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


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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Chiefs secure victory against 10-man Sundowns – ABSA Premiership 2017/18


Philani Zulu of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on 17 October 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Tuesday Oct 17, 2017. 22:03


Kaizer Chiefs edged out Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 in an Absa Premiership match at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Tuesday night.

As a result, Chiefs move up to position three on the league table, while Sundowns move down to seventh spot on the table.

Amakhosi threatened first through Bernard Parker, who unleashed a powerful shot which missed the target just six minutes into the match.

The Brazilians dominated possession, but they found it difficult to unlock the Chiefs defence which looked solid.

Parker should have made it 1-0 to Chiefs following a counter-attack four minutes before the half-hour nark.

However, the former FC Twente striker hit the crossbar and the ball was cleared away by the Sundowns defence.

Sundowns forward Percy Tau, who has been good season, had a chance to score eight minutes later and placed his over the crossbar from close range.

Another counter-attack by the visitors nearly led to a goal on the stroke of half-time with the Sundowns defence exposed.

However, Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango ensured that the first-half ended goalless as pushed away Chiefs winger Joseph Molangoane’s attempt.

It took only five minutes for Siyabonga Ngezana to make it 1-0 to Chiefs with a good header in the second-half with Onyango well beaten.

Sundowns were then awarded a free-kick in a promising area which Hlompho Kekana fired straight into the Chiefs wall.

Bernard Parker then doubled Chiefs’ lead in the 72nd minute after the victors had launched a quick counter-attack.

Sundowns were then reduced to 10 men a minute later after Tiyani Mabunda received his second yellow card.

However, Sundowns did grab a late consolation goal through Themba Zwane, who scored a late penalty and ultimately, Chiefs won 2-1.

Sundowns (0) 1 (Zwane 82′)

Chiefs (0) 2 (Ngezana 50′, Parker 72′)

Sundowns: Onyango, Langerman, Arendse (Lebese 86′), Morena, Madisha, Mabunda, Kekana, Billiat (Malajila 83′), Zwane, Vilakazi (Manyisa 52′), Tau.

Chiefs: Khune, Cardoso, Mathoho, Ngezana, Zulu, Katsande, Maluleka, Ekstein (Zuma 78′), Tshabalala (Meyiwa 89′), Molangoane, Parker (Chirambadare 90+4′).



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Nigeria the first African team to secure place in Russia 2018 – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


by
Graeme Jackson

Saturday Oct 07, 2017. 20:11


Nigeria have become the first African team to book a place at the 2018 World Cup after they defeated Zambia 1-0 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Saturday evening.

The result – secured by a second-half goal from Alex Iwobi – ensures the Super Eagles will finish top of Group B ahead of Chipolopolo, Cameroon and Algeria.

Nigeria started the stronger of the two teams and should have opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Moses Simon played a fine low cross from the right flank, but striker Odion Ighalo wasn’t quite able to reach the ball.

The hosts suffered an early injury blow when midfield Ogenyi Onazi picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Ndubisi Agu, affecting the rhythm of Gernot Rohr’s team.

Zambia saw less of the ball but they had the better chances, with the powerful and speedy Alex Ngonga proving a real handful: just past the half hour mark he outmuscled Leon Balogun before stabbing a shot over the crossbar, while on 36 minutes he hit the post with a long-range effort which took an awkward bounce.

Nigeria responded with half-chances on the volley for all of John Obi Mikel, Ighalo and Simon, but none of them troubled goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

However, the Zambian ‘keeper was called into action in the 57th minute to make a superb save from a looping header by Wilfred Ndidi – the attempt looked destined for the back of the net.

The Super Eagles finally broke through in the 73rd minute, with substitute Alex Iwobi latching onto Shehu Abdullahi’s cut-back from the right flank before firing a low shot through a crowd of bodies and into the back of the net.

The Arsenal attacker’s goal proved to be the difference between the teams, with Nigeria seeing out the rest of the game in relative comfort to secure a place in next year’s World Cup.

Nigeria (0) 1 (Iwobi 73’)

Zambia 0

Nigeria: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Shehu Abdullahi, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Elderson Echiejile (Ola Aina 80’), Wilfred Ndidi, John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi (Ndubisi Agu 30’), Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo, Moses Simon (Alex Iwobi 66’)

Zambia: Kennedy Mweene, Simon Silwimba, Fackson Kapumbu, Ziyo Tembo, Stophila Sunzu, Kondwani Mtonga, Enock Mwepu, Chisamba Lungu (Ernest Mbewe 51’), Augustin Mulenga (John Chingandu 87’), Fashion Sakala (Justin Shonga 78’), Alex Ngonga



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Niger secure historic win in U17 World Cup – 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup


by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Saturday Oct 07, 2017. 18:36


Niger edged out North Korea 1-0 in their first match at the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup which was played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday.

The victory takes debutants Niger to second spot on the Group D standings, while North Korea are placed third on the table.

North Korea’s Junior Chollima were looking to beat Niger’s diminutive goalkeeper Khaled Lawali from range in the opening stages of the match.

Yun Min, the North Korea captain, saw his long range effort miss the target, before hitting the crossbar with Lawali well-beaten.

Junior Chollima coach Kim Yong-su made the first change of the match in the 34th minute with Kung Jin-Song being replaced by Ri Kang-Guk.

Yacine Wa Massamba, Niger’s right-back, made a good forward run, but his low shot was easily saved by North Korea keeper Sin Tae-Song just before the break.

As a result, the score was 0-0 between Niger and North Korea in the Indian city of Kochi.

The Junior Menas were the better side in the opening exchanges of the second-half and they deservedly broke the deadlock.

Salim Abdourahmane was the player, who made history when he fired past Song to make it 1-0 to Niger in the 59th minute.

This was Niger’s first ever goal in the U17 World Cup finals with Habibou Sofiane grabbing a well deserved assist after some good work in the right hand side.

The Junior Chollima had a chance to level matters in 72nd minute, but Kwon Nam-Hyok’s low shot was well saved by Lawali.

At the other end, the Junior Menas should have doubled their lead, but Ibrahim Boubacar Marou was denied by Song, before Abdourahmane missed the target from close range.

North Korea could not snatch a late equalizing goal in the closing stages and ultimately, Niger won 1-0 – securing their first ever victory in U17 World Cup finals.

Niger (0) 1 (Abdourahmane 59′)

North Korea (0) 0

Niger: Khaled; Yacine, Farouk, Sofiane, Alfari (Kader 29′), Karim, Djibrilla, Rachid (Mahamane 77′), Ibrahim (Hamid 88′), Namata, Salim.

N.Korea: Song, Sok, Tam, Kwang Sok, Hun, Hwang (Kwang Min 82′), Jin, Jin Song (Kang Guk 34′ Pom Hyok 79′), C.Kwang, Min, Hyok.



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Club Africain secure vital away goal in Confed Cup


Oussama Darragi of Club Africain (c) challenged by Dean Furman (l) and Morgan Gould (r) during the 2017 CAF Confederations Cup semifinal football match between Supersport United and Club African at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on 01October 2017 @Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

by
Brian Lee

Sunday Oct 01, 2017. 17:29


Despite being dominated for large portions of the match, Tunsia’s Club Africain secured a vital away goal after drawing 1-1 with South Africa’s SuperSport United in the first leg of their CAF Confederations Cup semifinal match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday, October 1.

The South African side dominated the early exchanges as they controlled the possession stakes and consequently the flow of the game, but their finishing was poor.

In the 21st minute Club Africain took the lead, very much against the run of play, when Saber Khalifa converted from the penalty spot, 1-0.

Despite going behind SuperSport continued to play the better football, but went into the half time break trailing the Tunisian side by a goal.

The second half saw Eric Tinkler introduce Thabo Mnyamane and it proved to be an inspired choice as the side began to make the right choices in the final third.

In the 68th minute Thabo Mnyamane produced a pin-point cross for Jeremy Brockie, but the striker headed inches over from close range.

SuperSport threw men forward in the dying minutes of the match and were rewarded with a penalty two minutes from time which Thabo Mnyamane converted to secure a 1-1 draw on the day.

The second leg will take place in three weeks’ time with the winner on aggregate progressing to the final of the CAF Confederations Cup.

Should the match end in a draw the team with the most away goals will go on.

SuperSport United (0) 1 (Mnyamane 88’ pen)

Club Africain (1) 1 Khalifa 21’ pen)



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Free State Stars secure win in Pietermaritzburg – ABSA Premiership 2017/18


Sinethemba Jantjie of Free State Stars

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Friday Sep 29, 2017. 22:10


Free State Stars secured a 1-0 win over Maritzburg United in an Absa Premiership match at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night.

As a result, Ea Lla Koto climb up to ninth spot on the league table, while the Team of Choice remain sixth on the log.

There were no clear cut chances for either team in the first 15 minutes of the encounter in the city of Pietermaritzburg.

The hosts did threaten through Evans Rusike just before the half-hour mark after gaining control of the match.

However, the Zimbabwe international’s effort was well saved by Stars goalkeeper Badra Sangare.

Maritzburg, who are coached by Fadlu Davids, pushed for the opening goal with the half-time break fast approaching.

But Stars stood firm at the back and the score was 0-0 at half-time between the two sides.

With his side struggling to break the deadlock in the second-half, Davids made a change in the 58th minute.

Andrea Fileccia, a former Stars striker, was replaced by Devon Saal, as the the Team of Choice looked to break the deadlock.

However, the visitors were slightly better than the hosts and they managed to break the deadlock with 17 minutes left.

Sinethemba Jantjie fired past Maritzburg keeper Richard Ofori to make it 1-0 to Stars with a decent finish.

The goalscorer was then pulled out and he was replaced by defender-cum-midfielder Katlego Mashego as Stars looked to contain Maritzburg.

The hosts pushed for a last equalizing goal, but Stars held on to their slender lead in the remaining minutes and they won 1-0.

Maritzburg (0) 0

FS Stars (0) 1 (Jantjie 73′)

Maritzburg:Ofori, Xulu, Fransman, Weidlich, Makaringe (Kunene 46′), Maboe, Mekoa, Shandu, Atouba (Mokate 70′), Rusike, Fileccia (Saal 58′).

FS Stars: Sangare, Mokhuoane, Mobbie, Keita, Phungwayo, Mbhele, Vilakazi, Manqele (Dlamini 69′), Potsane, Anas, Jantjie (Mashego 78′).



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Siwelele secure a point against Chippa United


Mpho Mvelase of Chippa United during 2017/18 Absa Premiership game between Supersport United and Chippa United at Lucas Moripe Stadium on 19 September [email protected] Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

by
Graeme Jackson

Sunday Sep 24, 2017. 18:13


Despite their push to get a win, Bloemfontein Celtic drew their fifth Absa Premiership match 0-0 against Chippa United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Coach Veselin Jelusic’s troops now sit at the 10th spot with six points from five league matches.

The highly-anticipated contest had a bright start for the visitors in the opening 10 minutes and their dominance showed they wanted an early lead, but they were not decisive in front of goal.

However, their first effort at goal came when Lantshene Phalane picked up the ball in midfield and with limited options decided to shoot from around 25-30 metres, but his effort went wide of goal.

In a game lacking clear-cut chances in front of goal, Kurt Lentjies played a beautiful ball into the box for Mpho Mvelase in the 30th minute, but the latter failed to control the ball and Siwelele cleared their lines.

Following a corner kick by Lentjies in the 40th minute, Moeketsi Sekola connected well with the delivery, but he was denied by the crossbar, with keeper Patrick Tignyemb beaten.

There were no goals in the opening half, but coach Veselin Jelusic’s men started the second on a high and pressed for a goal.

However, both sides calmed down a bit after a good start from Celtic, as coach Teboho Moloi’s men was responded well with two chances, but nothing came out of the efforts.

With three minutes to go, substitute Lerato Manzini would hit the woodwork after receiving the ball on the edge of the box and attempting to curl it towards the far corner.

In the dying minutes, Tignyemb denied Mdlinzo after the latter had a brilliant chance with a free header from the centre of the box.

Resulting from the deadlock, the Chilli Boys now occupy the 11th spot with as many points from six matches in their campaign thus far.

Chippa United 0

Bloemfontein Celtic 0

Chippa United: Akpeyi, Mvelase (Mbokoma 55′), Macheke, Okwousa, Konqobe, Lentjies (Masuku 64′), Zuke, Sekola (Manzini 83′), Mako, Mdlinzo, Maphanga

Bloemfontein Celtic: Tignyemb, Baloyi, Letlabika, Pfumbidzai, Rikhotso, Hotto, Ndengane, Phalane, Mabena (Motshegwa 90′), Mabaso (Nyundu 50′), Letsoalo (Mahlasela 66′)



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We must secure our semifinal spot – USMA midfielder Benguit – 2017 CAF Champions League


USM Alger player Hammar Ziri (C) celebrates after scoring against Caps United during the 2017 CAF Champions League game between USM Alger and Caps United in Algiers, Algeria on 9 July 2017 © BackpagePix

by
Graeme Jackson

Monday Sep 18, 2017. 17:00


USM Alger must secure their place in the CAF Champions League semifinals before they worry about which team they will face, said midfielder Abderraouf Benguit.

The Algerian team are strong favourites to advance into the final four after drawing 1-1 away to Mozambican side Ferroviario de Beira in the first leg of the teams’ quarterfinal tie this past weekend.

The return leg at the 5 July Stadium in Algiers is set for Saturday evening, with the hosts expected to prevail and set up a meeting with either reigning African champions Mamelodi Sundowns or Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca.

However, Benguit insists that USMA will still have to work hard to ensure they claim victory against Beira.

“The players of this team [Beira] are alive, they created some difficulties, so we must beware of it in the return match,” the midfielder told Le Buteur.

“They will have nothing to lose. They will also play without pressure, it will be able to release them and make them even more dangerous, so we will have to be vigilant.”

As for their potential semifinal opponents, Benguit believes it is something they will worry about only if and when they secure progression.

“To start, we will have to validate our ticket for the semifinals next weekend,” he explained.

“As for the opponent we wish to face, we have no preference. No matter the team, we will do whatever it takes to get to the end and reach our goal.

“We all know the importance of this trophy in the eyes of our supporters, for them, for all those who support us, we will fight thoroughly and until the last minute.”



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Cape Town City secure MTN8 Cup final spot – MTN8 2017


Elias Pelembe of Bidvest Wits challenged by Ebrahim Seedat of Cape Town City during 2017 MTN8 game between Bidvest Wits and Cape Town City at Bidvest Wits Stadium on 10 September [email protected] Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Sunday Sep 10, 2017. 17:03


Cape Town City edged out Bidvest Wits 2-1 in the MTN8 Cup semi-final second-leg match at the Bidvest Stadium on Sunday.

The victory sees the Citizens book their place in the final after winning 3-1 on aggregate, while Clever Boys are knocked out of the tournament.

The match got to a lively start as the Clever Boys dominated possession in the opening stages of the encounter.

Wits desrvedly took lead in the 11th minute when Thulani Hlatshwayo fired home to make it 1-0 to the hosts after a scramble in the City box.

After conceding the Citizens pushed forward in numbers as looked to level matters and they equalized in the 27th minute.

Amr Gamal scored an unfortunate own goal from Ayanda Patosi’s free-kick to make it 1-1 for City as the visitors regained the lead on aggregate.

Wits nearly scored in the 33rd minute, but Granwald Scott’s header narrowly missed the target as the hosts pressed City.

Gamal also saw his effort cleared off the goal-line seven minutes later and score was 1-1 at the interval with City leading 2-1 on aggregate.

City suffered a blow 14 minutes into the second-half as Ronald Putsche went down injured and he was replaced Mpho Matsi.

However, the Citizens continued to launch attacks and they managed to take the lead for the first time in the 71st minute.

Lehlohonolo Majoro controlled the ball well in the Wits box, before firing past Wits keeper Moeeneb Josephs to make it 2-1 to City.

Frank Gabadinho nearly equalized for Wits in 74th minute, but City Shu-Aib Walters parried his powerful shot out for a corner-kick.

Wits did most of the attacking in the dying minutes of the match – attacking in numbers in search of three late goals.

However, City managed to contain Wits in the remaining minutes and they ran out 2-1 winners on the day.

Wits (1) 1 (Hlatshwayo 11′)

City (1) 2 (Gamal 27′ og, Majoro 71′)

Wits: Josephs, Hlatshwayo, Damjanovic, Scott, Gamal (Rodgers 46′), Pelembe (Mhango 62′), Pule (Klate 46′), Hlanti, Pienaar, Kodisang, Frosler.

City: Walters, Mkhize, Fielies, Johannes, Seedat, Nodada, Putsche (Matsi 60′), Modise (Gumede 80′), Masina (Lakay 54′), Majoro, Patosi.



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Guinea crush Senegal to secure CHAN qualification


Ibrahima Sory Sankhon of Guinea celebrates

by
Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Aug 23, 2017. 20:39


Guinea put up a stunning performance to defeat Senegal 5-0 at the 28 September Stadium in Conakry on Wednesday evening and secure qualification for the 2018 African Nations Championship.

Beaten 3-1 in the first leg in Dakar last week, the Syli Nationale romped to a 6-3 aggregate triumph in the tie to join hosts Kenya and 14 other teams in the tournament’s final field.

The match, which was originally set to be played on Tuesday but was postponed due to incessant rain in Conakry, saw the hosts claim an early lead through Sekou Amadou Camara.

His goal set the tone, with the Syli ending the first half 3-0 up thanks to further goals from Mohamed N’Diaye and Ibrahima Sory Sankhon. In the second half it turned into the Camara show, with the 19-year-old striker adding two further goals to register a hat-trick.

Guinea will be headed to their second successive CHAN finals. They debuted at the tournament last year in Rwanda, where they finished fourth.



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Mali look to secure 2018 CHAN spot


by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Friday Aug 18, 2017. 18:30


Mali will meet Mauritania in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 18h30 CAT.

The West Zone A second-leg clash will be played at the Stade Modibo Kéïta in Mali’s capital city, Bamako.

Mauritania held Mali to a 2-2 stalemate in an entertaining first-leg match last weekend.

Moussa Samba and Abdoulaye Gaye netted for Mauritania, while Aboubacar Diarra and Mandala Konte scored for Mali.

The encounter was played at the Stade Olympique in Mauritania’s main city, Nouakchott.

Mali have participated in the last three CHAN finals and they finished second in last year’s tournament which was their best performance in the competition.

Mauritania are looking to reach the CHAN finals for the second time. They finished at the bottom of their group at the 2014 finals.

The winner on aggregate between Mali and Mauritania will qualify for the 2018 finals which will be hosted by Kenya.

Referee Ibrahim Nour El Din, who hails from Egypt, will be in charge of the second-leg game.



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