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Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea Fighting for their AFCON Lives

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Qualification for the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations will be on the line when Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea do battle at the Limbe Stadium today. The Leone Stars are third in Group E after picking up two points from their opening two matches at the 33rd edition of the biennial tournament.

John Keister’s side held defending champions Algeria to a goalless draw in Douala on January 11 before snatching a late equaliser to earn a 2-2 stalemate against Ivory Coast at the Japoma Stadium five days later.

They could still advance to the round of 16, but would need to get another result against their West African rivals in Limbe.

Keister expressed his surprise at the situation his team find themselves in, but insists they are not done yet with an eye on reaching the next round for the first time in the country’s history.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me that we would have two points against these great teams of Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire,” the England-born tactician said in his post-match interview on Sunday.

“Now we have managed to do it, we must continue to work to succeed in our participation in this competition, 25 years later, it is not a question of changing our objective along the way.

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“Above all we have a great match to deliver against Equatorial Guinea, after that we will advise, the work must continue especially at the level of the defensive organization, we have conceded far too many chances this evening unlike our match against Algeria.”

The National Thunder occupy second place, having collected three points from their first two group encounters at the showpiece event in Cameroon.

Juan Obiang’s men began their AFCON campaign with a 1-0 defeat to the Elephants on January 12 and then claimed the scalp of the Fennec Foxes three days later when Esteban Obiang’s 70th-minute goal secured a 1-0 win.

They trial the Ivorians by a single point and could still finish as group winners with victory over Sierra Leone.

Obiang is looking to build on their shock victory against the title favourites and has set his sights on going beyond the group stages once more after finishing fourth in 2015 and reaching the quarter-finals in 2012.

The two nations have met four times before, with the Leone Stars boasting a record of two victories to one, having most recently triumphed 3-2 in a World Cup qualifier in September 2013.

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Ekiti FA Announces Resumption of Football Activities

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The Ekiti Football Association has announced the resumption of all football activities after its 24-hour suspension of same in honour late soccer Referee, Mr Success Ajibola.

Ajibola died on Friday, May 20, 2022, as result of injuries sustained from a motorcycle accident.

The Ekiti football association gave this indication in a statement by its Media officer, Mr Ayodeji Okumnugba, on Sunday, in Ado-Ekiti.

Okunugba, according to a memo signed by the media department of the Ekiti FA, the football ruling body, thanked everyone in the football ecosystem for abiding by the earlier directive.

Also, according to the memo, all matches in the Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO) Inter Local Government Football Competition begin on Sunday at designated centers across the state.

The Ekiti FA enjoined football lovers to observe a minute silence in honour of the departed football referee, at all venues for the BAO Inter Local Government Areas football competition.

(NAN)

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Aiyegbusi’s Performance in CBN Open Final Amazing – Edwards

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Marylove Edwards, female singles title winner at the 44th CBN Senior National Tennis Open Tournament, said the performance of Aanu Aiyegbusi in the final match on Saturday really amazed her.

Edwards defeated number three seed Aiyegbusi 6-3, 6-4 to emerge winner in the final match of their event which took place at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.

The tournament’s top seed said yesterday in Abuja she was quite amazed at the level of Aiyegbusi’s performance.

She added that she never expected her to play the way she did.

“Unbelievable! Look at the way she played. I guess you really don’t know what to expect from her, but it was a really good match befitting of any final.

“I mean, I really didn’t expect her to play this good and it is a big lesson that one should never underrate any player, no matter who you are up against,” Edwards said.

Edwards had battled past long-time rival Oyinlomo Quadri earlier in the semi-finals, also played on Saturday.

She had to bounce back from a set down to beat the tournament’s number three seed 1-6 6-2 6-4 at the end of an energy-sapping encounter.

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“I played against her (Quadri) in the semi-finals of the DavNotch Open last week and narrowly lost to her in the final set.

“But I was determined to put things right this time around and I am glad everything worked in my favour.

“It was a battle no doubt and a good fight for her and myself. She is indeed an amazing player and I respect her a lot,” Edwards said about her semi-final victory.

She however did not fail to express her appreciation of all the support she has been receiving from her family. (NAN)

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Rangnick Relieved to Secure Europa Spot for Man Utd

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Ralf Rangnick admitted he was relieved Manchester United qualified for next season’s Europa League despite their 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace yesterday.

Rangnick finished his troubled spell as United’s interim manager by securing sixth place in the Premier League.

United did little to help themselves, losing to a goal from their former forward Wilfried Zaha while incoming boss Erik ten Hag watched from the stands at Selhurst Park.

Brighton’s 3-1 win against West Ham proved crucial for United as it kept the Hammers below them in seventh place.

With United avoiding the ignominy of playing in the Europa Conference League next season, Rangnick will step down to work as a consultant at Old Trafford while also coaching Austria.

Ten Hag will start work at United shortly, having led Ajax to the Dutch title.

“Yes, I think Brighton did us the favour to turn the game around because they were losing at halftime,” said Rangnick.

“They scored three times in the second half and that was the good thing about the weekend and about this fixture.

“We would have loved to take care of ourselves but in a way the game was indicative of the last couple of weeks.”

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Rangnick said it had been a strange experience for him since being appointed as a stop gap manager in late November when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fired.

“It was a new experience for me, not necessarily coming in the middle of the season but knowing that it would be an interim role.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have any pre-season and unfortunately we couldn’t strengthen the squad.

“We collected enough points with an average of 2.1 until the game against Atletico but I think that defeat in the Champions League was in a way like somebody popped the balloon.”

Rangnick did not hold back in his assessment of a United squad that lost focus after they exited the Champions League against Atletico Madrid in March.

“I think the big goal of some of our top players was the Champions League and after this defeat to Atletico you could literally feel it in training that we did not have the same level of energy, focus and concentration,” he said.

While Ten Hag was at Palace, he did not go into the United dressing room.

Rangnick will warn his successor he must improve United’s team-spirit when they speak in the coming days.

“Team spirit, yes this is also an issue. I think this team could do with more cohesion, there could be more togetherness on the pitch,” he said.

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