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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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Five African players who played for Bayern Munich; before Sadio Mane

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The next football season will see Senegal international captain, Sadio Mane, filing out for perennial German Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich, after completing a £35 million move from Liverpool.

Mane signed a three-year deal with Bayern that will see him remain at the Bundesliga champions until 2025, after six successful years at Liverpool which he joined from Southampton.

According to world football transfer expert, Fabrizio Romano, the deal will see Bayern pay €32m (£34m) guaranteed fee for Sadio Mané with the contract already signed and valid until June 2025.”

“Liverpool will also receive add-ons, for a maximum of potential €40m total fee package,” Romano wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Mane’s move to Bayern may be the biggest transfer involving an African player in this transfer market but he is certainly not the first ‘authentic’ African star to play for the Munich giants as there have been Africans who wore the Bayern shirt in the past and won trophies for the Bavarians who are unarguably the biggest and most successful club in Germany.

The Bavarians have been a dominant force in the German football landscape, winning leagues and cups consistently over the years and intermittently, and there have been some talented African players who contributed in some ways to the success of the team.

Africa News Watch takes a look at five African footballers who have played and won titles for Bayern Munich.

1. Samuel Kuffour

Former Ghanaian international defender, Samuel Ossei Kuffour stands out as the most successful African star to have played for the Munich giants.

In his time with the Bavarians, Kuffour was a very accomplished defender and played for over 11 years between 1994-2005, featuring 277 times with 10 goals to his name across all competitions.

Fondly called Sammy by fans, the Ghanaian export will never be forgotten for his tears and display of disappointment and agony when Munich famously lost the 1999 UEFA Champions League final in the dying minutes against Manchester United.

His sorrow, however, would turn to joy a couple of years later when he led the Bayern defense to win the 2001 UEFA Champions League trophy and ended his illustrious career with six Bundesliga titles and four DFB-Pokal trophies to his name.

2. Pablo Thiam

Many football fans did not know that Pablo Thiam, a mercurial defensive midfielder who played for two seasons between 2001 and 2003, was actually an African who played for Guinea.

Though Thiam did not have a really spectacular time at Munich inky managing 16 league appearances, he was part of the victorious Bayern squad that won the 2001 UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.

3. Mehdi Benatia

Mehdi Benetia was a highly gifted Moroccan centre-back who was a stalwart in the Bayern defense during his time at the club from 2014 to 2016.

Benatia was a key player during his time at the club and made a total of 46 appearances, scoring three goals from his defensive position during his two-year spell with Munich, winning two Bundesliga titles and a DFB-Pokal cup.

4. Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting

Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting, is a Cameroonian international striker currently on the books of the Bundesliga defending champions.

Eric joined the Bavarians in the summer of 2020 and has so far featured 45 times across all competitions, scoring 17 goals in this period.

He has so far won a Bundesliga title (2020-21) and FIFA Club World Cup trophy (2020) and the 2022 Bundesliga title.

5. Bouna Sarr

Another African player who has played for the Alianz Arena outfit is Senegalese international, Bouna Sarr, who joined Bayern Munich in 2020 on a four-deal from French side, Olympique Marseille.

However, the 30-year-old Sarr has had to play a bit-part role with the Bavarian side.

The right-back has so far made 25 total appearances across the two seasons he has spent at the club with a goal to his name and was part of the squad that won the 2020-21 Bundesliga title and 2020 FIFA Club World Cup.

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Ghana’s Benjamin Azamati, dubbed ‘new Usain Bolt’ wins Gold in Diamond League

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African athletes proved their worth in the Diamon Lafe races over the weekend as Benjamin Azamati finished in pole position in only his second Diamond League Meet in the 100-metre race.

Like Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan who broke the African record in the 100m women’s hurdle after clocking 12.41 seconds during the Paris Diamond League race on Saturday.

Azamati in his only his second-ever appearance at the Diamond League Meet after finishing in the fourth position in Oslo also put Africa on the podium as he clocked clocked a time of 10.25s in the 100 metres race to finish ahead of French duo Fall Mouhamadou and Vicaut Jimmy.

Another, Africa star, compatriot Sean Safo-Antwi placed 6th with a time of 10.45 seconds.

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