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Thousands line up in Liberia but meet opposition over award to Wenger

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Arsene Wenger arrived in Liberia on Wednesday evening, with the ex-Arsenal boss set to be handed the country’s highest honour from president George Weah.

Wenger, who ended his 22-year association with the Gunners in May, will be inducted into Liberia’s Order of Distinction.

It comes after Weah, the former World Footballer of the Year who was elected as his country’s leader last year in a landslide victory, decided to honour both Wenger and another coach, Claude Le Roy.

Wenger, 68, was given a warm welcome when he touched down in the town of Harbel shortly after 9 pm, and is set to become a Knight Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption.

According to information minister Eugene Nagbe, the Frenchman has been awarded the distinction because he “has contributed to sports in Africa and has given many Africans opportunities”

Le Roy discovered Weah when operating as Cameroon manager in the late 1980s.

Read Also: Essam El-Hadary: World Cup’s oldest player retires from Egypt duty

Upon Le Roy’s recommendation, Wenger signed Weah when manager of Monaco in 1988, paying Cameroonian club Tonnerre Yaounde £12,000 for the striker.

Weah, now 51, has labelled Wenger as one of the most important men in his career.
In a 2007 interview with the Telegraph, Weah stated: “Arsene Wenger made me not just the player I am today but the man I am.”

The award ceremony will take place in the country’s capital, Monrovia, on Friday.

But over the past week, debate in Liberian newspapers and radio shows has mounted over whether the award — usually reserved for individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to Liberia — is right.

“This Knight Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption title, which the nation can bestow upon Liberian and non-Liberian alike, should not be about the personal connection between the President and Wenger or Le Roy,” Liberian newspaper Front Page Africa wrote in an editorial.

MP Darius Dillon on his part said: “The nation’s highest honour cannot be given to somebody who has not done something directly for the country.”

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South African club admits they can’t keep Nwabali

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Chairman of South African club side, Chippa United, Siviwe ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi, has given up on retaining the services of Super Eagles goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, who is now the subject of transfer speculations among top European and Asian clubs.

Mpengesi, in an interview with Idiski Times, admits the club has given up hopes of keeping their safe hands with the transfer talks gaining momentum.

He stated that the SA club is currently in talks with a few clubs abroad and will not hold Nwabali back should a good offer arrive.

“We are talking to a few clubs abroad. We also believe that he needs something better, especially after the performance that he showed at the Afcon,” the club chairman said.

“If the opportunity comes especially from abroad, of course even if it comes locally and the offer is for him, it’s not even for us. If the offer for him is better then we are not going to hold on to him.”

Mpengesi further underlined the club’s commitment to facilitating the player’s progression, whether it be through opportunities abroad or within the local Premier Soccer League.

There have been reports of interest in the Nigerian keeper from clubs in Europe following his sterling performances with Nigeria at the 2023 Africa Cup Of Nations in Ivory Coast where he led the Eagles to the silver medal.

After the Afcon tournament where he emerged as the second best keeper, there have been interest in his services from English side Queens Park Rangers and Saudi Pro League outfit Al-Ettifaq, and Mpengesi affirms Chippa United’s willingness to engage with both local and international suitors vying for Nwabali’s services.

Apart from clubs from abroad, there are also interest from local clubs including Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns and the chairman has conceded that Chippa will not stand in Nwabali’s path should the right offer comes.

Nwabali, a former Katsina United shot stopper in the Nigerian Premier League, is also being touted as a possible replacement for South African international keeper, Itumeleng Khune, whose future at Kaizer Chiefs looks uncertain.

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Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir fulfils promise of breaking world record at London Marathon

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Kenyan Olympic champion, Peres Jepchirchir, on Sunday, lived up to her promise of breaking compatriot Mary Keitany’s women’s-only world record to win the London Marathon.

Athletics World reports that Jepchirchir ran a tactical race, showed great composure, and had a good final kick to shake off her competitors to claim victory in a new women’s-only record of 2:16:16, breaking Keitany’s mark of 2:17:01 set in 2017.

“In what was a fast race, all the top four women ran faster than Keitany’s record with world record holder Tigst Asefa of Ethiopia clocking 2:16:23 for second place after pipping Kenya’s Joyiciline Jepkosgei who managed 2:16:24 to complete the podium,” WA said in a report after the race.

“The favourites for the race were clear past the halfway mark of the race with Assefa, Jepchirchir, Jepkosgei and Magertu Alemu running close to each other.

Jepchirchir and Assefa would exchange leads periodically as the other two stayed close until the final stretch.

“Jepkosgei then surged ahead in the final five minutes, remaining with Keitany’s women’s-only world record win sight.

“Jepchirchir then waited until the final metres before storming to the finish line, leaving her rivals trailing, after showing great pace and power to win in a new mark.

“With the strong field, Jepchirchir had predicted a new world record on Thursday and the race delivered just that.

“The Olympic champion can now look forward to defending her title in Paris as she set to join Boston Marathon champion Hellen Obiri in Kenya’s final three although Athletics Kenya will have a hard time selecting the third athlete to join them.”

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