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



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.


Senegal football federation suspends all football activities after deadly protests



Following a spate of violent protests which has led to the death of over 23 people, the Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) has suspended all domestic football until further notice.

The violence which broke out last week engulfing several cities in the West African country was sparked after a Dakar court sentenced main opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko to a two-year prison term on charges of “corrupting the youths.”

Following days of violence which saw security forces clash with protesters, leading to deaths and destruction of government properties and public utilities, the football federation decided to suspend all football activities due to security concerns.

A statement by the FSF on Friday, said:

“All football competitions are suspended until further notice throughout the national territory.”

The FSF statement added that the decision was the result of a government order which mandated that several public activities should be put on hold.

The statement noted that the suspension did not affect the national team, the Terenga Lions which is the reigning African champions after defeating Egypt in the final of the last AFCON.

The Terenga Lions have a date with Benin Republic in the 2024 AFCON qualifying match on June 17.

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Players’ union warns African players to steer clear of Egypt’s football clubs



International football players’ union, FIFPRO, has warned African footballers against signing with clubs in the Egyptian league, following allegations of slavery and harsh working conditions.

The FIFPRO warning is coming after a report emerged of a “disturbing rise in labour conflicts involving issues such as non-payment of salaries and abusive behaviour within the Egyptian football scene.”

The Egyptian league is one of the top leagues in Africa with lots of African players, especially Nigerian players who have made the north African country a sort of footballing mecca.

According to the report, there are around 30 Nigerian players plying their trade in the Egyptian league, with many of them often complaining of withheld or delayed salaries.

The likes of Emeka Eze and Anthony Okpotu are currently plying their trade with Al Masry, while Paul Joules, Favour Akem, Akinade Ibukun play for El Geish.

Smouha FC has in its books Sodiq Ougola, Abubakar Liday, and Junior Ajayi, who came out few months ago to complain of welfare issues with the club.

In the warning, FIFPRO advised the players to exercise extreme caution when considering moving to the Egyptian league.

In the statement, the players’ union said the increasing labour conflicts in the Egyptian league “emphasizes that such a move may potentially lead to legal proceedings.”

“In light of this, FIFPRO provides valuable recommendations to protect players’ interests,” the statement reads.

“It is important not to surrender their passports to club officials; they should, submit photocopies or insist on personal presence during formalities.

“FIFPRO also warns against signing blank contracts, as clubs have been known to manipulate these by later inserting different details. Players are urged to retain a signed original version of their contract and ensure that the currency is fixed to prevent club manipulation.

“Additionally, players are advised to approach agent dealings with caution, seeking support from trusted parties in case of disputes,” it added.

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