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AFCON 2023: Lookman’s Brace Sends Nigeria Into Q/Finals

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Ademola Lookman scored twice as Nigeria’s Super Eagles saw off perennial rivals Cameroon to book a quarter finals spot at the ongoing AFCON 2023.

Goals in either half of the tie ensured that Nigeria will continue in the competition as they seek a fourth AFCON title.

The Nigerians had an early Semi Ajayi goal disallowed following a VAR review in this last-16 clash before the constant pressing and bullying of the Cameroon defence by Victor Osimhen led to Lookman finding the net in the 36th minute.

A team that has become impermeable at this AFCON 2023 then kept the Indomitable Lions at bay before Lookman made sure of the victory in the 90th minute in front of 22,085 fans at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

They will now return to the same venue for a last-eight meeting next Friday with Angola, who earlier defeated Namibia 3-0.

READ ALSO: Why Nigerian Referees Are Not Officiating At AFCON — CAF

With the fearsome Osimhen leading from the front, the Super Eagles are clearly a serious threat to reigning champions Senegal as they chase a fourth continental crown.

This fixture is a Cup of Nations classic, with the first three of Cameroon’s five titles coming after wins over Nigeria in the final.

The very first, when a side led by Roger Milla came from behind to win 3-1 in 1984, was achieved in this same stadium in Ivory Coast’s economic capital.

Yet Nigeria won the most recent encounter with their neighbours, in the last 16 in Egypt five years ago, and their current side came into this match as favourites against Rigobert Song’s Cameroon.

The Super Eagles eased through their group unbeaten, while Cameroon needed a stoppage-time goal against Gambia to progress.

READ ALSO: AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast To ‘Loan’ Coach Until End Of Tournament

Their most recognisable name is Andre Onana, but the Manchester United goalkeeper was dropped for a second successive game, with Fabrice Ondoa of French third-tier side Nimes preferred between the posts.

Kogi’s Gov Ododo retains nine of Yahaya Bello’s 16 commissioners
Vincent Aboubakar, their skipper and main goal threat, was named among the substitutes after missing the entire first round injured.

Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro brought back captain William Troost-Ekong, Lookman and Alex Iwobi –- scorer of the winner in that 2019 tie –- after all were rested for their last match against Guinea-Bissau.

– Tireless Osimhen –

Their pressing game caused problems for Cameroon from the off, and Nigeria thought they had taken the lead inside eight minutes.

A Moses Simon shot was saved by Ondoa but the ball broke to Ajayi and the West Bromwich Albion defender found the net despite the goalkeeper getting a touch.

Wild celebrations ensued, only for the Moroccan referee to come across to the VAR monitor and disallow the goal because Ajayi was deemed offside and interfering when the initial shot came in.

READ ALSO: AFCON 2023: Ahmed Musa Begs Nigerians For Support

Not to be discouraged, Nigeria simply did not stop running, with the tireless Osimhen setting the example.

He provoked the opening goal, dispossessing Oumar Gonzalez after a throw-in had been played back towards the Cameroon defender, and then unselfishly setting up Lookman.

The Atalanta forward’s shot was straight at Ondoa, but the goalkeeper could only help the ball on its way.

Osimhen slumped to the turf on the half-time whistle, but the African footballer of the year discovered the energy to go again after the restart.

Peseiro has stressed that the priority for his team has been to make sure they don’t concede goals, and they stood firm despite having goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili stretchered off injured late on.

Aboubakar’s introduction for Cameroon changed nothing, and Nigeria got the killer second just before the game moved into 10 minutes of injury time.

Calvin Bassey crossed low from the left and London-born Lookman applied the finish.

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Nigeria’s Basketball Team Withdraws From Afrobasket Qualifiers Over Lack Of Funds

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Nigeria’s basketball team popularly called the D’Tigers has withdrawn from the Afrobasket qualifiers window over lack of funds.

D’tigers made this announcement on Wednesday evening after it complained of not getting funding from the Federal Government.

The PUNCH reports that President Bola Tinubu, in January, cleared the outstanding payment that FG owed the Super Eagles and other sporting teams of the country.

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According to a statement on the X handle of Tinubu’s Media Centre, on Sunday, the payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.

The statement reads, “President @officialABAT has approved the payment of N12 billion outstanding backlog for Nigeria’s National teams of various sports, which includes Super Eagles and others.

“The payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.”

However, D’Tigers on its X handle wrote, “Despite several 2020 Olympians committing, D’Tigers forfeit this AfroBasket Qualifiers window due to lack of funds from the government.”

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Recall that in 2022, former President, Muhammadu Buhari, approved the withdrawal of Nigeria from international basketball competitions for two years.

A statement issued by the then Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, said the presidential directive followed the intractable crisis that has dogged and crippled the development of basketball in the country in form of the leadership crisis at the Nigeria Basketball Federation.

The statement said the decision to withdraw the country was made to concentrate efforts by the government towards revamping the sport from the grassroots as well as domestic leagues which have become moribund.

The sports ministry also said an Interim Management Committee will also be set up to oversee the management and development of the domestic basketball leagues in the country to further address other related issues around the development and advancement of the game in the country and to utilise the period of break to address all contentious issues among stakeholders.

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FULL LIST: AFCON 2025 Preliminary Draw

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The preliminary draw for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations has been held today at the Confederations of African Football headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

The draw followed the conclusion of the 34th edition of the competition hosted by Ivory Coast.

The preliminary draw had the eight lowest-ranked teams according to the FIFA ranking: Somalia, Djibouti, Sao Tome, Chad, Mauritius, South Sudan, Liberia and Eswatini.

The teams will play on home and away basis during the FIFA Window of March 18 to March 26.

READ ALSO: FULL LIST: CAF AFCON Starting XI

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Below is the full list of the AFCON preliminary draw:

Somalisa Vs Eswatini

Sao Tome Vs South Sudan

Chad Vs Mauritius

Djibouti Vs Liberia

The just concluded 2023 AFCON was held in Côte d’Ivoire and won by the host team, the Elephants.

They defeated the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 in the final of the tournament.

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Emerse Fae Confirmed As Cote d’Ivoire Head Coach After AFCON Triumph

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Emerse Fae was on Monday rewarded for guiding Ivory Coast to the African Cup of Nations title as interim coach by being given the job full-time.

“Emerse was until now interim coach and has just been confirmed today as full coach,” the Ivoirian federation boss Idriss Diallo said.

The Elephants were facing elimination when they fired veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset in January after winning just one of their three group games.

The next day, results fell the hosts’ way and they squeezed through as the last of the four best third-placed teams. Fae, a former Ivorian international who had never coached before, took over.

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Fae oversaw an incredible turnaround.

In the last 16, the Ivorians came from behind to beat holders Senegal on penalties. Then, playing much of the match with 10 men, they came from behind to beat Mali in extra time in the quarter-finals.

After beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 in the last four, they came from behind once more to beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final and lift the trophy.

 

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