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Super Eagles ‘ll grow into AFCON qualifiers, says Akanni



A former Super Eagles defender, Waidi Akanni, has expressed optimism that the Nigerian national football team would keep improving and getting better with each 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match.

Akanni was reacting to the hard-fought 2-1 victory recorded by the Super Eagles against the Squirrels of Benin Republic in their Group L encounter on Wednesday.

The match, played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, saw the Super Eagles come from behind to defeat their West African opponents 2-1.

Akanni, a former chairman of the Lagos State Football Association, told the Nigeria News Agency that the most important thing about the game against Benin Republic was that the Eagles secured victory.

“The most important thing is that we got the three points. It is true that we struggled in the opening part of the game but it was due to lack of cohesion, especially in the midfield.

“It is not unusual because it is the first game of the qualifiers, but going forward, I believe the boys will play better as a team,” he said.

Squirrels’ Stephane Sessegnon opened scoring in the fifth minute to send Nigeria into panic mode before Victor Osimhen levelled up in the 45th minute.

Samuel Kalu then won the match for the Super Eagles with a close-range effort in the 62nd minute to seal a 2-1 victory.

Nigeria’s No. 10 jersey, which former Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi had made his own for years, was handed to new entrant, Joe Aribo, against the Squirrels.

Akanni said that the 23-year-old Glasgow Rangers midfielder gave a good account of himself.

“Joe Aribo was solid. He has easily blended into the national team. What the Eagles need now is playing together more. The players will get better,” he said.

Edited by Joseph Edeh and ‘Wale Sadeeq



Laloko wants 25% of local players in Super Eagles



A former Technical Director of then Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Kashimawo Laloko, has called for 25 per cent inclusion of local league players in the various national teams if the country must go beyond its current FIFA rankings.

Laloko made the call on Friday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria , in reaction to Nigeria’s latest FIFA rankings released on Thursday.

Nigeria is placed on the 29th spot in the world and third in Africa, behind Senegal and Tunisia, in current FIFA ranking.

Laloko said it was wrong for the current team handler Gernot Rohr to constantly feature foreign-based players while home-based players were left to their fate.

According to him, such situation has negatively affected Nigeria’s previous rankings.

“It is not proper for us to go and select players from Europe and play all of them when we have players at home.

“We need a policy that will allow 25 per cent of the players in the national teams to come from our local leagues.

“Do Rohr and his assistants watch the leagues? They don’t; they do what they like at the expense of the country, and the way the coach is assembling only foreign players, I can only wish him well.

“Nobody is playing football now, otherwise how can we be 29th. Our friendly matches and preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), will determine the actual position where we are.

“I will suggest that we wait until we play friendly matches and proceed to the AFCON; for me, our current ranking is fake, so let us play first because no country is playing now.

AFCON and UEFA Champions League have not started, the league is just starting in England and Nigeria does not know where it wants to be in terms of the league.

“So how did we arrive at 29th? Time will tell,” Laloko said.

He urged the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to regularly monitor the activities of the coach, noting that gone were the days when coaches folded their hands and watched players train.

He explained that football had gone scientific and not the usual running round the field with players.

“How long are we going to do that? There are new ways of coaching and I have never seen that during Super Eagles training,” he said.

Edited By: Dianabasi Effiong/Donald Ugwu
Source: NAN
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Egypt to investigate disappearance of AFCON trophy



Egypt’s Public Prosecution said on Wednesday it would investigate the disappearance of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy from the headquarters of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA).

Chief prosecutor Hamada al-Sawi ordered the incident to be referred to the Public Funds Prosecution for a judicial investigation.

He said Egypt’s Ministry of Youth and Sports had asked the prosecution to launch a probe after EFA officials gave conflicting accounts about the reason for the loss of the trophy.

The trophy was awarded to the Pharaohs, the country’s senior national football team, in 2010.

Egyptian media recently reported that the original trophy of the AFCON, which the Pharaohs won three consecutive times in 2006, 2008 and 2010, disappeared from EFA’s building in Cairo.

EFA had confirmed on Friday that it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of trophies during a 2013 attack by the hardcore fans of Ultras.

During that attack, its headquarters was looted and set on fire.

The federation said the disappearance was discovered while it was preparing to display the trophies in a small museum being set up at the entrance of its headquarters.

It added that its board was “shocked’’ to find that a number of trophies were missing.

(Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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COVID-19: CAF reschedules AFCON, CHAN, interclub, cancels women AFCON



The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced the rescheduling of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to January 2022.

According to a statement on the continental football governing body’s website, this was part of the decisions reached at the CAF Executive Committee meeting held on Tuesday via video-conference.

”After consultation with stakeholders and taking into consideration the current global situation, the 2021 AFCON has been rescheduled for January 2022.

”The date for the final tournament and the remaining matches of the qualifiers will be communicated in due course.

”Also, Total African Nations Championship (CHAN), Cameroon 2020, has been postponed till January 2021 in Cameroon.

“The CAF Executive Committee is satisfied with the Cameroonian authorities for their commitment towards the hosting of the two competitions.

”Cameroon is ready to host either competition and are within schedule,” the statement quoted CAF President Ahmad Ahmad as saying.

The statement also stated CAF’s decision on the Interclubs 2019/20 season.

”The Total CAF Champions League and Total CAF Confederation Cup, will resume in September with a Final Four (4) format.

”Semi-Final matches will be played in a single match while the venue for Final Four will be decided later.

”Morocco will host the Final Four of the Total CAF Confederation Cup,” the statement read.

It however noted that due to challenging conditions, the 2020 edition of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations has been cancelled.

”Meanwhile, the CAF Women’s Champions League will be launched in 2021.

”The format and other details will be communicated in due course,” the statement read.

For the Zonal Qualifiers for U-20 and U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, the statement said meeting with the Organising Competitions for Youth Football and the Zonal Unions had been proposed to finalise the arrangements for the zonal qualifiers.

It, however, noted that the U-17 AFCON would take place in July 2021.

”Following the withdrawal of Uganda from the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations 2020, a new hosting bid will be launched for the organisation of the final tournament either in 2020 or 2021.

”The 42nd CAF Ordinary General Assembly has been rescheduled for December 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

”As per the recommendations of the CAF Governance Committee, the Elective General Assembly will be held on 12 March 2021.

”There is also cancellation of the 2020 edition of the CAF Awards and partners for the event, Pickalbatros Group, has re-affirmed their contractual commitment towards the next two (2) editions,” the statement read

It, however, noted that CAF had allocated an additional USD 16.2 million to assist Member Associations to mitigate challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each member association will be entitled to USD 300,000.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Gatland drop goal gives Highlanders win in Super Rugby return



Replacement Bryn Gatland slotted a 79th minute drop goal to give the Otago Highlanders a 28-27 victory over the Waikato Chiefs as professional rugby union resumed on Saturday after a three-month COVID-19 shutdown.

The drop goal, against the side coached by his father Warren, provided an electric finish to the first match of New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa, which attracted a crowd of about 20,000 and was broadcast to a global television audience.

The hometown Highlanders roared on by thousands of Otago University students in ‘The Zoo’ section of the indoor stadium had to overcome two periods with just 14 men after Vilimoni Koroi and Jona Nareki were sinbinned for dangerous tackles.

The game was regularly halted for a high number of penalties called under stricter interpretations around the tackle.

Highlanders captain Ash Dixon scored the first try of the competition, while Koroi and Nareki were perilously close to becoming the first players to receive red cards after dangerous tackles in each half.

The Chiefs were kept in the game through Damian McKenzie’s boot as he converted four of his side’s penalties, while the fullback gave the visitors a 27-25 lead with two minutes remaining through a drop goal.

The Highlanders, however, managed to set up field position just inside Chiefs territory from the restart and Gatland calmly slotted home the winning drop kick from almost 40 metres to send the passionate home fans into delirium.

The competition has been organised by New Zealand Rugby after the main Super Rugby competition, which also involves teams from Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, was halted in mid-March to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

New Zealand is on the brink of eliminating the virus with no active cases and the government lifted virtually all COVID-19 restrictions earlier this week.

That allowed the competition to resume with no limits on crowd sizes. Sunday’s game at Eden Park between the hometown Auckland Blues and Wellington Hurricanes has sold out.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Silas Nwoha (NAN)
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