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AFCON

Etafia, Former Nigeria Goalkeeper Now Based In South Africa, Says Advantage Not Totally On Super Eagles’ Side –

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Etafia, Former Nigeria Goalkeeper Now Based In South Africa, Says Advantage Not Totally On Super Eagles’ Side -

Retired Nigerian goalkeeper Greg Etafia who is now based in South Africa has reportedly remarked that the upper hand the Super Eagles have over Bafana Bafana will not give the Nigeria team an edge in their duel on Wednesday.

Etafia had four international appearances with Nigeria in 2003 when he was with Plateau United before joining South Africa’s Moroka Swallows.

According to Sowetan, a South African newspaper, the experience that South African players have gained in CAF Champions League will work in Bafana Bafana’s favour when they face the Super Eagles on Wednesday in a semi-final duel of the Africa Cup of Nations at the Stade de la Paix in Bouaké,  d’Ivoire.

The South African team is largely composed of players from Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the inaugural African Football League.

Although in head-to-head clashes, the Super Eagles have the upper hand, the retired Etafia cautioned that the Nigerian side should not rely so much on this.

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Etafia believes the experience Bafana players – with the majority of them playing for Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League – will make it difficult for Nigeria.

“Nigeria always has the upper hand in terms of tournaments. The last time I remember South Africa beat them was when Percy Tau scored in 2017 with Stuart Baxter as a coach [2019 Afcon qualifier],” Etafia said on Monday.

“The last time Nigeria won against South Africa was in 2019, so they always have the upper hand in terms of tournament football. I can’t remember SA beating Nigeria in the tournaments, but in football anything can happen.

“This Bafana team, they are looking good. They are organised, more especially the majority of the team are coming from one team that has been doing well in African football, which is very interesting. But it’s going to be a very good game with the best defensive teams playing. We will see how it goes.”

Etafia said the reason Nigeria has always enjoyed playing against Bafana is because most of their players play in big leagues in Europe and face a lot of big games, which helps them.

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“The good thing about the SA team now is that the majority of the side have been playing in the Champions League and they have the ability to take the pressure, which is very important. In a tournament like Afcon, you need that calmness. That’s why you saw Ronwen Williams show in the quarterfinal and that’s the only advantage,” he said.

“Both sides have been doing well in the tournament, so you have both sides who have experience in the African Champions League and you have the other side who have experience in European football but now they are back playing in African land. They know how to manage the game. At the end of the day, whoever takes the opportunity will have a chance to win the game.”

 

 

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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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AFCON

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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