By Ifeanyi Ibeh, GUARDIAN.NG
Nigeria’s Super Eagles will have to get the better of the Black Stars of Ghana if they hope to qualify for a fourth straight FIFA World Cup after both sides were paired up in the play-off draw for the 2022 Qatar World Cup on Saturday in Douala, Cameroon.
The games will take place between March 24 and 29, with the first leg taking place in Ghana while the return leg will come up in Nigeria.
The Super Eagles were one of 10 African nations who went into Saturday’s draw ceremony which had African legends El Hadji Diouf of Senegal and Emmanuel Adebayor, the former Togo international of Nigerian descent, as draw assistants.
They will now be hoping to be one of the five sides who can progress to the 2022 Qatar World Cup taking place at the end of the year in the Middle-East nation.
The three-time African champions will also be looking to equal an African record four consecutive World Cup appearances in what would be their seventh appearance at football’s biggest stage.
The Super Eagles, who have been to every FIFA World Cup except one since making their debut appearance at the 1994 tournament in the United States, qualified for the third round play-offs by virtue of their top-place finish in a second round group that had Cape Verde, Liberia, and Central African Republic.
Ghana, meanwhile, advanced to the third round play-offs after finishing ahead of South Africa, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe in Group G.
The Black Stars, after missing out of the last World Cup in Russia, will be hoping to make their fourth appearance at football’s biggest tournament in Qatar.
This is irrespective of the fact that their outing at the AFCON in Cameroon has been disastrous.
There were also some question marks about their victory over South Africa during the second round of the World Cup qualifiers.
The Super Eagles are looking like a completely different prospect at the AFCON following the departure of Gernot Rohr.
Under former Nigeria international, Augustine Eguavoen, the Super Eagles, have romped through the group stage with a 100 per cent record and are looking like genuine AFCON contenders.
They are a far cry from the team that had difficulties putting lesser teams away, with Cape Verde and the Central African Republic being prominent recent examples.
Egypt vs Senegal
Cameroon vs Algeria
Ghana vs Nigeria
DR Congo vs Morocco
Mali vs Tunisia
With gratitude to God for a life well spent, the Anyanwu Royal Family announces the passing unto glory of their dearly beloved wife, mother, grandmother and Aunty, Madam Sussana Chienyenwa Anyanwu (Nee Akor), aged 75 years (1946 - 2021).
Here, above, are the burial arrangements as released to the press by the Anyanwu Royal Family in a statement signed by Casmir I. Anyanwu, ESQ for the family.
Manchester City’s 12-game winning run in the Premier League came to an end as Aymeric Laporte rescued a 1-1 draw against Southampton on Saturday.
City were rocked by Kyle Walker-Peters’ first ever top-flight goal in the opening minutes at St Mary’s.
After a poor first half by their high standards, Pep Guardiola’s side kicked into gear after the break.
City defender Laporte headed the equaliser, but the runaway leaders could not extend their winning streak in a one-sided finale that saw the visitors lay seige to the Southampton goal.
The champions had to settle for a result that left them 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who have two games in hand and face Crystal Palace on Sunday.
For the first time since they were beaten 2-0 by Palace on October 30, City finished a league game without all three points.
They remain firmly in pole position for a fourth title in five seasons, but their draw on the south coast will give a glimmer of hope to Liverpool and third-placed Chelsea.
Ruben Dias returned to the City defence in place of John Stones, but the champions’ rearguard was quickly exposed.
City were rocked in the seventh minute when Walker-Peters linked up with Nathan Redmond on the right flank.
Walker-Peters cut inside and, with City backing off, the right-back had space to shoot into the far corner with the outside of his foot.
It was just the 14th goal City had conceded in the league this term and they were nearly breached again nine minutes later.
Armando Broja was played in behind the City defence and slotted past Ederson, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Frustrated by Southampton’s high-energy display, City were struggling to find their usual rhythm.
Laporte saves City
Raheem Sterling nearly snatched an equaliser against the run of play with curler that whisted just wide from a tight angle.
Sterling should have brought City level moments later, but the forward fluffed his lines from Phil Foden’s pass, allowing Fraser Forster to save his under-hit close-range effort.
Ederson made an instinctive stop to keep out Jan Bednarek’s near-post header early in the second half.
Rodri’s miscued strike from the edge of the area almost caught out Forster, who turned it around the post at full stretch.
Laporte made a superb last-ditch block to frustrate Broja after the Southampton forward raced clean through on goal.
Broja should have scored from the resulting corner, but headed James Ward-Prowse’s delivery against the woodwork from just four yards.
It was a crucial miss and City finally equalised in the 65th minute as Laporte exploited Southampton’s weakness in the air.
Kevin De Bruyne swung a free-kick to the far post and Laporte was left completely unmarked to score the 11th headed goal against Southampton in the league this season.
As City pushed for a winner, De Bruyne hammered a 25-yard rocket against the post and Forster saved Gabriel Jesus’s header with his legs.
City were denied a penalty after VAR ruled Oriol Romeu’s foul on De Bruyne had taken place just outside the area.
Stuart Armstrong was fortunate to escape a red card following a VAR check of his high foul on Laporte.
In the tense final minutes, Forster pushed away Foden’s goalbound deflected cross and De Bruyne’s close-range effort was repelled by the inspired Saints keeper.
By Ben Church, CNN
By Toba Adedeji, Osogbo/ THE NATION
Amid separation controversy between the wife of Ooni, Prophetess Naomi Silekunola and Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ile-Ife palace has said the monarch still loves his queen.
The palace noted that separation is a two-way affairs and marriage is a private affair.
Prophetess Naomi had on Thursday morning announced on her verified Instagram handle; @queen_silekunolanaomi_ogunwusi that she should no longer be addressed as the Queen of Ile-Ife, but as the Queen of the people.
She said: “I bless the Lord Almighty for His faithfulness in the last three years of my marriage. In life’s journey, it isn’t how far.
“Still, how well, indeed though Satan should buffet if trials should come, I have this blessed assurance controlling all situations and saying to me it is well with my soul.
“Certainly, it is well. I made my journey into the ancient throne of Ife with faith in my heart and love for the keeper of it.
“Few impressions I would love to correct. If anyone knows otherwise, they are free to come up with facts.
“Let it be known that this decision to move on did not come because his majesty is married to another queen.
“As many would love to assume, throughout our life as a couple, I was the only married wife to him. There were side attractions, but it was never an issue.
“I never approached him with any revelation of any sort, as many believed he contacted me first and made his proposal known several months later.
“The marriage was not an arranged one, as many have misconstrued. I never knew the prophetess said to have introduced me to him.
“Instead, he introduced her to me after I agreed to marry him. I was only being polite out of respect for him.
“I have never been pregnant all my life before Tadenikawo; my son is my first ever pregnancy with medical reports to back it up.
“The girl who is said to be my daughter is my niece. I did my best to endure and make it work; many times, I smiled through the struggle, but I have finally realised I had just one assignment, my son, and when God is done, He is done.
“He chose Saul to be king, and when He was done, He told prophet Samuel I have moved on.
“Religion was never an issue between us; please refer to my interview on News Central TV.
“Instead, His Majesty has a picture he would love the world to see and perceive him as, and another one which is his true self.
“Today I announce the beginning of a new dawn and the close of a chapter. Today, I am a mother to God’s unique gift. I am no longer a slave to my thoughts of perfection.
“I, at this moment, announce that I shall no longer be referred to as wife to the Ooni of Ife or as Queen of Ile-Ife, but as the Queen of the people and mother of my adorable Prince.
“He is God’s way of saying I know about it all. In situations like this, there will be aggrieved persons.
“I, at this moment, appeal to all parties involved to allow the peace of God with the consciousness that there is a lovely little boy between us. I thank all of my prayer partners and loved ones.
“I remain committed to all of my projects, charity work and ministry. In this new season, I shall be focusing on God only.”
The Directorate of Media and Public Affairs, Ooni’s Palace, Chief Moses Olafare, speaking with our correspondent on the phone yesterday, said the palace is not aware of the post of Queen Naomi.
He said: “Separation is a two-way affair; it is not something that is announced by one party. The announcement of separation is subject to agreement by both parties, so, to that extent, the palace is not aware of such separation because we all went to bed last night, having the king and queen being together.
“So, if by this morning, the queen went to her social media to write that she is no longer in marriage with Ooni, we will look into it to see whether or not the Instagram page truly belongs to her, and to know the reason behind it. But as of today, this moment, the palace is not aware of the separation. Marriage is a private affair, no matter how prominent the personalities involved, it is a private affair. We will dig deeper and know what happened. But as I said, all of us just woke up to read about the separation on social media.
“Even by this time yesterday, (Wednesday) kabiyesi was still packaging a special gift for her. If you want to separate with someone, you cannot be packaging a gift for her. I was aware that Kabiyesi was putting special gifts for her for Christmas. If he is not in love with her, he cannot be doing that, only to wake up the following morning to hear from the public that she is no longer in the relationship. The Christmas gift has been delivered to her already.”
By Alao Abiodun / THE NATION
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has broken silence after his estranged wife, Prophetess Naomi Silekunola, announced her separation from him through an Instagram post on December 23.
The 28-year-old prophetess had in a statement posted on her verified Instagram handle – @queen_silekunolanaomi_ogunwusi – announced an end to her three-year-old marriage with the Ooni.
But in what appears to be a subtle reaction amid the trending controversy, Ooni on his official Facebook page (Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi – Ojaja II) advised everyone to “reach out to neighbours, especially those who haven’t had it as easy through the year”.
The Palace spokesman, Chief Moses Olafare, told The Nation that the monarch still loves Olori Naomi, and that he was packaging a special gift for her.
The 47-year-old monarch in his post said: “I join all and sundry in the joyous occasion of this particular season. As we all know it’s one of joy, celebrations and a deep reflection on what Olódùmarè has done through the year.
“As we do take time to celebrate with our families and loved ones, I implore you to reach out to your neighbours, especially those who haven’t had it as easy through the year.
“It is my prayer that you’ll continue to find strength to celebrate in joy, peace, and abounding love which is the bedrock of this special occasion.
“Royal blessings from the House of Oduduwa and compliments of the season.”
National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has commiserated with the family and professional colleagues of the late Mr. Babatunde Omidina, aka Baba Suwe, over his death.
Baba Suwe died on Monday in Lagos. His remains were buried in his Ikorodu, Lagos, home yesterday.
In a condolence letter released yesterday by his Media Office in Abuja, the APC leader described the late Omidina as “an indisputable ambassador of Nigerian culture, judging by the tumultuous acclaim he received from both Yoruba-speaking and non-Yoruba speaking audiences.”
Tinubu added: “By way of this letter, please accept my deepest condolences and those of my wife and children over the recent passing of your husband and patriarch of the family, Mr. Babatunde Omidina, aka Baba Suwe.
“An accomplished entertainer and actor, Baba Suwe deployed his rare God-given talent to bring joy to many hearts. He was a comedian of note with an amazing gift of spontaneous artistry.
“During his earthly journey, we met physically a couple of times. However, I encountered him many times through his amazing works. Baba Suwe redefined the Yoruba genre of comedy with his creativity and brilliance.
“He was an indisputable ambassador of Nigerian culture judging by the tumultuous acclaim he received from both Yoruba-speaking and non-Yoruba speaking audiences.
“Your husband’s death is not only a loss to you and the immediate family, it is equally a painful loss to millions of his admirers at home and abroad.”
“We may have another Babatunde Omidina but it will be difficult to have another Baba Suwe. This untimely departure has left a big gap in the entertainment industry in Nigeria.
“My prayer is that God Almighty comfort all of you that he left behind. May his buoyant, creative and boisterous soul rest in perfect peace.”
Governor Willie Obiano has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that he will be relocating to his United States base when he leaves office next March.
Reacting yesterday to Wednesday’s placement of the governor on a watch list by the anti-graft agency, Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba, accused EFCC of acting a script.
He said his principal, currently out of the country, never disguised when he embarked on the foreign trip.
The commissioner said the governor has made it public that he would relocate to his U.S. residence at the end of his tenure.
“Nigerians were dismayed that the EFCC went a new low on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, when it sponsored media reports claiming that it has placed Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on its watch list. The EFCC provided no details of how Governor Obiano has been placed on its watch list but made a reference to a letter it purportedly wrote on November 15, 2021, to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) asking it to inform the anti-graft agency anytime the governor is travelling out of the country,” Adinuba stated.
Police Command in Kwara has rescued seven workers of Lafrcdeen Pure Water Factory, who were kidnapped by unknown gunmen at about 2300hrs of Nov. 19 in Sosoki village via Alapa.
This is contained in a statement issued by Police Public Relations Officers (PPRO), SP Ajayi Okasanmi, on Sunday in Ilorin.
He said that the gunmen stormed the factory and abducted seven out of eight workers including the owner of the factory, Mrs Fatimah Nurudeen.
“In a similar fashion, information was received by the Police in Okeonigbin Divisional headquarters about the abduction of one Olujala Adegboja, 56, on his way back from his farm in Olla by six armed men and was led into the bush by the kidnappers.
“On receipt of the information, the State Commissioner of Police, CP Tuesday Assayomo immediately unleashed the Command’s Tactical Teams with the local hunters and vigilante to the area to rescue the victims and arrest the hoodlums.
“The efforts, however resulted in the rescued of seven out of the eight abducted workers, the command is getting close to rescuing the remaining victims and possible arrest of the kidnappers.
” The Command assured the general public that the effort of combined team of police men, vigilante and hunters are still ongoing to liberate the victims.
He advised the public to always be conscious of whom they share vital information about their movements with and to be security conscious at all times especially at this period when the year is running to an end.
He added that everybody including the good and the bad ones would want to celebrate Christmas and new year with pockets filled with money, even as they have no explainable means of livelihood.
The PPRO said the command would not relent in her commitment in ensuring that the good people of kwara sleeps with their two eyes closed at night and also ensure the peace and safety of the people before,during and after the yuletide.
Vinicius Junior scored his 10th goal of the season as Real Madrid thrashed Granada 4-1 on Sunday to shoot back to the top of La Liga.
Marco Asensio and Nacho Fernandez put Madrid two up inside the opening 30 minutes at Los Carmenes, where Granada briefly made a game of it when Luis Suarez pulled a goal back, only to be blown away in the second half.
Vinicius finished off a sumptuous Madrid passing move and was then on the end of a rash challenge from Granada’s Monchu, who was sent off with 23 minutes left to play.
With the extra man, the lead was never really in doubt and Ferland Mendy made it four to complete a convincing victory, which sends Madrid two points clear at the top of the table.
Granada sit 18th, four points off the bottom.
Carlo Ancelotti now turns his attention to Wednesday’s Champions League game away at Sheriff Tiraspol, with qualification to the last 16 not yet secured.
Inter Milan are two points behind in Group D and Sheriff only one point further back.
Madrid, though, appear to be hitting their stride after recording their fourth consecutive win and extending their unbeaten run to seven in all competitions. They face second-placed Sevilla next weekend.
Vinicius has been key and the Brazilian was on target again versus Granada, making it double figures for goals in a season for the first time for Madrid. He already has four more than he managed in the entirety of last term.
With Eden Hazard ill and out of favour and Gareth Bale injured, the third forward position, alongside Vinicius and Karim Benzema, is one of those up for grabs in Ancelotti’s starting line-up.
Asensio furthered his claim with a smart goal in the 19th minute as Granada were dispossessed in midfield and Toni Kroos sent Asensio in behind the defence, the 25-year-old holding his finish until the last moment before poking into the far corner.
“There’s a lot of competition but when he plays, the most important thing is he has played well, he’s scored and he’s brought his best qualities,” said Ancelotti.
Nacho made it two six minutes later, diverting in off the crossbar at the near post after a slick short-corner routine between the impressive Kroos and Luka Modric.
Vinicius’ rougher edges were exposed for Granada’s goal as a sloppy touch allowed Suarez space to unleash from range, with a deflection off Nacho giving Thibaut Courtois no chance.
But any hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed as Vinicius made it three in the 56th minute and Monchu was sent off in the 67th.
Benzema could have gone for goal himself but played in Modric at the back post. The Croat then tapped inside for Vinicius, who had an open net.
A frustrated Monchu slid in on Vinicius giving Madrid added security. Casemiro played in Mendy, who duly tucked home a fourth.