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Napoli president, De Laurentiis, vows never to sign African players again because of AFCON

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Controversial President of Italian Serie A club, Napoli, Aurelio De Laurentiis, has vowed never to sign African players again unless they sign a clause that will see them miss out on the biennial African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The 73-year-old De Laurentiis who made the vow on Wednesday on a talk show, ‘Smart Talk on Wall Street Italia’, said though he ‘loves’ the African players in Napoli, he is no longer comfortable paying them so much money for the amount of time they are away playing for their countries at the tournament.

At the last AFCON held in Cameroon in February, Napoli had to release Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Cameroon midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa, for several weeks with Koulibaly staying the duration of the competition as Senegal went all the way to the final where they defeated Egypt.

The other African player in the team, Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen, could not make the Super Eagles team due to injury and the club announcing that the Covid-19 virus would keep the forward away from action.

Now with Koulibaly jumping ship to sign for Chelsea, Napoli is left with only Osimhen and Anguissa and De Laurentiis is adamant he would not bring in other African additions unless they agree they would not play at future AFCON tournaments.

“I told them, lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!” he said during the talk show.

“‘I love them, but either they sign something confirming they’ll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!

“We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others.”

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Nigeria’s Taiwo Awoniyi makes history as he scores Nottingham Forest’s first EPL goal in 23 years

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles striker, Taiwo Awoniyi has entered into the history books of Nottingham Forest as he netted The Reds first Premier League goal after 23 years as the EPL new boys pipped West Ham 1-0 on Sunday.

Awoniyi was up and running in his second game of the season and scored the only goal in Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 win over West Ham at City ground.

This was Awoniyi’s first full start for the Tricky Trees after coming on as a second-half sub in the 2-0 loss to Newcastle in the first match of season.

The Nigeria international’s first-half goal separated both teams in the keenly contested match which saw Dean Henderson save and a disallowed West Ham goal, saw him become the 37th Nigerian to score in the EPL.

The former Union Berlin forward was handed the starting shirt alongside Jesse Lingard and Brennan Johnson in a three-man attack and came close to opening his account in the early minutes but his header from Neco Williams’ cross sailed over Lukasz Fabianski’s crossbar.

Just before the break, Awoniyi struck albeit in a scrappy manner as the ball hit his knee and flew past Fabiansky to settle in the back of the net.

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Ballon d’Or: Do African nominees, Mane, Salah, Mahrez, Haller, Oshoala stand any chance?

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It is pleasant news that five African players have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or award with Egypt and Liverpool forward, Mohamed Salah, topping the list.

Other African stars, Sadio Mane of Senegal, Algerian Riyad Mahrez, Ivory Coast striker, Sebastien Haller and Nigerian Super Falcons and Barcelona striker, Asisat Oshoala, also made the shortlist released on Friday.

So far, former Liberian captain, George Weah, is the only African to have won the Ballon d’Or award which he picked up in 1995 while playing for AC Milan.

With the five African stars nominated to battle the likes of France and Real Madrid striker, Karim Benzema, and his national team mate, Killian Mbape of PSG, it is left to be seen if the continent stars stand any chance of following in Weah’s footsteps.

Here, Africanewswatch takes a look at the five and their chances of picking the prestigious award.

Mohamed Salah

This is the fourth time the Egyptian forward will be getting a Ballon d’Or nomination with his best finish being fifth position in 2019. In 2018, he was sixth in 2018, and seventh in 2021.

This could be Salah’s best chance of winning the award after scooping the Premier League PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award last seasonThe Liverpool striker scored 31 goals in all competitions (23 in the league) and 15 assists for Liverpool to win the Premier League Golden Boot Award as the Reds won the FA and Carabao Cups and reached the Champions League final.

Mohamed Salah with his PFA award (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah with his PFA award (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The only setback to an otherwise fantastic season was Egypt losing the 2021 Afcon to a Sadio Mané inspired Senagal in Cameroon as well as missing the 2022 World Cup.

Sadio Mané

Sadio Mané’s status as the reigning African Player of the Year should propel him to give the award a big shout following his brilliant form for club and country.

The Senegal and Bayern Munich strike star netted 23 goals for Liverpool in the EPL, won the FA and Carabao Cups, reached the final of the Champions League, led Senegal to her first Afcon trophy before ending with the African Player of the Year.

African player of the year,  Sadio Mane (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

African player of the year, Sadio Mane (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

To add to a spectacular year, Mane was instrumental to qualifying Senegal for the Qatar World Cup at the expense of Egypt.

Three years ago, Mane was also nominated for the Ballon d’Or where he finished fourth behind Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk.

Riyad Mahrez

Algerian captain and Manchester City winger, Riyad Mahrez is another African star who has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or after a fantastic season for the EPL Champions where he scored 24 goals and notched up nine assists as Pep Guardiola’s men romped to the Premier League title.

He also scored crucial goals as Man City reached the semi finals of the Champions League and the FA Cup.

Riyad Mahrez is also in with a shout (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Riyad Mahrez is also in with a shout (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

He could, however, not replicate his fine club form for Algeria following a dismal outing at the Afcon in Cameroon as they were eliminated in the group stage.

Mahrez has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or three times before now.

Sebastien Haller

From every indication, Sebastien Haller of Ivory Coast is an outsider when it comes to winning the Ballon d’Or even with his impressive outing for Ajax last season.

He was the Dutch club’s highest goal scorer with 34 goals and seven assists in all competitions and won the Eredivisie Golden Boot Award after scoring 21 league goals.

Sebastien Haller may just be making up the number (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Sebastien Haller may just be making up the number (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

But the newly signed Borussia Dortmund forward did not have a great run for the national team as the Ivorians were knocked out of the Afcon by Egypt in the round of 16.

Asisat Oshoala

Nigeria’s Super Falcons and Barcelona forward, Asisat Oshoala is the only African female player nominated in the women’s category, following a fantastic season with the Spanish team where she scored 20 goals and took home the women Pichichi award.

Oshoala was a strong force in the Barca attack as they won the league, Super Cup and Copa de la Reina titles.

She also won the female version of the African Player of the Year for the fifth time, the first by any player in the continent.

Asisat Oshoala is the first African woman to be nominated for the  Ballon d'Or (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Asisat Oshoala is the first African woman to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

However, her chances of winning the Ballon d’Or got slimmer after the Super Falcons failed to retain their Women’s Africa Cup of Nations crown in Morocco where she played only one match after suffering an injury in their tournament’s first match.

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