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Briefs
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 - 05 - 2019


Nigeria announces provisional list
THE SUPER Eagles announced a provisional list for this summer's Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Coach Gernot Rohr named a 25-player list with all his top stars available, including Ahmed Musa (Al-Nassr, Saudi Arabia), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, Eng), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, Eng) and Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, Eng).
The team's skipper and midfield maestro John Obi Mikel made his return to the Super Eagles for the first time since last year's World Cup. The 32-year-old Obi, who plays for Championship side Middleborough, has won 85 caps and scored six goals since his full international debut in 2005 against Libya.
Egypt's Ahly winger Junior Ajayi features among six players named in the waiting list by the Super Eagles coach.
Nigeria will play in Group B of the AFCON alongside Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi. The Super Eagles are chasing their fourth Nations Cup title after winning the continental competition in 1980, 1994 and 2013.
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Elche FC/Spain), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba, Nigeria), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United/South Africa)
Defenders: Ola Aina (Torino FC/Italy), Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC/Turkey), Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United/England), Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto/Portugal), William Ekong (Udinese FC/Italy), Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion/England), Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes/Spain), Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07/Germany)
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Middlesborough/ England) Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/England), Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC/England), John Ogu (Hapoel Be'er Sheva/Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr FC/Saudi Arabia), Victor Osimhen (Charleroi/ Belguim) Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/England), Moses Simon (Levante FC/Spain), Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK/Turkey), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai/China), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal/England), Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux/France), Isaac Success (Watford/England), Samuel Chukwueze (Villareal/Spain)
Waiting list:
Brian Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow/Russia), Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba/ Nigeria), Valentine Ozornwafor (Enyimba/ Nigeria), Junior Ajayi (Ahly/Egypt), Mikel Agu (Vitoria de Setubal/Portugal), Ikouwem Udo (Maccabi Haifa, Israel).
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Kenya names squad
KENYA head coach Sebastien Migne has named a provisional squad of 30 players, maintaining a huge chunk of the squad that helped the Harambee Stars qualify for the first time in 15 years.
Leading the squad will be Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama. The strike force will be led by current Kenyan Premier League top scorer Allan Wanga and Japan-based Michael Olunga.
The Frenchman has also handed a call-up to AFC Leopards midfielder Whyvonne Isuza who has picked up form over the last month, scoring five goals in eight matches. Sweden-based Chris Mbamba is in line to make his Kenyan debut after being handed a spot on the team. Mbamba was called up for the last qualification match against Ghana but could not play as his paperwork was not completed. The forward is a naturalised Kenyan born and raised in Sweden.
Major absentees in Migne's squad is defender David Ochieng as well as striker Jesse Were who has been among the Zambian league's top scorers for the last three seasons. Migne, however, says the former Tusker FC forward does not fit into his style.
This week, the team is scheduled to have its first training session. The squad will be whittled down to 26 before they travel for a three-week training camp in France and after that, a further three will be dropped before they travel to Cairo for the tournament.
While in France, the team will play Gambia and Madagascar in friendly matches to help the coach prepare.
Squad:
Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi (St. George, Ethiopia), Faruk Shikalo (Bandari FC, Kenya), John Oyemba, Brian Bwire (Kariobangi Sharks, Kenya).
Defenders: David Owino (Zesco United, Zambia), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa), Musa Mohammed (Nkana FC, Zambia), Bernard Ochieng (Vihiga United, Kenya) Joseph Okumu (Real Monarch, USA), Joash Onyango, Philemon Otieno (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Eric Ouma (Vassalund, Sweden), Aboud Omar (Sepsi OSK, Romania).
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Ismail Gonzalez (UCD Las Palmas, Spain), Teddy Akumu (Zesco United, Zambia), Dennis Omino (Sofapaka FC Kenya), Eric Johannah (IF Bromma, Sweden), Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Whyvonne Isuza, Paul Were (AFC Leopards, Kenya), Johannah Omolo (Cercle Brugge, Belgium), Clifton Miheso (Olimpico Montijo, Portugal).
Strikers: Ovela Ochieng (Vassalund, Sweden), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe, China), Michael Olunga (Kashiwa reysol, Japan), Chris Mbamba (IK Oddevold, Sweden), Allan Wanga (Kakamega Homeboyz, Kenya), John Avire (Sofapaka, Kenya), Masud Juma (Al Nasr, Libya).
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Namibia is back
NAMIBIA is housed in a tough AFCON pool as it will be in Group D with three former winners: Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco and South Africa.
While many would expect the Brave Warriors to shiver at the sound of the group, their head coach Ricardo Mannetti is not one to tremble at the sight of a giant.
“We are used to being the underdogs,” the former midfielder, who played a huge chunk of his professional career in South Africa, confidently told cafonline.com.
“It is a perfect draw for us. We are used to being in this situation where we are the underdogs. If you look at the rest of the group, it is a perfect scenario for us. It is a perfect scenario for the underdogs,” Mannetti added.
The Brave Warriors qualified for their first AFCON since 2008 and only the third in their history when they finished second in Group K behind group winners Guinea Bissau. Namibia had eight points - two wins and two draws, qualifying ahead of Mozambique on the head-to-head rule after finishing on equal points.
The Namibians lost heavily 4-1 to Zambia in their last qualification match in Lusaka and had their hands in their heads, tears rolling down their cheeks and thinking that qualification had escaped their grasp, only to learn that Guinea Bissau had grabbed a late equaliser against the Mozambicans in Bissau to hand them a ticket to Egypt.
“It was a very emotional last day of qualification for us. One moment you are in, the next you are out… but ultimately it was such a joy for us to qualify. We are not here to make numbers. We are here to compete,” the tactician revealed to cafonline.com
Namibia will be based at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo. It starts its campaign against Morocco's Atlas Lions on 23 June before facing South Africa in a regional derby on 28 June, then finishing off the campaign against Cote d'Ivoire on 30 June.
Mannetti believes the team can go as high as they can get and is not quick to pen out particular targets. “We have not qualified in 10 years and we know our place. We are here to enjoy the tournament. This is a familiar territory because we are used to playing the bigger and stronger teams and we know how to play against them,” Mannetti noted.
“We will be the team to spoil things in Group D and we will be comfortable with that tag. It is the toughest group and every team there is strong. It will be tough for everyone.”
Namibia has never gone past the group stage in its last two appearances at the tournament in 1998 and 2008.


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