African Players In Europe: In-Form Salah Equals Drogba Record

File Photo of Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah. (Photo by Peter Byrne / POOL / AFP)

 

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah equalled the Premier League goals record for an African when he scored in a 5-0 rout of Watford at the weekend.

The Egypt forward has netted 104 times in the world’s most watched domestic league, matching the total of former Ivory Coast attacker Didier Drogba during two spells with Chelsea.

Salah showed why he is one of the most in-form players in the world with a stunning solo effort as he danced between four defenders to score for the eighth consecutive game.

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

ENGLAND

SADIO MANE, MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool)

Mane became just the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals after Drogba and Salah as Liverpool overwhelmed Watford. Salah was the provider for Mane’s landmark effort with a brilliant pass for the Senegal attacker to slot home his sixth goal of the season.

PATSON DAKA (Leicester)

Zambia forward Daka grabbed his first Leicester goal as the Foxes inflicted more misery on Manchester United with a 4-2 win. Daka has played just 39 minutes of Premier League football since his mid-year move from Salzburg, but made his mark off the bench with the final goal of the game in stoppage time as he tapped home at the back post from a free-kick.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea)

The Senegal goalkeeper repelled a late Brentford barrage to secure a 1-0 win. The European champions needed Mendy to make three stunning saves to hold out for a victory to take them back to the top of the table. “He’s a world-class goalkeeper and is the one we’ve got to thank,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

ITALY

VICTOR OSIMHEN (Napoli)

The Nigeria forward scored his fifth Serie A goal of the season as Napoli defeated Torino 1-0 to maintain their perfect start to the season. Osimhen headed in after 81 minutes, making the most of an attempted clearance that ricocheted off team-mate Eljif Elmas. “It was the most important goal of my career,” said Osimhen. “The atmosphere at the stadium was incredible. The fans pushed us forward and we managed to get the three points.”

GERMANY

TAIWO AWONIYI (Union Berlin)

Fresh from his international debut, the Nigeria forward bagged his fourth goal in three games to hand Union a surprise 2-0 win over Wolfsburg. The home crowd sang Awoniyi’s name after he put Union ahead just after half-time by scoring his sixth league goal this season. “He is our life insurance”, said goalkeeper Andreas Luthe.

IHLAS BEBOU (Hoffenheim)

Togo striker Bebou opened his Bundesliga account for the season with two goals in Hoffenheim’s 5-0 thrashing of Cologne. Bebou scored in the first half and doubled the lead after the break with a neat backheel to send Hoffenheim on the way to their second-highest Bundesliga victory.

ODILON KOSSOUNOU (Bayer Leverkusen)

Ivory Coast defender endured a torrid afternoon at the back as a young Leverkusen side were put to the sword by league leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich. Kossounou and his teammates were powerless to stop Bayern’s marauding front line in the first half, as Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and Serge Gnabry smashed in four goals in seven minutes. The 5-1 win sent Bayern back to the top of the table.

FRANCE

KAMALDEEN SULEMANA (Rennes)

The Ghanaian teenager scored a magnificent solo goal to take his haul for the season to four in a 3-0 victory at Metz. Sulemana, who started both World Cup qualifying wins over Zimbabwe, poked the ball through the legs of a defender before smashing in via the crossbar as Rennes put the game out of reach by half-time.

VITAL N’SIMBA (Clermont)

The Angola-born Democratic Republic of Congo defender bagged his first Ligue 1 goal to give promoted Clermont a memorable 1-0 win over reigning champions Lille. N’Simba crashed home a powerful low drive from 20 metres to end a run of seven games without a victory for his side.

African Players In Europe: Salah Set To Break Drogba’s Goal Record


Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah runs for the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England, on October 3, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Mohamed Salah netted a brilliant solo goal for Liverpool in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City at the weekend, and moved closer to overtaking Didier Drogba as the leading African scorer in the English Premier League.

Retired Ivory Coast great Drogba bagged 104 goals in two spells with Chelsea while Salah lifted his total to 103 with a wonderful goal against City at Anfield.

While scoring is second nature to the Egyptian, Ghanaian Iddrisu Baba claimed his first for Real Mallorca in his 102nd appearance for the La Liga outfit.

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

ENGLAND – MOHAMED SALAH/SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

Salah and Mane dazzled with two goals and an assist between them in a thrilling draw against Manchester City. Mane put the Reds ahead by scoring his 99th Premier League goal with a powerful finish across Ederson in the 59th minute after being released by Salah. The Egyptian gave the Reds the lead again in the 76th minute, bamboozling City’s defence with his dribbling and finding the far corner from a tight angle to score for the seventh consecutive game.

JEFFREY SCHLUPP (Crystal Palace)

Schlupp scored Palace’s equaliser 48 seconds after entering the fray as a substitute to haunt former club Leicester in a 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park. The Ghana international — part of Leicester’s title-winning 2015/16 squad — headed past Kasper Schmeichel with his first touch in the 72nd minute.

KELECHI IHEANACHO (Leicester)

Iheanacho celebrated his 25th birthday by opening the scoring for Leicester on his first Premier League start of the season. The Nigerian dispossessed Joachim Andersen and raced clear to score his third goal of the campaign.

SPAIN – IDDRISU BABA (Mallorca)

It has taken 102 matches but, finally, Ghanaian midfielder Baba made it on to the score sheet for Mallorca, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Levante. Baba, who joined Mallorca’s youth setup in January 2014, rose above the defence at the back post to head home Pablo Maffeo’s cross four minutes before halftime.

ITALY – MUSA BARROW (Bologna)

Gambian international forward Barrow set Bologna on their way to a surprising 3-0 win over Lazio with a superb strike. The 22-year-old unleashed a curling shot which whipped around Pepe Reina and gave the hosts a 14th-minute lead, which they then used to end a mini-crisis early in the season.

GERMANY – TAIWO AWONIYI (Union Berlin)

The Nigerian striker scored Union Berlin’s 100th Bundesliga goal as he led his side’s superb second-half comeback in a 2-1 win at Mainz. Having missed several chances earlier in the game, Awoniyi struck twice in the space of four minutes against his former club as Union recorded their first away victory of the season.

ELLYES SKHIRI (Cologne)

The Tunisian midfielder also scored twice to keep Cologne’s excellent start to the season going with a 3-1 home win over Greuther Fuerth. Skhiri put Cologne ahead early in the second half before scoring again in stoppage time.

OMAR MARMOUSH (Stuttgart)

Egyptian Marmoush picked up his first Bundesliga assist as his side beat local rivals Hoffenheim 3-1. Marmoush, on loan from Wolfsburg, set up Stuttgart’s opening goal, picking out Marc-Oliver Kempf with a corner.

FRANCE – STEPHANE BAHOKEN (Angers)

The Cameroon forward struck the winning goal in stoppage time as Angers twice came from behind to beat Metz 3-2. Bahoken turned in from close range after coming on as a late substitute to net his second goal of the season and send Angers back into the top four.

KAMALDEEN SULEMANA (Rennes)

The Ghanaian teenager played a leading role as Rennes upstaged a Paris Saint-Germain side featuring Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar by inflicting a 2-0 defeat at Roazhon Park, putting an end to their 100-percent record in Ligue 1. Sulemana delivered the cross for Gaetan Laborde to volley in the opener and twice went close to scoring himself.

AFP

Drogba Resigns As Vice-President Of Côte d’Ivoire Players’ Association

In this handout file photo taken on October 01, 2020 and released by UEFA, Ivorian international Didier Drogba receives the UEFA president’s award during the UEFA Champions League group stage draw at the RTS studios in Geneva.  Harold Cunningham / AFP / UEFA

 

Former Ivory Coast star striker Didier Drogba on Tuesday said he was stepping down as vice-president of his country’s Footballers Association (AFI) accusing it of “inaction” on defending player interests.

“I hereby announce I have decided to resign from my post as vice-president of the AFI and from its executive committee,” the former Chelsea attacker said in an open letter to the media.

Instead of defending players’ rights and interests he said the AFI “does not respond to their needs and expectations”.

Former national skipper Drogba had been widely expected to head the West African country’s football association FIF but last year saw his candidacy snubbed as the AFI alleged he has not been sufficiently involved with the players’ representative organisation.

He still hopes nonetheless to win a November election to that post.

READ ALSO: Brazil Beat Spain To Retain Olympic Football Crown

In this file photo taken on August 01, 2020 Former Ivorian forward Didier Drogba (R) wearing a mask, listens to Ivorian Football Federation’s secretary Jean-Baptiste Sam Etiasse (L) speaking upon the submission of his application as president of the FIF at the federation headquarters in Treicheville district of Abidjan. SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

FIFA placed the FIF under its own remit last December saying the organisation was suffering from inherent internal problems and structural weaknesses and was not fully complying with statutory and regulatory requirements which all FIFA member associations must follow.

The normalisation committee now overseeing the Ivory Coast game must choose a FIF president.

FIFA in January chose senator Mariam Dao Gabala, a newcomer to the football world, to oversee the normalisation committee which comprises four members.

AFP

COVID-19: Ex-Chelsea Star Drogba Offers Hospital In Virus Fight

drogba-hospital
(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 16, 2016 shows the first hospital of the Dider Drogba foundation in Attecoube, a district of Abidjan. Former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba has offered his hospital in his native Ivory Coast to the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP

 

Former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba has offered his hospital in his native Ivory Coast to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a local politician said.

Drogba, who scored 65 goals in 105 appearances for his country and won the Champions League with the English club during his playing career, has proposed the use of the Laurent Pokou hospital in Abidjan.

“We thank Drogba for this gift considered as an act of patriotism,” the head of the city’s regional council Vincent Toh Bi said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: ‘I Miss Fighting’, Says Wrestling Champion Adekuoroye

The centre located in the Attecoube district is not yet in a working state but can be used in a period of crisis.

“It’s up to the state to validate it and make it functional,” the director of Drogba’ foundation, who run the unit, Mariam Breka said.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak four people have died and 533 cases have been registered in Ivory Coast.

AFP

Full List Of 2019 Ballon D’Or Winners

Former Ivorian forward Didier Drogba (L) and French English tv host Sandy Heribert host the Ballon d’Or France Football 2019 ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on December 2, 2019.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

The winners and other top finishers in the four trophies awarded at the 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony on Monday in Paris:

Men’s Ballon d’Or

  1. Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona)
  2. Virgil van Dijk (NED/Liverpool)
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus)
  4. Sadio Mane (SEN/Liverpool)
  5. Mohamed Salah (EGY/Liverpool)
  6. Kylian Mbappe (FRA/PSG)
  7. Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)
  8. Robert Lewandowski (POL/Bayern Munich)
  9. Bernardo Silva (POR/Manchester City)
  10. Riyad Mahrez (ALG/Manchester City)

Women’s Ballon d’Or

  1. Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC)
  2. Lucy Bronze (ENG/Lyon)
  3. Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando Pride)
  4. Ada Hegerberg (NOR/Lyon)
  5. Viviane Miedema (NED/Arsenal)
  6. Wendie Renard (FRA/Lyon)
  7. Sam Kerr (AUS/Chicago Red Stars)
  8. Rose Lavelle (USA/Washington Spirit)
  9. Ellen White (ENG/Manchester City)
  10. Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER/Lyon)

READ ALSO: De Ligt Wins Young Player Gong At Ballon D’or Awards

Kopa Trophy

(Best player under 21 on December 31)

  1. Matthijs de Ligt (NED/Ajax Amsterdam then Juventus)
  2. Jadon Sancho (ENG/Borussia Dortmund)
  3. Joao Felix (POR/Benfica then Atletico Madrid)

Yashin Trophy

(Best goalkeeper, presented for the first time)

  1. Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)
  2. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GER/FC Barcelona)
  3. Ederson (BRA/Manchester City)

AFP

George Weah, Drogba, Others To Attend Ambode’s Testimonial Match

George Weah,                                                                 Akinwunmi Ambode

 

 

African football legends such as Liberian President, George Weah, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure will on Saturday, May 18, 2019, be in Lagos State to attend a testimonial match in honour of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

In a statement on Thursday, the Chairman of the State Sports Commission, Kweku Tandoh, said that the event tagged ‘Match for Ambode’, is being organised to honour the outgoing governor for his laudable contribution to sports development since he assumed office in 2015.

He said the organisers, a group of ex-internationals led by Waidi Akanni have promised to put up a memorable event to ensure that the guests have a taste of good hospitality of the government and people of the state.

Tandoh added that the testimonial match would be spiced up with music from A-list artistes including Wizkid, Small Doctor amongst many others.

READ ALSO: Christian Chukwu Arrives In UK For Treatment

He also assured that adequate security before, during and after the event which starts by 10 am on Saturday have been firmed up.

Among the stars that have confirmed their participation for the one day event include The President of Liberian and former World Footballer award winner, George Weah, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, Ivorian Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure also from Cote d’Ivoire, Diomansy Kamara, Peterside Idah, Geremi Njitap, Michael Essien, Lomana Lua-Lua, Samuel Eto, Didier Zokora, Kader Keita, Richard Kingston, Christian Karembu, El- Hadji Diouf.

Others include Peter Rufai, Finidi George, Mutiu Adepoju, Samson Siasia, Augustine Eguavoen, Joseph Yobo, Ike Shorunmu, Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Jay- Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amunike, Phillip Shuaibu (Deputy Governor, Edo State), Taribo West, Victor Ezeji, Tijani Babangida, Emma Okocha, Ifeanyi Udeze, Uche Okechukwu and Garba Lawal.

The event is slated to hold on Saturday, May 18, at the Agege Stadium.

Salah Scores To Equal Drogba Premier League Record

 Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah equalled the record for goals by an African in an English Premier League season when he scored his 29th in a weekend win at Crystal Palace.

The prolific 25-year-old Egyptian attacker matched the mark set by Ivorian Didier Drogba during the 2009-2010 season as he helped Chelsea win the title.

Salah is five goals ahead of Tottenham Hotspur sharpshooter Harry Kane as he seeks to emulate Drogba and finish as the Premier League leading scorer.

ENGLAND

MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool)

Salah may not have had one of his more eye-catching performances against struggling Crystal Palace but he was on hand to score the winner, producing a delightful first touch to bemuse Mamadou Sakho and fire home his 29th Premier League goal of the campaign, equalling the league record of scoring in 21 matches of a 38-game season.

WILFRED NDIDI (Leicester)

He could have cost his side dearly when, with the Foxes holding a 1-0 lead at struggling Brighton, he received his marching orders for a second bookable offence with three minutes remaining. The 21-year-old Nigeria midfielder had conceded a penalty for his first yellow card but Glenn Murray’s spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel and was sent off for fouling Shane Duffy. Leicester scored the second goal with 10 men to win 2-0.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal)

The Gabon striker bagged a brace as Arsenal warmed up for a crucial Europa League clash with a 3-0 home victory over Stoke. Arsene Wenger’s side must win the UEFA second-tier competition to qualify for next season’s Champions League, so playing Stoke was all about boosting morale ahead of a visit from CSKA Moscow for a quarter-final first leg this Thursday. Aubameyang, who isn’t eligible to play in Europe for the Gunners, ensured they go into the Moscow tie in good spirits, opening the scoring with a 75th-minute penalty and adding his second with a cool finish in the 86th minute. He now has five goals for Arsenal since his January move from Borussia Dortmund.

ITALY

JOEL OBI (Torino)

Nigerian international Obi came off the bench to score the final goal in a 4-0 win by Torino at Cagliari. The 26-year-old midfielder came on in the 77th minute and scored 10 minutes later off an Andrea Belotti cross as mid-table Torino claimed their ninth win of the season. Obi is targeting a call-up by Nigeria for the World Cup in Russia after being recalled by the ‘Super Eagles’ this month following an almost four-year absence.

GERMANY

SALIF SANE (Hanover)

The Senegalese defender scored his second goal in three games but was unable to help Hanover avoid a dramatic 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig. With his side 2-0 down, Sane’s header went in off the post to pull them back into the game and kickstart what might have been a brilliant comeback. Hanover were ultimately heartbroken, however, when a late equaliser was ruled offside.

NABY KEITA (RB Leipzig)

The 23-year-old Guinean picked up his fifth assist of the season as his side survived a late scare to beat Hanover 3-2. Early in the second half, Keita’s floating cross found Willi Orban, who put Leipzig 2-0 ahead with a powerful header. Though Hanover twice fought back from a two-goal deficit, Keita and Leipzig held on to secure three points and bounce back into the Bundesliga top four.

KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG (Eintracht Frankfurt)

The former Ghana international provided a stylish assist in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen. With Frankfurt 1-0 down in the second half, Boateng’s backheeled cross picked out Lukas Jovic, who equalised. It wasn’t enough for Frankfurt, who missed a chance to go fourth after a mistake gave Bremen a late victory.

FRANCE

GIOVANNI SIO (Montpellier)

The 29-year-old Ivory Coast striker grabbed two goals as fifth-place Montpellier defeated Caen 3-1 to keep up his club’s push for a Europa League spot next season. Sio now has 10 Ligue 1 goals this season with his team having lost just once in their last 13 league matches.

AFP

Drogba Likely To Miss Impact’s Clash With D.C. United

drogbaSuperstar forward Didier Drogba’s absence from the Montreal Impact roster is unlikely to end in Thursday’s Eastern Conference knockout-round playoff match against hosts D.C. United.

Despite scoring 10 goals in 22 appearances, Drogba has not played since the end of September – partly due to a feud over playing time with manager Mauro Biello and more recently because of a back ailment.

The 38-year-old Ivory Coast international and former Chelsea striker sat out most of training again on Tuesday. Multiple media outlets on Wednesday reported that he did not make the trip to Washington.

“I don’t think those chances will be good,” Biello said on Tuesday, according to MLSSoccer.com. “He hasn’t trained, he still feels a discomfort, so the chances are very minimal.”

Drogba is out of contract at the end of the season, and fifth-seeded Montreal are 6-3-3 this season when he does not play.

In the latter third of the campaign, Biello appeared to be more comfortable starting mid-season loan signing Matteo Mancosu at forward and bringing Drogba off the bench. The 31-year-old Italian has three goals and four assists in 15 appearances (seven starts).

“(Drogba’s) a different player than Mancosu, but I don’t think much is going to change if they swap one for the other,” D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said, according to MLSSoccer.com. “So the way we go about the game isn’t going to change.”

By contrast, fourth-seeded D.C. United have very few questions surrounding their personnel for a group that had won four straight before sitting most of their regulars in a 4-2 loss at Orlando City SC on Sunday.

Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas (knee) and outside back Sean Franklin (calf) made their first appearances since September on Sunday, but seem unlikely to supplant anyone in Olsen’s starting lineup.

Mourinho Hails Chelsea Team, Singles Out Drogba

ChelseaChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, has hailed the bravery of his team to see-off the challenge by Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night to maintain their lead atop the English Premier League.

He said that his team played a good game against a spirited Spurs side who should have gone ahead when Harry Kane’s header hit the bar. The attempt brought Chelsea into the game, subsequently taking the lead through Hazard.

The Portuguese also applauded the effort of his aging Ivorian striker, Didier Drogba (now 36) who set up Hazard for the opener and scored the second before Remy made it three.

When asked about what he felt on Drogba’s performance he said, “Yes, it is remarkable. Didier is a team player, one of these with an old school mentality. Not selfish, not vain, a humble guy who plays for the team, fights for the team. Fantastic,” Mourinho said.

“When he is on the bench and comes on for the last few minutes to help the team defend, he does that with the same enthusiasm as when he starts a game against Tottenham.

“We played against him when he was at Galatasaray last season so I could feel the kind of potential he still has and I was expecting exactly this, with not even a doubt about a player who is not playing every game. I knew he would adapt very well mentally to his role.”

However, Spurs Boss felt hard done as his side failed to convert opportunities they had in the opening stages, with the loss now stretching their poor run at the bridge to 28 games since 1990.

“We started very well and made some chances, but they scored with their first chance and the game changed. That is the difference,” Pochettino said.

“I’m very disappointed with the result because 3-0 is harsh but we can take some positives. We were very brave at the start.

“If we scored when Kane hit the bar then the game changes, but we were playing a very good team. Our history here is difficult but we came here with the idea to take three points. That was our intention in the beginning, but in football it’s hard to manage the luck.”

‘Devil Beast’, new moniker for Didier Drogba in China

The powerful Ivory Coast striker and former Chelsea striker now has a new nickname ‘Devil Beast’. This is accrued to his  success within a month of signing for his new Chinese club, Shenhua Shanghai.

He is no doubt the best thing that has happened to Shenhua, then before his arrival the club was 12th position in the 16-team Super League, proving his worth as the world’s highest paid players in the game as he scored twice on his home debut in the 5-1 thrashing of long-time rivals Hangzhou Greentown.

The fanatical home crowd, swelled from the usual 15,000 to 25,000, chanted the veteran’s name repeatedly and gave him a rousing cheer as he performed the traditional post-match bow.

“Shenhua’s nuclear bomb has arrived,” Shanghai goalkeeper Wang Dalei said of his new team-mate, who joins another former Chelsea striker, Nicolas Anelka, at the club.

The 34-year-old left European champions Chelsea for the ambitious Chinese club.

Although Chinese teams have been luring a fast-expanding group of foreign stars to play for enormous salaries, Drogba is the highest paid and has quickly become a fan favourite, eclipsing Anelka.

Drogba has had only a negligible effect on his team so far. He has not found the net since his double and Shenhua are still struggling, creeping up to 10th in the table.

Not that the fans are laying any blame on their new hero, who is on international duty for his country Ivory Coast against Russia on Wednesday in a friendly in Moscow.

 

Challenge, not money, brought me to China: Drogba

It is not money but the big challenge in an unfamiliar land that lured Didier Drogba to China, the Ivory Coast striker said on Saturday.

Zhou Jun, director of Shanghai Shenhua Football Club, and soccer player Didier Drogba hold up a Shanghai Shenhua FC jersey in Shanghai

More than 300 fans gathered at the Shanghai airport to welcome Drogba on his much-anticipated arrival to join Chinese Super League strugglers Shanghai Shenhua.

Drogba has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the big-spending club for a reported salary of $300,000 a week, ending weeks of speculation on his future after he announced his decision to leave Champions League winners Chelsea.

“I decided to come here because when the club and the president approached me, I looked at the project and it came with ambitious ideas and he wants to … help football develop in China,” Drogba told reporters after his unveiling.

“I know China is a great sports country so for me it was also a big challenge because it could have been easy for me to stay in Europe and go to another team, another big team.

“Really, I didn’t come here with the idea of making a lot of money. I come here because it is a completely different challenge from what I have seen in Europe before.

“And that’s the idea, there are many challenges but this one is a big one.”

Drogba’s arrival is the latest in a long list of high-profile names who have made the move to China in recent months.

Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi is in charge of a Guangzhou Evergrande side packed full of skilful South American talent.

Drogba, who scored 157 times in 341 appearances for Chelsea making him the club’s fourth all-time leading scorer, is the biggest catch of them all.

Poor results

The 34-year old striker will join former Chelsea team mate Nicolas Anelka at the club struggling at the 13th spot in the 16-club Chinese Super League. Shanghai Shenhua is coached by former Argentina boss Sergio Batista.

“The results of my new team, they are not so good, not so great. But you know, the second part of the season just started and I think we have time to make some better results and to bring the club to a better place,” Drogba said.

“With my team mates, we are going to perform as much as we can. And I came here to win the league, I am not coming here as the beginning of the retirement or something like this.

“I want people to make sure and to understand that I am here to win. I am not here to sit and relax.”

The fans arrived in the early hours of the morning at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, many dressed in the club’s blue jersey bearing “Drogba 11”, and their hopes were also pinned on the Drogba-Anelka strike force.

“I believe that with his arrival, our results will improve significantly, because he has a good rapport with Anelka,” 23-year-old Zhu Hongbo said.

“Also, we have brought in a midfield player in (Giovanni) Moreno. I think for the second half of the year, our results will improve and we can be in the top three.”

Season not for Barcelona – Pep Guardiola

Barcelona Coach; Pep Guardiola has so much to worry about this time as his exceptionally gifted team Barcelona failed in their bid to reach the final of the Champions league last night against Chelsea when they lost by aggregate 3-2 to Chelsea.

Guardiola told a post-match news conference he did not know what else Barca could have done but their elimination from Europe’s elite club competition highlighted the fact that when their flowing passing game fails they have little scope to adjust their tactics.

With only defenders Carles Puyol or Gerard Pique able to challenge the imposing Chelsea players in the air, pumping balls into the box was not much of an option, especially after the latter went off with concussion midway through the first half.

This has come as no surprise for some pundits going by the unimpressive performance displayed the Spanish club in their last three games as it has not be up to the standard bar of display the club has set for itself.

Guardiola was left musing on whether luck was simply against the club this season following a spectacular run of success that has yielded 13 trophies since he took over in 2008.

The was not able to pinpoint what why the team lost to Chelsea last night which would have passed as his third champions league finals in four years and sadly enough Barcelona who fell to the sword of Chelsea are the holders of the title and would also have passed as the first club to win back-to-back European titles since Ac Milan in the year 1990.

Barcelona could not defend themselves at Stamford Bridge during the first leg of the champions league game against Chelsea as they fell by a lone goal despite their high percentage of possession and array of chances created which could not be converted to goals.

In the El-Classico, Barcelona fell against their Spanish arch-rival Real Madrid in a game that ended 2-1 last week also after their unlucky performance against Chelsea.

Last night at Nou Camp in a game where Barcelona was touted to carry the day as it is in the tradition of the Barcelona to turn tables around, dramatically Barcelona never knew what hit them as they were not able to pin down Chelsea even after getting a 2-0 lead and making Chelsea play with one man down after Chelsea Captain John Terry was red-carded and will be missing the final coming up May 19th, Terry was sent off 8 minutes before the halftime whistle was blown.

Barcelona forward man Lionel Messi who serves as the eye and wonder man for the Spanish club couldn’t add to the tally of his 63 goal season after he was availed a penalty spot kick and he whistled it against the bar just after coming back from the first half break, he also missed a screaming chance which flowed off the post.

Chelsea at this point believed in themselves and within the team on filed encouraged their fighting spirit despite playing with a man down went for the killer strikes as they came from 2-0 to make it a final 2-2 draw with a Fernando Torres breakaway and a quick dribble of goalkeeper victor Valdes to seal the equalizer minutes to the end of the second half.

With Barcelona’s dismal performance this season Barca coach admitted that this season is not Barca’s and their focus now will be on the King’s cup as Real Madrid are inching close to lifting the La Liga title and the coach’s future with the Barcelona is right now shady as he would be speaking club president Sandro Rosell days to come.