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Is Africa at Qatar World Cup to complete numbers? Here’s how we score the teams

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The five African teams that qualified for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar knew their opponents on Friday when the draws were held at the Doha Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Prior to the draw, reigning African champions, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon and Ghana, were pooled in Groups A, F, D, G and H, with fans of each team praying for favourable pairings.

But in the draws proper, different interesting scenarios played out as Ghana was given the opportunity to exact a revenge on Uruguay for the heartbreak they suffered in the 2010 edition when a Luiz Suarez’s last minute handball deprived them from advancing into the semifinals.

But how will the African teams fare at the World Cup after getting to know their opponents?

Senegal

AFCON 2021 winners, Senegal, presents Africa’s most realistic chance of getting farther in the Qatar 2022 World Cup after being drawn against host Qatar, the Netherlands, and Ecuador.

Undoubtedly Africa’s best side at the World Cup, Senegal has got a favourable draw and with the likes of Liverpool striker Saido Mane, Chelsea goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, and Napoli defence lynchpin, Kalillou Coulibaly, marshalling the defence, they will fancy their chances of ruffling some feathers.

Their toughest opponents in the group will undoubtedly be Netherlands but Aliou Cisse’s troops have what it takes to hold their own.

Cameroon

The Indomitable Lions defied the odds when they went to Blida to take on Algeria with a one goal deficit, only to shock their hosts with a dramatic 2-1 win to pick the World Cup ticket.

With the Lions drawn with five times World Cup winners, Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia, they face unarguably the toughest chance of making it out of Group C.

However, the Rigobert Song tutored Lions do have a mental toughness that could see them navigate through the tough first round and with their rugged style of play, all fingers will be crossed.

Tunisia

The Carthage Eagles will have to contend with world champions, France and Denmark, while keeping an eye on one of Peru, Australia or the United Arab Emirates to join the group after their different playoffs.

Drawn against the defending World champions and European Championship semi-finalists, Tunisia have their work cut out for them and will feel disillusioned even before a ball is kicked at the Mundial.

Ghana

Ghana’s reward for beating the Super Eagles of Nigeria is a rematch with Uruguay, a team that denied them a semifinal ticket in 2010 in South Africa.

The hurriedly assembled Black Stars, though not spectacular, managed to brush aside a disjointed and lackluster Nigerian team to qualify for the World Cup but do they have what it takes to go against a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea, complete with Tottenham Hotspur’s talisman, Song Heung-min?

Does this Ghanaian team have the quality to go better than its predecessors?

Only time will tell.

Morocco

The Atlas Lions have their work cut out for them having been drawn against Belgium who were semi-finalists in Russia in 2018 and runners up, Croatia, and will have to rely on the brilliance of their star player, Achraf Hakimi, to see them through.

Both Belgium, with their now fading golden generation, and Croatia, are not as good as they were four years ago, so Morocco can dream of getting out of the group, in the very least.

But with a Canadian side that qualified with three games to spare also in the mix, sheer will power and tactical discipline will be all the North Africans need to trudge on.

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How Super Eagles players, Bassey, Iwobi disunited Man U

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It was a Nigerian affair at the revered Old Trafford stadium as the Super Eagles duo of Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi combined to deny Manchester United all three points in the EPL match played on Saturday as Fulham beat the Red Devils 2-1 at home for the first time since 1963.

United’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were further put on hold as defender Bassey scored his first goal for Fulham in the 65th minute from a corner before Iwobi did the unthinkable when he scored in added time to earn an unlikely victory for the away side.

The much maligned England defender, Harry Maguire, thought he had rescued a point for United when he pounced on a rebound in the 89th minute to cancel the Bassey’s strike.

But Iwobi, however had plans as he pounced on Adama Traore’s pass to wrong foot Cameroonian goal keeper, Andre Onana, to seal thr famous win for the London club.

And typical of Nigerian football fans, the joke of the win was turned on Onana in the spirit of the age-long rivalry between Nigeria and Cameroon.

While some bantered the Eagles duo saying they did to Man U what they could not do to Ivory Coast in the final of the 2023 AFCON, others taunted Onana, bragging that Nigeria will always beat the Indomitable Lions both at national team and club levels.

Meanwhile, another Nigerian eligible player, Tosin Adarabioyo played alongside Bassey in the Fulham defence and was rock-solid as well.

Read what some social media users posted after the match;

“Onana escaped Nigeria in Ivory Coast. Calvin Bassey and Iwobi just hunted him to Manchester United to give him his own share of the two goals he escaped” – Wisdom Ezrah

“Iwobi and Bassey saw Onana and thought they were playing against Cameroon” – Anselem Ekene

“Iwobi and Bassey made sure Manchester United paid for their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations” – Dan Ifeanyi

“Cameron will always be under Nigeria when it comes to football be it on African soil or Europe. Well done guys” – Aliyu Salihu

“Onana went to eliminate Cameroon early enough so that he could rush back and finish Manchester United completely” – Bomario Tam

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Kenyan President Ruto promises Kiptum’s widow new house, job, Ksh.5m cash

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Kenya’s President, William Ruto, has promised that the State will build a new and befitting house for the family of late marathon world record holder, Kelvin Kiptum.

Ruto who made the pledge while speaking during Kiptum’s burial ceremony held on Friday at the Chepkorio Showground in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet County, said government will give the family another house in addition to the one built on Kiptum.

Apart from the new house, President Ruto said the government would give every support to Kiptum’s family in honour of the pride and glory the late marathoner brought the country.

He also pledged to give Kiptum’s widow, Asenath Rotich, automatic employment and Ksh.5 million cash to support her and the two young children left behind by Kiptum.

The new house will be in addition to the two three-bedroomed houses the government constructed for the late world marathon champion and his father in a record one week.

In his address at the funeral ceremony, President Ruto eulogised Kiptum as an “ambitious, disciplined and focused” sportsman, highlighting Kiptum’s humility, noting that he overcame all challenges facing him to become an icon.

“He had more reasons not to succeed than he had to succeed. But he worked against the odds. He could have said ‘I come from a village that is not well known, or I come from a family that cannot cater for me’ or he does not have running shoes… you heard he ran barefoot in his earlier days.

“He didn’t see those as impediments to his ambition and his success. I say Kelvin, even in his death, is speaking to us as Kenyans that we may not have gold, we may not have so much… and that should not deter us from being the great country that we must be.

“All of us as the people of Kenya must love this country enough to be able, to make Kenya great,” Ruto said.

The late Kiptum died in a tragic road accident along the Elgeyo Marakwet-Eldoret road alongside his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana on Sunday, February 11.

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