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

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African soccer stars strutted their stuff last weekend for their respective European club sides in different leagues and competitions and as usual, some of them were quite good while some put up abysmal performances they would want to forget in a hurry.

We bring you a review of how African stars performed for their European clubs in the past weekend.

Too Good

Victor Osimhen, Kalidou Koulibaly: Napoli

Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen was in the form of his life as he grabbed a goal for himself as Napoli bounced back from a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Empoli to thrash Sassuolo 6-1 in a Serie A fixture at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Saturday.

While Osimhen was running rings in the front, Senegal international Kalidou Koulibaly was a calm orchestrator at the back.

Koulibaly was also among the goals as he bombed forward to grab the first goal before the Nigerian star got the second while Hirving Lozano, Dries Mertens (2) and Amir Rrahmani also helped themselves with their goals.

Osimhen is currently the joint seventh highest goal scorer in the Serie A with a tally of 13 goals so far, and is also the team’s top league scorer.

Fashion Sakala: Rangers

Zambia international striker, Sakala, was on the scoresheet as Rangers managed a 1-1 draw against Celtic in the Scottish Old Firm derby at Celtic Park on Sunday, a result that put on hold their title aspiration for a while, in the very least.

After the Bhoys, as Celtic are called, took the lead courtesy of Jota, the 25-year-old Chipolopolo star popped up with a goal for the Gers in the 67th minute, beating goalkeeper Joe Hart with a powerful left-footed effort.

His African teammates, Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey and Leon Balogun also played their parts in the game but it was Sakala, who joined Rangers from KV Oostende, who stood out by notching his eighth goal from 28 appearances in the Scottish Premiership.

Naby Keita: Liverpool

Out of the quartet of African players in the Liverpool squad, Guinea international Keita stood out as he was the hero on the night as his wonder goal enabled the title-chasing Reds to secure a vital win against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday, to put pressure on Manchester City.

With Jurgen Klopp resting Egypt international Mohamed Salah before he came on in the second period, it was the 27-year-old Keita who scored the decisive goal in the 19th minute.

Keita has managed 18 appearances overall and accumulated 915 minutes of playing time for the Reds in the league this season.

He has started only 11 times across Liverpool’s 33 fixtures, coming on as a sub on seven occasions, scoring three goals and one assist in the process.

Wilfried Zaha: Crystal Palace

Ivory Coast international winger, Zaha, came off the bench to score in stoppage time to help Crystal Palace secure a 2-1 Premier League win against Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Zaha replaced Jean-Philippe Mateta in the 64th minute with scores tied at 1-1 and became the hero for the Eagles as he scored in added time and helped them bounce back to winning ways.

Apart from the goal, Zaha also reached another milestone as he became the third most-capped African in Premier League history after earning his 274th Palace cap against the Saints in the English top-flight, moving him ahead of Arsenal and Nigeria great Nwankwo Kanu.

Yves Bissouma: Brighton

The Mali international was on target as Brighton and Hove Albion defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 in the Premier League at Molineux on Saturday.

The Seagulls were the better side in the game and took the lead through Alexis Mac Allister, who converted from the penalty spot before Leandro Trossard grabbed the second and Bissouma sealed the game with the third.

It was the Bissouma’s first goal for Brighton this season from 23 appearances but the goal proved to be important for the team as they continue to prove their mettle in the Premier League.

Mohammed Elneny: Arsenal

Once again, Egyptian midfielder Mohammed Elneny’s experience was on display as Arsenal won its third game on the trot with a 2-1 win over West Ham in a London derby.

The win propelled the Gunners back into the fourth position in the battle to secure European football next season, replacing Tottenham Hotspur who had snuck into the position earlier in the day.

Elneny, like he has done in the last two wins for Arsenal against Chelsea and Man United, was pivotal to the team maintaining a High balance in the middle and was a calming influence when those around him seemed to lose their heads.

Too Bad:

Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech: Chelsea

The Senegal international goalkeeper Mendy was on the too bad end after he conceded yet again courtesy of a clinical finish from Richarlison as Chelsea suffered a 1-0 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Going into the fixture, Mendy had also failed to keep a clean sheet for the Blues as they battled to a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford last Thursday.

So far in this campaign, the Lion of Teranga AFCON winning keeper has kept only 13 clean sheets, as against last season where he had 16 clean sheets from 31 games.

Retired Moroccan international, Ziyech came on in the second half but even he could not do anything to help Chelsea pick a point.

Emmanuel Dennis, Ismaila Sarr: Watford

The duo of Nigeria international Emmanuel Dennis and Senegal’s Ismaila Sarr failed to inspire Watford to a win as they suffered a 2-1 defeat against Burnley at Vicarage Road on Saturday, and further sealing their ticket to the Championship from the top flight.

The two African players were handed starting roles in the relegation battle and despite taking an early lead courtesy of James Tarkowski’s own goal, they could not hold on as the Clarets scored two goals late in the second period to emerge winners.

Kelechi Iheanacho: Leicester City

The Nigeria international was on target as Leicester City suffered a 3-1 Premier League defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Iheanacho who was in action from start to finish alongside Ghana’s Daniel Amartey and Senegal international Nampalys Mendy, has netted three top-flight goals this campaign from 24 appearances, which is quite a poor return for a striker of his quality.

Samuel Chukwueze: Villarreal

The 22-year-old Super Eagle star was on target as Villarreal lost 2-1 away to Alaves in a La Liga fixture at Mendizorroza in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Saturday.

It was the home team who took an early lead courtesy of Victor Laguardia before they went 2-0 up through Gonzalo Escalante.

Samuel Chukwueze celebrating his goal against Bayern Munich

Samuel Chukwueze 

However, Chukwueze pulled a goal back for the Yellow Submarine at the start of the second half but it was not enough to hand them something from the game.

The attacker has netted three top-flight goals this season from 23 appearances after opening his account against Barcelona on November 27, scoring during a 3-1 defeat.

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Sports

Sex scandal rocks Cameroon Volleyball Federation as officials accused of assaulting underage players

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Sex scandal rocks Cameroon Volleyball Federation as officials accused of assaulting underage player

A raging sex scandal is currently rocking the Cameroon Volleyball Federation ((FECAVOLLEY), which has seen officials scampering to deny the allegations.

According to local media, the Federation has been enmeshed in sexual misconduct involving coaches and underage players leading to a public outcry for investigation and transparency.

A whistle blower had raised an alarm with accusations that several young players, aged between 16 and 18, were impregnated by national team coaches, prompting a severe backlash and calls for an in-depth investigation.

However, in a statement on Friday, the Federation strongly denied the allegations involving sexual misconduct within its ranks.

In the statement, FECAVOLLEY addressed the claims head-on, distancing itself from the individuals involved and asserting its commitment to the ethical management and development of volleyball in Cameroon.

“The Cameroon Volleyball Federation, under the leadership of Mr. Julien Serge Abouem, wishes to inform both national and international public opinion that FECAVOLLEY is not involved in the tumult of moral affairs prevalent in the media, especially on social networks,” the statement said.

The scandal had come to light following revelations made by a professional player in an open letter where she condemned what she called the pervasive “droit de cuissage” (right of first night) and “organized debauchery” allegedly endorsed by the federation’s president.

The player’s accusations extended to the behavior of certain coaches whom she claimed were engaged in the harassment and sexual abuse of young female athletes.

The situation got worse when a sports journalist, Richard Naha reported that five underage volleyball players were currently pregnant as a result of relations with federation officials.

However, FECAVOLLEY’s statement vehemently denied any involvement with the indicted officials, referring to them as impostors who falsely claim to be associated with a so-called Cameroonian Federation of Volleyball.

“These individuals will not find a platform for expression at FECAVOLLEY, which continues to pursue its development plan harmoniously,” the statement added.

“FECAVOLLEY invites the necessary support for the implementation of public policies in the field of sports and physical education,” it noted.

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Sports

Moroccan novelist Leila Slimani makes history as she co-writes Paris Olympics ceremony script

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Moroccan novelist, Leila Slimani, has made history after she was selected alongside world renowned
historian Patrick Boucheron, and French screenwriter, Fanny Herrero, to write the script for the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

According to the Games organizers, the opening ceremony will be a spectacle that promises to be the contrary of a heroized story, cleverly subverting clichés with humor in a production that will also feature contributions from playwright and actor Damien Gabriac.

In an interview with Le Monde on Tuesday, Slimani and Boucheron shared how they envisioned the show within artistic director Thomas Jolly’s team.

“I had the concept of an immense spectacle, but I lacked a narrative to address the world,” Jolly explained, adding that having the four scripting is the ideal team.

The opening ceremony of the games will take place on July 26, and Jolly said it will break conventions as it will take place on the Seine River and amidst Paris’s iconic landmarks instead of a stadium like in previous ones.

“Along the riverbanks and bridges, 3,000 dancers and actors will present 12 artistic scenes, while national delegations will parade aboard boats,” Boucheron said.

He stated further that he drew inspiration from “the ceremony imagined by Jean-Paul Goude for the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989,” a landmark event in live performance history.

“The parade subverted national stereotypes and boldly advocated for global mixing with an optimism that we seem to have lost today,” he emphasized.

According to him, Paris 2024 will be the opposite of the ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Games, which was “an ode to greatness and a display of strength.”

“The opening of the Olympics must speak to the world about France and speak to France about the world, aiming to be the opposite of a virile, heroized tale,centered around France as a promise of freedom.”

Slimani also describes it as “a very generous narrative, filled with joy, emulation, movement, excitement, and sparkle, not just the famous philosophical values that France often proudly exhibits, sometimes with too much assurance.”

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