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Wits, Celtic battle for Telkom Knockout crown


Gabadinho Mhango of Bidvest Wits evades tackle from Mpho Matsi of Cape Town City during the 2017 MTN8 semifinal football match between Bidvest Wits and Cape Town City at Bidvest Stadium, Johannesburg on 10 September 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

by
Staff Reporter

Friday Dec 01, 2017. 08:30


Bidvest Wits and Bloemfontein Celtic will battle for the right to be crowned 2017 Telkom Knockout champions when they meet in the final at Princess Magogo Stadium on 2 December 2017, kick-off at 18h00.

Wits have progressed into their first League Cup final since 2011 after overcoming Free State Stars, Baroka FC and Kaizer Chiefs in the first three rounds of the competition. The Johannesburg side is looking to win a third League Cup title to add to trophies won in 1985 and 1995.

Celtic, who won their only Telkom Knockout title in 2012, have advanced into the final thanks to victories over SuperSport United, Platinum Stars and Polokwane City – the first and third matches were decided by post-match penalties.

This TKO final will be the 11th cup meeting of Wits and Celtic since 1985. The first 10 have been dominated by the Clever Boys, who claimed eight outright wins (plus one via penalties) and suffered just one defeat. The teams’ last knockout clash was in the first round of the 2016 Nedbank Cup, with the Johannesburg side winning 1-0 at home thanks to a goal from striker James Keene.

Overall, the teams have met in 66 matches across all competitions. Wits have claimed 31 victories compared to 19 for Celtic, while 16 matches have been drawn. Their latest meeting was a league clash in early October which saw Phunya Sele Sele triumph 1-0 at home thanks to a goal from Roggert Nyundu.

The teams come into the final having been in league action this past weekend, with Wits having played out a goalless draw away to Maritzburg United, while Celtic suffered a 1-0 loss at home to Orlando Pirates.

The teams have played the same number of league matches and have seven points and eight places separating them: Phunya Sele Sele are eighth on 16 points, while the Clever Boys are last (16th) with nine points.



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FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza says the Zimbabwean PSL crown is theirs


Zimbabwe national team interim coach Norman Mapeza (R) arrives for the African Nations Cup Qualifying match between Zimbabwe and Liberia played at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, 11 June 2017. EPA/AARON UFUMELI

by
Scent ition

Friday Nov 17, 2017. 11:00


FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza says they want to win the Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League and has warned their competitors.

Mapeza has issued a warning to his rivals that his charges will break the Harare-Bulawayo stranglehold and grab of this year’s Castle Lager Premier Soccer League big gong.

FC Platinum finished twice as runners-up to Dynamos in 2011 and to Caps United in 2016, but the respected gaffer wants to end the run of disappointments by claiming the big prize.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: VICTOR MOSES – SUPER EAGLES SOAR WITHOUT CHELSEA STAR

The equation is simple for his team – a perfect run in the last three matches will see them taking to the podium come the end of the season.

“We want to win and collect maximum points in all the remaining games but tomorrow is going to be a difficult game for us because Tsholotsho are tricky,” said Mapeza to the News Day.

“People say they have nothing to play for but they can equally upset any opponent at this stage.

“The most crucial thing for us is collecting all points no matter who we are playing. That’s the only way for us to write our own new piece of history.

“We need to be strong mentally and physically if we are to win this title. I believe this is our year, it’s a question of remaining strong and guarding against complacency.“

The Platinum miners are tied on 63 points together with Ngezi Platinum Stars who sit at the top due to a superior goal difference.

However, Mapeza’s side have a tough match against Ngezi which could decide the destiny of the championship.



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Wydad Casablanca claim Champions League crown


Al Ahly’s player Saad Samir (L) in action against Wydad Casablanca’s player Ismail Haddad (R)

by
Graeme Jackson

Sunday Nov 05, 2017. 00:02


Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca beat Egyptian giants Al Ahly 1-0 at the Stade Mohamed V Stadium on Saturday night to claim the 2017 CAF Champions League title.

Wydad won the final 2-1 on aggregate, with the first leg in Alexandria last weekend ending in a 1-1 draw. This match in Casablanca was decided by a goal from Walid El Karti midway through the second half, with the hosts side claiming just their second African crown and a first since 1992.

Al Ahly looked the more dangerous side in the opening 20 minutes and had a good chance fairly early on through Abdallah El-Said, who cut inside from the right and tested Zouhair Laaroubi with an awkward shot.

Wydad struggled to put attacking moves together, but they almost claimed the lead against the run of play in the 30th minute, with forward Abdeladim Khadrouf seeing his shot deflect off a defender and crash into the crossbar.

Ahly had a great chance of their own a couple of minutes later when they sprang away on a counter attack which handed Moemen Zakareya a one-on-one opportuity, but he was denied by a fine save from Laaroubi.

The Egyptian side continued to look strong in the second stanza, with Wydad happy to sit back and look to hit on the counter attack. The risky approach from the hosts paid dividends just past the midway point of the half.

Achraf Bencharki, who scored the away goal in the first leg, turned provider this time around as his deflected cross from the right fell perfectly for Walid El Karti, who powered home a header to put his side 1-0 up on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.

Wydad were in full control of the game from that moment onward, and nearly doubled their advantage on the night when the excellent Bencharki teed up Khadrouf, but he was denied by a fine save.

Wydad Casablanca (0) 1 (El Karti 69’) – Wydad won 2-1 on aggregate

Al Ahly 0

Wydad: Zouhair Laaroubi, Youssef Rabeh, Amine Atouchi, Abdellatif Noussir, Salaheddine Saidi, Walid El Karti, Brahim Nakach, Badr Gaddarine, Achraf Bencharki, Ismail El Haddad (Mouhamed Ouattara 90+3’), Abdeladim Khadrouf (Zakaria El Hachimi 86’)

Ahly: Sherif Ekramy, Mohamed Hani, Saad Samir, Rami Rabia, Hussein El-Sayed (Walid Soliman 77’), Amr El-Sulaya, Ahmed Fathi (Emad Moteab 72’), Moemen Zakareya, Abdallah El-Said, Junior Ajayi, Walid Azaro (Ahmed Hamoudi 61’)



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England, Spain battle for U-17 crown – 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup


England’s Rhian Brewster (L) celebrates after scoring the 3-1 lead during the FIFA Under-17 World Cup 2017 semi final match between Brazil and England at Salt Lake stadium in Calcutta, eastern India, 25 October 2017. England won 3-1. EPA/PIYAL ADHIKARY

by
Graeme Jackson

Thursday Oct 26, 2017. 18:30


England and Spain will battle for the right to be called U-17 World Cup winners when they meet in the final at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday, kick-off at 16h30 CAT.

England’s path to the final has seen them top Group F ahead of Iraq, Mexico and Chile, before defeating Japan on penalties, United States 4-1 and Brazil 3-1 in the last 16, quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.

Steve Cooper’s Young Three Lions have been one of the best balanced teams at the tournament, scoring a total of 18 goals while conceding just four at the other end. In striker Rhian Brewster – who has netted successive hat-tricks in the last two rounds – they have the tournament’s leading scorer with seven strikes thus far.

“The players will be planned and prepared for it [the final],” said coach Cooper. “We’re really enjoying being out here and we have a great opportunity to make history, but we know the experience will serve us for the future as well.”

Spain, meanwhile, ousted one of the tournament favourites Mali in the semifinals, putting in a controlled performance to quell the Africans’ superior physicality and claim a 3-1 triumph.

La Rojita have lost just once in this tournament: a group stage defeat at the hands of Brazil – the same team England overcame in the semis.

Spain and England will be renewing their rivalry just over five months after they met in the final of the U-17 European Championships in Croatia. That match finished 2-2 before Spain won 4-1 on penalties.

“We do have to prepare. We know we have beaten them in the final of the Euro in Croatia,” said Spain coach Santiago Denia after the semifinal against Mali. “England has improved and we need to improve on things we did today.”

Both teams will be looking for their first-ever U-17 World Cup title. While this will be England’s first appearance in the championship match, Spain have appeared in three previous finals – 1991, 2003 and 2007 – all of which they lost.



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Al Ahly, Wydad clash for CAFCL crown


Al Ahly’s player Emad Moteab (C) in action against Wydad Casablanca player Youssef Rabeh (R) and Amine Attouchi (L)

by
Bertin Basson

Thursday Oct 26, 2017. 14:30


Al Ahly and Wydad Casablanca will renew their rivalry in the final of the 2017 CAF Champions League this Saturday, with a place atop Africa’s footballing summit up for grabs.

The first-leg will take place at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria. Kick-off is at 19h00 CAT.

Having clashed in the group stages of this year’s competition, the two North African giants will do battle once more – this time in the showpiece of Africa’s premier club competition.

For the victor a place at the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates will be secured, alongside the honour of being crowned the continents best.

Al Ahly, who have set their sights on an unmatched ninth CAFCL crown, beat Étoile du Sahel 7-2 on aggregate to seal their place in an 11th final.

The Red Devils lost 2-1 in Sousse, but turned on the style in Egypt to register a 6-2 win. Walid Azaro with a hat-trick for the hosts.

As for Wydad, the Moroccans followed a goalless draw in Algiers with a 3-1 win over USM Alger in Casablanca as they take aim at a second CAFCL crown – having clinched the 1992 showpiece. Achraf Bencharki at the double in the second-leg.

Wydad goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi is under no illusion of the task facing his troops this weekend, and hopes that the Moroccan outfit will suffer limited damage in Alexandria.

“The game will be very tough and difficult, everyone knows who Al Ahly are and how difficult the games against them are,” said Laaroubi.

“Al Ahly’s victory against Étoile will motivate us to gather our strength as we prepare for the game, we want to end up with the least possible damage before the second leg in Morocco,” the shot-stopper concluded.

Azaro, who found form at the perfect time for the ‘Club of the Century’, thanked Al Ahly head coach Hossam El Badry for showing him faith, as he now aims to shoot down his fellow countrymen.

“I wanted to score in every match, but was constantly unlucky,” said the Morocco-born forward .”I thank coach Hossam for persevering with me.

“However, we have to forget what we did against ESS and focus on Wydad, who will be difficult opponents to overcome.”

The two teams claimed respective 2-0 wins in their group stage match-ups, with Wydad going on to top Group D.

The reverse fixture at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca is set to take place on Saturday, 4 November 2017.



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Kekana wants Sundowns to retain CAF CL crown – 2017 CAF Champions League


Hlompho Kekana celebrates his goal with Percy Taui of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Baroka FC and Mamelodi Sundowns at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Limpopo on the 22 December 2016©Samuel Shivambu/Backpagepix

by
Bertin Basson

Friday Sep 15, 2017. 17:00


Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana wants his team to emulate the success of Al Ahly, TP Mazembe and Enyimba, by defending the CAF Champions League crown they won last year.

The Brazilians became only the second team from South Africa to win the continent’s most coveted club title and Kekana is hopeful that the Chloorkop-based club can now add a second CAF CL trophy to their ever growing trophy cabinet.

Kekana, 32, will this weekend lead his troops in a first-leg quarterfinal tie against Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca as they set their sights on reaching the 2017 showpiece.

ASAMOAH GYAN: I AM NOT DONE

“As players we are excited to take part in this tournament. I remember when I was at school, this is the tournament a dreamed of playing in – look at me now – I have played in this tournament and won it,” said Kekana.

“We want to make sure that we defend the trophy, it will be great for us as players and for South Africans it will be something to brag about,” he concluded.

Teammate Sibusiso Vilakazi highlighted the importance of keeping a clean sheet on home soil:

“The most important thing is that if we create chances to put them away, but we also we have to make sure we keep a clean sheet because it will be difficult away from home,” Vilakazi added.

“They are a very, very good team. It is important we make use of our home ground advantage.”



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Caps United set to lose Zimbabwean PSL crown


Al Ahly Tripoli player Mohamed Abrahim Aleyat (L) fights for the ball with Caps United player Phinias Bamusi (R) during the 2017 CAF Champions League game between Al Ahly Tripoli and Caps United in Sfax, Tunisia on 21 June 2017 © BackpagePix

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Thursday Aug 03, 2017. 15:00


Times are getting tougher for the Zimbabwean Premier League side, Caps United as they registered another loss against Chicken Inn on Wednesday at the Luveve Stadium.

The Green Machine are yet to win a league match since their CAF Champions League exit last month.

However, assistant coach Fungi Kwashi believes they are just going through a rough patch and will bounce back.

Obadiah Tarumbwa netted a brace whilst Passmore Bernard netted the third goal for the hosts who climbed to the top of the log table.

ETHIOPIA GET A WALKOVER AGAINST DJIBOUTI

The Green Machine are playing catch-up to other teams on the local front following their exit from the CAF Champions League.

However, the reigning league champions have found it difficult as they recorded their fifth defeat in the campaign, a result that left them deep in the relegation zone.

Coach Lloyd Chitembwe, who appears to be crumbling under pressure, sent his assistant Fungai Kwashi to face the media after the match.

“Well done to Chicken Inn. This is football. It was not our day. We lost and we are not happy about it. But every big team goes through a bad patch,” said Kwashi to the News Day.

“We remain united and we will keep on working hard. We are definitely not going to be relegated. God will lift us from this.

“We will bounce back. The journey is still long. We have 21 games remaining.”



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Steven Pienaar eyeing South African Absa Premiership crown – ABSA Premiership 2017/18


by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Aug 02, 2017. 17:00


New Bidvest Wits midfielder Steven Pienaar says he wants to help the club defend their Absa Premiership crown.

The former Bafana Bafana midfielder was speaking to the media on Tuesday during the club’s unveiling of their new 2017/18 home and away jersey in Johannesburg.

Wits managed to lift the South African league trophy for the first time in 96 years when they dethroned Mamelodi Sundowns last season.

‘Schillo’ was unveiled by the Clever Boys together with Daylon Classen, Kobamelo Kodisang, Bokang Tlhone as well as Slavko Damjanovic from Montenegro.

SLIMANI TO FACE ALBION DESPITE FREAK ACCIDENT

“My goal is to win the league – that’s why I joined the club. It’s going to be tough but we’re going to fight every game to make sure we win as many as we can, and fight for every trophy available,” said Pienaar.

“My main goal, though, is to win the league and just enjoy playing football back home, while also trying to help the young players coming through.

“It’s an interesting process because there’s a lot of talent – like ‘Kobamelo Kodisang’ (KK), who, when I saw for the first time in training, I thought ‘wow’! That’s something that will push me as a player as well.

“I need to be on my toes so that I can push him and make sure he goes in the right direction, so it’s good to have all the talent and young, gifted players in the squad.

“It’s also good for the coach because I think he’s going to have a lot of headaches this season.”

Coach Gavin hunt will want to hit the ground running when they face Golden Arrows in the MTN8 Cup quarter-final on Friday, 11 August at Bidvest Stadium.



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Mali defend U17 AFCON crown


Mamadou Samake of Mali celebrates a goal during the 2017 Under 17 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Ghana and Mali at the Libreville Stadium in Gabon on 28 May 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by
Bertin Basson

Sunday May 28, 2017. 21:41


Mali successfully defended their U17 Africa Cup of Nations title, defeating Ghana 1-0 in the 2017 final at Stade de l’Amitié in Libreville on Sunday evening.

Mamadou Samake with the only goal of the game as the 2015 champions kept hold of the crown they won in Niger two years ago.

The game got off to a frantic start with both teams squandering chances at either end of the pitch.

The opening goal duly followed in the 22nd minute, with Samake quickest to react after Danlad Ibrahim had denied the Eagles from the penalty spot. The Mali attacker quickest to react; slipping the ball through the legs of the Black Starlets goal-minder after he had made a good save.

Mali were handed another chance from 12 yards in the 33rd minute following another clear foul inside the area. But, Ibrahim was up to the task once more – diving to his right to keep out the ball.

The Eagles 1-0 up at the break.

Mali were quickest out of the blocks following the interval and should have doubled their lead in the 54th minute. Seme Camara somehow guiding his shot over the crossbar with an open net gaping.

Ghana tried to get back into the game, but failed to create any clear cut chances in the final half-hour with both teams showing signs of fatigue.

The Eagles doing just about enough in the end to secure successive continental titles.

Mali subsequently join Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria as the most successful team in the tournament, as they now set their sights on coming up trumps at the World Cup in India later this year.

Ghana (0) 0

Mali (1) 1 (Samake 22′)

Ghana: Ibrahim; Otu, Acquah, Yakubu, Ayiah, Toku, Yusif (Owusu 82′), Leveh, Osman, Alhassan (Mensah 72′), Iddriss (Sulley 83′)

Mali: Koita, D. Traore (Diako 90+1′), Konate, Fofana, M.Camara, Drame, S.Camara (N’Diaye 58′), Jiddou (S.Keita 80′), Diaby, Samake, Kane



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