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Casablanca favoured to host 2030 World Cup opening match

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Morocco To Launch World’s Biggest Stadium Ahead Of 2030 World Cup -

The World Cup that marks 100 years of the competition may be six years away, the jostle for the two key matches – the opening and the final – has turned a two horse race.

In all, there will be 104 matches. Morocco is jostling with Spain to host one of the two key matches.

Portugal is ruled out for either the opening or the final match as it has no stadium with capacity of over 65,000.

The biggest stadium in Portugal is Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica.

Morocco on the other hand is planning on what will be the largest stadium in the world.

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The Grand Casablanca Stadium is being designed to hold 115,000 spectators in its bowel.

According to Paris-based publication, Jeune Afrique, Casablanca is favoured to host the opening match.

Other countries besides the hosts are set to hold matches. Three matches will be held in South America – one in Montevideo, in Uruguay, where the first World Cup took place in 1930, one in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and another in Asuncion, Paraguay. The remaining 101 matches have yet to be allocated.

Sources close to the matter suggest that 20 stadiums (11 in Spain, 6 in Morocco, and 3 in Portugal) could host the World Cup matches.

Other countries besides the hosts are set to hold matches. Three matches will be held in South America – one in Montevideo, in Uruguay, where the first World Cup took place in 1930, one in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and another in Asuncion, Paraguay. The remaining 101 matches have yet to be allocated.

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Morocco, on the other hand, has chosen six stadiums; Rabat, Fez, Agadir, Marrakech, Tangier, and the Grand Casablanca Stadium in Benslimane.

It is estimated that Morocco will host at least a third of the matches.  we can roughly estimate that Morocco will have around a third of the 101 matches to be allocated, give or take,” a source close to the matter told Jeune Afrique.

A source quoted a Moroccan journalist, Nassim El Kerf as prefering the kingdom to host the opening match as it guarantees the featuring of Morocco instead of the final match in which the host country may not feature.

France are the last hosts to feature in a World Cup final in which they beat Brazil 3-0 in 1998. It is therefore impossible to know ahead of time if a host country will get to the final.

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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.

World Cup

Super Eagles to hail Nigeria next week Friday

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Super Eagles’ coach, Finidi George may just have to include one more item in the lessons to his players who are expected to assemble any time now for their Match Day 3 duel in the World Cup qualifiers.  

  The players will have to learn the lyric and the tune of the former but now current Nigeria National Anthem – Nigeria We Hail Thee.

 Even the coach may also have to learn the anthem which will certainly be sang at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on 7th June when Nigeria host South Africa.

Finidi George was just seven years old when the anthem was changed in October 1978 by the administration of the then General Olusegun Obasanjo.

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 The “Nigeria  We Hail Thee” was last sung during an international match, possibly in error, on 22 November 1986 at the Zamalek Stadium, Cairo when Nigeria U20 team faced Egypt.

  The Egyptian military band rendered the “Nigeria We Hail Thee”, as Nigeria national anthem. The psychologist of  the team, Dr. Olatunde Makanjuola ran to the sidelines and urged the Flying Eagles to render the “Arise, O Compatriots.”

  To avert an embarrassment of rendering a wrong anthem for Nigeria, the NFF in conjunction with the  foreign affairs ministry will have to provide the audio tape of the “Nigeria We Hail Thee” to the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan ahead of the Match Day 4 World Cup qualifiers against Benin Republic hold on Monday June 10.

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World Cup

CAF confirm dates and times for June’s World Cup 2026 African Qualifiers

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The African Nations will resume their road to qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2026 next week.

Match Day 3 and Match Day 4 of the Qualifiers will be played between 05-11 June 2024.

Nine African teams are guaranteed to compete at the World Cup. Another will participate in the Play-off Tournament as the global showpiece will host 48 teams for the first time ever.

Winners of each Group will automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ 2026.

The four best runners-up (from the Groups) will play in a CAF Play-Off tournament.

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The winner of the CAF Play-Off Tournament will play in the FIFA Play-off Tournament.

Below are the fixtures for the matches to be played over the next seven days. (all kick-off times in GMT)

Match Day 3

Wednesday – 05 June, 2024

Sierra Leone v Djibouti (Group A) | 1600 | El Jadida, Morocco

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Togo v South Sudan (Group B) | 1600 | Lome, Togo

Central African Republic v Chad (Group I) | 1600 | Oujda, Morocco

Namibia v Liberia (Group H) | 1600 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Tunisia v Equatorial Guinea (Group H) | 1900 | Rades, Tunisia

Thursday – 06 June, 2024

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Malawi v  Sao Tome e Principe  (Group H) | 1300 | Lilongwe, Malawi

Guinea Bissau v Ethiopia (Group A) | 1600 | Bissau, Guinea Bissau

Mauritania v Sudan (Group B) | 1600 | Nouakchott, Mauritania

Libya v Mauritius (Group D) | 1600 | Tripoli, Libya

Congo v Niger (Group E) | 1600 | Kinshasa, DR Congo

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Egypt v Burkina Faso (Group A) | 1900 | Cairo, Egypt

Senegal v DR Congo (Group B) | 1900 | Diamniadio, Senegal

Benin v Rwanda (Group C) | 1900 | Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Algeria v Guinea (Group G) | 1900 | Algiers, Algeria

Mali v Ghana (Group I) | 1900 | Bamako, Mali

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Friday – 07 June, 2024

Zimbabwe v Lesotho (Group C) | 1300 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Mozambique v Somalia (Group G) | 1300 | Maputo, Mozambique

Kenya  v Burundi (Group F) | 1300 | Lilongwe, Malawi

Uganda v Botswana (Group G) | 1600 | Namboole, Uganda

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Madagascar v Comoros (Group I) | 1600 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Angola v Eswatini (Group D) | 1600 | Luanda, Angola

Nigeria v South Africa (Group C) | 1900 | Uyo, Nigeria

Morocco v Zambia (Group E) | 1900 | Agadir, Morocco

Cote d’Ivoire v Gabon  (Group F) | 1900 | Korhogo, Cote d’Ivoire

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Saturday – 08 June, 2024

Cameroon v Cape Verde (Group D) | 1300 | Douala, Cameroon

Gambia v Seychelles (Group F) | 1600 | Berkane, Morocco

Match Day 4

Sunday – 09 June, 2024

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Sao Tome e Principe  v Liberia  (Group H) | 1300 | Oudja, Morocco

Djibouti v Ethiopia (Group A) | 1600 | El Jadida, Morocco

Congo DR v Togo (Group B) | 1600 | Kinshasa, DR Congo

Mauritania v Senegal (Group B) | 1600 | Nouachott, Mauritania

Namibia  v Tunisia  (Group H) | 1600 | Johannesburg, South Africa

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Monday – 10 June, 2024

Somalia v Botswana (Group G) | 1300 | Maputo, Mozambique

Equatorial Guinea  v Malawi  (Group H) | 1300 | Malabo, Equatorial Guinea 

Madagascar v Mali (Group I) | 1300 | Johannesburg, South Africa

Guinea Bissau v Egypt (Group A) | 1600 | Bissau, Guinea Bissau

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Benin v Nigeria (Group C) | 1600 | Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Uganda v Algeria  (Group G) | 1600 | Namboole, Uganda

Guinea  v Mozambique (Group G) | 1900 | El Jadida, Morocco

Ghana  v Central African Republic  (Group I) | 1900 | Kumasi, Ghana

Burkina Faso v Sierra Leone (Group A) | 1900 | Bamako, Mali

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Tuesday – 11 June, 2024

South Sudan v Sudan (Group B) | 1300 | Juba, South Sudan

Mauritius v Eswatini (Group G) | 1300 | St. Pierre, Mauritius

Zambia v  Tanzania (Group E) | 1300 | Ndola, Zambia

Kenya v Cote d’Ivoire (Group F) | 1300 | Lilongwe, Malawi

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Lesotho v Rwanda (Group C) | 1600 | Durban, South Africa

Cape Verde  v Libya (Group D) | 1600 | Praia, Cape Verde

South Africa v Zimbabwe (Group C) | 1600 | Bloemfontein, South Africa

Congo v Morocco (Group E) | 1600 | Kinshasa, DR Congo

Chad v Comoros (Group I) | 1600 | Oujda, Morocco

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Angola v Cameroon (Group D) | 1900 | Luanda, Angola

Gabon v Gambia (Group F) | 1900 | Franceville, Gabon

Seychelles v Burundi (Group F) | 1900 | Berkane, Morocco

-CAF

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World Cup

South Africa, Benin Republic get good news as Osimhen is out of World Cup duels

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BREAKING! Osimhen Left Behind As Super Eagles Depart For Bouake -

Reigning African footballer of the year, Victor Osimhen, has been ruled out of the two World Cup qualifying matches Nigeria will play in June against South Africa and Benin Republic.

 According to Soccernet.ng, the striker is injured. The Super Eagles who had a bad head-start in the qualifiers are due to play what is potentially their most difficult game in the 10-match series as they confront South Africa in Uyo on June 7.

The Nigerian side is currently third on the log of Group C which they were the initial favourites to lead all throughout.

 Osimhen, who missed the first two matches of the qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe will therefore miss another two match days. He was the initial choice to anchor Nigeria’s strike force.

  In his absence, Coach Finidi George has reportedly turned to the local league where he picked Enugu Rangers defender, Kenneth Igboke in place of the striker.

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