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Group C decider pits the Elephants against Atlas Lions – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Eric Bailly of Ivory Coast clears ball from Dieudonne Bezua Mbokani of DR Congo during the 2017 African Cup of Nations Finals Afcon football match between Ivory Coast and DR Congo at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 20 January 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

by
Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Nov 08, 2017. 17:30


The 2018 World Cup qualifying Group C decider sees Ivory Coast host Morocco at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan on Saturday evening at 19h30 CAT.

This meeting of the Elephants and Atlas Lions promises to be one of the best qualifying matches on show this weekend, and AfricanFootball.com will have LIVE coverage of the clash.

The odds are stacked in favour of Morocco, who hold a one-point lead at the top of the table and know that they need only avoid defeat in Abidjan to secure a fifth World Cup qualification, and their first since 1998.

Ivory Coast, meanwhile, must win the match to leapfrog to the top of the standings. Should they do so, it would see them secure a ticket to their fourth successive World Cup.

The match is given extra emotive value by the status of the teams’ coaches. Morocco’s Herve Renard will be facing the team he took to Africa Cup of Nations glory as recently as 2015, while Ivory Coast’s Marc Wilmots may very well see this game as one in which his job is one the line.

The Belgian has earned little affection from Elephants fans since taking charge earlier this year, yet if he can secure a place in Russia 2018 it would certainly raise his stock in the West African country and secure his position for the forseeable future.

Wilmots has called for unity from Ivorian fans ahead of the do-or-die clash, saying, “We will have a final in Abidjan, we must win against Morocco.”

Renard has been more nuanced in his pre-match talk, but has taken confidence from beating Ivory Coast at the AFCON earlier this year, as well as holding the Elephants to a goalless draw in the teams’ first Group C meeting in Marrakesh a year ago.

“We’re going to play our final game against Ivory Coast, and this game is going to be difficult,” the French tactician told beIN Sport

“We defeated Ivory Coast during the Africa Cup of Nations. We’ll have to do the same again.”

Renard added, “I think that we’ve made a lot of progress. But we have to be very efficient during those 90 minutes to seek this qualification that a whole nation is waiting for.”

The teams have met in 18 previous matches, according to FIFA statistics, with Ivory Coast claiming six wins compared to five for Morocco. The Atlas Lions beat the Elephants 1-0 when the pair met in the group stage of this year’s AFCON.

The other Group C match will see Gabon host Mali in Franceville on Saturday afternoon.



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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Christian Bassogog – Hugo Broos to build Lions team around Cameroon star? – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


epa06049960 Christian Bassogog (R) of Cameroon and Antonio Ruediger of Germany in action during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 group B soccer match between Germany and Cameroon at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, 25 June 2017. EPA/ARMANDO BABANI

by
Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Nov 07, 2017. 19:00


Cameroon head coach Hugo Broos has called for patience from the country’s fans ahead of their final 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Zambia.

The Belgian tactician included Bassogog in the squad which will take on Chipolopolo at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on Saturday.

Bassogog, who inspired the Indomitable Lions to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title, has been ineffective during Cameroon’s disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign.

However, Broos has kept his faith in the 2017 AFCON Player of the Tournament as Cameroon look to defend their title in 2019 on home soil after failing to qualify for the next World Cup.

“Here in this country you don’t know the word patience,” Broos said on BBC.

“And if you want to build a good team you need to have patience,

“Accept that some games you will lose – because otherwise you will never know if that player or that way of playing is good.”

Bassogog, who was one of Henan Jianye’s star players during the 2017 Chinese Super League, definitely looks to be the future of the Indomitable Lions.

Broos is expected to build a another formidable team that can defend the AFCON title and also qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.

Bassogog, 22, is the kind of player Broos is likely to build the Cameroon team around ahead of the next continental tournament.



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Teranga Lions devour Squirrels – WAFU Cup of Nations 2017


Aboki Wariss of Benin challenged by Mamadoy El Fadel of Senegal during 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations match between Senegal and Benin at Cape Coast Sports Stadium in Cape Coast, Ghana on 17 September 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by
Brian Lee

Sunday Sep 17, 2017. 21:59


Senegal were in rampant form in front of goal as they beat Benin 4-0 in a 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations, Group B match at Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Sunday, September 17.

Senegal started like a house on fire and should have taken the lead in the first minute when Moussa Djitte met a low right wing cross from Assane Mbodj, but the attacker skied his shot over from only a couple of yards out.

Ten minutes later Benin had their first attempt on goal courtesy of a long range pile-driver from Seibou Mama, but his effort went inches wide of the target.

In the 18th minute Benin suffered a set-back when Wariss Aboki had to leave the field injured and was replaced by Charbel Gomez.

Things got even worse for the Squirrels in the 29th minute when Senegal took the lead thanks to a headed goal by Moussa Djitte, 1-0.

Ten minutes later the Teranga Lions doubled their lead thanks to another headed goal after Mohamed Kane nodded home a pin-point corner-kick, 2-0.

Benin were on the back foot for the rest of the half and lucky to go into the tunnel only two goals behind.

The second half continued in the same fashion as the first as the Teranga Lions bossed the game.

Senegal were gifted a chance to make it three goals on the hour mark when the referee adjudged Benin’s Gaston Hougbedji to have handled the ball inside the box and pointed to the penalty spot.

Ablaye Diene stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, 3-0.

Benin tried to find their way back into the game after that and created quite a few chances, but their finishing was poor as they directed shot after shot wide of the target.

Instead, it was Senegal who found the back of the net for the fourth time in the 86th minute after Amadou Dia Ndiaye poked the ball home from close range following a goalmouth scramble, 4-0.

The win takes Senegal to second place in Group B with three points while Benin drop to third place with three points as well.

Senegal (2) 4 (Djitte 29’, Kane 39’, Diene 60’ pen, Dia Ndiaye 86’)

Benin (0) 0

Teams

Senegal coach: Moustapha Seck

Senegal: 16. P Ndiaye, 4. Matar Kante, 3.Mohamed Kante , 9. Diene, 12. Fadel Barry, 11. Dieme, 6. Oumar, 13. Bocande, 17. Badiane, 22. Mbodj (10. Marone 72’), 14. Djitte (18 A Ndiaye 63’).

Benin coach: Oumar Tchomogo

Benin: 1. Glodjinon, 3. Fassinou, 18. Counou, 6. Yarou, 12. Bah-Yere, 4. Hougbedji , 8. Mama, 13. Osseni (9. Saliou 77’), 17. Aboki (11. Gomez 18’), 19. Elegbede (10. Koukpo 47’), 14. Bessan.



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Niger tame Teranga Lions with deathly goal – WAFU Cup of Nations 2017


Dela Sakou Souleymane of Niger challenged by Alhassane Ndao of Senegal during 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations match between Senegal and Niger at Cape Coast Sports Stadium in Cape Coast, Ghana on 15 September 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by
Brian Lee

Friday Sep 15, 2017. 18:56


An 89th minute goal from Hinsa Issoufou stole victory for Niger at the death as they beat Senegal 2-1 in their opening Group B match of the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations at Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Friday, September 15.

There was a nice cut and thrust to the game early on with both sides pushing players forward in attack.

Niger created the first scoring opportunity in the fourth minute when Hainikoye Boubacar broke through on goal, but he fired straight at the keeper from 14-yards out.

Ten minutes later Senegal threatened when Assane Mbodji created space inside the box for himself with a quick turn, but his 16-yard shot shaved the wrong side of the crossbar.

In the 28th minute Senegal were on the attack again when Alassane Ndao played Amadou Dia Ndiaye through on goal, but he was thwarted by the goalkeeper from close range.

A minute later Niger took the lead when Victorien Adje Adebayor showed great determination to chase down a ball that looked to be going out and superbly fired the ball home from 16-yards out from an acute angle on the right, 1-0.

Senegal tried to find an equaliser before the break and threw players forward, but the Niger defence held firm to take a one goal lead into the break.

The Teranga Lions continued to pile on the pressure in the second half and were rewarded for their efforts on the hour mark when Assane Mbodji expertly turned home a left wing cross from Daouda Dieme with a clinical 12-yard volley, 1-1.

The game fell into a bit of a lull after that, but Niger nearly re-took the lead in the 81st minute when Victorien Adebayor let fly from 20-yards out, but his pile-driver went inches wide of the post.

A minute from time substitute Hinsa Issoufou stole the victory at the death when he turned home a low right wing cross from close range, 2-1.

Senegal (0) 1 (Mbodji 61’)

Niger (1) 2 (Adebayor 29’, Issoufou 89’)

Teams

Senegal coach: Moustapha Seck

Senegal: 16. P Ndiaye, 4. Matar Kante, 3.Mohamed Kante , 9. Diene, 12. Fadel Barry, 8. Bara (11. D Ndiaye 45’), 6. Oumar, 13. Bocande, 2. Ndao (10. M Marone 49’), 22. Mbodj, 18. Ndiaye (14. Djitte 77’).

Niger coach: Francois Zahoui Gagui Victor

Niger: 16. K Daouda, 3. Lebene, 15. Abdoulaye, 18. Dankwae, 17. Souley, 8. M Daouda (13. S Moussa 56’), 23. Boubacar, 12. Dela (9. Issoufou 71’), 20. Hainikoye, 11. Victorien, 10. Halidou (19. Assadeh 79’).



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Lions, Stallions clash in epic Dakar battle – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


Senegal players dejected after loosing on penalties during the Afcon Quarter Final match between Senegal and Cameroon on the 28 January 2017 at Franceville , Gabon Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Sep 01, 2017. 16:00


Senegal and Burkina Faso will lock horns in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier at the Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor in Dakar on Saturday evening.

Kick-off is at 20h00 local time (22h00 CAT).

The Lions of Teranga will be desperate to get back to winning ways having suffered a 2-1 defeat to South Africa in their most recent Group D encounter. This following a 2-0 win over Cape Verde on home soil.

Senegal, though, will remain favourites to book their ticket to the world showpiece in Russia with the West African giants aiming to qualify for a first World Cup since the 2002 showpiece in Japan/South Korea where they reached the final eight.

Burkina Faso, though, will be no pushovers and followed a 1-1 draw against Bafana Bafana in Ouagadougou with a 2-0 win over Cape Verde in Praia.

LIVE PLAY-BY-PLAY UPDATES WILL BE AVAILABLE ON THIS WEBSITE

Liverpool star Sadio Mane is under no illusion of the importance of the upcoming back-to-back fixtures against The Stallions, with Head Coach Aliou Cissé also stressing the importance of the clash.

“We are aware of the expectations of the Senegalese public. I can tell them that we will not disappoint them,” a confident Mane said.

Cissé added: “Burkina Faso is our direct opponent and we have to win this match and hope to continue on that trend as we aim book our ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”

The reverse fixture will take place at the Stade du 4 Août next Tuesday, 5 September 2017.

Head-to-Head:

Games: 11

Senegal Wins: 4

Burkina Faso Wins: 2

Draws: 5

Goals for Senegal: 18

Goals for Burkina Faso: 11

Last Three Encounters:

07 Oct 2006 Burkina Faso v Senegal 1-0

08 Sep 2007 Senegal v Burkina Faso 5-1

21 May 2014 Burkina Faso v Senegal 1-1

Key Players:

With Abdou Abdou Razack Traore (injured) and Jonathan Pitroipa (not selected) absent from Burkina Faso’s squad, head coach Paulo Duarte will be hoping that Aristide Bancé can come up with the goods once more.

As for Senegal, they welcome back both Mane and captain Cheikhou Kouyaté from injury with Keita Baldé Diao, who recently joined Monaco, to light up Dakar. Throw in the likes of Idrissa Gana Gueye and Kalidou Koulibaly, the Lions of Teranga are a force to be reckoned with.



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Atlas Lions aim for home win in 2018 qualifiers – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Nabil Dirar of Morocco evades tackle from Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet of Egypt during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football Quarter Final match between Egypt and Morocco at the Port Gentil Stadium in Gabon on 29 January 2017 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

by
Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Aug 29, 2017. 17:30


Morocco will target a home win over Mali when the teams meet in a Group C 2018 World Cup qualifier at Stade Moulay Abdellah in Rabat on Friday, kick-off at 22h00 CAT.

Morocco have played to two draws in their campaign thus far, holding Gabon 0-0 away before playing out a stalemate at home to group leaders Ivory Coast. The North Africans are second on the standing on two points, two behind the Elephants.

Mali, meanwhile, are bottom of the standings on one point. They lost their opener 3-1 away to Ivory Coast and could only manage a goalless stalemate at home to Gabon in their second outing.

The Eagles will be desperate to pick up a positive result against the Atlas Lions and keep alive their hopes of reaching the World Cup finals for the first time. Yet coach Alain Giresse is wary of the threat posed by Morocco.

“[Morocco] is a good team, the players are experienced and have played for big clubs. They rely on a well-oiled collective and use a variable system,” the Mali coach told the press.

The Frenchman added, “We have to get back on our feet, because the two matches that are waiting for Mali are very important.

“We will take care not to make the same mistakes as the opening game against the Elephants.

“We will have to be supportive and very disciplined tactically because in Bouaké we played with three or four youngsters and it was very difficult.”

Giresse’s counterpart is compatriot Herve Renard, who has won a major battle in convincing experienced defender Mehdi Benatia to return to the national team set-up.

Renard, who won the Africa Cup of Nations with both Zambia and Ivory Coast, has also recalled Hakim Ziyech, handed maiden call-ups to Mohamed Ounajem, Amine Khammass and Soufiane Alakouch, as well as leaving out big names like Zouhair Feddal and Sofiane Boufal.

Morocco and Mali have not been regular combatants down the years, meeting in just 17 matches across all competitions according to FIFA’s statistics database.

The Atlas Lions have the better record, but only just: they have seven victories compared to five for the Eagles, while five matches have been drawn. The North Africans have managed an impressive 25 goals in that sequence, while conceding just 12.

The teams will be meeting in World Cup qualifiers for the first time. Their most recent match against each other was a friendly played at the Stade de Marrakech in Morocco on 6 March 2013. The Atlas Lions claimed a 2-1 win on home soil.

Cameroonian referee Sidi Alioum will take charge of the match in Rabat. The return game will be played at the Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako on September 5.



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Super Eagles, Indomitable Lions geared for Uyo battle – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Kelechi IHEANACHO of Nigeria and Rais MBOLHI of Algeria during the Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifier match between Nigeria vs Algeria on November, 12th 2016 at Godswill Akpabio Stadium
©Kabiru Abubakar//Backpagepix

by
Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Aug 29, 2017. 16:30


The clash between West African giants Nigeria and Cameroon is set to be the pick of the continent’s 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.

The teams will meet for their first match at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Friday evening, kick-off at 18h00CAT.

Nigeria come into the clash sitting pretty at the top of Group B with a full haul of six points following wins over Zambia and Algeria in their first two matches. Cameroon are placed second on the log with two points, having played to 1-1 draws against the same opponents.

If the Super Eagles win both clashes against the Indomitable Lions (the second match is set for Yaounde on September 4), and neither Zambia nor Algeria manage to claim the full six points on offer from their two meetings, then Gernot Rohr’s team will qualify for Russia 2018 with two rounds to spare.

“To start with, we are not going into those two games with a loser mentality. We strongly believe we’ll win, that is our belief, so I’m not thinking about my fate at this time. The mission is only to win our remaining matches and qualify Nigeria to the FIFA World Cup Russia,” Rohr told the Daily Trust.

The German tactician has had to deal with some selection headaches ahead of the first match in Uyo, with Arsenal star Alex Iwobi ruled out with injury and a persistent worry over which goalkeeper to select: Daniel Akpeyi, Dele Alampasu and Ikechukwu Ezenwa are all available, though none has won the trust of Nigerian fans.

As for Cameroon, they have been crowned Africa Cup of Nations champions since their last action in the World Cup qualifiers, and coach Hugo Broos will lead a squad confident of their ability to beat Nigeria in their own back yard.

Chinese-based forward Christian Basogog has no qualms in stating his side’s ambition. “Nigeria are a strong team,” he told FIFA’s website.

“They have very good players and many of them are playing in Europe. But we must defeat them if we are to maintain our qualifying hopes. We should take the game to them. We need to fight to defeat them.”

These two West African heavyweights have not been regular combatants down the years, meeting in just 18 matches across all competitions according to FIFA’s statistics database.

The record is very much in favour of the Super Eagles, who have claimed 10 wins compared to just three for the Indomitable Lions, while five matches have been drawn.

Four of those 18 matches were in previous World Cup qualification campaigns, stretching way back to 1968 (for the 1970 tournament in Mexico) and 1989 (for Italy 1990): Nigeria claimed two wins, Cameroon one, and one match was drawn.

The teams’ most recent clash was a friendly on neutral ground in Brussels on 11 October 2015: Nigeria won 3-0 thanks to goals from Efe Ambrose, Moses Simon and Odion Ighalo, while Cameroon finished the game with 10 men following the dismissal of Stephane M’Bia.

Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha will take charge of the match in Uyo on Friday. The return game is set for the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on September 4.



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