Senegalese Referee To Officiate Nigeria, Benin Republic Clash

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF), has picked Senegalese official Issa Sy as referee for next week’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between Nigeria and the Benin Republic in Uyo.

Sy will be assisted by compatriots Nouha Bangoura (assistant referee 1), El Hadji Abdoul Aziz Gueye (assistant referee 2) and Fatou Thioune (fourth official) at the encounter scheduled for the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, from 5 pm.

The Day 1 clash in the qualifying series will also see Munkaila Nassam Adam from Ghana as a match commissioner while Kria Samir Bouzareah from Algeria will play the role of referee assessor.

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Nigeria will welcome back skipper Ahmed Musa from injury, with defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Abdullahi Shehu and Bryan Idowu, as well as midfielder Mikel Agu and forward Samuel Kalu also returning.

The Super Eagles, bronze medallists at the 32nd AFCON finals in Egypt this year summer, will then fly to Maseru on Friday, 15th November for the Day 2 clash with the Crocodiles of Lesotho, billed for the artificial turf of the Maseru-Setsoto Stadium as from 6pm Lesotho time (5pm Nigeria time) on Sunday, 17th November.

 23 EAGLES TO BATTLE BENIN REPUBLIC & LESOTHO

Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)

Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (CD Leganes, Spain); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia)

Midfielders: Alexander Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Mikel Agu (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ramon Azeez (Granada FC, Spain)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Lille OSC, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Emmanuel Dennis (Club Brugge, Belgium); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France);

Standby: Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Peter Olayinka (SK Slavia Prague, Czech Republic); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City, England)

CAF Probes Cancelled Champions League Match In Egypt

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African Football Confederation (CAF) officials confirmed Monday that they are investigating why a CAF Champions League match scheduled for Egypt at the weekend was not played.  

Zamalek of Egypt were due to meet Generation Foot of Senegal in Cairo Saturday in the second leg of the last-32 tie with the west Africans holding a 2-1 aggregate lead.

But Zamalek decided last Friday to move the match to Sunday in Alexandria, a coastal city 220 kilometres (137 miles) northwest of Cairo, citing unspecified “security reasons”.

There were protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last Friday, but they did not prevent domestic league matches being played in Cairo on Saturday.

Generation rejected the new date and venue and turned up Saturday at the original match venue only to be barred from entering the stadium.

Zamalek pitched up at the new venue in Alexandria the following day and the referee waited 15 minutes after the kick-off time before calling off the match.

Senegalese officials insist that, according to CAF rules, a match date and venue can be changed only if both teams agree.

“The relevant CAF bodies and representatives are currently examining the situation and further information and updates will be issued in due time,” a CAF statement said.

Whichever club wins the disputed tie will join 15 others in the October 9 group phase draw and be guaranteed at least $550,000 (500,000 euros) prize money.

The losers drop to the less lucrative second-tier CAF Confederation Cup, where the minimum prize money is $275,000, half that of the Champions League.

AFP

CAF Declares Esperance African Champions After Legal Battle

Esperance de Tunis team captain Moez Ben Cherifia holds a trophy after winning during the 2nd leg of CAF champion league final 2019 football match between Tunisia’s Esperance sportive de Tunis and Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club at the Olympic stadium in Rades on May 31, 2019.
FETHI BELAID / AFP

 

Tunisia’s Esperance were declared winners of the African Champions League by CAF on Wednesday following a long legal battle after Wydad Casablanca stormed off in protest during the second leg of the final in May.

Wydad “is considered to have lost the game”, African football’s governing body said in a statement.

The Moroccan side walked off an hour into the return leg in Tunis after a VAR malfunction meant a disallowed equaliser could not be reviewed.

“The decision means Esperance are champions,” a CAF source told AFP under the condition of anonymity.

Wydad were issued a fine of $20,000 for abandoning the match and another $15,000 for the use of flares by supporters.

READ ALSO: Zidane Snubs Bale Again For Madrid Friendly

Esperance, who retained their title won in 2018, were fined $50,000 over the use of smoke bombs and projectiles. They were ordered to play two matches behind closed doors — a punishment suspended for 12 months.

Esperance president Mohamed Meddeb was also fined $20,000 for unsporting behaviour towards CAF chief Ahmad Ahmad.

CAF had called for the second leg to be replayed at a neutral venue, but that decision was overruled last week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Esperance, who led 2-1 overall at the time, were initially handed the title, but CAF later backtracked after ruling that “playing and security conditions were not met”. Both clubs subsequently lodged appeals with CAS.

“Justice has been done,” Esperance secretary general Farouk Kattou told AFP. “It’s a fully deserved title. It’s taken two months but finally we have it.”

The fiasco prompted CAF to reduce both the Champions League and Confederation Cup finals from two legs to one match at a neutral venue from next season.

AFP

FIFA’s Secretary General To Oversee CAF Reforms

Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad attends a press conference a day before the start of the 2019 football Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) on June 20, 2019, at the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital. MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP

 

FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura has been appointed general delegate for Africa for six months starting August 1 as part of ongoing reforms within African football’s governing body.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and its president Ahmad Ahmad have been in the spotlight after recent governance issues, while he was questioned as part of an inquiry into corruption, breach of trust and forgery in France earlier this month.

He was later released without charge and has dismissed the allegations as “false”.

Ahmad proposed the idea of seeking FIFA’s expertise to help assess CAF’s current situation and speed up reforms plans aimed at ensuring the organisation operates with “transparency and efficiency”.

The notion was unanimously approved by CAF’s executive committee, and Samoura and a group of experts will work in tandem with Ahmad and his team to cover a number of areas, in an agreement that can be renewed with the agreement of both parties.

These areas include overseeing operational management of CAF, ensuring the “efficient and professional organisation of all CAF competitions”, and supporting the growth and development of football in all African regions.

Samoura will remain as secretary general of FIFA but will delegate her functions within the administration, according to a joint statement from FIFA and CAF.

However, the arrangement struck between CAF and FIFA over Samoura was strongly criticised by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who said he could not “for the time being approve the detailed proposal”.

His response cast a chill over Ahmad’s comments hours earlier after the Malagasy administrator hailed the collaboration, saying: “There’s nothing than having FIFA come and see what’s going on inside CAF.”

Ceferin, a member of the FIFA council, wrote in a letter seen by AFP that the appointment “raises a large number of questions and in particular the likelihood conflict of interests”.

‘Inconceivable’

“It is inconceivable to send a letter in the middle of the night (received at 1:50 this morning) and expect a response from me by 10:30 the same day. I am always prepared to help, but the FIFA bureau of the council must not be reduced to a mere rubber stamp function,” he wrote.

“Never in the history of our institutions has the secretary general … been placed on secondment to take control of a confederation, even with the latter’s consent. You must understand that this is not the type of decision to be taken lightly and in haste.”

CAF vice-president Constant Omari told AFP Ceferin’s reaction was overblown.

“(FIFA president) Gianni Infantino hasn’t been elected to develop one continent to the detriment of another. When CAF makes a request, it is hard to see how FIFA cannot play its role. It’s a logical accompaniment.”

“One can’t act like that when a good thing is done. We are in charge of our actions,” he added, while defending the choice of Senegal’s Samoura.

“It would have been shocking if it had been a European or a South American. To put the reforms into practice, one has to know the context. She is African, she knows how to smooth the rough edges and to encourage discussion.”

AFP

Corruption: FIFA To Oversee Management Of African Football

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
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FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura has been appointed general delegate for Africa for six months starting August 1 as part of ongoing reforms within African football’s governing body.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and its president Ahmad Ahmad have been in the spotlight after recent governance issues, while he was questioned as part of an inquiry into corruption, breach of trust and forgery in France earlier this month.

He was later released without charge and has dismissed the allegations as “false”.

Ahmad proposed the idea of seeking FIFA’s expertise to help assess CAF’s current situation and speed up reforms plans aimed at ensuring the organisation operates with “transparency and efficiency”.

READ ALSO: Ex-PSG Defender Maxwell Denies Assault

The notion was unanimously approved by CAF’s executive committee, and Samoura and a group of experts will work in tandem with Ahmad and his team to cover a number of areas, in an agreement that can be renewed with the agreement of both parties.

These areas include overseeing the operational management of CAF, ensuring the “efficient and professional organisation of all CAF competitions”, and supporting the growth and development of football in all African regions.

Samoura will remain as secretary general of FIFA but will delegate her functions within the administration, according to a joint statement from FIFA and CAF.

African football’s leading club competition was thrown into disarray in the run-up to the Cup of Nations after the announcement that its showpiece game will have to be replayed, with the Tunisian prime minister weighing in to call the handling of the affair a “farce”.

CAF said that the Champions League final between Tunisian giants Esperance and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco would be replayed at a neutral venue after the Cup of Nations, which runs from June 21 to July 19.

AFP

CAF To Introduce VAR From Quarter-Finals At Cup Of Nations

Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad attends a press conference a day before the start of the 2019 football Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) on June 20, 2019, at the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital.
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP

 

VAR, the video review system that sparked chaotic scenes in the African Champions League final last month, will be introduced from the quarter-final stage at the Cup of Nations in Egypt, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad said Thursday.

“It’s a measure of prudence. When you see the various countries that use VAR, they don’t rush into it from the start. It’s a technology that a lot of people don’t completely use yet,” Ahmad said in Cairo, on the eve of the opening match between hosts Egypt and Zimbabwe.

“It was planned for the semi-finals to start with, but we insisted that we have to go a little bit further. The executive committee decided on the quarter-finals so that it’s a success.”

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The announcement was one keenly awaited since the controversy that overshadowed the second leg of the CAF Champions League final between Tunisian club Esperance and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

In an unprecedented decision, CAF ordered the match to be replayed following the Cup of Nations after Wydad walked off the pitch in protest and refused to return after a faulty VAR system was unavailable to judge a disallowed equaliser.

AFP

Africa Hopes Stars Can Shine In Egypt After Officials Cause Shame

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Top African football officials hope the history-making Cup of Nations in Egypt from June 21 can deflect attention away from a string of embarrassing incidents involving them.

In recent weeks, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and senior vice-president Amaju Pinnick and VAR have been dominating the headline space usually reserved for stars like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Malagasy Ahmad was questioned by French authorities last week during a probe into corruption, breach of trust and forgery amid reports that CAF illegally changed kit suppliers.

Former CAF secretary general Amr Fahmy from Egypt was sacked recently after making various serious accusations against Ahmad.

These include corruption, sexual harassment, nepotism and a disregard for CAF statutes by an official who succeeded long-serving Issa Hayatou two years ago on an anti-graft ticket.

While Ahmad being questioned in France caused huge embarrassment, the first Cup of Nations with 24 teams and the first to be staged in June and July was receiving lesser prominence.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian High Court has ordered Pinnick and four other football officials to stand trial for allegedly stealing millions of dollars intended for football development.

And if the image of CAF was not tainted enough, there was a farcical scene in the second leg of the Champions League final with Wydad Casablanca walking off over a disallowed goal.

The Moroccan club wanted the goal referred to VAR only to discover that the system malfunctioned before the match began and could not be used.

Ahmad and his executives later ruled that the second leg against Esperance Tunis, who were leading 2-1 overall when the second leg was abandoned, must be replayed.

There have been numerous VAR controversies since its introduction in Africa last year and it is due to be used during the Cup of Nations, reportedly for the knockout stages.

The 2019 Cup of Nations has had its share of drama too as Egypt were named hosts only this January to replace Cameroon, who had fallen behind with preparations.

Then, the dates were changed as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia said players needed more time to recover from Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset.

Tunisia also wanted certain kick-off times altered, saying the temperatures during afternoon fixtures could exceed 40 degrees celsius (104 fahrenheit), particularly in Cairo.

Egypt slight favourites

Mediterranean city Alexandria, Ismailia and Suez are the other venues for the tournament with hosts Egypt slight favourites to become champions a record-extending eighth time.

There have been four Cup of Nations tournaments in Egypt with the home team winning three while finishing third in the other.

The Pharaohs will rely heavily on serial scorer Salah, whose penalty set up Liverpool to win the UEFA Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur this month.

Another star who helped Liverpool conquer Europe was Mane, the stand-out performer in a Senegal side aiming to lift the trophy for the first time after finishing 2002 runners-up.

Egypt and Senegal are among the six top seeds with defending champions Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia.

Were the finals staged anywhere except Egypt, Morocco would probably be favourites to succeed again 43 years after their lone success.

Their French coach, Herve Renard, is the only one to win the tournament with different countries, guiding no-hopers Zambia to glory in 2012 and repeating the feat with Ivory Coast three years later.

The Moroccan stars include winger Hakim Ziyech, part of the Ajax side that stunned Real Madrid and Juventus in the Champions League before a dramatic loss to Tottenham.

Nigeria will hope for goals from Arsenal attacker Alex Iwobi while teamwork is the mantra of Tunisia, coached by star 1980s France midfielder Alain Giresse.

Cameroon have won three of the last 10 Cup of Nations tournaments and Indomitable Lions legend Roger Milla says “there is no reason why they cannot retain the trophy in Egypt”.

Among the second seeds, Ghana, Algeria and the Ivory Coast could go far while the Democratic Republic of Congo and third seeds South Africa are highly unpredictable.

AFP

CAF President Ahmad Questioned In France

Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad talks during an interview at his office in Cairo. KHALED DESOUKI / AFP

 

The president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad was questioned Thursday by French investigators, a source close to the probe told AFP, reportedly concerning a breach of contract with Puma.

The source confirmed reports by France Afrique magazine that Ahmad was being questioned by France’s white collar crime investigation body, but did not say what the investigation was about.

Jeune Afrique said Ahmad was asked about allegations that CAF unilaterally broke a contract with German sports merchandise giant Puma, before signing a merchandise deal with a French supplier.

In a statement, FIFA said that it had “taken note of the alleged events concerning Mr Ahmad Ahmad, who is being questioned by the French authorities in relation to allegations related to his mandate while President of CAF.”

World football’s governing body said it was “unaware of the details surrounding this investigation.”

Ahmad is in Paris for the FIFA Congress that was held on Wednesday, in which Gianni Infantino was re-elected for a second term as president after standing unopposed.

The event took place two days before France kick off the Women’s World Cup against South Korea at the Parc des Princes on Friday.

AFP

CAF Orders Replay Of Abandoned African Champions League Final

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African football’s governing body has ordered the abandoned second leg of the CAF Champions League final between Esperance and Wydad Casablanca to be replayed at a neutral venue after this month’s Cup of Nations.

The turmoil in Africa’s premier club competition comes just over two weeks before the start of an expanded 24-team Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Tunisian club Esperance were initially handed the title after Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca walked off an hour into last week’s return match in Tunis because VAR was unavailable to judge a disallowed equaliser.

Holders Esperance were leading 1-0 in the second leg and 2-1 overall when play was halted, and after a 90-minute delay the referee awarded the match to the home side.

“The playing and security conditions were not met during the second leg of the CAF Champions League final, preventing the match from reaching its conclusion,” CAF presidential advisor Hedi Hamel said Wednesday following a lengthy executive committee meeting in Paris.

“As a result, the match will have to be replayed at a ground outside of Tunisia… (and) Esperance will have to the give trophy back.”

“The match will be played after the Africa Cup of Nations at a date to be determined,” he added.

Tunisian media reported that officials were aware before the second leg that the VAR system was not working, but the players seemingly did not know.

Wydad believed they had levelled on 59 minutes when Walid el Karti headed a cross into the net. TV replays confirmed he was onside, but might have fouled an opponent with his shoulder.

The Moroccan team insisted that the Gambian referee check with VAR, apparently unaware that the often controversial system was unavailable.

Wydad substitutes and coach Faouzi Benzarti joined in the protests, while plastic bottles containing liquid were also flung toward the visiting players and staff as tempers flared.

At one stage, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and the bosses of Esperance and Wydad spoke on the side of the pitch without succeeding in getting the match restarted.

VAR had played a major role in the first leg of the final in Morocco on May 24, with referrals ruling out a goal by Wydad and later appeals for a penalty by the Moroccans.

The Egyptian referee of that match was subsequently banned for six months with CAF saying his performance was “poor”.

U17 Nations Cup: Cameroon Beat Guinea 5-3 On Penalties To Be Crowned Champions

 

Cameroon beat Guinea on penalties 5-3 to be crowned the champions of the Total U17 Africa Cup of Nations 2019 at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Goalkeeper Manfred EKoi was the hero for “Les Lionceaux” saving Mohamed Sacko’s kick from the short distance before Saidou Moubarak scored to give Cameroon their second title after their maiden triumph in 2003 in Eswatini (then Swaziland).

After a barren stalemate which forced the game into penalties, Steve Mvoue, Nassourou Ndongo, Leonel Wamba, Toni Nang and Moubarak scored for Cameroon whilst Alya Bangoura, Alya Toure and Aboubacar Conte scored for Guinea. Sacko was denied by Ekoi.

The clash served a repeat of the group phase clash between the two teams which Cameroon won 2-0. Whilst Guinea were seeking to avenge the previous defeat, it was Cameroon who laughed loudest to confirm their superiority over the former.

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Guinea forward Bah Algassime nearly broke the deadlock for the junior Syli in the opening minute of the game, with a long range effort that missed target. Cameroon will respond on 11 minutes through most valuable Player of the Tournament, Steve Mvoue, ith a shot that deflected to corner.

Guinea goalie, Sekou Camara was to his side rescue minutes later, stopping Ismaila Seidou in a one-on-one situation, to keep the scoreline barren.

“Les Lionceaux” best chance at breaking the virginity of the game came on 23 minutes, but Moubarak again failed to beat Camara in the Guinea post.

Cameroon goalie, Manfred Ekoi made a blunder in the 55th minute when he was forced to move outside his zone after a defensive error, but Ekoi weathered the calm with a clearance to safety.

Cameroon will later miss three chances to score the lead in the 58th minute, but Camara and his backline remained resolute.

On 75 minutes, Nassourou Ndongo missed a sitter to give Cameroon the lead with a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar with Camara completely beaten.

It was a balanced effort from both sides taking the game to shots from the short distance where the boys of Thomas Libiih triumphed 5-3.

CAF President Ahmad Ahmad handed over the trophy to Cameroon captain Fabrice Ndzie amidst jubilation from the victorious members of the Cameroon team.

Seychelles’ Pirates Land In Nigeria

US World Cup Defender Clavijo Dies At 63

 

The delegation of Senior National Team of Seychelles, known as Pirates, has landed in Nigeria for Friday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Super Eagles.

The 29–man delegation of the Pirates arrived Abuja aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight on Tuesday afternoon and would be flown to Asaba on Wednesday.

Group leaders Nigeria have already secured their place in the finals and will be in the pot for the draw on Friday, April 12, at CAF’s headquarters in Cairo, while the Pirates were long eliminated and have only come to fulfil the fixture.

The Eagles are also preparing for a prestige friendly game against the Pharaohs of Egypt, who are seven-time champions and record winners of the continent’s most prestigious football diadem.

The match comes up on Tuesday next week at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.

Africa Cup Of Nations 2019 Host Unveiled On Tuesday

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African Football’s organisers CAF said on Monday it will announce on Tuesday whether Egypt or South Africa will stage the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations bi-annual tournament, a day earlier than the decision had previously been scheduled.

Cameroon were stripped of hosting rights in November over preparation delays and security concerns.

READ ALSO: CAF Disqualifies Sierra Leone From African Nations Cup

Cameroon has faced persistent attacks by Boko Haram jihadists in the north and a conflict between the army and separatists in the two English-speaking regions in the west.

South Africa has much of the necessary infrastructure after hosting the 2010 World Cup and the 2013 Africa Cup of nations.

The 2006 hosts Egypt would also appear to have the infrastructure but only expressed its interest in hosting the tournament on December 14 after Morocco pulled out in the middle of the same month.

This year’s competition will run from June 15 to July 13.