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Beyond Soccer: Top 5 most exciting African football rivalries



The 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifying two-legged playoff between Ghana and Nigeria is considered by many as one of the biggest rivalries in African football, and this is by no means a fact.

Over the years, the two countries have had one of the fiercest footballing battles on the continent at all levels, with such matches often dubbed “fights to finish.”

The two countries’ first official meeting was a World Cup qualifier in 1960, where Ghana defeated the Super Eagles 4-1 at the Accra Sports Stadium, and since then, they have been locked in decades-long rivalry which many see as one of the best in African football history.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have won three AFCON championships to the Ghana Black Stars’ four, but the last of their triumph came in 1982 and between then and now, Nigeria has won two in 1994 abd 2013.

Their head-to-head records have also been very tight, with Ghana winning 19 times to Nigeria’s 16.

The first leg of the playoff will take place on Friday, March 25, at the 40,000-capacity Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, with the second and final game taking place on March 29 at the 60,000-capacity Abuja National Stadium.

But beyond the Nigeria vs Ghana rivalry, there are other of such exciting and fierce battles involving other countries on the African continent which soccer fans always look forward to.

Here are the top five most exciting African football rivalries.

1. Nigeria vs Ghana

The rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana is one of the fiercest and most exciting at all levels.

From the senior national team level to the lowest cadre, including female teams and club football, this is one rivalry many football fans look forward to and the World Cup qualifiers on March 25 will not be an exception.

The footballing rivalries between the two countries have been taken beyond soccer as the two countries and their citizens have taken it upon themselves to try and outdo each other in others spheres of life, including business and other socioeconomic endeavours.

With the two countries parading an array of stars like Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Moses Simon (Nigeria) and Thomas Partey, Jordan Ayew, Baba Rahman, etc for Ghana, the rivalry will not come to an end soon.

2. Algeria vs Egypt

Unortunately, Algeria and Egypt have been spared the joy and agony of facing each other in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, but clashes between the two countries have always been feisty and gutsy, filled with underlying passion.

Any encounter between Algeria and Egypt has become one of the most infamous rivalries in the history of football as clashes between the two Northern African giants is entrenched in deep roots.

It all began with Algeria’s resentment over Egypt’s refusal to play a team that was spreading awareness about Algeria’s struggle for independence to the 1989 incident where an Egyptian team doctor lost an eye from a bottle thrown by an Algerian player.

Since then, any matchup between the two countries often leads to clashes between the fans, making it one of the fiercest and ugliest rivalries in African football.

Egypt may hold the record as the most successful team as far as AFCON is converned, but against its eternal rivals, they only boast a miserable record having won only 2 and lost 5 of their previous 9 clashes.

Their most recent of such clashes, however, was a 4-0 thrashing of Algeria by Egypt on their way to winning its 7th AFCON title in 2019.

3 Ghana vs Ivory Coast

Another very exciting African football rivalry fans eagerly look forward is that between West African neighbours, Ghana and Ivory Coast.

The two countries are, unarguably, powerhouses when it comes to African football, and their clashes over the years have been quite gritty, reminiscent of clashes between Nigeria and Ghana.

They have been glamorous affairs and a matter of prestige as the players would do everything possible to win.

Out of a total of 14 clashes in the Cup of Nations, Ivory Coast hold the advantage in this rivalry with 8 wins, with Ghana only managing to get 5 wins and 1 draw.

Ghana has failed to beat Ivory Coast in six meetings, including the final of the 1992 Nations Cup which they lost 11- 10 on penalties.

Their most recent clash was at the AFCON tournament in 2015, with Ivory Coast repeating the ’92 feat, beating Ghana 9-8 on penalties again.

4. Nigeria vs Cameroon

The footballing rivalry beyween Nigeria and Cameroon has always been one where the players give their all, including sweat and blood, and are ready to die on the pitch rather than experience defeat.

Over the years, Nigeria and Cameroon have had some memorable clashes both in the Nations Cup, World Cup qualifying matches and even in friendlies.

The first time the two countries met at the Nations Cup final tournament was in the 1984 edition and Cameroon had a certain Roger Milla in their line-up.

But while Milla didn’t score in the match, he was instrumental to Cameroon claiming their first title with a 3 – 1 win over the Super Eagles.

Nigeria’s misfortune against Cameroon was to continue over the years and in their next meeting in the 1988 finals of the tournament, the Indomitable Lions pipped the Eagles 1 – 0 to win their second title.

Their clash in the bronze medal match in 1992 served as some consolation for Nigeria as they beat Cameroon to pick third place but in the finals of the 2000 edition held in Nigeria, Cameroon, this time with a certain Samuel Eto’o, defeated Nigeria 4-3 on penalties after a 2 – 2 draw, to claim their third trophy, again at the expense of the Super Eagles.

No wonder any meeting between the two countries is always seen by fans as one to look forward to.

5. Ivory Coast vs Senegal

Another exciting African football rivalry has always been the matchup between Ivory Coast and Senegal.

The two countries have met at both the AFCON and World Cup qualifying matches on four occasions which have always turned into a tense moment.

Their first meeting was in 1965 and most recently in 2012, and the rivalry has been nothing short of healthy and enjoyed thoroughly by fans.

The storyline of those meetings were mostly built on expectations for Ivory Coast to maintain their dominance as a footballing powerhouse, with Senegal making breakthroughs whenever they could.

But in recent years, the Teranga Lions have been on the upward climb and any meeting between them and their eternal rivals is one that would bring the fans on the edge of their seats as was witnessed at the last AFCON where Senegal beat Ivory Coast on their way to the trophy.


Basketball league set to boost women basketball in Africa— President



The President of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), Amadou Gallo Fall, has disclosed that the organisation is working with world basketball governing body, FIBA, to boost and nurture female talents and grow the women sport on the continent.

According to Fall, BAL which started as a men’s tournament four years ago, has launched an initiative which will incorporate the females so as to grow the game.

Fall who spoke to sports journalists in Kigali, Rwanda, where the competition is currently going on, said the key challenge for the body is to expand the female talent pool across the continent and
hopes to lay a strong foundation across the continent through its BAL4HER project, which aims to advance gender equity and celebrate women in the sports industry.

He stated that BAL will run a five-day camp for 20 top Under-23 women’s players from 14 African countries alongside the play-offs in Rwanda with the aim to empower and develop young female athletes on and off the court.

“There is a women’s club championship that FIBA is running and we built the BAL on the foundation of club basketball that FIBA used to run,” he said.

“We contribute towards investment in growing the women’s game. The foundation is laid. We need to continue to support women’s participation in the sport and the development at grassroots level working with FIBA.

“I know the women’s game is very popular in certain countries – Senegal, Mozambique, Egypt, Mali and Nigeria.

“We want to grow the women’s game to make sure there are more countries playing the sport.”

The BAL President added that this far, work is already being done by his organisation to boost the women’s game.

“This is a way to continue to build capacity, make the industry accessible for women and especially help them grow on their journey to becoming the best basketball players they can be.

“They will be mentored by elite coaches and this will be an opportunity to talk to them about opportunities and careers in sport.

“They have a chance to learn more about the industry and the work the BAL is doing, and we want to continue to provide those mentorships. That will all contribute in building this world-class league we are endeavouring to build.”

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Kenya’s Paris Olympics shaky as athletes threaten trials boycott over stadium dilemma



The chances of Kenyan athletes competing in the forthcoming Paris Olympics are under threat as top athletes in the country have vowed to snub the Olympics trials if the event is not held at a venue certified by World Athletics following the closure of the Nyayo and Kasarani stadiums which have the needed facilities.

Athletics Kenya (AK) is currently faced with a challenge of where to host the Olympics trials slated from June 14-15, since Nyayo and Kasarani stadiums, the only two World Athletics-accredited venues in the country, are currently closed for renovation.

Though AK President Jack Tuwei has promised the athletes that efforts are being put in place to have the trials conducted at a certified venue, the actors themselves have vowed not to attend the trials if the venue is not up to world standard.

In an interview with sports journalists, Tuwei said he is optimistic the July Olympic trials will be held in Nairobi.

An athlete who did not want his name mentioned expressed his concerns and those of his colleagues in the same situation.

“Even though I have attained the Paris Olympics standards, I will not attend in solidarity with those who would like to strive and get the standard at the trials,” he said.

“These are sentiments shared by all the athletes because they have missed a great opportunity to qualify for Paris Olympics with the National Athletics Championships being held at Ulinzi Complex,” the top athlete noted.

The bone of contention, according to concerned athletes, is that Athletics Kenya was planning to host the trials at the Ulinzi Complex whose track is not certified by World Athletics.

“That means any times recorded at the event would not count as Olympic qualifying standards, denying athletes who have not already attained the required marks, an opportunity to qualify for the Paris Games,” a local sport media reports.

“It would therefore force then to seek qualification elsewhere when the deadline for Olympic qualification is June 30.”

Sprinters, such as Mark Otieno, will be among the most hit given that only Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala (100m), Zablon Ekwam (400m) and Wiseman Were (400m hurdles) have attained the Olympic qualifying marks.

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