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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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Qatar 2022: Morocco make history with World Cup win over Spain

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The Atlas Lions of Morocco gave Africa a quarterfinals berth at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after beating Spain 3-0 in a penalty shootout on Tuesday.

The two teams played out a 0-0 draw at full and extra time and had to be separated by the luci of penalties.

Moroccan goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou, was the hero of the match by saving two of Spain’s penalty kicks from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets while Pablo Sarabia hit the post with the Spanish first kick.

The North Africans who have been the biggest surprise of the tournament, will next face either Portugal or Switzerland.

Morocco, the last African side left in World Cup 2022 went against all bookmakers prediction by beating the star studded Spain team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in their history.

Though Luis Enrique’s side had almost 70 percent of the ball in the first 45 minutes, the Africans were not deterred as they held firm and stuck to their game plans which frustrated the talented Spanish team.

Morocco is also the only team from outside Europe or South America at the Qatar World Cup to make it to the last eight.

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Qatar 2022: The good, the bad of Africa’s World Cup group stage performance

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The group stage of the FIFA World Cup currently ongoing in Qatar was a mixed bag for the five African representatives with some memorable showings as well as forgettable performances put up by some of the teams and players.

For the first time in a long while, African teams caused major upsets which is a proof that football in the continent has grown in leaps and bounds.

One of the highlights of Africa’s performance was Cameroon defeating Brazil, the first time an African team will beat the five times world champions.

Tunisia created an upset by beating world champions France (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Tunisia created an upset by beating world champions France (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Tunisia also did create an upset of their own with a 1-0 win over world champions France as despite failing to progress from the group, the defeat of France meant much to the North Africans.

On the individual basis, Ghanaian youngster, Mohammed Kudus, ageless Cameroonian striker, Vincent Aboubakar showed that though he is in the twilight of his career, he still has a lot to offer, while Moroccan Hakim Ziyech showed why he is regarded as is regarded as one of the best in the continent.

Africannewswatch takes a look at the good and the bad performances put up by African teams as players in the first round of the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

The Good

Senegal’s group stage dominance

Senegal may have been well beaten by England in the round of 16 match played on Sunday but before they fell apart, the African champions played one of the most entertaining football in the tournament and ended up finished second in Group A, behind the Netherlands.

In their first match, the Lions of Teranga were able to stand up to Luis Van Gaal’s men until a combination of schoolboy errors from goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, led to the Dutch scoring two quick goals in the dying moments of the match.

Senegal celebrating one of her goals (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Senegal celebrating one of her goals (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Senegal went on to beat hosts Qatar and Ecuador to progress to the second round where they were pummeled by the Three Lions, with help from who else but Mendy.

Stand out Mohammed Kudus

Ghanaian youngster, Mohammed Kudus performances in the group stage was one that would gladden the hearts of his countrymen and Africans as a whole.

Despite the presence of more established players like Thomas Partey and captain Andre Ayew, Kudus’ performances and decisive quality in their group games showed a maturity beyond his 22 years, especially in the 3-2 win over South Korea where he netted twice.

Ghanaian youngster Mohammed Kudus was outstanding at the World Cup (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Ghanaian youngster Mohammed Kudus was outstanding at the World Cup (Photo Credit: FIFA)

The Ajax man was the Black Stars’ go-to attacker in Qatar and was a menace to opposing defenders with his guile and precision on the ball.

Vintage Vincent Aboubakar

Ageless Cameroonian striker, Vincent Aboubakar turned up when he was needed most, first coming off the bench when Serbia were 3-1 up to score a goal and set up another as the Indomitable Lions rallied to force a draw in a march they were a certainty to lose.

However, vintage Vincent saved his best for last when he popped up to end Africa’s wait for a win over Brazil with a late header in Cameroon’s famous 1-0 win. He was to be given a befitting sending off by the referee who congratulated him on the goal before being shown a second yellow card.

Vincent Aboubakar turned back the years at Qatar 2022 (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Vincent Aboubakar turned back the years at Qatar 2022 (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Though the Indomitable Lions did not progress beyond Group G, Aboubakar’s performances renewed hopes that African teams have turned a lot of corners.

Morocco’s unexpected progress

The Atlas Lions defied all odds by topping Group F which had Belgium ranked number two by FIFA, and 2018 World Cup runners up, Croatia, playing one of the most entertaining brand of football.

Before the kick off of the World Cup, Croatia and Belgium were tipped to go through but Walid Regragui’s tutored side ended Group F unbeaten after a creditable draw with Croatia and beating Belgium stunning 2-0 in a stunning fashion.

However, their reward for topping the group is a match up against Spain on Tuesday.

Will the North African side claim another European scalp when they face Spain?

The Bad

Tunisia ruined by poor finishing

Tunisia may have pulled up one of the Qatar 2022 World Cup upset by beating France via a Wahbi Khazri goal but their undoing was their poor finishing despite being in control of previous matches against Australia and Denmark.

Wahbi Khazri celebrates with teammates after putting France to the sword (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Wahbi Khazri celebrates with teammates after putting France to the sword (Photo Credit: FIFA)

The Carthage Eagles dominated in both matches but their profligacy in front of goal and their inability to convert the chances they created caused their exit at the group stage.

Of the 30 shots they had in their three matches, 12 were speculative attempts from outside the box, which robbed them of high-percentage scoring chances if they probed for a clearer opening.

Rigobert Song, Samuel Eto’o vs Andre Onana

A blight on the Cameroonian team was the celebrated fallout involving coach Rigobert Song, FA boss, Samuel Eto’o and goalkeeper Andre Onana, leading to the Inter Milan being dropped from the squad against Serbia.

The fallout was further accentuated when Onana had to leave the tournament unceremoniously after an alleged shouting match with Song.

Andre Ayew’s penalty miss

Ghana was presented with a golden opportunity in their Group H match against Uruguay but captain Andre Ayew has other ideas when he played a very kick that was easily smothered by Uruguay’s goalkeeper.

The Black Stars had started the final round of games in second spot but ended the day bottom following a 2-0 loss to the South Americans and will rue Ayew’s missed penalty which could have turned the tide in the game.

Andre Ayew's missed penalty could have seen Ghana progress out of their group (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Andre Ayew’s missed penalty could have seen Ghana progress out of their group (Photo Credit: FIFA)

All the Black Stars needed was a point to go into the next round but the loss meant South Korea which they had defeated on match day two ended up clinching the second spot.

But they had a consolation in Uruguay’s failure to advance to the next round as well.

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