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Africa to the World: Stars to watch this weekend in Europe’s top leagues

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The stage is once again set this weekend for African soccer stars to strut their talents for their various European teams.

The past weekend was a mixed bag of some sort for them but with many of the players living up to expectation, better things should come from the continent’s stars expected to feature for their respective clubs.

In a rare start for Arsenal after almost four months, Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny gave a decent account of himself in Arsenal’s 4-2 thrashing of Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and is in line for another shift as the Gunners welcome Manchester United to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime showpiece.

In the French Ligue 1, Achraf Hakimi and Idrissa Gueye are poised to claim the French top-flight title by picking up just a point this weekend when they square up against Lens.

Let’s have a roundup of what to expect from African stars this weekend.

Mohamed Elneny – Arsenal

Playing in only his first start since December, Elneny had a decent showing in Arsenal’s 4-2 success at Chelsea, as he helped shore up Arsenal’s midfield in the absence of fellow African, Ghanaian Thomas Partey who is out injured.

Elneny’s previous start came in the 3-2 loss at Manchester United and he could be set to make another start against the same opponents at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

With a top-four spot still up for grabs, the Gunners know the importance of successive victories against sides they are potentially doing battle with for those positions and Mikel Arteta’s side are fired up to pick all three points to move clear of their opponents.

Achraf Hakimi, Idrissa Gueye – Paris Saint-Germain

Achraf Hakimi and Idrissa Gueye both featured for Paris Saint-Germain in Wednesday’s 3-0 success over Angers which puts them on the verge of reclaiming the Ligue 1 title with just a point against Lens this weekend.

Hakimi set up Kylian Mbappe’s 28th-minute strike and the dependable defender is expected to start against Lens.

Gueye was a second-half substitute at Stade Raymond Kopa but the battling midfielder could start his 18th league game as PSG look for the point that will guarantee them the title.

Ismaila Sarr, Emmanuel Dennis -Watford

Second from bottom Watford have lost four of their last five in the Premier League and they face a daunting trip to league leaders Manchester City looking to pull off one of the season’s shock results, with Sarr and Dennis expected to start.

Sarr missed the reverse fixture at Vicarage Road but should be in line to feature at the Etihad Stadium as the Citizens aim for three points to end the gameweek atop the standings.

Dennis ended his goal drought in last week’s 2-1 defeat by Brentford and he looks to score in back to back games against Manchester City.

Alex Iwobi – Everton

The Super Eagle midfielder completed five Premier League games in succession under Frank Lampard last weekend and is expected to continue in midfield when Everton travel to Liverpool for the 240th Merseyside Derby, hoping to avoid their rivals doing the double over them.

Following Burnley’s win over Southampton on Thursday, Lampard’s men are a point ahead of the Clarets and could drop into the bottom three this weekend if they lose at Anfield and the 18th-placed outfit win defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Taiwo Awoniyi – Union Berlin

Awoniyi scored his 13th Bundesliga goal last weekend and is now Union Berlin’s record scorer in the top flight.

With eight game-opening goals, the striker sits joint-top alongside Anthony Modeste and Robert Lewandowski.

Union Berlin travel to in-form RB Leipzig looking to end the nine-match unbeaten run of the Saxony outfit and if Awoniyi comes to the party, they could come out with at least a point.

The Berlin outfit have won the last three in the Bundesliga and could make it four on the trot against the Europa League semi-finalists.

Yoane Wissa – Brentford

Wissa has started Brentford’s last two league games since scoring at Chelsea and the forward could be in the starting line up for a third match running when the Bees host top four hopefuls, Tottenham Hotspur.

It could be the attacker’s 10th start for Thomas Frank this season and he would take his tally for the season to six with his next strike.

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

The 240th meeting between Liverpool and Everton takes place at Anfield this weekend with the Reds resounding favourites to secure maximum points.

Salah halted his three-game run without a league goal by putting two past Manchester United and while Mane also helped himself with a goal and a sublime assist for one of Salah’s two goals in the 4-0 routing of their opponents.

The pair are likely to feature when they take on the Toffees with the added incentive of securing a first double over their eternal rivals since the 2016/17 season.

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Kenya’s Edwin Kibet wins 2023 Lagos City Marathon

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Kenyan long distance runner, Edwin Kibet Koech, has won the 8th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon held in Nigeria on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Kibet finished the 42km race in two hours, 14 minutes and six seconds to beat Ethiopia’s Dekeba Shefa and fellow Kenyan, Bernard Sang, who finished second and third respectively.

For his feat, Kibet took home the grand prize of $50,000, while Shefa and Sang carted home $40,000 and $30,000 respectively.

In the female category, Alemenseh Guta of Ethiopia was the first woman to cross the finish line, with compatriot Kebene Urisa and Kenya’s Naomi Maiyo coming second and third respectively.

The annual event sponsored by one of Nigeria’s elite financial institutions, Access Bank, was recently upgraded by the world athletics body to a gold label, meaning that the winners of both the men and women’s races have also qualified for the marathon events at the 2024 Olympics scheduled for Paris, France.

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Nigerian tech billionaire, Dozy Mmobuosi, set to acquire Sheffield United in £90m deal

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A Nigerian tech billionaire, Dozy Mmobuosi, is reportedly on the verge of acquiring English football club, Sheffield United, in a deal said to be in the region of £90 million.

Sheffield United which is in the English championship, is likely to gain promotion back to the English Premier League as it is in the top three of the second tier of the league.

The Blades’ push for promotion back to the EPL this season suffered a glitch after they were hit by a transfer embargo last month amid financial difficulties but if the sale is successful, they would have enough funds to go into the transfer market.

The sale deal has been confirmed by the English Football League (EFL) in a post on its website, where it said the issue relates to the non-payment of a transfer fee that was owed.

The EFL said the embargo which prevents Sheffield from buying a player for the next 18 months unless they win promotion, was imposed because the Blades failed to keep up payment instalments on signings.

“This included payments to Liverpool for forward Rhian Brewster, who was signed in October 2020 for £23.5m.”

The Blades current owner, Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has been struggling to maintain the funding needed to keep the club going and was understood to be open to selling the club.

And that has opened the door for the Nigerian billionaire whose company, Tingo Mobile, is valued at around £7 billion, to make a bid to buy the club.

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