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Toure: We’re wiser now
June 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

1992668_full-lndYaya and Kolo Toure, Didier Drogba and Didier Zokora have made nearly 400 appearances for Côte d’Ivoire and have played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, becoming living Ivorian legends in the process. Together they make up a golden generation and have long been a source of pride not just for their nation but for the whole of Africa. Yet strangely for a quartet so talented, they have never won an international title.

Fresh from firing the Elephants to their third consecutive FIFA World Cup™ appearance, the fabulous foursome know that Brazil 2014 represents their last chance of earning some long-awaited glory. “Just going further than we’ve ever done before will be a triumph in itself,” Kolo Toure told, assessing his side’s world finals prospects. “I’m not setting any limits on what we can achieve. Why can’t we spring a surprise and make it to the Final? We’ve got the ability to do just that.”

Ruling nothing out, the Liverpool defender added: “This is our last chance to shine at this level. I’m 33 and Didier’s 36 and we’re closer to the end of our careers than the start. We’re going to enjoy this World Cup and show a different side to ourselves than we did the last two times, when we didn’t really perform that well. We’ll be doing what we can to be better.”

To his credit, Toure failed to mention that the Ivorians have never enjoyed much luck in the Final Draw. At Germany 2006 they were thrown into a daunting section with Argentina, the Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro, and four years later their first-round opponents were Portugal, Brazil and Korea DPR. On both occasions, the Elephants failed to progress, a record they are looking to set straight in their third world finals, where a more favourable group awaits them. “The group is more evenly matched, with three teams who pose a very tough physical challenge but whom we are capable of beating,” he explained, in reference to Colombia, Greece and Japan.
While their rivals in Group C seem slightly less imposing than previous opponents, Côte d’Ivoire also look to be a tougher nut to crack these days. Not only have the country’s golden oldies gained in experience over the years, exciting youngsters such as Serge Aurier and Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro have come through in a side that also features a clutch of players in their prime, among them Salomon Kalou and Gervinho, who are 28 and 27 respectively.

The Ivorians are also strong in every department, as they proved in their near-flawless qualification campaign, winning four and drawing two of their six games in the group phase – scoring 15 goals and conceding five on the way – and then beating Senegal 4-2 on aggregate in the play-offs.

Lessons learned

index“In 2006 we were in dreamland,” said Toure, casting his mind back. “It was the first time our country had ever qualified for such a big competition. We were naive and we didn’t focus enough on the job in hand.

“In 2010 I felt we were a little bit stronger, thanks to the experience we’d had four years earlier. We were more determined when we went to South Africa but it was not enough. We have made some progress, though, and it’s good for us to have survivors from the last two World Cups in the team today. We’ve learned the lessons of the past and we’re making sure we pass on our knowledge to the younger players.”

Though focused on the job in hand, the Elephants have also been in relaxed mood at their Brazilian training camp in Aguas de Lindoia, where both faces old and new have been laughing and smiling together as one.

“The mood in the camp is pretty relaxed,” said the former Arsenal and Manchester City man. “That’s just the way we are in Côte d’Ivoire. You just pick it up at the football academies. We’ve known each other for a long time and we’re more than friends. We all see ourselves as brothers.”

Rounding off our chat, Yaya’s older brother said: “That’s the strength of the team, whether we win or lose. That team spirit and the joy we get from being together is what really count. And in the end it doesn’t matter too much how the competition pans out because that’s the thing that will always stay in our minds.”

*Source FIFA

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President Hayatou denies British Sunday Times allegations
June 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

images (4)The President of the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) and Vice President of FIFA, Issa Hayatou has denied categorically the allegations of corruption published by the UK Sunday Times in its edition of 1st June 2014. Before publication of the article, Mr Issa Hayatou received an email on May 30, 2014 at 18:21 from one of the Sunday Times’ representatives, Heidi Blake, summoning the CAF President to respond to questions sent by e-mail before the next day, 31 May 2014, at 16:00. The email expressed fanciful allegations that Mr Hayatou would have received valuable gifts from Mr Bin Hammam and would have also been greatly pampered during a tour in Doha in December 2009. The CAF President never attended events from invitations of Mr Bin Hammam either in Doha or Kuala Lumpur. The Sunday Times representative also carried a number of serious accusations against Mr Hayatou, which included allegations that Mr Bin Hammam, as President at the time of the committee of the FIFA Goal Project would have favoured the Cameroonian federation with a project worth US$400 000 in exchange of support and votes for Qatar. Yet the allegation “demonstrated cruel ignorance” of the functions of FIFA bodies. In FIFA Committees, decisions are not taken by presidents of the Committees unilaterally but are collective decisions. As current president of the FIFA Development Committee, Mr Hayatou understands how any such Committee programmes are planned and decided. The Sunday Times claimed just before 2 December 2010, Mr Hayatou received (60) World Cup match tickets from Mr Bin Hammam. But there is no mention of which World Cup is being referred to; whether it was 2010 or the 2014? As Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 2010 World Cup and vice-president of FIFA, does Mr Hayatou need anybody to offer him match tickets for the World Cup as gifts? Is he not justified and entitled in his positions to receive match tickets? Despite the ridiculous allegations, the CAF president has decided to answer to those accusations through this statement. On one hand, Mr Hayatou has never received any money from Mr Bin Hammam, the Emir of Qatar or any member of the Qatar 2022 Bidding Committee; on the other hand the Sunday Times asked Mr Hayatou what the subject of the meeting was between the Emir of Qatar and President of Cameroon. Mr Hayatou questioned the level of professionalism and the allegations as there was no such meeting between Emir of Qatar and President of Cameroon. To Heide Blakes’ allegation that Mr. Bin Hammam arranged for medical treatment for Hayatou at a private clinic after he voted for Qatar 2022, no such arrangement was made and is a pure invention. images (5)The only treatment Mr Hayatou received in Qatar related to a dialysis session in Doha in early January 2011 during the AFC Congress, for which as usual, he was invited. After that the Sunday Times asked if Mr Hayatou was aware of payments made by Mr Bin Hammam to some presidents of African football federations and if any such payments influenced his vote, Mr Hayatou said he was not aware. On accusations of being offered luxury accommodation and business class flight tickets and others, Mr Hayatou said the allegation was a lie meant to manipulate public opinion. Mr Hayatou has never accepted any flight tickets or any privileges from Qatar 2022. In January 2011, he was accommodated in Doha for two nights by the AFC during the AFC Congress, a principal applied worldwide during confederations’ congress. Mr Hayatou will not allow journalists once again to attack his integrity and reputation. Such allegations are meant to discredit not only him as a person but the whole continent. Like in 2011, the CAF president is waiting for the famous evidence from the Sunday Times and reserves the right to take legal action against any of those responsible for the smear campaign against him. * mareeg]]>

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Nigeria stars set to receive $1m bonus for Nations Cup win
March 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Africa’s wealthiest businessman Aliko Dangote is set to fulfil his promise to reward Nigeria’s team with $1m for winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

After a public appeal by Super Eagles captain Vincent Enyeama, it seems Dangote is about to come good.

He told BBC Sport: “We’ve been waiting for Nigerian officials to collect the money but nobody has written to us.

“We will write to them, asking for the account numbers of the players, then we’ll make the transfer immediately.”

Dangote, who is group president and chief executive officer of the Dangote Group, is reputed to be Africa’s richest man.

Earlier this month he became the first African to be listed in the top 25 of Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of global billionaires, with a net worth of $25bn.

His wealth has been accumulated from a business empire that he founded in 1977 and now includes the number one sugar production company in Nigeria, a cement factory and textile products.

Dangote added that “the money was promised through the presidency [during a state dinner last February]” and he had been waiting to be approached about the pledge.

The delay led to a public appeal by Nigeria goalkeeper Enyeama, who said: “It was just a reminder to patriots who are very busy and may not have been prompted after they made their pledges.

“The players are determined to bring more honours to fatherland at the forthcoming World Cup.”

images (4)Enyeama was full of praise for Cross River State governor Liyel Imoke for following through with his promise to give members of Super Eagles one plot of land each in the state capital, Calabar.

Last week, Nigerian Football Federation president Aminu Maigari delivered the land papers from government house in Calabar to team administrator Dayo Enebi Achor, who has since commenced their distribution to all the players and officials.

But Nigerian economist and banker Tony Elumelu’s promise of $500,000 for the Super Eeagle’s Nations Cup success in South Africa remains outstanding.

*Source BBC

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Africa: Madjer – Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria Will Qualify
November 13, 2013 | 0 Comments
Rabah Madjer

Rabah Madjer

At age 54, Rabah Madjer has not changed much physically and his enthusiasm remains same. His goal against Germany at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain and his decisive back-heel in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup (now UEFA Champions League) in 1987 with FC Porto against Bayern Munich has earned him legendary status. He made 87 appearances with the Algeria national teams.

Ahead of the return matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup playoffs, Madjer talks to about the chances of the contenders. Below are excerpts;

You are now a consultant for the gulf-based television channel, Al Jazeera, but that has still not prevented you from following football?

I played with the Algeria national team for over 10-years, appeared in two World Cups (1982 and 1986), won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1990 and the UEFA Champions League (formerly European Champion Clubs’ Cup) in 1987. I also had stints as a coach. In all these, the virus never leaves you. I continue to monitor the game including those of the Algeria national team and other leagues. I’m always connected to the world of football.

Have you been following the World Cup playoffs?

Yes, especially the Burkina Faso and Algeria game because it involves the national team of my country. From the bottom of my heart, it is my wish to see Algeria at next year’s World Cup, but there’s still 90 minutes to play for.

From a technical point, what do you make of the first leg which ended 2-2?

I have always refrained from passing comments on technical aspects. The Algerians had the kind of game they wanted and have to prepare psychologically for the return leg.

Do you think the two away goals is an advantage for Algeria?

I think Algeria has the means to score, not one but more. The attack of the Algerian team has been effective recently, which is evident in the team scoring away from home. This is the most important aspect in my opinion about the team.

Away from Algeria, what of the Tunisia and Cameroon game after the first leg ended 0-0?

Madjer cannot hide that as my wish is to see neighbours Tunisia qualifying for the World Cup. But the return leg in Yaounde will be very difficult. Cameroon are very strong at home and with Tunisia failing to win at home, the mission looks tough.

Many are of the opinion that the draw is a fair result for either side, Tunisia or Cameroon?

Cameroon is a great team and to achieve a draw outside, I think that’s half a victory for the Indomitable Lions. It is always positive to get a draw especially when it comes to a double confrontation. The Tunisians will find it difficult to adapt to the climatic conditions in Cameroon. It will be a benefit for the Indomitable Lions.

Another North African team, Egypt lost 6-1 to Ghana. Do you foresee a miracle in Cairo?

We can talk about a surprise but by the magnitude of the score seems unthinkable. Egypt though remains one of the great football teams on the continent. They have a good team but the mission is almost impossible. Beating Ghana, currently the best team on the continent 5-0 is not obvious. Even if they score two or three goals, it will be a big performance.

African champions, Nigeria won 2-1 against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. Are the Super Eagles already in Brazil?

In view of its success in Ethiopia, the second leg will be a mere formality for Nigeria, also one of the greatest football nations on the continent. This is a team that has always been a danger to opponents. Ethiopia has made tremendous progress in recent years, but in my opinion it is not enough. Nigerian players are superior and Stephen Keshi has done a great job to bring his team to the top.

Cote d’Ivoire beat Senegal 3-1 in Abidjan. Are the Elephants through?

This is no longer the Senegal we know. The mission of the Teranga Lions is extremely complicated. I see very little of Senegal beating Cote d’Ivoire 2-0 with all the Ivorian armada.

What do you make of the recent call by FIFA President Sepp Blatter for an increase in African slots at the World Cup?

It would be a very good thing for our football. In Africa, football has grown and you can see that every day. This is also the case for Asian football. The World Cup is a prestigious platform featuring the best teams in the world and it is always a pleasure for me to see African nations there.

What are your five African teams to go through to the 2014 FIFA World Cup?

I hope Algeria will and it has the potential to do so. Though it is my wish to see Tunisia through, I believe Cameroon will eventually snatch the ticket to Brazil. In principle Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire should have no problem confirming their tickets.

*Source CAF Online
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Eaglets get N2m each, national honours
November 11, 2013 | 0 Comments


Eaglets-get-N2m-each-national-honours-360x225President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday announced a cash gift of N2m each for all the players of the nation’s Under-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, who won the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Soccer Championship on Friday in Abu Dhabi, United Emirates.

The players, their handlers and key members of the Nigerian Supporters’ Club, according to the President, will also be honoured with national honours during the next award ceremony.

Jonathan announced the rewards at a reception he held in honour of the players at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President announced a N3m cash gift to the team’s Head Coach; the assistant coaches get N2.5m each; the team doctor, physiotherapist and team secretary get N500,000 each while the team technical officer, team coordinator, medical officers and the curator will get N300,000 each.

Jonathan said with the gifts, he was keeping his earlier promise to the team when he charged them to go and conquer the world.

Describing the cash gifts as token, the President encouraged state governments and members of the organised private sector to join the Federal Government in appreciating players, saying no amount of reward could be adequate for the young Nigerians.

“The team, the handlers, the coaches and the officials including some key members of the supporters club and the Nigerian Football Federation will all be rewarded when we give national honours,” he said.

The President said he was pleased to host and honour the players who he said by their outstanding performance had brought pride and honour to Nigeria and Africa.

He said the players won fairly and convincingly, adding that the victory is for the whole of Africa.

*Source Punch Nigeria

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Marc-Vivien Foe death: His legacy 10 years after collapsing on pitch
June 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Simon Austin*

It was the brutal abruptness of Marc-Vivien Foe’s fatal collapse that made it so shocking.

In the 73rd minute of the Confederations Cup semi-final between Cameroon and Colombia at Lyon’s Stade de Gerland, the powerful midfielder was jogging along innocuously.

No-one was close to him and nothing seemed wrong, yet suddenly he collapsed to the ground in the centre circle. Medical and support staff attempted to resuscitate the player on the pitch, before carrying him on a stretcher to the bowels of the stadium, where attempts to restart his heart failed and the man known affectionately by his team-mates as ‘Marcus’ was pronounced dead.

That was 10 years ago, on 26 June 2003, but the memories are still painfully fresh for Cameroon’s then manager, Winfried Schafer. The German says neither he nor his players had realised the seriousness of the situation at first.

“We won the match 1-0 and the players were dancing in the changing rooms afterwards,” he told BBC World Service’s Sportsworld programme. “Then [captain] Rigobert Song came in and cried and said “Marcus, Marcus” and told us he was dead.

“Everyone was shocked and was asking why. All the players were crying. I went out of the dressing room and heard two ladies crying very, very loudly. Then I saw Marcus lying there, on a table, with his mother and wife by his side. I touched his leg and I went outside and cried too.”

Pat Nevin, then chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, was broadcasting at the tournament and attended a special Cameroon news conference the following day.

“It was devastating for everyone involved, but there were some lifting moments,” he remembers. “Seven Cameroon players came out and they all spoke beautifully about their friend and team-mate and their desire to carry on in the tournament.

“It was a beautiful moment after a tragedy and I’ve been a Cameroon supporter ever since.”

A first autopsy failed to establish the cause of the 28-year-old’s death, but a second found he been suffering from a condition calledhypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 

The big question everyone asked was how could a fit, athletic footballer with no known history of heart problems have died in such a way?

“When you looked at that Cameroon team, they were big, strong and tall, and Marc-Vivien epitomised that,” Nevin says. “He was a box-to-box player and his fitness was extraordinary.”

Sanjay Sharma,  Professor of Cardiology at the University of London, who has worked with both Manchester City and Team GB at the 2012 Olympics, explains that the first sign of the condition is often death.

“People with the condition, which is characterised by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, are about three to five times more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest if exercising vigorously than leading a sedentary lifestyle,” he says.

“Sadly, 80% of sportsmen who die from this condition have no prior warning signals and sudden death is the first presentation.”

After consultation with Foe’s widow, Marie-Louise, as well as his parents, Fifa decided that the Confederations Cup final between France and Columbia should go ahead as planned. Many of France’s players, including striker Thierry Henry, were in tears as they lined up before the game.

A picture of Foe was shown on the big screen ahead of the game and Cameroon’s players held a huge photo of him during the trophy presentation to eventual winners France.

The midfielder was given a state funeral in Cameroon in July 2003. Journalist Francis N-gwa Niba, who was there, remembers: “The funeral was huge. The president was there, [Fifa president] Sepp Blatter, everyone who was anyone in African football.

“Thousands stood by the side of the road outside the cathedral and I remember one banner in particular, which read ‘a lion never dies, he just sleeps’.”

Foe left behind a wife and sons aged six and three, as well as a daughter of only two months old. The player’s generosity had been legendary, and there were reports that he hadn’t much money left behind.

Foe was buried on the site of the football academy he had been having built in his hometown of Yaounde. He used to send a proportion of his wages home to his father Martin each month to fund the construction of the complex, but N-gwa Niba says it now “sadly has practically been abandoned now because of lack of funding”.

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions have also been in decline following the death of their star midfielder. Going into the 2003 Confederations Cup they were the undoubted kings of their continent, having won the previous two African Cup of Nations tournaments, in 2000 and 2002.

Since then, N-gwa Niba says “Cameroon football has been going down the drain” and they haven’t won another Cup of Nations.

Foe had been on loan at Manchester City from Lyon in the 2002-03 season, making 35 appearances and scoring nine goals. City retired his number 23 shirt after his death, while a street was named after him in Lyon.

A positive result of Foe’s death has been huge improvements in both the testing of footballers for heart problems and the treatment they receive during matches

. Professor Sharma admits he was shocked when he watched footage of the on-field treatment that Foe received.

“A player went down without any contact, his eyes rolled back, he had no tone in his body, so it was clear something terrible had gone wrong,” he says.

“It took quite a while for the penny to drop that this was not going to get better with the magic sponge or fluid being poured on his head though. As cardiologists, we like resuscitation to start within a minute and a half of someone going down, and for the defibrilator  to be used within three minutes.

Foe was given a state funeral in Cameroon“That gives us an outcome of about 70% living. Yet a good five, six minutes went by before I could see any positive action with Marc-Vivien Foe. That was perhaps because this was the first time something like this had happened in football. After all, you don’t expect a champion footballer like this to go down and die.”

Fifa’s chief medical officer, Jiri Dvorak, admits big improvements had to be made following Foe’s death.

“We have done a lot of work to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest since then,” he told BBC Sport. “At all levels, we have examination of players before arrival at a competition.

“We have also trained the sideline medical teams in CPR  and using defibrilators. We have a plan if something happens and the equipment – including for the team physicians of all teams. The medical personnel are adequately educated.”

Professor Sharma says such improvements were in evidence when Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match against Tottenham last March.

“If you look at the first minutes of him going down, it was clear the medical staff quickly realised the severity of the situation,” he said. “The first thing I noticed in the Bolton doctor’s hand was a defibrilator. They started resuscitation on the pitch and delivered two shocks before they moved him.”

There will be a tribute to Foe before Wednesday’s Confederations Cup semi-final between Brazil and Uruguay.

A decade on, football will remember a fine player who grew up in poverty in Africa and went on to play in some of the biggest leagues in Europe. Foe’s former team-mate, Shaka Hislop, says he will mainly remember a friendly, happy and down-to-earth man though.

Foe arrived at West Ham in 2000 as their club record £4m signing, yet could not have been more unassuming.

“He was much-heralded and seemingly had the world at his feet,” says Hislop, “but he was as genuine and likeable as they come. Regardless of what was asked of him, he did it with a smile and I thought he represented the best of football and footballers.”

*Source BBC 

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A Salute To Big Boss: Keshi Rests The Case For African Coaches
February 13, 2013 | 1 Comments

A Salute To Big Boss: Keshi Rests The Case For African Coaches

“It’s not for me alone. I hope more African coaches will get to this position and make their country proud,” says the Nigerian Coach

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Nigeria may have won the just ended African Nations Cup in South Africa but if there is one individual who needs to be singled out as the man  of the tournament, it is undoubtedly Stephen Keshi who coached the victorious side. Only the second individual to win the cup as a player and as a Coach, Keshi’s feat makes the case for more Africans to be trusted with responsibilities of managing National Teams across the continent.

As is often the case, the bulk of countries at the Nations cup came with foreign coaches. Few are those who gave Keshi’s Nigeria a chance to emerge victorious. After missing out at the 2010 tournament, the Nigerian football Federation gave Keshi fondly known as the “Big Boss” the responsibility of leading the Super Eagles. It was a daunting task, but he took to it with principles of his own and chief amongst them: banking on local talent. People could not understand why he deployed so much energy working with players who ply their trade in the domestic league in Nigeria when the country had top notch professionals playing in Europe. The truth is the professionals failed woefully at the world cup in South Africa and did not even make it to the 2011 nations cup hosted by Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.

Guided by his principles, Keshi went to South Africa for the Nations Cup with at least six home based players.  His decision to leave behind some of the big professional players generated skepticism. The skepticism gained currency when Nigeria could only pick draws in its first two matches against Burkina Faso and Zambia. As is often the case in Africa, word started going round that Keshi will be sent packing after the tournament in preference of a foreign coach.

Against all odds, the Nigeria that fans saw in the knock out stages was completely transformed. First star studded hot favourites Ivory Coast were sent

Sunday Mba's winner earned Nigeria a 1-0 victory in the final,he plays for the domestic league

Sunday Mba’s winner earned Nigeria a 1-0 victory in the final,he plays for the domestic league

packing and talk about a policy paying off, it was one of the home based players groomed by Keshi who scored the winning goal. It took a victory over Ivory Coast for people to start thinking that perhaps Keshi was right. At the end Nigeria were crowned champions and in vindication of his vision and philosophy, Sunday Mba who scored the lone goal that won cup is a home based played.

As Nigeria and the continent celebrate his victory, isn’t it time for the other countries to think about giving more African coaches the free hand and resources to manage football? At most of the press conferences Keshi held, the topic kept coming up. “I am never against a white coach in Africa, because I’ve always worked with white coaches,” Keshi said. “If you want to bring in a classic, an experienced coach from Europe, I am ready to learn from that coach, because he’s better than me, he has more knowledge than me,” Keshi who captained the Nigerian Team that won the 1994 nations cup went on. “We have quality African players, or ex-African players, who can do the same thing, but they’re not given the opportunity because they’re just black dudes. I don’t like it,” Keshi complained.

Keshi has a reason to complain and he is a perfect example of a Coach who sowed and someone else was brought it to reap. He qualified little fancied Togo for the 2006 World Cup in Germany only to be replaced by a foreigner who was not as competent as he was .The result, a promising Togolese side had a lousy outing in Germany. Even with his experiment working in South African, there were rumours flying around of plans by the Nigerian Football authorities to replace him. Such disrespect prompted him to consider resignation after his country was crowned as African champions.

There is nothing wrong in having a foreign coach but is it rationale to bring in substandard coaches when there are qualified Africans who can produce better results? How many sides in Europe or South America will consider having a foreigner to coach their national teams? How comes African countries bring in coaches who are considered incompetent to coach clubs that their professional players excel in?

So many reasons are advanced for not trusting African coaches, competence, tribalism, corruption, et al. The truth remains that give these guys the same treatment reserved for white coaches and there will be produce results. Give African coaches contracts, pay them the same salaries foreign Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan with victorious Eaglescoaches are paid, make their working conditions the same, give them a free hand to manage the teams,  give them ample time to build a team and the odds are that the results will come.

When it is considered a favour to give an African the responsibility of serving as coach, with low wages, unbearable working conditions and no free hand to do the job, it is hard to expect positive results. Egypt won the nations cup thrice in succession with an Egyptian as a coach. For the numerous foreign coaches it continues to have today, the only time Ivory Coast won a nations cup was in 1992 when they had Yao Martial an Ivorian serving as coach. Keshi’s gamble in blending local talent and professionals and instilling a winning mentality into his side speaks to the genius of African coaches. Nigeria’s victory in South Africa was no accident, it was because of the  talent assembled by the brilliance, conviction, and principles of Stephen Keshi. He deserves a big salute and Africa should learn to trust its own talents.


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Samuel Eto’o: Cameroon soccer officials after my life
February 9, 2013 | 1 Comments

By YUH TIMCHIA in Yaoundé*

Cameroon’s national football team captain Samuel Eto’o has stirred up debate about the country’s football woes after he accused local federation officials of wanting to take his life and challenged them to a live debate on national television.

“They want to kill me. I live in the national team with gendarmes, not out of snobbery…I cannot put the team jerseys on, I get mine directly from Puma,” the footballer said in an online video chat with young Cameroonians Wednesday organized by local satirical magazine Je Wanda.

The FC Anzhi Makhachkala striker also said he is cautious about what he eats during training camps.

Eto’o was among 11 players who did not honour a call up for a friendly against Tanzania on Wednesday. He cited an injury as the reason for his failure to show up in the game Tanzania won one nil.

However, some critics say it was a phony reason, which shows Cameroon football is still in perilous waters.

Others blame the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) for the falling standards of the sport in the erstwhile continental heavyweight.

The four-time African player of the year does not see a bright future for Cameroon football unless the wrangling pinning it down is resolved.
Eto’o said that FECAFOOT officials are incompetent, corrupt and should all resign.

“These aged persons have swindled our money enough…instead of managing football for the general interest, they are only concerned with fictitious missions, first class travels and untraceable bank accounts in Europe.”

Cameroon faces Togo in March in playoffs for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and Eto’o does not think Cameroon in its current state will be able to beat the Sparrow Hawks.

He said the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations has had a good level so far adding that merit goes to teams like Nigeria and Togo that solved the problems plaguing their football.

FECAFOOT has still not commented on the team captain’s allegations.

In a report on, Italy-based Cameroonian journalist Jean Claude Mbede Fouda said a


FA official told him Eto’o was unpatriotic and his claims “frivolous”.

“When you’re a friend to a group of individuals currently detained for embezzlement, and are responsible for destabilizing the country’s football to topple the government, you act like Samuel [Eto’o].”

The official reportedly said the FA was ready for the televised debate and said he was sure Eto’o will not emerge winner.

Cameroon’s last performance at an international senior level tournament, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, laid bare the country’s football troubles.

The four-time African champions, the Indomitable Lions, were booted out of the


without a single point. They then failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and this


*Source Africa Review


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Cameroon’s outspoken footballer
January 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Assou-Ekotto: I say what I think … if you don’t like it, I don’t care

By Alex Thomas*

Assou-Ekotto made his first appearance for Cameroon's "Indomitable Lions" in February 2009 against Guinea. He also represented Cameroon at the 2010 World Cup.On the pitch, he is known as a combative defender whose marauding runs down the left flank have helped him establish himself as one of football’s most enterprising fullbacks.

Off the pitch, however, Tottenham Hotspur left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto is far from your ordinary top-level footballer.

Opinionated and strong-minded, Assou-Ekotto’s surprisingly candid views have often been at odds with the monotonous, if not pretentious, rhetoric that often surrounds the beautiful game.

The French-born Cameroonian international has famously admitted that he’s playing the sport just for the money on offer. He’s grabbed headlines by saying every player is driven by riches and has openly criticized badge-kissing peers of “hypocrisy.”

he refreshingly open, yet soft-spoken, player describes football as a “very, very, very good job,” but says there are more important things in life. He shies away from the celebrity lifestyle favored by many of his English Premier League colleagues and has few friends within football.

“For me it’s very important to have a normal friend and not only friends in football because you can see the reality and the difficulty of the life, [which] you can forget as your job is a very good job,” he explains.

Is he concerned whether some of his comments can be seen in a negative way? “I’m honest and I say what I think,” says Assou-Ekotto, who is known as much for his frank comments as his eye-catching hairstyles. “If you don’t like, I don’t care — I know how I speak maybe will not help me, but I don’t care and I have too much confidence in me.”

With a French mother and having grown up in the city of Arras, northern France, Assou-Ekotto, 28, could have played for the French national team.

I have more feeling with Cameroon and Africa,” he explains.

Assou-Ekotto says that his decision to play in Africa does limit his earning potential at club level in Europe. He claims African players don’t earn the same wages as other players, partly because they have to play in the Africa Cup of Nations. The tournament, which is usually held every two years, takes many of the continent’s top football stars out of action for their club teams at a critical period in the European domestic season.

“When you make a choice and play for an African [national] team, the football will be more difficult for you because you have the Africa Cup of Nations and there’s not a club [that] wants their footballers to travel one month out in the middle of the season,” he says. “A French player or an English player or a Belgium player or a Spain player would be all the time more expensive as an African player — it’s like that, it’s a reality.”

Yet, for Assou-Ekotto, the choice to represent Cameroon’s “Indomitable Lions” was easy to make.

“I prefer to be proud to play for my country, even if my football will be more difficult, [than] to play for France and don’t have a feeling,” he says.

Assou- Ekotto, who joined Tottenham from French outfit Lens in the summer of 2006, comes from a fine footballing pedigree. His older brother Mathieu played top-flight football in Belgium, while his dad, David, left Cameroon for France as a teenager to play professionally. Assou-Ekotto’s footballing education came from watching matches with his dad, who was an astute mentor, passing on the nuances of the sport.

“Every weekend when I was about 10 I go with him to see football and to play football and then I said, it’s a good job,” remembers Assou-Ekotto. “I said, okay, I will focus only on the football.”

Disinterested with learning in the classroom, Assou-Ekotto dropped out of school at the age of 16 to pursue his sporting ambition. But although his gamble has paid off, Assou-Ekotto says today he regrets not completing high school.

His view on the importance of education has prompted him to start BA32, a foundation promoting the idea of teaching youth in a practical and interesting way, focused on encouraging children across the globe to learn more about mathematics, science and technology.

“When I make this foundation [it] is to give the opportunity to a young boy to understand that the education and the school is very important because you know when you are young you don’t see the real problems of the life; to sleep under the roof you have to pay every month,” he says. “I think it is more easy to pay this kind of stuff when you are clever and when you have a good job.”

Assou-Ekotto is keen for his philanthropy, rather than his sporting success, to be his lasting legacy.

“I prefer to be remembered about what I will do after football because every weekend about 40,000 people enjoy with me and my team but I hope to help more than 40,000 people after football over the world,” he says. “People need help and that will be more interesting for me. People [will remember me] not just as a footballer, because I am not just a footballer.”

*Source CNN 

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Katongo named 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year
December 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

Christopher Katongo has won the 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.

The 30-year-old Zambia captain beat off competition from Demba Ba, Didier Drogba, Younes Belhanda and Yaya Toure to become the first winner from southern Africa in the history of the award.

Katongo told BBC Sport: “This is a fantastic moment for me. I thank the people who voted for me. It is something I will never forget in my career.

“This means a lot for the young people and the young players who look up to me. I could not have achieved this without the support of my team-mates.”

The shortlist for the award was drawn up by football experts from every country in Africa, who based their choices on players’ skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency and fair play.
And a record number of people nominated their favourite online or by text message with just over 40% of the votes going to Katongo, who plays his club football in China for Henan Construction.

While all the players on the shortlist have enjoyed a superb year, with four of the players picking up silverware, it is Katongo whose performances and achievements have been considered by African football fans to be the greatest.

“I think the things that they (the fans) like about me is my discipline and that I am the kind of player who can fail one day but pull up his socks and keep going. I think that is why they voted for me,” added Katongo.

“To be among the top players who have won this award, I will go to sleep with a smile on my face.
“I did my best and the people have spoken. That’s the beauty of this award.”
Katongo, who is also a soldier in his home country, was inspirational as he led Zambia to their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February.

He scored three goals en route to the final of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and then struck a successful penalty in an 8-7 shoot-out victory over favourites Ivory Coast to lift the trophy in Libreville.

It was an emotional moment for Zambia, who had suffered a tragic air disaster 19 years previously, when a plane carrying most of the national team crashed when only 500m offshore from Libreville, killing all 25 passengers and five crew.

Seven months after leading Zambia to glory Katongo was again his country’s talisman, this time in a 2013 Nations Cup qualifying tie when he scored the only goal of the game in his side’s final-round first leg match against Uganda.

And it proved to be a vital strike as Chipolopolo lost the return leg 1-0 but made it through to next year’s tournament in South Africa by winning 9-8 in another penalty shoot-out.

In between those Nations Cup heroics, Katongo also provided the spark that lifted Zambia out of a difficult phase in their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign.

Zambia suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Sudan in Khartoum in June – a result that remains in doubt while Sudan are being investigated for allegedly fielding an ineligible player – and they desperately needed a result against Ghana a week later.

Yet again it was Katongo who stepped up and scored the winner, putting his side’s campaign back on track.

And if Katongo can continue the form that has helped his country to new heights, as well as earning him individual recognition, he may well propel Zambia to the biggest stage of all in Brazil in 18 months’ time.

*Source BBC


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10 Highest Paid African Footballers
November 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

*By Kate Hodges*

led by Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, African stars are earning big from football

led by Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, African stars are earning big from football

Africa’s football stars have become a common sight in the world’s most competitive leagues. These sons of Africa are among some of the highest earning athletes in the world. Howzit MSN looks at the current 10 highest earning footballers from Africa.

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

Striker Eto’o moved to Russian football club in August 2011, as a result he is currently the highest paid footballer in the world. His annual salary tops €20 million after tax. In addition to his whopping salary, Eto’o earns millions from sponsorship deals annually. Eto’o started his club career at Real Madrid aged 16. He then moved to various Spanish clubs before a five-year stint at Barcelona and two years at Inter Milan. He has 110 caps for the Cameroon national team in which he has scored 53 goals.

Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

The Manchester City midfielder commands a salary of €15 million a year. Before Eto’o moved to Russia Toure was the highest paid African footballer in the world. Toure is a power player with an impressive record with former team Barcelona. He moved to the Premier League to join Manchester City in 2010. Since his move he has played a central role for the resurgent City side – earning himself the African Footballer of the Year award for 2011.

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

The Ivorian striker’s move from Chelsea to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua sees him earning a salary of €12.9 annually. The power forward moved to the Chinese side at the end of June 2012 when his contract with Chelsea expired. Drogba scored 100 goals at Chelsea in 226 appearances over a period of eight years. The striker has scored 59 goals in 90 caps for his national team. He has undertaken several projects for charity and has started his own foundation – The Didier Drogba Foundation. The double African Footballer of the Year winner is a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

Seydou Keita (Mali)

The Malian midfielder earns an impressive annual salary of €12 million from Chinese Super League club Dalian Aerbin F.C. He moved to the Chinese side in 2012 following a successful four year spell at Barcelona. He has already scored four goals in 12 appearances for his new side. Dalian Keita has made 72 appearances for Mali since making his international debut in 2001. He has scored 19 goals for the national team.

Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo)

The Togo striker’s current salary is €10 million. He finally joined Tottenham Hotspur, where he spent a season on loan from Manchester City, permanently following a protracted salary negotiation. In contrast to Adebayor’s reputation as a difficult player, he is also one of the most charitable footballers around. He has undertaken several projects in his native Togo and other parts of the continent. Earlier this year he launched his own charity – the SEA Foundation.

Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast)

The Ivorian earns €5.8 million a year, an impressive sum for a defender. He moved to City following a seven year stint at Arsenal. Toure made his international debut in 2000, he has since made 98 appearances and scored 15 goals for the national team. Toure was linked with a move to Turkish giants Galatasaray during the last transfer window, but the centre back remained at City when the window closed.
Christopher Samba (Congo)

Congolese defender Christopher Samba joined the list following a lucrative move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. His current salary is in the area of €5.5 million. Samba’s move came after a five year spell at Premier League side Blackburn Rovers. He was often played as a striker at Blackburn, scoring 16 goals in 161 appearances. He has 26 international caps for Congo.

Frederic Kanoute (Mali)

The Franco-Malian striker joined Chinese club Beijing Guoan for a reported salary of €6.2 million annually. Kanoute, who was born in Lyon France to a French mother and Malian father, was a Spanish side Sevilla for seven years. The devout Muslim helped buy a mosque in the Spanish city. He scored 23 goals in 39 appearances for Mali, before retiring from international football in 2010.

Michael Essien (Ghana)

Ghana midfielder Michael Essien reportedly earns a salary of €5.1 million annually. The former BBC African Footballer of the Year also has several lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, MTN, and Guinness-Africa among others. Following a seven year spell at Premier League giant Chelsea, Essien was reunited with former manager Jose Mourinho, when he went to Spanish super club Real Madrid on a season long loan.

Mikel John Obi (Nigeria)

Mikel John Obi reportedly earns a €4.5 million salary from Premier League club Chelsea. When he was just 18-years-old he was linked with a move to Manchester United, but ended up signing with Chelsea under highly controversial circumstances. He has made 172 appearances for Chelsea and 38 for the national team. He has been shortlisted for the 2012 African Footballer of the Year award.

* Source

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John Obi Mikel Starts Record Label
October 16, 2012 | 0 Comments

Chelsea and Super Eagles midfielder John Obi Mikel has taken steps to secure his post-football future by starting a record label.

He set up his Matured Money Minds (MMM) label with his brother Patrick, and has already signed four artists. Those artists are: Edgar, Perfect wikdyz, Splash, Charass and Jason ‘Kido’ Igho.

The 25-year-old, who started playing in England’s Premier League days after his 18th birthday, recently quit the social networking site Twitter due to racial abuse. Mikel was abused after he took to his @Mikel12Official account to apologise for a mistake he made against Juventus in the Champions League.

Mikel, who was born in the Plateau State capital Jos, has made 166 appearances for Chelsea and has 37 caps for the Super Eagles.

Mikel will run out for Nigeria on 13 October 2012 in Calabar for their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Liberia.

*Culled from MSN Africa

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