Nigeria’s interim manager, Augustine Eguavoen has handed a late call-up to French-based midfielder, Innocent Bonke as a replacement for Wilfred Ndidi, five days before the national team’s face off with regional rivals Ghana in a 2022 World Cup playoff.
Tidesports source reports that Ndidi will miss both games against the Black Stars after suffering a knee injury during the second half of Leicester City’s 2-1 loss to Rennes in a Europa Conference League round of 16 clash on Thursday.
Leicester City boss, Brendan Rodgers confirmed at the pre-match press conference before the visit of Brentford that the worst case scenario would see the holding midfielder out of action for at least three weeks, effectively ruling him out of the back-to-back matches with Ghana.
Bonke has been in the international wilderness since coming off the bench against Central African Republic in a World Cup qualifier back in October 2021, his second cap for the national team having made his debut against Cape Verde.
The former Malmo star has started each of the last seven matches played by Lorient in the French Ligue 1.
Bonke will compete with Joe Aribo, Oghenekaro Etebo and Frank Onyeka for one of the starting spots in midfield against Ghana.
Nigeria, Zambia Join WAFCON Train
Nine-time Women’s Africa Cup of Nations winners, Nigeria became the final side to book their place at the 2024 tournament as qualifiers culminated this week.
The Super Falcons came from behind to beat Cape Verde 2-1 away from home, with Rasheedat Ajibade’s injury-time winner clinching a 7-1 aggregate victory on Tuesday.
Barbra Banda was among Zambia’s scorers as the Copper Queens, who finished third at last year’s Nations Cup, thrashed Angola 6-0 at home to complete a 12-0 aggregate win.
However, two-time champions Equatorial Guinea will miss out on the 12-team finals following a 2-1 defeat away against DR Congo which saw the hosts progress 3-2 overall.
Botswana beat Kenya 1-0 to secure qualification for their second consecutive finals. while Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Tunisia all sealed their places in Morocco, who will host for the second time in a row.
The dates for the tournament, scheduled for next year, are yet to be announced.
Holders South Africa and Algeria secured their spots on Monday, with Banyana Banyana beating Burkina Faso 3-1 on aggregate and the North Africans sealing a 1-0 win in Burundi to progress 6-1 over the two legs.
Ghana will return to the finals for the first time since 2018 despite losing 1-0 away against Namibia, with the Black Queens going through 3-2 on aggregate.
Senegal, Tanzania and Tunisia also failed to win their away ties, but progressed against Egypt, Togo and Congo respectively.
Mali won 3-0 away against Guinea to round off a 10-2 victory overall.
Olowu Targets WABU Crown At GOtv Boxing Night 30
Super welterweight boxer, Taiwo ‘Gentle Boy’ Olowu, on Wednesday , said his target is to claim the West African Boxing Union (WABU) super welterweight title at GOtv Boxing Night 30 on December 26.
The enterprising boxer, who is the national welterweight title holder, will square up to top Ghanaian boxer, Michael Ansah, at the event slated for the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.
Speaking ahead of the fight, ‘Gentle Boy’ boasted that he would ensure the Ghanaian returned to his country empty-handed.
“I aim to add this West African Boxing Union title to my national title. As a national champion, I cannot allow a foreigner to come and take this belt away in front of my fans. This is a big opportunity for me to be a WABU champion. Ansah will leave Nigeria empty-handed,” he said.
The more experienced Ghanaian boxer has a record of 23 wins, 12 defeats, and three draws from 38 professional fights, while ‘Gentle Boy’ boasts 15 wins and one defeat from his 16 professional fights.
In another title fight, Sifon ‘Best’ Iwatt will battle Saheed Azeez for the national super flyweight title.
Also on the card for the night are five other national fights, including a female national cruiserweight challenge fight between national champion, Bolatito ‘Black Tito’ Oluwole and Blessing Abisoye.
Arabambi Ojo and Ibrahim ‘Golden Boy’ Opeyemi will slug it out in a national bantamweight challenge bout; Abdulafeez ‘Big Name’ Osoba will face Christopher Ucheji in a national super welterweight challenge fight, while Ayanfe Adeoye and Ahmed Ganiyu will duel in a national light welterweight category.
Nigeria Makes Final Team Of The Year Award
Nigeria made the final three shortlists for the 2023 Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Women’s National Team of the Year award.
CAF announced the final three shortlist on their X handle yesterday.
The other two countries are reigning Women’s Africa Cup of Nations champions South Africa and Morocco.
Nigeria, Morocco and South Africa featured at this year’s FIFA women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The trio all reached the round of 16 at the tournament, which was won by Spain.
The winner will be announced on Monday, December 11, in Marrakech, Morocco.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Super Falcons recently qualified for the 2024 WAFCON, hosted by Morocco.
A 7-1 aggregate win against Cape Verde ensured the Falcons will be making their 13th appearance at the tournament, which began in 1998 in Nigeria.
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