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Algeria defeat Ivory Coast on penalties to reach AFCON semi-final round

The win sets Algeria up for a semi-final showdown with Nigeria

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Algeria defeat Ivory Coast on penalties to reach AFCON semi-final round
Algeria players celebrate after the final whistle of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarter final soccer match between Cote d'Ivoire and Algeria at the Suez Sports Stadium. Photo: Oliver Weiken/dpa

Algeria defeated the Ivory Coast 4-3 on penalties in Suez Thursday to the relief of Baghdad Bounedjah and set up a semi-final showdown with Nigeria.  

The quarter-final finished 1-1 after extra time with Sofiane Feghouli giving Algeria a 20th-minute lead that was cancelled by Jonathan Kodjia on 62 minutes.

In the shootout, Youcef Belaili struck the woodwork when he had a chance to clinch victory for Algeria, then Ivory Coast captain, Serey Die hit the same post and his team were eliminated.

Forward, Bounedjah missed a penalty in the second half of regular time and was visibly upset by his failure, fearing it would cost Algeria a first last-four place since 2010.

Algeria retained the team that started a last-16 demolition of Guinea, a result which confirmed the belief of many rival coaches that the Desert Foxes are the team to beat.

Ivory Coast coach, Ibrahim Kamara changed two of the side that began an unimpressive 1-0 win over Mali in the first knockout round.

Midfielder, Ibrahim Sangare and forward Max-Alain Gradel were selected to start in place of Jean-Philippe Gbamin and off-form Nicolas Pepe.

This was the eighth Cup of Nations meeting between the countries with Ivory Coast holding a 3-2 lead and two matches drawn.

Ivory Coast were more impressive in the early exchanges before a modest crowd in a stadium overlooking the Suez canal, a major shipping link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Algeria goalkeeper, Rais Mbolhi finger-tipped a Gradel shot on to a post and Kodjia wasted a chance from close range after a cutback in 38 celsius (100 fahrenheit) heat.

Serge Kanon was the next Ivorian to squander an opportunity to put the two-time champions in front, stabbing the ball wide from inside the six-yard area.

Against the run of play, Algeria went ahead when Feghouli connected with a Ramy Bensebaini cross and his snapshot flew past Sylvain Gbohouo.

Algeria had a great chance to go further ahead early in the second half when Bounedjah was fouled by Gbohouo, but he blazed the penalty against the crossbar and over.

The Ivorian Elephants were playing much better than in previous matches and equalised just past the hour mark, ending a 422-minute run by Mbolhi without conceding a goal in Egypt.  

Crystal Palace flier, Wilfried Zaha created the goal with a surging run down the middle from the centre circle before passing to Kodjia, who scored with a shot from just inside the box.

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East Africa Sports News

Ineos 1:59 Challenge: Kenya’s Kipchoge says ready to “break the two-hour barrier”

Kipchoge, 34, went close to breaking the two-hour barrier when he was 25 seconds too slow in another staged run

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Ineos 1:59 Challenge: Kenya's Kipchoge says ready to "break the two-hour barrier"
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge poses for photographers prior to his press conference in Vienna on October 10, 2019, prior to his attempt to break the two-hour barrier on the October 12, 2019 marathon in Vienna. (AFP)

As he prepares for more assaults on the peaks of marathon running, Eliud Kipchoge stays true to an austere lifestyle despite his fame and fortune.

The Kenyan superstar, who holds the marathon world record and is reigning Olympic champion, hopes to become the first man to run the 42.195 kilometres in under two hours on Saturday in Vienna.

Despite his status and wealth, the 2018 world athlete of the year leads a monastic existence at a spartan running camp in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

With the 30 or so runners living at the camp, Kipchoge sets off at dawn for the first of two daily training sessions. 

The rest of his time is spent resting, reading and eating, with a focus on simple Kenyan food staples. 

“I don’t think I am different. I am trying my best to live a modest life,” he said.

“I am a simple person, I try to stay calm and focus on what I do. There are no distractions.”

The special event in Vienna, sponsored by British conglomerate Ineos, has been given a catchy marketing title: the “1:h59 Challenge”.

Kipchoge, 34, went close to breaking the two-hour barrier when he was 25 seconds too slow in another staged run, at Italy’s Monza race circuit in 2017. 

That time was not sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because a vehicle and a squad of pacemakers aided Kipchoge in controlling his speed.

The same conditions will prevail for the Vienna attempt, preventing any potential world record from being validated.

‘Landing on the moon’ –

“This is about history,” he said. “It’s about leaving a legacy. It’s about inspiring people,” he said of the Vienna event.

“My main message to the 7.5 billion people in the world is that no human is limited.”

“Breaking the two-hour marathon barrier would be like man landing on the moon,” he said.

He added that it would “show to the world that when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”

Kipchoge was born in Kapsisiywa, Nandi County in western Kenya. 

At 18, he beat two legendary runners, the Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, to became 5,000-metre world champion in Paris in 2003.

In 2012, after failing to qualify for the London Olympics, Kipchoge switched to marathon running.

With his compact silhouette and unwavering stride as the miles tick by, Kipchoge is perfectly suited to the longer distance. 

Out of 12 marathons, he has lost just once: in his 2013 debut in Berlin, against compatriot Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record that day. 

Kipchoge set his world record, 2hr 1min 39sec, in the Berlin race in 2018.

He had met coach Patrick Sang in 2001 and joined the fabled running stable in the foothills of the Rift Valley a year later.

‘Sense of sacrifice’ –

Kipchoge enjoys no privileges at the Kaptagat camp where he is nicknamed the “philosopher” for his love of reading. The camp is a few hours’ walk from his home village, Eldoret. On weekends, he returns to his family.

Coach Sang, an Olympic runner-up in the 3,000m steeplechase in 1992, remains impressed with his student’s determination.

“He has continued to amaze me with his self-sacrifice and dedication. He has given 100 per cent of his ability and total commitment to what he does,” he told reporters.

The champion’s often mischievous gaze hardens when the subject of doping arises. Kipchoge has never been caught up in scandal, but the reputation of his Kenyan compatriots has raised questions.

Kipchoge, who will defend his Olympic title in Tokyo next year, is fixated on Saturday’s challenge.

“I have visualised it. I have put it in my heart and my mind that I will break the two-hour barrier,” he said.

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North Africa Sports

Egypt’s star Mohammed Salah set to miss friendly against Botswana

Salah finished fourth in the balloting for the FIFA best player award last week

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Salah set to miss Egypt friendly against Botswana
African Footballer of the Year, Egypt and Liverpool striker Mohammed Salah. (Photo by CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP)

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah “must rest” and will miss Egypt’s friendly against Botswana on October 14, national team coach Hossam El Badry said Thursday. The announcement came days after Salah raised eyebrows by changing his Twitter bio to say he only played for Liverpool, removing any mention of his affiliation to Egypt.

Salah finished fourth in the balloting for the FIFA best player award last week, with two of Egypt’s votes rejected by football’s governing body after they were signed in capital letters. El Badry said he spoke to Salah following a report from the national team doctor on the fitness of the squad’s overseas-based players.

“I agreed with him that it is in his best interests and those of the national team that he rests,” El Badry told local channel MBC Masr. “He won’t be with us at the training camp for Botswana, but God willing, he will be with us for the official matches.”

Salah scored twice on Wednesday as holders Liverpool defeated Salzburg 4-3 at home in the Champions League group stage. 

Salah and the Egyptian FA have butted heads before several times, most prominently when a photo of him was plastered on the squad’s plane ahead of the 2018 World Cup, causing sponsorship problems for the star.

El Badry will take charge of his first match as Egypt coach against Botswana following his appointment last month. Egypt begin their qualifying campaign for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations at home to Kenya in November.

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Kanu tells Nigerians to shrug Tammy and Tomori England call-ups

Gareth Southgate rewarded Abraham for his fine start to the season by naming him in his squad

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Kanu tells Nigerians to forget about Abraham playing for England

Former Nigeria captain Nwankwo Kanu has told the Super Eagles to shrug off the disappointment of seeing Chelsea stars Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori called up by England.

Gareth Southgate rewarded the pair for their fine start to the season by naming them in his squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria later this month.

Former Arsenal favourite Kanu insisted Nigeria should “move on” and still had enough top players to cope with missing out on the two Premier League stars. “That’s football and I think we have enough quality and we can win matches without them,” he said.

“We can’t continue to beg one player to play for us. Nigeria cannot beg, players have to beg Nigeria.”

Abraham, 22, who has won two caps for the Three Lions in friendlies against Brazil and Germany in 2017, had flirted with switching his international allegiance to the country who he qualifies for through his father. Centre-back Tomori, 21, is also eligible to represent Nigeria and Canada at international level.

Nigeria Football Federation officials had repeatedly tried to convince Abraham to change his international allegiance but he looks set to slip through their grasp by playing a competitive match for England.

In the past the Super Eagles have convinced players like Victor Moses and Sone Aluko, who played for England at youth level, to represent the West African nation.

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