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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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Professional Fighters League names Cameroonian fighter Ngannou new Africa boss

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The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has named Cameroonian Mix Martial Arts fighter, Francis Ngannou, as its African chief.

The announcement which was made during the unveiling of the African chapter of the PFL in Lagos, Nigeria also saw PFL Africa joining PFL Europe and PFL MENA as part of PFL’s network of regional leagues that is becoming the Champions League of MMA.

“The Professional Fighters League is excited to announce PFL Africa, the third international fight franchise as we continue on our path to becoming the Champions League of MMA,” PFL CEO, Peter Murray, said during the ceremony.

“Africa is home to some of the greatest fighters in the world, including our league Chairman Francis Ngannou and some of the greatest fans in the sport.

“PFL Africa aims to serve the great fans with premium content while strengthening the PFL global footprint in what has for too long been an underserved market.

“Alongside our great investment and broadcast partners we cannot wait to kick off PFL Africa League action in 2025.

“PFL is a global powerhouse in MMA and is regarded as the fastest-growing sports league worldwide.

“PFL Africa will introduce an engaging sport-season format with a regular season, playoffs and championship featuring top African fighters with all events, for the first time, hosted in Africa,” Murray said.

On his part, Ngannou stated, “I am excited and honoured to serve as Chairman of PFL Africa, a league that will shape the very foundation of African MMA.

“As we have seen, there is a great wealth of talent in Africa just waiting to be given the global stage. I am so proud to give back to my homeland and to provide great content to a region with such a passionate and diverse fanbase.”

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Eritrean cyclist Girmay nicks third Tour de France victory

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Eritrean cyclist, Biniam Girmay, has created another record after he cycled to his third victory at this year’s Tour de France in a mass dash for the line on Thursday to extend his lead in the sprint points race.

The history-making Girmay who became the first black African to win a stage on the Tour on the third day of this year’s edition at Turin, was again first on stage eight with his third triumph so far.

In the race which also had Yellow Shirt holder Tadej Pogacar who fell off few meters to the finish line, Girmay proved fastest in a bunched sprint finish in stage 12 as he topped the podium ahead of Wout van Aert and Pascal Ackermann.

Girmay now has 328pts to Jasper Philipsen’s 217 with few real sprint stages remaining, with the exception of the one on Friday.

In achieving the feat, Grimay also extended his lead in the green jersey points battle, opening up a likely unassailable 111-point advantage over Jasper Philipsen.

After the race, Girmay, 24, who rides force Intermarche-Wanty, said:

“The green jersey gives me wings – I feel super fast. It’s in the head. I’ve had my ups and downs in recent seasons but I changed things this year and it’s working.”

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