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Mané and Liverpool hammer Barcelona to qualify for UCL final1 minute read

The Senegalese forward shook off the absence of Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino

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Sadio Mane and Liverpool win Barcelona

Sadio Mané was in inspirational form as Liverpool thrashed favourites Barcelona 4-0 to book a place in their second successive UEFA Champions League final.

The Senegalese forward shook off the absence of Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino, the other two members of Liverpool’s famed forward line as his unwavering performance was instrumental to the result.

He didn’t get on the scoresheet but he tormented the Barcelona defence from start to finish with his intelligent runs, pressing and hold up play.

Two goals apiece from Divock Origi and substitute Georginio Wijnaldum gave Liverpool victory on a memorable night in Anfield. The Reds will now face the winner of the other semi final between Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night. Spurs lost the first leg 1-0 in London.

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FIFA rankings: African Champions Nigeria drop three places, big moves for DR Congo and Kenya

Reigning African Champions moved from 36 to 39 on the rankings for the month of December

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African champions drop three places on FIFA ranking
Super Falcons pose for pictures before their match against Ivory Coast at the Agege Stadium. Photo credit: NGSuper_Falcons/Twitter

Nigeria’s senior women’s football team the Super Falcons have dropped three places on the latest FIFA world rankings for women.

The reigning African Champions moved from 36 to 39 on the rankings for the month of December – overtaken by Chile, Costa Rica and Thailand, but remain top spot on the continent to end the year as the number one ranked team in Africa.

Nigeria took part in this year’s FIFA Women’s world cup held in France alongside other African representatives, the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroun who remain 2nd in Africa but ranked 10 places below Nigeria on the world stage in 49th and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana – 55th in the world and 3rd in Africa.

But the Falcons recently failed to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo after being held to a draw on home soil by the Ivory Coast who is now ranked 63rd in the world and 5th on the continent has moved six places up.

Placed 60th on the globe, Ghana’s Black Queens occupy 4th spot, while Equatorial Guinea (71) Morocco (81), Mali (82), Algeria (84) and Congo (101) make up the other teams in Africa’s top 10.

Two African teams on the rankings were amongst the biggest climbers for the month of December, with DR Congo moving up 10 spots to sit 108th and 2019 CECAFA Women’s Champions Kenya also up by 10 to be placed 133rd.

The World rankings also saw 2019 World Cup winners the USA maintain their place at the top to finish the year the same way they began, and two-time World Champions Germany in 2nd place with Brazil in 9th spot as they make a return to top the first 10 having dropped out since September for the first time in their history. Other teams in the world ranking top 10 include Netherlands, France, Sweden, England, Australia, Canada and Japan.

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Southern Africa Sports

South Africa pulls out of race to host 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

SAFA says it intends to focus on developing the women’s game in the country, alongside the South Africa Women’s Football League

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South Africa pulls out of race to host 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The South Africa Football Association (SAFA) will not be making a bid to FIFA ahead of Friday’s deadline to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

SAFA says it intends to focus on developing the women’s game in the country, alongside the South Africa Women’s Football League.

Last month, South Africa turned down an invitation from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to be emergency hosts for next year’s Women’s African Cup of Nations tournament.

And the 2010 World Cup hosts – the only African country to host the men’s version of FIFA’s biggest tournament, also says it will not be biding to host another major international competition.

But recent problems facing the South African economy have been viewed as a key factor behind the move.

According to SAFA’s acting Chief Executive Officer Hay Mokoena:

“We resolved that as an association, we should not proceed with the bid. We want to strengthen our women’s national league first before we invite the world to come and play. Definitely, we will consider doing 2027 and we think by that time, we will have a stronger women’s league and a much stronger women’s national team”.

Earlier this year, the South African Women’s football team Bayana Bayana participated for the first time in Women’s World Cup which was held in France but failed to make it beyond the group phase.

An announcement is expected to be made in May on which country will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, with Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Japan, South Korea (who may have a possible joint bid with North Korea) and New Zealand so far still in the race.

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North Africa Sports

Algeria international Youcef Atal faces lengthy spell out with knee injury

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Algeria international Youcef Atal faces lengthy spell out with knee injury
Nice's Algerian defender Youcef Atal react during the French L1 football match Nice (OGCN) vs Dijon (FCO) on September 21, 2019 at "Allianz Riviera" stadium in Nice, southern France. YANN COATSALIOU / AFP

The 23-year-old Nice defender was substituted in the 29th minute during his club’s 4-1 home win over Metz on Saturday in the French Ligue 1 and is expected to undergo surgery to repair a meniscal injury in his knee.

“Bad news for Youcef Atal and the Eagles. The diagnosis revealed a meniscal lesion in the right knee,” Nice said in a statement. “He will be operated on soon and will, unfortunately, be out of action for a long time.”

Atal who joined Nice from Belgian club Kortrijk in the summer of 2018 has scored one goal while providing two assists in 13 games this season for the French Club.

He began his youth career with Algerian outfits JS Kabylie, USM Alger and Paradou AC before moving to Europe. And has been reported earlier this season to be on the radar for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea and the Jose Mourinho led Tottenham as a potential transfer target for the January window.

The injury to Atal also leaves a major blow at the back for the team lead by Patrick Viera who is currently 13th on the Ligue 1 table. Atal made his international debut for the Desert Foxes of Alegria in June 2017 in a match against Guinea and was part of the 2019 African Cup of Nations winning squad in Egypt.

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