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



It’s another weekend and another opportunity for African soccer stars to showcase their talents to the world as they take to the field for their various European clubsides.

In this edition of Africa to the World, we preview some continent star exports who are expected to feature for their respective clubs around Europe this weekend

In the English Premier League, Liverpool could go top of the league albeit for a few hours with their African contingent which include Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and to some extent, Joel Matip, when they take on Newcastle on Saturday.

Hours later, Manchester City with Riyad Mahrez could take over the top spot when they battle Leeds United in the tea-time fixture.

In Turkey, forgotten Nigerian striker, Anthony Nwakaeme of Trabzonspor has been silently painting the league red with goals and this weekend, he will lead his table-topping side against Antalyaspor and a win will secure them the title as they have an 11 points lead over second place Fenerbahce.

In the Serie A, AC Milan duo of Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie will seek to hold on to top spot in the league when they host Fiorentina on Sunday afternoon.

Let’s go…

Anthony Nwakaeme: Trabzonspor

Trabzonspor have been without a Super Lig title in over a generation but that wait could come to an end this weekend when they tackle Antalyaspor with Nwakaeme hoping to fire Trabs to the title.

Nwakaeme missed last week’s 3-1 win over Adana Demirspor due to a slight knock but the attacker id in line to return for gameweek 35’s clash with Antalyaspor.

A staggering 11 points separate the table-topping Black Sea Storm from second-place Fenerbahce, and maximum points on Saturday will guarantee Trabzonspor their first league title since 1984.

Ismaila Sarr: Watford

Watford may be battling a lost caused to remain in the EPL as their diminishing battle for survival takes them to Burnley this weekend where a victory in this relegation six-pointer will see them cut the gap to six points.

Senegal wing wizard cum attacker, Sarr may have ended his two-month run without a goal contribution a fortnight back he has been unable to prevent a four-game losing run for the Hornets.

Another defeat against the Clarets will more or less seal the side’s fate for relegation, but they will have to end a 10-game losing run at Vicarage Road to boost their prospects of avoiding the drop.

Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Joel Matip: Liverpool

The quartet of Salah, Mane, Matip and Keita could all feature for Liverpool when they travel to in-form Newcastle United in Saturday’s early fixture and a win will take them to the top of the standing as the battle for the title heads to the wire.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game with Sadio Mane during the UEFA Champions League, Quarter Final at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 10, 2018. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Success for the Reds at St James’ Park will end the Magpies’ six-game winning run on home turf and send them top of the standings before Riyad Mahrez and his Manchester City teammates play Leeds United in the tea-time fixture.

Riyad Mahrez: Man City

It remains to be seen if the Algerian will feature from the off at Elland Road following his midweek miss against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League that had Pep Guardiola almost jumping out of his skin.

But the wide attacker could play in some capacity as the Citizens aim to hold off their challengers atop the standings.

Mohamed Elneny: Arsenal

The importance of the Egyptian Elneny for Arsenal in their push for European football in the last fortnight will once again, be on display as he deputises for injured African compatriot Thomas Partey once again.

Unless something drastic happens, the for midfielder is likely to continue in Mikel Arteta’s 11 for the Gunners’ trip to West Ham United on Sunday, looking to hold on to fourth spot in the league.

David Moyes’ line-up at Chelsea suggested the Hammers are putting all their eggs in the Europa League basket, so rotation is expected at the London Stadium.

Success for Elneny and his colleagues will see the North Londoners end another week in the Champions League positions.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Barcelona

Aubameyang’s run of two goals in his last seven in all competitions has coincided with Barcelona’s underwhelming run under Xavi with three losses in their last four games threatening to undermine their recent improvement.

If the former Arsenal captain gets a goal this weekend when Barca takes on Mallorca in gameweek 34 , that would be his 10th goal in La Liga since joining in January.

Having won the last eight fixtures between the sides, Xavi will hope his team return to winning ways in front of their fans having lost to Rayo Vallecano last week.

Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie; AC Milan

Inter Milan’s 2-1 defeat by Bologna on Wednesday means AC Milan are slight favourites to win Serie A with four games remaining.

The pair of Bennacer and Kessie could feature for Stefano Pioli’s men when they host Fiorentina at San Siro looking to consolidate their place.

Vincenzo Italiano’s team may have defeated Napoli in early April, but two losses on the trot leave them just outside the European slots, making them underdogs for the trip to Milan.


CAF launches research centre to develop African football



The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced launching a research centre aimed at assisting member associations with the development of their football.

CAF’s Member Associations Director, Sarah Mukuna, who made the announcement on Monday, said with the establishment of the center known as CAF Research Hub, the confederation had made an investment into a new system to help zonal unions and member associations.

“The CAF Research Hub is aimed to provide data-driven insights into African football with the objectives of gathering evidence for theories that are relevant to the African context and conduct research that informs policy decisions,” she said.

She added that in addition to research, which had been crucial to the growth of football in recent years, the centre would concentrate on information collection and usage.

“The confederation has invested in the new hub to support its member associations and zonal unions. With the CAF Research Hub, we will contribute to developing and disseminating knowledge to our Member Associations and the African football stakeholders,” the director said.

“In the past years, CAF has added research on youth football, women’s football, football administration, the medical field, and level of performance will be given emphasis at the center, which are all run by the CAF Member Associations Division.

“In addition, a pilot project will be launched across the six zonal unions during the second edition of the CAF African Schools Programme, making for an opportunity to obtain context-based information.

“Using the data at hand, the project will shed light on the impact of the African Schools Program and the youth football experience in Africa.

“Upon the completion of the research project’s first phase, CAF intends to transform its development structures to offer administrative and sporting services to all member associations”, she added.

This development is coming amid a period of growing success for African football, particularly after Morocco’s World Cup exploits in Qatar.

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Again, Napoli President insists Osimhen going no where



Aurelio De Laurentiis, the President of current Italian Serie A champions, Napoli, has once again insisted that his top striker will not be leaving the club in the next transfer widow as he (Osimhen) is close to extending his stay at the club.

The announcement will be bad news for a number of top European clubs, including Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea who were all hoping to capitalize on the Nigerian striker’s contract situation to lure him away from Italy.

The hitman currently has one and a half years left on his existing contract and had not indicated any interest in renewing the terms, but the Italian champions want to him to stay at the club beyond 2025.

De Laurentiis, who spoke to Italian sports journalists at a football award ceremony on Saturday, expressed confidence that his star man was set to pen a new deal at the club.

“For Osimhen we are at the signing stage which had been pending since the summer,” he said.

This is not the first time the Napoli chief will pour cold water on a move by the 24-year-old Nigerian forward.

Notably was the last transfer window when a top club in the Saudi Arabian league tabled a mouthwatering offer said to be in excess of €200 million for Osimhen but the hard-nosed De Laurentiis refused to play ball, insisting that his frontman was not for sale at any amount.

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