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After 51 years, English FA recognises Nigerian Benjamin Odeje as first black man to play for England

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After waiting for 51 years dating back to 1971, the English Football Association will finally recognise a Nigerian football player, Benjamin Odeje, as the first black man to ever play for the England National team at any level.

Odeje, who was born in Nigeria before moving with his parents to England in the 60s and played for Charlton Athletic, will be given his much delayed recognition during a UEFA Nations League match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium where he will be the special guest.

A BBC investigation had, in 2013, identified Odeje as the first black Three Lions player when he was selected as a 15-year-old to play for England schoolboys versus Northern Ireland in front of 70,000 people at Wembley in March 1971.

With the decision, the FA has now agreed to formally invite Odeje, who came through the ranks at Charlton during the late 1960s and 1970s, as a special guest to the fixture against Germany later this month.

Odeje, who was nicknamed Pele because of his prolific goalscoring record, went on to make four further appearances for England schoolboys, scoring once in a 5-1 win over Holland.

Odeje’s recognition by the Paul Elliott-led FA will finally put to rest the debate on who was England’s first ever black player following the recognition of Laurie Cunningham who featured for England Under-21s in 1977.

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Too Good, Too Bad: How African stars performed in Europe last weekend

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With the return of football after the international break, African stars plying their trade in Europe returned to action for their clubs with bags of mixed results.

Some picked up where they stopped and gave man of the match performances while others could not live up to their high expectations.

Arsenal’s Ghanaian midfielder, Thomas Partey stood out of the bunch when the Gunners took on North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur where he scored a beautiful screamer to put the league leaders ahead.

Partey scored a screamer against Spurs (Photo Credit: Arsenal FC)

Partey scored a screamer against Spurs (Photo Credit: Arsenal FC)

Nigerian star, Alex Iwobi once again, showed Everton fans that his season is no flash in the pan as he was instrumental to Frank Lampard’s men coming back from one goal down to defeat Southampton 2-1.

Apart from action in the EPL, African players were also in action in top European leagues like the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Dutch Eredivisie, and the Ligue 1.

Africannewswatch brings you review of some of the good and the bad of African players in Europe last weekend.

Too Good

Thomas Partey – Arsenal

Ghana international, Thomas Partey was the cynosure of all eyes when he returned to action at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal took on their eternal rivals, Tottenham, in a North London derby on Saturday which saw the Gunners thrash the Whites 3-1.

The 29-year-old was on hand to give the Gunners the lead when he curled home an effort from 25 yards which whizzed past Hugo Lloris to nestle in the top corner.

Further goals by Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka sandwiched Harry Kane penalty goal which had cancelled out Partey’s opener, ensuring Arsenal claimed the derby bragging rights.

Interestingly, Arsenal have won every match Partey has featured in this season and his injury-induced absence was felt as Arsenal suffered their only defeat of the season, a 3-1 against Manchester United.

Alex Iwobi – Everton

Nigerian midfield star, Alex Iwobi picked up where he stopped before the international break when he put up another man of the match performance as Everton ran out deserved 2-1 winners away to Southampton.

The Arsenal youth product who scored against Algeria in an international friendly, had his third assist of the season as he had a hand in Everton’s winning the goal scored by Dwight McNeil.

Sadio Mane – Bayern Munich

Sadio Mané ended his goal drought for Bayern Munich in the 4-0 drubbing of Bayer Leverkusen at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, after going over six matches without a goal.

The Teranga Lion’s vice captain grabbed the third goal, his fourth in the league, in the one sided match after Leroy Sane and Jamel Musiala had put the Bavarians in front.

The win also ended Bayern’s four match winless run in the Bundesliga.

Inaki Williams was in superb form for Atletico Bilbao(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Inaki Williams was in superb form for Atletico Bilbao(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Inaki Williams – Athletic Bilbao

New Ghana international, Inaki Williams who made his international debut against Brazil during the international break, returned to his club with a goal and an assist Athletic Bilbao defeated UD Almeria 4-0 in a La Liga match on Saturday.

The 28-year-old former Spain youth international celebrated his international call up with the opening goal for Bilbao after he was set up by his brother, Nico Williams, who also set up Oihan Sancet to double Bilbao’s lead.

Inaki then turned provider with a clever assist to brother Nico, who scored the third.

Ademola Lookman – Atalanta

In the Italian Serie A, Nigerian winger, Ademola Lookman was the hero for Atalanta as the pipped Fiorentina 1-0 on m Sunday.

The Nigerian international returned to action after the Algerian friendlies and got the only goal on the hour mark at the Gewiss Stadium, beating Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano with a simple tap in off an assist by Luis Muriel.

Ademola Lookman was the difference for Atalanta (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Ademola Lookman was the difference for Atalanta (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The goal was Lookman’s second Serie A goal of the 2022-23 campaign.

Too Bad

Taiwo Awoniyi, Emmanuel Dennis – Nottingham Forest

The duo of Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis were at the receiving end when Nottingham Forest suffered a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Leicester City who grounded out their first EPL win of the season on Monday.

While Awoniyi was on from the start and hit the woodwork in the first half, Dennis was a second half substitute but even his presence could not change The Reds fortunes as they suffered their fifth straight defeat.

Mohammed Kudus – Ajax

Ghana international, Mohammed Kudus could not replicate the form that saw him scoring in three straight Eredivisie matches, as he failed to extend that run of as Go Ahead Eagles held Ajax to a surprise 1-1 draw at home at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Saturday.

Kudus who started from the bench, was brought on by coach Alfred Schreuder for Ghana-eligible Brian Brobbey with seven minutes left on the clock and could not find the target.

Ghana and Agax midfielder, Mohammed Kudus (Photo Credit: Ajax FC)

Ghana and Agax midfielder, Mohammed Kudus (Photo Credit: Ajax FC)

Prior to the fixture, he had scored against Cambuur in a 4-0 win, Heerenveen in the 5-0 victory and the 2-1 defeat against AZ Alkmaar. In between the league matches, he was on target against Rangers and Liverpool in the Champions League.

Samuel Chukwueze – Villarreal

Nigerian winger, Samuel Chukwueze was quite disappointing as Villarreal were held to a 0-0 draw by Cardiz at the Nuevo Mirandilla Stadium where his La Liga goal drought in the 2022-23 La Liga campaign continued.

Chukwueze who was left in the bench for 83 minutes was brought on for his seventh league match of the season as a replacement for Nicolas Jackson, but he put every foot wrong and could not add any impact for the Yellow Submarines .

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Sports

CAF strips Guinea of 2025 AFCON hosting rights over insecurity

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Troubled West African country, Guinea, has been stripped of the 2025 African Nations Cup (AFCON) hosting rights by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), over insecurity fears and the country’s inability to assure the football governing body it can upgrade its facilities in time for the tournament.

CAF President Patrice Motsepe, who made the announcement on Saturday after a visit to Conakry where he held meetings with military leader, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, said the decision to take away the hosting rights from Guinea was taken way back in July.

Motsepe also said CAF will call for fresh bids because “Guinea will not be ready to host the event in 2025”, with the assurance that a “fair and consistent” process in the race to replace Guinea as hosts of the 2025 African Cup of Nations will be followed.

Back in March, Doumbouya had appointed a new organising committee after removing the one inaugurated by the regime he overthrew and issued a decree declaring the organisation of the 2025 CAN “of national interest and priority”.

Following rumours in August that the hosting rights may be taken away from Guinea, former Nigerian Football Federation boss, Amaju Pinnick, had hinted that Nigeria would bid to host the competition.

Meanwhile, Algeria, Senegal and Morocco have already indicted their intentions to bid for the 2025 AFCON tournament.

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