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CAF Champions League Semi-final, Final Postponed

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CAF Confederation Cup: Bolton City overcomes Jwaneng galaxy

For the second time in two weeks, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has postponed the final and the semi-final second leg of the African Champions League between Egypt’s Zamalek and Raja Casablanca of Morocco.

Raja’s trip to Cairo for Sunday’s contest against Zamalek was in doubt after an outbreak of Covid-19 at the club in the run-up to the fixture.

CAF had already postponed the match from last weekend after eight Raja players tested positive for coronavirus, but the number rose to 14 following another round of testing.

Raja were set to carry out more tests on Thursday and were scheduled to leave for Egypt on Friday.

The final itself, which was set to take place in Egypt on Friday 6 November, has now also been moved after Egyptian authorities separately expressed concerns about the timing of both the semi-final and final because of parliamentary elections in Egypt.

CAF says no new dates have yet been decided for either of the games, with “official discussions” underway between stakeholders.

The Moroccan champions lost 1-0 to Zamalek in the first leg in Casablanca earlier this month and are battling to meet another Egyptian side, Al Ahly, in the final.

Fulfilling the 2019-2020 Champions League season has proven extremely challenging for Caf because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The final was originally scheduled to be played in May, before being moved back to October and then to November.

Caf will be hoping that the fourth rescheduling will be the last.

North Africa Sports

Mahrez Bags Hat-trick in Man City’s 5-0 Thrashing of Burnley

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Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez scored in the sixth minute in Manchester City’s 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to grab his 100th goal in the Premier League and joined five other African in the exclusive club list.

The goal ensured he became the sixth African player to reach the milestone after Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Mahrez would add two more goals to complete a hat-trick as Man City hammered Burnley at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.

The win is the fourth straight time Pep Guardiola’s side have beaten the Clarets at home by that scoreline.

City had netted just 10 goals in their opening eight games, raising concerns from Guardiola about their finishing but they looked back to their sharpest best — helped by poor defending from Sean Dyche’s team.

Algerian Mahrez set City on their way in the sixth minute, finishing off a flowing passing move with his trademark cut in from the left and drive into the far corner.

There was a similar finish for the second after Mahrez picked up the ball in space in the area after Burnley had been caught out by a quick throw in.

Benjamin Mendy made it 3-0 in the 41st, volleying home his first goal for the club at the back post after a fine cross from Kevin De Bruyne.

Burnley, weakened by injuries and with Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal instead of the sidelined Nick Pope, enjoyed some relief from the pressure after the break with Jay Rodriguez forcing a save out of Ederson with a well-struck effort from a tight angle.

But Ferran Torres added the fourth goal, slotting home after the overlapping Kyle Walker had found Gabriel Jesus in the box and the Brazilian flicked it to his Spanish team mate to convert confidently.

Mahrez completed his hat-trick, his first for City, in the 69th minute, heading home Phil Foden’s cross.

It could have been 6-0 had an effort from Jesus not been ruled out for offside by VAR and a shot from De Bruyne not crashed against the post.

Burnley also lost 5-0 at City last season in the Premier League, in the FA Cup in January, 2019 and in the league in 2018.

Broadcasters BT Sport said the last time a team beat the same opponent by five or more goals in four successive games was Notts County against Port Vale between 1893 and 1907.

“It’s been tough here the last few times we have been without doubt,” Dyche said.

“The media have been on about it and I don’t know whether they planted it in the players’ minds!

“The first goal is really poor. The game plan is almost dismantled by our own doing. 2-0 down here is really difficult as they grow with confidence and they are a top team without a doubt. We know the stats and facts of playing these sides.”

Guardiola was pleased his team had bounced back from last week’s defeat by Tottenham Hotspur and City moved up to eighth, six points behind leaders Liverpool.

“It was important to come back with a victory in the Premier League. One more game,” the Spaniard said.

“We play a lot of games, so to play 90 minutes and maintain a good level is not easy but there are always things to improve on.”

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We Were Billed “$213,000 Just to Cut Grass” at the National Stadium – Nigeria’s Sports Minister

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Sunday Dare, Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development has disclosed the ministry was billed N81m ($213,000) to mow the grass and weed at the MKO Abiola Stadium, in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.

The Minister made this disclosure at a seminar organised by the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN).

Dare said the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) quoted the sum of N81m naira to the Ministry. The ministry, he said, is running on a lean purse and couldn’t accept such a huge quote, particularly considering the public outcry that will greet such move.

“We approached AEPB to come see what can be done to clear the grass and weed in the stadium and they told us it will cost us N81m.

“If we tell Nigerians we used N81m which is not even available, there will be an outcry. The funds are not really there for us and that is why we are partnering with private investors to bring back the key components of our infrastructures,” he said.

The MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja is Nigeria’s biggest sporting edifice. It was commissioned in 2003 prior to the African Games tagged COJA. The stadium was reportedly built with N53bn and has an over 60,000 capacity mainbowl which is one of the biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Various Nigerian national teams have been using the stadium but poor maintenance has been an issue, as the facility is struggling to live up to its early spectacle.

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North Africa Sports

Nigeria Fall On Fifa Ranking, Egypt Rise

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Nigeria on Friday slipped three spots to 35th position on the latest FIFA ranking.

The Super Eagles had failed to win the double-header 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixture against Sierra Leone, drawing 4-4 at home and 0-0 away.

Nigeria is the fourth best country on the continent with Senegal retaining the no. 1 spot, followed by Tunisia and Algeria in the second and third positions, respectively.

Meanwhile, Egypt moved three places up to 49th on the rankings. The Pharaohs defeated the Togolese national side twice in the AFCON qualifying fixtures this month.

On the AFCON qualifying table, Egypt is tied on eight points with surprise package Comoros, after beating Togo 1-0 and 3-1 in the 3rd and 4th rounds respectively.

The Pharaohs are five points clear of third-placed Kenya, while Togo is rooted to the bottom with a solitary point.

Egypt jumped one place among African countries to the 6th position, behind Senegal (20), Tunisia (26), Algeria (31), Nigeria (35) and Morocco (35).

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

The best mover in the new ranking was Equatorial Guinea, jumping 10 places to the 134th place, while the biggest drop belonged to Libya, who fell nine spots to 111th place.

FIFA world rankings (October world ranking in parenthesis):

1. Belgium (1)

2. France (2)

3. Brazil (3)

4. England (4)

5. Portugal (5)

6. Spain (6)

7. Argentina (8)

8. Uruguay (7)

9. Mexico (11)

10. Italy (12)

Top ten African teams:

20. Senegal (21)

26. Tunisia (26)

31. Algeria (30)

35. Nigeria (32)

35. Morocco (39)

49. Egypt (52)

50. Cameroon (53)

52. Ghana (48)

57. Mali (56)

58. Burkina Faso (58)

Top five Arab teams:

26. Tunisia (26)

31. Algeria (30)

35. Morocco (39)

49. Egypt (52)

59. Qatar (57)

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