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AFCON Qualifiers: Iheanacho Expected As Osimhen, Others Arrive Camp

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Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, who hit a brace as City flung Manchester United out of the FA Cup at the weekend, is yet to arrive at Eko Hotel & Towers, Victoria Island, Lagos where the three-time African champions are camped ahead of the big duels.

However, Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and 22 other players have arrived as of lunchtime, according to a statement by Nigeria Football Federation.
The players in camp are 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, and Victor Osimhen.
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.
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.
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.

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Iheanacho Shines As Leicester Beats Spartak Moscow 4-3

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Patson Daka scored four goals as Leicester revived their Europa League campaign by fighting back from two goals down to beat Spartak Moscow 4-3 in the Russian capital on Wednesday.

Zambia striker Daka, a close-season signing from Salzburg, became only the fifth player to score four goals in a Europa League game since the competition was rebranded from the UEFA Cup, and the first since Willian Jose for Real Sociedad in 2017.

Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester moved up to second place in Group C behind leaders Legia Warsaw, a point above third-placed Spartak.

“It’s been an amazing few days for me and the team,” Daka told BT Sport. “It was a very good effort from the team. I’m just happy I was able to help the team.”

Goals from Aleksandr Sobolev and Jordan Larsson put Spartak in control, but Daka netted his first European goal for the visitors just before half-time.

Less than three minutes after the break, Kelechi Iheanacho claimed his second assist, crossing low for Daka to tap in from close range.

Leicester, and Daka, made it three goals in the space of nine minutes when the 23-year-old slid the ball under home goalkeeper Aleksandr Maksimenko.

He completed his four-goal haul with 12 minutes remaining by picking out the corner of the net after collecting James Maddison’s pass.

That goal made Daka, who also netted in Leicester’s 4-2 win over Manchester United on Saturday, the Foxes’ all-time joint-top scorer in Europe.

Sobolev gave Spartak hope in the 86th minute, but Leicester held on.

AFP

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Super Falcons Beat Ghana 2-0 In AFCON Qualifier

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The Super Falcons of Nigeria took a two-goal lead over Ghana’s Black Queens in their Women Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixture, thanks to a brace by Sweden-based forward Uchenna Kanu at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena on Wednesday.

The visitors had come close in the 11th minute when Grace Animah saw her fierce shot inside the box blocked by Onome Ebi for a corner. But it was much against the run of play and nine minutes later, Nigeria made pressure count when Kanu rose to meet a perfectly-weighted pull-out by Francisca Ordega and nodded past impressive goalkeeper Dumehasi Fafali.

Both teams, knowing the loser on aggregate will be without any major qualifying contest or tournament for the next two-and-half years, threw everything into the clash played behind closed doors on Lagos Island, but it was Nigeria that made the breakthrough again in the 26th minute, when Kanu rose highest in the box to meet Toni Payne’s corner kick and nodded firmly past Fafali and a clutch of watching defenders.

Former junior international Kanu could have added an assist to her impressive tally for the day when she darted past two defenders and squared for Asisat Oshoala, but Fafali foiled any intentions of the Nigeria captain.

Three minutes before recess, Grace Asantewaa unleashed from just outside the box but her shot rose far above goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie’s post.

In the second half, the Black Queens did something in the mould of throwing the kitchen sink at the Super Falcons, harrying, pushing, kicking and running all over to try and reduce the tally and make the second leg in Accra something to look forward to. But veteran defender Onome Ebi, youngster Opeyemi Sunday, Glory Ogbonna and Osinachi Ohale thwarted their efforts.

Grace Asantewaa was again foiled in the 50th minute by Nnadozie, who tipped her rising shot over the sticks. Two minutes later, Oshoala darted past her marker and headed for glory, but was again stopped by Fafali.

Ghana’s captain Portia Boakye was the usual energetic warrior with an uncompromising stance and worked well with Gladys Amfobea, Janet Egyir, and Ellen Coleman to minimize the damage from the Super Falcons.

At the fore, Princella Adubea, Vivian Konadu and Nina Norshie sought vainly to unlock the Nigerian rear.

In the 82nd minute, Fafali was on hand to neutralize a plan cooked by substitute Vivian Ikechukwu, leaving the scoreline still at 2-0. And with a minute to the end, the tireless Princella Adubea waltzed her way into the Nigeria box and found herself face to face with Nnadozie, only to see her close-range bullet parried and then cleared out to safety by Ebi.

Both teams clash again on Sunday at the Accra Sports Stadium, as from 4pm Ghana time (5pm Nigeria time), with the winner on aggregate qualifying for the 12th Women Africa Cup of Nations holding in Morocco next year summer.

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Why I want To Fight Fury Before My Career Ends -Anthony Joshua

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British boxer Anthony Joshua celebrates after winning the heavyweight boxing match between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in Diriya, near the Saudi capital on December 7, 2019.

Anthony Joshua has said he needs a fight against Tyson Fury “on my record” before his career is finished because boxing as a whole required at least one bout between the two British heavyweights.

Between them, the two boxers currently hold all the major versions of the heavyweight world title.

Talks of a unification ‘superfight’, which went on for months, appeared to be on the brink of ending in an agreement earlier this year only for a United States arbitrator to rule Fury had to fight Deontay Wilder for a third time.

As a result Fury, having previously drawn with and then stopped Wilder, is set to make the maiden defence of his World Boxing Council (WBC) belt against the American in Las Vegas next month.

Before then, Joshua is set to face World Boxing Organization (WBO) mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk in London on September 25, with a crowd of some 60,000 expected at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the home of the Premier League club.

But Joshua, also the World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion, knows that a fight against Fury is the contest boxing fans want to see and that a question mark will hang over his career if he does not face the ‘Gypsy King’.

“Do I need Tyson Fury on my record? I need it,” Joshua told the BBC 5 Live boxing podcast.

“We need it for boxing. It’s what we all need, I need it. Come on, let’s see how good I am.

“Fight good fighters and they bring out the best of you. Training camp is hard. To get better is very difficult in boxing. To fight Tyson Fury is a big challenge.”

Joshua added: “Let’s see how far I can take myself during this period. It’ll be a good challenge mentally. Not about him, but because I actually want to do well.

“When I wake up in the morning early and I’m tired, my body’s battered, I still go out and do what I do. It’s great rewards and only someone like Fury can give that to me.”

AFP

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