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African stars to watch in Europe this weekend

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Following an enforced one week break occasioned by the death of Queen Elizabeth, the English Premier League returned on Friday with two African stars setting the stage with goals in the only fixture of the day.

Taiwo Awoniyi was on target for Nottingham Forest forest but his 11th minute goal was not enough to prevent The Reds from losing at home to Fulham whose Nigerian-eligible defender, Tosin Adaranioyo was also on target in the 3-2 victory.

Taiwo Awoniyi and his Nottingham Forest lost 3-2 at home to Fulham (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Taiwo Awoniyi and his Nottingham Forest lost 3-2 at home to Fulham (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

With a return of football in England, albeit with some cancelled fixtures which would have seen more players from Africa strutting their stuff, there will be some others displaying their talents for their various clubs.

The focus is not only in England as there will weekend football across Europe as other major leagues are also in full force.

Sadio Mane – Bayern Munich

Current African player of the year will be a key for perennial German Bundesliga champions as they try to claw their way back to the top of the table from an unfamiliar third spot when they Bavarian giants visit Augsburg on Saturday.

The Senegal Afcon winner is not really setting the Bundesliga on fire as he is going a goal drought of some sort having not scored in his last five games.

Sadio Mane has lost his scoring touch (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Sadio Mane has lost his scoring touch (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

But the visit to Augsburg presents the former Liverpool star another opportunity to find his scoring boots once again after starting life in the league by scoring in his first three games.

Joe Aribo – Southampton

Nigerian midfielder Joe Aribo and his Southampton team mates suffered another defeat at the hands of Aston Villa in another Friday night game thanks to a James Ramsey second half strike.

But the former Rangers of Scotland star gave a good account of himself for the duration he lasted on the pitch.

Joe Aribo has had a mixed season in the EPL so far (Photo Credit: SFC)

Joe Aribo has had a mixed season in the EPL so far (Photo Credit: SFC)

Aribo has had a mixed start to life in the EPL with but it is believed he will come good as the League progresses.

Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Patson Daka – Leicester

The trio of Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Zambian striker, Patson Daka have a tough task on Saturday as struggling Leicester City visit Tottenham Hotspur.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are sitting rock bottom in the table after a poor start to the season but any for a change looks bleak as the team is not only low on morale but is also battling with a rash of injuries which has forced Rodgers playing Ndidi in central defence from his more familiar defensive midfield position.

Last time out, both Iheanacho and Daka were on the score sheet but Leicester still managed to lose 5-2 to Brighton & Hove Albion.

But they now face a more daunting task and are seeing the possibility of losing a sixth straight game to Antonio Conte’s men in North London staring at them.

Samuel Chukwueze – Villareal

The Nigerian winger has been a regular fixture in the Yellow Submarines, featuring in all their La Liga games, albeit none has been from the start.

Samuel Chukwueze in action for Villarreal (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Samuel Chukwueze in action for Villarreal (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

As Unai Emery’s men trade tackle with Sevilla on Sunday, it is left to be seen if he will give Chukwueze a start or he will be brought on as a sub.

Ademola Lookman – Atalanta

Ademola Lookman’s start to life in the Italian Serie A has been a bit of a yoyo after scoring on his debut.

The Nigerian winger could be in for his fourth start as Atalanta welcome Jose Mourinho’s Roma to the Stadio Olimpico with the hopes of getting a win after a lacklustre goalless draw against Cremonese last weekend.

Mohammed Kudus, Calvin Bassey- Ajax

Mohammed Kudus has been one of the shinning lights of the African players with outstanding performances for Ajax both in the Eredivisie and in the Champions League.

The Ghana midfielder has so far scored a career-best five goals in four games after he found the back of the net in last Tuesday’s Champions League match against Liverpool which Ajax lost 2-1.

Mohammed Kudus has been one of Africa's shinning stars in Europe this season (Photo Credit: AFC)

Mohammed Kudus has been one of Africa’s shinning stars in Europe this season (Photo Credit: AFC)

His fellow African teammate, Nigerian defender Calvin Bassey has also proven to be a shrewd buy for the Dutch giants as he has slotted in to the team with great ease after a disastrous first match where he picked up a red card.

The two African players have become the first names on the Ajax team list and on Sunday, they are expected to be on from the start as Ajax travel for an away clash to AZ Alkmaar.

Idrissa Gueye – Everton

On his return to Everton from French giants Paris Saint-Germain, the Senegal midfielder only managed 28 minutes from the bench in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool two weeks ago.

But Gueye, who rejoined Everton on a two-year deal following his three years stint with PSG, is expected to help Frank Lampard’s struggling side avoid an early battle against relegation.

Following Everton’s resolute display against Liverpool which earned them a point, Lampard could hand Gueye a starting place in the team as they search of their first league win against another struggling side in West Ham United on Sunday.

Reinildo Mandava – Atletico Madrid

Mozambican defender, Reinildo Mandava, has quietly but firmly made the left back position at Atletico Madrid his own, relegating Brazilian Renan Lodi to his back up after joining the La Liga club from French side Lille in January.

Mandava has featured in every Atletico game this season, playing 90 minutes in all apart from Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League when he was substituted after 62 minutes.

Reinildo Mandava is making Mozambique proud in the La Liga (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Reinildo Mandava is making Mozambique proud in the La Liga (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

But Sunday’s clash with city rivals Real Madrid will come too soon for Mandava as he will have his hands full against Vinicius Jr in the Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa – Napoli

Following a string of impressive performances for Napoli both in the Serie A and the Champions League, Cameroonian midfielder Zambo Anguissa is expected to play a key role when champions AC Milan come visiting on Sunday.

Anguissa has become a real fulcrum for Napoli this season with his progressive forward driving runs which have seen him set up teammates while also scoring.

Against Liverpool in the Champions League, he scored a superb goal in the 4-1 routing of the English and was also a dominating force in midfield as Napoli beat Rangers on Tuesday.

Karl Toko Ekambi – Lyon

Ekambi is having the form of his life this season and is Lyon’s top scorer with four goals and will also be a key figure as for Les Gones face almighty Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

The Cameroon forward is also one of the top scorers in Ligue 1 and will be a handful for the PSG backline which is likely to feature fellow African, Moroccan defender, Achraf Hakimi.

And if Lyon is to take anything out of the battle, Ekambi has to conjure up some tricks to outwit Lionel Messi, Neymar, Killian Mbappe and co.

Sports

Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel retires from football as one of African most decorated stars

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Former Nigerian international footballer, John Mikel Obi has retired from the sport after a boisterous career both home and abroad.

The 35-year-old Nigerian started his career at the age of 12 when picked as a talented footballer by over 3,000 young talents to play in Pepsi Football Academy. Mikel would later have his professional career in Norway, England, China, Turkey, and Kuwait.

His most successful club career stint was at Chelsea football club of England which he joined after a dramatic transfer battle between Chelsea and Manchester United.  Mikel enjoined eleven years of stay at the London club where he won 2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cup, 1 Football League Cup, 1 FA Community Shield, 1 UEFA Champions League, and 1 UEFA Europa League.

On the national stage, Mikel won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles of Nigeria in 2013 and a third-place finish in 2006, 2010, and 2019. He was also the captain of Nigeria’s Summer Olympic team that won bronze in 2016

Meanwhile, there have been congratulatory messages and accolades to the former Nigerian star by his former clubs, football bodies, and colleagues.

 

His personal honour includes FIFA World Youth Championship Silver Ball in 2005, CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year in 2005, Chelsea Young Player of the Year: 2007, and 2008, He was part of the CAF Team of the Year in 2005 and 2013, Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament in 2013, and ended as African Footballer of the Year runner-up: 2013.

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Sports

(VIDEO) Big shame as Mali women’s basketball players fight following World Cup match loss

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It was a show of shame on Monday when two members of Mali’s women basketball team at the ongoing FIBA Women World Cup in Sydney, Australia, threw caution to the wind and engaged each other in fisticuffs afterafter the team was defeated 81-68 by Serbia.

The two players, Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou, were caught on video going at each other’s throat during a post-match interview with Serbian player, Sasa Cado, in the post game mixed zone and was captured by a Serbian news camera.

Prior to the shameful fight, Mali which is lowest-ranked side at the tournament at number 37 in the world, had lost their first four games of the tournament and were no longer in contention for the knockout stage.

They even managed to set a record by losing to hosts Australia by a 118-58, a whopping 60 points difference.

Meanwhile, basketball’s world governing body, FIBA, in a statement on Tuesday, says it has opened an investigation into the fight.

The two Malian basketball players engaging in a shameful fight

The two Malian basketball players engaging in a shameful fight (Photo Credit: SNA)

The statement issued by a FIBA spokesperson, confirmed it was aware of the incident.

“FIBA acknowledged today that there was an altercation between Mali players in the mixed zone following the Group B game Serbia-Mali at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022.

“Following the incident, FIBA has opened an investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, FIBA will decide on any applicable disciplinary measures.”

Mali was only a late replacement for at the World Cup after the Nigeria withdrew from the tournament due to administrative issues around the sport in their country.

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