Joao Felix backed Portugal to go all the way at the World Cup after Fernando Santos welcomed a selection headache following a 4-0 friendly thrashing of Nigeria.

Bruno Fernandes' first-half double, coupled with late strikes for Goncalo Ramos and Joao Mario, saw Santos' side to a comfortable triumph on Thursday before setting off for Qatar.

Atletico Madrid attacker Joao Felix did not manage to get on the scoresheet but impressed in Lisbon, with Santos noting a credible performance from the 23-year-old.

"He was one of the best, with some others. They were all better, nobody plays alone," the Portugal coach said.

"Joao played a good game too, at the level of what the others did. I have 26 players knocking on the door. Every day they knock on my door in training.

"They all knock on the door and they all have reasons to play. That's certainly good for the coach."

Joao Felix suggested he enjoys more attacking freedom for Portugal than Atletico Madrid, as he backed Santos' side for glory in Qatar, where they face Ghana in their Group H opener next Thursday.

"I have more freedom of movement with the national team because we are very mobile," he said. "I felt good and the team had a great game.

"I think we are prepared to win the World Cup. We looked for the goal and I helped the team, which is my mission as a striker. 

"The goals did not appear in this game, but they will happen in the World Cup."

Santos will also have to consider the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed the friendly victory due to "illness" as the aftermath of his scathing interview on Manchester United continues.

Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Portugal eased to a 4-0 victory over Nigeria in their sole World Cup warm-up game, despite missing captain Cristiano Ronaldo through illness.

Fernando Santos' side produced a dominant showing in Lisbon on Thursday amid the ongoing furore over the absent Ronaldo's scathing interview on Manchester United.

Fernandes' first-half double, the latter from the penalty spot, set Portugal on their way in their final outing ahead of Qatar, before Goncalo Ramos scored after Emmanuel Dennis missed a second-half spot-kick.

Joao Mario added a late fourth and Portugal will now turn their attention to next Thursday's Group H opener against Ghana as they aim to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in four tournaments.

Fernandes miscued an effort just wide in the opening stages but made amends after nine minutes as he turned home Diogo Dalot's cutback pass.

Joao Felix curled narrowly over before Bright Osayi-Samuel was adjudged to have handled inside the area, with Fernandes sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way with his spot-kick.

A host of half-time changes did little to alter Portugal's dominance, though Samuel Chukwueze forced a rare Rui Patricio save before Uzoho tipped over from Joao Felix.

The VAR deemed Dalot to have shoved Osayi-Samuel inside the area, though Patricio saved Dennis' penalty before Ramos sealed victory by tapping in Raphael Guerreiro's unselfish pass.

A simple Joao Felix offload teed up the final goal as Joao Mario prodded into an empty net.

What does it mean? Santos' side in cruise control ahead of Qatar

The ongoing controversy surrounding five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo could have easily derailed Portugal, though that did not prove the case in a routine win.

Santos' side dominated from the first minute without their talisman and will be confident of escaping Group H, which also includes Uruguay and South Korea.

However, the likes of Ghana and Uruguay – the latter with the likes of Federico Valverde, Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez – will prove much sterner tasks than Nigeria in Qatar.

Fernandes refutes Ronaldo deputy tag

All the talk in the build-up to the friendly surrounded Fernandes' United team-mate Ronaldo, though it was the midfielder who shone at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Fernandes has regularly played the backing role to Ronaldo at Old Trafford and Portugal, but offered a timely reminder of his qualities with two goals as well as misplacing just three of his 37 passes.

More from Miffi

While Portugal impressed without their star attacker, Nigeria were left wanting in their forward line as Terem Moffi failed to deliver.

The 23-year-old completed just six of his 11 passes and managed 15 touches – the fewest of any outfield starter – before his second-half removal.

What's next?

Portugal's curtain-raiser comes against Ghana in Doha, while Nigeria are not scheduled for action until facing Guinea-Bissau in Africa Cup of Nations qualification in March.

Reigning Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Senegal and continental powerhouse Ivory Coast have been drawn together for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The biennial tournament is due to be held in Algeria in January and February 2023, with 18 teams competing across five groups. The participants must consist only of players playing in their domestic national league competitions.

Group B looms as the toughest with Senegal drawn alongside two-time AFCON winners Ivory Coast, as well as DR Congo and Uganda. DR Congo missed out on 2022 World Cup qualification in the playoffs to Morocco.

Hosts Algeria are in Group A with 2014 winners Libya, Ethiopia and Mozambique, while Morocco, who have lifted the past two African Nations Championship titles, are in Group C with Ghana, Sudan and Madagascar.

Mali, Angola and Mauritania are in Group D and Cameroon, Congo and Niger make up Group E.

Egypt, who lost last year's AFCON final to Senegal, along with 2022 World Cup participants Tunisia did not enter, while Nigeria failed to qualify.

Former Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has announced his retirement at the age of 35.

The midfielder, who had most recently played for Kuwait SC, called time on his 20-year career on Tuesday.

Mikel spent the majority of his playing days with Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Europa League.

The enforcer also lifted the FA Cup three times during his time with the Blues and got his hands on the EFL Cup in 2007.

Mikel won 91 caps for the Super Eagles and the highlight of his international career was a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph.

He posted on Instagram: "There is a saying that 'all good things must come to an end', and for my professional football career, that day is today.

"I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape.

"All of this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my family, managers, clubs, coaches, team-mates and most importantly my ever-loyal fans. You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations. I say a big thank you.

"I will also like to encourage everyone who I may have inspired one way or the other in the course of my career to never give up on their dreams, for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.

"This is not goodbye, it's the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you."

Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica won sprint relay medals on Sunday with silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

Despite the absence of 200m champion Jereem Richards Trinidad and Tobago’s team of Jerod Elcock, Eric Harrison Jr, Kion Benjamin Hislop and Kyle Greaux raced to a season-best 38.70 to claim second place behind England that ran a season-best 38.35 for the gold medal.

Nigeria ran 38.81 for the bronze.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s women owe a debt of gratitude to sprint-double champion Elaine Thompson-Herah for their bronze medal as Kemba Nelson, Remona Burchell and Natalliah Whyte were unable to put Jamaica in contention for a medal over the first three legs.

However, at the final exchange with Jamaica in fifth, the fastest woman alive, stormed down the home stretch to snatch the bronze medal from Australia.

Jamaica clocked a relatively pedestrian 43.08, well behind England who ran a season-best 42.41 for the silver and winners Nigeria, who stormed to a new area record of 42.10.

Australia clocked 43.16 for fourth.

Jamaican Olympian Lacena Golding Clarke sensed that Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan would set a world record during the semi-finals of 100m hurdles on Sunday’s final day of the 2022 World Championships of Athletics in Eugene, Oregon.

Clarke, 47, recruited Amusan from Nigeria in 2016 bringing her to the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) after the then 18-year-old won the 100m hurdles in a time of 14.26 at the Junior African Championships in March 2015.

Since then, she has been the coach and second mother to Amusan, who ran 12.12 in the semi-finals to break the world record of 12.20 that had been held by American Kendra Harrison in July 2016.

Showing it was no fluke, Amusan would go on to win the title in an even faster 12.06 (2.5m/s). The run in the semi-final, Golding-Clarke said, was incredible but looking back, not really unexpected.

“At first it was unbelievable,” said the Golding Clarke who will take up a coaching position at her alma mater Auburn University in the Fall.

“We knew she could come close to running the then world record, we’ve rehearsed it in training a couple of times last year and this year. So, I know what she could do.

“However, I was very happy, excited and pleased because of all the hard work that went into training this season.”

Golding Clarke, the 2002 Commonwealth Games champion, said the work that went into preparing Amusan, the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion, paid off massively.

“This season was the same as before with more speed and rhythm endurance work plus drilling techniques every training day,” she said.

“We focused more on staying healthy, we drilled technique that needed to be taken care of, and, of course, we paid extra attention to her rhythm/speed endurance.”

The proud coach also related that Amusan was driven by the disappointment of finishing fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

In Tokyo, Amusan crossed the line in 12.60 just behind Jamaica’s Megan Tapper 12.550, Harrison 12.520 and gold medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn 12.370. According to Clarke, she was motivated to redeem herself in Oregon.

“She wants to be the best she can be; specifically, she wanted to be on the podium, she did not want another fourth place at a global competition so she focused more on herself this time around and executing her race plan,” said Clarke.

The Jamaica coach describes the relationship between her and Amusan as being like family.

“The relationship is more like a mother/daughter type,” she said.

“Her mom sent her far away from home to get her education and to run track for the University of Texas at El Paso and so as a coach, I am her family away from home.

“Tobi is a dedicated and hard-working person, very persistent. She is sometimes goofy with persons she calls friends, very friendly and nice to speak with but mostly a loner.”

So sweet was the moment Amusan set the world record that not even the unfortunate comments from Michael Johnson, the multiple Olympic gold medallist and former 200m and 400m world-record holder, could ruin the occasion for Golding Clarke and her 24-year-old charge.

Johnson, who was a pundit during the championships, suggested that the timing system had malfunctioned during the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles. His comments drew the ire of Nigerians on social media. Golding scoffed at the comments.

“I really thought it very absurd,” she said.

“I did not really pay it any mind because that would take away from the joy of winning and breaking the world record.”

Napoli forward Victor Osimhen has described the facial injury he suffered last season against Inter as "like a near-death injury".

The Nigeria international was hurt in a clash of heads with Nerazzurri defender Milan Skriniar during Inter's 3-2 win against Napoli at San Siro in November.

Osimhen, who has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks, needed surgery on his face and did not return to action until mid-January.

Despite that lay-off, the 23-year-old scored 18 times in 32 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side in all competitions last season.

His 14 league goals also meant Osimhen became the first Nigerian to achieve double figures in two straight Serie A terms, while he became just the fourth African player to achieve the feat in the Italian top flight after George Weah for Milan, Samuel Eto'o for Inter and Mohamed Salah for Roma.

Speaking to Wazobia FM, Osimhen detailed his injury against Inter and the mentality he needed to come back.

"As I got to the hospital, I told my doctor that I would be out for two weeks maximum," he said.

"When the scan came out, I fractured many bones, which they had to remove and fix inside again. I have like 18 screws under my jaw. I went through a lot.

"I could not sleep, I could not eat with the pain. But at the end of the day, I am a lion, and I know the kind of mentality I have.

"In my mind, I had already scheduled my return following the surgery."

Osimhen returned for the 2-0 win at Bologna in which Hirving Lozano scored both goals, with Napoli ultimately ending the season in third place in Serie A.

Napoli star Victor Osimhen has left the door open for a move to Arsenal after declaring "anything can happen" amid continued transfer speculation.

Arsenal have reportedly had advances turned down for Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus as Mikel Arteta looks to add firepower to his attack.

A talisman appears the main priority in the transfer window for Arsenal, with Alexandre Lacazette moving to Lyon and Eddie Nketiah yet to sign a new contract after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang previously joined Barcelona.

Osimhen has emerged as a target for the Premier League side, who have reportedly already had a sizeable bid turned down for the Nigeria international.

The Napoli striker would add a much-needed reference point for Arteta's side up top, with Osimhen scoring 14 times in 27 Serie A appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side last season.

His 14-goal tally was the 23-year-old's best in a single season in Europe's top-five leagues, surpassing the 13 Ligue 1 strikes he recorded in 2019-20 for Lille.

That also made Osimhen the first Nigerian to achieve double figures in two straight Serie A terms, while he became just the fourth African player to achieve the feat in the Italian top flight, after George Weah for Milan, Samuel Eto'o for Inter and Mohamed Salah for Roma.

Osimhen, speaking while away on international duty with the Super Eagles, is aware of the transfer reports and admitted he does not know where his future lies.

"I don't know my future, I know anything can happen, but now I just want to go on vacation with my family, clear my head and recharge my batteries. Then we'll take care of the rest," he told reporters.

"I know there are many rumours that they would like me in Spain or in England, but I don't think it's the right time to talk about it now that I'm with the national team."

Arsenal finished fifth in the Premier League behind fierce rivals Tottenham, leaving Arteta's team playing Europa League football next season.

Mexico got their international window off to a positive start, earning a 2-1 win over Nigeria in Arlington on Saturday.

In front of a healthy crowd in Texas, William Troost-Ekong's own-goal in the 56th minute eventually proved the difference between the two sides, only two minutes after Cyriel Dessers equalised for Nigeria.

Though Nigeria failed to qualify for this year's World Cup, El Tri are ramping up preparations for the event in Qatar, with this being the first of three friendlies before the CONCACAF Nations League opener against Suriname in June.

Santiago Gimenez opened the scoring for a makeshift Mexico squad in the 12th minute, with Gerardo Martino using the second half primarily as an opportunity to integrate Diego Lainez and Edson Alvarez from the bench.

FIFA have ordered the Senegalese Football Federation to play a competitive match behind closed doors and fined them $180,000 after a series of incidents in March's World Cup qualifier against Egypt, including the use of laser pens to target Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

After Egypt and Senegal each claimed 1-0 home wins in their two-legged play-off for World Cup qualification, Salah was targeted by a number of laser pens as he missed his penalty in the decisive shoot-out in Dakar, which Senegal went on to win.

Egypt lodged a complaint after their defeat, which came little over a month after the Pharaohs had lost the Africa Cup of Nations final on penalties to the same opponents, also claiming Salah was subject to racist abuse and their team bus targeted by missiles before the game.

Just as he did in February's Africa Cup of Nations final, Salah's Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane netted the winning spot-kick to hand Senegal a place at the Qatar World Cup.

Now, FIFA's disciplinary committee has punished the African champions for a series of offences, including a "failure to implement existing safety rules and failure to ensure that law and order are maintained in the stadium."

Senegal have also been punished for an "invasion of the field of play, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, use of laser pointers and use of objects to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports event."

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Football Federation have also been ordered to play a match behind closed doors, and received a fine of $154,000, after a pitch invasion that followed their away-goals elimination against Ghana in Abuja.

Senegal will be making their third appearance at the FIFA World Cup later this year, and will kick the tournament off when they face the Netherlands in Group A on November 21 – the first time since 1954 where the tournament's opening match doesn’t involve either the hosts or the defending champions.

Furious Nigeria supporters stormed the pitch at the National Stadium in Lagos after rivals Ghana sealed a World Cup spot at the expense of the Super Eagles.

Arsenal's Thomas Partey opened the scoring in the 10th minute for Ghana, before William Troost-Ekong levelled from the penalty spot for the hosts midway through the first half.

Nigeria could not find a crucial second goal, however, with Otto Addo's Ghana side holding on for the 1-1 draw, to progress to Qatar 2022 via away goals after a 0-0 draw in the first leg.

The result sparked ugly scenes inside the stadium, with videos on social media showing supporters leaving their seats and smashing equipment at the side of the pitch.

There was heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt after they suffered another dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat to Senegal.

Hosts Senegan recovered from a 1-0 first-leg deficit to beat Egypt by the same margin at the Abdoulaye Wade Stadium, before Salah, with dozens of laser pens seemingly pointing at his face, fired Egypt's first penalty of the shoot-out over the bar.

Mostafa Mohamed later failed with the visitors' fourth kick, allowing Salah’s Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane to slam his penalty past Mohamed El Shenawy and seal Senegal's progress, in a repeat of February's Africa Cup of Nations final triumph.

"We try our best but today was not enough," he wrote. "To all my players and my staff, [I give] my recognition and humble thank you.

"You will be always in my heart. It was my privilege to work and be helped by such dedicated and capable professionals and wonderful friends."

There was stunning late drama in Bilda as Karl Toko Ekambi scored late in extra time to seal a 2-1 win for visitors Cameroon against Algeria, the Indomitable Lions progressing to Qatar via away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

Algeria thought they had sealed a place at the World Cup when Ahmed Touba cancelled out Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's opener with two minutes remaining in extra time, but there was just enough time left for Ekambi to seal the most dramatic of victories.

Morocco also booked their place in Friday's World Cup draw with an emphatic 4-1 win over Democratic Republic of Congo. A brace from Azzedine Ounahi, as well as goals from Tarik Tissoudali and Achraf Hakimi, sealed a 5-2 aggregate win over DR Congo, who scored a late consolation through Ben Malango.

Meanwhile, a 0-0 draw for Tunisia against Mali was enough to see the former seal their own place in Qatar after they managed a 1-0 win in the first leg.

Youssef Msakni sent a COVID-hit Tunisia into the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria, who finished the game with 10 men. 

Tunisia scraped through the group stage and were without head coach Mondher Kebaier and a number of players for the last-16 clash on Sunday after an outbreak of coronavirus in their camp. 

However, they still managed to book a date with Burkina Faso, who overcame Gabon on penalties earlier in the day, in the next round. 

Montassar Talbi had the only shot on target in a dour first half in Garoua, but Msakni's low drive skidded off the turf and into the top-right corner off Maduka Okoye's glove within two minutes of the restart. 

Nigeria were reduced to 10 men in the 66th minute when substitute Alex Iwobi – who had only been on the pitch for seven minutes – had a booking upgraded to a straight red card after referee Maguette Ndiaye reviewed video footage of his tackle on Msakni 

The Super Eagles upped their game as they chased an equaliser, but Moses Simon was unable to beat Bechir Ben Said and Umar Sadiq missed the target in stoppage time as they exited the tournament.

By Sunday evening in Cameroon, the first two quarter-finalists at the Africa Cup of Nations will be known.

Burkina Faso should start as slight favourites against Gabon, chiefly due to their win when the teams met ahead of the tournament.

Nigeria will then be expected to overcome a Tunisia side who qualified for the last-16 stage via the back door.

Burkina Faso v Gabon (16:00 GMT)

Burkina Faso rather scrambled through the group stage, losing their opener to the hosts before winning 1-0 against Cape Verde and drawing 1-1 with Ethiopia.

They were runners-up in 2013 and finished third in 2017, so this is far from uncharted territory and a 3-0 win over Gabon in a warm-up game for this tournament at the start of January may be a guide of what to expect from this tussle in Limbe.

Midfielder Adama Guira is urging caution though, telling the Sidwaya newspaper: "A lot of things have changed on the Gabonese side after this friendly match. Their last outing against Morocco attests to this. They are a very good team."

Gabon were unbeaten in the group stage, despite the disruption of losing captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and midfielder Mario Lemina after brushes with COVID-19. A win over the Comoros was consolidated by draws with Ghana and Morocco.

That pre-tournament loss to the Stallions might be a factor, but Gabon are unbeaten in their previous two AFCON meetings with Sunday's opponents – both having taken place in the group stages (2-0 in 2015 and 1-1 in 2017).

One to watch: Guelor Kanga (Gabon)

Red Star Belgrade attacking midfielder Kanga has been a livewire for Gabon so far in the tournament, with a team-high eight shots and five chances created (one assist). It earned him a place among the substitutes in the tournament's official best team of the group stage.

 

Nigeria v Tunisia (19:00 GMT)

Nigeria have two players in the group stage's best XI, with centre-back William Troost-Ekong and forward Moses Simon both earning plaudits for their early performances.

Augustine Eguavoen's team were the only side with a 100 per cent winning record in the groups, and now they tackle a Tunisia outfit who only edged through as one of the best third-placed teams, having lost twice already.

These sides are meeting for the sixth time at the Africa Cup of Nations and Tunisia's only successful AFCON meeting with Nigeria came in 2004, when they progressed via penalties in the semi-finals, going on to win the competition.

Nigeria have won 12 of their last 14 AFCON games (L2), and they start this game as hot favourites.

Nigeria have had more different scorers (6) than any other team so far at this year's tournament, with Kelechi Iheanacho, Simon, Simon Chukwueze, Taiwo Awoniyi, Troost-Ekong and Umar Sadiq each scoring once.

One to watch: Kelechi Iheanacho

The Leicester City striker has one goal and one assist so far, creating a team-high six chances. Such evidence points to him being a likely menace to the Tunisian defence.

 

Nigeria rounded off an impressive performance in the Africa Cup of Nations group stages with a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau.

Already assured of their place in the last 16, the Super Eagles moved into the knockouts as Group D winners with a 100 per cent record after making it three wins from three on Wednesday.

Umar Sadiq broke the deadlock with his first international goal in the 56th minute, given the simple task of tapping in a superb low cross from Kelechi Iheanacho, who moments earlier had forced Guinea-Bissau goalkeeper Maurice Gomis to turn over the crossbar with an audacious effort from more than 40 yards.

Captain William Troost-Ekong made sure of victory 15 minutes from time, prodding into an empty net on the rebound after the excellent Moses Simon had jinked past several defenders and rattled the bar with a fierce strike.

Troost-Ekong looked to have been denied by the offside flag, but a lengthy VAR review concluded with the award of a goal that put the game beyond doubt.

Guinea-Bissau rarely threatened a response, and head home having failed to score for a competition record seventh consecutive AFCON game.

Wednesday's action at the Africa Cup of Nations sees Group D conclude with two heavyweights seemingly set for the knockout phase.

Egypt certainly have not been without their critics in this tournament, with the performances turned in by Carlos Queiroz's men far from spectacular, but they remain on the brink of progression.

Assuming they get the job done, they will join Nigeria in the next round after the Super Eagles won both of their first two matches.

The two giants of AFCON football will be expected to prevail on Wednesday.

Guinea-Bissau v Nigeria (19:00 GMT)

Considering Nigeria have come into this tournament essentially under the guidance of a caretaker manager in Augustine Eguavoen, the Nigerian Football Federation's technical director, they have made a very solid start.

They head into matchday three with six points from two games and have the chance to win all three first-round matches for the first time since 2006.

Nigeria will be massive favourites as well. Guinea-Bissau have never won an AFCON game in eight attempts, with only Benin (14), Mozambique (12) and Namibia (nine) playing more tournament matches without a single success.

Their issue this time around has been an obvious wastefulness in front of goal, failing to score from 16 shots that convert to an expected goals (xG) total of 2.2 – if they are goalless in this game, Guinea-Bissau will become the first team in AFCON history to go seven successive matches without scoring.

One to watch: Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria)

Union Berlin forward Awoniyi may be a relatively new face at international level, but he has looked a prominent threat for Nigeria. His nine shots over the first two games was more than twice as many as any other Super Eagles player, while his 14 touches in the opposition's box is also the most of anyone in the squad. Still, one goal from 2.4 xG suggests he could sharpen up a little.

 

Egypt v Sudan (19:00 GMT)

A point will be enough for the Pharaohs to follow Nigeria into the knockouts, though their defeat to Eguavoen's men means second place is the best they can hope for.

Egypt have looked every inch a side reliant on Mohamed Salah in this tournament, with his goal against Guinea-Bissau last time out breathing some life into their campaign.

While a draw will be enough for them, in reality only a win over Sudan will satisfy the expectations of supporters.

Sudan's xG total (1.25) and xGA (expected goals against) of 3.17 are the worst of the four teams in Group D, and Egypt will hope to capitalise on their lack of defensive solidity and attacking threat.

One to watch: Ali Achrine (Sudan)

If Sudan are to stand any chance of beating Egypt and potentially going through to the knockout phase, goalkeeper Achrine will surely need to be in inspired form.

 

Page 1 of 2
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.