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Super Eagles Thrash Cameroon 2-0, to Meet Angola in Q/Finals

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Ademola Lookman scored both goals as Nigeria defeated old rivals Cameroon 2-0 on Saturday to march on to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Nigerians had an early Semi Ajayi goal disallowed following a VAR review in this last-16 clash before the constant pressing and bullying of the Cameroon defence by Victor Osimhen led to Lookman finding the net in the 36th minute.

The Super Eagles then kept the Indomitable Lions at bay before Lookman made sure of the victory in the 90th minute in front of 22,085 fans at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

They will now return to the same venue for a last-eight meeting next Friday with Angola, who earlier defeated Namibia 3-0.

With the fearsome Osimhen leading from the front, the Super Eagles are clearly a serious threat to reigning champions Senegal as they chase a fourth continental crown.

This fixture is a Cup of Nations classic, with the first three of Cameroon’s five titles coming after wins over Nigeria in the final.

The very first, when a side led by Roger Milla came from behind to win 3-1 in 1984, was achieved in this same stadium in Ivory Coast’s economic capital.

Yet Nigeria won the most recent encounter with their neighbours, in the last 16 in Egypt five years ago, and their current side came into this match as favourites against Rigobert Song’s Cameroon.

The Super Eagles eased through their group unbeaten, while Cameroon needed a stoppage-time goal against Gambia to progress.

Their most recognisable name is Andre Onana, but the Manchester United goalkeeper was dropped for a second successive game, with Fabrice Ondoa of French third-tier side Nimes preferred between the posts.

Vincent Aboubakar, their skipper and main goal threat, was named among the substitutes after missing the entire first round injured.

Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro brought back captain William Troost-Ekong, Lookman and Alex Iwobi – scorer of the winner in that 2019 tie –- after all were rested for their last match against Guinea-Bissau.

-Tireless Osimhen-

Their pressing game caused problems for Cameroon from the off, and Nigeria thought they had taken the lead inside eight minutes.

A Moses Simon shot was saved by Ondoa but the ball broke to Ajayi and the West Bromwich Albion defender found the net despite the goalkeeper getting a touch.

Wild celebrations ensued, only for the Moroccan referee to come across to the VAR monitor and disallow the goal because Ajayi was deemed offside and interfering when the initial shot came in.

Not to be discouraged, Nigeria simply did not stop running, with the tireless Osimhen setting the example.

He provoked the opening goal, dispossessing Oumar Gonzalez after a throw-in had been played back towards the Cameroon defender, and then unselfishly setting up Lookman.

The Atalanta forward’s shot was straight at Ondoa, but the goalkeeper could only help the ball on its way.

Osimhen slumped to the turf on the half-time whistle, but the African footballer of the year discovered the energy to go again after the restart.

Peseiro has stressed that the priority for his team has been to make sure they don’t concede goals, and they stood firm despite having goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili stretchered off injured late on.

Aboubakar’s introduction for Cameroon changed nothing, and Nigeria got the killer second just before the game moved into 10 minutes of injury time.

Calvin Bassey crossed low from the left and London-born Lookman applied the finish.

AFP

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Guinean Military Junta Dissolves Government, Seals Country’s Borders

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Guinea’s military junta, which took power through a coup in September 2021, has officially dissolved the government, as announced via a presidential decree read on state TV by the presidency’s Secretary General, Brig Gen Amara Camara.

The announcement was not followed by details regarding the rationale of this dissolution, or the timeline for establishing a new government.

As part of the dissolution, ministers in the now-dissolved government have been instructed to surrender their passports and official vehicles, and also given directives for their bank accounts to be frozen.

The junta has also directed security agencies to “seal” all of Guinea’s borders until the complete handover of government ministries to the junta.

According to Camara, during the interim period until a new government is appointed, lower-level officials will manage state ministries.

The dissolved government, led by Prime Minister Bernard Goumou, was appointed by coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, who led Guinea’s armed forces in overthrowing elected President Alpha Condé in September 2021. The coup came after a series of protests against Condé’s controversial bid for a third term.

Guinea, as well as several other countries in West and central Africa, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Gabon, have experienced coups in recent years. These coups have faced strong condemnation from West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union, and the UN.

The junta and ECOWAS had earlier set a 24-month transition period, and Guinea is expected to hold elections to restore democratic rule within 10 months, as the transition period comes to an end.

Arise News

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Atiku’s Aide Accuses Tinubu’s Govt of Diverting Funds Through Fake Petrol Subsidy

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Phrank Shaibu, a Special Assistant on Public Communication to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has alleged that the refusal of the Federal government to react to recent reports on the return of petrol subsidy shows that public funds have started going into private pockets.

Shaibu made the allegation through a statement while reacting to reports by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Nigerian government has begun paying petrol subsidy again.

According to media reports, monthly subsidy payment is nearly N1 trillion, far in excess of exceeds the amount paid monthly by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Reacting to the allegation, Shaibu said it has become clear that one of the reasons the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has not been paying the required amount of money into the government’s account is because monies are being diverted under an opaque and secret subsidy regime.

He alleged: “Tinubu has been boasting at every economic forum that he deserves to be in the Guinness Book of records for removing petrol subsidy.

“He even said before ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ in New York last September that the ‘corrupt subsidy’ regime and FX issues had been resolved.

“But as every other thing relating to Tinubu, this has turned out to be another lie from the pit of hell. Currently, the exchange rate based on what the Central Bank of Nigeria recommended to the Nigeria Customs Service is N1515/$1.

“Hence diesel price is now over N1,200 but petrol is still selling for between N600 and N700.

“Nigeria is the only country in the world where such disparity between diesel and petrol exists. It has become obvious that petrol subsidy has returned through the backdoor.

“With the return of petrol subsidy, oil marketers have opted out and that is why the NNPC has returned to being the sole importer of petrol once more and has the temerity to be announcing that it will not increase petrol cost regardless of the international price of crude oil and the exchange rate.

“To be clear, petrol subsidy in itself is not a bad thing when it is done transparently.”

Shaibu added: “Former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, expressed shock last month that NNPC was still not remitting FX into government’s accounts.

“It is now obvious why this has been happening. Subsidy has returned but it is now being done in a corrupt and secret manner as funds are now being diverted into private pockets even worse than under Buhari. This is the Tinubu Lagos legacy from Lagos State.”

Shaibu said it was disappointing that the Finance Minister, Wale Edun; and CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, who both claimed to have gotten their appointments based on their expertise had failed to speak up but had continued to cover up the petrol subsidy.

He also alleged that the Tinubu government had continued to frustrate the takeoff of the Dangote refinery which would have at least reduced Nigeria’s FX demands.

“The media reported last week that lingering regulatory approvals have stalled Dangote Petrochemical Refinery’s plan to release aviation fuel (Jet A1) and diesel for sale in the Nigerian market.

“At the same time, Dangote refinery has been struggling to get the needed crude oil and has decided to import from the United States while the NNPC which has no business with monetary policy, committed Nigeria’s crude oil for a $3.3 billion Afreximbank loan ostensibly to stabilise the naira.

“It is obvious that Tinubu and his so-called economic team are quacks, charlatans who put their personal interest ahead of that of the country. With such Lilliputians at the helm of affairs, Nigeria’s economic woes are about to go from bad to worse,” Shaibu added.

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UK Economy Slips into ‘Technical’ Recession

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The United Kingdom slipped into a technical recession in the second half of last year after its economy registered two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, official figures have shown.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced through a statement on Thursday that Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.3 percent in the last three months of 2023, after contracting 0.1 percent in the third quarter.

It meant that the economy entered a technical recession, as defined by two or more quarters in a row of falling GDP.

It marked the first time the UK had entered recession since the first half of 2020 when the initial COVID-19 lockdown sent the country’s economy plunging into reverse.

The figures dealt a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who had promised to grow the economy as one of his five priorities.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said inflation and high-interest rates were behind the output fall but insisted the economy was turning a corner.

He said: “While interest rates are high so the Bank of England can bring inflation down low growth is not a surprise.

“But there are signs the British economy is turning a corner; forecasters agree that growth will strengthen over the next few years.

“Wages are rising faster than prices; mortgage rates are down and unemployment remains low.

“Although times are still tough for many families, we must stick to the plan of cutting taxes on work and business to build a stronger economy.”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the Prime Minister’s promise to grow the economy was in tatters.

“The Prime Minister can no longer claim credibly that his plan is working or that he has turned the corner on more than 14 years of economic decline under the Conservatives that has left Britain worse off.

“This is Rishi Sunak’s recession and the news will be deeply worrying for families and businesses across Britain,’’ he said.

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