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The Good and The Bad: How African stars performed in Europe last weekend

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Over the weekend, African soccer stars took to the field for their respective European clubs in different leagues and competitions.

Some churned out impressive displays while others had outings they would rather forget.

A handful of the players made crucial contributions for their clubs while others found themselves on the losing side.

We bring a review of the African players who were too good for their European teams as well as the ones who were not so good.

Too Good

Mohamed Elneny: Arsenal

The Egyptian midfielder once again showed his importance for Arsenal with an assist in the Gunners 3-1 thumping of Manchester United at the Emirates.

After a man of the match display at Stamford Bridge a week earlier, Elneny was instrumental to Arsenal overall outing with a sterling performance in the middle of the park alongside Granit Xhaka.

He also provided the assist for the third goal scored by Xhaka in the 70th minute, a which has once again propelled Arsenal into the top four in the EPL with a Champions League qualification looking likely after their direct rivals, Tottenham Hotspur dropped points against Brentford.

Mohammed Kudus: Ajax

Ghanaian star Kudus was also good for Dutch Eredivisie runaway leaders Ajax as he provided the assist in the 88th minute in his club’s 1-0 defeat of NEC in the game played on Saturday.

His fellow African in the team, Sebastien Haller of Ivory Coast played the whole duration of the game but had little impact.

Karl Toko Ekambi, Alexander Djiku: Lyon

The Cameroonian players make tje good list as they conteibuted positively to Lyon’s 5-2 defeat of Montpellier in the French Ligue 1.

Ekambi scored one goal and provided an assist, netting as Lyon’s third goal in the 68th minute before providing the assist for captain Houssem Aouar’s goal in the second minute of added time.

Moses Simon: Nantes

Simon who was unarguably Nigeria’s best player as the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon, picked up from where he stopped as he helped his modest French club Nantes came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to claim a 5-3 win over Bordeaux.

The Nigerian claimed an assist to draw his club level at 3-3, before claiming his side’s fourth goal as his teasing cross forced Bordeaux defender Ricardo Mangas to turn the ball into his own net.

Edoaurd Mendy and Hakim Ziyech: Chelsea

Senegalese shot stopper, Edoaurd Mendy and retired Moroccan Moroccan international Hakim Ziyech were instrumental to Chelsea not losing a third straight match at the Stamford Bridge.

Mendy was at his best as he stopped West Ham’s relentless onslaught as the Blue ran out 1-0 winners while Ziyech who replaced Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the 76th minute played a key part in the only goal scored by Christian Pulisic in added time.

Too Bad

Alex Iwobi: Everton

Everton Super Eagles midfielder Iwobi was too bad for Everton against Liverpool that fans of the club took to social media to question if he is really the nephew of former Eagles and Bolton Wanderers midfield magician, Austin ‘Jay-Jay” Okocha.

Iwobi was preferred on the left side of midfield by Frank Lampard but he contributed next to nothing as Everton slumped its 11 loss in their last 12 Premier League away games, including each of the last seven in a row, making it their longest run of consecutive away defeats since a run of eight between April and October 1994.

The Toffees ended the day in the relegation zone for the first time since 6th December 2019.

Mohamed Salisu: Southampton

The Ghanaian defender had a mixed bag of game as he scored an own goal as Southampton 2-2 draw against Brighton to share the points.

Salisu’s own goal gave Brighton a two-goal advantage before Southampton recovered and scored twice through James Ward-Prowse.

Emmanuel Dennis, Hassan Kamara: Watford

Nigeria’s Dennis and Ivory Coast’s Kamara combined for Watford’s 28th-minute goal in against Manchester City but it was not enough to save them from a 5-1 thumping at the Etihad Stadium.

Dennis has now been directly involved in 52% of Watford’s 31 Premier League goals this season, scoring 10 goals with six assists to his name.

Victor Osimhen: Napoli

Osimhen played the full 90 minutes as Napoli’s Serie A title hopes went up in smoke as they lost 3-2 to 14th-placed Empoli, after leading 2-0 at a point.

The lanky forward failed to find the back of the net yet again, though he had his six shots, the poorest return for the striker whose previous worst performance this season came at home games against Hellas Verona in November.

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Nigeria, Zambia clinch women Olympic football slots for Paris 2024

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The Super Falcons of Nigeria and the Copper Queens of Zambia on Tuesday picked the last two spots in the women’s football tournament at the Paris Olympics after winning two-legged playoffs in the fourth round of African qualifiers.

While Nigeria played out a goalless draw against the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in Pretoria to qualify after a 1-0 win in Abuja last week, Zambia needed an extra time win to get past Morocco in Rabat in their second leg encounter.

The Copper Queens successfully turned a 2-1 first-leg home defeat into a 3-2 aggregate triumph with a 2-0 win over the Atlas Lionesses at Moulay Hassan Stadium.

Orlando Pride of USA striker, Barbra Banda, opened the scoring for Zambia in the 38th minute and got her brace when she converted a penalty in the 105th minute to send her country to the Olympic starting in July.

However, the two African countries have been drawn into tough groups for the football event at the Games.

The Super Falcons will take on world champions Spain and former world champions Japan and Brazil in Group C at the Olympics while Zambia is in Group B alongside France, former champions the United States and Germany as well as last year’s women World Cup semi-finalists, Australia.

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Spain denies Nigeria’s ‘Future Eagles’ visa for international tournament

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Spanish authorities have denied Nigeria’s Under-15 football team, popularly known as Future Eagles, the opportunity of participating in an international invitational tournament which would also feature Belgium, Italy and England.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), in a post on its X handle on Tuesday, said members of junior football team including the players and their officials were denied visas to attend the tournament in Spain.

The Nigerian football body said though the Spanish embassy did not give reasons for the visa denial, the team would “therefore not be travelling to take part in the Uefa U16 Development Tournament.”

The Future Eagles made up of 20 players and seven officials, were set to depart Nigeria on Tuesday, ahead of their first match against Belgium scheduled for Friday, before squaring up against Italy and England.

The Uefa Under-16 Youth Development Tournament, which is organised by Europe’s football governing body, has been held since 2012 and is intended to expose elite junior players to international football and ease their transition into senior levels of the sport.

The Future Eagles, coached by Patrick Bassey, recently returned from a tournament in Morocco where they won one match and lost one against their Moroccan counterparts on a two-match tour of that North African country.

Their first game had ended in a 2-3 defeat, but they bounced back to win the second game 5-3 in the city of Kenitra.

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