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North African teams draw first blood in Qatar World Cup 2022 qualifiers

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The eagerly awaited first-leg matches of the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying matches to determine African qualifiers for the Mundial held across the continent on Friday, was dominated by North African teams with Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia picking crucuial away wins.

Egypt pipped their AFCON 2021 conquerors, Senegal, 1-0, and Algeria replicated same against Cameroon, while Morocco brightened their chances by drawing 1-1 away to DR Congo, and Mali gifted Tunisia a 1-0 away win through an own goal.

However, the much anticipated West African derby between Ghana and Nigeria ended in a 0-0 stalemate in what many fans described as a boring affair but with the return leg on Tuesday in Abuja, the die is cast for the long held ‘Jollof Derby’ to be settled once and for all.

With just five goals scored across the five first-leg matches in Africa’s World Cup qualifying playoffs, the return legs may not be as cagey as the first leg matches showed.

Egypt humbles Senegal

An unfortunate own goal in the 4th minute by Senegal’s Saliou Ciss was all Egypt needed to pip the African champions 1-0 in the first leg of their World Cup play-off in Cairo.

The mistake which forced Ciss to turn the ball pass Eduoard Mendy came from a shot by Mohamed Salah which struck the defender and flew past the Chelsea keeper to nestle in the back of the net.

The game which featured Liverpool’s win strike stars, Salah and Sadio Mane, was touted to be a repeat of the recently concluded Africa Cup of Nations final which Senegal won on penalties after a pulsating 0-0 draw, but the match turned out to be a cagey affair with few chances created by either sides.

Algeria pips Cameroon for crucial lead

Cameroon have a mountain to climb when they face Algeria in the second leg after Islam Slimani’s headed goal gave the former African champions a 1-0 away victory to take put one foot in the World Cup in Qatar.

Algeria will host Caneroon in the return tie in Blida on Tuesday, and may well be dreaming of their fifth appearance at the Mundial.

Morocco in the driver’s seat after draw in DR Congo

A brilliant Tarik Tissoudali equaliser late in the game saw Morocco fight back after an earlier missed penalty, to earn a 1-1 draw away at Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Kinshasa.

The draw moves the North African giants closer to a sixth World Cup appearance in Qatar with the second leg billed for Casablanca looking a sure win for the host.

Yoane Wissa had given DRC a credible 12th-minute lead after he beat the offside trap down the left wing, before cutting inside and unleashing a shot from just outside the box that took a slight defection off a Moroccan defender and beating goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to his blind side.

With away goals counting double on the continent, odds favour Morocco to take the day on Tuesday.

Unfortunate Mali hands Tunisia initiative

Malian defender Moussa Sissako, was the villain as his unforced own goal gave Tunisia the away goal.

Sissako scored the bizarre own goal in the 36th minute when his attempt to pass the ball back to his keeper sailed into an empty net.

He was then sent off four minutes later after being adjudged to have tripped a Tunisian attacker as the last man in defense.

Even a goal and a man down, Mali had chances to at least draw level with Yves Bissouma missing two sisters, but in the end, it was Tunisia that smiled last with the second leg looking almost done and dusted.

Drab stalemate in Ghana and Nigeria ‘Jollof Derby’

The matchup between eternal rivals, Ghana and Nigeria had generated so much reviews with the much touted ‘Jollodf Derby’ billed to be the biggest match of the day.

But at the end of 90 minutes, both set of fans were disappointed at the dean barren draw at the packed Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.

The only excitement in an otherwise forgettable derby was the the VAR controversy which denied Nigeria a obvious penalty in the second half half after a Ghanaian midfielder, Iddrisu Baba, had scooped the ball with his hands under pressure from Nigerian strikers.

A review of the decision in the closing stages of the west African showdown found that Baba was fouled before he handled the ball.

However, the two countries still have Tuesday to end the ‘Jollof Debate’ at the MKO Stadium in Abuja.

Final Results

Egypt 1-0 Senegal

Ghana 0-0 Nigeria

Cameroon 0-1 Algeria

Mali 0-1 Tunisia

DRC 1-1 Morocco

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CAF launches African Super League to boost clubs

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF), has launched a new competition to be known as the African Super League aimed at injecting about $100 million into the continent’s football.

CAF President Patrice Mostepe who announced the new multi-million dollar deal in Tanzania during the launch of the new tournament on Wednesday, said the new league is aimed at injecting financial muscle to cash-strapped clubs on the continent.

For a start, 24 African clubswill take part in the first edition of the competition which is scheduled to kick off between August 2023 and May 2024.

Motsepe, who addressed a gathering of African football chairmen in Tanzania on Wednesday, said:

“The African Super League is a very important initiative. One of the major problems in Africa is finance.

“The Africa Super League is one of the most exciting developments in the history of African football and the objective in terms of what we are trying to achieve is very clear, to make sure African club football is world class and competes with the best in the world.

“Our intention is to use the $100 million as prize money and to do that every year in the African Super League, so that the club which wins gets $11.5 million,” he said.

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Tennis great, Serena Williams, announces retirement in emotional statement

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Tennis star, Serena Williams, has announced that she will retire from the sport after the US Open at Flushing Meadows which begins later this month

The 40-year-old 23-time Grand Slam champion has been the face of tennis since winning her first U.S. Open in 1999, but in a statement published by Vogue Magazine on Tuesday, said she plans to hang up her racket and bring an end to her active romance with the sport after playing again in the tournament.

Williams who last won a Grand Slam tournament while she was pregnant during the Australian Open in 2017, has been struggling to cope with the pace of the game after the birth of her daughter, Olympia, with hopes of equaling or surpassing Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam titles going up in flames.

In an emotional statement in Vogue Magazine in which she will appear on the front cover for September’s edition, Williams said:

“I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give. I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me.

Serena Williams has plans to call it quits with tennis (Photo Credit:WTA)

Serena Williams has plans to call it quits with tennis (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution.

“But I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic.

“I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry. The only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist!”

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