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.
Namibia qualifies for 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup
Namibia has qualified for the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup which will hold in United States and the West Indies, after a top-two guaranteed finish in the African qualifiers with a game to spare.
The Eagles triumphed over Tanzania 58-run in Windhoek and now sit on top of the table with five wins from five matches after previously defeating Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe still remain in contention to secure second spot in the table and join Namibia at the T20 World Cup next year, with Uganda facing east African rivals, Kenya on Wednesday.
The qualification of Namibia for next year’s 20-team tournament will be the country’s third consecutive appearance at the T20 World Cup, which makes them one of the most successful African teams in the Championship.
The Eagles reached the Super 12 stage as first-time qualifiers in the UAE in 2021 but however suffered a first round group-stage exit in Australia last year.
Speaking on the feat, Rudie van Vuuren, president of Cricket Namibia, said it was a testimony to the dedication of the players and coaching crew.
“We’re very proud of the boys, of Pierre de Bruyn and his coaching team and also Gerhard Erasmus, the captain of the team,” Van Vuuren told BBC Sport Africa.
“The boys played professional cricket throughout, really a high standard of cricket. And you can see the fact that we have a professional set-up eventually makes the difference in this kind of tournament.
“It is exciting times for Namibia. We have a strong pipeline developing. We look forward to the T20 World Cup and then, building on that, the Under-19 World Cup in 2026 and obviously the 50-over World Cup in 2027”, he added.
Namibia will co-host the Cricket World Cup in 2027 alongside South Africa and Zimbabwe, and will finish their group campaign against Nigeria on Thursday.
Cameroon: Ambazonian separatists issue death threats to ex-Nigerian soccer stars, Okocha, Amokachi
Cameroonian separatist group, Ambazonia has issued death threats to former Nigerian football stars, Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha and Daniel Amokachi, among other retired Nigerian players, invited by former Cameroon striker and current President of Cameroon Football Association, Samuel Eto’o, for a ceremonial tournament on November 30.
Eto’o had extended the invitation to the Nigerian players as well as other retired players both in Africa and other parts of the world to be part of the game aimed at promoting sporting relationships and football development in Cameroon.
The tournament is scheduled to hold in Victoria City in southwest Cameroon which is a part of the stronghold of the Ambazonia group which has been fighting for the independence of the English speaking region of the central African country.
In the warning issued to the Nigerian greats by one Comrade Chris Anon, who claimed to be head of the Ambazonia Interim Government based in the United States of America, the group warned Okocha, Amokachi and other invitees to stay away from the tournament or they would be killed as it has ordered a total lockdown on Victoria City and entire Fago County on the said date of November 30.
The group which calls itself the
“Restoration Fighters of the Ambazonia Interim Government”, also warned residents to stay indoors, stressing that violation of the order would be met with death.
The death threat message from Anon said:
“The Restoration Fighters of Ambazonia control Victoria and the entire county and are committed to ensuring the lockdown.
“Our determination to safeguard the integrity of the Ambazonia independence struggle will not be deterred. We show no mercy to anyone who attempts to disregard the lockdown.
“It is essential to emphasize the severity of the situation and to caution against actions that could be misconstrued as aligning with any forms of propaganda.
“The football match proposed by Samuel Eto’o is very controversial; it is a misguided and insensitive initiative. That decision to involve international players from Nigeria is deeply troubling.
“The timing and location of the tournament give rise to suspicions. We seriously and strongly caution Jay Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, and others who are promoting and preparing to participate in the tournament to reconsider their involvement as their participation may unintentionally result in bloodshed.
“We cannot help but question Samuel Eto’o’s decision to organize this tournament in Victoria, an Ambazonia territory that has been marred by war for over seven years, for which 30,000 Ambazonians have been killed.
“It raises legitimate concerns about potential exploitation of the situation for purposes that are not in the best interests of Victoria and Ambazonia in general.”
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