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Rohr optimistic about future of Nigeria’s youthful Super Eagles2 minutes read

Nigeria will meet Tunisia on Wednesday in the third-place play-off of the AFCON 2019 tournament

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Rohr optimistic about future of Nigeria's youthful Super Eagles
Nigeria's coach Gernot Rohr (L) and his bench stand for the national anthem during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) quarter final football match between Nigeria and South Africa at Cairo international stadium on July 9, 2019. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Gernot Rohr believes Nigeria will be stronger for their experience at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations after his side suffered a painful, last-gasp defeat to Algeria in the semi-finals.

Nigeria looked to be heading into extra-time against a team that required penalties to overcome Ivory Coast just three days earlier, but Riyad Mahrez won the game for Algeria in the 95th minute with a magnificent free-kick.

Coach Rohr said the loss was “tough to digest” for his players but stressed the current crop of Super Eagles had the potential to become “very good” given time.

“Our team is progressing well after the World Cup which wasn’t bad, we’ve started work with a rejuvenated team. This team has a future. I’m still under contract for another year and we’ll see what happens after that,” said the German, whose side was the youngest in Russia last summer.

Nigeria will meet Tunisia on Wednesday in the third-place play-off at Al Salam Stadium, which could see the likes of youngsters Henry Onyekuru, Samuel Kalu and Victor Osimhen given a chance after limited minutes in Egypt.

“We will draw lessons after the third-place match. We have a very young team, we’re making progress and perhaps we lacked a bit of clear-sightedness (against Algeria) but we’re moving forward,” continued Rohr.

“We have to work much more. Our midfield is the youngest one. (Wilfred) Ndidi, (Alex) Iwobi and (Peter) Etebo have to learn tactically and they have to make better communication, but I think with time, they’ll be very good.”

Rohr praised the resilience shown by his side throughout the tournament, as they responded to a shock loss to Madagascar by toppling defending champions Cameroon and beating South Africa before coming from behind against Algeria.

“I congratulate my players for a big fight against this very good team,” said Rohr. “It was a big fight until the last minute.”

“It was a wonderful match, but we lost it so we are not happy. We scored an own goal which was unlucky but we came back like throughout the tournament when there was something difficult against us. A wonderful free-kick made the difference.”

He added: “The other day we won in the last minute against South Africa, this time we lost. That’s football.”

The former Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso boss also praised the work done by Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi, who took over last year after the Desert Foxes finished bottom of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

“The result reflects what we saw on the pitch. The best team won,” said Rohr.

“The match confirms what I said about them making progress. They have made strides both tactically and technically and it’s going to be very tight with Senegal but Algeria have all the weapons to win.”

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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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Pascal Siakam nets 24 points for NBA champions Toronto Raptors

Siakam’s Raptors teammate Fred VanVleet added 20 points in what was their 21st game of the regular season

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Pascal Siakam nets 24 points for NBA champions Toronto Raptors

Cameroonian NBA star, Pascal Siakam netted 24 points for NBA Champions Toronto Raptors in their 119-109 home defeat to the Houston Rockets.

The 25-year-old who has, so far, started every game this season for the Raptors finished as lead scorer for his team on the night despite the defeat, and he also made 9 rebounds and 2 assists for the Canada based basketball outfit who lie fourth on the Eastern conference table.

Siakam’s Raptors teammate Fred VanVleet added 20 points and point guard Kyle Lowry made 19 in what was their 21st game of the regular season.

The defeat for the Raptors meant they have now recorded their sixth loss this season, their second in a row, and at their home court for the first time at the Scotiabank Arena since losing to Oklahoma City and Charlotte in March this year.

Rockets point guard Russel Westbrook recorded yet another triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

And the win for the Houston Rockets ended a three-game losing streak away from home, with star player James Harden netting 23 points, as they led from the first quarter which they took 34-28.

But it was the Rockets shooting guard Ben McLemore who scored 28 points to finish as the game’s top scorer.

Other games on Thursday night saw another Cameroonian, Joel Embiid grabbing 26 points and 21 rebounds for his team the Philadelphia 76ers, but they lost 113-119 on the road to the Washington Wizards who have now ended a three-game losing streak.

The Phoenix Suns recorded a 139-132 away victory in overtime against the New Orleans Pelicans. And the Denver Nuggets also grabbed a win on the road in New York against the Nicks which finished 129-92.

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East Africa Sports News

Liz Young establishes lead at Kenya Ladies Open tournament

tropical weather posed a slight challenge for Liz, who admitted being unaccustomed to playing in such hot weather.

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England's Liz Young plays at the Kenya Ladies Open tournament
England's Liz Young plays at the Kenya Ladies Open tournament. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK / AFP)

The first round of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open is underway at Vipingo Ridge in Vipingo, Kenya, 30km north of Mombasa on the Mombasa-Malindi Highway. The Pro-Am commenced on December 4th, with the official tournament taking place between December 5th and 8th. 

England’s Liz Young, who started in the first pairing from the 10th hole at 7.30 am on Friday, made a brilliant start and took the clubhouse lead on four-under-par 68.

Esther Henseleit needs a win to have a chance of winning the order of merit this week, then came in with a three-under 69, while Cheyenne Woods is the next best-placed player in the clubhouse on two-under-par.

The tropical weather posed a slight challenge for Liz, who admitted being unaccustomed to playing in such hot weather.

“I was on the range warming up this morning and my hands were getting very sweaty, which is unusual for me and I had to change my glove, which is something I never have to do. I knew the ball was going to fly a bit and the last hour on the golf course the cloud cover came in and cooled it down a bit. First thing, it was quite hot out there.”  

The tournament features a total of 108 women players from 28 countries, who are set to compete for the top prize of Kes 5million.

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