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German coach Joachim Loew wary of Morocco – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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German coach Joachim Loew wary of Morocco

Morocco celebrate after scoring

by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Nov 24, 2017. 11:30


Germany coach Joachim Loew says Morocco will be a difficult opponent at the 2018 FIFA World Cup after doing well in the qualifiers.

The manager singled out Herve Renard’s men as a threat from the African continent.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: FAOUZI GHOULAM – ALGERIAN SET TO SECURE FUTURE WITH NAPOLI

Die Mannschaft lifted the crown in Brazil two years ago after beating Argentina in the final and Loew was speaking about their chances of retaining the Jules Rimet trophy.

”We know some very good teams from all over the World are coming, like in Africa Morocco did well in the qualifying series and they will be the team most people would be expecting to pull surprises from Africa,” said Loew.

Although Nigeria were the first African nation to qualify for the World Cup the Atlas Lions, just like the Super Eagles, stayed undefeated throughout the qualifiers and didn’t concede a single goal.

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DR Congo’s Youssouf Mulumbu joins Kilmarnock – 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

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by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Nov 24, 2017. 10:30


Democratic Republic of Congo and ex-West Bromwich Albion midfielder, Youssouf Mulumbu has completed his switch to Scotland’s Kilmarnock FC on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

Media reports reveal that the 30-year-old, who worked with Killie manager Steve Clarke at the English Premier League club, left Norwich City in the summer and was given a two-week trial at Rugby Park.

Apart from playing in the English Premier League, Mulumbu has also starred for Paris St-Germain and Amiens in France.

“I didn’t come to Kilmarnock just like that,” said Mulumbu to the BBC.

“I spoke with Steve Clarke and he told me everything about the club and that was a big impact that he came here.

“I worked with him for a year and I know he’s an honest manager. I know the way he trains and the way he wants to play, so it suits me and was a big affect for me coming here.

“I’m looking forward to showing the real Mulumbu. I was with Norwich for two years and it didn’t work like I wanted, so I have something to prove.”

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Botswana FA expected Bondo to make World Cup referees list – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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by
Staff Reporter

Thursday Nov 23, 2017. 18:30


Botswana Football Association (BFA) expected Joshua Bondo to be named amongst African match referees who will officiate at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

However, the Motswana referee, who took charge of several World Cup qualifification (CAF) matches, failed to make the cut.

BFA executive committee member responsible for referees, Eatametse Olopeng told Mmegi that it was disappointing that no local referee had been picked for the tournament.

“It is disappointing,” Olopeng, who had expected Bondo’s name to be on the list, said.

“But we have to keep working hard in order to develop more referees.

“We had expected that someone like Bondo would make the cut, looking at the fact that he handled all the qualifiers,” he added.

“It’s unfortunate, but we have to accept as we are not the ones responsible for selection.”

Zambian Janny Sikazwe, Algerian Mehdi Charef, Senegalese Malang Diedhiou, Gambian Bakary Gassama, Egyptian Ghead Grisha and Ethiopian Weyesa Bamlak are the six African referees who have been chosen by FIFA for next year’s tournament.

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Former Cameroon goalkeeper: Algeria’s problem isn’t the coach – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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Former Cameroon goalkeeper: Algeria’s problem isn’t the coach

Islam SLIMANI of Algeria Challenged by Leon BALOGUN (L) and William EKONG(R) of Nigeria during the Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifier match between Nigeria vs Algeria on November, 12th 2016 at Godswill Akpabio Stadium ©Kabiru Abubakar//Backpagepix©Kabiru Abubakar//Backpagepix

by
Graeme Jackson

Thursday Nov 23, 2017. 18:00


Former Cameroon goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell, better known by his nickname ‘JoJo’, says Algeria’s problems do not lie with their coach.

The Fennec Foxes are onto their sixth separate permanent coach since the departure of Vahid Halihodzic in 2014, with Rabah Madjer having recently succeeded Lucas Alcaraz.

The North Africans’ chopping and changing has done little to help their cause: they were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the group stage and finished bottom of their 2018 World Cup qualifying pool.

Bell, who was part of three World Cup squads with the Indomitable Lions, believes there is something other than the issue of the coach which is affecting the Algerian team’s form.

“I know that he [Madjer] was already coach at one time,” JoJo is quoted by Le Buteur.

“Now, if he came back, I cannot believe that Algeria’s only problem is the team sideline [coaching staff], so I tell myself that when we see such a catastrophic course, we say there are still things much deeper than the sideline.

“Now, hopefully, Madjer will be able to unseal these things and it’s not just limited to the coach.”

Bell added his belief that Algeria have fallen back into old habits, stating that he was surprised to see them finish bottom of an admittedly tough Group B behind Nigeria, Cameroon and Zambia.

“We have the impression that the Algerian team has fallen back on its way. After the 2014 World Cup and even before, we felt the arrival of the Algerian team.

“In 2014, it was only half a surprise but it was especially a great pleasure to see Algeria again at this level. So it was a big surprise this elimination and especially this absolutely chaotic course.

“We can be eliminated, but Algeria was frankly bad, catastrophic in these playoffs [qualifiers]. One wonders if it was just an accident. There is food for thought for Algeria.”

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Naby Keita – Gets the nod in the UEFA Champions League Best XI – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Naby Keita – Gets the nod in the UEFA Champions League Best XI

Naby Keita celebrates his winner against Borussia Dortmund

by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Thursday Nov 23, 2017. 16:00


Guinea and RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita has been included in the UEFA Champions League XI of the group stages.

The Syli Nationale anchorman makes the cut as one of the best midfielders in Europe’s biggest club competition.

Keita has been a crucial member of the squad, especially in their quest to become one of the biggest sides in the European game.

The German Bundesliga outfit recently shocked French champions AS Monaco on Tuesday as they cruised to a 4-1 win.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: VINCENT ABOUBAKAR – CAMEROONIAN’S CLUB STILL FIGHTING FOR UCL PROGRESSION

Keita scored their fourth goal with a neat and a calm finish whilst giving Liverpool fans a glimpse of what to expect next year.

Although Leipzig are yet to cement their place in the knockout stages as they are facing Turkish side Besiktas at home in their last match in the group, he will hope to score again.

They have seven points at number three in the group whilst the Turkish side top the standings with 11 points from five matches.

Media speculation doing the rounds in Europe is that should Leipzig fail to reach the knockout stages, Keita could be allowed to move to Anfield in January.

In the UEFA’s Best XI team: Igor Akinfeev (GK – CSKA Moscow), Michael Lang (FC Basel), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Bas Dost (Sporting Lisbon), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain).

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European giants sent scouts to watch Henry Onyekuru – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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European giants sent scouts to watch Henry Onyekuru

Dani Alves (L) of Paris Saint-Germain in action against Henry Onyekuru (R) of Anderlecht during the UEFA Champions League group B soccer match between RSC Anderlecht and Paris Saint-Germain at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Anderlecht, near Brussels, Belgium, 18 October 2017. EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

by
Graeme Jackson

Thursday Nov 23, 2017. 14:00


Several European giants reportedly sent scouts to watch Nigerian striker Henry Onyekuru in action for Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League last night.

Onyekuru, who is loan at the Belgian club from Everton, was a second-half substitute and played 25 minutes as his side succumbed 2-1 against the German giants at the Stade Constant Vanden Stock.

La Dernière Heure reported that Manchester United sent representatives to run the rule over the Super Eagles attacker, having had scouts in the stands when Onyekuru scored the winner in a 2-1 domestic triumph at Royal Excel Mouscron last weekend.

The report also states that Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and AC Milan had spies present in Brussels on Wednesday night.

Onyekuru has yet to open his account in the UEFA Champions League after five group stage matches, but he has been exceptional in the domestic league, scoring seven goals from 14 appearances.

The 20-year-old signed with the Toffees prior to the start of the 2017/18 season.

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Vincent Aboubakar – Cameroonian’s club still fighting for UCL progression – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Vincent Aboubakar – Cameroonian’s club still fighting for UCL progression

Porto’s striker Vincent Aboubakar

by
Graeme Jackson

Thursday Nov 23, 2017. 13:00


Vincent Aboubacar’s Porto are still fighting to secure progression in the UEFA Champions League after drawing 1-1 with Besiktas in midweek.

The Tuesday evening clash at the Vodafone Stadium in Istanbul saw Porto claim the lead through Felipe, only to be pegged back by Talisca. Aboubacar played the full 90 minutes, as did fellow African star Yacine Brahimi.

The result saw the Turkish side secure top spot in Group G and a place in the knockout rounds, but the Portuguese giants were left level with RB Leipzig on seven points in the battle for second place.

The fate of Aboubacar’s side will rest on their final group stage clash at home to Monaco on December 6, where they will need to equal or better Leipzig’s result at home to Besiktas.

In the meantime, Aboubacar will ready himself for Porto’s next domestic league match, as they travel to Desportivo Aves on Saturday night and look to maintain their place at the top of the Primeira Liga standings.

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RB Leipzig chief: Liverpool fought harder to land Naby Keita – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Graeme Jackson

Thursday Nov 23, 2017. 11:30


Red Bull Leipzig chief Oliver Mintzlaff has revealed that Liverpool fought off competition from Barcelona to sign Guinea star Naby Keita.

The dynamic midfielder has agreed a big-money deal to join Liverpool at the end of the current 2017/18 season.

Mintzlaff confirmed Barca’s interest when talking to Bild, as he said the following when asked if Jurgen Klopp’s determination to sign Keita was decisive: “That’s right, even more so because Barcelona were also interested in Naby Keita.

“This was confirmed to us by Barcelona, but obviously they didn’t try as hard as Liverpool.”

He added: “He [Keita] wanted the transfer this summer. But [sporting director] Ralf Rangnick told the team that we will not sell any players [at that time].

“This was not lip service – it was set in stone. Had we released Keita, other players might have come up with a similar idea

“It [the Liverpool move] gave the player more security, but also left us with a significantly higher transfer fee.”

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Wenger: There’s still much to come from Iwobi – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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Wenger: There's still much to come from Iwobi

Alexandre Lacazette (right) and Alex Iwobi

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Thursday Nov 23, 2017. 11:00


There’s still much to come from Nigerian international and Arsenal FC forward Alex Iwobi.

This is according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who feels that Iwobi has become an even better player than when he was last season.

“I think Alex is a player who grows regularly,” Wenger told London Football.

“This season, for the first time he’s adding what we want from him – goals – to his qualities, which are exceptional.

Iwobi, who struggled with an injury at the beginning of the season, has netted once in six English Premier League appearances in the current campaign.

“Overall, I think he has a good attitude and now he becomes efficient in front of goal as well. This kind of experiences like the one against Argentina will help him even more to grow.

The 21-year-old forward recently inspired Nigeria to a 4-2 win over Argentina in an international friendly match by scoring a brace.

“His finishes against Argentina showed composed finishing of a guy who knows what he’s doing, and with his left foot as well,” he continued.

“He’s worked a lot on his finishing and he’s improved a lot. Compared to one year ago, the difference is unbelievable.

There’s still much to come from him. I want him to become a better defender as well. You want him to make better quality receptions in the final third, better runs.”

Iwobi, who was nurtured in the Arsenal academy, was one of Nigeria’s key players as they qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.

“That will come because he’s a boy who loves football, who is passionate about the game and he has a very good attitude and analysis about his own game,” the French tactician added.

“He’s just enthusiastic to play and enthusiastic to be involved. He’s a pleasure to work with. For him, the target is to keep the same attitude and the same desire to improve, he’ll move forward very quickly.”

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Omar Gaber completes MLS switch – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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Omar Gaber completes MLS switch

Mohamed Salah of Egypt (l) looks at Omar Gaber of Egypt

by
Bertin Basson

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 20:00


Egypt international Omar Gaber is the latest African set to ply his trade in the Major Soccer League, after penning a deal with newly formed Los Angeles FC.

The 25-year-old will officially join the LA club on-loan in the United States of America on 1 January 2018, from Swiss club Basel.

Gaber has struggled for game time since his move from Zamalek, but he will be confident to regain his form in the USA where he will link up with former Pharaohs boss Bob Bradley.

VICTOR MOSES: I BELONG AT CHELSEA

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“I joined Los Angeles FC because I want to play, that did not happen with FC Basel so I decided to leave and try my luck with another side,” he is quoted as saying.

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“Bob Bradley helped convince me and him being the head coach made the decision to join an easy one,” he added.

“I’m so happy to join Los Angeles FC they have a big project to build a very good team and I would like to be a part of that.

“I have many goals for the future one is to play again in Europe – especially the English Premier League,” he concluded.

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Faouzi Ghoulam – Algerian set to secure future with Napoli – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Faouzi Ghoulam - Algerian set to secure future with Napoli

Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam

by
Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 19:00


Algerian left-back Faouzi Ghoulam may be sidelined for the long term with a knee injury, but his future with Italian club Napoli remains headline news.

The Fennec Foxes star has been one of the most talked-about Africans stars in the transfer market, with his current contract set to expire at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Ghoulam was linked with the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and even Barcelona, with a move in the January transfer window looking very likely – until he suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month.

In the wake of these events, it has emerged that Napoli are very close to agreeing a new contract with the Algerian.

Tuttomercatoweb has reported that a new deal for Ghoulam to remain at the Stadio San Paolo until June 2022 will soon be inked, with confirmation of the agreement set to arrive before the end of next week.

Meanwhile, Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri has described the Algerian as one of the best left-backs in European football and has admitted that his absence has been a major blow to the team.

“The absence of Ghoulam? I think it is difficult at the moment to replace it. I would say that there are currently only one or two players in Europe capable of replacing him,” said Sarri this past weekend.

“Before he got hurt, Ghoulam was one of the top three left-backs in Europe.”

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Kwesi Appiah on why Ghana failed to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 15:30


Ghana national team coach Kwesi Appiah says they had a plan to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but they were unfortunate in their attempts.

The Black Stars manager revealed his thoughts on why they failed to reach the global showpiece and at the same time praised the Egyptian national team.

AFRICANS IN UCL ACTION TONIGHT: THOMAS PARTEY’S ATLETICO IN MUST-WIN CLASH

He also pointed out that the North Africans had a well-executed plan for their qualifying campaign that included a lot of money from investors.

Egypt qualified to the World Cup for the first time since 1990 after finishing on top of Group E with 13 points while Ghana finished in third place with seven points.

“It’s unfortunate we did not qualify for the World Cup. Every Ghanaian is disappointed we did not qualify,” Appiah told Happy FM.

“If we come together and access where the fault is, automatically we will be heading forward.

“Egypt for instance, had a plan, they had some many investors putting in some money that they had purposely to qualify for the World Cup.”

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Rafa Benitez: Christian Atsu making progress – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 15:00


Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has explained that Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu is making progress in his recovery from injury.

The Black Stars man aggravated a thigh/groin injury while away on international duty and missed Ghana’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Egypt, as well as Newcastle’s 4-1 loss to Manchester United last weekend.

The Magpies will face Watford at home this weekend and Benitez has explained that while Atsu is making good progress, it is too early to say when he will return to action.

“[Jamaal] Lascelles is getting better, but still he will need some time, and Atsu is the same. It is too early to say [when they will be back],” Benitez explained.

“But [Mikel] Merino has been doing part of the training session and [Paul] Dummett has done the full training session, so that is positive news for us.”

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Zambian referee Jan Sikazwe to officiate at 2018 World Cup – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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Zambian referee Jan Sikazwe to officiate at 2018 World Cup

Referee Janny Sikazwe during the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers football match between South Africa and Senegal at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane on 10 November 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 15:00


Zambian international referee Jan Sikazwe will hoist the country’s flag at the 2018 FIFA World Cup as he will form part of the officials.

A list revealing referees at the global tournament has included Sikazwe who is among 36 officials listed to officiate at the World Cup.

ZambianFootball reports that Sikazwe and Gambian Bakary Papa Gassama are part of the six men coming from the Confederation of African Football list of referees.

AMAZULU READY FOR CHIEFS CHALLENGE

In recent times, Sikazwe has been touted as one of the best referees in Zambia and in the African continent at the moment.

The man from Kapiri officiated last year’s Club World Cup final involving Spanish giants Real Madrid which is one of the biggest matches the Zambian has been in charge of.

Among other matches and tournaments he officiated at is 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers replay between Senegal and South Africa as well as the 2017 U20 FIFA World Cup in South Korea.

Algeria’s Mehdi Abid Charef, Malang Diedhiou of Senegal, Gambia’s Gassama and Weyesa Bmlak are also some of the officials in the list.

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Tyronne Ebuehi: My speed did the talking against Argentina – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 14:00


Nigerian defender Tyronne Ebuehi says his speed did all the talking in his impressive performance against Argentina last week.

The 21-year-old Dutch-born player appeared in the second half of the Super Eagles’ 4-2 win over the South Americans in a friendly in Krasnodar, Russia, last Tuesday night.

Ebuehi, who made his Nigeria national team debut earlier this year against Togo, put in a fine showing against superstar attackers such as Pablo Dybala, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria.

He humbly claimed that he didn’t make a major contribution to the victory, but is hopeful that his display will help him claim a place in the Super Eagles squad for next year’s World Cup.

“I did have some excitement indeed. It was a dream come true,” Ebuehi was quoted as saying by NOS.

“I did not contribute that much, I think it went well.

“I have a lot of speed and I try to use it, I think I left a good impression, it would be nice, the World Cup next year.”

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Gernot Rohr hopes Kevin Akpoguma will choose Nigeria over Germany – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 13:30


Nigerian Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr hopes former German youth international Kevin Akpoguma decides to play for his team.

This comes after the manager was in Europe to embark on a scouting mission last weekend where he watched the Bundesliga clash between Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Rohr revealed his delight after watching the central defender and says he plans to hold talks with Akpoguma over an invitation ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: MOHAMED SALAH – ‘THE EGYPTIAN STAR COULD SCORE 70 GOALS THIS SEASON

”I watched him play for Hoffenheim against Frankfurt on Saturday. Kevin is an excellent match for the players we are on the lookout for,” Rohr told SWR.

”But he’ll have to decide soon whether he wants to wear the colors of Nigeria and I’ll call him in the next few days.”

The defender added that it’s an honour to see Rohr showing interest in him, but he is German and wants to represent the Die Mannschaft.

“That honours me, of course, but I’m German, I was born here, so I should play for Germany too,” adds the former German U16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U21 international.

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Thomas Partey – Ghanaian sets sights on downing Roma – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Thomas Partey - Ghanaian sets sights on downing Roma

Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey (2-R)

by
Bertin Basson

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 13:00


Eyes will be firmly set on Ghana international midfielder Thomas Partey as Atletico Madrid aim to finally ignite their UEFA Champions League campaign.

The Spanish giants are yet to register a win after four rounds of fixtures, with three draws and a defeat leaving their hopes of progression hanging by a thread.

Successive stalemates against Azerbaijan side Qarabag came as a huge blow to Atletico’s chances, but Diego Simeone’s troops can still haul in both Chelsea and Group C leaders Roma.

RIYAD MAHREZ: I’M NOT THINKING ABOUT THE TRANSFER WINDOW NOW

Partey, who has been in good form for both club and country this season, will be eager to continue his rise having netted his first Champions League goal last time out,

The 24-year-old has scored four goals in 16 appearances across all competitions this season.

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‘I never see Mohamed Salah in training’ – Liverpool teammate – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Bertin Basson

Wednesday Nov 22, 2017. 12:30


Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan has revealed that he never sees teammate Mohamed Salah in training, but not because the Egyptian is skipping sessions…

In contrast, the Estonian explained that Salah is just too rapid with the 25-year-old’s blistering pace causing not only his opponents problems, but also those who don the same colours.

“Mo is a great player, I don’t actually see him in training because he’s so fast,” Klavan joked.

“He’s been really good since he came and especially now he’s scoring important goals. He’s a really important player for us.”

RIYAD MAHREZ: I’M NOT THINKING ABOUT THE TRANSFER WINDOW NOW

Salah, who has attracted reported interest from both Barcelona and Real Madrid, has scored 14 goals in 19 appearances across all competitions for the Reds since his move to Anfield ahead of the 2017-18 season.

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Christian Bassogog – The Cameroon star does not regret moving to China – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Christian Bassogog - The Cameroon star does not regret moving to China

epa06035856 Christian Bassogog (L) of Cameroon and Gonzalo Jara of Chile in action during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 group B soccer match between Cameroon and Chile at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, 18 June 2017. EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 19:00


Many were surprised when one of Africa’s most promising youngsters, Bassogog joined Chinese club Henan Jianye in February, 2017.

Bassogog, who was 21 at the time, had played an instrumental role in helping Cameroon win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in Gabon.

The 2017 AFCON Player of the Tournament attracted interested from several European clubs, but he decided to join Jianye from Danish club AaB Fodbold.

Camfoot recently spoke to the talented forward, who scored 10 goals in 24 Chinese Super League matches during the 2017 season.

“When looking at me signing in China, I think I trusted my agents and they know what’s best for me. I will not say it’s a bad choice,” Bassogog said.

“I did not have any pressure. I am went to China because my agents saw a good opportunity. I had a good season.

“But Europe is not excluded. I can always come back at any time. Regarding visibility, if a player has good club performances, I think he can be can play everywhere,” the 22-year-old continued.

“So, I do not think that going to China I will not be able to play anywhere else. It was God who wanted me to go.

“Each of us often needs to take a step back to reflect … I received proposals from some European clubs that I do not want to reveal because I’m still under contract with my club.”

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Riyad Mahrez: I’m not thinking about the transfer window now – 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

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Riyad Mahrez: I’m not thinking about the transfer window now

Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez

by
Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 18:00


Leicester City’s Algerian star Riyad Mahrez says he is not thinking about the January transfer window just yet, insisting he is focused on his performances.

The Fennec Foxes star was strongly linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium in the European summer transfer season, but the window snapped shut in early September with Mahrez unable to secure a new club.

The Algerian has since knuckled down and put in some strong showings for Leicester, especially since the appointment of new coach Claude Puel, and he emphasised that his focus is very much on the field right now.

“Everyone knows that I had desires to leave, except that it did not happen. I do not want to think of the transfer window at the moment. We still have 12 games to play until January, so if I thought of the transfer window now, I will not play football anymore,” Mahrez told the Daily Star.

He added, “I have been in Leicester for four years. I like this club and I am happy to defend its colours.

“I won the Premier League and took part in the Champions League. Before that, I played with the club in Championship.

“So I have to focus on my role in the field without worrying about what is being said here and there. We will see later what the future will hold for us.”

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Oumar Niasse: I am happy at Everton – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 17:00


Senegalese striker Oumar Niasse has explained that he is happy at Everton and fully committed to the club’s cause.

The 27-year-old earned a penalty (converted by Leighton Baines) and scored a goal of his own to help the Toffees earn a 2-2 draw away to Crystal Palace this past weekend.

Niasse was strongly linked with a move to Palace in the last transfer window, but insists he is happy at Goodison Park.

“I was about to come here [Crystal Palace] and at the end it did not happen because they know exactly what happened,” Niasse said in the wake of the match at Selhurst Park.

“I am not going to go deep inside of what exactly happened. They know.

“I am happy at Everton. That is it. I moved to come to Palace with the medical check and everything and if that didn’t happen you have to understand.”

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Mario Lemina – Fingers crossed for Gabon midfield maestro’s return – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Mario Lemina - Fingers crossed for Gabon midfield maestro's return

Manchester United’s Marouane Fellani (L) and Southampton’s Mario Lemina in action during the English Premier League soccer match between Southampton FC and Manchester United at Saint Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, Britain, 23 September 2017.

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 16:00


English Premier League (EPL) side Southampton FC have solely missed the 24-year-old central midfielder, who is currently out nursing an ankle injury.

Mauricio Pellegrini, the Southampton manager, recently announced that Gabon international Lemina would miss their league clash with Liverpool FC.

Most Saints fans were left disappointed and the team went on to suffer a 3-0 defeat to the Reds at the Anfield Stadium on Saturday.

However, Pellegrini did state that Lemina, who has impressed at Southampton after joining the club from Italian giants Juventus, had shown positive progress in his recovery.

Daily Echo, which is one of the leading publications in the city of Southampton, have indicated that the club will be hoping that Lemina makes his return against Everton on Sunday.

“Oriol Romeu will miss Saints’ game against Everton after picking up his fifth booking of the season in the defeat at Liverpool.

“The combative midfielder will serve his one match suspension for the visit of the Toffees to St Mary’s.

“The club will be hoping that Mario Lemina can take his place in the side as he closes in on a return following an ankle injury,” a statement read.

Southampton will host Everton in a league encounter at the St Mary’s Stadium.

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Vincent Enyeama not keen to return to Nigeria – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 13:30


Rumours doing the rounds suggest that Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama is not interested in making his return to the national team.

According to a popular Nigerian website, the former Super Eagles number one is not interested in bouncing back to the team.

Coach Gernot Rohr has constantly voiced his desire to have the 35-year-old back in the team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

OwnGoalNigeria reports that Enyeama, who left the national team after a row with former coach Sunday Oliseh, has turned down the approach from the coach to return to the team ahead of the World Cup.

The website reports that Colin Udoh, who holds close ties with the former Enyimba goalkeeper, said that Enyeama won’t be coming back to the team despite the goalkeeper crisis rocking the side.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate diagnosis of first choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme ‎with Leukaemia has left the West Africans struggling in the goalkeeping department, with Rohr not completely happy with the goalkeepers at his disposal.

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Kalidou Koulibaly – Condemns slavery in Libya – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 13:00


Joining the likes of Manchester United’s Paul Pogba in supporting the victims of slavery in Libya, Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly has also expressed his outrage.

The Napoli defender in the Italian Serie A has joined many voices around the world in condemning the acts of slavery.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: ODION IGHALO – WHY HE WAKES UP AT 3AM TO WATCH WATFORD PLAY

Koulibaly took to Twitter following an investigation by CNN last week where it revealed the troubling extent to which migrants are being auctioned into slavery in the North African country.

The probe prompted a number of footballers such as Pogba who said his prayers go to those suffering from slavery.

“While very happy to be back, my prayers go to those suffering slavery in #Libya. May Allah be by your side and may this cruelty come to an end!,” Pogba tweeted.

Apart from the Red Devils anchorman, Cote d’Ivoire’s Cheick Doukure also paid tributes to the victirms after scoring for Levante in the Spanish La Liga against Las Palmas.

“All my thoughts are with the slaves in Libya #stopslavery,” Doukoure tweeted alongside pictures of a cross-armed celebration.

The Napoli centre back also added his voice, urging black brothers and sisters to stop violating human rights.

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Egyptian legend says Mohamed Salah led the whole World Cup campaign – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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Egyptian legend says Mohamed Salah led the whole World Cup campaign

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool

by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 12:30


Egyptian legend Hazem Emam has praised the Pharaohs and Liverpool player Mohamed Salah, labeling him as s hero after their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification.

Emam helped the North African nation to win the 1998 Nations Cup and earned 87 caps for Egypt.

He says Salah must be credited for the country’s qualification to the global showpiece.

The Reds winger played a crucial role in their penultimate World Cup qualifier as he scored twice to beat Congo 2-1 in October – a result which confirmed their ticket to the tournament.

MAZEMBE TAKE 2-1 CAF CC FINAL ADVANTAGE TO ATTERIDGEVILLE

“Salah is the man behind our qualification to the World Cup,” Emam said to the BBC.

“When we qualified in 1990, it was more of a team effort. This time, Salah was the leader of the whole campaign.

“Nobody in the history of Egypt has reached such a level in world football and been so successful with the national team.”

Meanwhile, Salah had a hand in all seven of the goals that took the Pharaohs to Russia, scoring five and assisting in two as coach Hector Cuper’s men returned to the tournament for the first time since 1990.

The speedy winger also continues to make waves in the English Premier League after netting a brace for the Reds as they beat Southampton 3-0 at home on Saturday.

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Kevin Akpoguma an excellent match for Nigeria – Gernot Rohr – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 11:30


Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has described Hoffenheim defender Kevin Akpoguma as an “excellent match” for the Super Eagles.

The coach embarked on a scouting trip to Germany this past weekend after overseeing Nigeria’s recent matches against Algeria and Argentina.

Rohr was able to watch a Akpoguma, a long-term target for the Nigerian Football Federation, in action for his club side and has become an admirer of the 22-year-old.

“I watched him play for Hoffenheim against Frankfurt on Saturday. Kevin is an excellent match for the players we are on the lookout for,” Rohr told SWR.

“But he’ll have to decide soon whether he wants to wear the colours of Nigeria and I’ll call him in the next few days.”

When asked about Rohr’s plans to cap him, Germany-born Akpoguma pledged loyalty to the country of his birth: “That honors me, of course, but I’m German, I was born here, so I should play for Germany too.”

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Mohamed Salah – ‘The Egyptian star could score 70 goals this season’ – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Mohamed Salah - ‘The Egyptian star could score 70 goals this season’

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates with teammate Sadio Mane

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Monday Nov 20, 2017. 19:00


The 25-year-old has been in scintillating form for Liverpool FC, who are amongst the clubs challenging for this season’s English Premier League title.

Salah inspired the Reds to a 3-0 victory over Southampton in a league encounter which was played at the Anfield Stadium on Saturday by grabbing a brace.

The lethal winger, who joined Liverpool from Italian Serie A club AS Roma prior to the current season, is now the league’s top goalscorer with nine goals.

The brace took his tally up to 14 goals for this season having made 18 appearances in all competitions for the Reds and he has been praised by Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.

“If he continued at this rate he would finish the season on something like 70 goals, which isn’t really likely,” Klopp told the media after the Southampton game.

“We [all] have these moments. He could have scored the penalty [against Huddersfield] and he’s missed some big chances, but I realise [then] it’s just a moment. I really understand.

“These shots are pretty normal for him, like Phil [Coutinho]. Sadio (Mane) is able to do it. Gini (Georginio Wijnaldum) too. And Ox (Alex Oxlade Chamberlain) – he’s able to do it,” the German continued.

“But he hasn’t had the opportunity very often so far. At this moment, it is working for him [Salah].”

Salah will be looking to continue his good scoring form when Liverpool face Spanish side Sevilla in an UEFA Champions League match on Tuesday.

He has scored five goals in six Champions League matches for the Reds.

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Napoli to announce new Faouzi Ghoulam deal soon – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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by
Graeme Jackson

Monday Nov 20, 2017. 18:30


Italian giants Napoli will soon announce an extension to the contract of Algerian left-back Faouzi Ghoulam, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

The Fennec Foxes defender is a long-term injury absentee after suffering a serious knee injury whilst playing for Napoli in the UEFA Champions League earlier this month.

His current contract with Napoli will lapse at the end of the current season – a fact which made him a prime target for the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool.

Yet the Italian media outlet reports that Napoli will sign the player up to new deal which runs to June 2022, and the contract will be announced before the end of next week.

Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri admitted that his team has missed Ghoulam since his injury, arguing that the Algerian was one of the best in his position in Europe.

“The absence of Ghoulam? I think it is difficult at the moment to replace it. I would say that there are currently only one or two players in Europe capable of replacing him,” said the Napoli boss.

” Before he got hurt, Ghoulam was one of the top three left-backs in Europe.”

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Arsenal close to appointing scout who discovered Aubameyang – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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Arsenal close to appointing scout who discovered Aubameyang

Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates

by
Graeme Jackson

Monday Nov 20, 2017. 18:00


Arsenal are reportedly closing in on the appointment of the scout who brought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Borussia Dortmund.

BVB’s Sven Mislintat is expected to be unveiled as a Gunners recruit in the coming days, with the English club having to pay a hefty compensation to their German counterparts.

Mislintat is in line to replace Steve Rowley, who has served as Arsenal’s head of recruitment since 1996 and set to leave the club at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Mislintat is credited with discovering stars such as Aubameyang, who was the Bundesliga’s top scorer last season and is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous forwards in European football.

The likes of Robert Lewandowski, USA international Christian Pulisic and Ousmane Dembele, who left Dortmund to join Barcelona over the summer in a deal worth £135.5m, are also ‘finds’ of Mislintat.

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PLAYR SPOTLIGHT: Cedric Bakambu – English clubs to battle for Congolese striker – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Monday Nov 20, 2017. 16:00


The prolific marksman has a good season thus far in the colours of his Spanish club Villarreal, who are punishing for a top four finish in the La Liga.

Bakambu, 26, has found the back of the net eight times in 11 La Liga games and he’s among the top goalscorers in the league.

Only FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (12) and Valencia forward Simone Zaza (9) have scored more La Liga goals than the DR Congolese international this season.

Bakambu’s exploits for the Yellow Submarine have not gone unnoticed according to latest reports coming out of Spain.

Spanish media outlet Marca have reported that West Ham United are one of a number of English Premier League clubs interested in signing in-form Bakambu during the January transfer window.

Marca says that the Hammers made an offer for the frontman in the summer, but were unable to match the price tag put on the centre-forward’s head.

The London-based outfit are now ready to revive their interest in Bakambu, who was a key player for DR Congo during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

The report adds that the Hammers’ English top flight rivals West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United are also keeping tabs on the France-born player.

It remains to be seen whether Villarreal will agree to sell one of their most prized assets midway through the current 2017/18 campaign.

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