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How Riyad Mahrez’s Man City pipped Salah, Mane’s Liverpool to EPL title in dramatic comeback

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It was another dramatic end to the English Premier League as Riyad Mahrez’s Manchester City produced a dramatic comeback to beat Aston Villa 3-2 to retain the EPL title from the brink of being snatched by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s Liverpool.

It was reminiscent of the 2012 title winning season when Sergio Aguero scored a dramatic last gasp winning goal against Queens Park Rangers to at Etihad Stadium which saw City edge Manchester United to the title.

Lovers of the English game will not forget the screeching voice of the commentator Martin Tyler on May 13, 2012, screaming his lungs out:

“Aguerrroooooo…I swear you will never see anything like this ever again. So watch it, drink it in…”

But on May 22, 2022, a similar scenario played out when German midfielder, Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to reenact the Aguero magic by scoring not once but twice to propel Pep Guardiola’s men to another historic win which rendered Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers meaningless.

Villa coached by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, had raced into a lead through a header from Matty Cash and a strike from former Liverpool midfield grafted, Philippe Coutinho.

But with just 15 minutes to go and with City trailing Villa by 2-0, the 2021/2022 Premier League title looked like it was slipping out of their grasp until Guardiola decided to bring on Gundogan and the midfielder struck twice while Rodri got on the scoresheet as well to ensure City retain their title.

Liverpool’s hopes of usurping City to the title on the final day ended in smoke despite coming from behind to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield courtesy of goals from Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson.

At the other end of the table, Leeds United ensured they stayed in the EPL when a 94th minute strike from Jack Harrison gave them a 2-1 victory at Brentford, while Burnley ended its six years romance on the top flight with relegation courtesy of a 2-1 loss at home to Newcastle.

The race for the top four and the last Champions League slot was sealed with Tottenham Hotspur pipping eternal rivals Arsenal with a thumping 5-0 defeat of relegated Norwich while Arsenal 5-1 win over Everton counted for nothing as the Gunners will only settle for the Europa League along with Man U who finished 6th despite losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace.

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Three foreign-born players switch allegiance to Ghana: Can the trio help the Black Stars go far in Qatar?

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Three foreign-born footballers, Tariq Lamptey of Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu as well as Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish La Liga, have all switched allegiance to Ghana and are eligible to play for the Black Stars in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Europe-based trio are now eligible to represent the four-time African champions at senior level after initially shunning earlier invitations to play for the country, while holding out for invitations to the national teams of their birth countries.

While Lamptey and Salisu had hoped for call ups into the English national team setup, Williams had looked forward to moving from the Spanish Under 21 to the senior national team but with their chances being limited by the day, they have all decided to return to the country of their parents.

The switch of allegiance by the trio was confirmed by the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, via a post on Twitter on Tuesday night.

“Tariq Lamptey, Inaki Williams, Mohammed Salisu, Stephan Ambrosius, Patrick Pfeffer and Ransford Yeboah [are] available for national selection,” Simeon-Okraku wrote on the micro-blogging platform.

28-year-old Williams had represented Spain at U21 level before playing for their senior national team in a 3-1 friendly defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016, but since then, has not had a look in from the Spanish team selectors.

Salisu was born in Kumasi but left for Europe, first to Spain where he played for Real Valladolid before switching to Premier League side Southampton.

He had previously rejected invitations to star for the Black Stars while hoping to get a call up by either Spain or England while Lamptey who was born in Hillingdon to Ghanaian parents has played for England at U18, U19, U20 and U21 levels but his chances with the Three Lions has been blocked by the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James.

Though the development is a big boost for the Black Stars ahead of the 2022 World Cup, the big question on the lips of soccer fans in the West African country is what the trio will bring to the Black Stars when the best footballing nations gather in Qatar for the World Cup in November.

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CAF postpones 2023 Afcon to January 2024 due to weather concerns

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF), has postponed the 34th edition of the African Nations Cup (AFCON), which was scheduled to hold between June to July of 2023 in Ivory Coast, to January and February, 2024.

The reason for the postponement, according to CAF President, Patrice Motsepe, is due to concerns over weather conditions in the West African country which experiences heavy rainfall during the period.

While addressing the CAF Executive Committee meeting in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday, Motsepe said the decision was also to align the continent with the European football calendars.

Motsepe also said the decision was further motivated by weather concerns following a report by the Ivorian Meteorological Agency which predicted heavy rainfall in many parts of the country designated for the tournament.

The agency, in a report presented to CAF, had noted that Ivory Coast which has a tropical climate, has the peak of its rain season between June and July and most parts of the country is always at the height of the rainy season.

This is the second time the AFCON will be rescheduled at the beginning of the year since it was moved from January/February to June/July by former CAF President Ahmad Ahmad.

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