Connect with us

AFCON

Osimhen On A Mission With Nigeria At AFCON –

Published

on

It’s A Grudge-laden Clash As Nigeria Face Rugged Angola In AFCON Quarter-finals -

Many of the biggest stars at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations have already been eliminated before the quarter-finals, but the continent’s reigning player of the year Victor Osimhen is still standing as he aims to lead Nigeria to the title.

The 25-year-old Napoli striker may have been the obvious bet to finish as the tournament’s top scorer, having netted 10 times in qualifying, twice as many goals as the next most prolific marksmen.

Nevertheless, he has found the net just once going into Friday’s last-eight tie against outsiders Angola in Abidjan.

However, that does not tell anything like the whole story of the masked forward’s AFCON so far.

Osimhen scored in Nigeria’s first match in Ivory Coast, which ended in an underwhelming 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea.

He won the penalty which captain William Troost-Ekong scored in the 1-0 victory over Ivory Coast, and then played all 90 minutes of the final group game against Guinea-Bissau when he could well have been rested.

Advertisement

Osimhen then turned in an awe-inspiring performance in the 2-0 last-16 win over the Super Eagles’ old rivals Cameroon, harassing and pressing the opposition defence all evening and setting up the opening goal.

“He didn’t score but he had a fantastic game. It is not easy to stop that guy! Ask the defenders of the opposition how they suffer,” said Nigeria’s charismatic coach, Jose Peseiro.

The Portuguese manager has made clear that he sees not conceding goals as the key to success at the tournament, despite boasting an embarrassment of attacking riches beyond Osimhen.

But his tireless number nine is the first line of defence with the amount of running he puts in, which is all the more impressive in the sapping heat and humidity of West Africa.

Ultimate team player

Osimhen collapsed to the turf at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium when the half-time whistle went against Cameroon, but recovered suitably to continue chasing down the opposition defence in the second half while also whipping the Abidjan crowd up into a frenzy.

Advertisement

“Osimhen plays with passion. That’s what every country wants their players to do,” former Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan, Africa’s all-time top scorer at World Cups who played in two Cup of Nations finals with the Black Stars, wrote on X.

As for the goals, Osimhen and Nigeria will hope he is saving them up for the final stages of the competition.

According to data made available by statisticians at Opta Analyst, Osimhen has had 15 shots at this AFCON, at least two more than any other player.

Only three of those have been on target and he has just that one goal, but his “expected goals”, or XG, is 2.78, the highest in the tournament — higher even than five-goal top scorer Emilio Nsue.

More than anything, however, Osimhen’s performances and his incredible work-rate back up what he told AFP in an interview at the Nigeria team base earlier in the tournament.

Advertisement

“I don’t want to put myself in the centre but of course a lot of people say this. But I think more like a team player,” he said.

“I really don’t care even whether I start or not. For me to be there playing with them is a big one for me. I just want to keep on helping the team.”

As modest as he may be, Osimhen has to be the first name on Peseiro’s teamsheet as Nigeria eye their fourth continental crown.

-AFP

 

Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

AFCON

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

Published

on

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.

Advertisement

“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.

Advertisement

-CAF

Continue Reading

AFCON

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

Published

on

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.

Advertisement




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.

Advertisement




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

Continue Reading

AFCON

Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Published

on

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.

Advertisement




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.

Advertisement




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

 

Continue Reading

Most Viewed