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Qatar 2022: The good, the bad of Africa’s World Cup group stage performance

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The group stage of the FIFA World Cup currently ongoing in Qatar was a mixed bag for the five African representatives with some memorable showings as well as forgettable performances put up by some of the teams and players.

For the first time in a long while, African teams caused major upsets which is a proof that football in the continent has grown in leaps and bounds.

One of the highlights of Africa’s performance was Cameroon defeating Brazil, the first time an African team will beat the five times world champions.

Tunisia created an upset by beating world champions France (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Tunisia created an upset by beating world champions France (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Tunisia also did create an upset of their own with a 1-0 win over world champions France as despite failing to progress from the group, the defeat of France meant much to the North Africans.

On the individual basis, Ghanaian youngster, Mohammed Kudus, ageless Cameroonian striker, Vincent Aboubakar showed that though he is in the twilight of his career, he still has a lot to offer, while Moroccan Hakim Ziyech showed why he is regarded as is regarded as one of the best in the continent.

Africannewswatch takes a look at the good and the bad performances put up by African teams as players in the first round of the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

The Good

Senegal’s group stage dominance

Senegal may have been well beaten by England in the round of 16 match played on Sunday but before they fell apart, the African champions played one of the most entertaining football in the tournament and ended up finished second in Group A, behind the Netherlands.

In their first match, the Lions of Teranga were able to stand up to Luis Van Gaal’s men until a combination of schoolboy errors from goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, led to the Dutch scoring two quick goals in the dying moments of the match.

Senegal celebrating one of her goals (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Senegal celebrating one of her goals (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Senegal went on to beat hosts Qatar and Ecuador to progress to the second round where they were pummeled by the Three Lions, with help from who else but Mendy.

Stand out Mohammed Kudus

Ghanaian youngster, Mohammed Kudus performances in the group stage was one that would gladden the hearts of his countrymen and Africans as a whole.

Despite the presence of more established players like Thomas Partey and captain Andre Ayew, Kudus’ performances and decisive quality in their group games showed a maturity beyond his 22 years, especially in the 3-2 win over South Korea where he netted twice.

Ghanaian youngster Mohammed Kudus was outstanding at the World Cup (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Ghanaian youngster Mohammed Kudus was outstanding at the World Cup (Photo Credit: FIFA)

The Ajax man was the Black Stars’ go-to attacker in Qatar and was a menace to opposing defenders with his guile and precision on the ball.

Vintage Vincent Aboubakar

Ageless Cameroonian striker, Vincent Aboubakar turned up when he was needed most, first coming off the bench when Serbia were 3-1 up to score a goal and set up another as the Indomitable Lions rallied to force a draw in a march they were a certainty to lose.

However, vintage Vincent saved his best for last when he popped up to end Africa’s wait for a win over Brazil with a late header in Cameroon’s famous 1-0 win. He was to be given a befitting sending off by the referee who congratulated him on the goal before being shown a second yellow card.

Vincent Aboubakar turned back the years at Qatar 2022 (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Vincent Aboubakar turned back the years at Qatar 2022 (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Though the Indomitable Lions did not progress beyond Group G, Aboubakar’s performances renewed hopes that African teams have turned a lot of corners.

Morocco’s unexpected progress

The Atlas Lions defied all odds by topping Group F which had Belgium ranked number two by FIFA, and 2018 World Cup runners up, Croatia, playing one of the most entertaining brand of football.

Before the kick off of the World Cup, Croatia and Belgium were tipped to go through but Walid Regragui’s tutored side ended Group F unbeaten after a creditable draw with Croatia and beating Belgium stunning 2-0 in a stunning fashion.

However, their reward for topping the group is a match up against Spain on Tuesday.

Will the North African side claim another European scalp when they face Spain?

The Bad

Tunisia ruined by poor finishing

Tunisia may have pulled up one of the Qatar 2022 World Cup upset by beating France via a Wahbi Khazri goal but their undoing was their poor finishing despite being in control of previous matches against Australia and Denmark.

Wahbi Khazri celebrates with teammates after putting France to the sword (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Wahbi Khazri celebrates with teammates after putting France to the sword (Photo Credit: FIFA)

The Carthage Eagles dominated in both matches but their profligacy in front of goal and their inability to convert the chances they created caused their exit at the group stage.

Of the 30 shots they had in their three matches, 12 were speculative attempts from outside the box, which robbed them of high-percentage scoring chances if they probed for a clearer opening.

Rigobert Song, Samuel Eto’o vs Andre Onana

A blight on the Cameroonian team was the celebrated fallout involving coach Rigobert Song, FA boss, Samuel Eto’o and goalkeeper Andre Onana, leading to the Inter Milan being dropped from the squad against Serbia.

The fallout was further accentuated when Onana had to leave the tournament unceremoniously after an alleged shouting match with Song.

Andre Ayew’s penalty miss

Ghana was presented with a golden opportunity in their Group H match against Uruguay but captain Andre Ayew has other ideas when he played a very kick that was easily smothered by Uruguay’s goalkeeper.

The Black Stars had started the final round of games in second spot but ended the day bottom following a 2-0 loss to the South Americans and will rue Ayew’s missed penalty which could have turned the tide in the game.

Andre Ayew's missed penalty could have seen Ghana progress out of their group (Photo Credit: FIFA)

Andre Ayew’s missed penalty could have seen Ghana progress out of their group (Photo Credit: FIFA)

All the Black Stars needed was a point to go into the next round but the loss meant South Korea which they had defeated on match day two ended up clinching the second spot.

But they had a consolation in Uruguay’s failure to advance to the next round 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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