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AFCON NEWS: Ghana humiliated, Côte d’Ivoire in mourning, Nigeria Still Ighalo-less

AFCON 2021

AFCON NEWS: Ghana humiliated, Côte d’Ivoire in mourning, Nigeria Still Ighalo-less

Isifu Wirfengla
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Algeria

Defending champions Algeria have, through an emphatic display Wednesday 5 January 2022, sent strong signals to 23 other Afcon finalists. The Fenecs outclassed Ghana three nil in a friendly preceding both nations’ travel to Cameroon.

Adam Ounas and Islam Slimani scored a goal each with the third resulting from a defensive blunder by Black Stars defender Jonathan Mensah.

Djamel Belmadi’s squad have gone 34 matches unbeaten (26 Wins, 8 Draws), and are acclaimed favourites to winning the Africa Cup trophy on 6 February.

Côte d’Ivoire

The death of the father of Côte d’Ivoire captain Max Alain Gradel has added to their problems ahead of the Afcon. “Papa I told you I am going for Afcon I will be back,” Gradel lamented on his Facebook on Wednesday 5 January 2022.

The Ivorians have been upset since a ban by Fifa ruled out first-choice goalkeeper Sylvain Gbouhou. Gbouhou is deemed to have contravened anti-doping rules and a solution is not yet in sight despite extensive efforts. The Ivorian football body announced a hearing had been scheduled on Wednesday in Swiss and Saudi Arabia simultaneously.

In their search for morale boosters, the Elephants visited the holy ground of Mecca (Kaaba) on Wednesday.

Nigeria

The Super Eagles have landed in Garoua, but without their hitman Odion Ighalo, Venezia’s Tyronne Ebuehi and Paderborn’s Jamilu Collins. The players from Abuja numbered just 25.

Odion Ighalo (32) might not participate in the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations as Al Shabab argue they didn’t receive his invitation on time to release him. Ighalo has absented a couple of trainings to protest his retention. He was top scorer of the 2019 Afcon where the Super Eagles finished 3rd.

Eguavoen’s side will sharpen their feet at a friendly with Cameroon’s most reputed club Coton Sport on Friday evening.  

Super Eagles’ quest for a 4th title looks challenging in Group D. They will face 7-time champions Egypt, Guinea Bissau and Sudan.

Senegal

Sadio Mané has successfully led his team mates to Bafoussam where Group B matches will pan out starting Monday 10 January 2022. The Teranga Lions arrived at about 12 noon (local time) on Wednesday, amidst a hectic welcome spearheaded by government authorities of the region.  

After losing it at the 2019 final to Algeria, Senegal looks refuelled for a first-ever Afcon title in their history.  And all begins with Zimbabwe on Monday in Koeukong.  

Burkina Faso

Stallions at work!

Burkina Faso have held their first training in Cameroon the day following their arrival from Abou Dhabi where Afcon preparations commenced.

Coach Kamou Malo is fine-tuning his squad in view of the inaugural match with hosts on Sunday 9 January in Olembe, Yaounde.

Latest images show the Paul Biya stadium shaping up with the competition’s brand, glamour and theatrics to be completely savoured on D-day.

   

Stage for Cameroon vs Burkina Faso

Gabon

A bonus row that erupted in UAE where Gabon camped marred their last minute travel arrangements in Dubai airport.

Backed by their country’s players’ welfare syndicate, The Panthers refused to board a UAE airbus to Cameroon, demanding bonuses. Reports confirmed they pocketed individual sums ($26,000, an amount we have not verified) before flying to Cameroon.    

While in the UAE, Patrice Neveu’s side played two friendlies. The first with Burkina Faso (0-3) and the second against Mauritania (1-1).

Gabonese media say Lemina and skipper Aubameyang tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Yaounde.

Isifu Wirfengla
Isifu Wirfengla

Isifu Michael WIRFENGLA is holder of a Bsc. in Journalism. He has five years of broadcast experience. Apart from freelance/sports reporting, he is a practising/trained football Referee in Cameroon and Communicator for the Ministry of Justice in Yaounde.

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