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

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This weekend, Africa’s finest foreign football exports will take to the pitch for their respective clubs around Europe and as usual, are expected to show the African spirit.

In England, Liverpool’s trio of Mohammad Salah, Saido Mane and Naby Keita will represent the African contingent when they tackle Manchester City on Saturday in the FA Cup semi final which will rekindle their rivalry a week after their rip-roaring 2-2 draw in the league.

In the EPL proper, Arsenal slayer a week ago, Zambian Enock Mwepu will hope to lead Brighton to a repeat of the 2-1 win against the Gunners when they confront Tottenham.

While in the Serie A, Victor Osimhen, Kalidou Koulibaly and Andre Zambo Anguissa of Napoli will look to bounce back from their shock 3-2 defeat by Fiorentina when they host Jose Mourinho’s Roma, hoping to get back their title chase back on track.

We bring you a preview of African stars when they file out for their clubs this weekend.

Mohammad Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita: Liverpool

The Reds’ African contingent will once again have their hands full when they take on Manchester City with Algerian Riyad Mahrez in tow, for the second time on one week.

Jurgen Klopp has so much faith in Salah and Mane, but could also rely on Keita to come on at some point against Pep Guardiola’s men.

Having kept Mane and Salah on the bench for the majority of Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with Benfica in the UEFA Champions League, Klopp is likely to start the forwards in Saturday’s Wembley showdown.

Enock Mwepu: Brighton & Hoves Albion

After a man of the match performance against top four chasing Arsenal with a goal and assist in Brighton & Hove Albion’s 2-1 shocking win at the Emirates Stadium last week, Enock Mwepu will again hope to start when the Seagulls seek another scalp offTottenham Hotspur, another top four contender.

Malian midfield maestro, Yves Bissouma, may likely play a part in this match with Graham Potter’s team looking to throw a spanner in the works of another top-four contender this weekend.

Hakim Ziyech: Chelsea

With Thomas Tuchel expected to rotate his squad in Sunday’s FA Cup encounter with Crystal Palace, Ziyech could start at Wembley Stadium against Patrick Vieira’s in-form side.

The Moroccan was the match-winner in last season’s semi-final success against Manchester City, something he will hope to replicate against the Eagles who will have Wilfred Zaha, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise in their rank.

Having already scored the winner in the second Premier League meeting between both clubs, Ziyech will back himself to flourish as the Blues hope to end the year on a positive note.

Ademola Lookman, Kelechi Iheanacho: Leicester City

The duo of Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho are becoming important players for Leicester City as was witnessed in their contributions in City’s 2-1 win over PSV in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.

Lookman who came off the bench to create the assist for City’s winning goal, will be hoping to start against Newcastle United after a strong showing in Eindhoven.

In the absence of the injured Jamie Vardy, Iheanacho will also hope to see his chances of making the starting eleven at St. James’ Park brighter after his strong showing on Thursday.

Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Osimhen, Andre Zambo Anguissa: Napoli

The trio of Koulibaly, Osimhen and Anguissa will want to banish the ghost of last week’s 3-2 defeat
Napoli suffered in the hands of Fiorentina to get their title dream back on track.

Koulibaly and Osimhen were part of the defeat but Anguissa missed out through suspension, and the two are likely to play from the start when in-form Roma visit on Easter Monday.

Osimhen will miss out due to an injury he copped towards the end of the match.

The Nigerian forward scored and assisted in the Fiorentina defeat but his efforts were not enough for the Naples outfit as they fell to a fifth defeat at their home.

Samuel Chukwueze: Villarreal

Chukwueze will be hoping to build on his heroics in Villarreal’s elimination of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, where he scored the crucial goal that took his Spanish side to the UEFA Champions League semi final, as the Yellow Submarines clash with Getafe.

Unai Emery’s men may be perfoming at an high level in Europe but have been off-form in La Liga, claiming only four points from their last 15, leaving them eight points behind Real Sociedad in sixth spot.

Chukwueze will be hoping to notch his sixth goal in La Liga if he can get one past Getafe.

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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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