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Qatar 2022: Morocco storm into knockout stage of World Cup ahead of Croatia, Belgium

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The Atlas Lions of Morocco defied all odds to win Group F ahead of Belgium, ranked second by FIFA, and last World Cup runners up, Croatia, after an impressive 2-1 defeat of Canada on Thursday.

The African team thus qualify as Group F winners to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the second time in its history of World Cup participation.

The Moroccans got their first goal through Hakim Ziyech after an howler from Canada goalkeeper, Milan Borjan, before Youssef En-Nesyri doubled their lead after 23 minutes with a brilliant finish.

They were however, pegged back by an own goal from Nayef Aguerd who deflected a Sam Adekugbe cross into the back of the net, giving Canada a glimmer of hope but Morocco held on in the second half despite the barrage of attacks from the Canadians.

This is the first time since 1986 that the Atlas Lions have advanced past the group stage, and only the second time ever and joins Senegal as the other African team in the knockout stages.

Cameroon and Ghana are yet to play their final group matches, and they both have a shot at booking their berth to the Round of 16 as well.

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CHAN 2023: Senegal beat host Algeria on penalty shootout to become African homebased champions

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The Teranga Lions of Senegal pulled up a big surprise by dashing the hopes of Algeria winning the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) on home soil with a 5-4 victory on penalties to add to its Afcon trophy.

In a tense final match of the tournament played at the magnificent Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers, the Local Teranga Lions edged the hosts in front of 39,120 spectators on a cold winter night.

Senegal’s win also meant they are now the undisputed champions of African football which has seen the West African nation complete a rare treble of triumphs which has see them lift the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as well as the Beach Soccer AFCON.

In the final match proper, both teams took time to size out each other and seemed tense in the opening minutes of the match which boiled over when Gabonese referee, Pierre Ghislain Atcho, dished out four yellow cards in the opening half hour.

With the scoreline goalless at the half-time mark, both coaches Madjid Bougherra and Pape Thiaw made some changes in the second half which increased the intensity while maintaining a balanced outlook on the night.

The game ended goalless after regular time and extratime and went straight into penalties with the Teranga Lions holding their nerves to win 5-4.

Meanwhile, Algeria set a new tournament record by not conceding in six games at the tournament in regular time while the final was the first game to go into extra time.

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Kenya’s Edwin Kibet wins 2023 Lagos City Marathon

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Kenyan long distance runner, Edwin Kibet Koech, has won the 8th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon held in Nigeria on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Kibet finished the 42km race in two hours, 14 minutes and six seconds to beat Ethiopia’s Dekeba Shefa and fellow Kenyan, Bernard Sang, who finished second and third respectively.

For his feat, Kibet took home the grand prize of $50,000, while Shefa and Sang carted home $40,000 and $30,000 respectively.

In the female category, Alemenseh Guta of Ethiopia was the first woman to cross the finish line, with compatriot Kebene Urisa and Kenya’s Naomi Maiyo coming second and third respectively.

The annual event sponsored by one of Nigeria’s elite financial institutions, Access Bank, was recently upgraded by the world athletics body to a gold label, meaning that the winners of both the men and women’s races have also qualified for the marathon events at the 2024 Olympics scheduled for Paris, France.

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