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African Football

Expanded Elite One Kicks off in Cameroon

The new football league season kicked off in Cameroon this weekend with the first round of fixtures in the newly expanded Elite One, the country’s top division. Five teams have been added to the fourteen who competed in last season’s edition, taking the total up to nineteen. The newcomers are UMS de Loum, Bamboutos de Mbouda, Scorpion, Apejes De Mfou and Cosmos de Bafia. The expansion meant that last season’s bottom three, Sable, Tonnerre Kalara Club De Yaounde and Panthere Sportive Du Nde were all saved from relegation.

Reigning champions Coton Sport travelled to newcomers Bamboutos de Mbouda and were held to a goalless draw on Saturday. The opening game of the season had seen Unisport de Bafang win 1-0 away at Les Astres earlier in the day, but they were soon joined on three points at the top of the nascent Elite One table by Apejes De Mfou, Panthere, Njala Quan Sports Academy and New Star De Douala.

Sunday’s pair of fixtures saw Union Sportive of Douala become outright leaders on goal difference courtesy of their 3-0 home win against Scorpion and newly promoted Cosmos De Bafia earned an impressive debut win away at Canon Sportif of Yaounde. The second round of fixtures is on Tuesday this week.

Egypt beat Uganda in friendly

Whilst a state of emergency was being declared across many of the states in Egypt and scores of people were being killed in the violence that has flared up in Cairo and elsewhere in the troubled country, the national team, led by American coach Bob Bradley, escaped to the relative tranquillity of the Red Sea resort of El Gouna where they faced Milutin Sredojevic’s Uganda in a friendly that really was meaningless when compared to the terrible events ongoing nearby.

Only a few hundred people were in the stadium to witness the Egyptian team continue their recent run of good form with a 3-0 victory against a Uganda side that had won two games in a row themselves. Striker Ahmed Hassan Koka of Portuguese Primeira Liga club Rio Ave gave the home side the lead in the twenty second minute and it remained that way until FC Basel’s Mohamed Salah doubled the advantage twelve minutes after the break. Substitute Ibrahim Salah of Al Orubah in Saudi Arabia wrapped up the scoring ten minutes after coming off the bench to replace Mohamed El Nenny. Egypt’s next outing is scheduled to be a home World Cup qualifier against Guinea in September but the situation in the country will obviously determine exactly when and where that match takes place.

Kenyan Premier League: Karuturi Sport 1-3 Ulinzi Stars

There was more misery for bottom club Karuturi Sport in the Kenyan Premier League this afternoon as they went down 1-3 at home to mid-table Ulinzi Stars. The game was goalless until the interval but a brace from Kevin Amwayi Serenge in the second half gave Ulinzi Stars the lead and it proved enough to secure the three points despite a dramatic end to the game. Dancan Owiti gave Karuturi Sport a glimmer of hope with a goal in the last minute of normal time but any chance of an unlikely fight-back was quashed by Stars’ Steven Waruru, who scored a minute later to make it 3-1 to the visitors.

Karuturi Sport have now gone seven league matches without a win since their success against Bandari back in May and they remain two points adrift of Homeboyz at the bottom of the table with fifteen points from their twenty games, three points away from safety. The victory for Ulinzi Stars takes them to thirty points and moves them up from ninth to fifth in the congested middle of the table where they still have a game in hand on many of the teams around them. A win in their next match could see them go as high as second. Gor Mahia are the league leaders with thirty seven points from nineteen games.

Sierra Leone League Suspended

The league championship in Sierra Leone has been suspended mid-season after a vote by clubs to boycott the fixtures until further notice. Ten of the fourteen National Premier League clubs voted in favour of the decision after five candidates were disqualified from the FA leadership elections under eligibility criteria in the FA constitution. The five candidates, including former Internazionale and Monaco striker Mohammed Kallon, dispute the decision and have been backed by a majority of the clubs. This week’s midweek round of matches didn’t go ahead and it looks unlikely that a resolution will be found ahead of Saturday’s election and this weekend’s round of scheduled fixtures. The season is now on hold, with most clubs only having played six or seven fixtures and the Armed Forces team leading the table from Mighty Blackpool.

Nigeria Squad for 2013 Confederations Cup

Nigeria play Namibia tomorrow in a World Cup 2014 qualifier at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek, which is their final match before they fly over to Brazil for the 2013 Confederations Cup. Coach Stephen Keshi, 51, named his final twenty three man squad for the tournament at the end of last week and included eight home based players in the party. The squad is comprised of players from nineteen different clubs, with Enugu Rangers best represented with three players and two clubs – Chelsea and Sunshine Stars – having two players each and no other club having more than one player in the squad.

The oldest and most capped player in the squad is goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama at 30, with 78 caps to his name and the top scorer is Sunday Mba with only five goals. It’s an inexperienced squad with five uncapped players: Mohammed Gambo, Anthony Ujah, Michel Babatunde, Emeka Eze and Francis Benjamin. Nigeria start their Confederations Cup Group B campaign in Belo Horizonte against Tahiti (17-06-2013) and then play Uruguay in Salvador (20-06-2013), followed by Spain in Fortaleza (23-06-2013).

The Nigeria 2013 Confederations Cup squad in full is:

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Beer Sheva)

Defenders: Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Francis Benjamin (Heartland FC), Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Braga), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars), Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars), Kenneth Omeruo (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Emeka Eze (Enugu Rangers), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga), John Ogu (Academica Coimbra), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers)

Forwards: Joseph Akpala (Werder Bremen), Michael Babatunde (FC Kryvbas), Muhammad Gambo (Kano Pillars), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Nnamdi Oduamadi (Varese), Anthony Ujah (FC Cologne)

CAF World Cup Qualification Group F: Nigeria in control as Kenya drop out

Nigeria took control of African World Cup 2014 qualifying Group F yesterday with a hard fought 1-0 away win over Kenya at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi. The game was deadlocked at 0-0 for over eighty minutes until CSKA Moscow striker Ahmed Musa finally found a way past Duncan Ochieng in the Kenya goal. The win puts Nigeria top of the group on eight points from four games with two games remaining whilst Kenya stay rooted to the bottom with only two points and can no longer reach the next round because either Nigeria or Malawi is certain to exceed their maximum possible total of eight points.

In the other match in the group, Malawi drew 0-0 with Namibia at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. It’s a result which does neither team many favours but it does at least keep them both in contention ahead of the final rounds of matches. The penultimate fixtures take place next Wednesday (12-06-2013) when Malawi take on Kenya in Blantyre and Namibia host Nigeria in Windhoek. The sixth and final fixtures are in September when Malawi visit Nigeria and Kenya receive Namibia.

The Group F table is now as follows:

Group F P W D L F A P
Nigeria 4 2 2 0 4 2 8
Malawi 4 1 3 0 2 1 6
Namibia 4 1 1 2 1 2 4
Kenya 4 0 2 2 1 3 2

2010 African Cup of Nations Debate: Top Ten Prospects

2010 African Cup of Nations Debate: Top Ten Prospects

Although the chance to spot an undiscovered talent decreases with every African Cup of Nations as the top sides widen their scouting network, there were nevertheless several gems who caught the eye at this competition.  Aboutaball.co.uk offers their ten best prospects, who could be forcing their way into one of Europe’s top leagues shortly.

Perhaps with so many of the established teams like Mali, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast all failing to produce their best in Angola, this tournament with its shocks and surprises has yielded a surprisingly high quantity of players, who one might consider as a possible candidate for a move in the future.

10. Russel Mwafulirwa (Malawi & IFH Norrköpping)

The Malawian based forward caught the eye most notably in the opening match against Algeria, when he ran a supposedly rock solid defence ragged and opened the scoring for the Flames.  Although he struggled against Angola in the second match, he popped up with a goal in the third match against Mali to give Malawi brief hope of pulling of a huge upset by qualifying for the quarter-finals.  In the end he missed a gilt edged chance to equalise after scoring, which would have been enough to send his side through, so is both hero and villain.

9. Razak Omotoyossi (Benin & Metz)

Currently plying his trade in the French Second Division with Metz, Omotoyossi caught the eye playing as a lone front-man for Benin with his pace and ability on the ball.  Not a natural target-man by any means, Omotoyossi managed to make a nuisance of himself in all three group games winning and converting a penalty in the first match against Mozambique.  He had arguably his best game of the tournament against Nigeria giving the experienced pair of Shittu and Yakubu quite a headache, proving he is more than capable of playing at a higher level.

8. Khaled Souissi (Tunisia & Club Africain)

One of a number of players in the Tunisian squad called to play at the 2010 African Cup of Nations from the domestic league, the full-back impressed getting forward and attacking as well as being reliable in the back-line.  Aged 24, Souissi could be more than capable of earning a contract with a European side, and it would be no surprise to see him pop up over the course of the summer possibly with a French side.

7. Emmanuel Mbola (Zambia & Pyunik)

Aged just 16, Mbola defied his youth to turn in some accomplished performances at left-back for Zambia, the revelations of the tournament.  Mbola was a constant threat raiding forward and delivered some tempting balls into the box, especially against Nigeria, when the Copper Bullets could and perhaps, should have won.  Precisely how a 16-year-old Zambian boy ends up playing in Armenia remains a source of mystery, but Western European sides should be keeping close tabs on his development if his performances at the 2010 African Cup of Nations are anything to go by.

6. Bruno Ecule (Gabon & Angers)

Another of the contingent plying his trade in the lower leagues in France, the Gabonese centre-back has already attracted the interest of Liverpool based on the strength of his towering performance in Angola.  He barely put a foot wrong as Gabon very nearly pulled off a shock by qualifying for the quarter-finals, and included totally marking one Samuel Eto’o out of the first game.  At just 21, he could be the sort of foundation that Gabon could build from in the future.  They are targeting a strong performance in 2 years time when the co-host the tournament, and could even be considered outside bets for a place at the World Cup 2014 if they continue on this upward trend.

5. Djalma (Angola & Maritimo)

Based on the holiday island of Madeira and playing his football in Portugal, Djalma had an exciting tournament from a deep lying attacking position for Angola setting up Manucho and Flavio for goals.  His constant movement made him almost impossible for opposition defenders to pick up, and whilst he didn’t always use the ball wisely, he was capable of playing through beautifully disguised passes from almost any area of the pitch.  He has been in Portugal for several seasons since arriving as a youngster initially with Alverca, and at 22 could be a new name to remember in Angolan football.

4. Rainford Kalaba (Zambia & Uniao Leiria)

Like Djalma is based in Portugal and showed for Zambia he has the ability to play at an advanced level.  He looked at times something of a raw talent, but his work in midfield for Zambia was the impetus for their qualification to the knock-out stages.  However, one aspect of his game that needs attention is his tackling (think of him like an African Paul Scholes!), and suspension cost him his place in the quarter-final.  With him in the team maybe Zambia could have pulled off another shock, but Kalaba certainly looks to have plenty of potential.

3. Opoku Agyemang (Ghana & Al-Sadd)

The young midfielder has been in Qatari football for the last season or so, prior to a spell in Tunisia and shows that clearly one or two prospects do somehow swim the net of the big Western European clubs.  A dynamo at the heart of the midfield, his ceaseless running helped screen the defence as Ghana stubbornly ploughed their way to the final and very nearly into extra-time against Egypt.  The Qatari league is trying to develop itself away from the equivalent of footballing busmans holiday, but surely Agyemang can’t remain for too much longer in this soccer by-water.

2. Lee Addy (Ghana & Bechem Chelsea)

The young centre-back had an incredible tournament for Ghana in defence, impressing with a good sense of position and timing of the tackle.  Furthermore whilst some of the other Ghana defenders at times dawdled on the ball, Addy’s no frills approach to defending helped him stand out.  His club side have no affiliation with the West London version of the team of the same name, and are owned by one Tony Yeboah – a name more than familiar to fans of the Premiership and Bundesliga.  With his contacts in the European game, it can’t be too long before we see Addy making the move abroad.

1. Geddo (Egypt & Ittihad)

At the time of writing Sunderland were looking to try and sign up Geddo after a sensational tournament for Egypt scoring 5 goals in barely the equivalent of 2 games.  He is a remarkably confident finisher, willing to take shots on from almost any angle, and has the uncanny ability of being able to have the ball in the back of the net before the goalkeeper can react.  If Sunderland can wrap up a deal they may have a player in terms of ability and playing style very similar to Nicolas Anelka, who can be considered a bona-fide finisher.  Geddo will be keen to shake off the tag of super-sub, but could flourish in the English game where his compatriots such as Aboutreika and Shawky have struggled.

2010 African Cup of Nations Debate: Team of the Tournament

How many of the victorious Egyptian squad made it into our team of the tournament?

 As the dust (and quite a bit of sand on the pitch of the main stadium) settles on the 2010 African Cup of Nations, aboutaball.co.uk puts together its team of the tournament.

Goalkeepers

Richard Kingson – Ghana

The Wigan Athletic goalkeeper might not get much of a look in at club level under Roberto Martinez at the DW Stadium, but the he showed he has plenty to offer with some excellent performances marshalling a defence that conceded just four goals in the tournament.  Kingson caught the eye with some good saves, during a tournament that overall put the standard of African goalkeeping back at least a decade with some shocking errors of judgement.  Kingson was largely immune to this, and did an excellent job for his country,

Defenders

Ahmed Al-Muhammadi – Egypt

The 22-year-old has been around the national team setup for a while now, but really caught the eye during his time in Angola making some excellent contributions from right-back throughout the tournament.  Indeed he has now been linked with a move to Sunderland, and could well excel in the North-East.  He is a solid defender, and uses the ball sensibly when getting forward delivering some dangerous balls from a deeper position.

Madjid Bougherra – Algeria

To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling: “If you can keep your head whilst all about you are losing theirs…Yours is the Earth and everything in it, and — which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”.  If ever a piece of poetry deserved to be mangled to honour a footballer, then Bougherra merits it.  The Glasgow Rangers defender may not inherit the Earth, or even the African Cup of Nations, but whilst Algeria lost their heads, the centre-back did his best to act as a beacon of sanity.  In what was an inconsistent tournament for the Fennecs, Bougherra had a sensible tournament and did a good job wherever he was asked to fill in.

Isaac Vorsah – Ghana

The young Hoffenheim defender was a vital link in the Ghana defence, and indicated he has a bright future ahead of him.  He couldn’t prevent the winning goal in the final being scored through his legs, but an excellent tackler, quick along the ground and formidable in the air, overall Vorsah showed he has all the tools of the trade. 

Samuel Inkoom – Ghana

Whilst acknowleding that Inkoom played entirely at right-back, but the Basel defender showed enough versatility to show he could probably excel on the opposite flank too.  Arguably better than Al-Muhammadi getting forward, Inkoom at times relied on Vorsah and Addy to cover for him when he was caught out of position when raiding forward.  Nevertheless Inkoom’s positional sense has improved even in the 4 months since really catching the global eye at the FIFA U-20 tournament.  If he continues his current trend of development he could mature into a first-rate world class full-back ranking alongside the like of Maicon or Dani Alves.

Obasi was also voted by readers of aboutaball.co.uk as The Surprise of the Tournament

Midfielders 

Chinedu Obasi – Nigeria

The second Hoffenheim-based player in the team of the tournament, the German side have another gem on their hands.  Obasi was arguably the best performing Nigerian player, especially in attack, where he showed versatility by playing from both the left and the right.  He scored one of the best goals at the tournament with his opener against Egypt after just 11 minutes curling the ball sweetly past El-Hadary to make it 1-0. Sadly from the Nigerian’s perspective it was to be the highlight of their tournament.

Alexandre Song – Cameroon

Much like Bougherra, Song didn’t have to do much to stand out from his colleagues, in what was a largely disappointing 2010 African Cup of Nations for Cameroon.  The Arsenal midfielder struggled to lift his colleagues from their generally low standard of play and at times over stretched himself trying to help screen the defence and play a pivotal role in the final third.  Nevertheless, he showed why Arsenal fans rate him so highly, and looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

Hany Said – Egypt

The Zamalek midfielder had another immense tournament for Egypt at the heart of the midfield, playing purposefully and intelligently.  His thoughtful prompting from central midfield helped Egypt break open several tough defences.  In previous tournaments, Said, more of a defensive midfielder, has fulfilled a more unassuming role allowing others like Aboutreika and Shawky to take the limelight.  However in their absence, the 29-year-old proved he has more than enough to also play a few through passes and became one of the tournaments best players in the process.

Kwadwo Asamoah – Ghana

Another of the outstanding Ghanaian youngsters, Asamoah shone both through the middle and from a slightly wider berth throughout the tournament.  He has been titled the new Essien, and in the Chelsea’s midfielders absence more than helped soften the blow of his injury.  Asamoah prowled the midfield impressing with his no-nonsense tackling and excellent range of passing.  If he can add a few goals to his game, then he could blossom into one of the game’s finest exponents of the all-round midfielder role. 

Attackers

Jacob Mulenga – Zambia

The FC Utrecht based forward beats a number of other strong candidates for a spot in the front-line based not only on his goals but on his all round contribution.  Able to play as an all-out centre-forward, Mulenga also played from a deeper role helping to set up other goals as well.  Having arrived in Dutch football last season from the French second division, he has already acquired the useful ability to be multi-functional within a tactical system, and at 25 still has time to develop.

Geddo – Egypt

He may have barely played the equivalent of two matches at the tournament, but the 5-goal striker more than justifies his place in the overall team of the 2010 African Cup of Nations.  He scored crucial goals both in the final and against Cameroon in the quarter-final, and in the process became the top scorer of the tournament.  He is already attracting interest from the Premiership, and with a strike ratio of nearly a goal a game at international level, it isn’t hard to see why.  A remarkably confident finisher, willing to take shots on from almost any angle, Geddo has the uncanny ability of being able to have the ball in the back of the net before the goalkeeper can react.  With the like of Mido and Amr Zaki seemingly out of favour in the international set up, we could be seeing a fair of Geddo over the next few years.

2010 African Cup of Nations Final: Egypt 1-0 Ghana

Sunday 31st January 2010
Estadio 11 de Novembro, Luanda, Angola
Weather: 30c, wind 15kmph, chance of showers

Egypt 1 (Geddo 86)
Ghana 0

TEAMS

Egypt: El Hadary, Al-Muhamadi, Goma’a, Fathy (Moatasem 89), Moawad (Abdel-Shafy 55), Ghaly, Said, Hassan, Hosni, Zidan, Motaeb (Geddo 70)

Ghana: Kingson, Inkoom, Vorsah, Addy, Sarpei, Agyemang Badu, Annan, Ayew, Asamoah, Gyan (Adiyah 87), Opoku (Addo 89)

Tournament top scorer and super sub par excellence Mohamed Nagy “Geddo” was the hero once again as he came off the bench to grab his fifth goal of the competition and secure a 1-0 win for defending champions Egypt against a hard-working but uninspired Ghana side. His late strike was the one moment of class that lit up an otherwise uneventful final.

Ghana kicked off the 27th African Cup of Nations final as underdogs against an Egypt team aiming to make it three successive triumphs. Egypt striker Emad Motaeb shook off a hamstring strain to make the starting line-up ahead of super sub and tournament top scorer Geddo. Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson played despite an injury that prevented him from taking his own goal kicks.

It was a low key start to the game, with both teams taking a long time to settle, perhaps due to the pressure of the occasion. The first goalscoring opportunity came from a set piece in the eighth minute. Egypt defender Fathy body checked Asamoah to concede a free-kick 30m from goal, but Gyan’s shot hit the wall. Egypt ‘keeper El Hadary misjudged the resultant corner presenting Ghana with a half chance but they couldn’ t capitalise on his error. A long range effort from Ahmed Hassan in the 13th minute was Egypt’s first goal attempt but didn’t come close to troubling the goalkeeper. He tried again five minutes later but didn’t come much closer. Asamoah showed him how to hit the target with his own fiercely stuck shot from distance midway through the first half, but it was comfortably saved by El Hadary.

Chances were few and far between in the first half and neither goalkeeper was properly tested. Egypt enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and dictated most of the play but weren’t allowed to get close enough to the Ghanaian goal to cause any real trouble. The Black Stars occasionally looked dangerous on the break but didn’t often get enough men forward in support of their attacks. Nobody could argue with the goalless scoreline at the interval and everybody was hoping for a bit more action in the second half.

There were no changes during the break, but there was at least an eventful start to the second period with a flurry of yellow cards and a dangerous free-kick from Asamoah Gyan. Opoku was booked for a horrific challenge on Al-Muhamadi that could have earned him a straight red, Moawad saw yellow for a deliberate handball and then Al-Muhamadi was cautioned for a revenge challenge on Opoku, which gave Gyan the dead ball chance. His shot was tipped over the bar by El-Hahadary. After 55 minutes Shehata made his first move, replacing Moawad with Zamalek full-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafy. Hossam Ghaly soon made his way into the referee’s book for a shirt pull which resulted in yet another unsuccessful long-range free kick attempt for Ghana.

Ghana enjoyed their best spell of the game early in the second half, playing much more positively than at any time in the first period, and as a result the game began to open up a bit with the forwards finding more space in which to work at both ends of the field. Egypt’s passing began to bear fruit and they started to create openings in the Ghana defence. Hassan claimed a penalty for a push in the back,but the referee waved play on and Ghana continued to favour shooting from outside the box over trying to work a clearer opening. In the 70th minute Shehata played his trump card, bringing on Geddo for Motaeb in the hope that the Al-Ittihad striker could score off the bench for the fifth time in the tournament.

However, Ghana were getting more and more on top and they created three good chances in six minutes with Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan at the heart of all their mest moves. He curled a shot just wide of the far post in the 74th minute, hit another free-kick in the 79th, which El-Hadary clumisly punched away for a corner and then played in Inkoom down the right who sent an inviting cross across the Egypt goalmouth but nobody could connect in the middle. It was totally against the run of play when that man Geddo did it again; Mohamed Nagy “Geddo” picked up the ball on the left, played a neat one two with Zidan taking him inside the Ghana box where he curled a delicate finish past Kingson and just inside the far post to create jubilant scenes on the Egypt bench.

Bizarrely, Gyan was replaced as Ghana desperately chased the game in the last few minutes but despite their pressure they weren’t able to break down the resolute Egyptian defence and the Pharaohs were crowned champions of Africa for the seventh time.

2010 African Cup of Nations: Nigeria 1-0 Algeria

Kick-off: Thursday January 30

Nigerian fans haven't had much to cheer about in Angola so far

Location: Ombaka National Stadium, Benguela, Angola

Nigeria 1 (Obina 20)

Algeria 0

Both teams rang the changes for this one, Nigeria by choice and Algeria because half their team was suspended. The game itself proved to be fairly uneventful and will not have helped improve the confidence of either set of fans ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.

Kanu had the best chance of the first half but replacement keeper Zemmamouche did well to save. The only notable event on the game came on 55 when Obinna Nsofor raced through a group of Algerians to slam home the only goal of the game.

Mentally the players already seemed to be on the plane back to their clubs and they can resume their day jobs, with the valididy of this 3rd place play-off the biggest talking point.

The final should provide better entertainment tomorrow.

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