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Afcon 2023 draws throws up interesting matchups as Nigeria face Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone again

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African teams on Tuesday, learned their opponents in the qualifying round for the continents’ biennial football competition, the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Afcon, billed for Cote d’Ivoire next year.

Three time winners, Nigeria has been pitched again against Sierra Leone whom they played out a spectacular 5-5 draw over two legs (4-4 in Benin City and 1-1 in Freetown) in the last qualifiers for the Cameroon edition.

The Super Eagles will also square up against Guinea Bissau whom they defeated 2-0 in Cameroon as well as Sao Tome and Principe or Mauritius in Group A.

The draw which was held in South Africa and anchored by former South African dedender Lucas Radebe and ex-Cote d’Ivoire striker, Salomon Kalou, threw up more interesting pairings as the 32 seeded nations look to qualify for the epic African football showpiece, with plenty of ambitious teams believing they can emulate reigning champions Senegal and go on to win the tournament.

The Lions of Teranga on their part, will be hoping to defend their crown in Cote d’ivoire but they will have to contend with the likes of Benin Republic, Mozambique and Rwanda in Group L.

The Black Stars of Ghana will have to negotiate their way past Madagascar, Angola and the Central African Republic in Group E if they hope to make it to the tournament proper.

1996 champions South Africa would be aiming for a return to Afcon after missing the last edition but standing in their path in Group K will be Morocco, Zimbabwe and Libya.

2021 host, Cameroon will have their hands full when they confront Kenya, Namibia, and Burundi in Group C, while hosts Cote d’Ivoire will tackle Zambia, Comoros and Lesotho even though they have already secured their place in the tournament.

What this means is that only one other team from their group will qualify for the competition which will make the group a group of death.

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers start in June 2022.

How the teams are grouped:

Group A: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome e Principe or Mauritius

Group B: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Togo, Eswatini

Group C: Cameroon, Kenya, Namibia, Burundi

Group D: Egypt, Guinea, Malawi, Ethiopia

Group E: Ghana, Madagascar, Angola, Central African Republic

Group F: Algeria, Uganda, Niger, Tanzania

Group G: Mali, Congo Brazzaville, Gambia, South Sudan

Group H: Ivory Coast (hosts), Zambia, Comoros, Lesotho

Group I: Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Mauritania, Sudan

Group J: Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Botswana

Group K: Morocco, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Liberia

Group L: Senegal (holders), Benin, Mozambique, Rwanda

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Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel retires from football as one of African most decorated stars

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Former Nigerian international footballer, John Mikel Obi has retired from the sport after a boisterous career both home and abroad.

The 35-year-old Nigerian started his career at the age of 12 when picked as a talented footballer by over 3,000 young talents to play in Pepsi Football Academy. Mikel would later have his professional career in Norway, England, China, Turkey, and Kuwait.

His most successful club career stint was at Chelsea football club of England which he joined after a dramatic transfer battle between Chelsea and Manchester United.  Mikel enjoined eleven years of stay at the London club where he won 2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cup, 1 Football League Cup, 1 FA Community Shield, 1 UEFA Champions League, and 1 UEFA Europa League.

On the national stage, Mikel won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles of Nigeria in 2013 and a third-place finish in 2006, 2010, and 2019. He was also the captain of Nigeria’s Summer Olympic team that won bronze in 2016

Meanwhile, there have been congratulatory messages and accolades to the former Nigerian star by his former clubs, football bodies, and colleagues.

 

His personal honour includes FIFA World Youth Championship Silver Ball in 2005, CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year in 2005, Chelsea Young Player of the Year: 2007, and 2008, He was part of the CAF Team of the Year in 2005 and 2013, Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament in 2013, and ended as African Footballer of the Year runner-up: 2013.

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(VIDEO) Big shame as Mali women’s basketball players fight following World Cup match loss

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It was a show of shame on Monday when two members of Mali’s women basketball team at the ongoing FIBA Women World Cup in Sydney, Australia, threw caution to the wind and engaged each other in fisticuffs afterafter the team was defeated 81-68 by Serbia.

The two players, Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou, were caught on video going at each other’s throat during a post-match interview with Serbian player, Sasa Cado, in the post game mixed zone and was captured by a Serbian news camera.

Prior to the shameful fight, Mali which is lowest-ranked side at the tournament at number 37 in the world, had lost their first four games of the tournament and were no longer in contention for the knockout stage.

They even managed to set a record by losing to hosts Australia by a 118-58, a whopping 60 points difference.

Meanwhile, basketball’s world governing body, FIBA, in a statement on Tuesday, says it has opened an investigation into the fight.

The two Malian basketball players engaging in a shameful fight

The two Malian basketball players engaging in a shameful fight (Photo Credit: SNA)

The statement issued by a FIBA spokesperson, confirmed it was aware of the incident.

“FIBA acknowledged today that there was an altercation between Mali players in the mixed zone following the Group B game Serbia-Mali at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022.

“Following the incident, FIBA has opened an investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, FIBA will decide on any applicable disciplinary measures.”

Mali was only a late replacement for at the World Cup after the Nigeria withdrew from the tournament due to administrative issues around the sport in their country.

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