Manchester City Reach Champions League Last 16 As Group C Winners

 

Manchester City booked their place in the Champions League last 16 for a seventh successive season despite a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were well below their best at the Etihad Stadium, but Ilkay Gundogan’s second-half strike put them on course to wrap up first place in Group C with one game to spare.

Although Manor Solomon equalised for Shakhtar, Atalanta’s win over Dinamo Zagreb ensured City can’t be knocked off top spot.

With the group clinched, Guardiola has the bonus of being able to rest players for the trip to Zagreb on December 11.

That is especially important as the Zagreb fixture comes between vital Premier League matches against Manchester United and Arsenal.

While City won’t give up their Premier League title without a fight, Liverpool are in such a strong position that Europe could provide Guardiola’s best hope of a major prize this term.

Guardiola won the Champions League twice as Barcelona boss but the last of those triumphs came in 2011. He hasn’t gone past the quarter-finals with City.

Returning to the knockout stages was a first step toward ending that frustrating streak, but Guardiola will know injury-hit City have plenty of room for improvement.

City made a sloppy start and were almost caught out when a long punt into their half prompted Ederson to rush off his line.

When the City keeper completely missed his attempt to clear, Shakhtar’s Mateus Tete charged into the penalty area, only for Fernandinho to block the shot with a superbly timed last-ditch slide.

Moments later, Ederson made a better dash off his line to clear after another Shakhtar raid threatened to open City up.

City’s limp opening was at least partially due to the absence of the club’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, sidelined for several weeks after injuring a thigh in Saturday’s win over Chelsea.

Gabriel Jesus started in place of Aguero, but the Brazilian, who has scored five goals in eight starts this season, was largely anonymous.

Sluggish City

Rodri had City’s first sight of goal, but the midfielder’s shot was too close to Shakhtar keeper Andriy Pyatov.

Ponderous for much of the half, City gradually found some rhythm and Nicolas Otamendi’s header from Angelino’s cross forced an agile save from Pyatov, while Gundogan’s deflected effort looped wide.

City have opened talks with Raheem Sterling about a new long-term contract that would reportedly make the 24-year-old one of the highest-paid players in the Premier League.

Sterling’s place among the world’s elite is without question, but this wasn’t the England winger’s best night.

He did perk up to create a chance that Jesus was unable to take early in the second half.

City finally conjured a move befitting their ability, cutting through the Shakhtar defence to take the lead in the 56th minute.

Kevin De Bruyne was the catalyst with a swift surge and pass into Jesus in the Shakhtar area.

Jesus did well to control and poke the ball across to Gundogan. The German midfielder took a touch before slotting into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

Even that wasn’t enough to paper over the cracks for sluggish City and Shakhtar equalised in the 69th minute.

Tete slipped his pass to the overlapping Dodo and his cut-back from the touchline drew a lethargic response from the City defence, allowing substitute Solomon to fire home from close-range only four minutes after coming on.

David Silva almost restored City’s lead seconds later, but the substitute’s shot was cleared off the line by Serhiy Kryvtsov.

Nigerian Rugby Team In Group B For 2016 Olympic Qualifiers

rugbyNational Rugby team, the Black Stallions of Nigeria, have been drawn in Pool B alongside Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia for the 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers.

The qualifiers will be staged in Johannesburg, South Africa, from November 14 to 15.

Despite Zimbabwe being already tipped as Group B favorites, Coach of the Black Stallions, Fabian Juries, said that the team is well prepared for the challenge where only the winner in the group qualifies for Rio Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, in Group A, Kenya, who is a strong force in Africa rugby, will tackle Madagascar, Senegal and Mauritius.

In Group C, Tunisia and Morrocco have been grouped together with Namibia and Bostwana.

Ghana Faces Ivory Coast In AFCON Final, Crowd Trouble Mars Semi Final

ghanaGhana would be facing Ivory Coast in the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations after securing a 3-0 win over hosts Equatorial Guinea.

However, crowd trouble marred the end of the semi-final duel in Malabo, as the match was suspended in the closing stages.

With the match in the final 10 minutes, their fans were forced to leave the stands and take refuge behind one of the goals after being pelted with objects from rival supporters.

Bottles could be seen scattered across the running track which surrounded the pitch.

The referee stopped the match and the players were left waiting in the middle of the pitch to find out if the match would restart, with the Equatorial Guinea players pleading with their fans to calm down.

Many of the fans left the stadium as the suspension dragged on.

The game restarted and Ghana sealed a place in the final against Ivory Coast after a penalty from Jordan Ayew and a Wakaso Mubarak strike at the end of the first half and a tap-in from Andre Ayew in the second.

The Ghana supporters appeared to be escorted by police through the tunnel, with reports of Equatorial Guinea supporters waiting for them outside the stadium.

Equatorial Guinea only stepped in to host the tournament after Morocco pulled out due to the Ebola epidemic.

Having never qualified for a World Cup, their only previous African Nations Cup campaign was in 2012 when they reached the quarter-finals.

Ghana have not won the Nations Cup since 1982, despite making the final four in the last four tournaments. They were losing semifinalists in 2008, 2012 and 2013, they were defeated in the 2010 final by Egypt.

ASAMOAH GYAN: Ghana Can Take On Anyone

asamoahAfter reaching the quarter -final of the Africa Cup of Nations, the Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan said his team is not afraid of any other.

Ghana pulled through after defeating South Africa 2-1 and will meet the Group D runners-up in the quarter-finals on Sunday evening.

Confident of his team’s performance, Gyan said “with this team we can take on anyone in this competition.”

The Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff said: “It was not easy to get out of this group,” as the team qualified as Group C runners-up.

Gyan scored Ghana’s late winner in their second game against Algeria which ultimately helped them finish top of the table on head-to-head record.

“I have played at five cups of nations, but this group was the hardest,” he added.

“We were very strong mentally, even after conceding the first goal. We kept believing and fought to the end knowing that we could win.”

Ghana manager Avram Grant said: “We deserve it because South Africa were not better than us.

Grant also said “We have finished first in the group of death, which is not bad.  After losing the first match we showed great attitude in the second and continued along the same lines today , we started the match very well with two or three good chances. We had the match in our hands. I am very happy that the players showed, just as in their last match, a good spirit and good attitude.”

 

Keshi Wary of Ethiopia Threat After Burkinabe Draw

It was not an impressive opener for the Super Eagles in the Afcon 2013 after the squad gave out a late goal to settle for a draw against Burkina Faso.

Lesson learnt, Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has said he won’t be closing his ears on the note of warning sounded by Nigeria’s next opponent Ethiopia saying that addressing Sewnet Bishaw boys as a team not up to standard is wrong.

The Ethiopians have shown what they are made of after the squad with 10 men forced African champions, Zambia to a draw in Group C’s opening game on Monday.

Keshi said the Ethiopians have proved why they ensured their qualification for the Afcon 2013 with their performance against the Zambians.

Keshi also admitted that his team will have to buckle up as it has now been proven that the Super eagles will be up against strong opponents in the group.

“There are no weak teams here, and Ethiopia showed that they deserve to be at the competition. The group is a strong one,” said Keshi.

“The next game against Zambia is very important. We will put behind us the Burkina Faso game,” said the Nigerian coach.

Meanwhile, Nigerians who are football lovers have complained of biased nature of refereeing against the Super Eagles claiming that it was an obvious move by the Angolan referee against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in favour of their opponents on Monday.

The Eagles were held to a 1-1 after the Burkinabe scored the equaliser 40 seconds to the end of the match in the on-going AFCON in South Africa.

Afcon 2013: Super Eagles Hitching For Action

Missing in action during the 2012 edition for the African Nations Cup which was co-hosted by Equitorial Guinea and Gabon, Nigeria Super Eagles are eager to go into action in the 29th edition of the Nations Cup hosted by South Africa.

Super Eagles will have a feel of the Afcon spirit today as they clash with Burkina Faso amongst other matches.

The Super Eagles will be aiming to win their third title having won in 1980 as Green Eagles and 1994 as Super Eagles.

The Super Eagles have been four time runner up and seven time third place.

The Super Eagles so far has graced the Africa Cup of Nations 16 times since the inception of the tournament, for 13 times the Super Eagles have been on top of the podium from winners to runners up to third place.

In 1963 and 1982 the Eagles got eliminated in the first round and in 2008, they were eliminated at the quarter final stage.

Although grouped along with defending champions, the Chipolopolo of Zambia, the Super Eagles are said to be favourites to win Group C which also has Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. Even as none of the teams in the group is a push over, the Eagles are favoured to top and progress from the group.

Those who have tipped Eagles to top the group ahead of Zambia have hinged their confidence on what they described as Eagles invincibility against the Southern Africa team. But this is not to say it is going to be a stroll in the park for the Coach Keshi-tutored lads.

Since he took over the team in 2011 after spells with the national teams of Togo and Mali, Keshi who was the captain of the 1994 victorious Super Eagles has embarked on rebuilding the team. With the support of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Keshi’s team has played a couple of international friendly matches which provided ample opportunity for him to pick his players for the 2013 AFCON qualifiers and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

At least 17 of the 23 Eagles in South Africa will be making their AFCON debut but that has not dampened their confidence. They are rearing to go so as to prove to their critics that the Eagles are back to its winning ways.

Nigeria as a football loving nation back home will be rolling their drums today to launch the Super Eagles to their victory in the Nations cup as the team hope to walk their way into the final and bring home the trophy.

 

2013 African Cup of Nations: Nigeria grouped with Zambia, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia

The 16 qualified teams for the 2013 African Cup of Nations were today drawn into four groups of four teams each and the Super Eagles of Nigeria are placed in Group C to slug it out with the defending champions, Zambia.

Others in group are Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

Group A sees hosts South Africa go up against Angola, Morocco and Cape Verde, while Ghana are the top seeds in Group B, where they are drawn against Mali, Niger and DR Congo.

Group D emerges as the Group of Death with Cote d’Ivoire Tunisia, Algeria and Togo.

Below are the groups and the South African cities where they will play the first round of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

GROUP A (Durban)

A1 – South Africa

A2 – Angola

A3 – Morocco

A4 – Cape Verde

GROUP B (Port Elizabeth)

B1 – Ghana

B2 – Mali

B3 – Niger

B4 – DR Congo

GROUP C (Mbombela)

C1 – Zambia

C2 – Nigeria

C3 – Burkina Faso

C4 – Ethiopia

GROUP D (Rustenburg)

D1 – Cote d’Ivoire

D2 – Tunisia

D3 – Algeria

D4 – Togo