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Madagascar Seals First Ever Nations Cup Qualification

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Madagascar qualified for their first ever African Nations Cup after beating Equatorial Guinea 1-0 at home on Tuesday and was later joined by Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia in the 24-team field for next year’s expanded finals.

With two nations qualifying from 11 of the 12 four-team groups, Madagascar were always going to have a good chance to make the breakthrough, at their 17th attempt, after starting their Group A campaign with an away win in Sudan last year.

Yet successive 1-0 wins home and away against Equatorial Guinea in the last five days took them over the line with Njiva Rakotoharimalala scoring the only goal of Tuesday’s match in Antananarivo.

Senegal won 1-0 in Sudan thanks to a late goal from Sidy Sarr as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was left out of the team after hurting a thumb at the weekend.

Egypt’s 2-0 away win over eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, was without the injured Mohamed Salah and a 2-1 triumph for Tunisia in Niger ensured the two north African powerhouses qualified from Group J. Firas Chawat scored both goals for Tunisia on his debut.

Uganda needs a point from their last two qualifiers to reach the finals after beating Lesotho 2-0 away and Guinea are also on the cusp despite giving up a late goal and being held 1-1 in Rwanda.

Liverpool’s Naby Keita went off at halftime with a suspected muscle strain.

Ivory Coast still has some work to do after they were held 0-0 away in the Central African Republic, but are expected to qualify from Group H along with Guinea.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not play for Gabon as they won 1-0 in South Sudan after a row over the charter plane initially laid on to take the team to Juba.

Aubameyang lead protests by players and staff and then said he had a backache and pulled out of the trip on Monday, as a new and larger plane took the players for the match, where Andre Biyogo Poko scored the only goal of the game.

Aubameyang last month criticised the Gabon federation’s poor organisation.

Tiny Seychelles held South Africa to a goalless draw on the Indian Ocean island, while Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo followed up his hat-trick against Libya at the weekend with another two goals against the same opposition in a 3-2 win in neutral Sfax, Tunisia.

Nigeria top Group E with nine points, South Africa has eight and Libya four.

South Africa, however, have tough fixtures against Nigeria at home next month and Libya away in March for their last two games and could miss out on the finals for the second straight edition.

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VIDEO: NFF, Super Eagles, Super Falcons Urge Nigerians To Stay Safe Amid Covid-19 Scourge

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Watch the NFF officials led by Amaju Pinnick, as well as Gernot Rohr, Super Eagles and Super Falcons players – past and present, as they make passionate appeal to Nigerians to do the needful and defeat covid-19.

Asisat Oshoala, Odion Ighalo , Desire Oparanozie, Ahmed Musa, Wilfred Ndidi, Francisca Ordega, Victor Osimhen, Joe Aribo, William Troost-Ekong, Alex Iwobi, Maduka Okoye, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Shehu Abdullahi, Jamilu Collins and Kenneth Omeruo have a word for you here.

Recall that the Nigerian motion picture artists popularly known as Nollywood also engaged in similar campaign to sensitize Nigerians on the dangers of COVID-19

 

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Ronaldo Reveals His First Encounter With Taribo West

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The defender and the Brazilian phenomenon shared the same dressing room at Inter Milan, but the attacker revealed that both of them had met many years earlier.

Taribo West excelled as a defender against some of football’s greats, including Brazil’s Ronaldo de Lima, in a football career that spanned almost 15 years. While the two former stars became teammates and friends at Inter Milan, the 2002 World Cup winner has shared his first-ever encounter facing West on a football pitch.

West was only 19 years old when he moved to Europe to join French side Auxerre in 1993. He had been a revelation in the domestic scene for the four previous years, starring for Sharks of Port Harcourt, Enugu Rangers, and Julius Berger.

The young defender had also become the defensive pillar of the Nigeria U20 team.

Another four successful years in France brought the Ligue 1 title and two Cup trophies before West completed a summer switch to Serie A giants, Internazionale.

It was at Inter Milan that he became teammates with Ronaldo.

But the two players’ paths had earlier crossed in 1996 when West stood firm in defence as Nigeria’s Dream Team brushed aside a Ronaldo-inspired Brazil on the way to claiming the Atlanta Olympic Games gold medal.

But Ronaldo, 43, insists they had both met before that time at an international youth tourney when West featured for Nigeria’s U20 team against an Under-17 Brazilian team that Ronaldo in its lineup.

Recalling in an Instagram chat with Italian striker Christian Vieri monitored by ilbianconero, Ronaldo hints that he endured a difficult time battling his future teammate.

“I was in the under 16, and we were in retreat with the Brazilian national team for two weeks.

“At the time I was 15, and we made a friendly match with Nigeria Under-20 team where Taribo played.

“They were very fast; they were adults, we were only 15 years old. On that occasion, I exchanged shoes with Taribo, but we didn’t know each other yet.

“After so many years, we met at Inter.”

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Barcelona Don’t Have Capacity To Sign Neymar Nor Martinez Now – Laliga Boss, Tebas

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Laliga President Javier Tebas wants the world media to stop speculating the news that Barcelona are making moves to sign their former superstar Neymar from PSG or Inter Milan striker, Lautaro Martinez, insisting such transfer deals are not feasible in the current challenges induced by covid-19 pandemic.

Tebas spoke with strong conviction on the Neymar and Martinez speculations when he interacted with Adea Conecta forum on Friday, insisting that such high profile transfer dealing is not feasible as European clubs prioritize their operations in the face of the economic challenges caused by covid-19 outbreak.

“It’s not true that Barca are currently in negotiation processes in the signing of these two players,” Tebas told the Adea Conecta forum.

“They are most focused on when the season can resume as opposed to new acquisitions. There will be swap deals in the short-term future, but transfers are not high on the priority of European clubs at present.

“They want to limit the damage caused by the halt in activity, but everything is still on hold. No Neymar nor Lautaro, these names
are not high on the priority list at present for Barca.”

“The club at present don’t have the capacity to make these signings, at present it’s completely impossible,” Tebas concluded.

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Tranfers: Ndidi Speaks On Leicester City’s Exit

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The Super Eagles star has been linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium, but he has shut down those rumours.

Wilfred Ndidi insists he has no intention of quitting Leicester City as he is enjoying his time with at the club. The 23-year-old has been linked with a move to two of Premier League’s topsides, Arsenal and Manchester United.

The Nigeria international has been an important player for the Foxes since he joined them from Genk in 2017.

This season, Ndidi is playing an essential role in Brendan Rodgers side surge in the Premier League table. The Foxes are currently third on the table with Ndidi playing an important part.

The former Genk star is known for breaking up attacking play which is why he is joint second as the player with most interceptions in the Premier League this season.

He’s also the base that sets up Leicester City’s attack. As a result of his impressive performances, top clubs like Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal are reportedly interested in Ndidi’s services.

But the Nigeria international insists he intends to honour his contract, which he just extended till 2024.

“We are doing well, and I am enjoying myself here,” Ndidi told ESPN.

“I still have a contract with Leicester. I am learning and trying to improve myself every day, and I am doing OK here, so no need to go anywhere.” Ndidi made 29 appearances for Leicester and scored two goals before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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