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Africa to the World: Stars to watch this weekend in Europe’s top leagues



Another footballing weekend is here and presents an opportunity for African soccer stars to strut their stuff in their different club sides in Europe.

As the European football season gradually draws to an end, there are lots of African players who are either in line to win their various leagues while some are doing everything possible to help their teams avoid the drop.

We bring you a preview of the continent’s stars who are expected to feature for their respective clubs around the world this weekend.

Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech: Chelsea

Senegal’s Chelsea shot stopper, Edouard Mendy, may have had really tough few weeks but Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel still trusts him enough to retain him as the club’s number one and will once again be in goal for the clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Stamford Bridge on Saturday hoping to keep a rare clean sheet.


Last weekend’s defeat by Everton meamt the Afcon winner has kept only one clean sheet in his last four Premier League games, a situation he hopes to change against  Wolves who have not found the back of the net in their last three games.

The match is a must win for Tuchel and his boys if they are to put a daylight between them and Arsenal breathing down their neck for the third spot in the league table.

The other African at Chelsea, Moroccan Hakim Ziyech may likely play a bit part role in the match as he he likely to come off the bench at some point.

Ismaila Sarr, Emmanuel Dennis: Watford

Watford’s relegation from the top flight could well be confirmed this weekend but their African contingent of Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis and their colleagues could yet stave off the evil day when they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The Hornets are facing a losing battle with 10 points separating them from 18th-placed Everton who have a game outstanding but they can as well to end with some respectability.

Last weekend, Palace’s Wilfried Zaha netted the winner in their 2-1 come from behind victory against Southampton which took the team up to the 12th position. The goal was also the Ivory Coast international’s 13th of the season.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Joel Matip: Liverpool

Liverpool could go top of the league if they beat Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday night which will heap pressure on Riyad Mahrez and his Manchester City teammates who host Newcastle United on Sunday.

The indefatigable trio of Salah, Mane, and Matip are likely to play from the off against Antonio Conte’s men who need a victory to stay within touching distance of Arsenal in fourth.

For Mahrez, it remains to be seen how  Pep Guardiola deploys his men to react to Wednesday’s last gasp defeat by Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi final.

Geoffrey Kondogbia: Atlético de Madrid

Geoffrey Kondogbia returned from suspension for Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 defeat by Athletic Club last weekend and is in line for a run out in the all important clash against league winners Real Madrid in the Madrid derby.

Diego Simeone’s troops are three points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis and need a result of any kind against their fierce rivals to hold on to fourth spot.

With Real Madrid’s La Liga title already confirmed, Los Colchoneros will hope to catch Carlo Ancelotti’s men on a rare bad day.

Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie: AC Milan

AC Milan need a response if they hope to usurp Inter Milan who have now jumped to the top of the league table after a 4-2 comeback victory over Empoli on Friday night.

Bennacer and Kessie are important players in Stefano Pioli’s team and they should be part of the party against Hellas Verona as the Rossoneri aims to win a first Scudetto since 2011.


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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