African Players In Europe: Aubameyang Reigns In Spain

Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 20, 2022. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a memorable Clasico debut at the weekend, scoring the first and last goals as Barcelona humiliated Real Madrid 4-0 in La Liga at the Santiago Bernabeu.  

The 32-year-old Gabon captain and forward has scored eight goals since a January free-transfer move from Arsenal, helping early-season strugglers Barca rise to third, 12 points behind leaders Real.

“I was very excited to come to Barcelona and do well. It is very easy when you play with such good players,” he said after the rout of Real.

READ ALSO: Aubameyang Scores Brace As Barcelona Humiliate Real Madrid

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European league and cup competitions:

ENGLAND WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

Zaha took his tally for the season to 10 and set up Jean-Philippe Mateta’s goal as Palace stormed into the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in six seasons with a 4-0 thrashing of Everton. The Ivorian was alert to take advantage with a cool low finish for Palace’s third goal after Michael Olise’s looping effort came back off the crossbar.

HAKIM ZIYECH (Chelsea)

Next up for Palace in the last four are Chelsea after they proved too good for Championship side Middlesbrough. Morocco international Ziyech got the second goal in a 2-0 win at the Riverside as he cut inside onto his favoured left foot and arrowed the ball into the far corner for his eighth goal of the season.

RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City)

Mahrez’s tally for the season rose to 22 despite starting on the bench for City’s 4-1 FA Cup win at Southampton. The Algerian was rested by Pep Guardiola, but came off the bench just after the hour mark with the Saints threatening to take the tie to extra time. He rounded off the scoring by wrong-footing Fraser Forster as he whipped the ball in at the near post to set up an enticing semi-final against Liverpool.

SPAIN PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Barcelona)

Aubameyang started the humiliation by heading in Ousmane Dembele’s cross and then finished it, a scooped shot making it four in the second half. Although Barca trail Real Madrid by 12 points with nine rounds remaining, they do have a game in hand.

ITALY ISMAEL BENNACER (AC Milan)

The Algeria midfielder scored on 59 minutes to give league leaders AC Milan a 1-0 win at Cagliari and a three-point advantage over Napoli in the Serie A title race. Bennacer met an Olivier Giroud lay-off with a sumptuous first-time finish from the edge of the box.

VICTOR OSIMHEN (Napoli)

Osimhen scored twice as Napoli came from behind to defeat Udinese 2-1 at home. The Nigerian equalised after 52 minutes and scored the winner 11 minutes later.

MOUSTAPHA CISSE (Atalanta)

The 18-year-old Guinean struck as a substitute on his Serie A debut to earn Atalanta a 1-0 victory away to Bologna. Cisse was signed by the club last month after being spotted playing for a team of refugees in Italy’s eighth tier.

GERMANY ISHAK BELFODIL (Hertha Berlin)

The Algeria striker tapped home a free-kick as Hertha Berlin broke their nine-match Bundesliga winless streak with a 3-0 thrashing of Hoffenheim. With new coach Felix Magath forced to watch from his hotel after testing positive for Covid-19 and Hertha 1-0 up, Marc Oliver Kempf got on the end of a free-kick and passed to Belfodil, who scored with 63 minutes gone to claim his third goal in 21 league games this season.

FRANCE SERHOU GUIRASSY (Rennes)

The France-born forward celebrated his first call-up by Guinea with a hat-trick in Rennes’ 6-1 demolition of Metz. Guirassy has eight Ligue 1 goals this season for a team that has won five matches in a row and is challenging for an automatic Champions League spot.

CEDRIC BAKAMBU (Marseille)

The Democratic Republic of Congo international headed in a crucial late second goal within moments of coming off the bench in Marseille’s 2-1 win over Nice. He has scored three times in six league appearances since arriving on a free transfer in January and was named in his country’s squad for the World Cup play-off with Morocco.

AFP

African Players In Europe: Champion Mane Sets Up Liverpool Winner

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (2R) taps hands with Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (R) as he leaves the pitch after being substituted off for Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota (L) during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Liverpool at Turf Moor in Burnley.

 

 

Sadio Mane followed up helping Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time by creating the goal that gave Liverpool a 1-0 Premier League win over Burnley at the weekend.

His header off a corner dropped into the path of Brazilian Fabinho, who scored at the second attempt after his initial shot was blocked.

Mane and Mohamed Salah led the Reds’ attack after being on opposite sides in the Cup of Nations final in Cameroon last Sunday when Senegal defeated Egypt on penalties.

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European leagues.

ENGLAND
MOHAMED SALAH, SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

Mane and Salah were kept quiet as the Reds struggled in the fierce winds at Turf Moor, but Mane did have a hand in the only goal as second-placed Liverpool maintained their title challenge, nine points behind Manchester City with a game in hand.

SPAIN
CARLOS AKAPO (Cadiz)

After playing every minute as Equatorial Guinea reached the last eight at the Cup of Nations, the defender started his first match for relegation-haunted Cadiz at home to Celta Vigo and helped the home team keep a clean sheet and secure a point in a goalless draw.

PIERRE EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Barcelona)

The Gabon striker followed a 29-minute debut in the win against Atletico Madrid the previous week by coming on with 28 minutes to go and the scores level at Espanyol. Barcelona immediately fell behind, but in added time, as Luuk de Jong made a goal scoring-leap at the near post, Auba was distracting defenders and the goalkeeper at the far post.

ITALY
KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)

Napoli’s défensive rock started his first Serie A match since early December and showed why fans want him to become captain once Lorenzo Insigne leaves for Toronto in mid year. He was an imposing presence and, despite the 1-1 draw with Inter Milan, is keen to push Napoli’s dream of the title as his team sit just two points behind new leaders AC Milan.

GERMANY
CHRISTOPHER ANTWI-ADJEI (VfL Bochum)

The Ghana striker scored his side’s first goal in a stunning 4-2 win over league leaders Bayern Munich. Antwi-Adjei wrongfooted Niklas Suele to find the bottom corner and cancel out Robert Lewandowski’s opener.

RAMY BENSEBAINI (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

The Algeria defender scored his third goal of the season as Gladbach avoided a record-equalling fifth straight home defeat with a 3-2 win against Augsburg. Bensebaini fired a header into the top corner in the second half.

ANTHONY UJAH (Union Berlin)

The Nigerian forward made his first Bundesliga appearance since June 2020 after a knee operation when he came on as a substitute in Union’s 3-0 home defeat by Borussia Dortmund. The 31-year-old had a significant cameo in the second half, as Union had a consolation goal ruled out by VAR for his foul on Manuel Akanji.

FRANCE
KARL TOKO EKAMBI (Lyon)

Cameroon forward Toko Ekambi scored the second goal for seventh-placed Lyon seven minutes after the break in a 2-0 win over Nice, after former Fulham and Celtic striker Moussa Dembele converted an early penalty.

CEDRIC HOUNTONDJI (Clermont)

Benin defender Hountondji opened the scoring for Clermont six minutes before the break with his second goal for the club since joining from Levski Sofia in 2019 and first in Ligue 1 for the promoted side, who fell 2-1 against Saint-Etienne.

STEVE MOUNIE (Brest)

Benin striker Mounie struck in the final 10 minutes to cement a 5-1 win for Brest at home against Troyes. It was the eighth win this season for the Brittany side in 24 games as they sit 12th in the table.

GAEL KAKUTA, SEKO FOFANA (Lens)

Democratic Republic of Congo midfielder Kakuta set up Arnaud Kalimuendo for the opening goal and then scored from the penalty spot after 22 minutes. Ivory Coast midfielder Fofana added a third before the half hour for a 3-2 home win which condemned Bordeaux to bottom spot in Ligue 1 and lifted Lens to eighth.

African Players In Europe: Sarr Sparkles As Watford Stun Liverpool

Watford’s Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr (C) celebrates. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Ismaila Sarr overshadowed fellow Senegalese Sadio Mane by scoring twice as lowly Watford won 3-0 to end the 44-match unbeaten Premier League streak of runaway leaders Liverpool.

Mane has been among the key figures as the Reds march toward a first league title in three decades, but he had to take a back seat at Vicarage Road as Sarr blossomed.

His pace and trickery unsettled Liverpool and he was rewarded with two goals before setting up Troy Deeney for the third.

ENGLAND

ISMAILA SARR (Watford)

The Hornets’ record signing was up against his idol Mane and stabbed home the opener at the near post and then showed his pace and poise to chip Alisson Becker for Watford’s second. Sarr then turned provider for the third as he teed up Deeney to complete a famous win that lifted Watford out of the bottom three.

JORDAN AYEW (Crystal Palace)

Ayew scored the only goal as Palace got the better of rivals Brighton to ease any fear of being dragged into a relegation battle. The Ghanaian’s strike took his league tally for the season to seven — matching his best tally for a single campaign in England.

MBWANA SAMATTA (Aston Villa)

Samatta did Tanzania proud by scoring in the League Cup final against Manchester City, but his diving header at the near post just before half-time was merely a consolation for Villa as City won 2-1 to lift the trophy for a third straight season.

SPAIN

YOUSSEF EN-NESYRI (Sevilla)

En-Nesyri scored a 93rd-minute winner as Sevilla beat Osasuna 3-2 to move up to third in La Liga. The Moroccan striker, who joined Sevilla from Leganes in January, opened the scoring with a guided shot into the corner before Lucas Ocampos made it two on the stroke of half-time. Osasuna came back in the second half through goals from Aridane and Roberto Torres, only for En-Nesyri to snatch victory for Sevilla in injury-time with a close-range finish.

GERMANY

RAMY BENSEBAINI (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

Algerian Bensebaini scored a crucial early goal for Moenchengladbach as they beat Augsburg 3-2 to keep pace with the top of the Bundesliga table. Bensebaini, in his first start in 2020 after returning from injury, headed home a cross from Lars Stindl to put the visitors 1-0 up. When asked how it felt to be back in the Foals’ line-up after the match, he simply replied “it was fun”.

ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)

Having made his name as one of Dortmund’s best going forward this season, the Real Madrid loanee was called on to do more than his fair share of defending against a stubborn Freiburg side. Working on the edge of a four-man midfield, Hakimi’s pace was valuable during the 1-0 win as he snuffed out several Freiburg counter attacks. He did have a shot on goal deflected in the dying stages but was unable to add to his tally of two Bundesliga goals this season.

FRANCE

STEPHANE BAHOKEN (Angers)

The Cameroon striker was rewarded with a start for his team at Brest after coming off the bench against Montpellier last weekend and scoring the winner a minute later. He delivered again in Brest, although he needed a full 43 minutes to bag the only goal of the match this time.

MAX-ALAIN GRADEL (Toulouse)

Ivory Coast winger Gradel, 32, returned to the Toulouse starting line-up last weekend for the first time in a Ligue 1 game since early December following injury. He kept his place and wore the captain’s armband but could not prevent the division’s bottom side from going down 2-0 at home to Rennes. They have now taken just a single point from their last 17 league games and are heading fast towards relegation.

KARL TOKO-EKAMBI (Lyon)

Cameroon forward Toko-Ekambi, who joined Lyon on loan from Villarreal in January, came off the bench and contributed to their 2-0 win over derby rivals Saint-Etienne. Having earlier had a goal disallowed for offside, he won the late penalty which Moussa Dembele scored to seal the victory. Toko-Ekambi had started the 1-0 Champions League last-16, first leg win over Juventus in midweek and hit the bar in the first half against the Italians.

AFP

Aubameyang, Mahrez, African Players On The Spotlight In Europe

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2nd L) celebrates scoring the 0-3 with his team-mates during the UEFA Europa League Group F football match Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on September 19, 2019. Daniel ROLAND / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took the honours among the African stars in Europe at the weekend, scoring twice as Arsenal edged Everton 3-2 in an English Premier League thriller.

The brace from the 30-year-old Gabon star increased his league tally this season to 17, level with Jamie Vardy of Leicester City at the top of the scoring charts.

A brilliant pass from Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez against former club Leicester City set up Gabriel Jesus to score the match-winner for Manchester City.

ENGLAND

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal)

Striker Aubameyang was in predatory form as his brace fired Arsenal to a 3-2 victory over Everton at the Emirates Stadium. The 30-year-old netted Arsenal’s second goal to put them 2-1 in front when he sprinted on to David Luiz’s pass and fired into the far corner in the 33rd minute. After Richarlison equalised on the stroke of half-time, Aubameyang struck again 26 seconds into the second half with a glancing header from Ivorian Nicolas Pepe’s cross.

RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City)

The winger provided a moment of magic to help Manchester City to their single-goal victory against Leicester. With Pep Guardiola’s side labouring to break down the stubborn hosts at the King Power Stadium, it was Mahrez who found a way to prise open their defence. Surging forward from midfield, Mahrez weighed up his options in an instant and slipped a perfectly-timed pass to Jesus, who buried the 80th-minute winner that moved second-place City seven points clear of third-place Leicester.

WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

The Ivory Coast forward was involved in a flash-point that saw Newcastle’s Valentino Lazaro sent off in Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win over Newcastle. Patrick van Aanholt’s superb first-half free-kick had put Roy Hodgson’s side on course for their first win of 2020, but the points were not secure until deep into stoppage time when Zaha burst through on goal and was hauled down by Lazaro, who was shown a straight red card.

GERMANY

ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)

Real Madrid loanee Hakimi was one of Dortmund’s young guns to shine in a 2-0 win at Werder Bremen, proving constantly dangerous on the right wing. The Moroccan’s pass for Erling Braut Haaland’s goal marked his 10th assist of the season.

CHRISTOPHER ANTWI-ADJEI (Paderborn)

Antwi-Adjei, who was born in Germany but represents Ghana at international level, won the ball back and carried it upfield in the lead-up to Sven Michel’s equaliser in the 75th minute against Bayern Munich. Despite picking up a late yellow card, Antwi-Adjei was impressive throughout in his side’s 3-2 loss to the German champions.

STRELI MAMBA (Paderborn)

Paderborn forward Mamba, who has scored five goals so far this campaign, thought he had a sixth in the fourth minute his side’s defeat at Bayern when he slid the ball under Manuel Neuer, but his goal was ruled offside. The Germany-born player, who has roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo, had another clear chance in the 50th minute but was unable to connect with a lofted cross, injuring his knee in the process.

FRANCE

STEPHANE BAHOKEN (Angers)

Cameroon striker Bahoken came off the bench in the second half and needed only a minute to score the only goal of the game as Angers beat Montpellier 1-0 to record their first league win of 2020. It was just a third league goal of the campaign for the 27-year-old, who netted 11 times last season.

M’BAYE NIANG (Rennes)

The France-born Senegal forward was recalled to the Rennes team for their home clash with Nimes and marked the occasion by scoring twice as the Brittany side came from behind to win 2-1. Niang headed the winning goal in the 89th minute and the result allowed Rennes to reclaim third place in the table as they fight to qualify for the Champions League for the first time. Niang is also now on 10 league goals for the season.

HABIB DIALLO (Metz)

Senegal forward Diallo has been outstanding for Metz this season, wearing the captain’s armband and scoring 12 times for a team fighting to avoid relegation. However, he was sent off late on in his side’s 2-0 defeat by Lyon, receiving a straight red card for hitting out at opposition defender Marcal. He now faces a suspension for upcoming games, with his club hovering just above the bottom three in Ligue 1.

AFP

Tiote And 10 African Players Who Died Playing Football

Following the sudden death of Ivorian Midfielder Cheick Tiote in China while training with Beijing Enterprises, below are 10 other African players who died while playing football.

Late Cheick Tiote while playing for Newcastle United// Photo Source: @CheickTiote_/Twitter

Samuel Okwaraji: He was a Nigerian professional footballer and a qualified lawyer who had a Masters in international law from the University of Rome.

He collapsed and died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minute of a World Cup qualification match against Angola on August 12, 1989, at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State.

Marc-Vivien Foe: The Cameroonian professional footballer collapsed while playing in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final between his country and Colombia, and died shortly afterward in hospital on June 26, 2003.

Moise Brou Apanga: The Ivory Coast-born Gabonese football defender died on April 26, 2017, having suffered a heart attack while training with his club side FC 105 Libreville.

Ben Idrissa Derme: He was a Burkinabe international footballer who played as a centre-half. He died on September 11, 2016, following a heart attack during the 2016–17 Coupe de France match.

Patrick Claude Ekeng Ekeng: He played as a defensive midfielder for Cameroonian national team. He had brief spells in Switzerland, Spain, and Romania, where he died on May 6, 2016, after collapsing in a match for Dinamo București.

David Faramola Oniya: The Nigerian footballer played for Malaysia Premier League club T-Team as a defender.

He died on June 13, 2015, after collapsing on the pitch in Malaysia during a friendly between his club and Kelantan.

Emmanuel Ogoli: He was a Nigerian professional footballer who played as a left back. On December 12, 2010, the former Bayelsa United and Ocean Boys player collapsed on the pitch while playing for Ocean Boys, and died later in hospital.

Victor Omogbehin: The 22-year-old Nigerian collapsed during a league match on August 18, 2010. He played in the Isthmian Football League game from Ilford F.C. against the Lowestoft Town FC.

Endurance Idahor: The 25-year-old former Al-Merreikh player collapsed during a match between his Sudanese club and Alamal Atbara, and later died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital on March 6, 2010.

Orobosan Adun: The 28-year-old was assaulted by thugs suspected to be fans of the opposition team before an away match with Enugu Rangers.

The Warri Wolves’ former goalkeeper died three days later from internal haemorrhage, during a training session on May 26, 2009.

Mikel, Ayew And Kouyate Battle For Player Of The Month

mikelSuper Eagles and Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi, will slug it out with Ghana and Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew and Senegal/West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate, in the January shortlist for the African player of the month in the English Premier League.

Mikel has been impressive in the starting line-up for Chelsea under interim manager, Guus Hiddink, and his club have been unbeaten in 8 games since the departure of former manager, Jose Mourinho.

According to the organisers, the focus is on African players who are making contribution in their own way, in their clubs’ trying times’.

Apart from Kouyate whose West Ham is certainly riding high, getting impressive results, the other two nominees are having a season to forget in their respective clubs.