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Football To Return To Malawi In Empty Stadiums1 minute read

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The national football team of Malawi, the Flames have been given the go ahead to participate in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, under strict conditions which includes playing the matches in an empty stadium.

Football authorities in the country have been under immense pressure from the fans to reopen stadiums as they were set to demonstrate to seek the return of matches.

The Malawi football season is yet to commence as they wait for a review of the Presidential Task Force next Thursday, and there has been growing frustration among football clubs as they feel the Malawi government is imposing strict requirements before reopening stadiums while travel and political parties adhere to less stringent rules and demands.

“There are double standards. Look at other parts of society that are opening. People are sitting next to each other in buses, crowding in political rallies, but even social distance in open air stadiums is not being allowed, that’s unfair” Kingsley Malaya, Silver Strikers supporter said.

Malaya said he is happy with the decision to partially lift the ban on football, but fans should be let into stadiums or else teams will face financial problems.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) is undertaking a complex scenario modelling to help follow the strict government protocols, such as maintaining social distancing between supporters at stadiums.

The FAM president, Walter Nyamilandu said the lifting of the ban on The Flames of Malawi is “the first step to get started”, and he said the situation is being “reviewed periodically”.

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Ghana International Goalkeeper Richard Ofori Joins Orlando Pirates on 3-Year Deal

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Orlando Pirates have announced the signing of Ghanaian international goalkeeper Richard Ofori from Maritzburg United.

The highly-rated keeper had signed a one-year contract extension in January but Pirates have finally managed to pry him loose from the KwaZulu-Natal side ending many months of rumours as well as links to champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs.

“After many months of speculation wherein Orlando Pirates were linked to a wide assortment of talented shot-stoppers‚ most notably Maritzburg United’s Richard Ofori‚ the club can finally confirm the signing of the Ghanaian international‚” Pirates’ statement read.

“The 26-year-old has signed with the Buccaneers after agreeing terms to a three-year deal.

“… Ofori joined Maritzburg United in 2018 and went on to record 64 appearances in all competitions including nine for the Ghanaian national team.

Ofori was quoted as saying: “I am very happy to be here. It is a dream for me to be a part of this exciting squad and to work with the technical team.

“I also look forward to meeting my new teammates and being part of this exciting new project.”

Ofori will compete for a starting position between the posts with first choice Wayne Sandilands as well Siyabonga Mpontshane. He arrives at Pirates a week after French goalkeeper Joris Delle also left the club after struggling to command a starting place.

“It feels so good [signing for Pirates] because they are like one of the biggest teams in the world,” Ofori said.

“So to sign for them I feel very excited and it’s like a dream come true because every player wants to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

“I feel happy, good and at home because I feel like I have been playing with them for a while so to be finally here I feel very good.”

Ofori admitted his interest in Pirates was stirred by his compatriot Fatau Dauda, a former Buccaneers keeper during the 2013/14 season.

“In 2017 we went to Afcon and then we were talking about the team. He was saying Pirates are a very good team, they are a good family,” he said.

“Whenever we were talking about it, I got excited. That time in 2017 I wasn’t even playing here. Then I said ‘so this team is a very big team and the way Fatau is talking about it.’ I felt like one day I can play for this team. So to be here at this moment, I feel very excited.”

Ofori will be reunited with Fadlu Davids, the man who first brought him to South Africa when he signed him at Maritzburg. Davids is currently an assistant to Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer and he clearly used his previous relationship with Ofori to lure the goalkeeper to the Buccaneers.

“He [Davids] is a father to me because he brought me here, he signed me at Maritzburg United and then now he said I want to work with you again, can you come,” said Ofori.

“That was the time when they were thinking that maybe I wanted to join Mamelodi Sundowns, so he called me and said come. So I came, he is a father to me, he is a very good man. I’m very happy to meet him again.”

Long regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the South African league, Ofori had a brilliant 2019/20 season where he kept 11 clean sheets from 28 league matches. Only Pirates shot-stopper Wayne Sandilands and SuperSport United captain Ronwen Williams had more clean sheets with 12 and 13 clean sheets respectively. He has 19 international caps for the Black Stars of Ghana.

He joins a list of recent big-name signings made by Zinnbauer ahead of the new season including Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Deon Hotto and Thabang Monare.

Maritzburg United have moved swiftly to replace Ofori, signing 28 year old Zambian international goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange. Mwange joined the Team of Choice from Zambian Super League side Green Eagles.

He was in goal for Zambia’s Chipolopolo when they beat the Bafana Bafana 2-1 in an international friendly match just over a week ago in Rustenburg.

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Pyramids Edge Horoya to Qualify for CAF Confederation Cup Final

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Egyptian side Pyramids FC continued their dream campaign after sealing a place in the final of the CAF Confederation Cup for the first time ever, after two late goals saw them beat Guinean side Horoya 2-0 at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco on Tuesday 20 October.

Substitute Ibrahim Hassan and skipper Abdullah El Said scored 60 seconds apart as the Egyptians finally broke down a resilient Horoya to book a final slot against Moroccan side RS Berkane on Sunday.

The Egyptian side totally dominated the opening half, having the lion share of possession and restricting Horoya into their own half.

Pyramids had their first chance of the game after 17 minutes when Mohamed Farouk let fly from distance but Horoya keeper Moussa Camara proved equal to the task with a brilliant save.

Farouk tested Camara again two minutes later with another shot from distance, but it was also dealth with.

Pyramids kept pushing and they came very close to the opener in the 36th minute. A good passing move by Pyramids saw Eric Traore cut the ball back for Omar Gaber but his shot was cleared off the line by Lamine Fofana.

Horoya started the second half with purpose, dominating possession and spreading the play with the Egyptians playing catch up. Their efforts were nearly undone on the hour mark after Eric Traore seemed to have been brought down inside the box by Abou Camara and the Ethiopian referee Tessema Bamlak initially pointed to the spot. But after consulting the pitch-side monitor for a VAR check, Bamlak overturned the decision.

However Pyramids were ahead 14 minutes later when Egyptian striker Ibrahim Hasan slotted in the opener barely two minutes after coming on. The striker who won the title with Zamalek last season had just come on for John Antwi before he raced to a through ball and squeezed it past the keeper.

One minute later, they were 2-0 up when skipper El Said scored a super goal with a sweetly taken curling effort from the left after turning his markers inside out.

Horoya thought they had halved the deficit with five minutes left, but Alseny Camara’s goal was chalked off by the VAR after he was adjudged to have received the ball from an offside position.

Pyramids defended astutely to ensure they continued their fairy tale run in the competition, going all the way to the final in their first ever continental campaign.

They will face Moroccan side RS Berkane in the final after they beat Hassania Agadir 2-1 in an all Moroccan semi-final in Rabat on Monday 19 October. Berkane are in their second successive Confederation Cup final after losing to Zamalek on penalties in last season’s final.

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Anthony Joshua and Odion Ighalo Weigh in on Violence in Nigeria as Soldiers Open Fire on Protesters

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Sports stars of Nigerian heritage have taken to social media to condemn the brutal crackdown on protesters in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos and other cities following days of protests in the country.

Since October 8, protesters have been carrying out peaceful demonstrations across the nation and social media calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police.

However, the protests assumed a violent dimension last week when thugs attacked peaceful protesters in Lagos and Abuja. And on Tuesday 20 October, the violence escalated with 43 protesters and six policemen reportedly killed. There were also reported cases of arson and looting.

Two-time unified heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua posted on social media that he was praying for peace in the country and doing his best to support victims. The WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion, whose full name is Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, was born in Watford, England to Nigerian parents.

In a video uploaded on his Twitter handle, he said:

“This is a message to the people of Nigeria. Even though i’m no there with you in the physical, we’ve been making some tangible efforts to try and support your protests on the ground.

“I know it’s getting to a stage where things are heating up and tensions are high, but in my prayers at night, i’m praying for peace and positivity, because i know that the people on ground aren’t trying to be heard for their own benefit. It’s for the benefit of the next generation.

“Me myself, i’ve had to take time to understand the issues that people in Nigeria are facing. Why sometimes i’m silent is because i’ve learnt that my silence can’t be misquoted. So me and my family and my close friends have been trying to do something tangible things and we’re organizing many care packages for the people on the ground. So even if i’m in my training camp and we’re in London, we can support you guys from a distance.

“December the 12th, i’m competing and after that i’m going to try and make some plans to come to Nigeria to meet my friends and family and meet some of the people trying to make long lasting change. But for sure, from London and far and wide, your voices are definitely being heard.

“So keep on pushing, keep on striving. You have my support through and through. My ears and my eyes have been opened. I understand the issues that you guys are facing and for some people what i’m going to do will be enough. And for some people it may not be enough. But together as we hold hands and push for a better change, we all move forward in a positive direction. So keep on pushing. Your voices have definitely landed in my ears. And you definitely have my support.”

It was announced last week that Joshua would make a mandatory title defense against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev on December 12 at the O2 Arena in London.

However, Manchester United and former Nigeria international Odion Ighalo was particularly scathing of the authorities, condemning the violence and urging the UK government, the UN and world leaders to act.

Also speakng in a video posted on his Twitter handle, he said:

“I’m sad and heartbroken and i don’t know where to start from. I’m not the type of guy that talks about politics but i can’t keep quiet anymore about what is going on back home in Nigeria.

“I would say to the Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world for killing your own citizens. Sending military to the streets to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their rights is uncalled for.

“Today 20th October 2020, you people will be remembered in history as the first (civilian) government that sent the military into cities to start killing its own citizens.

“I am ashamed of this government. We are tired of you guys and we can’t take this anymore. I’m calling on the UK government, calling on leaders all over the world, to please see what is going on in Nigeria and help us. The government is killing its own citizens. We are calling on you guys and the UN to see to this matter. And i want to call on my brothers and sisters back home to remain safe. Stay indoors and don’t come out because this government are killers and they will keep killing if the world does not talk about this.”

Ighalo posted the video after Manchester United won 2-1 at the Parc des Princes in Paris against Paris Saint-Germain in their opening Group H match of the UEFA Champions League. He was an unused substitute.

In the Lekki area of Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, armed soldiers allegedly shot sporadically at protesters, killing no fewer than seven persons in the process. The soldiers had been deployed to enforce a curfew announced by the Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Many protesters were also said to have sustained bullet wounds as a result of the attack that occurred suddenly after the giant video billboard on a tollgate where the protesters have been demonstrating for days and the streetlights within the area were switched off.

The Nigerian government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired military general, had announced the scrapping of the SARS unit as well as a raft of reforms over a week ago. Officials called for the demonstrations to be suspended to give the authorities time to make good on their pledges. However the move failed as protesters responded that they had no trust or faith in the government.

Around half of Nigeria’s 200 million population is estimated to live in extreme poverty. Unemployment is widespread among the youth who have been reportedly targeted for arbitrary arrests, extortion, abduction, torture and extra-judicial killings by the security forces, especially the much loathed and dreaded SARS.

Africa’s biggest oil producer is currently facing a recession as the fall in crude prices sparked by the coronavirus pandemic has battered government finances creating much social unrest.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) estimates the Nigerian economy could have lost an estimated N700 billion (over $1.7 billion) to the #EndSARS protests in the last 12 days.

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