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Nigeria, Ghana To Battle For W/Cup Ticket

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West African rivals Nigeria and Ghana will play each other for a place at the 2022 World Cup, in arguably the pick of a number of dramatic-looking ties following the deciding draw at the weekend for Africa’s five places in Qatar.
The two powerhouses were paired up just days after Ghana finished bottom of their group at the Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a 3-2 defeat against first-time qualifiers Comoros.
Former Liverpool forward El-Hadji Diouf was one of the people performing the draw and commented that one of Liverpool’s current star strikers Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah will be guaranteed a place at the tournament after Senegal were paired against Egypt.
Cameroon, the hosts of the ongoing Nations Cup, was drawn against the current holders, albeit already eliminated from this year’s tournament ,Algeria.
DR Congo, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1974 when the country was known as Zaire, has a tough challenge if they are to make it to a second tournament, as they will face Morocco.
Meanwhile Morocco’s neighbours, Tunisia will get through if they overcome the only team in the draw to have never been at a World Cup in any form, Mali.
Meanwhile, ex- international, Mutiu Adepoju has said that Ghana’s failed expedition at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations can play into Nigeria’s hands when both teams meet in the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-off. The Super Eagles are hoping to qualify for the global football showpiece for the seventh time in their history, albeit, they must negotiate their way past their cross-country rivals.
For the Black Stars, they are still fresh from a disastrous outing in Cameroon where they crashed out of the group stage without recording a win after three matches.
The aftermath saw the Ghana Football Association show Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac the exit door as the West Africans are expected to name a replacement in the coming days.
Assessing Nigeria’s chances towards qualifying for the World Cup billed for Qatar, the La Liga ambassador, who represented the senior national team for 12 years, was asked if the state of football in Ghana could mar the Black Stars’ hopes, and Adepoju answered.
”Sure! that can play into the Super Eagles’ advantage and it is good for us, but we should do our homework well and the players must be ready and prepared for the big game.
“However, having disappointed at the Africa Cup of Nations and following their absence from the 2018 edition in Russia, the Black Stars will do all it takes to return to the big stage.
“Even at that, the quality in our team and with a positive mindset, I strongly believe that Nigeria will triumph.”
To some, pairing either DR Congo or Mali would have been an easier matchup, but the former Real Madrid star did not agree with that assertion, insisting the teams that made the play-offs are of equal strength.
“Any team that we are paired with would not have been easy because all the countries worked so hard to reach this stage,” he continued.
“That being said, the rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria has been very strong over the years and I don’t expect the Super Eagles to have it all smooth.
“If we get our act right and prepare very well, we will beat them to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.”
Ghana will hold the first leg while the Teslim Balogun Stadium is likely to host the reverse fixture, also in March.

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FG’s Basketball Ban Primitive, Shameful – Kienka

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The Director, International Tennis Academy and author of the recently published book, ‘Sports in Nigeria – Going Round In Circles,’ Godwin Kienka, has described Nigeria’s withdrawal from international basketball activities for two years as “very primitive and shameful sports politics.”
Last Thursday, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), gave the approval following the crisis that rocked the factionalised Nigeria Basketball Federation in over a decade.
Kienka, in a statement said, “The Ministry of Sports hiding behind the Presidency to make that decision makes it even more odious. It just confirms what we have exposed in the book that most of those who run sports in this country do not care about the athletes, the coaches and the promotion and development of sports in the country.
“At a time when the national women’s basketball team qualified for the world championships and the men are on the way to making it a double, how does their participation or non-participation impede a grassroots or local league programme in Nigeria?”
He added, “If the decision was from the Presidency, why did the statement not come from the Presidency?”
Kienka lamented the decision, saying it denied the home-based players, who would have been a part of the two teams, the opportunity of being scouted by agents from across the world.
“We had the same mix-up and confusion in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria before the last Olympics, leading to the ban of several athletes essentially because of utter negligence of drug procedures by the ministry and the federation. It is said that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

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CAFCC Final : Okpara, Ndah Storm Uyo With Pirates

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Ahead of tomorrow’s final of the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup 2021/2022, former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Willy Okpara and defender, Olisa Ndah  arrived late last night with their South African team Orlando Pirates to Nigeria.
The Soweto-based side who  will face  Morocco’s RS Berkane at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo for Africa’s second club football prize, touched down in Port Harcourt about 11:45pm last night before arriving  Uyo.
In their third appearance in the Confederation Cup, Pirates are playing the final for the second time, and first since 2015 when they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia.
Okpara made his debut for the Nigeria national team in 1996 and was selected for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad. He was capped five times and after he retired, became a goalkeeping coach for Orlando Pirates.
Meanwhile, RS Berkane  breezed into Uyo earlier yesterday aboard a chartered  Air Maroc flight.
Our correspondent gathered  from aviation sources  yesterday  that on board  the Moroccan national carrier were six crew members along  with   96 strong RS Berkane ‘s contingent including players, officials  and  fans  ahead of tomorrow’s final.
The flight that departed  the Oujda Angads Airport in the Oriental region in Morocco  landed in the Akwa Ibom State capital by 3:55 pm Nigerian time for their decisive tie against  Orlando Pirates..
The Orange Boys as the Moroccan side are called, were Confederation  Cup   runners-up (to Zamalek of Egypt) in 2019   and emerged winners in 2020 after beating Egyptian side, Pyramids Egypt  courtesy of a  solitary goal by  Burkinabe  defender ,  Issoufou Dayo at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.
In a related development,   Umbro, the CAF technical sponsors, yesterday revealed the official match ball , FIFA Quality Pro, for the eagerly awaited  fixture .
Based on Umbro’s renowned Neo Pro ball model, the official match ball is “FIFA Quality Pro” certified for use at the highest levels of the professional game and utilises the latest in structural and fabrication technology with a unique graphic that draws on the structural elements of the tournament’s trophy.

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F’Eagles Qualify For 2023 Africa U-20 Cup Of Nations

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Nigeria’s national under-20 male football team, on Tuesday overpowered Cote d’Ivoire in the first semi-final match to reach the final of the ongoing WAFU B Under-20 Championship in Niamey.
The 2-1 victory not only gave them a ticket to Saturday’s final match but also came a ticket to next year’s Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations scheduled for Egypt.
Midfielder Daniel Daga put Nigeria in front after only five minutes, when he cleverly escaped the attention of the Ivorian defenders to nod in from a well-weighted pullout.
The seven-time African champions then launched onslaughts after onslaughts on the Ivorian goal but failed to add to the tally.
It was rather the Ivorians who equalised just before half-time from an intelligently-taken free-kick at the edge of Nigeria’s penalty box.
Neither team could find another goal to gain upper hand before the end of regulation time inside the Stade General Seyni Kountché in Niamey, and the game went into extra time.
Forward Ibrahim Yahaya got the winner for Nigeria in the 111th minute of play when he tucked in from the penalty kick spot to make it 2-1.
The Tidessports source reports that Nigeria will now square up against neighbours, Benin Republic in Saturday’s final match.

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