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AFCON

Karma Caning Cameroon –

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Karma Caning Cameroon -

BY EMEKA OBASI

 

Of the three times Cameroon defeated Nigeria to lift the African Nations Cup trophy, two will fail today’s VAR test. Only their first cup victory makes sense, the others were fraudulently assisted by the referee.

 

Ever since the Indomitable Lions stole the cup in Lagos 24 years ago, they have been unable to defeat the Super Eagles in any African Nations Cup duel. Their 2-0 loss on Saturday January 27, should send them to their creator asking for forgiveness of sins committed by Idrissa Sarr and Mourad Daami.

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On March 18, 1984 Cameroon beat Nigeria 3-1 in the grande finale at the Felix Houphouet – Boigny Stadium, Abidjan. Muda Lawal scored first, in the 10th minute. Rene N’Djeya equalised in the 32nd. Theophile Abega increased the tally late in the second half. Ernest Ebongue made it three six minutes to time.

 

Nearly 40 years later, both teams met again. Nigeria struck nearly at the time Muda got the opener in 1984. Scorer, Semi Ajayi, is Yoruba, like Muda. VAR canceled the goal. The Eagles scored two more goals to win 2-0. It was at the same stadium.

 

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And the match referees were North Africans. In 1984, a Tunisian was in charge. In 2024, the man at the centre was a Moroccan. Ali Bennaceur, the Tunisian, later became infamous for Diego Maradona’s hand of God goal in 1986.

 

Issa Hayatou, a Cameroonian, emerged as CAF President in 1988. One of his first assignments was to watch the Maroc 1988 Afcon grand finale between the Indomitable Lions and Eagles. Mauritanian referee, Idrissa Sarr, was in charge.

 

A beautiful goal by Henry Nwosu was ruled offside. Then a penalty was dubiously given to Cameroon for Emmanuel Kunde to convert. If there was VAR in 1988, the Super Eagles could have won the cup. Sarr was out to impress Hayatou.

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In 2021, Sarr told CAF Online : ” In our days, there were less monitoring and supervision and the referees were almost left to themselves”. He was rewarded with appearance in many championships and encouraged his son, Babacar, to join in 2016.

 

Sarr’s bad record continued to spread. Mariem Chedad was playing soccer, running marathon like Hayatou and a martial artist until Sarr lured her into refereeing. She was one of the Assistant Referees in a FIFA Under 17 qualifying match on June 24, 2022.

 

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Ghana had beaten Morocco in the Accra first leg. The second leg in Rabat ended 2-0 in favour of the hosts. The visitors lost 4-2, during penalty shoot out. Ghana lodged a strong protest against the Mauritanian match officials.

 

In 2000, it was Tunisian referee, Mourad Daami that gifted Cameroon the cup, in Lagos. After a 2-2 draw at full and extra time, penalty kicks followed. Victor Ikpeba’s crossed the line but Daami failed to record it. That was how Nigeria lost again.

 

Karma did not spare the Tunisian. Later in the year, CAF banned him for 12 months for trying to influence South African referee, Robbie Williams. It was in the Accra final leg of the CAF Champions League between Hearts of Oak and Esperance.

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Karma has continued to deal with the Indomitable Lions since their undeserved victory in Lagos, 24 years ago. Eagles beat them at Tunisia 2004, scattered them at Egypt 2019 and bullied them at Cote d’Ivoire 2024.

 

Many Nigerian laughed as Milla, Samuel Eto’o and Rigobert Song cried after the 2-0 outcome in Abidjan. Old fox, Milla,  caused the controversial penalty in 1988. Eto’o is his country’s football federation ( FECAFOOT) boss and scored in Lagos in 2000.

 

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Coach Song captained the Lions to tainted cup victory in Eko. In Abidjan, Jay Jay Okocha whose goal in 2000 made it 2-2 was having fun as Nigerians sang a new song – ‘ as e dey sweet us, e go dey pain them’. Rigobert is singing songs of sorrow.

 

Finidi George is part of the Super Eagles’ technical crew. He played against the Indomitable Lions. Another squad member, Garba Lawal is also in Abidjan, like Nwankwo Kanu who missed a penalty. Segun Odegbami’s younger brother, Wole, was in the team that Sarr robbed in 1988.

 

Ademola Lookman, the man whose brace bruised Cameroon was just three in 2000. In January 2023, he scored twice, three times, for Atalanta. And this young man rejected Nigeria three times before switching nationality in 2022.

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Lookman’s goals mean Milla and Eto’o are looking at Abidjan through the window of the flight taking them back to Yaounde. The Super Eagles are also gaining altitude, flying higher and  singing more songs of triumph. Rigobert is in the ring, encircled by wounded lions from a diminished nation.

 

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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AFCON

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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