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



The last weekend was one of mixed fortunes for a number of African soccer players across Europe, with some proving to be too good while others were just too bad in action for their respective sides both in the leagues and various competitions.

Top of the good category were Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah of Liverpool as well as Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech, who helped their teams to the English FA Cup final.

Others who also made the good category were Nigerian duo of Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey as they helped Rangers defeat eternal rivals Celtic to reach the Scottish Cup final.

The same could not be said of Arsenal’s Nicholas Pepe whose team continued its losing streak in the EPL, as well as Leicester City”s pair of Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho whose team gave up a one goal lead to lose 2-1 to Newcastle.

Overall, it was a remarkable weekend for African stars in Europe as we bring you a preview of the good and the bad of Africa’s export to European football.

The Good

Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah: Liverpool

Senegal star Sadio Mane was instrumental for Liverpool’s defeat of Premier League rivals Manchester City, in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The mecurial forward was too good and scored twice, in the 17th and 45th minutes, to ensure the Reds progressed to the final with a 3-2 victory.

Mane who was voted man-of-the-match was complimented by Salah’s all-round display as they dismantled City with three first half goals before Pep Guardiola’s men managed to pull two goals back in the second half but the damage had already been done by Mane and gang.

Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey: Rangers

The Nigerian duo of Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey were instrumental as Rangers defeated Celtic in the Scottish FA Cup semi-final to reach the final.

Midfield maestro Aribo and enterprising left back Bassey were outstanding in the match and both picked up yellow cards in the feisty encounter but that did not matter much as they contributed their shift for the win.

Their compatriot Leon Balogun abd Zambian striker Fashion Sakala were both introduced as substitutes late on in the game.

Taiwo Awoniyi: Union Berlin

Bullish Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi returned to the scoresheet as Union Berlin registered a 2-0 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Bundesliga, scoring his 13th goal of the season.

The striker who suffered a goal drought that saw him go some matches without a goal, opened the scoring in the 17th minute before Grischa Promel added the second three minutes later.

Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech: Chelsea

Chelsea’s pair of Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech were on the winning side as they outclassed Crystal Palace 2-0 in the second FA Cup semi-final played on Sunday.

While Mendy played out the full duration of the match and keeping a clean slate in the process, Ziyech came on in the 77th minute for Mason Mount as the Blues cruised to the final, with reward being a May 14 final where they will face Mane and Salah’s Liverpool.

Yves Bissouma, Enock Mwepu: Brighton & Hoves Albion

Malian midfielder Yves Bissoumsa and Zambian forward Enock Mwepu were instrumental to Brighton beating Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday to take another scalp off a top team in the EPL after their 2-1 away win at Arsenal a week earlier.

While Bissouma protected Brighton’s defence and was also impressive in breaking up the Spurs attacks as well as driving forward when they were attacking, Mwepu made sure the Tottenham backline had no moment of rest with his runs and trickery upfront.

The Bad

Nicolas Pepe: Arsenal

Just like the Arsenal team in general, the duo of Cote d’ivoire striker, Nicolas Pepe, could not live up to expectation as the Gunners suffered a third straight defeat at Southampton in the EPL.

Pepe’s introduction in the 70th minute for Nuno Tavares, could not alter the scoreline in favour of the Gunners as he was practically lost in the game as Arsenal chased an equaliser that did not come.

Maxwel Cornet: Burnley

Ivorian striker Maxwel Cornet makes the bad as he made an unwanted history by missing a penalty as Burnley ended up drawing 1-1 against West Ham United in London.

Cornet made history by becoming only the third Burnley player to fail to convert a penalty in the Premier League, after Scott Arfield (September 2014 vs Crystal Palace) and Matthew Taylor (April 2015 vs Leicester City).

Cornet also entered the history books as he missed the 50th spot-kick West Ham have conceded at home.

Ademola Lookman, Kelechi Iheanacho, Patson Daka: Leicester City

Ademola Lookman could have made the good list after scoring Leicester’s only goal but ended up on the losing side with a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle.

However, the Nigerian made a personal career-best stat as he has scored in each of his last three Premier League starts for Leicester.

But the same could not be said of Zambian striker Patson Daka who has failed to score in his last 12 matches for the Foxes in all competitions.

He was replaced in the 78th minute by Kelechi Iheanacho who did not fare any better.


Nigerian couple makes history with Paralympic qualifications



Nigerian para-table tennis players, Kayode Alabi and Ifechukwude Ikpeoyi, have made history by becoming the first African couple to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, after securing their maiden ticket at the ITTF African Para Championships in Giza, Egypt.

Alabi came out tops in the men’s Class Six category to qualify for his first Paralympic Games, while his wife also picked her maiden ticket in the women’s Class Five.

At the qualifying tournament, Nigerian players dominated in the men’s singles category and claimed the bulk of the tickets, with four of the six entrees making their Paralympic Games debut.

Nigeria also added extra tickets in women’s Classes Nine and Five in successive sessions, with Kehinde Lawal and Ikpeoyi topping their events as champions.

Other athletes who picked tickets for the Paralympic Games include Olufemi Alabi and Victor Farinloye, who both competed in the men’s Classes 10 and Eight at the last games in Tokyo.

Others are Isau Ogunkunle, Bolawa Akingbemisilu, Kayode Alabi and Abiola Adesope who all won their respective classes and will be on the plane to Paris.

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Sorry Namibia pounded 96-0 by France in Rugby World Cup



Namibia’s participation at the ongoing Rugby World Cup in France took a big dent when they were trounced 96-0 by the host who reached the quarter-finals of the competition with their biggest-ever win.

The one-sided Pool A encounter on Thursday evening at the Marseille’s Stade Velodrome saw France running up the huge score against the Africans, showing the gulf in class between the two teams.

In the match, Damian Penaud scored a hat-trick, while Jonathan Danty, Charles Ollivon and Louis Bielle-Biarry all scored twice to make mince meat of their opponents.

Thibaud Flament, Dupont and substitutes Baptiste Couillard and Melvyn Jaminet also scored, while Thomas Ramos kicked 12 conversions.

The host nation made 12 changes from their 27-12 victory over Uruguay, bringing back their big names and from the first whistle, dominated and outclassed a sorry Namibian side.

But it was not all good news for France as skipper Antoine Dupont was forced off the field with a head injury and will be sweating on his fitness ahead of the quarter-finals match.

Dupont was struck by Namibia captain Johan Deysel in the side of his head a few minutes into the second half and immediately left the field, being taken to hospital for a suspected fractured cheek.

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