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AFCON

‘It’s strange’- Okocha names one goalkeeper Nigeria need ahead of AFCON tournament

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Austin Jay-Jay Okocha has shared his views on the ongoing discussion about the Nigerian men’s national team’s goalkeeping situation.

According to the former Super Eagles captain, Udinese’s Maduka Okoye remains Nigeria’s most talented goalkeeper, despite not getting much playing time in the national squad recently.

Okoye’s last appearance for Nigeria was during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

He was in goal for all of Nigeria’s matches in the tournament but was criticized for his performance, particularly in the round of 16 defeat to Tunisia, where he was deemed at fault for the only goal Nigeria conceded.

Since that match, Okoye has faced criticism from both pundits and fans, and he has not been part of the national team setup for the 2023 AFCON.

Okocha has expressed his disappointment with the handling of Okoye’s situation by the Nigerian technical crew.

He believes that despite Okoye’s mistake against Tunisia, he remains Nigeria’s most talented goalkeeper and should have been retained in the squad.

Okocha shared his thoughts in an interview with Osasu Obayiuwana during their trip to Ivory Coast ahead of the AFCON opener on Saturday.

“The way he has been treated since #AFCON2021, after that fateful Tunisia game, leading to his exclusion from the Eagles, is a mistake.

“He is the one keeper that has the type of training and football upbringing that we need in a goalkeeper in the national team. But he is excluded. It’s strange,” Okocha said.

With Okoye out of the national team, Francis Uzoho has taken his place, but the Omonia Nicosia goalkeeper has struggled to impress, making several errors.

The future now holds the question of whether Okoye will be brought back into the squad after the conclusion of the AFCON.

AFCON

FIFA Ranking: Nigeria soar to 28th ahead Ivory Coast after AFCON silver win

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Nigeria has made a significant jump in the latest FIFA Ranking, now sitting ahead of AFCON champions Cote d’Ivoire and Erling Haaland’s Norway.

After their impressive showing at the AFCON 2023 tournament, Nigeria’s Super Eagles have climbed 14 places in the FIFA World Ranking. They are now ranked 28th in the world and the third-best team in Africa.

Despite their heartbreaking 2-1 loss to host nation Cote d’Ivoire in the final, Nigeria’s performance earned them plenty of praise. Led by coach Jose Peseiro, the young Nigerian side impressed throughout the tournament, narrowly missing out on a fourth AFCON title.

This move from 42nd to 28th is the highest climb for the Super Eagles in 11 years, matching their position in May 2013. They now sit behind Morocco, who moved up one spot to 12th, and Senegal, who are ranked 17th after moving up three places.

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AFCON

Nigeria 1-2 Cote D’ivoire: Haller hits winner as Ivory Coast beat Super Eagles to take AFCON title

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Sebastien Haller scored a dramatic late winner as Ivory Coast fought back to beat Nigeria 2-1 in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final, completing a remarkable turnaround to claim their third continental title.

Nigeria initially looked set to repeat their group stage victory over Ivory Coast with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of captain William Troost-Ekong’s header late in the first half. However, Franck Kessie equalized just after the hour mark, and Haller scored the winning goal in the 81st minute, sparking wild celebrations among the Ivory Coast fans.

This victory adds to Ivory Coast’s titles in 1992 and 2015 and brings them level with Nigeria on three Cup of Nations triumphs overall, joining Egypt, Cameroon, and Ghana as the most successful teams in the tournament’s history. Nigeria missed the chance to match Ghana’s four victories.

Despite being led by reigning African player of the year Victor Osimhen, Nigeria was considered the strongest team in the competition. However, Ivory Coast’s determination proved too much, making them the first host country to win the AFCON since 2006.

Former captain Didier Drogba, who led the Ivory Coast team that lost to Egypt in the 2006 final, witnessed this stunning victory as a spectator.

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AFCON

Former Man City player reveals he will REJECT calls to coach Togo

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Former Premier League star Emmanuel Adebayor has declined offers to become the manager of Togo as he looks towards the next phase of his career.

Despite being the most high-profile player in the country’s history, Adebayor, who played for Manchester City, Tottenham, and Crystal Palace, decided against taking on a coaching role with the national team.

Having made 87 appearances for the Hawks and scored a record 32 goals, Adebayor shared that he has different plans now that he has retired from playing football.

According to The Sun, the recently-retired forward said: “Being national coach is not at all what Sheyi Emmanuel Adebayor is about.

“I’m not planning to become the Togo Hawks coach. I know what my temperament is like.

“But I could be an ambassador for the team, someone who accompanies my young brothers and shares my experience with them.

“I have played at the World Cup, and in an Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final. I could tell the players how to prepare for big games, and how to relax.

“Once the current Africa Cup of Nations has finished, I will try to have talks with the Minister for Sport and the authorities.

“I want to see how I can make a contribution. All I want to do is to lend support to my country.

Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte has been in charge of Togo since 2021, but due to their poor performances under his leadership, there is growing support for Emmanuel Adebayor to take on the role.

Adebayor, the former Togo forward, had a decade-long career in England, starting at Arsenal before moving to Manchester City, Tottenham, and Crystal Palace. He retired after playing in Turkey and Paraguay.

In October, Adebayor urged Arsenal fans to “forget” his infamous celebration after scoring for Manchester City against them in 2009.

His acrimonious £25 million transfer from Arsenal to City that summer, as the latter’s rich Abu Dhabi owners began heavy spending, led to taunts from Arsenal fans when he faced them at the Etihad Stadium a few weeks into the following season.

Adebayor’s celebration, which involved a knee-slide in front of the Gunners’ supporters, was a memorable moment from that match.

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