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Cameroonians remember Foe as they exit Russia tourney

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Monday, June 26   2017 at  18:49

Cameroon Monday marked 14 years since the death of the Indomitable Lions player Marc Vivien Foe.

The anniversary came only a day after the African soccer champions were knocked out of the Confederations Cup soccer tournament in Russia, thanks to a 3-1 loss to Germany.

After a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Chile in their opening game, the African champions grabbed their lone point of the global tournament following a 1-1 with Australia, but failed to secure a semi-final ticket after going down to world champions Germany in their last group game on Sunday.

Considered one of the continent’s finest midfielders, Marco as the 17-shirt player was fondly called, collapsed on the field during a Confederations Cup semi-final match between Cameroon and Colombia on June 26, 2003 and later died in France while defending his national colours, leaving the global football community in shock.

A first autopsy failed to establish the cause of the 28-year-old's death, but a second found he had been suffering from a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The Indomitable Lions were playing in the Confederations Cup this year for the first time since Foe’s shocking demise.

Foe 'was present' in Cameroon’s finest hour when they won their 5th continental title in Gabon earlier this year. A specially designed Lions jerseys, all bearing No. 17, were handy and the team members wore them immediately after they emerged champions as they enjoyed their title celebration and Confederations Cup ticket.

Foe had made 62 appearances with the Cameroon national team, scoring eight goals in 10 years. He was part of the squad that won the last African Cup of Nations (Afcon) crown in 2002 and also featured in the South Korea and Japan World Cup squad of same year.

Though no official event was organised in the country to mark 14 years of the demise of the soccer hero, former clubs, teammates and fans flooded the social media with tributes.

“Today we remember former Hammer, Marc-Vivien Foé, on the anniversary of his sad passing. Rest in Peace,” his former club, West Ham United‏ for which he made 38 appearances, twitted.

Foe left behind a widow and sons aged six and three, as well as a daughter of only two months old.

The player's generosity had been legendary, and there were reports that he dis not leave much money behind.

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Cameroon Lions hope to roar past Australia

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Tuesday, June 20   2017 at  11:45

Cameroon coach Hugo Broos has said he will work on his team’s frailties to put up a better performance in the next Confederations Cup game against Australia on Thursday.

The African champions suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Chile in their opening game in Moscow on Sunday.

“We have a young team and it needs to mature. We were also playing against a team ranked fourth in the world, 28 places above us, so there is a difference in quality and experience as well,” the Cameroon manager told the press after the match.

“We lacked a bit of awareness on Chile’s goals, but we will go step by step and improve gradually,” the Belgian soccer technician said further.

Was ruled out

The Indomitable Lions held Chile till the 82 minute when Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal got a breakthrough with a header, before Eduardo Vargas, whose blaze was ruled out by the video assistant in the first half, added a second in additional time after another video review.

The defeat of the African champions sparked debate amongst Cameroonian sports lovers and analysts back in Yaoundé.

Sports reporter and Managing Editor of the English language daily newspaper, The Guardian Post, Macdonald Ayang said despite falling to the Copa America champions, the Indomitable Lions “did not at all put forth a dismal performance”.

Below expectations

“Generally, they were impressive. They were resilient in midfield, threatening upfront but defence was below expectations. Goalkeeper Ondoa saved the side a great deal of embarrassment,” Ayang said.

Coach Broos’s side will play their second Group B match in Saint Petersburg.

Russia was announced as the hosts on December 2, 2010 after being awarded the 2018 Fifa World Cup final rights.

Six winners

It is the first time Russia were hosting the tournament, and the third time the Confederations Cup was held on the European continent.

The Confederations Cup matches are being played in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi.

Russia qualified automatically for the tournament as hosts to joined the six winners of the Fifa confederation championships and the 2014 World Cup winners Germany.


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Caf to review Nations Cups venue choices

Posted KENNEDY GONDWE in Lusaka

on  Sunday, June 18   2017 at  18:35

Phillip Chiyangwa, vice-president of the Confederation of African Football's (Caf) Africa Cup of Nations committee, says Zambia may yet be given an opportunity to bid to host the 2021 Nations Cup.

Chiyangwa said Caf was reviewing the manner in which the 2019, 2021 and 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments were awarded to West Africa by the previous Caf administration.

Chiyangwa, who is also head of the Cosafa region (Council of Southern African FA's) spoke of his concerns in April and wants the tournaments to be more widespread.

"I am the giver and taker of competitions," Chiyangwa said during a tour of Zambia last week.

Going forward

As things currently stand, the 2019 edition will be held in Cameroon while Cote d'Ivoire is set to stage the 2021 tournament and Guinea will be hosts in 2023.

That means the west of the continent would have staged Africa's showpiece event for five consecutive tournaments, from 2015 - when Equatorial Guinea stepped in for Morocco - to 2023.

"I am currently reviewing what happened in the past, there may be possibilities in 2021 going forward, but the reason why I want to be ready with my region is to know which country wants what.

"If an opportunity arises there is no need for me to do last minute searches," Chiyangwa said.

One region

"Our review process is that we go to those countries that bid for those competitions."

Chiyangwa said that the change at Caf was driven by a sense of unfairness in the manner tournaments were awarded to hosts under its former president Issa Hayatou.

"Our contestation on Hayatou to continue in office was the unfair awarding of tournaments to one region," he said.

"Other regions were suffering, if you look at the background of the Issa Hayatou fall, it arises out of the fact that most of the competitions were being awarded to West Africa, not North Africa, not even Central Africa and not even Southern Africa," he added.

"So the chance you have - should in our investigations a decision be arrived at to nullify the other competitions - you as Zambia, if you are ready, you may have an opportunity that arises in 2021." (BBC Sport)

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Injured Cameroon defender Bitolo out of squad to Russia

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI

on  Sunday, June 11   2017 at  15:14

Cameroon defender Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo will not be part of the Indomitable Lions' squad to the Confederations Cup when the global tournament starts in Russia this week.

The Montreal Impact left-back suffered a knee injury during the Cameroon-Morocco 2019 AFCON qualifier in Yaounde on Saturday.

Bitolo was taken away from the field 21 minutes into the game on a stretcher to an ambulance that ferried him to the Yaounde Emergency Centre in the Cameroon capital.

Team press officer Vincent de Paul Atangana said that a medical diagnosis revealed that the 25-year- old had suffered “a rupture of the patellar tendon and must therefore undergo surgery.”

“In collaboration with his club, the Cameroon Football Federation is organising an evacuation as soon as possible,” the Indomitable Lions team press officer said.

Seven months away

The player is among a 23-man squad Belgian coach Hugo Broos named for the Fifa Confederations Cup.

He will be "unavailable for six or seven months,” Mr Broos said at a post-match press conference.

Oyongo joined the national team in 2013 and scored his first international goal in a 1–1 draw against Mali at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

The reigning African champions narrowly defeated Morocco 1-0.

Striker Vincent Aboubakar’s goal in the 28th minute gave the Indomitable Lions their first full three points of the qualification — though as host their ticket to the 2019 Afcon finals is already guaranteed.

Difficult mission

Coach Herve Renard of Morocco who won the Afcon in 2012 with Zambia and the 2015 Afcon with Cote d'Ivoire but was defeated in the quarter-finals of the 2017 tournament in Gabon with Morocco admitted that playing against the African champions was a difficult mission.

“Cameroon is a solid team with good organisation. In terms of offensive skills, they have a lot of choices,” Renard said.

Cameroon are joined at the top of Group B by Malawi who defeated Comoros 1-0 on the same day.

Both teams resume their qualifying crusade in March 2018 when the African champions visit the Islanders (Comoros) while the Atlas Lions of Morocco host the Flames of Malawi.

 

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Cameroon v Morocco: A clash of two lions with uneven stakes

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Friday, June 9   2017 at  15:56

Continental soccer champions Cameroon will Saturday welcome Morocco in their first African Cup of Nation (Afcon) 2019 qualifier match at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé.

It will be the 11th competitive encounter between the Indomitable Lions and the visiting Atlas Lions.

In their previous games, the Indomitable Lions proved their mettle, carrying the day six times, with four ending in a draw.

Saturday’s game will also be the first competitive assignment for the Cameroonians on home turf after their Afcon victory in Gabon last February.

Lifting the trophy

Coach Herve Renard's Morocco were defeated by Egypt at the quarter finals of the Gabon competition, ending their dreams of lifting the trophy for the second time.

The North Africans arrived in Yaoundé on Thursday and were due to hold a training session later on Friday.

Renard was also due to grant a pre-match press conference after the training session.

A new policy

The game, just like all other qualification matches, have no real consequence on the Indomitable Lions, who arrived from Malabo where they have been camping since June 2.

Cameroon have already qualified by virtue of being the 2019 hosts. They are only participating following a new policy by Caf to have even host countries take part in qualifiers to remain active in the run up to the tournament.

With five continental titles, Cameroon will be at their 19th participation next year, while Morocco who won the Afcon in 1976, have had 16 appearances at the continental tournament.

The first time

Cameroon are ranked third in Africa and 32nd in the world, while Morocco are 11th on the continent and 56th on latest global rankings released by Fifa last week.

Football analysts in Cameroon say the match could be psychologically unsettling as both teams have uneven stakes in the game.

“Morocco are playing for points, Cameroon are simply warming up. But Cameroon are the home side and thus have a home [psychological] advantage,” said Mr Franklin Sone Bayen, the Editor-in-Chief of This is Sports newspaper.

He posited that local fans of the Indomitable Lions, who will be watching the reigning African champions at home for the first time since their 2017 feat, will be expecting nothing short of a victory.

The Indomitable Lions head coach Hugoo Broos said the match against Morocco “is very important” as it will help prepare team Cameroon for the Fifa Confederations Cup to take place in Russia later this month.

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Kenyan teams have a date in Tanzania

Posted VINCENT OPIYO in Dar es Salaam

on  Thursday, June 8   2017 at  19:21

Gor Mahia on Thursday beat Nakuru AllStars 2-0 in the SportPesa Super Cup semi-final to set up a titanic clash with arch-rivals AFC Leopards in the final set for Sunday at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Ugandan-born Rwandan forward Meddie Kagere scored the opener at the stroke of halftime before George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo doubled their lead five minutes from time to give Gor a shot at the $29,000 winners’ prize money and a possible ticket to play to play English side Everton on July 13 in Dar es Salaam.

The two Kenyan giants, who have 28 league titles between them with Gor commanding the lion's share of 15, will renew their rivalry in the final in Dar es Salaam on Sunday, some 900km away from their Nyayo Stadium home ground in Nairobi.

“It was a tough match but we kept on pushing hoping to get the opener. We didn’t underrate them because we saw what they had done earlier on,” Gor assistant coach Zedekiah Otieno said after the match.

The victory

“I am happy with the victory which sends us to the final.”

AllStars coach George Maina rued loss of concentration for the defeat.

“We took time to settle in the match unlike was the case against Simba. I was surprised my boys were under tension playing Gor when they had played their hearts out against Simba. That loss of concentration and naivety cost us,” Maina said.

Otieno made one change in the team that beat Jang’ombe 2-0 in the Tuesday quarter-final, resting Mike Simiyu for George Odhiambo.

Injury blow

After a cagey opening minutes, Timothy Otieno, who was partnering Kagere upfront, failed to beat AllStars goalkeeper Martin Lule in the 27th minute, fluffing his lines in front of goal after he was released by Kenneth Muguna.

Maina’s side were dealt an injury blow on the 31st minute after Thomas Wainaina was stretchered off the pitch with Rwandan Nturukundo Baraka replacing him.

A confident Gor Mahia were building from the back whilst closing down AllStars’ attacks. Odhiambo earned a free kick on the 35th minute but Muguna was denied by Lule.

AllStars, eager to get into their first final in decades, went close through Nturukundo, who latched onto Teddy Siwa’s cross but failed to beat Peter Odhiambo in Gor Mahia’s goal.

Five minutes

Odhiambo’s cross at the stroke of half-time caught the AllStars backline napping as Kagere rose high to head home the opener for a 1-0 lead at the break.

AllStars, all out in attack in the second half, had Dennis Nandwa and Nturukundo missing the target with their attempts.

Gor introduced three substitutes in a span of five minutes, starting with Amos Nondi at the hour mark while Anthony Mbugua and Oliver Maloba followed.

Innocent Wafula, Francis Kahata and Kagere gave way as Otieno sought to close out the match.

It paid off in the 85th minute, as Maloba charged down the left flank, attempted to score but was denied by the woodwork before Nondi picked the rebound to set up Odhiambo - who slotted home.

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Ivorian star Tiote dies after collapsing in training

Posted BBC

on  Monday, June 5   2017 at  19:11

Former Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote has died aged 30 after collapsing during training in China, a spokesman for the player has announced.

The Cote d'Ivoire international spent seven years at the Tyneside club, making 150 appearances, including three last season.

He joined Chinese second-tier side Beijing Enterprises in February.

"It is with deep sadness I confirm that Cheick Tiote sadly passed away earlier today after collapsing in training," said spokesman Emanuele Palladino.

Family's privacy

"We cannot say any more at the moment and we request that his family's privacy be respected at this difficult time. We ask for all your prayers."

Born in Cote d'Ivoire, Tiote was part of the Ivorian squad that won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

He began his professional career in Belgium with Anderlecht in 2005 before moving to Dutch side FC Twente, where he made 86 appearances and won the Eredivisie league title in the 2009-10 season under manager Steve McClaren.

Memorable goal

Tiote, a defensive midfielder, then signed for Newcastle in 2010 for £3.5m.

In 2011, he scored a memorable goal as Newcastle United came back from 4-0 down to draw with Arsenal in the Premier League.

He joined Beijing Enterprises for an undisclosed fee in February 2017.

A statement from Newcastle said: "We are devastated to have learnt of the tragic passing of Cheick Tiote at the age of just 30.

A great man

"The thoughts of everyone at Newcastle United are with Cheick's family, friends, team-mates and everyone connected with the clubs he represented."

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitz said: "It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick's death.

"In the all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated and above all, a great man. Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time."

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Italy knock Zambia out of Under-20 World Cup

Posted BBC Sport

on  Monday, June 5   2017 at  15:36

Zambia's hopes of becoming only the second African nation to win the Under-20 World Cup are over after a 3-2 defeat to Italy on Monday.

A thrilling quarter-final tie in Suwon, South Korea, was settled in extra-time by a goal from Luca Vido.

The Zambians paid dearly for giving the Italian play-maker the freedom of the Zambian penalty area in the second period of extra-time.

The Zambians will also be kicking themselves for failing to take advantage of playing against 10 men following the expulsion of Giuseppe Pezzella just before half-time.

Professional foul

Pezzella received a straight red card for a professional foul on goal-bound Edward Chilufya.

Although the referee awarded Zambia a penalty before reversing his decision after consulting the video assistant referee, he still sent Pezzella off.

Zambia had got off to a dream start at the Suwon World Cup stadium when Patson Daka scored after just three minutes.

A glorious pass

Daka found himself at the end of a glorious pass from Emmanuel Banda and beat Italian goalkeeper Andrea Zaccagno from close range.

Zambia could and should have doubled their advantage in the 14th minute when Emmanuel Banda's free-kick was blocked by Zaccagno but Chilufya and Fashion Sakala arrived late for the rebound.

But five minutes after the break, the Italians equalised when Riccardo Orsolini headed past Mangani Banda for his fourth goal of the tournament.

Thrilling contest

Six minutes from time Sakala's superb strike - his fourth goal of the campaign - looked to have won it for the reigning African champions.

But with a place in the semi-finals tantalisingly close, a brilliant free-kick by Federico Dimarco four minutes later sent the game into extra-time.

With penalties looming, Vido broke Zambian hearts when he put away one of the many chances that littered this thrilling contest.