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Villareal forward Ike Uche returns to Nigeria national team ahead of final AFCON qualfiers

Ike Uche returns to the Nigeria national team

Ike Uche returns to the Nigeria national team

Back-to-baton Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has handed Villarreal striker, Ikechukwu Uche a call up in the 25-man squad for Nigeria’s final two African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa.

Uche has been absent from the national team for about two years after a alleged disagreement with coach Stephen Keshi.

Nasarawa United midfielder Tony Edjomari will also have his first senior team opportunity in the squad which was released on Friday.

Sunshine Stars defender Solomon Kwambe also return, and Aaron Samuel (who got one of the goals against Sudan), Hope Akpan, Sunday Emmanuel and Emem Eduok have further chances after being called for the matches against the Falcons of Sudan.

Captain and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defenders Godfrey Oboabona and Elderson Echiejile, midfielders Ogenyi Onazi and Mikel Obi, and forwards Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike and Babatunde Michael are also invited.

All the players are expected to report at the Bolton White Apartments, Wuse, Abuja on Sunday, 9th November.

Nigeria squad to for AFCON qualifiers:

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille OSC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United, Nigeria)

Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco FC, France); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars, Nigeria); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough FC, England); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves, Nigeria)

Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Hope Akpan (Reading FC, England); Raheem Lawal (Eskisehirspor FC, Turkey); Omatsone Aluko (Hull City, England); Tony Edjomari (Nasarawa United, Nigeria)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Gbolahan Salami (Warri Wolves, Nigeria); Osaguona Ighodaro (Enugu Rangers, Nigeria); Ikechukwu Uche (Villareal FC, Spain); Aaron Samuel (Guangzhou R&F, China); Sunday Emmanuel (SV Scholz Grodig, Austria); Babatunde Michael (Volyn Lutsk, Ukraine): Emem Eduok (Dolphins FC, Nigeria)

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CAF deny agreeing in principle with Morocco to postpone 2015 AFCON

caf

The Confederation of African Football have denied reports that they have agreed in principle with Morocco to the postponement of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled to be held between January 17 and February 8.

“False! Totally false!” CAF Media Relations Department told AFP on Friday.

The statement was made following reports by Moroccan media that both parties had agreed to postpone the continental event to June 2015 or January 2016 due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in a meeting held in Yaoundé between CAF President, Issa Hayatou and a delegation from Morocco on Wednesday.

CAF are expected to issue a final statement on the matter following the meeting of their Executive Committee in Algiers on Sunday 2 November.

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Sierra Leone FA chief Johansen backs Morocco’s request for 2015 AFCON to be postponed

Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen

Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen

The president of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), Isha Johansen has backed host Morocco’s request to have the African Cup of Nations finals postponed.

She also revealed that the SLFA, has used money donated to the organisation by the sport’s international governing body Fifa, which had been intended to develop football infrastructure, to drive charity projects raising awareness of how to avoid contracting the deadly disease.

Johansen, one of just two female football association presidents, believes Morocco’s fears of staging the continental championship in January, with Ebola still uncontained in West Africa, are valid.

“It’s unfortunate, but if I were in their position, I’d be looking at saving lives,” she told InsideFootball.com. “It’s a valid fear. Who’s to say we would not have acted the same way if we were Ebola-free?

“Am I worried that the tournament may not happen? Yes I am. It’s a really tricky one because it’s now on the political as well the footballing agenda. But like everything in life, if you haven’t felt it, you don’t understand the magnitude of it.”

Johansen claimed the SLFA have already used some money from Fifa to aid UNICEF in raising awareness of measures to prevent contamination, but says as a football Association they will look to do more.

“Pregnant women are dying because of lack of medical facilities. We need to raise much more money and I’m already thinking about a charity event, maybe in England. But as an FA, we can only be a part of the solution,” she said.

Ebola has taken its toll on Sierra Leone’s national team, who last month had a 50-hour round trip for a ‘home’ game against DR Congo that was instead played in Lubumbashi.

“It’s just horrible,” said Johansen. “We recently had a ‘home’ game in Congo which was gruelling. The guys had to travel for around 50 hours. Then there is the fact that our fans can no longer watch the national team here, or any of those big names coming to their country.”

Not only has the playing of football come to a stop in the country, but Johansen says getting together to watch games is off for now too.

“All football activity has come to a grinding halt and that includes open-air public gatherings to watch games on giant screens, part of our culture,” Johansen said. “Africans love to hug each other but all of that has stopped.

“It’s frightening, not least the psychological toll. You are fighting an enemy you cannot see. We’ve been through a brutal civil war but at least you knew how to identify the enemy.”

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South Africa choose Durban to host Sudan for AFCON qualifier in honor of Meyiwa

Senzo Meyiwa

Senzo Meyiwa

South Africa will play their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan in Durban, the hometown of goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa who died last week.

The Orlando Pirate shot stopper was shot and killed on Sunday, tragically ending the newly-appointed South Africa captain’s career.

The fixture on 15 November had been scheduled for Nespruit but will now be played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Meyiwa skippered South Africa in their first four Nations Cup qualifiers without conceding a goal.

His performances helped to put Bafana Bafana on the brink of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Morocco, booking their place with a victory over Sudan.

The Moses Mabhida Stadium will also be used for Meyiwa’s funeral on Saturday after the original venue in nearby Umlazi was deemed too small by organisers, who expect mourners to come from across the country for the popular Orlando Pirates player.

Meyiwa, who was just 27, lost his life in what appears to have been a botched robbery at his girlfriend’s house.

South Africa’s domestic soccer league has postponed this weekend’s derby between Soweto giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs after the death of Meyiwa.

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Algerian side Setif out to prove a point ahead of CAF Champions League final match

Setif will play in the Champions League finals this weekend

Setif will play in the Champions League finals this weekend

Algerian club Entente Setif, dismissed by some officials as not being good enough to win the 2014 CAF Champions League, are poised to lift the trophy this Saturday.

A 2-2 draw at the Kinshasa ground of Congolese side V Club last Sunday has tilted the balance toward Setif in a contest between former title-holders.

Vita triumphed 41 years ago when the competition was called the African Champions Cup and Setif conquered the continent 15 years later.

Setif coach Kheireddine Madoui admitted to reporters that the Black Eagles came close to withdrawing from the Champions League this year.

“National football federation officials wanted us to pull out for scheduling reasons and also because it was felt our club would not be very competitive in Africa,” he said.

“We lost a lot of our squad this year and had to rebuild,” added the 37-year-old former Setif midfielder who became coach only three months ago.

Fears that Setif would not be competitive were quickly allayed as Setif started by thumping Burkinabe visitors ASFA Yennenga 5-0 with leading scorer El Hedi Belameiri among the goals.

The Algerians have played 13 matches ahead of the second leg of the final at the 45 000-seat Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida, 50 kilometres south of Algiers.

And they lost only one, a 3-2 semifinal, second-leg defeat away to four-time African champions TP Mazembe, the other Congolese contenders.

Entente boast a proud home record in the Champions League since a 1987 debut, winning 20 matches, drawing five, losing one and keeping 18 clean sheets.

But Madoui has warned Algerians that the battle for a $1.5 million (1.2 million euros) first prize and a place at the 2014 Fifa Club World Cup in Morocco is far from over.

“Our supporters must remember that V Club went to Tunisia in the semifinals and won 2-1 against CS Sfaxien.

“What drawing in Kinshasa did for us was create OPPORTUNITIES and the backing of our supporters could be crucial.”

Displaying a desire to attack from the kick-off at V Club, Setif were ahead within 17 minutes when leading scorer Ndombe Mubele turned a corner into his own net.

The Black Eagles regained the lead early in the second half with a classic counter-attack goal as Akram Djahnit exchanged passes with Abdelmalik Ziaya before tapping the ball into the net.

Lema Mabidi ended a five-match goalless streak by levelling twice for the Black Dolphins, first from the penalty spot, and through an unstoppable drive from outside the box.

Tradition suggests V Club could avoid finishing runners-up to an Algerian club a second time as they were 5-0 overall losers to JET in the 1981 final.

Of the three clubs held 2-2 at home in the first leg of a Champions League final, two went on to lift the trophy.

Cameroonians Canon Yaounde walloped Congolese Bilima 3-0 in Kinshasa and South Africans Orlando Pirates stunned Ivorians ASEC Mimosas 1-0 in Abidjan.

Before winning at Sfaxien, V Club defeated five-time champions Zamalek in Egypt and held experienced CAF campaigners El-Hilal in Sudan.

“That own goal in the first leg severely disrupted us,” conceded Congo-born V Club coach Florent Ibenge, a 52-year-old who grew up in France and played lower-league football there and in Belgium and Germany.

“But a draw keeps alive our hopes of lifting the trophy and I have great faith that we can counter-attack in Algeria just as effectively as Setif did in Congo.”

While Setif are guaranteed a 2015 Champions League place whatever the outcome, Vita face life in the less lucrative CAF Confederation Cup next year unless they lift the trophy.

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SAFA sets agenda to rid South Africa off illegal guns on the streets

SAFA

The South African Football Association will call for a law to remove all illegal guns from the streets, Danny Jordaan announced in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“We will take those guns to the furnace and build a statue of Senzo Meyiwa,” Jordaan told families and sports fans gathered at the Standard Bank Arena to pay homage to three sporting icons who died over the past week.

“You will decide how big that statue will be. That Senzo Meyiwa will stand in front of SAFA house. When you walk in, you must walk past Senzo.”

The Bafana Bafana captain was shot dead in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, while visiting his singer girlfriend Kelly Khumalo on Sunday evening. Two men entered the house demanding cellphones and shot him before fleeing.

Former world champion 800m sensation Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car accident in Mpumalanga on Friday on his way to Johannesburg when he lost control of his car.

Welterweight boxer Phindile Mwelase died on Saturday after being in coma for two weeks following a bout.

The service attended by, among others, ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, and Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, started nearly an hour late.

Jordaan said more details about the law would be released on Tuesday. He said they wanted to unveil the statue before the team departed for the African Confederations Cup in 2015.

He said Meyiwa had brought hope to the nation.

“With Senzo in goal and wearing the armband, we believed again. We believed that Senzo would take us to our first Afcon since 2008. Senzo’s energy used to create something useful in the team. We need to use it to build a safe and just South Africa,” he said.

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Keshi open to Super Eagles return as national team coach

keshi

Stephen Keshi says he will be open to return as Nigeria coach, if he was asked to do so by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered Keshi be reinstated as the country’s coach after he was earlier sacked by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

When asked if he was aware of the Presidential order on Thursday in Abuja, Keshi told AfricanFootball.com: “Well I am just hearing from you.

“But if the President of my country asked me to return, who am I to refuse.”

‘Big Boss’ is at press time locked in a meeting with the country’s sports minister Tammy Danagogo.

Keshi had earlier refused to comment on speculations he was to return as the country’s coach just weeks after he was eased out with Nigeria in danger of missing out on next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Several top sources have confirmed that President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered Keshi be re-instated and given a contract.

This was after his meeting with NFF president Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa at the Aso Rock Villa Wednesday night.

“Keshi is back as Nigeria coach and he will be the one to lead the Super Eagles against Congo and South Africa next month,” one of the top sources informed AfricanFootball.com

An official statement is now being expected in this respect.

Meanwhile, according to an official press release by the NFF on Thursday, Shuaibu Amodu has pleaded passionately with the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation to allow Stephen Keshi handle the Super Eagles for the two remaining matches of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

In a letter dated 27th October, 2014 and addressed to NFF president Amaju Pinnick through the Chairman of NFF Technical Committee, the 56 –year old tactician who was named as new Head Coach penultimate week, said he wanted Keshi reconsidered for the two matches as the time –frame is too short to tinker with the fabric of the squad or start to build a new one altogether.

“Following wide consultations that I have carefully made within the past two weeks since the appointment, and for the sake of professionalism, I want to specially appeal to you to reconsider the matter and allow Stephen Keshi to finish the project that he has started – the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying race,” requested Amodu.

“Sir, my opinion also is that the time –frame is too short to start tinkering with the fabric of the team or attempt to build a new team altogether.

“As technical director of the NFF, I am ready and willing to help build a better relationship among Keshi (with whom I have enjoyed good working relationship in the past and who is still very close to me), the players and the NFF technical committee.

“I am assuring you, Mr. President, that I will offer whatever assistance required by Keshi and his crew for the remaining two matches, and also be there to offer advice, suggestions and efforts towards building a stronger Super Eagles team after the qualifying race.”

Nigeria play Congo Brazzaville in Pointe Noire on November 15, before taking on South Africa in Uyo four days later, needing to not only win both matches but defeat Congo by a margin of two goals away, to stand any chance of qualifying for the 2015 finals.

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“Eto’o is a gift from the Gods” -Everton manager Roberton Martinez

Eto'o has been a key player for Everton

Eto’o has been a key player for Everton

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has hailed striker Samuel Eto’o for his influence on the Toffees’ squad since moving to Goodison Park.

Eto’o bagged four goals so far this season for Everton through all competitions, including a brace against Burnley in the Premier League last weekend at Turf Moor.

And the former Chelsea striker has impressed his manager with his attitude and professionalism on and off the pitch.

“Having Samuel Eto’o here is like a gift from the footballing Gods for us. He is the perfect ingredient for our young players, a phenomenal example,” Martinez told The Daily Mail.

“The way he has been working to get his fitness is pristine. He is a player of the highest, highest calibre. To see his performance on Sunday – and every role he has played so far – has been so exciting and his knowhow has been very important, particularly in European games.

“But the way he took his finishes at Burnley was like the old days. I hope he can enjoy his football here and we are working hard to make that happen. I think he is enjoying it and that is very important.

“He has that stimulation to win things. He comes in every day with the highest standards and he wants more work. I think Everton can give him an important chapter in his career.”

Currently lying ninth on the log on 12 points, Everton will host sixth-placed Swansea at Goodison Park on Saturday in matchday 10 of the English Premier League.

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Bony, Sakho in race for top Premier League award

Bony has been impressive for Swansea City

Bony has been impressive for Swansea City

Swansea City striker Wilfried Bony, West Ham striker Diafra Sakho and his club mate Alex Song have been shortlisted for the English Premier League African Player for October.

The winner of the October award is expected to be announced on November 1.

Awards director Tunde Adelakun expressed delight and gratitude to the growing number of contributors to the awards scheme, which has been, in his words “rather gratifying to have that many people taking part in the voting process”.

“Wilfried Bony, 25, has been symbolic in Swansea City’s rise to prominence in the current season, not only netting goals but also putting a good team performance in protecting his club. His contribution and commitment earned him the nomination; in addition to the goals he contributed” the statement added.

Bony scored in the 2-2 draw against Newcastle United early in the month, and also netted both goals that shut out Leicester City in a 2-0 win at home last weekend.

“West Ham’s Diafra Sakho has made the shortlist all three months of the season so far. His penchant for goalscoring has been rewarded, and his story is that of a great rise from seeming mediocrity. Brought in from French second tier team Metz for just over £3million, Sakho has settled in to West Ham, and has broken a record at West Ham, becoming the only player to have scored in six consecutive Premier league games; including a winning goal against champions Manchester City.

“The third player on the shortlist is Cameroonian Alex Song. On loan at West Ham from FC Barcelona, Song has proved an invaluable acquisition for the Hammers, being rock solid in the middle of the park and earning a few man-of-the-match accolades with his ability and effort since he arrived.”

Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City won the August award, while Southampton FC’s Victor Wanyama was the winner of the September award.

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Broke Malawi considering to opt out of AFCON 2015 qualifiers

Malawi could opt out of AFCON 2015

Malawi could opt out of AFCON 2015

Malawi may have to take the decision to pull out of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, due to insufficient finances.

The general secretary of the Malawi Football Association, Suzgyo Nyirenda told the BBC that the organisation are attempting to secure sponsorship to be able to play their remaining fixtures and said: “The cut-off point for a decision will be 4th/5th November.

“We cannot go into camp without the funds so we are contemplating pulling out of the competition. It would be the last resort. We are trying to engage a number of organisations to give us US$155,000 to complete the assignment.”

Nyirenda stated that not only would the senior side be banned but the youth teams would also be affected by a decision to pull out.

“If we cannot raise the money we will be fined and banned (by the Confederation of African Football) and even our youth teams will be affected,” he added.

According to the general secretary, despite the increased improvement of the Malawian national team, funding has always been an issue and branded the current conundrum as ‘pathetic’.

“We thought Malawi was progressing well, in terms of performances and rankings, but funding has always been a problem and this shows the situation in the country.

“It is pathetic we have reached this position. We are hopeful something will happen, but if the situation remains the same we will definitely have to pull out.”

If Malawi do indeed pull out their results would be declared void, leaving Mali and Ethiopia level on points in Group B.

 

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LATEST HEADLINES

Villareal forward Ike Uche returns to Nigeria national team ahead of final AFCON qualfiers thumbnail

Villareal forward Ike Uche returns to Nigeria national team ahead of final AFCON qualfiers

Back-to-baton Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has handed Villarreal striker, Ikechukwu Uche a call up in the 25-man squad for Nigeria's final two African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa.
CAF deny agreeing in principle with Morocco to postpone 2015 AFCON thumbnail

CAF deny agreeing in principle with Morocco to postpone 2015 AFCON

The Confederation of African Football have denied reports that they have agreed in principle with Morocco to the postponement of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled to be held between January 17 and February 8.
Sierra Leone FA chief Johansen backs Morocco’s request for 2015 AFCON to be postponed thumbnail

Sierra Leone FA chief Johansen backs Morocco’s request for 2015 AFCON to be postponed

The president of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), Isha Johansen has backed host Morocco's request to have the African Cup of Nations finals postponed.
South Africa choose Durban to host Sudan for AFCON qualifier in honor of Meyiwa thumbnail

South Africa choose Durban to host Sudan for AFCON qualifier in honor of Meyiwa

South Africa will play their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan in Durban, the hometown of goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa who died last week.
Algerian side Setif out to prove a point ahead of CAF Champions League final match thumbnail

Algerian side Setif out to prove a point ahead of CAF Champions League final match

Algerian club Entente Setif, dismissed by some officials as not being good enough to win the 2014 CAF Champions League, are poised to lift the trophy this Saturday.
Manchester United agree new sponsorship deal with Nigerian company as stars look on thumbnail

Manchester United agree new sponsorship deal with Nigerian company as stars look on

English Premiership side, Manchester United, have signed a deal with with Chi Limited to become the club's official soft drinks partner in Nigeria.