Soccer-Equatorial Guinea forfeit World Cup qualifiers over ineligible Nsue

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Round of 16 - Equatorial Guinea v Guinea - Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe, Abidjan, Ivory Coast - January 28, 2024 Guinea's Karim Cisse with teammates celebrate after the match REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

(Reuters) - Equatorial Guinea have had to forfeit their first two 2026 World Cup qualifiers after a FIFA Disciplinary Committee ruled that former Spain junior international Emilio Nsue was ineligible to play in both matches.

The 34-year-old scored the winning goal in both of those games, against Namibia and Liberia, last November.

Nsue, who finished as the leading scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ivory Coast earlier this year, has also been banned for six months from international football, FIFA confirmed in a statement on Friday, though they did not shed light on the specific reasons for his ineligibility.

It is a repeat case after Equatorial Guinea also had to forfeit two matches in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers for fielding Nsue. No reason for his ineligibility was given by FIFA on that occasion either

But curiously, he did play in the qualifiers for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Equatorial Guinea beat both Liberia and Namibia 1-0 in their first two qualifiers for 2026, but those will now be awarded as 3-0 losses.

"After considering all elements brought before it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee was comfortably satisfied that the player was ineligible and consequently decided to declare the matches of the FIFA World Cup 2026 preliminary competition in which the player was fielded lost by forfeit by Equatorial Guinea," the FIFA statement said.

Nsue scored five goals at the recent Cup of Nations to take home the Golden Boot but missed a vital penalty in the round of 16 loss to Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea will travel to Tunisia for their next qualifier on June 5, before they host Malawi five days later.

They are six points behind leaders Tunisia and Namibia in the six-team pool with only the top side in the group gaining automatic qualification for the finals in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

(Reporting by Nick Said)

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