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AFCON

Angola’s Captain, Fredy Sends Timely Warning To Super Eagles; ‘We Are Proud Angolans And Fear No Team’, He Says –

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Angola’s Captain, Fredy Sends Timely Warning To Super Eagles; ‘We Are Proud Angolans And Fear No Team’, He Says -

Ademola Lookman scored twice for Nigeria and Gelson Dala bagged a brace for Angola on Saturday to send their countries into a Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals showdown.

Lookman struck after 36 minutes against Cameroon in Abidjan and clinched a 2-0 last-16 victory for the Super Eagles by finding the net again in the final minute of regular time.

Dala took his goal tally to four —  one less than 34-year-old chart-topper Emilio Nsue of Equatorial Guinea — by scoring twice before half-time in a 3-0 victory over Namibia in Bouake.

Nigeria, among the title favourites with a line-up including African player of the year Victor Osimhen, and outsiders Angola clash next Friday for a semi-final place.

In Abidjan, Nigeria thought they had taken an early the lead only for a Semi Ajayi goal to be ruled offside after Cameroon failed three times to clear a corner.

Although they had less possession, the Super Eagles looked more likely scorers than the Indomitable Lions and did go in front on 36 minutes.

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Oumar Gonzalez failed to control a throw-in and lost possession to Osimhen, who charged goalwards and set up Lookman, whose shot was fumbled by Fabrice Ondoa before entering the net.

Another incident of careless Cameroon defending, early in the second half, ended with Christopher Wooh conceding possession, then fouling Lookman on the edge of the area.

Lookman unleashed a hard, direct shot from the resulting free-kick, but it was just too high.

Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali retired injured after 78 minutes to be replaced by Francis Uzoho while fit-again star Cameroon forward Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench.

After defending in depth to maintain their slender advantage, Nigeria won a free-kick which led to Lookman sealing victory.

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Calvin Bassey crossed and Lookman got to the ball first in the goalmouth. Ondoa did get his hand to the shot, but could not stop it entering the net.

– ‘Fear no team’ –

Angola captain Fredy, who created both Dala goals, dedicated the triumph over Namibia to the people of the southern Africa country.

“Economically, times are tough for many Angolans so I hope our victory has lifted spirits back home.

“We are in the quarter-finals having come to Ivory Coast as outsiders. That rating was hardly surprising as only Tanzania and the Gambia were ranked lower among the 24 contenders.

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“But being written off by many observers motivated us. We believe in our abilities as footballers and are raring to go against Nigeria.

“Once again we will be the underdogs and once again we will be determined to prove the forecasters wrong. We are proud Angolans and fear no team.”

After Dala scored twice, Mabululu netted midway through the second half to effectively end as a contest the clash of southern Africa neighbours.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men by first-half red cards with Angola goalkeeper Neblu and Namibia defender Lubeni Haukongo sent off.

Neblu — one of many Angolans who use a nickname rather than their real name — handled a Bethuel Muzeu lob outside his area and was immediately red-carded on 17 minutes.

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After a water break to assist players performing in searing 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) heat, the match took a dramatic turn with two goals and another red card in four minutes.

A Gilberto cross and Fredy cutback set up Dala to sidefoot the ball into the corner of the net on 38 minutes.

Namibia surrendered their numerical advantage two minutes later when Haukongo was yellow-carded a second time and sent off.

Dala struck again on 42 minutes, powerfully heading a Fredy free-kick into the corner of the net to give Angola a two-goal advantage.

After early second-half pressure from Namibia came to nought, Angola stretched their lead on 66 minutes.

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Veteran Mabululu sprinted on to a Dala pass before superbly curling a shot past goalkeeper Lloyd Kazapua.

-AFP

 

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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AFCON

African champions Cote d’Ivoire ring changes with new backroom staff

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Emerse Fae during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal with DR Congo

Cote d’Ivoire head coach Emerse Fae has overhauled his backroom team following the Elephants’ Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023, success earlier this year.

Fae, who took over from Frenchman Jean-Louis Gasset during the tournament in January, has brought in three new faces as he builds towards qualifying for the 2025 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations and 2026 World Cup.

Former Cote d’Ivoire goalkeeper Gerard Gnahouan, 45, joins as goalkeeping coach after working in this role with French Ligue 2 side Sochaux.

Gnahouan, capped 10 times by the Elephants between 2002 and 2011, takes over as goalkeeping coach and will be tasked with getting the best out of first-choice Yahia Fofana.  

Moroccan Samir Anba, previously with French club Nice and Morocco’s Under-17s, takes over as fitness coach, while Jeremy Antonio arrives as video analyst after working with Fae at French side Clermont.

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“This new composition of the technical staff marks the start of a new era for the Cote d’Ivoire national team, and expectations are high,” said Fae.

Fae kept faith with assistant Guy Demel while former international Alain Gouamene joins as the second assistant coach of the AFCON-winning team.

The 40-year-old led an all-local setup to a surprise African title in March after being promoted from Gasset’s number two following their near exit at the group stage.

The new backroom additions have a huge challenge ahead, with Cote d’Ivoire facing crunch matches in June as they bid to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

The Elephants top their qualifying group after beating Gambia and Seychelles in the opening two matches  in Group F of the qualifiers under caretaker Gasset.

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-CAF

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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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