Since transforming the Ivory Coast into African champions four years ago, Herve Renard has tormented them as coach of Morocco. The 50-year-old Frenchman, whose matchday shirts are always white, ensured the 2017 title defence of the Ivorians did not last beyond the first round as they fell 1-0 to the Moroccans.
Renard inflicted more misery on his former team in 2018 World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 triumph in Abidjan taking Morocco to Russia at the expense of the Ivory Coast. Considered potential winners of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Morocco and the Ivory Coast meet Friday in a Group D top-of-the-table showdown in Cairo. “This is a special game for me,” said Renard, the only coach to win the Cup of Nations with two countries, Zambia and the Ivory Coast.
Here is a preview of the Group D doubleheader with the Ivory Coast-Morocco clash followed by Namibia against South Africa, while Group E leaders Mali face Tunisia in Suez.
Ivory Coast v Morocco: Both countries launched their campaigns with solitary-goal victories in mid-afternoon Cairo heat, but the Ivorians will have been the happier side. While they outmuscled South Africa and should have won by more than a Jonathan Kodjia strike. Morocco laboured to a win that came via a late Itamunua Keimuine own-goal.
Ivory Coast coach Ibrahim Kamara said “the result was more important than the performance. It was critical not to fail in our opening match”. Rather than slam a lacklustre Moroccan display, Renard hailed Namibia: “They were well organised and coached.”
While both nations should make the last 16, winning the group would set up a fixture against one of the third-place qualifiers while coming second means taking on the Group E winners.
Namibia v South Africa: Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti played for his country when they were humiliated 4-1 by South Africa at the 1998 Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso
“The best way to banish those memories would be to beat Bafana Bafana (The Boys). We have never won a Cup of Nations match and that is our priority,” he said. “My players were heartbroken after holding Morocco for 89 minutes and then losing to an own-goal.”
South Africa were inept against the Ivorians and this match could decide which country sneaks through as a third-place finisher and which makes an early exit. England-born coach Stuart Baxter has warned his players not to underestimate Namibia because “this match is like a cup final for them”.
Mali v Tunisia: Tunisia coach and former France star Alain Giresse knows what to expect from Mali as he coached them twice at the Cup of Nations with mixed results. Under him, the Malians came third at the 2012 Cup of Nations in Gabon but made a first-round exit in the same country two years ago without winning a match.
Now Giresse hopes to bring the Malian Eagles down to earth after they achieved the biggest win of the 12 first series matches in Egypt, a 4-1 hammering of debutants Mauritania. The Mali scorers included burly Moussa Marega, who notched six goals for Porto in the Champions League last season, the equal third best tally.
Tunisia were the only one of the six top group seeds not to collect maximum points and midfielder Ferjani Sassi blamed “an inability to convert chances” for a 1-1 draw with Angola.
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International election observers flag concerns over Mozambique’s polls
The country voted in general polls on Tuesday after a campaign marked by violence and claims of electoral fraud
International observers on Thursday said Mozambique’s election was conducted in an “orderly manner”, but expressed concerns about voter registration irregularities and “an unlevel playing field”.
The country voted in presidential, parliamentary and provincial polls on Tuesday after a campaign marked by violence and claims of electoral fraud.
President Filipe Nyusi’s Frelimo party — which has ruled Mozambique since independence in 1975 — is widely expected to again beat its civil war foe, Renamo, a former rebel group turned main opposition party.
Election day was seen as largely peaceful, but tensions have risen with uncertainty over when the results will be released.
The final results must be published within 15 days of the vote, but the electoral commission has indicated a provisional tally — which had been expected on Thursday — would not be issued.
Ignacio Sanchez Amor, leader of the European Union’s OSCE observer mission, said “voting procedures were well-implemented” on election day.
However, he said the fact that there were no observers in almost half of the country’s polling stations “did not contribute to the transparency of the process”.
Amor added that “an unlevel playing field was evident throughout the campaign”.
“The ruling party dominated the campaign in all provinces and benefited from the advantages of incumbency, including use of state resources.”
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) said it was regrettable that irregularities in voter registration had not been addressed before the vote.
Local non-profit observer groups had reported the presence of 300,000 “ghost voters” — names not aligned with real voters — on the electoral roll in the southern Gaza province.
“Key aspects of the process such as the security challenges, voter registration, the campaign and selective accreditation of citizen observers posed challenges to the integrity of the elections,” said EISA Mozambique head and former Ghana President John Dramani Mahama.
Former Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said the Commonwealth’s observer mission “remained concerned about the impact” of the suspected ghost voters on the election.
However, observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had no such concerns.
“The pre-election and the voting phases of the 2019 electoral processes were generally peaceful and conducted in an orderly manner,” said Zimbabwean Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the SADC observer head.
The election has been seen as a key test of the peace deal sealed in August between Frelimo and Renamo, which fought a brutal 1975-1992 civil war.
Landslide kills 22 in southern Ethiopia
Officials say the landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains
Rescue workers on Tuesday used excavators to dig out bodies after a landslide in southern Ethiopia washed away homes and killed more than 20 people, a local official said.
The landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains, said the official, Takele Tesfu.
“There are 22 people dead and we have only been able to dig up 17 using manpower and machine power,” Takele told reporters.
“So far, we cannot get the others, so tomorrow we will continue to dig.”
He said the victims included nine women and six children.
While the district — located in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region — sees landslides with some regularity, Takele said this was the deadliest he could remember.
“The area where this occurred is very mountainous, and this means the landslide was very dangerous,” he said.
Ethiopia is nearing the end of its rainy season, but security forces are nonetheless relocating some families for fear that more rain in the coming days could lead to similar disasters, Takele said.
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