defence that made the visiting side to take a surprise 1-0 lead.

Asuquo Ekpe who later became Nigeria’s first ever scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations,  equalised for Nigeria in the second half before additional three goals were scored.

So, on the old National Stadium, the Guinea Bissau player, Ulisses Monteiro could be regarded as the first scorer on the National Stadium turf.

The foundation stone of the present National Stadium was laid by General Gowon on 14 March, 1970 and was officially commissioned by the same man on 4 December 1972.

It is on record that at the inauguration of the new arena built on the same site, Nigeria beat Mali 3-0. Scorer of the first goal was Yakubu Mambo who thus entered the record books as the first to find the net at the rebuit stadium, but certainly not on that turf.

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But to purists, this opens a debate thus Mambo, who died in December 1991, may not be the first scorer on the turf.

The Temporary National Stadium was the venue of the replay of the final match of 1961 Challenge Cup in which Ibadan beat Lagos UAC 1-0 on October 7.

It was the first time the final of the national competition outside its birth place, the waterfront Lagos City Stadium, formerly known as Association Ground, then KGV Stadium and now Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan Lagos.

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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