Super Eagles’ qualification for Cameroon 2022 Africa Cup of Nations was put on ice as Nigeria and Sierra Leone played out a goalless draw in their Group L Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Stadium in Freetown, yesterday.
The Leone Stars, who mounted a stunning fightback to draw 4-4 with the Super Eagles last week, put up another gritty display to frustrate their more illustrious opponents and deny them an early ticket to the AFCON finals.
The result leaves the Super Eagles top of the standings on eight points, with Benin (seven), Sierra Leone (three) and Lesotho (two) all still alive as far as qualification for Cameroon 2022 is concerned.
Nigeria started the encounter on a promising note and offered their first threat at goal in the third minute, with Kelechi Iheanacho shooting on target direct from a free kick, though his effort was no trouble for Sierra Leone goalkeeper, Mohamed Kamara.
The Super Eagles had another chance on 16 minutes when Samuel Chukwueze curled an effort just wide of the mark, before the Leone Stars had their first chance through Alhaji Kamara, who was denied by a fine save from Maduka Okoye.
The visitors suffered an injury blow a few minutes before the interval when midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo limped off and was replaced by Shehu Abdullahi. The half-time whistle saw the teams locked at 0-0 – a far cry from the eight-goal thriller they produced last Friday night.
Nigeria again created the better chances after the restart, with Iheanacho shooting high and wide on 51 minutes after great set-up play from Chukwueze, while the Leicester City striker found the back of the net just after the hour mark but had been flagged offside.
Midway through the second half the Super Eagles threatened again when Alex Iwobi shot just over from long range, with Gernot Rohr’s team beginning to build some consistent pressure in attack.
However, the hosts’ defence stood firm with some help from goalkeeper Kamara, who made another fine save on 82 minutes when he parried away Iheanacho’s shot from the edge of the penalty area.
In another encounter, Sudan scored a last-gasp winner to edge past visiting Ghana in Group C of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, yesterday.
The result means that Ghana will have to wait to qualify for the finals having started the day knowing a draw would see them progress.
The game at the Al Hilal stadium in Omdurman was a physical affair with both sides picking up two yellow cards each in a goalless first-half.
Ghana was playing without their injured captain Andre Ayew, who scored both the Black Stars goals in the 2-0 win over the same opponents last Thursday, as well as suspended first-choice keeper Richard Ofori.
Their replacements both played their part with Caleb Ekuban causing trouble for the Sudanese defence and Fatua Dauda making some crucial saves at the other end.
Meanwhile, defending champions, Algeria gave away a two goal lead as they were held 2-2 by hosts Zimbabwe.
Despite the draw the Algerians have confirmed their place at the next Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon, which have been delayed until 2022.
After goals in the 34th and 38th minutes, including a fine solo effort from Riyad Mahrez, it looked like Algeria would make it four wins from four.
In the 34th, Reda Halaimia whipped in a long cross from the right and an unmarked Andy Delort had a straightforward header to score his first goal for Algeria.
Moments later came the brilliance from Manchester City’s Mahrez as he flicked the ball past one defender and then cut into the area before twisting and turning to wrong-foot two defenders and firing home.
The Warriors pulled a goal back two minutes before half-time as striker Knowledge Musona curled in a free kick from the edge of the area to beat Rais M’Bolhi.
That seemed to galvanize Zimbabwe and they created the better chances after the break and were rewarded when Tanzania-based Prince Dube scored the equaliser in the 82nd minute, seconds after coming on as a replacement.
Afrobasket 2021: Africa’s Top Four Teams In Five-Star Performance
Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria and Egypt made perfect starts to their Afrobasket 2021 qualifying groups with three wins out of three.
In Group A, the defending champions, Tunisia began with a convincing 37-point win over Madagascar before going on to beat both DR Congo and CAR, sending out a clear message that they are determined to retain their title in 2021.
Senegal began their Group B campaign with an even more convincing win as they crushed Kenya 92-54, but their victories over Mozambique and Angola were a lot closer.
New Coach Boniface Ndong will be satisfied his team is virtually guaranteed a place at the Afrobasket 2021.
Nigeria’s D’Tigers were missing its NBA and EuroLeague players but still recorded a 100% record in Group D with wins over South Sudan, Rwanda and Mali.
They were led by ‘Captain Fantastic,’ Ike Diogu as he weighed in with an average of 16 points per game.
Egypt, which hosted Group E, were represented by young squad of players with an average age of 25 years whose hunger saw them beat Uganda, Cape Verde and Morocco.
Some of their stars, Aly Ahmed and Ehab Amine, who were named MVPs of the Under-18 African Championships in 2010 and 2012 respectively, as well as Anas Mahmoud have all played college basketball in the USA.
The opening Group D encounter saw Nigeria face South Sudan as two former NBA colleagues clashed as coaches.
Nigeria were coached by Mike Brown, who was in charge at the Cleveland Cavaliers when South Sudan boss, Luol Deng was a player.
Brown had joined the Nigerian National team after four years as assistant coach of NBA powerhouse, Golden State Warriors.
Deng and South Sudan were late replacements in the qualifiers after Algeria withdrew, citing poor preparations as a result of Covid-19.
CAFCC: Chairman Wants Fans At Match Venue
The Supporters Club Chairman of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Franklin Owhor, has expressed displeasure that fans will not be in the stadium to cheer his team to victory, on Sunday.
United will host Futuro Kings of Equatorial Guinea, in the second leg of CAF confederation cup competition, at Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, in Rivers State.
Franklin, stated this in a telephone interview with Tidesports, yesterday, saying that the Pride of Rivers losing to Futuro 2-1 in their first leg last week was not a good result.
According to him, the supporters club has no choice than to obey Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, adding they will still support the club in one way or the other to secure victory.”
I am not happy because we wanted to go to the stadium and cheer the team to victory in Port Harcourt, but we will respect the COVID-19 protocol.”
It was fun over there in Equatorial Guinea, their supporters and fans came out in numbers to cheer their team to victory.
I was there personally, but in Nigeria we are still waiting for PTF to reopen Stadium” Owhor said.
He commended the technical crew of Rivers United for their efforts, adding that, on Sunday, United will beat Futoro Kings by 3 to 4 goals.”
We have a bad day in Equatorial Guinea last Saturday but I must assure you that United will came out victorious in their second outing,” he stated.
By: Kiadum Edookor
We Went Through Hardship Before Rahimo Game – Anyansi
Enyimba Football Club Chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu has said that his side went through hardship before leaving for the Champions League game against Rahimo FC which they won by a lone goal.
Anyansi, speaking after the 1-0 defeat against the Burkina Faso outfit, Rahimo FC in the CAF Champions League rubbished the plans of his detractors, who he claims have ‘ganged up’ to ensure the downfall of the 2-time winners of the competition under his watch.
Substitute Victor Mbaoma headed in the only goal to put the People’s Elephant in control of the preliminary encounter against Rahimo after the first leg in Ouagadougou on Sunday.
But it wasn’t a smooth sail for Enyimba on their way to Burkina Faso. The delegation of the 8-time Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions, who could not travel as earlier scheduled on Friday due to financial difficulties, left Lagos on the eve of the match (on Saturday), arriving their hotel in Ouagadougou via Lome just 30 minutes to their designated official training time.
It was further gathered that the match commissioner had to extend their training time following pleas from Enyimba, after which the team proceeded for training and then, Covid-19 testing, all without food.
The long-standing administrator, who has overseen affairs at the club since 2001, says Enyimba passed through ‘difficult moments’ and ‘challenges that have been created’ to eventually grind out the away win against Rahimo.
“So, I am very happy that God, who sees the heart of man, has really rewarded us, Enyimba is going through a lot of hardship, very difficult issues. (He) who wears the shoe, knows where it pinches.”
Under his leadership, Enyimba has won 8 league titles, two CAF Champions League, 2 CAF Super Cups, and 4 Federation Cups, making the Aba side the most successful Nigerian club.
However, Anyansi-Agwu is bothered that people are still bent on destroying the legacy he has built at the club.
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