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AFCON 2021: Super Eagles Camp Bubbles Against Squirrels, Crocodiles

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Nigeria’s senior men team’s camp is teeming with her superstars as countdown begins for the final round of qualification matches for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations against Benin Republic and Lesotho respectively.

At lunchtime on Tuesday, 23 players had arrived at the magnificent Eko Hotel & Towers, Victoria Island, Lagos where the three-time African champions are ensconced ahead of the big duels.

Nigeria top their group with eight points, one better than the Squirrels of Benin Republic, against whom they trade tackles at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo on Saturday in the penultimate round of the qualifying campaign.

Three days later, the Eagles confront the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos in what will be their first encounter in Nigeria’s commercial and economic capital in 10 years.

With three–pointer Sierra Leone, third in the pool, concluding their game away to bottom –placed Lesotho in Maseru earlier, the Eagles could be guaranteed qualification for the final tournament in Cameroon before kick-off in Porto Novo.

Failure by the Leone Stars to pick all three points will mean Nigeria and Benin are through to Cameroon.

Also Read: Orji Uzor-Kalu: I Picked Abaribe From The Gutter

On Tuesday, Coach Gernot Rohr said his wards will approach Saturday’s match with the intention of picking all three poits, no matter the result of the group’s other tie in southern Africa.

“We are keen to restore a winning mentality to the group ahead of very crucial matches that we have ahead. It is important that we earn victories in the upcoming matches so that we get into our paces for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. There will be tough games to come and we need to be rearing to go.”

The Eagles have Cape Verde, Liberia and Central Africa Republic to dispute in the 2022 FIFA World Cup race, with only the winner heading to the final knockout series in November.

Liberia’s Lone Star will be the Eagles’ first opponents in that race, at home, before a trip to Bangui.

Players in camp:

Goalkeepers:

Maduka Okoye,

Francis Uzoho,

John Noble;

Defenders:

William Ekong,

Olaoluwa Aina,

Adekunle Adeleke,

Chidozie Awaziem,

Leon Balogun,

Tyronne Ebuehi,

Jamilu Collins,

Zaidu Sanusi;

Midfielders:

Semi Ajayi,

Oghenekaro Etebo,

Abdullahi Shehu,

Joseph Ayodele-Aribo,

Wilfred Ndidi;

Forwards:

Ahmed Musa,

Henry Onyekuru,

Anayo Iwuala,

Alex Iwobi,

Paul Onuachu,

Samuel Chukwueze,

Victor Osimhen.

Only Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, who hit a brace as City flung Manchester United out of the FA Cup at the weekend, is being expected at the Eko Hotels.

The Super Eagles will travel by waterways to Porto Novo on Friday morning, and will stay the night in the Beninoise capital, Cotonou before moving to Porto Novo on Saturday for the game.

The contingent will return to Cotonou after the game and travel back to Lagos on Sunday morning.

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Ronaldo to miss Juventus, Atalanta clash due to injury

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Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out of Sunday’s Serie A game against Champions League rivals Atalanta with a flexor muscle issue.

Coach Andrea Pirlo said the 36-year-old Portuguese striker, the top scorer in Serie A this season with 25 goals, would rest to avoid risking a more serious injury.

“We have an important absentee. Unfortunately, Cristiano will not be taking part in the match due to a problem with his flexor,” Pirlo told a pre-match press conference.

“Over these past few days, he has not been able to recover from the problem sustained after last Sunday’s match against Genoa.

“He hasn’t been able to push himself this week. It would be too risky for us to bring him to Bergamo tomorrow.

“We have decided to leave him in Turin to rest and we will try to have him back for Wednesday’s match against Parma.”

Champions Juventus are third, 12 points off leaders Inter Milan, with their nine-year reign looking set to end.

They play fourth-placed Atalanta who are just a point behind, with next week’s game at relegation-threatened Parma.

Pirlo blamed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s problem on fatigue.

Read Also: Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

“Cristiano has always been in excellent condition,” said the Juventus coach.

“Unfortunately, the three matches in the national team have led to an accumulation of fatigue which is a problem for everyone.

“Cristiano also told me that in the national team he should only have played two games, but then that goal not given against Serbia led him to play the third as well, otherwise he would have been back at Juve’s disposal before the third game.

“An accumulation of everything, travel and games, can lead to fatigue. (Manchester City manager Pep) Guardiola also said it, there have been too many matches and the squads are too tight and these are the consequences.

“We also saw it in the Champions League, with (Bayern Munich’s Robert) Lewandowski who was unable to play the Champions League quarter-finals League due to an injury picked up in the national team.”

Juventus can however count on Argentina striker Paulo Dybala who will start for the first time in over three months, after a long knee injury layoff, partnering Alvaro Morata upfront.

Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci has recovered from Covid-19 contracted while with the national team but will start on the bench.

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Leadership

Adeboye, Fayemi meet in Ekiti

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The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, on Saturday morning, met with Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, at the Government House, Oke Ayoba, Ado Ekiti, the state capital.

Speaking after the meeting, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Yinka Oyebode, said the 79-year-old cleric paid a courtesy call on the governor.

Read Also: Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

He added that Adeboye and Fayemi also discussed issues of nationhood.

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Culture

Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

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The Yoruba self-determination rally organised by the Ilana Omo Oodua is underway in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Hundreds of members of the group whose leader is an 86-year-old Emeritus Professor of History, Banji Akintoye, had initially scheduled the take-off of the rally for the ancient Mapo Hall but the heavy presence of armed policemen forced them to change the venue.

They are addressing people at Mapo Roundabout but they were not disturbed by the police in any way.

The agitators are armed with banners and Yoruba nation flags while leaders of the group addressing the people are saying Yoruba people are tired of staying with Nigeria.

Also Read: Iran nuclear talks set to resume in Vienna

One of the leaders of the group, Basorun Kunle Adesokan, said Yoruba were no longer part of Nigeria and the people want to be an independent nation.

He condemned the insecurity in Yorubaland, saying the people could no longer stand the injustice in Nigeria.

Adesojan said, “We are no longer part of Nigeria. Yoruba people are determined to stand alone. We are starting the rally here in Ibadan because this is the capital of the Yoruba nation.

” Our brothers in Kwara, Lagos, Kogi, Edo, Delta and other states are here. We are not going to use violence, we want the Yoruba nation. No retreat no surrender. Let Hausa go their way, let Fulani go their own way and Igbo people should also go.

“The rally has taken off, we won’t stop until we achieve our aim.”

One of the leaders of Itsekiri youths present at the rally, Isaac Ajatitan, said Itsekiri people were part of Yoruba and would support them to achieve this aim.

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