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Clean sweep for Kenya at World Cross Country mixed relay race



It was a clean sweep for Kenyan athletes at the ongoing World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, as its mixed relay team regained their title seven years after winning at the inaugural edition.

It was much more delightful as the East African country regained their title with a dominant display, pipping fellow Africans and arch-rivals, Ethiopia, to the silver medal while Great Britain & Northern Ireland took bronze.

Kenyan teenage sensation, Reynold Cheruiyot, led for most of the first lap with a stiff challenge from Uganda’s Hosea Kiprop tried his best to match the World U20 1500m champion for the first half of the circuit, but the Kenyan proved too strong.

According to World Athletics, Morocco’s Hafid Rizqy and Ethiopia’s Taresa Tolosa were close behind Cheruiyot, while Serbia’s Elzan Bibic was also in contention, much to the delight of the home supporters lining the course.

“On the final bridge, Bibic briefly moved into second place, just a few strides behind Cheruiyot, but Ethiopia’s Tolosa then came through in the closing stages and handed over almost level with Cheruiyot.”

“Virginia Nyambura took up the running for Kenya on the second leg. The African cross-country silver medallist maintained a lead of about five metres over Ethiopia’s Dahdi Dube for most of the way as the lead duo carved out a 17-second lead over the rest of the field.

“The duo managed to distance themselves from the rest of the competitors, with Nyambura handing over a slender lead to Kyumbe Munguti.

“Munguti’s performance on the third leg was nothing short of spectacular, widening the gap and setting the stage for a Kenyan victory.

“However, the race was not without its challenges. Ethiopia faced an unexpected setback when Adehana Kasaye accidentally stepped on the foot of his teammate Birri Abera during the exchange, leading to Abera losing her shoe.

“This mishap resulted in a significant delay for Ethiopia, giving Kenya an even more considerable advantage.

“Purity Chepkirui, running the anchor leg for Kenya, capitalized on the lead. With an outstanding display of speed Chepkirui crossed the finish line in 22:15, securing the gold for Kenya.

“Despite the earlier incident, Abera managed to finish strong, securing the silver for Ethiopia, while Bethan Morley’s impressive final leg ensured that Great Britain & Northern Ireland did not leave empty-handed, securing the bronze.”

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Nigeria, Zambia clinch women Olympic football slots for Paris 2024



The Super Falcons of Nigeria and the Copper Queens of Zambia on Tuesday picked the last two spots in the women’s football tournament at the Paris Olympics after winning two-legged playoffs in the fourth round of African qualifiers.

While Nigeria played out a goalless draw against the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in Pretoria to qualify after a 1-0 win in Abuja last week, Zambia needed an extra time win to get past Morocco in Rabat in their second leg encounter.

The Copper Queens successfully turned a 2-1 first-leg home defeat into a 3-2 aggregate triumph with a 2-0 win over the Atlas Lionesses at Moulay Hassan Stadium.

Orlando Pride of USA striker, Barbra Banda, opened the scoring for Zambia in the 38th minute and got her brace when she converted a penalty in the 105th minute to send her country to the Olympic starting in July.

However, the two African countries have been drawn into tough groups for the football event at the Games.

The Super Falcons will take on world champions Spain and former world champions Japan and Brazil in Group C at the Olympics while Zambia is in Group B alongside France, former champions the United States and Germany as well as last year’s women World Cup semi-finalists, Australia.

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Spain denies Nigeria’s ‘Future Eagles’ visa for international tournament



Spanish authorities have denied Nigeria’s Under-15 football team, popularly known as Future Eagles, the opportunity of participating in an international invitational tournament which would also feature Belgium, Italy and England.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), in a post on its X handle on Tuesday, said members of junior football team including the players and their officials were denied visas to attend the tournament in Spain.

The Nigerian football body said though the Spanish embassy did not give reasons for the visa denial, the team would “therefore not be travelling to take part in the Uefa U16 Development Tournament.”

The Future Eagles made up of 20 players and seven officials, were set to depart Nigeria on Tuesday, ahead of their first match against Belgium scheduled for Friday, before squaring up against Italy and England.

The Uefa Under-16 Youth Development Tournament, which is organised by Europe’s football governing body, has been held since 2012 and is intended to expose elite junior players to international football and ease their transition into senior levels of the sport.

The Future Eagles, coached by Patrick Bassey, recently returned from a tournament in Morocco where they won one match and lost one against their Moroccan counterparts on a two-match tour of that North African country.

Their first game had ended in a 2-3 defeat, but they bounced back to win the second game 5-3 in the city of Kenitra.

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