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So Close, So Far: African soccer stars who played in the English FA Cup final but never won it

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In the long and glorious history of the English Football Association Cup, simply known as The FA Cup, there have been a number of African soccer stars who have played in final and lifted the prestigious trophy.

There also have been some who graced the final but came out empty handed. Players like South Africa’s Quinton Fortune, Togo’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Moroccan Hakim Ziyech readily comes to mind.

As the FA Cup final takes center stage today with Liverpool squaring up against Chelsea, a number of African players will be involved and at the end of 90 minutes, some will fall into the category of African stars who either won or lost the cup.

Either the quartet of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Joel Matip all of Liverpool or the duo of Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea will be set for the joy of lifting the trophy or face the disappointment of losing.

Here is a roll call of African players who have reached the FA Cup final but never won it.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Former Togo National Team Captain, Emmanuel Adebayor turned out for Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, while plying his trade in England but never managed to win the FA Cup with any of these elite clubs.

His best sniff at the cup was in the 2015-16 season while playing for Crystal Palace when they faced and lost 2-1 to Manchester United in extra time, with the Eagles giving up a one goal lead with only 12 minutes left on the clock.

Quinton Fortune

The former South African international midfielder was on the books of Manchester United for seven years, between 1999-2006.

Though he won a Premier League title in 2003, he could not place his hands on the FA Cup as he was on the losing side in 2005 when the Red Devils lost to Arsenal 5-4 on penalties after a barren draw in regular time.

Wilfried Zaha

The Ivory Coast international also in the same team with Adebayo in the 2015-16 final which lost to Manchester United.

Zaha who was a key player for Alan Pardew’s men at Crystal Palace started and completed the match but despite his dominant performance and constantly threatening the Man United back four, he could not propel his team to a win.

Eric Bailly

The Ivory Coast centre-back was an unused substitute when Manchester United lost the 2017-18 final to Chelsea with a wonder strike from Eden Hazard.

Bailly was a key member of the team which steam rolled its way into the final but this term, has been a bit part player and is likely to leave the club due to injuries that has limited his appearances.

Hakim Ziyech

Will retired Moroccan winger Ziyech be lucky this time after he failed to lift the trophy last year when Chelsea lost 1-0 to Leicester City?

This will be a second straight final for Ziyech who started last season’s final and played 68 minutes but was not lucky to get on the scoresheet as Youri Tielemans’ 63rd minute goal proved the difference.

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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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Nigerian ‘Last Stylebender’, Israel Adesanya, beats Jarred Cannonier to retain UFC middleweight title

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Nigerian fighter, Israel Adesanya, “the Last Stylebender” , has retained his UFC middleweight title with a win via unanimous decision.

Judges scored the bout 49-46, 49-46, 50-45, all in favour of the Nigeria’s over his challenger, Jarred Cannonier in the UFC 276 bout which took place at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada this morning.

The 32-year-old Nigerian has now defended his middleweight championship for the fourth time after he defeated Kelvin for his middleweight interim title in 2019.

The ‘Last Stylebender’ he has defeated the likes of Robert Whitaker, Martin Vettori, Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero including his win against Jarod Cannonier.

Adesanya is one of top fighters of African descent in the UCF, the list includes Abu Azaitar was given the nickname Gladiator who holds a 14-1 MMA record, Sodiq Yusuff and Kamaru Usman who are both Nigeria and Cameroonian, Francis Ngannou, nickname: Predator.

Adesanya is reportedly set to a guaranteed purse of $1.8million from the fight after he earned around $1.1million in his last bout against Martin Vettori. UFC will earn approximately $82.5million from PPV sales and Israel will receive 30% of the PPV shares which could make this the highest earnings of his career.

 

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