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2021 AFCON Group D Preview

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Premier League News Now’s Africa Cup of Nations preview continues with a look at Group D, where Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau find themselves.

Arguably one of the toughest groups in this year’s edition of the AFCON, Group D will be one of the groups to keep an eye on in this year’s African cup of nations.

NIGERIA

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Nigeria have been one of the powerhouses of African football for the past three decades. The west African side have made a total of 19 appearances at the Afcon ( including the 2021 edition). They approach this competition as one of the favourites to win the trophy.
In all the editions in which they have featured, they have emerged champions on three occasions ( 1980, 1994 and 2013).

The super eagles approach this competition with Ahmed Musa as their captain. The Fatih Karagumruk S.K forward and number 7 will be absolutely vital for them in their pursuit to cling onto their 4th Afcon trophy. After winning bronze in the 2019 Afcon, Ahmed Musa will lead Nigeria in Cameroon as they gaze towards an even greater goal in being champions.

All eyes will be on Kelechi Iheanacho as the Leicester City forward looks to lead the Super Eagles attack after a great start in the English premier league this season with two goals and four assists.

NIGERIA AFCON SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates, South Africa)

Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca, Spain)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany); Odion Jude Ighalo (Al-Shabab Riyadh, Saudi Arabia); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England);

EGYPT

 

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Record winners of the Afcon (Egypt) will be making their 25th appearance in this year’s African cup of nations. They are seven-time winners and three-peat winners between 2006 and 2010. Most prestigious nation in terms of the African cup.

Egypt comes into this competition as one of the favourites having already won it in (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010).

The Pharaohs approach this competition with Mohammed Salah as their skipper. The Liverpool FC forward has been in impeccable form and his presence will be a huge boost for the nation and for the tournament as well. Arguably the best player in world football currently.

He is definitely their player to watch as he is a nightmare for opposition defenders. His consistency in the premier league this season has not gone unnoticed. Salah has 16 goals and 7 assists in 20 games in the premier league and the Egyptian king is one to watch for the golden boot and golden ball in this tournament.

EGYPT AFCON SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly, Egypt), Mohamed Sobhi (Pharco, Egypt), Mohamed Abogabal (Zamalek, Egypt), Mahmoud Gad (Enppi, Egypt).

Defenders: Ahmed Fatouh (Zamalek, Egypt), Mahmoud Alaa (Zamalek, Egypt), Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh (Zamalek, Egypt), Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly), Akram Tawfik (Al Ahly), Omar Kamal (Future, Egypt), Mohamed Abdel-Moneim (Future, Egypt), Ahmed Hegazi (Ittihad Jeddah, Saudi Arabia).

Midfielders: Hamdi Fathi (Al Ahly, Egypt), Amr El-Sulya (Al Ahly, Egypt), Emam Ashour (Zamalek, Egypt), Ahmed Sayed Zizo (Zamalek, Egypt), Abdallah El-Said (Pyramids, Egypt), Ramadan Sobhi (Pyramids, Egypt), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal, England), Omar Marmoush (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Mohanad Lasheen (Tala’a El-Gaish, Egypt), Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet (Aston Villa, England).

Forwards: Mostafa Mohamed (Galatasaray, Turkey), Mohamed Sherif (Al Ahly, Egypt), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, England)

SUDAN

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Sudan are the major underdogs in Group D. A team that works hard effortlessly and earned a spot to this year’s Afcon after beating South Africa. Sudan makes their 9th appearance at the African cup of nations after a decade’s absence in the competition. Despite the side relying heavily on locally-based players, there is talent and hard work from the side to earn a spot in the next round of the competition.

Their best performance came in 1970 when they emerged as champions of the competition.

Captain Ramadan Agab leads the secretary birds in this year’s African cup of nations. Sudan sees it as a great opportunity for them as a country to put themselves on the map and to try and upset the big names in their group and are definitely a team to keep an eye on. Agab will be the player to watch in this Sudan side.

SUDAN AFCON SQUAD: TBC

GUINEA BISSAU

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Making their 3rd consecutive appearance at the African Cup of Nations will be Guinea Bissau. The west African country find themselves in a complicated group with teams like Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan all looking forward to earning a spot in the next round.

Captain Jonas Mendes will be leading the Wild Dogs towards their 3rd Afcon appearance. The group stage has been the furthest the team has been able to accomplish in terms of the competition. Skipper Jonas Mendes who plays as a goalkeeper for SC Beira Mar will be leading his side as they look to stamp their place in the tournament.

All eyes will be on the Future star of Djurtus, Moreto Cassama of Stade Reims in Ligue 1, a great central midfielder who represented Portugal on junior levels in international tournaments but has turned his eye to the wild dogs in this tournament.

GUINEA BISSAU AFCON SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: Jonas Mendes (Beira Mar, Portugal), Maurice Gomis (Ayia Napa FC, Cyprus), Manuel Mama Samba Baldé (Vizela, Portugal)

Defenders: Eulanio Chipela Gomes (FC Porto, Portugal), Fali Candé (Portimonense, Portugal), Manconi Soriano Mané (Moreirense, Portugal), Ladislau Leonel Ucha Alves (Marihense, Portugal), Aurisio Saliu Junior (Vilafranquence, Portugal), Opa Sangatte (Chateauroux, France), Jefferson Encada (Leixoes, Portugal), Ferdinand Mendy (Alloa Athletic FC, Scotland).

Midfielders: Judilson Gomes (AS Monaco, France), Jorge Braima Candé Nougueira (Farense, Portugal), Jaoa Lamine Jaquité (Vilafranquence, Portugal), Moreto Cassama (Stade Reims, France), Alfa Semedo Esteves (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal) , Panutchi Pereira Camara (Plymouth Argyle, England)

Forwards: Mama Samba Baldé (Troyes, France), Piqueti Djassi Silva (Al Shoalah, Saudi Arabia), Jorge Barbosa Intima (Wisla Plock, Poland), Mauro Rodrigues Texeira (Sion, Switzerland), Joseph Mendes (Niort, France), Steve Brahim Omar Ambri (Sochaux, France), Frédéric Mendy (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal)

GROUP D FIXTURES

Tuesday, 11 January: Nigeria vs Egypt, Sudan vs Guinea-Bissau.

Saturday, 15 January: Nigeria vs Sudan, Guinea-Bissau vs Egypt.

Wednesday, 19 January: Egypt vs Sudan, Guinea-Bissau vs Nigeria.

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Premier LEague

Senegal vs Cape Verde: 3 Key Batttles to Watch

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Senegal and Cape Verde will go head-to-head on Tuesday, January 25, with a spot in the quarter-final up for grabs. Both teams are yet to lift the AFCON trophy in several attempts but it is Senegal who have come the closest in recent times to ending their wait.

The Teranga Lions lost the 2019 edition final to Algeria but have once again come into this edition as one of the team’s to watch.

In this article, Premier League News Now looks at the possible deciding battles of the clash on Tuesday.

SADIO MANE vs GARY RODRIGUES

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Mane is obviously aware there is much more responsibility on him at the moment than there was in the group stage of the competition. The Liverpool forward has scored just once in the competition, coming from the spot in the opening game against Zimbabwe. The enterprising winger will look to find his rhythm against the Blue Sharks, and that would mean powering them into the next stage of the Africa Cup of Nations. Mane has started all three previous games and should be given the nod once again on Tuesday.

Gary Rodrigues, on the other hand, has been involved in two goals in three games for the Blue Sharks, including the equaliser against Cameroon to seal a place in the next round of the competition. The 31-year-old will be operating from the left side of Cape Verde’s midfield, giving him the room to support the attackers and be the creative spark. The midfielder has been involved in a goal every 203 minutes in the competition.

EDOUARD MENDY vs VOZINHA

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In Mendy’s first appearance at the showpiece, he was not threatened much as his side were held to a scoreless draw against Malawi. However, the game against Cape Verde is quite a different test and the Chelsea shot-stopper could get busy across all fronts. Mendy has been good since that move to Chelsea and the continental showpiece could as well see him cement his dominance on the continent.

After missing the opening game against Ethiopia, Vozinha has been in post for the other two group games. On average, the AEL Limassol goalkeeper has managed 2.5 saves per game. He is yet to keep a clean sheet in the competition so far and it is unlikely he will manage one against a stat-studded Senegalese side. However, turning up with the right attitude to get him to send his team to the next round.

KALIDOU KOULIBALY vs ROBERTO LOPES

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What a battle these two will be for their teams. Kalidou Koulibaly, just like Mendy, also made his first appearance in the game against Malawi. Though yet to regain the full momentum, the Napoli centre-back was quite good on the day but could have cost his team a goal with an error leading to a shot. He will need to avoid making a similar mistake when they play Cape Verde.

Roberto Lopes has started all three games for the Blue Sharks. For Bubista’s team, the Shamrock Rovers central defender has been key to conceding just two goals in the competition. Lopes averages 2.3 interceptions per game and 1.3 tackles per game, which is up there with the very best in the competition in terms of defensive performances in this competition. He also has just one clean sheet to his name.

The game is expected to kick off at 16:00 GMT on Tuesday, January 25, at the Kouekong Stadium.

MUST READ: Senegal vs Cape Verde: Match Preview 












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Toffees closing in on Vitor Pereira for the vacant role

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If we think about Everton’s current, woeful, situation. The first thing that comes to the mind is the club’s managerial problems. It is getting more and more painful for the supporters, as well as the players and the staffs involved.

In Everton’s defense, they did not have enough days to find a replacement after the sudden departure of Carlo Ancelotti. Since then, the toffeemen have struggled to lift up their level of performances from the rut.

That being said, even the appointment of Rafa Benitez did not bring any good fortunes over at the Goodison Park. Although, the players did well at the starting couple of months. In comparison with the last few months, that have been pretty much shambolic. They were able to manage just a single victory in the last 11 games, that the Toffees played under the ex Liverpool and Newcastle Gaffer. A run that has left the Blues scrambling at the 16th position, in the Premier League this season.

While sacking brought relief amongst the Everton faithful. The only thing that did hurt them was, that the Board took this long to see there is a change required in the camp. Although, it is ironic. Since, the Spanish’ stint lasted only for about a 6 months.

The departure has left a big void at the core settings of the Everton camp. Leaving the upcoming managers with a huge task at hand. Not just to rebuild the team’s spirit. But also to do it in less than 6 months. It is asking for someone special to come to the blue Merseyside and cast their spell.

Call for a Savior; is Vitor Pereira really the one?

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In a surprising turn of events, Everton are closing in on Vitor Pereira for the position oh head coach. Known as a serial winner in parts of Portugal. The former Portuguese player turned manager, is mainly known for his heroics at Porto. Where he guided the Portuguese outfit to lift back-to-back Primeira Liga titles during his stint there, from 2011-2013.

Although, Pereira has not really been busy since then. He remains the prime choice of Mishori, owner of the Everton Football club. Many ex Players, Pundits, and even fans supporting the club have not really been able to express their thoughts on the news. Since there is not a lot to judge upon, the potential new arrival at the Goodison Park. It is Pereira’s turn to shine and level up.

However, if stats are anything to go by. The Portuguese actually fair than most, in that respect. Pereira has coached in over 500 games in his career throughout, so far. Though, his success has not been much talked about. The man from Portugal, has over 55% of wins. A statistic, similar to that of some of the top level managers currently in the Premier League. Klopp (54%), Tuchel (56%), and Conte (58%). Where, only the Liverpool Gaffer has managed in more than 900 games in total.

What can The Toffees expect from the Portuguese?

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Often being praised for the defensive strengthening of his teams. Pereira is glamourized due to his abilities of organizing his teams. It is a conventional, yet a very affective and a tested method, nonetheless. Known to have played a key role in the development of the likes of, James Rodriguez, Hulk, Joao Moutinho, Radamel Falcao, during his time at Porto. Pereira is in the list of the few of the great managers to have led Porto to the league triumphs.

Likewise, if we look at the Everton side. They have struggled at the back throughout this season. Their priority being a defensive foothold, where Pereira excels. If Everton manage to seek the services of the Portuguese, then it could a treat for the toffees. We are looking at side that can well and truly be unbeatable at the back. A force to be reckoned with up front. And an organized unit as a whole under their potential new Head Coach.

He might have come at a surprise to many of the Everton faithful. But, he is not unfamiliar around these parts of the Merseyside.

After his successful couple of years in Portugal, back in 2013, Pereira was the frontrunner to join the Everton camp. He came short, just because of his inability to communicate in English. With the language not being a hindrance this time around. It looks as if the Christmas gift might be arriving late at The Goodison Park.












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The Gunners Target Luka Jovic

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Arsenal Transfer News: The Gunners are finding it difficult to persuade Dusan Vlahovic to join them in January. Hence they are now looking for a short-term loan move to Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic. 

The Gunners have been in pursuit of Dusan Vlahovic since the start of the January transfer window. Owing to this, Arsenal had also placed a bid of €60m. Fiorentina accepted the bid. 

But Dusan Vlahovic and his representatives are not very keen on a move to North London. As per the Fiorentina sporting director, Vlahovic’s representatives are not even responding to complete negotiations. 

As per reports, Dusan Vlahovic has rather set his heart on a move to Juventus. Owing to this, he could wait until the summer transfer window before joining the Serie A giants. 

Could Luka Jovic join Arsenal in January? 

Arsenal Transfer News: The Gunners target Luka Jovic as Dusan Vlahovic prefers moving to Juventus

As per The Sun, It looks likely that Arsenal will not be able to sign Dusan Vlahovic in January. Owing to this, the Gunners are now looking at the possibility of signing his national teammate Luka Jovic from Real Madrid. 

The report states that Real Madrid has informed Arsenal that they are willing to let Luka Jovic leave on loan. Hence, helping Arsenal to cater to their short-term attacking crisis. 

Real Madrid and Arsenal have shared a good relationship in recent years. Mesut Özil, Martin Ødegaard, and Dani Ceballos have made the switch from Madrid to London in the past. 

Luka Jovic has not had the best of times at Real Madrid this season. The Serbian who is behind Karim Benzema in the pecking order has made 11 substitute appearances and has just scored 1 goal for Los Blancos.  

Real Madrid had signed Luka Jovic from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019. The striker had a stellar two seasons in Germany, scoring 36 goals in 75 appearances for Frankfurt. 

The Serbian International has not gotten enough chances for Real Madrid. Hence he was sent out on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt last January as well. He scored 4 goals in 18 appearances during his loan spell. 

Any other targets for the Gunners?

Apart from Luka Jovic and Dusan Vlahovic, the Gunners have also been interested in Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak. The Swedish striker had a good 2020/21 season but has failed to replicate his form in this term. 

Mikel Arteta himself said recently “Any player that comes in must be able to take us to the next level. We want much better standards than we already have.” Hence it has to be seen who the Gunners would pick in the January transfer window. 



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