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Africa’s matches to watch as international break begins

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European football league will take a back seat this weekend due to the last international break of the year but that does not mean African football stars will be idle as many nations have arranged friendly matches to keep their players in shape.

On Friday, the Algerian National team will play host to the Super Eagles of Nigeria while Ghana will test their World Cup credentials against the five times winners, the Samba Boys of Brazil, in what is expected to be a glamour fixture

The Super Eagles clash with Algeria in Oran will give coach Jose Peseiro the opportunity to look at some of his fringe players after injuries forced many of his high profile stars to withdraw from the match.

Nigeria vs Algeria in an earlier friendly match (Photo Credit: NFF)

Nigeria vs Algeria in an earlier friendly match (Photo Credit: NFF)

2021 Afcon winners, Senegal, have a date with Bolivia on Saturday while South Africa will vent the frustrations of losing two back to back friendly match when they host Sierra Leone in another friendly encounter the same day.

Africannewswatch takes a look at some of the headline friendly matches involving African teams.

Algeria vs Nigeria

After losing his first two matches with Nigeria, albeit friendlies, new coach Jose Peseiro turned up the style by leading the Super Eagles to smash lowly Sao Tome and Principe 10-0 and Sierra Leone 2-1 in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in June.

The match against the Desert Foxes of Algeria will present the Portuguese coach the chance to try out new or fringe players like Lorient striker Terem Moffi, Cremonese’s Cyriel Dessers, Nottingham Forest forward Taiwo Awoniyi and Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City in the attack after the withdrawal of Victor Osimhen, Umar Sadiq. Ahmed Musa, Samuel Chukwueze and Emmanuel Dennis due to injuries.

Algeria National Team (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Algeria National Team (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Both Nigeria and Algeria missed out on a ticket to the 2022 Qatar World Cup during the African playoffs, which saw Nigeria losing to Ghana on away goals, while Algeria were knocked out by Cameroon.

Though there is nothing at stake in the high profile friendly match, the two countries will aim to use it to prepare their players for their 2023 Afcon qualifiers as well as improve on their Fifa rankings.

Brazil vs Ghana

This glamour tie between five-time world champions and Black Stars of Ghaha which is taking place at the Stade Oceane in Le Havre, France, on Friday, will give coach Otto Addo the opportunity to blend the likes of Inaki Williams, Tariq Lamptey and Mohammed Salisu who recently switched allegiance to the Black Stars into the team.

Black Stars of Ghana will try Brazil for size (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Black Stars of Ghana will try Brazil for size (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

With experienced legs like Arsenal’s midfield trojan Thomas Partey, Ajax hot shot Mohammed Kudus, Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey and a host of other stars at his disposal, Addo will have a difficult task navigating his charges against Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta, Neymar, Richarlison, Vinicius Jr, Raphinha, and other Selecao stars.

While history favours the South Americans to beat Ghana, Addo has a number of experienced players in his squad who can hold their own against the Samba Boys.

Samba Boys  of Brazil (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Samba Boys of Brazil (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

South Africa vs Sierra Leone

South Africa will battle Sierra Leone in a friendly match at the FNB Stadium on Saturday after two back to back losses, hoping to get back to winning ways.

Bafana Bafana coach, Hugo Broos, who had come into severe criticism following the losses and his choice of Sierra Leone as opponents, had said he decided to play a weaker team to avoid another loss and further dampen the morale of his players.

A victory over the Lone Stars will get some of his critics off his back following severe criticism after of his team selection and tactics following South Africa’s 2-1 loss to Morocco in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers in June and had to apologise for saying the PSL’s lack of ‘quality’ was the reason for the national team’s struggles.

Bafana Bafana of South Africa (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Bafana Bafana of South Africa (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The Belgian coach has included Mamelodi Sundowns talisman Themba Zwane into the squad that has several newcomers, among them Melusi Buthelezi (TS Galaxy), Sibongiseni Mthethwa (Stellenbosch FC), Luke le Roux (Varbergs), Cyprus-based Mihlali Mayambela and Orlando Pirates marksman Zakhele Lepasa.

Senegal vs Bolivia

African champions Senegal will try South American country Bolivia for size on Saturday at the Stade de la Source in Orleans in France, using the match as a tune up for the World Cup.

Aliou Cisse’s men who will face the Netherlands, hosts Qatar and Ecuador in Group A at the 2022 World Cup, will use the match to test their strength and preparedness for the Mundial.

Cisse has called up five new players, including Nottingham Forest defender, Moussa Niakhate, and son of former player, Khalilou Fadiga, Noah, as he looks to add freshness to the team.

Eight players from the victorious 2021 Afcon squad are missing from the squad due to injuries concerns or a drop in form.

African champions Teranga Lions of Senegal (Photo Credit: SFC)

African champions Teranga Lions of Senegal (Photo Credit: SFC)

Regular right-back, Bouna Sarr, has been ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury while left-back Saliou Ciss is without a club and Spartak Moscow forward Keita Balde has also been handed a three-month ban due to a doping violation.

However, Chelsea keeper, Edouard Mendy and defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, Watford’s Imaila Sarr and Bayern Munich Sadio Mane are available for the Teranga Lions and can cause enough worry for Bolivia.

Cameroon vs Uzbekistan

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon has a date with Uzbekistan and are looking to impress the ever demanding Fecafoot boss Samuel Eto’o, who read the riot act to the players after a lacklustre 1-0 win over Burundi in June’s 2023 Afcon qualifiers.

The coach Rigobert Song tutored side is hoping to shapr up when they trade tackles with the Uzbeks in South Korea’s northern city of Goyang on Friday.

Song now has the luxury of calling up Brentford forward Bryan Mbeumo who switched allegiance from France to Cameroon in August and will likely make his debut against Uzbekistan following his first call-up.

Indomitable Lions of Cameroon (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Indomitable Lions of Cameroon (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The Qatar World Cup bound Cameroon will use the match to keep in shape for the battle against Switzerland, Serbia and Brazil at the Mundial.

Morocco vs Chile

Another African country hoping to use the international football break to prepare for the World Cup is Morocco who tries Chile for size in Friday’s friendly in Barcelona.

The Atlas Lions have a new management after former Wydad Casablanca coach Walid Regragui replaced Vahid Halilhodzic who was sacked early this month.

Regragui’s first task in the team was to repair the damaged relationship between some players and the technical crew which saw the premature retirement of Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, from the team before the Nations Cup in Cameroon.

Regragui’s first task was to recall Ziyech to the team as well as hand an invitation to Bayern Munich full-back, Noussair Mazraoui.

Morocco will also have a number of youngsters for the friendly against Chile, in the first ever meeting between the two countries.

The North African country will face Croatia, Belgium and Canada in their group at the Qatar World Cup.

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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