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Maradona Influenced My Career – Former Super Eagles Midfielder Sunday Oliseh

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Former Super Eagles player, Sunday Oliseh, has reminisced about his encounter with Argentina late football legend, Diego Maradona.

Oliseh, who would later coach the Nigerian national side, was in 1994 saddled with the herculean task of checkmating Maradona when Argentina and Nigeria clashed at the FIFA World Cup held in USA.

The game was Maradona’s last for the Albiceleste.

Speaking of the encounter and Maradona’s impact on the game and his career, Oliseh recalled that the late footballer “seemed to have eyes at the back of his head”.

According to Oliseh, playing against the diminutive Argentine “you could always notice that he had something that no other player I’d ever seen in my lifetime, had. The way he touched the ball – he didn’t really touch it, it was like he was massaging the ball. Trying to get the ball out of him was really difficult.”

He added that the game had a huge influence on his career path.

Expressing sadness at Maradona’s demise, Oliseh said, “it is the kind of death you don’t think should happen. It is not the time for it. It is somehow painful in a way I can’t really explain.”

The World Cup winner, who recently celebrated his 60th birthday, died on November 25, 2020, in Buenos Aires. He had been serving as head coach for Argentine Primera Division side Gimnasia de la Plata but was hospitalised with a blood clot in the brain at the start of November.

He was admitted to La Plata clinic on November 2 after complaining of fatigue and low spirits, with representatives for the star maintaining that the condition was not serious.

He was recuperating at his home near Tigre in northern Buenos Aires where he experienced cardiac arrest and died.

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West Africa Sports News

CHAN: Mali Defeat Resilient Burkina Faso 1-0

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Mali kicked off their 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over a tough Burkina Faso side in Cameroon on Saturday.

The Eagles won the West African clash in Group A thanks to an amazing 70th minute header by enterprising left-back Siaka Bagayoko at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde.

The defender, who plays for local giants Djoliba but previously featured for CS Sfaxien in Tunisia, settled the tie via an extraordinary long-range header after the Stallions failed to clear a corner-kick.

The victory takes Mali equal on three points with hosts Cameroon who beat Zimbabwe by a similar margin in the opening match of the tournament.

After a well-balanced contest in the first-half with several missed chances, it was Mali who made sure they pinned their opponents to get the goal and defend with a lot of caution.

Burkina Faso’s Soumaila Quattara, Illias Tiendrebeogo and Clement Pitroipa all had their attempts blocked, while Demba Diallo missed the target for Mali in what looked an easy chance to finish.

The deadlock was broken when Issaka Samake’s corner-kick was headed from behind the penalty box by Bagayoko, leaving Burkina Faso’s goalkeeper Babayoure Aboubacar Sawadogo stuck to the ground.

The Stallions team tried to push forward but failed to get the chances to even trouble the Malian defence.

With a minute remaining, Mali’s goalkeeper Cheik Abdoul Cadri blocked Claver Kiendrébéogo’s well-taken free-kick to protect his side’s lead.

The next matches will prove decisive in the group as Saturday’s winners will meet on Wednesday, while Zimbabwe will take on Burkina Faso.

The top two sides from the group will progress to the knockout stage of the competition.

The competition was initially set to be held in April 2020 but was postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is Africa’s major football event since the outbreak of the deadly disease.

Speaking after the game, Mali’s coach Nouhoum Diane said the game was not an easy ride for his team.

”I think the game was not easy, especially on the technical side. This is the first game for both teams who were under pressure to win.

“In the first half, our opponents created problems for us and it was only in the second half that we corrected ourselves and created chances.

“Against Cameroon, we hope to see a good match between two teams playing good football.”

On his part, Seydou Zerbo who is the coach of Burkina Faso said they have learnt lessons and were hopeful of correcting them before their next game.

“The editions follow one another but are not alike. It’s true that we lost our first game, but the tournament is still long.

“Now it’s up to us to correct our mistakes in order to have good matches in the future and achieve our goal of qualifying to the second round.

“Now we have to think about the game against Zimbabwe which is very important to us. After that, we will focus on the last match against hosts Cameroon,” he said.

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North Africa Sports

Liverpool vs. Man United: Salah, Mane Eye Top Spot

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Liverpool’s African imports – Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – will hope to steer the Reds to a victory over visiting Manchester United and reclaim the top spot.

Leicester City beat Southampton 2-0 on Saturday to go second in the ongoing 2020/2021 English Premier League (EPL).

James Maddison and Harvey Barnes scored the goals to lift Leicester City to within one point of Manchester United, who play at third-placed Liverpool on Sunday.

Brighton and West Brom both picked up vital wins in their fight for survival Saturday while Chelsea and West Ham moved up the table with wins in the day’s other matches.

Maddison fired Leicester City ahead eight minutes before half-time and Barnes added a second deep into time added on to put Brendan Rodgers’ side above champions Liverpool.

Liverpool can regain the top spot, though, if they beat leaders Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.

Fulham’s hopes of getting anything from their west London derby at home to Chelsea ended when Antonee Robinson was sent off for a nasty challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta.

Mount scored the only goal 12 minutes from the end to secure Chelsea a 1-0 win, lifting them to seventh, but only seven points behind the leaders.

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CHAN Kicks Off Today in Cameroon

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The postponed 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) kicks off in Cameroon on Saturday.

There will be a ceremony and the hosts will play Zimbabwe in an inaugural match for Group A in the capital Yaounde.

But this year, security efforts have been stepped up to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Also, stadium capacity has been reduced to 25% for the first rounds and 50% for the second as part of COVID measures.

Troops have also been deployed as separatists have vowed to stop the games in restive English-speaking regions.

The matches will be played in Limbe for Pool D, Douala for Pool B and C and Yaounde for Pool A.

On security issues for teams based in the anglo region of Limbe, Constant Omarim the interim president of the CAF, said that Cameroon President Paul Biya has guaranteed the security of all participants in the competition.

“The Head of State gave us the assurance of all the provisions for everyone to be secure and that the competition will take place in the best conditions,” Omari said.

“He is concerned about the safety of those who will come to play but we think of everyone who will come there.”

Cameroon’s first match is expected to see star player Jacques Zoua shine.

He put his career in European football on hold so he could play in the CHAN championship.

The second match for group A will see one of the favourites the Eagles of Mali face the Stallions of Burkina, who have only competed in the games twice.

CHAN will serve as a warm-up for Cameroon ahead of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations.

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