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Africa Cup of Nations expands to 24 teams

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaounde and BBC Sport

on  Thursday, July 20   2017 at  19:16

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be contested by 24 teams, says the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

Caf's executive committee approved the proposal on Thursday at a meeting in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Africa's flagship sporting event has featured 16 teams since 1996.

A decision on whether the finals will be moved from January and February to June and July is still awaited.

Denied reports

The expansion of the tournament could create problems for hosts Cameroon.

However, Sports minister Pierre Ismael Bidoung Mkpatt denied reports that preparations were behind schedule.

“Out of the 32 stadia expected from Cameroon, the 11 used during the 2016 women’s Afcon are ready, available and operational.

"For the other 21 left, 14 are under rehabilitation and 7 are to be constructed,” the minister said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The winners

Mkpatt announced that the first Caf inspection mission will arrive in Yaounde “in the weeks ahead”.

The expansion of the continental tournament follows a two-day symposium organised by Caf president Ahmad Ahmad to discuss the state of African football.

Further changes are expected but have yet to be announced.

Speculations were rife that Cameroon, the winners of the Gabon tournament this year, could lose the hosting rights to either Algeria or Morocco.

The two Arab states have reportedly expressed their readiness to host the tournament should Caf disqualify Cameroon.


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Eight killed in Senegal stadium collapse

Posted BBC

on  Sunday, July 16   2017 at  17:24

Eight people died and at least 49 were injured after a wall collapsed at a football stadium in Senegal on Saturday.

It happened at Demba Diop stadium in the capital, Dakar, at the end of the League Cup final between Stade de Mbour and Union Sportive Ouakam.

Fighting started between rival fans and police responded by using tear gas, which led to panic, a stampede, and the wall collapse.

Some fans were throwing projectiles including stones at others.

The wall fell

With the score 1-1 after 90 minutes, Mbour scored in the first period of extra time to win 2-1, and violence broke out at the final whistle.

Cheikh Maba Diop, whose friend died in the incident and who helped move people out of the stadium, told AFP news agency: "All of a sudden when the wall fell... we knew exactly that some of our own had lost their lives because the wall fell directly on to people."

A spokesman for the country's President Macky Sall said that campaigning for upcoming elections would be suspended on Sunday as a mark of respect, and that there should be "punishments serving as a warning".

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Everton pip Gor 2-1 in Tanzania friendly

Posted AFRICAREVIEW.COM

on  Thursday, July 13   2017 at  19:01

English Premier League club Everton Thursday beat Kenyan giants Gor Mahia 2-1 in a friendly match in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The match was sponsored by gaming company SportPesa.

The Toffees were led by the legendary England national team captain Wayne Rooney, who scored their first goal.

Jack Tuyisenge netted for Gor, before Kieran Dowell sealed the Kenyans' fate.

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Rooney and Everton in Dar for Gor Mahia friendly

Posted DAVID KWALIMWA in Nairobi

on  Wednesday, July 12   2017 at  12:41

After weeks of hype, Wayne Rooney and Everton finally landed in Tanzania, ahead of the European club's highly billed friendly against Kenyan giants Gor Mahia.

The English Premier League club touched down in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam on Wednesday morning, and its entourage led by coach Ronald Koeman was filmed alighting from a SportPesa branded bus to their hotel later on.

Earlier, the Toffees led by the legendary England national team captain Rooney was pictured departing the UK for Tanzania.

His future

According to the Daily Mail, international midfielder Ross Barkley missed out on this trip with his future at the club still unclear in the wake of a contractual stand-off.

Still, a galaxy of international stars namely centre back Ashley Williams, winger Aaron Lennon plus new signings Michael Keane and Davy Klaasen were part of the travelling contingent on this eight-hour flight.

Meanwhile, Gor Mahia arrived in Dar on Tuesday, with centre-back Harun Shakava expressing delight for an opportunity to face an English team for the second time in a year.

Our excitement

"We will try and contain our excitement, and play the best we can. This is a big game but we are not fazed by the opportunity of playing against Rooney," Shakava said.

Shakava was part of the SportPesa All Stars team that faced and lost against a developmental Hull City side in February.

The match will be played at the refurbished 60,000-seater National Stadium in Dar, starting 5pm (+3GMT) on Thursday.

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Reprieve for Zamalek fans after stadium violence

Posted TAREK TALAAT in Cairo

on  Monday, July 10   2017 at  19:36

The Egypt Football Association (EFA) says fans can attend Al Ahly's remaining Champions League ties despite violence at Zamalek's match on Sunday.

The incidents happened at Alexandria's Borg el-Arab Stadium as Zamalek crashed out of the tournament after a 2-2 draw with visiting Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya.

Fans threw objects onto the pitch, causing the game to be halted briefly as they were cleared away.

After the final whistle, the seats were ripped out and thrown onto the pitch.

The next matches

"We should hold a meeting to decide what action to take against the Zamalek fans after they damaged the Borg el-Arab stadium," EFA's Karam Kordi said.

However the EFA's executive manager Tharwat Sweilem added: " What happened will not affect the fans attending the next matches in Egypt featuring teams from overseas."

At present supporters are not allowed into stadiums to watch domestic league games they can only attend international matches featuring clubs and country.

Their frustrations

Last month, the Ministry of Sports announced that 70,000 fans will be permitted to attend the Pharaoh's 2018 World Cup qualifier against Uganda in September.

There is a long history of violent scenes at football stadiums in Egypt, with fans sometimes venting their frustrations towards their teams. There are also incidents of rival fans clashing.

Supporters have not been allowed to attend league matches on a regular basis since 2012 when more than 72 Al Ahly fans died in clashes at the Port Said stadium. (BBC Sport)

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Media advocacy group seeking release of journalists in Cameroon

Posted NDI Eugene NDI

on  Friday, July 7   2017 at  18:59

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to urge the Cameroonian government to release all journalists detained for their work in the country as the continental soccer body pushes for transparency “in opening a new era...for African football."

The Central African nation is preparing the stage to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

In a letter to the new CAF president Ahmad Ahmad, the New York-based advocacy group said the soccer jamboree will attract journalists and media coverage from around the world but visiting journalists “will not be able to report freely from Cameroon.”

Press freedom

The letter signed by CPJ Africa programme co-ordinator, Angela Quintal notes that the AFCON 2019 host’s press freedom record is a far cry from the vision of an "Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice, and the rule of law" the African Union, CAF and other partners support in their Agenda 2063.

It said international sporting bodies such as the International Olympic Committee are adopting human-rights assessments as part of the process by which countries bid to host events and are implementing press freedom monitoring mechanisms.

“We urge the CAF to consider a similar course. The CAF should not reward repressive governments for their repression,” CPJ said.

Silencing critics

It said further that Cameroon's treatment of the press has steadily deteriorated since December 2016, notably with the targeting of Anglophone media and the use of anti-terrorism legislation to silence critics or those who report news the government does not wish to see reported.

CPJ said it asked the Cameroon Minister of Communication Issa Tchiroma Bakary for information regarding the detention of some six journalists but “ he has not responded” as media outlets in the country and their staff continue to fear suspension or other reprisal for their work.

The president of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Phillip Chiyangwa had earlier written to the new CAF administration to review the hosting rights of the tournament from Cameroon saying the award of the rights by the former administration was politically influenced.

Mr Chiyangwa led Ahmad Ahmad’s campaign to overthrow Issa Hayatou in the recent Confederation of African Football presidential election.

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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.