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FIFA Axes E/Guinea Captain after Ruling on World Cup Eligibility

By Saidu Abubakar

World football governing body FIFA has banned Emilio Nsue for six months after ruling that the Equatorial Guinea striker was ineligible to play in his country’s first two qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. The 34-year-old scored the winning goal in both of the games in question, against Namibia and Liberia, last November.

A FIFA disciplinary committee was quoted by the BBC Sport Africa, as being “comfortably satisfied” that Nsue was ineligible for “several” international matches and has ruled that both World Cup preliminaries will be forfeited 3-0 by the Central Africans and as a result it has also fined the Equatoguinean Federation (FEGUIFUT) 150,000 Swiss francs ($164,000, £129,000) and banned Nsue – a former youth international for Spain – from playing for any national side for six months.

FIFA did not, however, provide any further details on the ruling on a player who won the golden boot at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year in Cote’d Ivoire where Nsue was captain for Equatorial Guinea and top scorer with five goals.

A FEGUIFUT official told BBC Sport Africa that it was investigating the case and had not received official notification from FIFA, even as a FIFA statement said all parties had 10 days to request a “motivated decision” and that the sanctions were subject to appeal.

Nsue had previously been ruled ineligible by FIFA in 2013 after his first two appearances for Equatorial Guinea, which also came in World Cup qualifiers. He previously played several games for Spain at youth level, including featuring at the Under-21 European Championship in 2011. Since then he has become Equatorial Guinea’s record goalscorer while playing in qualifiers for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and appearing at three separate editions of the Nations Cup finals.

After spells with Mallorca, Middlesbrough and Birmingham City along with stints in Cyprus and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nsue now plays in Spain’s third tier for Intercity.
A loss of six points would be a major blow to Equatorial Guinea’s chances of reaching the 2026 World Cup finals in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The Nzalang Nacional (National Thunder) were second in Group H behind leaders Tunisia on goal difference, but would drop to fifth in the six-team group if the six-point deduction is upheld.

The group winners will qualify for the 2026 World Cup finals, with the second-placed side entering African play-offs for a spot at an inter-confederation tournament which will decide the last two spots at the tournament.

Equatorial Guinea are scheduled to face Tunisia and Malawi in qualifiers next month.

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