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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’s D’Tigers withdraws from 2025 AfroBasket qualifiers due to lack of funds

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Nigeria’s senior male basketball national team, D’Tigers, have withdrawn from the 2025 FIBA AfroBasket qualifiers dunking off in Tunisia on Friday due to lack of funds.

According to a press release by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), the “painful” withdrawal of the team from the window that could have given Nigeria another opportunity to qualify for the world championship was due to the inability of the Ministry of Sports to provide the federation with the needed funds for the qualifiers.

“In recent times, the female and male national basketball teams have not had the best in preparations for major continental and global championships, due to the perennial lack of funds,” the federation’s statement said.

“However, the financial burdens of ensuring national teams participate in these tournaments have been personally taken up by the President of NBBF, Engr. Musa Kida.

“While Kida, is yet to be refunded the billions of naira he has spent, the participation of the various national teams is in doubt as the federation is unable to raise more funds for the latest national assignment.

“The Ministry of Sports has not been able to come up with needed funds, citing lack of adequate funds to prosecute several other national engagements, including the forthcoming African Games holding in Accra, Ghana in March.

“The board of NBBF appeals to the ever-growing fans and lovers of the game in Nigeria and diaspora to understand the dire situation it found itself in view of the economic challenges faced by the country, even as it promised to redouble its efforts and commitments to the continued growth of the game in Nigeria.”

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Kelvin Kiptum: Autopsy reveals late Marathon record holder died from head injuries

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An autopsy carried out by the Kenyan government has revealed that late world marathon record holder, Kelvin Kiptum, died from severe head injuries in a ghastly road accident on February 11.

Kenya’s chief government pathologist, Johanssen Odour, told journalists at a press conference on Wednesday that the injuries were consistent with those suffered in motor vehicle accidents.

The 24-year-old rising star died in a car accident alongside his Rwandese coach Gervais Hakizimana in killed in a late-night accident near his home in north-western Kenya.

According to a release by his family, Kiptum will be laid to rest on Friday at his home village, Chepkorio in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, in what is expected to be a state event.

Kiptum rose to fame when he became a world marathon record holder when he set a time of 2:00:35 in the Chicago Marathon in October last year after switching to running the marathon from shorter distance races a year before.

At the London Marathon, he set a record pace and improved his personal best time by 50 seconds to beat the 2:01:09 record set by fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, widely considered the greatest marathoner of all time.

Kiptum broke the course record for the London Marathon, winning the men’s event in the second-fastest marathon in history, crossing the finish line in two hours, one minute and 25 seconds.

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