CONGRATULATIONS SUPER EAGLES
What more can be said? The stone the builders rejected has become the pillar which the house itself rest upon. Stephen Keshi, the Nigerian gaffer was given the job but wasn’t given the space. He had to squeeze, beg, sometimes fight to do the job he was paid for.
Now, the team he puts up have shown everyone that Nigerian football can be interesting, yet rewarding. Some have dubbed Stephen Keshi’s wards the Barcelona of Africa. Its not just the winning, its the flair, the play on and off the ball, the passing and shading of the ball from Mikel is second to none. The beauty of Moses movement makes opposition cring and this team yet is not done yet.
I’m not going to write much today, the golden goblet is once again in the kitty of the Super Eagles after 19 years and the senate president promised that there will be a nationwide tour of the super guys and the cup. Trust me, yours truly will be there to bring you latest.
Congratulations Super Eagles, Congratulations to the Supporters who stood by. Congratulations to all Nigerians!
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
OUR OWN SUPER EAGLES
Two of Africa’s Heavyweights came head to head in Rustenburg as the Afcon’s third semi-final place was claimed; the Super Eagles upset the the odds by eliminating the Ivorians. A feat no one (trust me when I say no one because now people say stuffs like ‘I know the Super Eagles will win’, its blatant lie) gave the big ‘minnows’, Nigeria a chance. The Eagles came from the back of disappointing outings in the continental football fiesta since 2000 when they co-hosted with Ghana and last showed glimpses of true stallion they once proved to be six years earlier in Tunisia. 13 years of pain for the fans and shameful corrupt practices by leaders of the NFA (now NFF) that have largely retarded the growth of football now look a distant issue.
The guys at the glass house are finally getting their acts together and we can see it with the pitching of the right team (starting with picking the right coach and allowing him pick his team) especially since stephen Keshi took the reins of authority of the national team, the same team he captained in 1994. Usurping the Ivorians in Rustenburg came as a surprise to everyone because they were the giants of african football but it goes to show that there’s no respect in Africa for supposed giants.
The ivoriens were pompous, full of themselves and played with the lackadaisical flair a star studded team would against a minnor. The only challenge was that the Eagles of Nigeria had more hunger, more drive and were massively motivated on the day, dishing a cocktail of bitter thumping to the unprofessional ivoriens. Seeing nicknames rather than their real names on some ivorien players shirt was enough evidence for me that they came to the party ‘drunk’ with over confidence, which would be their greatest undoing.
Have we arrived? Can the Eagles suddenly fall into the trap of self delusion and believe they have arrived? Not at all. This is the time for the Super Eagles (formerly called Chickens) to rise to the zenith challenge of all, stick together. Mikel said this after the game and that sums it for me, “everyone fought for each other” and this must continue if they are to go even further.
The horrors of Aiyegbeni, Sani Keita and Odemwingie is now gone behind in memory. With players like Sunday Mba, Oboabona and Emenike emerging as the young eagles that will proudly rattle the nest for wings to soar, the sky is but the limit. The sensational first half Emenike strike will surely be a contender for best goal of the competition whilst I can confidently say, the FUN HAS NOW BEGUN! I’m proud of the boys from the local league, the ones on whom the burden of trust rested on their shoulders, the ones that the fear of jet-legging on the big stage have caused concern for critics and I’m proud they have delivered beyond our widest imagination.
They came, saw and conquered! They deserve a pat on the back and that’s what they will get when they return home. They are our heroes, our hope and our own Super Eagles!
Did you watch Balotelli’s romantic homecoming fairytale game for AC Milan? Wooooooow, that’s all I can say. He sparkled all over the field, riffling home a rocket of a goal with fantastic football in his kitty. He later stole the show after Udinese scored an equaliser to earn a 2-1 victory for AC Milan. Go on boy, I see YOU!
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: FOOTBALL’S IMPORTANT TOOL
The January transfer window was an opportunity for teams to strengthen for the future and provide a boost to the squad for the season run-in. Meanwhile, some clubs felt there was no need to buy. Clubs like Manchester City, Real Madrid while others bought small or loaned. However, for the clubs that didn’t buy or bought in only one or two players, some supporters showed how frustrated there were and Arsenal Supporters Trust led such vanguard. Below is the letter they wrote to the Arsenal Board and Manager.
“Once again, despite poor league form by our own high standards, we see extremely limited activity by Arsenal, who have decided that there is just one player, at a price deemed acceptable, capable of strengthening the first team squad.
“We can only assume this is purely a footballing decision taken by the manager, and that across the squad he feels there were no other options better than the ‘two per position’ he maintains are both important and available to him.
“The fact that there is money available for squad strengthening is not disputed. The AST’s independent analysis suggests that the amount is somewhere between £50m-£70 million. Ivan Gazidis confirmed recently that considerable funds were available to the manager.
“Failure to qualify for the Champions League will cost the club in the region of £30m to £40m in lost revenue in the 2013-14 season, but this will be compensated for by increased TV and commercial monies that are due as well as income from the sale of the Queensland Road site. On this basis the financial ‘hit’ is manageable and the AST does not believe there is any case for the present financial austerity.
“The AST believes that there remain important questions about the way player identification, recruitment and remuneration processes are managed at Arsenal. They seem to be a long way from what would be expected and we intend to raise these issues again with the club.
“Arsenal supporters pay some of the highest ticket prices in world football, providing the club with considerable financial resources but the ambition and ability to use them appear to be missing.
“Continued missed opportunities to strengthen are detrimental to the club and are causing long term damage to the squad’s competitiveness, evidenced by the ever-increasing points gap between Arsenal and the top of the table.
“The AST hopes that Arsenal’s distant owner and its Board are looking at this situation as critically as its supporters.”
Sorry if it seems like I worry only about Arsenal, that’s my first love. Today is the Super Eagles game against the Elephants of Cote D’Ivory. On paper, CIV are the favourites to win the contest, in my mind the Super Eagles ‘may’ win. So long!
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
WILL I FIND SUCH FAITHFULNESS?
The Holy Book rightly captures today’s write-up in many ways. In Matthew 8:10, it says “ When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith”.
David Beckham yesterday was unveiled as one of the acquisitions of Paris Saint Germaine (PSG), a club side in France with gigantuan finance and owners who are not shy when it comes to spending it. Watching the David Beckham Press Conference, all I could think was David is such a brutal business man cum sports personality. Check his trail blazing career path, from Manchester United to Real Madrid, then AC Milan to the MLS club Los Angeles in the United States, now PSG?
He’s smart, handsome and skillful but all these qualities are not the real reason I got inspired to write this morning. (Yes, I’m writing this article late today because of the weather, this harmattan is blistering me away). The reason I’m writing is the statement David Robert Joseph Beckham, OBE, made while he was in front of the prodding cameras of several journalist. He was asked why he didn’t go to clubs in England rather he chose PSG in France.
It was Beckham’s response that got me on my feet and the back hairs rising. He said he would never play for another club in England except it is Manchester United and this got me really thinking. How many players in today’s world can boast of Beckham’s skills? I’m sure many but how many players can boast of his professionalism and faithfulness? Very few, almost to infinitesimal proportion. “When I heard this, I marveled and said to my pen and paper, Truly, I tell you, with no one in the world have I found such faithfulness and professionalism”
Why do I find this important in todays sport, the need for players not to play for just money but for tradition, faithfulness and professionalism? Simple, answer awaits you oh ye reader! If you are an ardent sport lover, you will agree with me the pride that comes with the game, the tradition of not allowing your priced players that have kissed the badge and swore the oaths to be whisked away by fierce rivals. Its just like a general of war in a country that have served with honour now crossing over to the enemy camp, such enemy that he fought for years. That is soul wretching, massive disservice because his legacy immediately becomes thwarted.
And that’s the lesson here, a players legacy for me is the most important thing. Players like Nasri, Van Persie, will never have the same respects that players like Henry and Cesc Fabregas will keep commanding in Arsenal. Reason? Because the latter players never transited to a rival club, they rather travelled far and made sure the vision was clear. They had the same vision and it was to win trophies that have eluded them for years in Arsenal, however, going to a rival club like Manchester City or United shows how shallow minded such person could be.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a modern day footballer who could never adorn the jersey of a rival club in England because of the pride, tradition, passion and faith David Beckham at 37 years of age still have. In the days of Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea), Ray Parlour (Arsenal), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Carragher (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard and so many players retired and still playing who would never adorn other jerseys apart from their parent club. The problem however is these set of players are phasing out and what we presently have are shallow, ego centric, selfish set of footballers who would do anything for personal glory and many a times for financial gratification.
I had written an article last night but the David Beckham Press Conference had me seriously thinking and I just had to write this for my reading fans to share what I personal feel is wrong and could change for good. So long as I fight this harmattan, I hope to be alive tomorrow for more write-ups. *arrrrrrrrrrgggghhhh*
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
The last match the Super Eagles played against Ethiopia signified a lot more than just two teams clashing. For the Eagles (now called Super Chickens by dissatisfied fans), it was a revenge game for not allowing Nigeria qualify for the last AFCON competition in 2012. So the Eagles won by no goal from open play, however, thanks to the Ethiopians quick lapse in concentration,(((gbam))), Moses scores from the spot kick, twice and takes the children of (Isreal) Nigeria to the promised land of Cote D’Ivorie.
Really, Keshi has said he’s trying to rebuild the team. (It reminds me of the early 90’s when Westerhof was building his team too) Keshi was part of that team as a player and I remember vividly that home based players were the core of the team. Mutiu Adepoju, Finidi George, Okocha, Amokachi, Rashidi Yekini (Nigerias highest goal scorer till date with meagre 37 goals) and many more played on the sandy shore of Nigeria, from Stationary Stores to Rangers FC, Julius Berger and so on.The crux of the successful team Westerhof built were home based players.
So you can see the very joy in my eyes when I see 6 home based players taken to the Nations cup in South Africa as against the old norm of players walking into the team two days to a major competition and just because they play abroad, they get automatic shirts. If you really scrutinise where these players ply their trade abroad, you will hear names like Trabospor, El Ahly, and Ashdod??? What’s that? *sadFace*. Not Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United or Liverpool, yet the so called ‘abroad players’ will come home and demand special treatment? (Abeg park well, if you no good, you no good)
So I’m kinda glad that two home based players started (and ended) the last group match against Ethiopia last night. Mba and Oboabona are the two home based players that have shown us that to get back to winning ways, charity must begin at home! The Eagles must constitute itself with highly focused and hungry players (I’m sure you agree hungry players can’t be found abroad) such that when we arive on the pitch, the fire in our eyes alone will scare the opponent.
Nigeria however still have a long way to go. Below are the names of the home based players and the clubs they play for here in obodo Nigeria:
Chigozie Agbim. Goalkeeper. Rangers FC, Enugu
Azubuike Egweukwe. Defender. Warri Wolves
Godfrey Oboabona. Defender. Sunshine Stars
Reuben Gabriel. Midfielder. Kano Pillars
Sunday Mba. Midfielder. Rangers FC
Ejike Uzoenye. Midfielder. Rangers FC
I can’t go without commenting on the (H)el Clasico, Real Madrid versus Barcelona. A one all draw but it was a splendid breath-taking football in 90 minutes. End to end display of class from both teams and Cesc opened the scoreline when he found enough space to choose a spot. Madrid will equalise with a Varane header and both gladiators are content with a point a piece. (Hehehehe, I dey feel like commentator Peter Brackley or Jon Champion). Till we meet tomorrow peeps, au revoir!
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
THE WINDOW CLOSETH
“Can you smell it in the air? Can you feel the tingling of destiny as it stands your hairs on end, hear the faint drone of a funeral march approaching from far away? The growing sense of finality falling over all things like a doom cloud?
No, MTW (Mock The Weekend) is not talking about the all-consuming fireball that will roast every living thing on Earth to a cinder this coming Sunday (EXCLUSIVE!) but the shutting of the transfer window.”
This isn’t my assertion, its George Ankers’, a columnist on Goal.com and with no apologies to anyone, he shreds the mediocrity of club owners and managers into pieces, laying blames on where it should be, sometimes with dark allegory and grey humour. Hmmmmm, I even get scared at some point while reading!
I can never write like that, with so much angst. I like to see the cup as half filled rather than half empty and I like to write knowing that there are two sides to a coin. But with a manager like Arsene Wenger in the frame, (17 year damager, ehm sorry, manager of Arsenal FC) he will almost make the coin look like the back side is faded. The banner I see (which I seldom see this season), or I can say “I used to see” in the Emirates stadium with bold inscription “In Arsene We Trust” has vanished!
Don’t be misguided. Wenger ‘was’ a great coach, I say that with all sense of sincerity and respect for a coach who single-handedly turned Arsenal FC from a mediocre club of flashes-of-a-great-club to a really great club. (If you don’t believe, that’s not for me to convince you. Go read up on your history son…ehm, and daughter)
The real gist here, however, is the fact that Arsene has refused to, and may not be able to replicate the victories he brought to Highbury, the pride, the glory and ehm, the Trophies! The challenge is not to buy players cause if you REALLY know wenger, he seldom buys big money players, ask for Anelka’s price, and Henry and Van Purstrings and Nasri and Sol and Viera and an endless list!!! Abeg I no fit shout cos yet he won everything with that same ideologues, ehm everything except»»» well, you already know.
7 years gone and everything looks bleak (as the press wants us to believe). No single trophy to herald the switch from Highbury to the Emirates stadium. Piers Morgan, the notorious CNN reporter, leads the leftist wing of a small but growing supporters who wants #WengerOut and I have no comment on that.
Now back to the reason for todays write up. The window of the European market will officially close 12 midnight 31st of January 2013 and Wenger hasn’t bought in any player. That was Ankers anger amongst many other things. He sees Giroud as a flop and even insinuated that Gervinho would have been used instead of O.G had he not gone to the nations cup in SA. (Na wa o, writers sha) All I can muster now is maybe Wenger is wrong, maybe his old book tricks ain’t going to bring the goods but let’s be a little less harsh on guys (footballers) who just ply their trade and wants to be remembered for good.
Thierry Henry (The King) was given such ‘warmth’ british reception too back in 1999 only to become Arsenal shining light decades after. Martin Keown had this to say bout Henry early this year “Arsenal and Arsene Wenger restored his (Henry) confidence after Juventus (cos Henry was just like Giroud when he came in to the Arsenal squad) and now, in some ways, he can do the same for Arsenal after years without a trophy.”
The window close(th), Wenger won’t buy any player, (He wants David Villa), Arsenal won’t qualify for the CL (qualifying being his best trophy since 2006, the year he came 2nd), the 30 million pounds per year deal with Emirates will collapse but we will see young bright English players Wilshere, Gibbs, Carl, OX and Walcott take the club to the next level next season. (I deliberately removed Ramsey from the list and don’t ask me why)
Like I said, I like to look to the brighter side of life. (I’m sure you have noticed I have a soft spot for Arsenal FC? Don’t blame me, blame Kanu Nwankwo and The year of the Invincibles)
Super Eagles, by the time I’m reading this article tomorrow (I’m writing it 2:36:55 PM on 29th of January 2013), please let this prediction of mine be correct. I predict 2 unreplied goals against the Ethiopian side.
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
WHY AWARDS DON’T MATTER
“What does it mean to be the best? It means you have to be better than the number two guy. But what gratification is there in that? He’s a loser—that’s why he’s number two.” Jarod Klintz, a well respected writer says in his book “This Book is Not for Sale” and I can’t agree less.
This brings to the fore the battle between Ronaldo Cristano & Lionel Messi! The two world best players (as FIFA would have us believe), Iniesta coming in at a far third position. The FIFA/Balon D’or Award fiesta, hosted just couple of weeks ago, according to some far left wing critics, believe that it has lost its fervour and respect.
They argue, ‘how can a player who won the ’08 Euro Cup, ’10 World Cup (scoring the winning goal that made Spain lift the prestigious cup) and ’12 Euro Cup (a feat no other European Country has achieved) not be awarded the best player during his playing days?’ I wonder myself too.
However, FIFA has a model for picking the best, and if you look at it critically, you will almost never fault the process of selection. The leftist will not have any of this as excuse! The coaches of respective countries and captains are the ones who choose the best player in a calender year and FIFA has been accused of tampering with the list to favour a player over the other.
How true that is I don’t know. I have the list as I write and I guess due to the abundance of coverage for the european club games, people no longer judge best players by World cup games alone or qualifiers, we watch players give their best days without complaints and it no longer matters what you achieve with 6 games in a competition, what matters is what you can do every weekends that you dorn the colours of the club that pays ridiculous amount of money to get you to play come rain, sun or snow.
So does awards really matter? Ronaldo immediately responded with a hat trick in a game that he played just two days after the ceremony. Messi will never stop being, ehm, MESSI (in the absence of adjective to qualify him) and Iniesta will continue to be the engine room both for club & country. So why say one is the best when they all deserve really to be the BEST? If the number two is but a loser, and the people will keep complaining, scrapping the award may give us a little breather! (A foolish wish, init?)
So, for now, CR7 will always live in the shadows of the soccer god MESSI and Iniesta will almost always be the first from behind! Or what do you say when CR7 scores 3 goals with superb skills only for MESSI to score 4 goals hours later? The god loves to give no one any reason to doubt his supremacy. Let the best guy, be the best.
As I write this, South Africa is trailing by a lone goal to Morroco. The host nation is on a mission to redeem themselves and at 90 minutes they did, scoring 2 goals to draw the match two all. They deserved to go through to the next round and they did, along with Cape Verde. As at Sunday 27th of January 2013, 16 games have been played in the AFCON 2013 with 36 goals scored! Not bad right?
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
…YET THE FUN IS ABOUT TO BEGIN
The 16 nations that assembled in South Africa for the Africa nations cup finals are sweating it out on the field of tactics and pitch of play. The host are having a wonderful outing so far, apart from the seemingly glaring bad officiating, as seen with the the Super Eagles’ game and other teams likewise, allowing play on a sand filled stadia takes us back to the 60’s.
However, apart from this, the competition has been well on a tempo of good, yet, the fun is about to begin. For a while, the score line had been a barring nil or a one all draw for teams that once frolicked in goals.
However, after 10 man Burkina Faso banged in 4 goals against Ethiopia and the Ivorians showed the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia what a world class team looked like with 3 unreplied goals, it becomes obvious that the fun is about to begin!
The Desert Foxes of Algeria will become the first team to park their luggage on the next flight home in the 2013 AFCON competition while Ivory Coast is the first team to enter the next round with 6 point already in the kitty. Togo sits on a precarious position of qualification whilst the Super Eagles seek their first win yet, after losing possible 3 point just less than 10 minutes to the end of each match (in 2 consecutive matches).
No doubt, the fun of the AFCON 2013 is about to be unleashed. So, don’t take a back seat now, stayed informed right here on naijascoop.com
What’s up with Arsene Wenger? Why is he not buying players? How about Balotelli? Is he going or not? Manchester United, hmmmmm, they seem to be shoving their quality into every teams throat? Quality never seems out of norm with European football these past 20 years really!
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
THE PASSION OF AFRICA
As I write my first piece of sport article this morning, 3:52 am on the 26th of Janary 2013, all that my mind could revolve around is the game the Super Eagles of Nigeria played against the Chipolopolo of Zambia in the ongoing 2013 AFCON football fiesta just hours earlier. All the angry faces that crowded my room for the game could not hide their disgust towards Gresha Gread, the Egyptian referree that officiated the game.
He gave a penalty to the Super Eagles, worth every ounce of it, however he gave a retaliatory penalty to the Zambians and one would wonder who ever gave the referree licence to operate.
But that’s the passion that drives the game, where every sport fan in Africa is a referree and a coach and a football player. They don’t take fools for prisoner and everyone has got opinion which must count.
Welcome to Africa, where the passion is far more than a passing emotion.
Have you seen the list of World Richest Football clubs? The gladiators of the sport industry list was dropped on Tuesday by popular professional services, Deloite, detailing their earnings, spendings and winnings. The two big spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona made the first two spots with big moneys made, worth 512 million and 483 million pounds respectively.
‘It is an impressive achievement for Real Madrid to have surpassed €500m in revenue in a single year. Real have led the way in the phenomenal rate of revenue growth achieved by the game’s top clubs,’ Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte had this to say.
Manchester United, Bayern Munchen and Chelsea completed the top 5 elites in the log. Arsenal FC comes in close at 6th with 290m whilst Manchester City, AC Milan, Liverpool and Juventus completes the Top 10 list.
*Written By Fola Atoloye*
ENYEAMA: ZAMBIA’S PENALTY WAS ‘ONE OF THE WORST CALLS IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBAL’
Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has attacked the decision by referee Grisha Ghead to award a penalty as the Super Eagles were denied a win in their second Group C game against defending champions Zambia on Friday.
Emmanuel Emenike scored on 55 minutes before the Egyptian referee awarded a penalty to the Chipolopolo which was converted by goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
*Culled From Goal.Com*
BURKINA FASO 4-0 ETHIOPIA: THE STALLIONS SILENCE WALYA ANTELOPES TO MOVE TO GROUP C
Burkina Faso assumed pole position in Group C at the ongoing 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after a convincing 4-0 win over Ethiopia in an entertaining contest played on Friday.
Two goals either side of the break from Alaine Traore, a third from Yusuf Kone ten minutes to full time and Jonathan Pitroipa’s fourth in added time, ensured the west Africans bagged their first win of the competition, a result that almost ensures the Stallions a quarter-final berth and places the east Africans on the brink of elimination.
Burkina Faso now lead the Group standings after garnering 4 points from 2 games, while Nigeria and Zambia who drew 1-1 in the earlier match are joint second with two points apiece. The Walya Antelopes are last, having garnered a point against Zambia in their opening game.
Ethiopia were full of running during the opening exchanges of this duel, dubbed the ‘battle of the underdogs’ and took only four minutes to create the first goal scoring opportunity.
A well worked move that stretched almost the entire length of the Mbombela pitch, and aided by a cheeky flick from Basseba in the final third, provided a clear cut chance for Bekele, whose goal bound shot flew past a hapless Soulama, but was stopped by the upright.
The east Africans were at it again four minutes later. When Soulama was caught napping by a back pass from Koulibaly, a combination of Kabore and Kone, however, proved enough to save the Stallions from conceding.
Traore, who had been preferred to start this match ahead of Moumoni Dagano, responded with a shot from outside the danger zone after 10 minutes, which however, failed to trouble Ethiopia’s second choice custodian Tadelle.
A minute later, Sewnet Bishaw was forced into a substitution for the second consecutive match after an injury to dependable striker Adane Girma saw the Saint George player walk off in tears with Behailu Assefa coming on as his replacement.
The Stallions then upped the ante, with Kabare’s dangerous drive saved by Tadelle, the rebound from Traore found the back of the net but was ruled out for offside.
The Walya Antelopes seemed to tire as the first stanza wore on and the 1998 Afcon hosts seized the initiative by grabbing the lead with ten minutes to the break.
An initial shot by Bance was cleared off the line by Tesfaye, but went as far as Kabore, whose invented flick found the unmarked Traore. The FC Lorient forward then thumped a fierce shot that found its way to the top left corner of Tadelle’s net.
Bishaw was then forced to make a second change just before the teams headed to the dressing room, with Yared Zinabura coming in for the injured Megresa.
Ethiopia, who are making a comeback to the continental showpiece after three decades in the cold, were the better of the two teams in the opening minutes of the second half yet again, but failed to carve out a meaningful goal threat.
The Antelopes coach Bishaw threw his last dice, by replacing Bekele with Getanah Kebede on 55 minutes. Ethiopia were presented with an opportunity to level matters at the hour mark following a moment of madness from the Burkinabe custodian Abdoulaye Soulama.
The Asante Kotoko keeper handled what seemed a harmless shot just outside the box forcing Seychelles referee Bernard Camille to give him his marching orders. The west Africans technical bench then sacrificed Wilfred Sanou for reserve keeper, Diakate Daouda. Daouda then saved the resultant free kick from Asseffal.
Against all odds, however, the ten-man Burkina Faso stretched their lead. A neat flick on by Pitropia saw the ball fall calmly to Traore who left fly a vicious volley into the Ethiopian net for the second goal of the match and his third goal in two games.
Five minutes later, the ten man West Africans sealed the contest through Kone’s well taken goal on the break that gave Tadelle no chance.
And coach Paul Put’s charges were not finished yet as five minutes into injury time, Pitropia capped a memorable evening for the 1998 semi-finalists by sweeping home from close range an inch perfect right wing cross by Kabore.
*Culled From Goal.Com*
ZAMBIA 1-1 NIGERIA: MWEENE THE HERO AS CHIPOLOPOLO DRAW WITH THE SUPER EAGLES
After only managing draws in their first Group C matches, two of the Africa Cup of Nations heavyweights clashed in Nelspruit as Nigeria and Zambia battled for some crucial Afcon points. Nigeria overcame the early setback of a missed John Obi Mikel penalty with Emmanuel Emenike’s goal on 57 minutes, however, Zambia responded with a penalty of their own – keeper Kennedy Mweene with a stunning spotkick to secure the draw.
The tension was palpable in the early stages, with both sides knowing that whilst defeat would be near-fatal, a draw would only serve to increase the immense pressure ahead of their final group game.
The opening twenty minutes were characterised by a lack of quality, and a propensity for long balls from both sets of defences. With the hard, sandy pitch not conducive to slick, silky passing play, this seemed like the wisest option – but the consequence was a a great many aimless punts that led to nothing. One smart Zambian move carved out a neat chance for Rainford Kalaba, but the Mazembe man blazed the ball over the top.
On 25 minutes, it looked as though Nigeria had found the break-through. Davies Nkausu, under pressure from Ahmed Musa, brought the CSKA Moscow man down, the ref not hesitating to point to the spot. John Obi Mikel stepped up, the midfielder looking to recreate his crucial converted penalty against Liberia in the qualifiers. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the Chelsea player’s spot kick was tame and scuffed, and thudded harmlessly off the post.
The game progressed in a cagey, uninspiring fashion, Emmanuel Emenike – Naija’s goalscorer in their first match – was unable to contend with the many balls played over the top of the Chipolopolo defence.
Things improved in the second period, Nigeria looking brighter and nearly taking the lead with Ahmed Musa breaking away down the right and sending a cross-cum-shot across the goal which Emmanuel Emenike failed to touch into the net.
Ten minutes into the second half, the young striker finally made his mark with a fine finish pushing the Super Eagles ahead. After pick-pocketing Lungu in midfield, John Obi Mikel made amends for his earlier miss and played Emenike in through the middle, the striker made no mistake, and fired Naija ahead with a clever finish.
Zambia sought far and wide for the inspiration that would see them claim some points, it eventually came from an unlikely source. The referee, seeing something that few others did, gave a penalty for the Chipolopolo after minimum contact on Mayuka by Onazi. Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene stepped up, and looking as calm as can be, he dispatched a beautiful spot-kick past Vincent Enyeama.
Keen to avoid a second successive collapse, Nigeria knocked at the door, but neither team managed to find the net again in the game’s dying embers, and the pair had to settle for the draw.
The result leaves the holders in grave danger of elimination, they will need to beat the Stallions next Tuesday and hope that results go their way. Nigeria will also need to up their game on Tuesday against Ethiopia to ensure their continued Afcon participation.
*Culled From Goal.com*
MATCH PREVIEW ON NIGERIA VS ZAMBIA
Nigeria-Zambia Preview: Bruised egos of Eagles and Chipolopolo clash to soothe nerves
The coaches of Nigeria and Zambia know that they cannot afford to lose this encounter or it may be curtains at the 2013 Afcon
Nigeria had to share the spoils with the Burkina Faso as they surrendered their 1-0 lead very deep into added time in the second half, while the Zambians could not get one over a plucky 10-man Ethiopian team.
Stephen Keshi will be buoyed by the fact that his team almost always had the game against Burkina Faso under control until Ambrose Efe’s sending off while Herve Renard will have told his boys that they will have to up the ante to get a positive result against Nigeria.
The problem for Zambia is that they do not score many goals, and for Nigeria, chances created have to be taken.
Kenneth Omeruo will start at right back for the Eagles while Renaud may decide to use two strikers upfront with Collins Mbesuma and Emmanuel Mayuka the likely candidates.
The Super Eagles were the last team to beat the Chipolopolo in the Nations Cup, back in the 2010 edition, when Nigeria won on penalties in the quarter-finals. The Eagles also beat the Zambians in a friendly in 2011 as the Chipolopolo were preparing for the 2012 Nations Cup, which they eventually won.
So the die is cast and the team which can score two goals in this encounter will likely carry the day.
FACTS ABOUT BOTH TEAMS
David Chabala is the highest caps winner for Zambia with 108 appearances.
Nigeria was the last team to beat Zambia in the Nations Cup – in 2010.
Ike Uche will be hoping to score his 19th international goal for the Super Eagles against Zambia.
Christopher Katongo has scored 19 goals in 79 appearances for Zambia.
Nigeria is ranked 57th while Zambia is ranked 34th in the world.
In Afcon tournaments, Nigeria and Zambia have scored four goals against each other.
Joseph Yobo (pictured) will win his 90th cap for the Super Eagles if he plays against Zambia
*Culled From Goal.com*