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Nigeria’s Super Eagles Squander Four-Goal Lead, Draw Sierra Leone 4-4

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Leaders Nigeria squandered a four-goal advantage at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City to delay their qualification for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations as Sierra Leone made a spirited fightback to tie the game 4-4 on the evening.

It was an uncharacteristic capitulation on home ground for the Super Eagles, who led 4-0 on the half hour and apparently thought the job was done. They took their feet off the pedal, and unhinged by a rash of substitutions that destroyed rather than buoy the rhythm of their game, they capitulated unbelievably as the Leone Stars scored three unreplied goals in a 14-minute spell in a nightmare second half.

The Eagles had, as expected, bossed the first half hour to an almost –embarrassing degree, with a brace from Alex Iwobi and one each from Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze putting daylight between the hosts and their visitors. But the gap was astonishingly erased as, gradually, the Leone Stars started to show radiance slowly but surely, first capitalising on a mistake by Samuel Chukwueze to split the Eagles’ defence and free Kwame Quee to fire past Maduka Okoye in the 41st minute.

Chukwueze rocked the Leone Stars’ upright from an Ahmed Musa free kick in the 47th minute, but after that, it was the visitors all the way. Coach John Keister brought in Rodney Strasser and Alhaji Kamara to take the places of Alie Sesay and John Kamara, and that move proved magical.

Alhaji Kamara rose highest in the Eagles’ defence to nod powerfully past Okoye for the Leone Stars’ second in the 72nd minute. The emphatic manner of that goal and the bold statement of intent was lost on the Eagles, who continued to show a lack of spirit and move the ball backward rather than forward.

Seeing an opening to create a sensation, Keister made more changes, bringing in Mustapha Bundu and Osman Kakay. These changes further revved the Leone Stars’ engine. Eight minutes after netting the second, Alhaji Kamara, after collecting the ball from the fast –paced Bundu who ran down the Nigerian right wing, slammed a fierce grounder past Okoye for Sierra Leone’s third.

Now, the Leone Stars could not be stopped. While the Eagles failed to create openings, the Leone Stars were upbeat and threatened to score with every move, and it was no surprise when, after a defensive mix-up, substitute Bundu scrambled in Sierra Leone’s equalizer with four minutes to go.

Two efforts by Kelechi Iheanacho from dead balls failed to produce the much-sought-after winner, goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara throwing himself full length to thwart the first and the second flying narrowly above the sticks.

The Eagles still lead Group L with seven points, with the Leone Stars still third on two points, ahead of the pool’s other clash between Benin Republic and Lesotho in Cotonou on Saturday. Whatever the result, the Eagles will maintain their place at the summit of the table, but victory for Lesotho would drive the Leone Stars to the bottom despite Friday’s feat in Benin City.

Both Nigeria and Sierra Leone clash again in Freetown’s Siaka Stevens Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Addressing the Eagles after the game, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick charged the players to put the disappointment behind them and be ready to give their all and redeem their image in Freetown on Tuesday.

Team captain Ahmed Musa, who was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho in the 71st minute while the Eagles still led 4-1, apologised to Nigerians for the poor ending to the encounter: “This has been a real shocker. I want to, on behalf of the entire team, apologise to the generality of Nigerians for this poor result. We will go to Freetown and do the needful.”

NFF President Pinnick has also summoned a meeting with the technical crew of the team for Saturday morning.

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The Big 5 Review | 30 – 11 -2020

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East Africa Sports News

Egyptian Eksab Raises $500,000 in Funding

With the investment, Eksab plans to scale its product to the millions of football fans in the region with the goal of launching its first paid competitions over the next year.

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Egyptian start-up Eksab, a daily fantasy sports platform, has raised US$500,000 in funding to help it reach more football fans across the Middle East and Africa.

Eksab is looking to tap into the MEA region’s love for football by providing users with exciting and engaging mobile games.

Users download the app, make predictions about live football games from around the world, collect points based on the accuracy of their predictions, and get rewarded with prizes.

The startup, which raised a round of seed funding from 500 Startups in June 2019, has announced an investment of US$500,000 from 4DX Ventures as well as other strategic investors within the international sports and entertainment ecosystem. 

Read also: Autochek Secures $3.4 Million Pre-Seed Funding

With the investment, Eksab plans to scale its product to the millions of football fans in the region with the goal of launching its first paid competitions over the next year. 

“Daily Fantasy Sports and monetised competitions are a multi-billion dollar a year industry in the US,” said Eksab co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aly Mahmoud. “Our goal is to become the premier sports entertainment company in the MEA region by offering exciting fantasy sports competitions as well as highly engaging local sports content.” 

Peter Orth, partner at 4DX, said he saw the region as one of the most exciting and underserved markets for a sports entertainment platform. 

Orth further said “We’ve been really impressed with Aly’s vision for a next-generation and technology-driven platform that is also highly tailored to local fans and their preferences. We’re excited to be on this journey with Aly and the rest of the Eksab team.”

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North Africa Sports

Mahrez Bags Hat-trick in Man City’s 5-0 Thrashing of Burnley

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Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez scored in the sixth minute in Manchester City’s 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to grab his 100th goal in the Premier League and joined five other African in the exclusive club list.

The goal ensured he became the sixth African player to reach the milestone after Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Mahrez would add two more goals to complete a hat-trick as Man City hammered Burnley at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.

The win is the fourth straight time Pep Guardiola’s side have beaten the Clarets at home by that scoreline.

City had netted just 10 goals in their opening eight games, raising concerns from Guardiola about their finishing but they looked back to their sharpest best — helped by poor defending from Sean Dyche’s team.

Algerian Mahrez set City on their way in the sixth minute, finishing off a flowing passing move with his trademark cut in from the left and drive into the far corner.

There was a similar finish for the second after Mahrez picked up the ball in space in the area after Burnley had been caught out by a quick throw in.

Benjamin Mendy made it 3-0 in the 41st, volleying home his first goal for the club at the back post after a fine cross from Kevin De Bruyne.

Burnley, weakened by injuries and with Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal instead of the sidelined Nick Pope, enjoyed some relief from the pressure after the break with Jay Rodriguez forcing a save out of Ederson with a well-struck effort from a tight angle.

But Ferran Torres added the fourth goal, slotting home after the overlapping Kyle Walker had found Gabriel Jesus in the box and the Brazilian flicked it to his Spanish team mate to convert confidently.

Mahrez completed his hat-trick, his first for City, in the 69th minute, heading home Phil Foden’s cross.

It could have been 6-0 had an effort from Jesus not been ruled out for offside by VAR and a shot from De Bruyne not crashed against the post.

Burnley also lost 5-0 at City last season in the Premier League, in the FA Cup in January, 2019 and in the league in 2018.

Broadcasters BT Sport said the last time a team beat the same opponent by five or more goals in four successive games was Notts County against Port Vale between 1893 and 1907.

“It’s been tough here the last few times we have been without doubt,” Dyche said.

“The media have been on about it and I don’t know whether they planted it in the players’ minds!

“The first goal is really poor. The game plan is almost dismantled by our own doing. 2-0 down here is really difficult as they grow with confidence and they are a top team without a doubt. We know the stats and facts of playing these sides.”

Guardiola was pleased his team had bounced back from last week’s defeat by Tottenham Hotspur and City moved up to eighth, six points behind leaders Liverpool.

“It was important to come back with a victory in the Premier League. One more game,” the Spaniard said.

“We play a lot of games, so to play 90 minutes and maintain a good level is not easy but there are always things to improve on.”

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