Connect with us

Sports

African Top Teams Seek Postive Start To W/Cup Qualifiers

Published

on

With the beginning of the

group stage in African qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil the continent’s elite enter the fray with every point taking on dramatic resonance. There are many situations to watch in this weekend’s 20 contests, two in each of the ten groups, and over the next 15 months, as ten teams earn the right to advance to the next round.

The Indomitable Lions are Africa’s most successful team in qualifying, reaching the FIFA World Cup finals six times in the last 30 years. However, supporters are worried by the tough draw into Group I with Congo DR, Libya and Togo, the long-term suspension of captain Samuel Eto’o and the failure to reach this year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals. New coach Denis Lavagne has suffered one defeat in six games using a young side and has been pleading for patience from what is sure to be a demanding crowd tomorrow. These two teams have an even record in three previous qualifying campaigns against each other, and in the corresponding fixture less than two years ago in the AFCON, the visitors, now led by veteran Claude Le Roy, claimed a fairly comfortable 1-1 draw.

Africa is known for its turnover of coaches, and there will be many new faces on the touchline this month. One of the newest is Frenchman Sabri Lamouchi, who just took up the wheel for Côte d’Ivoire this week as the Elephants prepare to host Tanzania in Group C. Next weekend, the African runners-up travel to Marrakesh to meet rivals Morocco, who open with a trickier trip to Gambia. Côte d’Ivoire are trying to become the fourth African nation to reach three FIFA World Cups in a row, a feat that can also be matched by Ghana, who are heavy favourites at home against Lesotho in Group D. The section’s other match sees new African champions Zambia away to a strong Sudan team, before hosting the Black Stars next weekend. Also expected to win at home is Tunisia, who are now coached by former international Sami Trabelsi and begin Group B at home against Equatorial Guinea.

Although a FIFA World Cup veteran himself, American Bob Bradley will make his debut leading Egypt in a qualifier when they open Group G today against Mozambique. The Pharaohs have not reached the finals since 1990, and in that time they have won four African titles, so expectations are high for the football-starved nation. Next week they will face an even tougher test in Conakry against Guinea, who open at Zimbabwe.

Two west African giants with similarly high hopes and new coaches are Nigeria and Senegal. Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles are looking to top Namibia in Calabar and dominate Group F, which also includes Malawi and Kenya, from the off. The Senegalese have caretaker Josephe Koto in charge as they begin Group J in Dakar against Liberia and their debutant coach Kaetu Smith. Angola and Uganda, angling to challenge the Lions of Teranga to the end, meet in a vital Sunday match in Luanda.

AFCON semi-finalists Mali begin with an awkward challenge in Benin as the two eye Group H favourites Algeria, who host Rwanda on Saturday. The Malians and Beninoise are both at the start of new managerial cycles under Amadou Pathe Diallo and Frenchman Manuel Amoros respectively. Group E might be the most even section with Niger opening in fortress Niamey against up-and-comers Gabon, while Congo will try to steal something at Burkina Faso tomorrow.

South Africa begin Group A against Ethiopia in Rustenburg on Sunday suffering after nine months without an international win. A slow start to the section, which also includes up-and-comers Botswana and Central African Republic, could see pressure quickly mount.

Continue Reading

Sports

NFF Blames Covid-19 For Salary Delay

Published

on

The Nigeria Football Federation has blamed the delay in the payment of players and coaches bonuses of the national teams on the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic brought sporting activities and other businesses around the world to a halt last year, which affected the federation in terms of sponsorship and funds availability.
Super Eagles defender, Leon Balogun, in a recent interview with newsmen,  revealed that players and coaches were owed match bonuses.
“About the bonuses, it’s not even a secret, I’ve read something recently where people in charge contradict themselves saying they’ve been paid then they admit they haven’t been paid,” Balogun said.
“And as I said I’m always quite outspoken, probably I know if some people hear that they might come after me but I don’t care because that’s just how it is,” he added.
In a reply to the player’s outburst, NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, said the challenges caused by the pandemic were still being felt by government’s institutions and businesses globally.
“The NFF derives no joy in owing players and coaches their entitlements. The same players and coaches have been well-taken care of and provided the necessary facilities when things were normal. And as we work assiduously towards conquering the present challenges and seeing sunlight again, we expect the players, coaches and administrative staff to show the same level of understanding that they have been showing over the past 18 months,” Sanusi said in a statement by the federation’s media office.
“Of course, we are pragmatists and we realise that these things can be frustrating and some people will boil over and talk about them. It is normal. Last month, during the friendlies in Austria, we were able to pay some of the (Super Falcons) outstanding bonuses and allowances. We are working at a pace presently to clear what is remaining.
“As I speak, we owe the team bonuses and allowances from only the last two matches, and payments for these two games have been sent to the Central Bank some weeks ago. They will receive the monies shortly. We are equally working to pay the coaches what they are being owed as salaries.”   Sanusi added.

Continue Reading

Sports

WAFU B Qualifier: Angels Thrash AS Police 5-0, Book Semi’s Ticket

Published

on

Reigning Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Premiership Champions, Rivers Angels on Tuesday evening booked their spot in the last four of the WAFU (UFOA B) Women’s Champions League qualification tournament with an emphatic 5-0 thrashing of Association Sportive de la Police de Niamey.
 Maryann Ezenagu scored a brace while Oghenebrume Ikekhua and Alice Ogebe also registered their names on the score sheet.
 The Jewel of Rivers got their opening goal in the 13th minute through Ikekhua, who kept her composure to finish off a square pass by left back Rofiat Imuran, who had gone past two opponents.
 After a series of near misses by Angels’ forwards, Vivian Ikechukwu provided a superb cross from the far right for Ogebe to tap in the 36th minute to double the lead for Rivers.
 In the 45th minute, Ogebe rounded the AS Police goalkeeper to lay the ball for Ezenagu who made no mistake in making it 3-0.
 After the break, the Jewel of Rivers kept mounting pressure on the defence of the Nigeriens which eventually paid off with an own goal by Chisa Marceline Bekumaka, James who diverted Ezenagu’s low cross into her own net.
 Ezenagu herself then completed the rout in the 77th minute with a beautiful tap in after spurning an offside trap before rounding the hapless AS Police goalkeeper.
 With Tuesday’s result, Rivers Angels have finished top of Group B and will wait for today to know who comes second in Group A for a Semifinal clash which will hold on August 2.
 Coach Edwin Okon after the game said the difference between his side and their opponents is the fact that they took their chances.
 “Football is football and there are no small teams as far as you’re in this tournament,” he stated.
 “As you can see, we are actually progressing as the competition continues.
 “The difference between us and our opponents today is that we took our chances when they came. 
“So I’m really elated with the result today and commend my girls for the outstanding performance”, Okon added. 
And for the second consecutive game, Ezenagu was named Player of the Match.

Continue Reading

Sports

Okagbare, Amusan, 10 Other Nigerian Athletes Cleared

Published

on

The Athletics Integrity Unit of World Athletics has cleared 12 Nigerian athletes to compete in the track and field events of the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
This comes after jumper Ruth Usoro, sprinter Favour Ofili and eight other Nigerian athletes were on Wednesday disqualified from the track and field events of the Olympics.
Tidesports Source gathered that the athletes include sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who won silver at the Beijing edition of the Games in 2008; Ese Brume, Tobi Amusan, Divine Oduduru, Grace Nwokocha and Patience Okon-George.
Others are Enoch Adegoke, Imaobong Nse Uko, Itsekiri Usheoritee, Chukwuebika Enekwechi, Emmanuel Ojeli and Samson Nathaniel.
Reigning Nigerian sprint queen and 100m and 200m record holder, Okagbare, tops the list of the 12 athletes the AIU cleared to compete in the athletics event of the Games, which begins today.
Okagbare, who is making her fourth appearance at the Games, will be competing in the women’s 100m heats on the opening day of the track and field events.
Amusan, who is ranked number four in the world in the 100m hurdles; long jumper Ese Brume, who tops the world list in her event coming to the Games, and Grace Nwokocha, the home-based sensation, who clocked 11.09secs in March at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos to seal her qualification for the Tokyo Games are seen as medal hopefuls.
Oduduru, Adegoke and Itshekiri will be competing in the men’s 100m while Oduduru will also race in the 200m, an event he holds the national record of 19.73secs, which he set two years ago in Austin, Texas in the USA to win the NCAA gold.
Shot put athlete, Enekwechi, who made it to the event’s final at the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar in 2019, will also be hoping to put up a fine outing in his event.
The 4x400m mixed relay quartet of Imaobong Nse Uko, Patience Okon-George, Nataniel Samson and Ifeanyi Ojeli will be in action today in the first semi-final heat.
Secretary-General, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Adisa Beyioku, says the athletes are in good spirits as they are determined to return Nigeria to the podium for the first time since 2008 when Okagbare and the women’s 4x100m won Nigeria’s last medals in track and field.
Beyioku assured the 12 athletes that the federation would continue to be “the goose that laid Team Nigeria’s golden eggs at the Olympics.”
Athletics accounts for 13 of the 25 medals won by the country at the Games and two of the three gold medals won since the country’s first participation at the Olympics in China.

Continue Reading

Trending