P.M. NEWS Nigeria » CAF competitions http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com First with Nigeria News - Nigerian leading evening Newspaper - Wed, 15 Apr 2015 06:40:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Super Falcons thump Mali 8-0, secure AAG ticket http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/10/super-falcons-thump-mali-8-0-secure-aag-ticket/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/10/super-falcons-thump-mali-8-0-secure-aag-ticket/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 19:16:52 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=235828 Super Falcons celebrate after scoring

Super Falcons celebrate after scoring

Nigeria’s senior female football team, Super Falcons, on Friday in Abuja, thrashed their Malian counterparts 8 – 0 in the final round return leg of the All African Games (AAG), qualifiers.

The Falcons has, therefore, secured a place at the AAG 2015 scheduled for Congo Brazzaville in September.

NAN reports that fans were thrilled by the performance of their darling team at the Abuja National Stadium.

The match started on a fast note with the Nigerian side dictating the pace as Desire Oparanozie opened scoring three minutes into the game.

The visitors fired a shot through Binta Diarra in the 12th minute but Falcon’s goalkeeper Ibubeleye Whyte thwarted that effort.

In the 19th minute, Francisa Ordega gave the African Champions the second goal through a header from a corner-kick taken by Ngozi Okobi.

London-based Asisat Oshoala scored the third goal in the 39th minute after many unsuccessful attempts.

Oparanozie got a brace one minute before the end of first half through a smooth pass from Oshoala.

Few seconds into the second-half, a rampaging Oshoala netted another goal through a low shot that left Malian goalkeeper Samake Goundo frustrated.

In the 62nd minute, Ordega scored another goal after receiving a pass from Halimat Ayinde.

The seventh goal came from the boot of the Captain of the team, Evelyn Nwabuoku, after a well taken corner-kick by Esther Sunday.

Sunday was compensated in the 72nd minute when she scored the eighth goal for the Super Falcons.

NAN recalls that the first leg of the match ended in a 1-1 draw in Bamako a fortnight ago.

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Gabon to host 2017 Africa Cup of Nations – CAF http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/08/gabon-to-host-2017-africa-cup-of-nations-caf/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/08/gabon-to-host-2017-africa-cup-of-nations-caf/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 13:23:06 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=235566 CAF President, Issa Hayatou

CAF President, Issa Hayatou

Gabon won a three-country contest against Algeria and Ghana on Wednesday to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

The result of a vote among 14 Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee members was announced mid-afternoon in a Cairo hotel after the three candidates made short presentations.

The Gabonese were co-hosts with neighbours Equatorial Guinea of the 2012 Cup of Nations.

A Gabonese Football Federation official said maches would be staged in capital city Libreville, Franceville, Port Gentil and Oyem.

Stadiums in Libreville and Franceville were used for the 2012 tournament and the other two venues are expected to be ready by mid-2016, the official added.

They will be the second successive central African country to host the championship after Equatorial Guinea this year.

Choosing Gabon ended a 1,529-day saga over who would host the next edition of the biennial African football showpiece.

South Africa were selected as 2017 hosts four years ago, but traded tournaments with 2013 hosts Libya because of post-Moamer Kadhafi-era violence in the north African state.

As deadly Libyan inter-militia fighting intensified, the oil-rich country were forced to withdraw as 2017 hosts as well.

Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe then applied to stage the 16-nation, three-week tournament.

But CAF dropped Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe from the bidding contest, saying they did not meet the criteria to host the tournament.

Kenya (1996) and Zimbabwe (2000) had previously been selected as Cup of Nations hosts only to pull out due to lack of finance.

Egypt later withdrew, saying they did not wish to compete against fellow Arab nation Algeria.

However, security was probably also a factor as the decision came just days after 20 football supporters where killed in a Cairo stampede following clashes with police.

Before the selection of Gabon, north and west African countries staged 10 tournaments each, east Africa five, central Africa four and southern Africa three.

There were two co-hostings — Ghana and Nigeria in 2000, as late replacements for Zimbabwe, and Equatorial Guinea and Gabon three years ago.

Equatorial Guinea became 2015 hosts just two months before the Cup of Nations kicked off last January after Morocco withdrew because they feared visiting supporters could bring the deadly Ebola virus into the country.

CAF president Issa Hayatou, vice-presidents Suketu Patel and Almamy Kabele Camara, and 11 executive committee members chose the 2017 hosts.

Each of the 14 officials, including Algerian Mohamed Raouraoua and Ghanaian Kwesi Nyantakyi, had one vote and the winning nation required at least eight.

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CAF: Humiliation for Nigerian, South African clubs http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/06/caf-humiliation-for-nigerian-south-african-clubs/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/06/caf-humiliation-for-nigerian-south-african-clubs/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:26:54 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=235327 Kano Pillars

A disastrous weekend for Nigerian and South African clubs in the CAF Champions League ended with all four representatives eliminated at the last-32 stage.

Nigerians Kano Pillars fell to Moroccans Moghreb Tetouan despite a 2-1 second-leg victory through a late Rabiu Ali goal.

Tetouan took a four-goal advantage into the return match and Mouhcine Iajour was the star of the tie, scoring a hat-trick in Morocco and another goal in Nigeria.

Two-time champions Enyimba clung to a one-goal first-leg lead against Egyptians Smouha in Mediterranean port Alexandria until five minutes from time.

But relentless pressure on a Nigerian outfit reduced to 10 men by the red-carding of Kingsley Sokari eventually told and they conceded two late goals.

Hani Al-Egeizi converted a penalty and Hermann Kouao snatched the tie-clinching second goal in the final minute for the Champions League newcomers.

Early exits are becoming uncomfortably common for both clubs with Pillars making a preliminary-round departure last year and Enyimba joining them on the 2014 scrapheap after the last-32 stage.

South Africans Mamelodi Sundowns were also unable to defend a one-goal advantage on foreign soil, as they crumbled 3-1 at Democratic Republic of Congo giants TP Mazembe.

Goals from Zambian Rainford Kalaba, Tanzanian Mbwana Samata and Ivorian Roger Assale gave Mazembe control just before the hour mark in Lubumbashi.

And the nationalities of the scorers illustrated the multi-country make-up of a Congolese side bankrolled by mining magnate Moise Katumbi.

Substitute Percy Tau scored six minutes from time for Sundowns, another club led by a mining billionaire.

Emerging Nigerian star Ighodaro Osaguona bagged a brace to earn Moroccans Raja Casablanca a 2-0 home win over Soweto outfit Kaizer Chiefs.

Tall, thin and sporting a mohican haircut, Osaguona punished the tiring South Africans with a goal after 87 minutes and added another four minutes into stoppage time.

A 50,000-plus flag-waving, singing crowd in the Stade Mohamed V created a wonderful atmosphere, but there was little goalmouth action during a cagey clash.

Osaguona also scored the only first-leg goal and is joint leading Champions League scorer this season with Iajour on five.

Ghanaians Asante Kotoko disappointed for the second successive season, losing 2-1 at home to Algerians El-Eulma after forcing a goalless first-leg draw.

Having struggled to fund the trip to Congo Brazzaville, Kenyans Gor Mahia bowed out after a second 1-0 loss to AC Leopards with Cesaire Gandze scoring in both legs.

Zambians Zesco United offered brave resistance against Guineans Kaloum in Bamako before losing a penalty shootout when Jackson Mwanza fired his spot-kick wide.

Both Cameroonian clubs fell with Cosmos Bafia and Coton Sport suffering two-goal defeats away to Tunisians Esperance and Congolese Sanga Balende respectively.

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Morocco can play 2017 Cup of Nations – CAF http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/05/morocco-can-play-2017-cup-of-nations-caf/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/05/morocco-can-play-2017-cup-of-nations-caf/#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 12:58:36 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=235259 CAF President, Issa Hayatou

CAF President, Issa Hayatou

Confederation of African Football (CAF) executives agreed Sunday to allow Morocco to compete in the 2017 Cup of Nations qualifying competition.

Morocco were barred from the 2017 and 2019 tournaments after refusing to host the 2015 finals last January and February because they feared visiting supporters could bring the deadly Ebola virus into the country.

Football officials from the north African kingdom appealed the decision at the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and won the case last Thursday.

CAS said the two-tournament ban should be lifted and a $1 million (920,000 euros) fine reduced to $50,000.

However, one day later a CAF spokesman refused to confirm whether Morocco would be included in the April 8 qualifying draw.

“There are many meetings to be held before the way forward is known,” he told the BBC.

But a statement issued after CAF executives led by president Issa Hayatou met in Cairo cleared 1976 African champions Morocco to compete.

“CAF has committed to implementing the decision and will comply with this ruling despite the contradictions observed in the CAS decision,” it read in part.

Equatorial Guinea replaced Morocco as 2015 hosts and Ivory Coast defeated Ghana on penalties after the final finished 0-0 to lift the trophy.

The 2017 qualifiers are likely to comprise 13 four-nation groups with the first matches scheduled for June.

Algeria, Gabon and Ghana have bid to host the 2017 Cup of Nations and the successful candidate will be announced Wednesday before the draw.

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Flying Eagles crowned ‘King of Africa’ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/22/flying-eagles-crowned-king-of-africa/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/22/flying-eagles-crowned-king-of-africa/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 22:00:59 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=233960 FILE PHOTO: Flying Eagles celebrate winning African title

FILE PHOTO: Flying Eagles celebrate winning African title

Flying Eagles of Nigeria were crowned new under-20 champions after defeating Senegal 1-0 in the final to claim their seventh African title.

More to follow…

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Moghreb Tetouan demolish Kano Pillars http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/22/moghreb-tetouan-demolish-kano-pillars/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/22/moghreb-tetouan-demolish-kano-pillars/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 13:43:59 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=233926 Mouhcine Iajour bags a hat-trick to sink Kano Pillars

Mouhcine Iajour bags a hat-trick to sink Kano Pillars

Mouhcine Iajour scored a 22-minute hat-trick as Moroccans Moghreb Tetouan thrashed Nigerians Kano Pillars 4-0 this weekend in the CAF Champions League.

He struck after 14, 27 and 35 minutes of the delayed last-32, first-leg match at Stade Saniat Rmel in northern Morocco and Zaid Krouch added a last-minute fourth goal.

The hat-trick makes 29-year-old Iajour the leading Champions League scorer this season with four goals, having got one in a dramatic preliminary-round triumph over Malians CO Bamako.

While Tetouan were favoured to win at home, even their most partisan supporters would not have dreamt that the success would be so convincing.

The Moroccans survived a preliminary-round scare by scoring three unanswered second-leg goals after losing 2-0 in Mali.

Pillars cruised to away and home victories over South Sudanese Al-Malakia in the previous round with Gambo Muhammed bagging three goals.

Muhammed missed the trip to Morocco as he is recovering from gunshot wounds sustained when Pillars were victims of armed robbers while travelling to a domestic fixture this month.

Pillars host the return match during the first weekend of April at Sani Abacha Stadium in northern city Kano.

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Kasperczak leaves Mali after Africa Cup flop http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/09/kasperczak-leaves-mali-after-africa-cup-flop/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/09/kasperczak-leaves-mali-after-africa-cup-flop/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:32:50 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=232656 Henryk Kasperczak: dumps Mali

Henryk Kasperczak: dumps Mali

The number of coaches who have left 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers rose to four at the weekend when Mali parted company with Pole Henryk Kasperczak.

A Mali Football Federation statement said the contract of the 1974 World Cup midfielder would not be renewed.

Kasperczak, 68, joins Belgian Paul Put (Burkina Faso) and Frenchmen Michel Dussuyer (Guinea) and Alain Giresse (Senegal) in moving on.

Mali were cruelly eliminated after the first round in Equatorial Guinea two months ago, losing a drawing of lots with Guinea to decide who qualified for the quarter-finals.

It was a bitter blow for the ‘Eagles’, who have consistently punched above their weight at the Cup of Nations and finished third at the previous two tournaments.

Kasperczak also coached Mali in 2002, guided the hosts to fourth at the Cup of Nations.

He managed Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal, too.

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NFF praises Eaglets, despite loss to South Africa http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/26/nff-praises-eaglets-despite-loss-to-south-africa/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/26/nff-praises-eaglets-despite-loss-to-south-africa/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:28:40 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=231296 Amaju Pinnick: praised the Eaglets

Amaju Pinnick: praised the Eaglets

The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has commended the U-17 national team, Golden Eaglets, for earning a place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals taking place in Chile later in the year.

The South African Under-17, the Amajimbos, sailed into the final of the 2015 CAF U/17 African Youth Championships with a 1-0 win over Nigeria in the Niger capital of Niamey on Wednesday.

NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick declared that semi final defeat to South Africa has not diminished the value of the Eaglets’ accomplishment. “Certainly, every Nigerian yearned for the Eaglets to win the African championship trophy in Niger after the boys reached the semi finals. They lost by a lone goal but we cannot accuse the players of lack of effort.

“The present NFF administration has continued to harp on the fact that it is not only concerned with winning trophies. We want to win trophies but more than that, we want to build a sustainable football culture.”

Pinnick assured that the boys will not be treated like outcasts following the failure to reach the Championship final. “The NFF will send a jet to pick the players after the third place match on Sunday. The technical crew remains intact and the NFF will give support to them to plug the necessary holes in the team so that we will have a squad capable of doing the nation proud in Chile.”

The NFF President also noted that cup holders Cote d’Ivoire were eliminated in the group phase of the championship in Niger.

Meanwhile, the Amajimbos, who are now 90 minutes away from being crowned African junior champions have a solid performance against the Eaglets.

A goal from mercurial goal-poacher Khanyisa Mayo was all Amajimbos needed to overcome probably their biggest obstacle.

Both teams had already sealed their place at the World Cup in Chile and started the match at a high tempo.

The Amajimbos continued to search for the opening goal, they went into the attack on the 26th minute resulting in Mayo sweeping home the crucial goal.
Nigeria came back a rejuvenated side in the second half pushing for the elusive equaliser but a combination of good goalkeeping from Mondli Mpoto and tight defence put paid to any of their chances pulling things back.

Amajimbos coach Molefi Ntseki was over the moon about the victory but added he was not surprised by the outcome. “We watched Nigeria throughout the tournament, because there was a chance of us playing them.

“We identified a lot of mistakes in their game and this victory was down to our homework and our players playing to instructions. Nigeria are a good team, make no mistake about that but this is a culmination of our plans coming together,” said Ntseki.

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U-17 AYC: Glo Charges Eaglets To Beat South Africa http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/24/u-17-ayc-glo-charges-eaglets-to-beat-south-africa/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/24/u-17-ayc-glo-charges-eaglets-to-beat-south-africa/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:13:46 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=231083 National telecommunications company, Globacom, has charged the Golden Eaglets to beat the Amajimbos of South Africa in their semi final tie in the ongoing FIFA U-17 African Youth Championship in Niger Republic.

Globacom enjoined the Emmanuel Amuneke-led coaching crew to continually evolve the right strategy and motivate the team to ensure that they defeat South Africa, and qualify for the finals.

The Eaglets will play against South Africa in the first semi –final on Wednesday, while Mali will lock horns with Guinea in the second encounter.

Golden Eaglets line up

Golden Eaglets line up

The Eaglets are the defending champions of the U-17 World Cup. The team emerged victorious in 2013 after defeating Mexico in the finals by three goals to nil in UAE.

“We wish the Eaglets the very best in the match against South Africa,” Glo said in a statement early today.

Meanwhile, the sponsor of the Nigerian national teams also commended the Eaglets for playing cohesive and purposeful football which resulted in the convincing victory over the Zambians and also ensured their qualification for the next World Cup in Chile.

“We are delighted with the great fighting spirit the team demonstrated so far in the tournament and we believe that this will help the team to progress to the finals and eventually achieve the ultimate goal of lifting the trophy,” Glo said.

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Nigeria Vs S/Africa: ‘Eaglets Not Scared Of Amajimbos’ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/23/nigeria-vs-safrica-eaglets-not-scared-of-amajimbos/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/23/nigeria-vs-safrica-eaglets-not-scared-of-amajimbos/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:08:02 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=230964 Golden Eaglets coach Emmanuel Amunike says his team are not scared to meet South Africa’s Amajimbos in their semi final game of the ongoing 11th CAF Africa Junior Championship in Niger.

Amunike, who attributed his Golden Eaglets’ qualification for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile to determination, team work and self belief said: “I don’t fear any team or prefer to meet any. Our major concern now is to make sure the boys are refreshed and ready for the semi-finals.”

“Despite our qualifications, there are areas we need to still work on and players to get back to full fitness from the knocks they suffered in the group stages.

“If you want to win the cup, you have to beat the team in front of you. That is the only way to become champions. We are not afraid of anybody, but we also respect our opponents,” he added.

Amunike also reiterated that his team is still evolving and more work has to be done to get the team in a much better shape when the knock out stages commences.

Meanwhile, gangling Golden Eaglets striker, Victor Osimhen, has admitted it would be an effort in futility if he emerges as Niger 2015 top scorer without Golden Eaglets as champions of Africa.

On the road to Niger 2015, Osimhen was Golden Eaglets’ top marksman with an impressive 18 goals in 38 (official and friendly) matches, and has scored thrice in Niger, including  two spectacular strikes against Zambia on Saturday.

“We are  happy  that we have qualified  for the World Cup, the priority now is to ensure we win the trophy because it would be meaningless even if I finish the top scorer,” Osimhen said.

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Setif beat Al Ahly to win CAF Super Cup http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/21/setif-beat-al-ahly-to-win-caf-super-cup/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/21/setif-beat-al-ahly-to-win-caf-super-cup/#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 22:42:26 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=230823 Setif

A pattern of home victories in the CAF Super Cup continued on Saturday when Algerians Entente Setif defeated Egyptians Al Ahly 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

It was the 18th time in 20 matches that the CAF Champions League title-holders have used home advantage to win the one-off game.

Since 2004 the African champions have hosted the winners of the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup. Previously, they met the African Cup Winners Cup title-holders.

Abdelmalek Ziaya scored on 70 minutes at Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida, 45 kilometres south of Algiers, to put Setif ahead.

But veteran Ahly striker Emad Meteb levelled three minutes into stoppage time and forced a penalty shootout.

Extra time is not played in the CAF Super Cup.

Success was worth $75,000 (66,000 euros) to Setif and the Ahly bank balance got a $50,000 boost.

Setif lifted the trophy at the first attempt while record six-time winners Ahly were losing a Super Cup match for only the second time.

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Morocco to appeal CAF sanctions http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/17/morocco-to-appeal-caf-sanctions/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/17/morocco-to-appeal-caf-sanctions/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 17:13:03 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=230321 CAF President, Issa Hayatou

CAF President, Issa Hayatou

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) took its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday following sanctions dished out by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Morocco has been banned from the 2017 and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after it decided not to host the 2015 edition amid fears over the Ebola crisis.

The country’s football federation was also fined $1 million (€880,000) and ordered to pay just over €8 million ($9m) “for damages caused to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and partners.”

Its officials had called for the tournament to be delayed as concerns over the potential spread of the virus grew, and then declined to host it when that delay was not granted.

“We have taken our case to the CAS yesterday (Monday) and we will soon take it to the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris,” FRMF spokesman Mohamed Makrouf told AFP.

“This is not a conflict with the CAF. The law allows to appeal and we will accept any decision from the court.”

Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane said on Thursday that Morocco will not accept the “unfair and arbitrary” sanctions placed upon it by the governing body of African football.

The Kingdom, he added, “cannot accept unreasonable and infringing measures against national interests”.

The African division of global players’ union FIFPro have hit out at African football bosses for their treatment of Morocco.

“It’s not up to the African division of FIFPro to know whether Morocco acted within its rights in refusing to organise the last CAN,” said a FIFPro statement.

“However, it is our place to express surprise that the CAF sanctions target first of all the players.”

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Mali agrees to shift 2016 Olympics qualifiers against Nigeria http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/14/mali-agrees-to-shift-2016-olympics-qualifiers-against-nigeria/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/14/mali-agrees-to-shift-2016-olympics-qualifiers-against-nigeria/#comments Sat, 14 Feb 2015 07:16:20 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229956 Ademola Olajire, NFA’s Assistant Director (Communications)

Ademola Olajire, NFA’s Assistant Director (Communications)

Mali Football Federation has accepted a proposal by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) for a qualifying fixture of the Women’s Football Tournament of 2016 Olympic Games to be moved forward.

A statement by Ademola Olajire, NFA’s Assistant Director (Communications), said the Super Falcons were scheduled to host the Malians on May 23 with the return leg in Nigeria on May 30.

NAN reports that the fixture between both countries’ senior women teams is in the second round of qualifiers for the Women’s Football Tournament at Rio, Brazil.

“We had to write to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Malian Federation to consider bringing the matches forward by two weeks in order for our team to be able to head to Canada by May 19.

“Our team will be going for the final training camp for the 7th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals,” the statement quoted NFA’s General Secretary Musa Amadu as saying on Friday.

CAF had given NFA the go-ahead to contact the Malian Federation for both National Associations to agree between themselves.

In its reply, dated Feb. 13, General Secretary Yacouba Traore said the Mali Football Federation had agreed in principle.

This means that the first leg match will now take place in Nigeria on May 9, with the return leg in Bamako on May 16.

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CAF Champs League: Enyimba coach confident of better showing http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/13/caf-champs-league-enyimba-coach-confident-of-better-showing/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/13/caf-champs-league-enyimba-coach-confident-of-better-showing/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 07:46:37 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229770 Kadiri Ikhana

Kadiri Ikhana

Former title-holders Enyimba of Nigeria will tread warily when the 2015 CAF Champions League kicks off this weekend even though rivals Buffles Borgou of Benin are weak and inexperienced.

The 2003 and 2004 African champions from south-east city Aba were expected to go far in the competition last year.

But after scraping past Togolese Anges Notse, they lost at home to Malians Real Bamako and a second-leg recovery could not prevent a shock, early exit.

Coach Kadiri Ikhana, who also coached the 2003 Champions League-winning team, believes that disastrous campaign is behind the team popularly known as the Peoples’ Elephant.

“I am confident that we will do better than last year and progress very far in the Champions League this time,” he assured reporters.

“However, we must be careful not to underrate Buffles. The key is to prepare adequately so that we are not taken by surprise.

“There are no small teams in the CAF club competitions and we must treat our opponents seriously in order to achieve a good result.

“It is a good tie for us because of the limited travel involved,” said Ikhana, referring to Benin and Nigeria being west African neighbours.

Enyimba prepared for Africa by playing in a six-team domestic tournament as the national league has not kicked off.

As they seek a commanding first-leg lead over Champions League debutants Buffles, Enyimba expect goals from striker Mfon Udoh, scorer of a record 23 in the league last season.

Midfielder Rasheed Olabiyi is a skilful playmaker and skipper Chinedu Udoji a slow but effective central defender.

Kano Pillars, the other half of a twin-pronged Nigerian challenge for the biggest African Football Confederation (CAF) club prize, tackle Al-Malakia in South Sudan.

The northern club are guided by Okey Emordi, coach of Enyimba when they retained the Champions League in 2004.

Pillars made an even earlier exit last year than Enyimba, losing a preliminary tie against eventual runners-up V Club from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Malakia are a much weaker side than V Club, though, and it would be a shock if a Kano team bolstered by 10 close-season signings fail to advance.

It is 20 years since Orlando Pirates became the only South African winners of the competition and Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns believe they can go all the way this year.

“We have a team that can compete against anybody in the world,” boasted Chiefs official Bobby Motaung ahead of a home game against Township Rollers from Botswana.

Sundowns are away to Saint Michel United in the Seychelles and coach Pitso Mosimane has high hopes of bettering second place in 2001 behind Egyptians Al-Ahly.

“I want to win the Champions League, the club president (Patrice Motsepe) wants to win it, the players want to win it, and our supporters want us to win it,” said Mosimane.

An attractive east Africa fixture pits Azam, who ended the Young Africans and Simba monopoly of the Tanzanian title last year, against vastly experienced Sudanese visitors El-Merrikh.

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Sultan Of Sokoto Wants African U-17 Trophy From Eaglets http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/09/sultan-of-sokoto-wants-african-u-17-trophy-from-eaglets/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/09/sultan-of-sokoto-wants-african-u-17-trophy-from-eaglets/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 21:54:40 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229470 Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III

Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III

His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV, the Sultan of Sokoto, has charged the Golden Eaglets to ‘go and bring the African Under-17 Championship trophy’ as he prayed for the team’s successful outing at tournament hosted by Niger between 15 February and 1 March.

The national U-17 team who are in Sokoto to finalise their preparation for the tournament, paid a courtesy call on the titular ruler of Sokoto in his palace on Monday at the behest of Kogunan Sakwatto, Mallam Danladi Nasir Bako – the Sokoto State Commissioner for Information.

In the presence of some of his high-ranking palace chiefs, the Sultan who is a keen follower of football, advised the youngsters to be disciplined and focused on the assignment at hand in Niger in order to bring honour to the country.

“I’m very happy to receive on behalf of the hospitable people of Sokoto and I want to believe this is the first time some of you are coming to the palace,” the Sultan told his guest led by Coach Emmanuel Amuneke.

“In fact, this is the first time we are hosting a national team here at the palace and I’m particularly delighted to formally welcome all of you to the palace as this would afford you the opportunity to know that the Sultan is a human being like you.”

The Amirul Mumineen said he was thrilled that the team dimmed it fit to pay him a courtesy call and seek blessings before embarking on the trip to Niger and counselled they remained good ambassadors of the country. He further counselled officials to continue to play fatherly roles to the players who he warned ‘to obey without question.’

He said further: “We want you to be good ambassadors of this country when you go to Niger and personally, I want you to go and bring the trophy again to Nigeria. But even as you do this, you must be disciplined and listen to your coaches because without discipline you cannot achieve much even as a footballer.”

The former military officer further counselled the players never to neglect their education and never to be carried away with the stardom of being footballers.

Both Coach Amuneke and Captain Kelechi Nwakali took turn to thank the Sultan and the palace chiefs for finding time out of their busy schedule to host and offered prayers on behalf of the team, promising to do everything humanly possible and in the true spirit of sportsmanship, to conquer the continent in Niger.

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AFCON 2015: This Is My Dream Cup —Toure http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/09/afcon-2015-this-is-my-dream-cup-toure/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/09/afcon-2015-this-is-my-dream-cup-toure/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:41:20 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229422 Yaya Toure looked more relieved than elated as he lifted the African Nations Cup for the first time at the sixth attempt, breaking his duck at international level with the Ivory Coast.

“When you win with your club, it’s quite amazing but with your country it’s something unbelievable,” he said after the Ivory Coast shaded Ghana 9-8 on penalties in Sunday’s final in Bata.

“I’ve been waiting for so many years now. I’ve been dreaming of this. It’s difficult right now to describe the feeling as captain, it’s something special.”

Midfielder Toure, 31, has won league titles at clubs in three different countries and a Champions League with Barcelona.

•ESCTASY... Ivorian Yaya Toure celebrates with the Africa Cup of Nations trophy after his team defeated Ghana in yesterday's AFCON 2015 final in Equatorial Guinea

•ESCTASY… Ivorian Yaya Toure celebrates with the Africa Cup of Nations trophy after his team defeated Ghana in yesterday’s AFCON 2015 final in Equatorial Guinea

For Manchester City, he has twice proven a cup final hero and also won two English Premier League titles over the last four seasons.

But with the Ivory Coast it has been a tale of woe up until Sunday’s decider at Estadio de Bata which was settled by penalties following 120 minutes of goalless action.

Toure was on the losing side in both 2006 and 2012 final when the Ivorians were defeated on penalties.

He also suffered World Cup heart break in Brazil last year when the West Africans were on the brink of reaching the second round for the first time only to concede late on to Greece which sent them out of the tournament.

“I’m a guy who always likes to win but I think we had the luck today,” he said.

“But I’m delighted for my family and all those around us who have supported us. I will go now to my people and celebrate.

“It was little bit stressful in the penalty shootout but I’m very delighted with the win and I want to say thank you,” said Toure, who has played at every Nations Cup tournament since 2006.

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Ivory Coast defeats Ghana 9-8 to win AFCON 2015 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/08/ivory-coast-defeats-ghana-9-8-to-win-afcon-2015/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/08/ivory-coast-defeats-ghana-9-8-to-win-afcon-2015/#comments Sun, 08 Feb 2015 22:05:40 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229358 Ivory Coast

Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry scored the decisive goal as Ivory Coast ended a 23-year Africa Cup of Nations title drought by winning 9-8 on penalties after the final ended 0-0 following extra time.

History repeated itself as the only other Ivorian title came in 1992 when they edged the Ghanaians, also on penalties after a goalless draw.

It was a highly tactical and cagey climax to the biennial African football showpiece in Equatorial Guinea city Bata.

Billed as a ‘dream’ final between the west African neighbours, it became the fourth decider in the last eight to finish goalless and be settled by spot-kicks.

Ivory Coast and Ghana made one change each from the teams that started in convincing semi-final victories over the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea respectively.

The Jubilant Ivorians with their trophy

The Jubilant Ivorians with their trophy

Ghana captain and star striker Asamoah Gyan passed a late fitness test on his injured hip and returned in place of semi-final scorer Jordan Ayew, a son of Black Stars legend Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew.

Ivory Coast switched goalkeepers with fit-again veteran Boubacar Barry recalled and Sylvain Gbohouo dropping to the bench after five consecutive appearances.

Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and CAF president Issa Hayatou were introduced to the teams before the national anthems.

The pre-kickoff mood was extremely jovial with rival players warmly greeting each other as they went through the traditional shaking of hands.

Quicksilver Ivory Coast winger Gervinho appeared particularly relaxed and threatened twice in the early stages as Ivory Coast were quicker out of the blocks.

However, Ghana comfortably dealt with both threats and when African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure had a free-kick opportunity outside the box on 14 minutes, he shot tamely at Razak Braimah.

Almost immediately, Ivorian midfield enforcer Serey Die was deservedly yellow-carded by the Gambian referee for a studs-up foul on Mubarak Wakaso.

Sloppy Ghanaian passing close to their goalmouth offered Gervinho a chance to present Max-Alain Gradel with a sight of goal, but his powerful shot finished well off target.

After soaking up the early pressure, Ghana adopted a more adventurous approach and came tantalisingly close to taking the lead on 25 minutes through Christian Atsu.

The pacey winger won possession just outside the box and his swerving shot eluded the diving Barry only to rebound to safety off the post.

Ivory Coast were rescued by the woodwork again nine minutes before half-time when Andre Ayew — an elder brother of Jordan — hit the other post from an acute angle.

The opening half finished goalless with Ghana enjoying 55 percent possession and feeling positive having come closer to scoring than Ivory Coast.

An early second-half run by Atsu offered Gyan a half-chance, but the talismanic figure did not come close to troubling Barry with a disappointing off-target effort.

Another Ivorian was yellow carded before the hour with Siaka Tiene joining fellow midfielder Die in the book for pulling back Atsu.

As the game reached the three-quarter mark, Ivory Coast made the first change with recent Roma signing Seydou Doumbia coming off the bench to replace the ineffective Gradel.

While there were moments of anxiety for both defences, clearcut chances remained elusive and the game predictably drifted into extra-time.

Ghana finally made a substitution on 99 minutes with Jordan Ayew, whose penalty goal set up the semi-final romp over Equatorial Guinea, taking the place of Kwesi Appiah.

The pattern of half-chances continued in extra-time, but despite the presence of star African strikers like Gyan and Ivorian Wilfried Bony, the scoreboard operator remained unemployed until the shootout.

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Ghana’s Avram Grant unsure of Gyan’s fitness http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/07/ghanas-avram-grant-unsure-of-gyans-fitness/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/07/ghanas-avram-grant-unsure-of-gyans-fitness/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 16:23:51 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229258 Avram Grant

Avram Grant

Ghana coach Avram Grant is unsure whether injured skipper Asamoah Gyan will be fit for Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Ivory Coast in Bata.

Gyan is nursing a pelvic injury received during a collision with Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara in the quarter-finals last Sunday and he missed stormy Thursday’s semi-final win over hosts Equatorial Guinea.

Former Chelsea manager Grant said the Black Stars did not train in Bata Friday so he could not assess Gyan’s recovery.

“We can’t say how he is because we could not even train (in Bata),” lamented Grant.

However, the coach said the Black Stars are motivated to rewrite history against the Ivory Coast on Sunday after losing the 1992 final to their west African neighbours on penalties in Dakar.

“They are very motivated, they do not need any speeches because we have come a long way as nobody gave us a chance. They will show this on Sunday,” he promised.

“We have improved with every game. Algeria and Senegal were considered better than us and this was a challenge for us.

“There is one more challenge — the last one in this tournament.

“They (Ghana) know how to fight and play football.”

Stand-in Ghana skipper and midfielder Andre Ayew said inexperience cost the team the 2010 Nations Cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Egypt in Luanda.

“For the 2010 final, we had about 14 players from the U20 World Cup (of the previous year). In that final we were attacking and attacking, but we couldn’t score. We lacked experience,” he recalled.

“But Sunday’s final will be a good one for us. When you get to the final, you need to do everything to win.”

The 25-year-old forward has shone at this competition, scoring three goals. He attributes this to confidence boosts from his team-mates and the coach.

“I have tried to raise my game because I have been given responsibilities both on and off the pitch. It is due to the group and the confidence from the coach,” he said.

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Morocco banned from 2017, 2019 AFCON, fined $1million http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/06/morocco-banned-from-2017-2019-afcon-fined-1million/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/06/morocco-banned-from-2017-2019-afcon-fined-1million/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 17:42:27 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229166 CAF President, Issa Hayatou

CAF President, Issa Hayatou

Morocco were kicked out of the 2017 and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and fined $1 million (€8.8m) for refusing to host this year’s event due to fears over Ebola, the continental game’s ruling body said.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) also ordered the Royal Moroccan Football Federation to pay just over €8 million ($9m) in compensation.

Equatorial Guinea took over the 2015 tournament which ends on Sunday.

“The CAF executive committee considered that, contrary to what the Royal Moroccan Football Federation cited, force majeure cannot be accepted for the benefit of the federation,” said a CAF statement.

“CAF decided to suspend the national team of Morocco from the next two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations, 2017 and 2019, and to impose on the federation the regulatory fine of $1 million.

“…they decided by a separate measure to be borne by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation the sum of eight million and fifty thousand euros in compensation for all material damage sustained by CAF, stakeholders and partners as a result of the decision not to host AFCON 2015.”

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DR Congo Battle Ivory Coast For AFCON Final Ticket http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/04/dr-congo-battle-ivory-coast-for-afcon-final-ticket/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/04/dr-congo-battle-ivory-coast-for-afcon-final-ticket/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 13:38:13 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=228903 A frosty reunion awaits Ivory Coast and DR Congo on Wednesday night in Bata when they meet in a 2015 AFCON semifinal showdown.

This will be the two sides third encounter in the last five months after they met in the 2015 Africa Cup qualifiers in which they recorded painful away results against each other.

•Coach Ibenge of DR Congo

•Coach Ibenge of DR Congo

•Ivory Coast Coach Renard

•Ivory Coast Coach Renard

Ivory Coast beat hosts DR Congo 2-1 in the first leg of their Group D qualifiers on October 11 in Kinshasa.

Four days later, DR Congo avenged that defeat with a 4-3 win in Abidjan.

DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge said it will not be easy in their grudge match against Cote d’Ivoire.

“This is a team unlike the one we met in October. It changed especially defensively. There are new faces that were added like Kolo Toure who has masterful command of his teams defence,” Ibenge said. “The team is also much more mature.” There is also an extra twist to the plot with Ibenge meeting Claude Le Roys’ protege and  Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard.

Ibenge outwitted Renard’s mentor in the quarterfinals last Saturday when DR Congo rallied from 2-0 to beat Le Roy’s Congo-Brazzaville 4-2.

A win for DR Congo will see them through to their first final appearance since lifting their second and last Africa Cup title in 1974.

Ivory Coast on the other hand are targeting their first final appearance since losing to Zambia in the 2012 final with coincidentally Renard in charge of the latter.

“I’m only interested in winning (the cup), any other thing I won’t be satisfied. A few weeks ago, we were just the underdogs. But in football, a lot of things happen so fast.

“When we started this tournament, all the teams were at par. We are now remaining four teams and the best position is No.1.”

•Ivorian goalkeepers train at Bikuy Stadium in Bata ahead  of their clash  against  DR Congo in the semi final of AFCON 2015 in Equatorial Guinea tonight. Photo: AFP

•Ivorian goalkeepers train at Bikuy Stadium in Bata ahead of their clash against DR Congo in the semi final of AFCON 2015 in Equatorial Guinea tonight. Photo: AFP

He also admitted the style of Ivory Coast has changed from that of previous tournaments.

“We now have a different style from the Cote d’Ivoire of the past. We have some new players, some of whom you only got to know at this competition. But they worked hard during the preparations.

“We now have a balance of hard workers and talented players. This is perfect for Ivory Coast.”

The Elephants will be hoping Renard’s magic he blended in Equatorial Guinea three years ago in en route to victory is still potent enough to take them to the promised land.

Winner will meet victor of Thursday’s other penultimate stage clash involving Ghana and hosts equatorial Guinea.

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