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John Obi Mikel returns, will lead Nigeria at Africa Cup of Nations

The former Chelsea star last played for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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John Obi Mikel returns, will lead Nigeria at Africa Cup of Nations
Nigeria's midfielder John Obi Mikel. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

John Obi Mikel has confirmed he is available to return to Nigeria’s Super Eagles for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, according to a team official.

The former Chelsea star last played for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and was not involved in the qualifying for this year’s Nations Cup.

“Mikel has met with coach (Gernot) Rohr in England and he has confirmed he will feature at the Nations Cup in Egypt,” said a top team official.

The 32-year-old Obi, now with English Championship side Middlesborough, has won 85 caps and scored six goals since his full international debut in 2005 against Libya.

Experts said his experience and leadership would be invaluable to a squad that includes many players making their debut in this competition after Nigeria missed out on the last two editions.

The tournament in Egypt is widely seen as the last hurrah for the player in international football.

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Gyan named in Ghana’s 29-man provisional AFCON 2019 squad

Gyan recently rescinded his decision to retire from the team after Ghana’s president intervened

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Gyan named in Ghana's 29-man provisional AFCON 2019 squad | News Central TV
Ghana' national football team coach, Kwesi Appiah. Photo credit: www.ghanafa.org

Ghana’s coach, Kwesi Appiah has named Asamoah Gyan in his provisional 29-man squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations alongside five debutants.

Gyan officially rescinded his decision to retire from the team after Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo intervened. It is understood that Gyan has accepted to be General Captain of the team as Andre Ayew remains captain.

Coach Kwesi Appiah has named experienced players like John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Christian Atsu, Harrison Afful, Afriyie Acquah, and Thomas Partey.

Five players Nuhu Musa (St Gallen), Samuel Owusu (Cukaricki, Serbia), Kwabena Owusu (Leganes, Spain). Mohammed Alhassan (Hearts of Oak, Ghana) and Abdul Fatawu (Asante Kotoko) have received their first call-ups and will be auditioning to play in the tournament.

The 29 players consist of three goalkeepers, ten defenders, eleven midfielders and five strikers.

Ghana’s squad will depart for a pre-tournament training camp in Dubai, UAE where they have lined up two warm-up matches against South Africa and Namibia.

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Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan reverses retirement decision

Gyan is Ghana’s all-time leading goalscorer with 51 goals in 106 appearances for the national team

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Ghana's Asamoah Gyan reverses retirement decision

Ghana’s national team captain, Asamoah Gyan on Wednesday reversed his decision to retire from international football, just weeks before the African Cup of Nations.

The striker said Monday he was quitting the national team after he was angered by coach Kwasi Appiah’s plan to strip him of the captaincy for next month’s finals in Egypt. 

But President Nana Akufo-Addo intervened on Tuesday by telephoning the Turkey-based player, urging him to make himself available for selection.

Gyan in a statement said he has accepted the president’s request, and was ready for the tournament.

“A presidential request is one that cannot be disregarded… I have taken the request of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in good faith, and will make myself available for selection by coach Kwasi Appiah,” the 33-year-old forward said in a statement. 

“My desire to help Ghana end the over three-decade long wait to annex the AFCON trophy still burns strong, and I remain committed to serving this great nation and the people of Ghana,” he added.

The tournament, expanded to 24 teams for the first time, kicks off on June 21.

The Black Stars are in Group F with defending champions Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

Gyan made his international debut at the age of 17 against Somalia in 2003.

He is Ghana’s all-time leading goalscorer with 51 goals in 106 appearances for the national team.

He has also featured at three World Cups, in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

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East Africa

Sevilla arrive Tanzania ahead of friendly with Simba

Sevilla will face newly crowned Tanzanian league champions, Simba on Thursday in a friendly match.

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Sevilla arrive Tanzania ahead of friendly with Simba

Hundreds of fans and media thronged the Julius Nyerere International Airport as Sevilla FC arrived Tanzania ahead of their season-ending East African tour.

They are the first Spanish top flight side to visit East Africa, one year after Atletico Madrid ’s planned trip to Kenya was aborted due to lack of a suitable stadium.

Sevilla will face newly crowned Tanzanian league champions, Simba on Thursday in a friendly match. Manager, Joaquin Caparros named an 18-man squad which includes Jesus Navas, Quincy Primes, Munir, and Wissam Ben Yedder.

According to SportPesa director of Administration and Compliance, Tarimba Abbas, the eagerly awaited clash will kick off at 7pm local time on the 23rd of May at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

“Sevilla’s tour will, among other things, help tourists and investors discover the uniqueness of Tanzania as a travel and business destination.” – Tarimba Abbas

“We invite top teams from Europe and other parts of the world to promote tourism and ensure that young footballers get the opportunity to train and learn from the very best,” he added.

While in the country, Sevilla officials will also conduct a coaching clinic for young players at the Uhuru National Stadium.

The objective is to pass on football tips to local young talents, according to Abbas.

The match and coaching clinics are part of the La Liga World Challenge powered by SportPesa, which sponsors the country’s football heavyweights, Simba and Young Africans.

According to Tanzania Football Federation competition director, Salum Madadi, FIFA badged referee Herry Sasii will handle Thursday’s match between Simba and Sevilla.

He will be assisted by Mohammed Mkono from Tanga and Soud Lila of Dar es Salaam.

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