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Ajax Stop Four African Players From Internationals1 minute read

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Dutch Eredivisie club, Ajax Amsterdam, say it stopped four of their African internationals from travelling to join up with their national teams this week.

The club confirmed the decision on Wednesday. They said the decision was taken because the players would have to quarantine on their return to the Netherlands.

Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus, Moroccan pair Zakaria Labyad and Noussair Mazraoui, and Lassina Traore from Burkina Faso have not been released.

Ajax have made use of a FIFA ruling that allows clubs to refuse to release their players this month if they face a period of quarantine or self-isolation on their return.

Usually, players must be released if called up for international duty during the FIFA window.

But world football’s governing body FIFA announced a relaxation last week amid a spike in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

Ajax confirmed the players would remain in Amsterdam.

Morocco and Ghana’s football associations also confirmed the absences.

Kudus, who Ajax recently signed from Nordsjaelland in Denmark, was to join up with Ghana for two internationals against Mali and Iran, to be played in Turkey.

Morocco have home friendlies against Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Burkina Faso play the Congolese on Friday and Madagascar next week, also in Morocco.

Ajax’s Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana has joined up with his national side, as they are playing against Japan in Utrecht on Friday.

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Katsande and Parker’s position under threat – Hunt

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Coach of South African Premier League side Kaizer Chiefs, Gavin Hunt says his experienced players Willard Katsande and Bernard Parker are not guaranteed starters in his team anymore as he has impressive young players coming through the ranks.

Hunt made a promise to give playing opportunities to young talents after he was impressed with their performance in their MTN8 quarter-final victory over Maritzburg United.

Hunt has specifically mentioned Katsande and Parker as players who’s position in the team is under threat from the young players.

“These guys [Katsande and Parker] have given some unbelievable service to football. They have won a lot of trophies, they have been here for some time,” Hunt said.

“I understand that people are always looking for something special. But until somebody comes up, like right now with our situation, and puts his hand up and says ‘I am willing.’ Willard and Bernard both know that these young players are good like the young [Njabulo] Bloem in Katsande’s place.

“He had a fantastic game [against Maritzburg United], came on and changed the game. But he has to be on a consistency level of playing. I have to give him opportunities, which I will do.

“And he has to keep on challenging Willard, and Willard has to say, ‘These people are on my case.’ Like in all sports, like in boxing when you get older, somebody is going to be better than you.

“Same as Bernard, he has some young boys up there, the [Lebogang] Lesako, [Keletso] Sifama coming up. These boys are going to be challenging him. But right now I don’t see players being put out of position unless somebody really puts his hand up and says, ‘Right, I’m here.’ Look at Bloem on Sunday.”

Parker played the whole 90mins against Maritzburg, while Katsande was suspended for the game.

Chiefs first game of the new Premier Soccer League season will be against rivals Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

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North Africa Sports

CAF to Postpone Champions League Second Semi-Final Clash Between Zamalek and Raja Casablanca Due to Coronavirus

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has reportedly agreed to postpone the second leg of the Champions League match between Zamalek of Egypt and Morocco’s Raja Casablanca. This came after nine players of Raja tested positive for the coronavirus forcing the club to officially request a postponement by CAF.

CAF sent a letter to the clubs playing in the African Champions League and Confederation Cup stating that the body’s inter-club organising committee has decided if a team registers less than five Covid-19 cases, their match cannot be postponed.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan health authorities have prevented the club from leaving the country following the spate of positive COVID-19 tests in the club. “The Moroccan authorities have withdrawn the special authorisation given to the club to travel outside the country,” an official revealed. Raja, who lost the first leg 1-0 at home last Sunday, were due to play the return match at the Cairo International Stadium this Saturday.

Four of the Raja team that started against Zamalek — defender Ilias Haddad, midfielders Omar Arjoune and Mouhcine Moutouali and forward Abdelilah Hafidi — are among those who tested positive.

Moroccan media also named midfielder Abderrahim Achchakir and forwards Anas Jabroun, Ayoub Nanah and Mohamed Zrida as the affected players. Celebrations after Raja this month became Moroccan champions for the first time in seven years have been blamed for the Covid-19 outbreak.

CAF’s agreement to the postponement is raising major controversy. Guinea’s Horoya were forced to play their CAF Confederations Cup semi-finals against egypt’s Pyramids FC in Morrocco despite travelling for the tie with a 16-man squad after 12 players in the squad tested positive for the virus.

The African football body also turned down a similar requests made by Hassania Agadir after seven of its players contracted the virus ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup semi final against Renaissance de Berkane (RB) which they eventually lost 2-1.

Meanwhile Zamalek president Mortada Mansour has rewarded the Zamalek squad with a $3,200 bonus each after a 1-0 away win over Raja Casablanca of Morocco in a CAF Champions League semi-final first leg.

“Each player will receive the same amount as a bonus if they win the return match,” promised Mansour.

He also added that a much bigger bonus will be offered if Zamalek go on to win the elite African club competition for the first time in 18 years.

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North Africa Sports

Egypt Fall To 52nd Position On FIFA Ranking

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The Pharoah’s of Egypt dropped one position in this month’s FIFA global rankings, down to 52nd place after six months of suspension of international games due to coronavirus pandemic.

Despite losing one place in the FIFA’s monthly ranking, the Pharaohs kept their seventh place among African countries, behind Senegal (21), Tunisia (26), Algeria (30), Nigeria (32), Morocco (39), and Ghana (48).

Egypt played draws against Kenya and Comoros in their opening qualifying games for the next Africa Cup of Nations last year, will host Togo in the 3rd round of the 2022 African Cup of Nations qualifiers on 14 November.

There were some changes in the October rankings for other African teams with Senegal dropping on place, Algeria jumping one position, Nigeria dropping three places, and Morocco jumping four places.

Egypt, who made it into the world’s top ten teams after they won consecutive African Cup of Nations trophies in 2006, 2008 and 2010, are also placed fourth among Arab countries, after Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

Belgium lead an unchanged top four national teams including France, Brazil and England.

The best mover in the new ranking was Malta, jumping 6 places to the 180th place, while the biggest drop belonged Rmania’s, who fell ten spots to 44th place.

FIFA world rankings (September world ranking in parenthesis):

  1. Belgium (1)
  2. France (2)
  3. Brazil (3)
  4. England (4)
  5. Portugal (5)
  6. Spain (7)
  7. Uruguay (6)
  8. Argentina (9)
  9. Croatia (8)
  10. Colombia (10)

Top ten African teams:

  1. Senegal (20)
  2. Tunisia (26)
  3. Algeria (35)
  4. Nigeria (29)
  5. Morocco (43)
  6. Ghana (46)
  7. Egypt (51)
  8. Cameroon (53)
  9. Mali (57)
  10. Burkina Faso (57)

Top five Arab teams:

  1. Tunisia (26)
  2. Algeria (35)
  3. Morocco (43)
  4. Egypt (51)
  5. Qatar (55)

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