Connect with us

AFCON

Nigeria, South Africa among quarter-finals favourites in ‘crazy’ AFCON –

Published

on

Super Eagles Fly To Bouake On Tuesday -

Former champions Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa have earned the right to be favourites in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals on Friday and Saturday.

 

But, given a tournament in which seven of the top 10-ranked teams, led by 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco, have been eliminated, that tag could prove a curse.

Here, AFP Sport previews the ties with Guinea and Mali hoping to go one step further after previously being runners-up, while Angola and Cape Verde pursue first semi-finals appearances.

Napoli star Victor Osimhen came to the tournament as an acclaimed goal-scorer, but it is his incredible workrate in searing heat which epitomises the Nigerian title challenge.

Concerns about the William Troost-Ekong-marshalled defence have proven unfounded with only one goal conceded in four matches and, particularly against Cameroon, the Super Eagles impressed.

Advertisement

Angola are one of the nations that have mocked the form book in the Ivory Coast, winning three straight matches after never managing more than one win at a time in eight other appearances.

Gelson Dala is the joint second-highest scorer with four goals and Mabululu has notched three ahead of a clash between the highest and lowest-ranked survivors.

DR Congo coach Sebastien Desabre said before the tournament that his target was a quarter-final spot for a country that won the tournament twice decades ago when known as Zaire.

Having achieved his primary goal, he can realistically believe that a first semi-final place since 2015 is possible, and once again their opponents could be the Cote d’Ivoire.

While the Congolese upset record seven-time champions Egypt after a penalty shootout, Mohamed Bayo snatched an added-time winner for Guinea over group-phase surprise side Equatorial Guinea.

Advertisement

“It is not a gift to face us,” warned Guinea coach Kaba Diawara, who kept consistent Bundesliga scorer Serhou Guirassy on the bench for most of the last-16 encounter.

After scraping into the knockout stage as the third-placed qualifiers with the worst record, Ivory Coast stunned title-holders Senegal and are now been talked about as potential champions.

“We are not going to get carried away,” stressed Emerse Fae, given the task of coaching a senior team for the first time after the post-group phase sacking of Jean-Louis Gasset.

The return to fitness of Borussia Dortmund forward Sebastien Haller and Brighton winger Simon Adingra increase the attacking options, while Mali rely largely on Lassine Sinayoko for goals.

A Mali team coached by Abidjan-born Eric Chelle are seeking a first victory over Ivory Coast in the tournament having drawn one and lost four of previous Cup of Nations meetings.

Advertisement
  • Cape Verde v South Africa

Cape Verde may be ranked 73rd in the world, but coach Pedro ‘Bubista’ Brito told his players before the Cup of Nations that he expected them to at least reach the semi-finals.

It seemed a tall order for a collection of footballers who play for mainly modest clubs across Europe, and were born there to a Cape Verdean parent, or had a grandparent from the island state.

But after they beat Ghana, then held record seven-time champions Egypt despite resting a number of first-choice players, South Africa have been warned not to underestimate the Blue Sharks.

“Our win over Morocco is history. Cape Verde are as determined as us to reach the semi-finals and we dare not underrate them,” said coach Hugo Broos, a 2017 AFCON winner with Cameroon.

-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