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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.

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Ghana coach, Otto Addo, resigns after World Cup ouster

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Black Stars of Ghana coach, Otto Addo, has resigned following the team’s World Cup group stage elimination after suffering a 2-0 loss to Uruguay on Friday.

The 47-year-old former international who was named as an interim replacement for sacked Milovan Rajevac in February, before he was given a permanently deal till the end of December, threw in the towel shortly after the team’s failure to progress to the round of 16 at tournament.

Addo who is the talent coach at German Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund, in a press conference where he announced his resignation, said:

“I always said if we qualified for the World Cup, I’d resign afterwards, even if we were world champions. My family see our future in Germany.”

Addo who was born in Hamburg, Germany, to Ghanaian parents, was a junior German international before he switched allegiance to the country of his parents.

A no-nonsense defensive midfielder during his playing days, Addo played for the Ghana national team for seven years commencing starting from 1999 his when he made his debut in a 5–0 routing of Eritrea on 28 February 1999.

He went on to play in the 2000 African Cup of Nations and in the 2006 FIFA World Cup where he started the game against the Czech Republic on 17 June 2006 at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne, which Ghana won 2–0.

Ghana was Addo’s first managerial job after several roles at clubs in Germany and Denmark.

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Sports

Qatar 2022: Gallant Cameroon crash out of World Cup despite beating Brazil 1-0

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The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon created another football upset when they became the first African team to defeat Brazil at a World Cup tournament after beating the five-times world champions 1-0 in last Group G match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, on Friday.

However, the gallant Lions crashed out of the World Cup as the win was not enough to earn them a last 16 place after Switzerland defeated Serbia to finish second.

Rigobert Song’s men got a late winner through captain Vincent Aboubakar’s stoppage-time header to earn Cameroon a memorable late win over the Selecao, but the forward was then sent off for taking off his jersey while celebrating the goal.

Cameroon went into the game knowing they needed to beat Brazil to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the knockouts and they upheld their end of the bargain, but their efforts were thwarted with Switzerland’s win over Serbia which meant Cameroon finished third in the group as Brazil had already qualified as group winners before the crunch tie.

The South Americans held onto top spot in the group due to their superior goal difference over Switzerland, meaning they will face South Korea for a place in the quarter-finals on Monday evening.

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