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

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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.

Sports

Kenya’s Edwin Kibet wins 2023 Lagos City Marathon

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Kenyan long distance runner, Edwin Kibet Koech, has won the 8th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon held in Nigeria on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Kibet finished the 42km race in two hours, 14 minutes and six seconds to beat Ethiopia’s Dekeba Shefa and fellow Kenyan, Bernard Sang, who finished second and third respectively.

For his feat, Kibet took home the grand prize of $50,000, while Shefa and Sang carted home $40,000 and $30,000 respectively.

In the female category, Alemenseh Guta of Ethiopia was the first woman to cross the finish line, with compatriot Kebene Urisa and Kenya’s Naomi Maiyo coming second and third respectively.

The annual event sponsored by one of Nigeria’s elite financial institutions, Access Bank, was recently upgraded by the world athletics body to a gold label, meaning that the winners of both the men and women’s races have also qualified for the marathon events at the 2024 Olympics scheduled for Paris, France.

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Sports

Nigerian tech billionaire, Dozy Mmobuosi, set to acquire Sheffield United in £90m deal

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A Nigerian tech billionaire, Dozy Mmobuosi, is reportedly on the verge of acquiring English football club, Sheffield United, in a deal said to be in the region of £90 million.

Sheffield United which is in the English championship, is likely to gain promotion back to the English Premier League as it is in the top three of the second tier of the league.

The Blades’ push for promotion back to the EPL this season suffered a glitch after they were hit by a transfer embargo last month amid financial difficulties but if the sale is successful, they would have enough funds to go into the transfer market.

The sale deal has been confirmed by the English Football League (EFL) in a post on its website, where it said the issue relates to the non-payment of a transfer fee that was owed.

The EFL said the embargo which prevents Sheffield from buying a player for the next 18 months unless they win promotion, was imposed because the Blades failed to keep up payment instalments on signings.

“This included payments to Liverpool for forward Rhian Brewster, who was signed in October 2020 for £23.5m.”

The Blades current owner, Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has been struggling to maintain the funding needed to keep the club going and was understood to be open to selling the club.

And that has opened the door for the Nigerian billionaire whose company, Tingo Mobile, is valued at around £7 billion, to make a bid to buy the club.

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