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Muntari: Former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Dauda backs Ghana midfielder to succeed in South Africa 

The 2014 World Cup shot-stopper shares his thoughts on his former colleague who is reportedly on his way to the PSL

Former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Fatau Dauda believes Ghana midfielder and international teammate Sulley Muntari has what it takes to succeed in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The ex-AC Milan and Inter Milan ace has been linked to Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs since revealing a desire to take his career to the PSL.

He has been without a club since ending a short spell with Spanish second division fold Albacete last year.

“For some time now I have been training with Sulley and he is a guy who is still passionate about football," Dauda, who played together with Muntari for Ghana at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, said, as Citisports reported.

“He has been following the South African league while he was in Italy.

“He has good knowledge of the game there. He is a big boy and I am convinced that he can make it there.

“He loves the football they play there so he won't have problems."

Amid the South African possibilities, Muntari has also been linked to Ghana Premier League (GPL) side Hearts of Oak, with whom he has had training spells "to keep fit" during his search for a new club.

“I spoke to an agent. He gave me a call. I have forgotten his name. Sipho...I don’t know how to pronounce his name,” Muntari recently told Metro FM.

“I would love to come and play in South Africa because they have great teams that I like. For instance, [Mamelodi] Sundowns are there, [Orlando] Pirates are there but my favourite one is [Kaizer] Chiefs.

"I don’t know why but I have been following Chiefs for a moment now, I love the way they are and everything. So I said if I am going to South Africa, the only team I want to play for, that is Chiefs.

"With all due respect to Pirates and Sundowns and the other teams that are in the South African league, of course, this is what I prefer, so that’s the only plan, that’s what I spoke [about] with the agent.

“That’s it and I haven’t said anything more, but why not? It’s home, Ghana is home, South Africa can be home, any part in Africa can be home. It would be good to come [to South Africa] but I haven’t made up my mind as yet.”

Muntari, a Champions League winner with Inter in 2010, also played for English club Portsmouth, with whom he won the FA Cup in 2008.

The 36-year-old has also been on the books of Sunderland in England, Italian fold Udinese and Pescara, Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna and Saudi outfit Al-Ittihad. 

Original author: Prince Narkortu Teye
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Maradona: Messi & Ronaldo are a cut above – no one will achieve half of what they've done

The Argentine legend has hailed his compatriot and the Portuguese superstar as two of the best footballers of all time

Diego Maradona says Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are a “cut above” the rest and does not think anyone will get even close to matching their achievements.

Maradona himself is widely considered one of the game’s greatest ever players after an illustrious career that included trophy-laden spells at Barcelona and Napoli and, perhaps most famously, a starring role in Argentina’s 1986 World Cup triumph in Mexico.

Few have come close to matching Maradona’s achievements since, though Messi and Ronaldo certainly enter the conversation.

The duo are arguably the two greatest players of the modern era, netting goals with alarming consistency and winning more 60 honours between them, including league titles in England, Spain and Italy and nine Champions League triumphs.

It is little surprise therefore that Maradona chose Messi and Ronaldo when asked to pick out his favourite players from the current generation.

“Messi and Cristiano, Cristiano and Messi. For me, these two are a cut above the others,” Maradona told France Football.

“I don't see anyone approaching them. Not a single person [will] achieve half of what they do.”

Reflecting on his playing career ahead of his 60th birthday at the end of this month, Maradona couldn’t resist having another cheeky dig at England when asked what his dream gift would be on his big day.

“I dream of being able to score another goal against the English, with the right hand this time,” he laughed, referring to his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against the Three Lions at the 1986 World Cup.

Maradona also revealed he had agreed a shock deal to join French side Marseille from Napoli after helping the Serie A club to UEFA Cup success in 1989.

However, Napoli president Corrado Ferlaino blocked the deal despite initially giving Maradona his blessing to move on.

“The leaders of Marseille contacted me and offered to double my salary,” said Maradona.

“I was playing in Naples at the time and president Ferlaino told me that if we won the European Cup (the UEFA Cup), he would let me go.

“[Marseille president] Bernard Tapie and [manager] Michel Hidalgo even came as far as Italy to see me to make me a proposal and so that we could all discuss it together.

“Once I returned to Naples I said to Ferlaino ‘thank you President for all these beautiful years, I am going’.

“At that point, he started playing the fool, like he didn't understand, and he backtracked. End of the story.”

Original author: Goal
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'Distance has been hard' - USWNT star Dunn explains reasons behind Portland trade request

After three seasons with the North Carolina Courage, the attacking midfielder completed a move to the Thorns last week

U.S. Women's National Team star Crystal Dunn has revealed that her move to Portland had been in the works for months after she was traded to the Thorns last week. 

Dunn spent three seasons with the North Carolina Courage, winning the NWSL championship in her first two seasons with the club, before the outbreak of Covid-19 made the 2020 campaign a disjointed affair, with the Challenge Cup tournament in the summer followed by a series of friendlies in the fall. 

Though Dunn achieved plenty of success on the field in North Carolina, she was in a difficult personal situation as her husband, Pierre Soubrier, has been serving as head athletic trainer for the Thorns. 

And on a call with reporters, the 28-year-old explained that she has been in frequent dialogue with the Courage over the challenging circumstances surrounding her marriage - and a potential move away to serve as a remedy. 

“I spoke calmly to North Carolina earlier this year voicing that distance has been hard for me and my husband,” Dunn revealed. “Distance is one thing but living completely on the opposite side of the country is really difficult.

“North Carolina has been extremely supportive and that was really big for me. Most people, when they talk about wanting to be traded, they are super unhappy and they want out and they’re scratching and clawing and I think for my situation it was different.”

Dunn opted out of the NWSL’s fall series, looking to take advantage of an opportunity to have some down time with her husband in Portland.

And after the series of friendlies ended, the attacker says she again brought up the idea of a trade with the Courage.

“After the fall series is when I started to voice, ‘Hey can we make this happen? What do you think?’” Dunn said. 

“They've shown nothing but support and I'm so grateful that they handled it in the way that they did because of course they did voice that they wanted me to stay. 

“They were like, ‘We really really want you to stay but we understand that family is important and having balance in your life is extremely important as well.’”

Dunn has made her name in NWSL as an attacking midfielder, scoring 32 goals and providing 20 assists in 89 matches during her time in the league.

Though she is a natural attacker, Dunn has been deployed as a makeshift left back for the USWNT in recent years and starred in the 2019 World Cup, particularly in the latter stages, helping the U.S. win their second-straight title and fourth overall. 

Despite her ability to play in defense, Dunn said she made it clear to Thorns head coach Mark Parsons that she sees herself featuring in attack for her new team.

“I did voice to him that I don't really want to play in the back line,” Dunn admitted. “If he has that idea lined up, I'm like ‘OK, I'll deal with it,’ but I think he knows that I definitely want to pursue an attacking role and I think he can agree with me as well on that.”

Original author: Seth Vertelney
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FIFA 21: Top tips on how to make coins on FUT transfer market

eSports

16:27 GMT 26/10/2020

FIFA 21: How to make coins in FUT GFX

Want to make some easy coins in the market? From buying & selling cards, check out this wise investment advice from Ajax Esports’ Dani Hagebeuk

For more FIFA 21 tutorials, as well as tournaments and mini games, download the Ajax Gaming Academy App now on iOS - http://Ajax.ms/AGA_IOS and Android - http://Ajax.ms/AGA_ANDROID

Original author: Goal
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Akhulia explains why promoted Bidco United signed experienced players

The promoted side’s coach reveals why they have signed certain players as they prepare for their debut in the top-flight

Bidco United coach Anthony Akhulia has revealed why they opted to go for experienced players during the ongoing transfer window.

The Thika-based club was promoted to the FKF Premier League after the lower-tier league was prematurely ended owing to the effects caused by the coronavirus in mid-March.

Bidco, who were sitting second on the National Super League (NSL) table were promoted alongside leaders Nairobi City Stars.

And ahead of their campaign in the top-flight which is scheduled to kick-off on November 20, coach Akhulia has revealed he has opted to go for experienced players since the squad which helped him to earn promotion, is composed of relatively young players yet to play in top action.

“The squad that won us promotion to the top-tier is a relatively young group of players,” Akhulia is quoted by the club’s social media pages.

“None of them has played in the top-tier before, and as such, we needed to bring in a couple of experienced players to make the team complete.”

Among the players signed by the club include veteran forward Stephen Waruru, who won the Golden Boot in the 2012 season while with Ulinzi Stars and also had spells with Sofapaka and KCB, Noah Wafula, who has amassed top-tier experience after turning out for Tusker FC, AFC Leopards and former Wazito FC striker Pistone Mutamba.

Other new faces include former Zoo FC defender Wilson Anekeya, Luke Ochieng from Western Stima, Brian Opondo from Kariobangi Sharks, veteran Dennis Monda, former Nzoia Sugar forward Batts Awita, Anthony Gathu, who was with Murang'a Seal, goalkeeper Edwin Mukolwe from Wazito FC, and Victor Ayugi of KCB.

On how prepared they are for the new season, Akhulia said: “It’s our maiden season in the top-flight and our target is to maintain consistency in the top-tier, and over time, we can be able to challenge for silverware.”

Bidco United will make their debut in 2020-21 top-tier with an away trip on Sunday, November 22 to Machakos where they will play their hosts Posta Rangers, then host 13-time league champions AFC Leopards at Kinoru Stadium on Sunday, November 28 from 4 pm. 

Four-time champions Ulinzi Stars will then entertain Bidco at Afraha Stadium on Saturday, December 5 from 4 pm. The latter will then have the privilege of hosting Tusker FC four days later at Kinoru Stadium.

The Anthony Akhulia-led charges will then complete their fifth round in the FKF Premier League with a game against Gor Mahia at Kinoru Stadium on Sunday, December 13 from 4:15 pm.

Original author: Dennis Mabuka
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Xola Mlambo: AmaZulu sign former Orlando Pirates midfielder

The 29-year-old becomes the fourth player to join Usuthu from the Buccaneers during the current transfer window

Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Xola Mlambo has joined AmaZulu who continue with their signing spree for the 2020/21 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season.

After announcing 10 new signings last week, Usuthu have added to their squad Mlambo who arrives at the club after spending the past two and half seasons at Pirates.

The 29-year-old left Pirates after managing just eight league appearances last season including just one under coach Josef Zinnbauer.

AmaZulu president Sandile Zungu announced the signing of Mlambo.

“Please join me in welcoming Xola Mlambo into the fold of AmaZulu Football Club,” said Zungu as per AmaZulu media.

At Usuthu, the 29-year-old joins his former Buccaneers teammates Luvuyo Memela‚ Augustine Mulenga and Thembela Sikhakhane who joined the Durban side during this transfer period.

Other former Pirates players currently at AmaZulu include Lehlohonolo Majoro, Mbongeni Gumede and Siphelele Mthembu.

Of the 10 new signings announced by AmaZulu last season ahead of the just-started season, the likes of Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana great Siphiwe Tshabalala, as well as former Highlands Park star Limbikani Mzava, headline the arrivals.

Siphelele Nene, Makhehleni Makhaula, Sicelo Mkhize and defender Samkelo Mgwazela have also been signed.

Memela became an instant hit at Usuthu, tormenting his former paymasters Pirates in last Saturday’s PSL opener which ended 1-1 at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium.

“Obviously, one must mention Memela. He was our top performer today, among the rest of group. He made a huge difference, he showed his experience, that he has been playing in big games for some time,” AmaZulu coach Ayanda Dlamini told the club website.

“He rose to the occasion, even when we brought in Makhaula you could see, just to stabilize that midfield. Like I say, it is our first game, there is a lot of players that are new in the team, but it is going to the right direction.”

It is yet to be seen if AmaZulu will make other signings before the November 17 PSL transfer deadline.

Usuthu have been linked with the Mamelodi Sundowns duo goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse and forward Lesedi Kapinga.

Former Pirates midfielder Thabo Rakhale is also reportedly an AmaZulu target.

Original author: Michael Madyira
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Simba SC 1-0 Ruvu Shooting: Defending champions suffer second defeat in a row

Prior to Monday's win, the administrative side had never defeated Wekundu wa Msimbazi in 18 meetings

Simba SC have suffered their second league loss in as many matches after falling by a solitary goal to Ruvu Shooting in a match played at Uhuru Stadium.

The defending champions came into the match hoping to return to winning ways after a 1-0 loss in their last outing against Tanzania Prisons. In the reverse fixture last season, the administrative side played to a 1-1 draw, the second time they had achieved the same over the Msimbazi-based charges.

Prior to Monday's meeting, the two teams had met 18 times in all competitions and Wekundu wa msimbazi had managed to win 16 games, drawing the remaining two.

Fans had every reason to look into Monday's game, optimistic of getting maximum points.

Coach Sven Vandenbroeck tinkered with his squad, giving Beno Kakolanya and Francis Kahata a chance. Bernard Morrison, the returning John Bocco, and Aishi Manula were the players who started on the bench.

Early proceedings were not encouraging; as the visitors needed just 35 minutes to open the scoring.

Fully Zulu Maganga outpaced his markers before playing the ball to his colleague whose first touch set the skipper in a one on one situation with Kakolanya. 

Maganga made no mistake from three yards, sending his team into the break with a deserving lead.

Simba were given a lifeline in the 80th minute when they were awarded a penalty after a foul play by their opponents in the danger zone. Bocco, who had been introduced, took it but despite beating the goalkeeper, he could not beat the crossbar.

Monday's loss casts doubt on the future of Vandenbroeck who has arguably the best squad in the Tanzania Mainland League.

Wekundu wa Msimbazi have now dropped to fourth position with 13 points from seven games. 

Azam FC also fell for the first time this season by a solitary goal to their hosts Mtibwa Sugar. Jaffary Kibaya scored the lone goal in the 62nd minute to hand the Sugar Millers maximum points.

Tanzania Prisons also defeated their hosts Dodoma Jiji by the same margin, with Ramadhan Ibata scoring the only goal.

Azam are still leading the race with 21 points after eight games, followed by Yanga SC who have two points less after seven games. Biashara Mara United are third with 16 points after eight games.

Original author: Seth Willis
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Kibaya’s strike helps Mtibwa Sugar end Azam FC’s impeccable Premier League record

It is the first time the Ice-cream Makers have lost a game after seven matches unbeaten into the relatively new 2020/21 season

Azam FC lost their first Mainland Premier League tie on Monday after going down 1-0 to Mtibwa Sugar at Jamhuri Stadium.

Azam had gone for seven matches unbeaten but their impeccable start has come to an abrupt end courtesy of Jaffary Kibaya’s second-half strike.

The result means the Ice-cream Makers have failed to extend their lead further away from Yanga SC who defeated Kinondoni Municipal Council (KMC FC) on Sunday. Azam, however, remain the leaders with 21 points as Yanga are second with 19.

Kibaya scored two minutes after the hour mark after the two sides fought hard but were unable to break the deadlock in the first half and in the first 15 minutes of the subsequent half.

The win is the second straight one for the Sugar Millers after picking up a similar result against Namungo FC in the previous encounter.

The loss has seen Azam fail to keep a clean sheet – as they had done in six out of seven matches while goalkeeper David Mapigano was in charge - for the second time since the league began.

The Aristica Cioaba side had established themselves as a ruthless team in front of goal given that they had scored 14 goals in the seven matches but were unable to breach Mtibwa’s defence which had failed to keep a clean sheet in five of their last six matches.

Mtibwa Sugar are now in position 10 with 11 points and their next game will be against Kagera Sugar on November 1. Azam will hope to resuscitate their campaign when they host JKT Tanzania at Chamazi Sports Complex on the same day.

Meanwhile, Dodoma Jiji went down at home to Tanzania Prisons with a 1-0 margin.

The goal that separated the debutants and Tanzania Prisons was scored by Ramadhan Ibata in the 88th minute. The two sides are tied on points as they have 12 each after eight matches.

Yanga now are the only remaining side which had not lost a game although they dropped points when they drew 1-1 against Tanzania Prisons in the season-opening game.

Defending champions Simba SC lost the second match when they allowed Ruvu Shooting to pick up a 1-0 win in Dar es Salaam.

Original author: Kiplagat Sang
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Jordan Ayew and coronavirus-struck colleagues not out of Ghana's plans for November Afcon qualifiers 

GFA communications director Henry Asante Twum sheds more light on Covid-19 as the Black Stars plan for their next assignment 

Ghana will not sideline recovered coronavirus-struck players from October's 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Sudan, football association (GFA) communications director Henry Asante Twum has stated.

The West African nation's football's governing body has come under criticism for perceived negligence as about seven players of the Black Stars who faced Mali and Qatar in friendly matches earlier this month, tested positive for the deadly disease upon their return from international duty to their clubs.

Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew is undoubtedly the biggest star on the sick list, which also includes Celta Vigo defender Joseph Aidoo, Hoffenheim centre-back Kasim Nuhu Adams and Besiktas midfielder Bernard Mensah.

Vitoria Guimaraes left-back Gideon Mensah and Trabzonspor striker Caleb Ekuban also contracted the virus.

"It is unfortunate our players have contracted the virus," Asante Twum told Asempa FM.

"We ensured that every player and management member followed the protocols before and after the games. There were automated hand sanitiser machines at the hotel the team was lodging in and the same at the stadia we used for the matches.

"Tests were conducted every day to ensure we were all safe but it is unfortunate this has happened.

"We did not force these players to come and play for the national team but once they came, you take their health into consideration. We wish them well because we will still need their services next month.

"This is a virus that can be in your system and you cannot determine it but I don't think accusing the Ghana Football Association of failing to do the right thing is the right way.

"We did our best to ensure we all stayed safe but it did not happen."

Ghana first faced Mali on October 9, losing 3-0 in the friendly fixture in the Turkish city of Antalya. Before the game, some members of Mali's playing body tested positive for the coronavirus disease and were promptly withdrawn from the squad.

On October 12, the Black Stars took on Asian champions and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, responding to their earlier defeat with an impressive 5-1 triumph.

In November, CK Akonnor's outfit is set to take on Sudan in a double-header of games. 

Original author: Prince Narkortu Teye
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Mngqithi: Mamelodi Sundowns' goalscoring numbers can rise with new signings

Two of the Brazilians’ new boys were on target on their debut PSL outings in the colours of the reigning champions
Original author: Michael Madyira
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'The boys have shown resilience' - Klopp pleased with Liverpool's reaction to Villa thrashing

The German boss feels his side have responded well to adversity with a draw and two wins but warned of the dangers posed by Midtjylland

Jurgen Klopp says he had been pleased with Liverpool's reaction to their thrashing at Aston Villa, and has praised his players for showing "resilience".

The Premier League champions were sensationally hammered 7-2 by Aston Villa prior to the October international break, then lost Virgil van Dijk to a serious knee injury on their return to action.

The Netherlands defender was hurt in the early stages of the 2-2 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton, a game the Reds twice led before eventually having to settle for a point.

However, since then Liverpool have recorded a win away at Ajax in the Champions League and also fought back from a goal down to beat Sheffield United.

"It's all about showing a reaction - you cannot influence the things that have happened to you in life. You can influence the response you show - and I like the response, to be honest," Klopp told the media ahead of facing Midtjylland on Tuesday.

"The boys were really ready to work extremely hard again, show real resilience and fighting for results. All those kinds of things are important. I expect them, actually, but after the very, very long good times we had, people react differently.

"They did exactly what I thought they would do - they fought and we won both games."

While Liverpool triumphed 1-0 in Amsterdam in their Champions League opener, Midtjylland suffered a 4-0 loss at home to Atalanta on their debut in the group stage of the competition.

Yet Klopp - who revealed he is set to be without injured trio Naby Keita, Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara again - does not feel the scoreline reflected the Danish side's overall display.

"The 4-0 against Atalanta was not a 4-0," the German manager said. "It didn't look like that kind of game. They were really in it and possession was pretty level.

"They are a football-playing side with different ideas. They are flexible as well, so it's a challenge, a real challenge. We have to be ready for it."

This will be Liverpool's first home game in Europe since they lost 3-2 against Atletico Madrid in March, a game played out with fans present at Anfield amid the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic across the continent.

The extra-time defeat in the second leg of the last-16 tie was the Reds' final outing before the 2019-20 season was put on hold, with Klopp admitting it was a "strange time".

"We played a really good game at Madrid (when they lost 1-0 in the first leg), people forget that," he said. "Played a super game at home and lost, sounds crazy. What can you do more? If you use your chances, you go through. Performance-wise, it was not a problem.

"It was a strange time. We heard a lot of things, the last game before lockdown. This is not an example of how we should do things, football-wise.

"We love the competition, even when we got knocked out too early. It's the Champions League, Anfield but no crowd, but it's still the competition we love.

"We have to show that again tomorrow night. There are no guarantees, but a lot of opportunities."

The loss to Atletico is Liverpool's only blemish in their previous 26 home games in all European competitions. They have not suffered consecutive home defeats in Europe since December 2009.

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Orlando Pirates start at home against Kaizer Chiefs in MTN8 semi-finals

Amakhosi coach Gavin Hunt will plunge into his first ever Soweto Derby on Saturday and then another showdown eight days later

Orlando Pirates begin their MTN8 semi-final, first leg at home against Kaizer Chiefs on October 31, before visiting their sworn rivals for the return fixture on November 8 at FNB Stadium.

To reach the MTN8 last four, Pirates beat Cape Town City 1-0 at Orlando Stadium while Chiefs, on the other hand, edged Maritzburg United 2-1 at FNB Stadium to storm into the semi-finals.

Saturday’s clash at Orlando Stadium will be Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt’s first-ever taste of the Soweto Derby and Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer’s second.

The winner between the Soweto giants will face either Bloemfontein Celtic or defending champions SuperSport United in the final.

In the semi-finals, SuperSport start at home at Lucas Moripe Stadium on November 1, before visiting Celtic for the second leg at Dr Molemela Stadium six days later.

Kaitano Tembo’s SuperSport United saw off Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 3-2 to reach the semi-finals.

They face a Celtic side that performed arguably the biggest upset of the tournament so far after booting out favourites Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0.

All the MTN8 semi-finalists, however, have an opportunity to gear themselves up for weekend action as they have midweek Premier Soccer League (PSL) fixtures.

Before meeting Pirates, Chiefs travel to Port Elizabeth for a league date with Chippa United on Tuesday.

Hunt and his men arrive at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium keen to recover from last weekend’s 3-0 defeat by Mamelodi Sundowns in their league opener.

The Soweto Derby will see Chiefs facing another traditional giant within seven days and a win over Chippa would boost morale in Amakhosi’s camp ahead of the Pirates showdown.

The Buccaneers, on the other hand, will warm up for Chiefs with a PSL clash against Stellenbosch at home on Wednesday.

After drawing 1-1 with AmaZulu last Saturday, beating Stellenbosch could psych up Josef Zinnbauer’s men for the Amakhosi challenge.

As for SuperSport United, they gear up for Celtic with a league encounter away at Golden Arrows on Wednesday.

Celtic visit Swallows FC first before remaining in Gauteng for the Matsatsantsa MTN8 date.

Original author: Michael Madyira
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Thiago, Matip and Keita ruled out for Liverpool against Midtjylland

There is no change on the injury front for Jurgen Klopp's side ahead of their second Champions League outing of the season

Liverpoolhave suffered a triple blow on the injury front ahead of theirChampions Leagueclash with Midtjylland as Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Joel Matip are set to miss the encounter.

The Reds began the competition with a 1-0 win over Ajax, suffering from a number of selection difficulties, and it seems that manager Jurgen Klopp will also have to juggle his options ahead of the encounter against the Danish outfit.

Liverpool overcame Sheffield United 2-1 on Saturday, coming from a goal down to win, without the trio, and the former Borussia Dortmund boss does not forecast that any will return for the match on Tuesday.

Asked in a press conference if any will be ready, he replied: “I don’t think so. It’s still what I said last week, we look day by day.

“It looks like we will need a few more days. For tomorrow night, they probably will not be ready.”

The German did, however, receive a boost in that no-one picked up a significant knock in the come-from-behind success over the Blades – a match in which Diogo Jota scored a late winner. 

When quizzed on any fresh injury news, he explained: “Not as far as I know… nobody told me yet. I don’t know exactly. It’s probable that no-one will be added to the squad, but we didn’t lose anybody as well.”

Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum featured in the heart of the Liverpool midfield at the weekend, replacing Thiago and Keita, while Fabinho was drafted in as cover at centre-back, where the Reds are without long-term injury victim Virgil van Dijk.

Such are the depth of Liverpool’s problems, they have little significant experience open to them on the bench, with James Milner, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri their seasoned available outfield substitutes.

Liverpool are seeking to improve upon their round-of-16 performance in the Champions League last season, having been dumped out of the competition at Anfield by Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. They kicked off their latest campaign with a win in Amsterdam last week, with Nicolas Tagliafico netting an unfortunate own goal for Ajax.

Meanwhile, the Reds have enjoyed a broadly satisfactory start to the defence of their Premier League title and find themselves second behind city rivals Everton on goal difference, albeit having played a game more than third-placed Aston Villa.

 

Original author: Robin Bairner
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'I told the doctors two or three weeks max!' - Alisson thanks Liverpool staff for accelerating his injury recovery

The Reds No 1 says he prayed to return to action as quickly as possible after being sidelined with a shoulder issue at the start of the season

Alisson has thanked Liverpool's staff for accelerating his recovery from injury while revealing he "told the doctors two or three weeks max" after initially being told he could be out for over a month.

Liverpool saw their first-choice goalkeeper sidelined when he sustained damage to his shoulder in training ahead of their meeting with Aston Villa on October 4.

His absence was felt as the Reds suffered a surprise 7-2 thrashing at Villa Park with Adrian filling in between the sticks, and he was also forced to miss the Merseyside derby draw against Everton and the 1-0 win at Ajax in the Champions League.

The 28-year-old was, however, cleared to return ahead of schedule when Sheffield United arrived at Anfield on Saturday, with the Brazilian slotting back into his usual role between the sticks seamlessly as Jurgen Klopp's side ran out 2-1 winners.

Alisson says he was touted for a far longer rehabilitation period at first, but he refused to accept the prognosis and worked his way back to full fitness quicker with the help of the club's specialist medical team and coaches.

“It’s good to be back. I’m really happy. I try to give my best and I have the top physios on my side, helping me to accelerate the recovery process," the Brazilian shot-stopper told a press conference ahead of Liverpool's European clash against Midtjylland on Tuesday.

“As soon as the doctor told me it was four to six weeks, I told him ‘no doc, we go to two or three weeks maximum!’

"He agreed with me, and then we just went for it. I’m really happy to be back, and I want to thank the physios, the fitness staff, the doctors and the goalie coaches who helped me on this process.

“It’s bad not being involved in a football game. It’s the worst thing for a player, but it’s part of the job, injuries. We try to avoid them, but sometimes they happen. I’m glad it was only three weeks, but it was a long three weeks, more like three months! 

“Being not involved is always hard, not only Atletico [Madrid] or Aston Villa. You want to help, you want to do what you love to do, help your teammates go for our goals.”

Asked to outline the steps he took to get back on the pitch as quickly as possible, Alisson responded: “I pray a lot! Seriously! But I also did a lot of sessions. I was in every day for five, six hours with the physios having treatment and working with the fitness department, and after two weeks I could do some catches with the goalie coaches.

"Then after two and a half weeks I started to dive, and three days before the [Sheff Utd] match I could work hard, do some hard shooting and catches, full-range diving.

"So on Friday I gave the green light to the boss. I believe in my faith, and working hard helped me in this fast recovery.”

Alisson added on his condition after a testing return to action against Sheffield: “Whenever you have an injury on the ligament – shoulder, ankle or knee – you still feel something weird. It’s not pain, just weird. You feel it for a couple of weeks, but it’s nothing that limits my ability to play. I’m 100 per cent fit to play and comfortable with that.”

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'You can't have a captain who only makes half of the games' - Hamann slams Borussia Dortmund for Reus call

The former Germany international cannot understand why a player with such a poor fitness record hard been charged with leading BVB in 2020-21

Dietmar Hamann has slammed Borussia Dortmund for their decision to keep Marcos Reus on captaincy duties, insisting "you can't have a captain who only makes half of the games".

Dortmund forked out €17 million (£15m/$20m) to bring Reus to Westfalenstadion from in 2012, and he quickly established himself as a talismanic figure in the senior squad.

The German midfielder has won four trophies during his time with BVB while also appearing in a Champions League final, scoring an impressive 131 goals in 274 appearances.

He has, however, struggled with a series of niggling injuries which have prevented him from realising his full potential, and he is no longer a guaranteed starter under Lucien Favre.

Reus was named Dortmund's permanent captain in 2018, and despite his reduced role in the squad this season he has retained the armband ahead of several other candidates.

Hamann doesn't think the 31-year-old was the right man to lead BVB in the first place, and has suggested that the time has come for him to pass the torch on for the good of the team.

Asked what the Bundesliga giants are missing in their bid to re-emerge as a major European force, the ex-Germany international told Sky Sports: "Mentality, leadership. You can't have a captain who only makes half of the games.

"I didn't understand why they didn't take the captain's armband off him in the summer. The other question is whether I would have given it to him two years ago. You have a player that you have to pull along."

Hamann thinks Dortmund's 3-0 home win over Schalke on Saturday proved that they are stronger in Reus' absence, as he added: "BVB has a problem with him, If he is not on the starting grid for a while. You can't make a decision just to make a player feel comfortable or not to upset him. You have to do what is best for the team and the club. 

"Dortmund is better at the moment without Reus. That has to do with the fact that [Giovanni] Reyna is in good shape, that [Erling] Haaland is in very good shape, [Julian] Brandt played well and with [Jadon] Sancho they have an outstanding player."

Hamann concluded by suggesting that Mats Hummels would be the ideal man to inherit the armband, having seen him lead Dortmund towards the end of his first spell at the club

"With Hummels, you have a brilliant leader who has shown in the past that he can lead teams, that he has leadership qualities, that he can speak up, that he can inspire people," he said.

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Toulon Tournament cancelled for 2020 after 'difficult decision' amid coronavirus pandemic

The competition that helped launch the careers of Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and James Rodriguez will not go ahead in December as hoped

The Maurice Revello Tournament 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, organisers have announced.

Traditionally one of the great showcases for bright young footballers, the competition - more commonly known as the Toulon Tournament - has seen international teams vie for the trophy since 1975, having previously included club sides.

However, for the first time since the competition was inaugurated in 1967, it will not run this year.

A statement published by the organisers reads: “Last April, when we announced the postponement of the Maurice Revello Tournament’s 48th edition, initially planned to be held from 1st to 14th June, the Organising Committee took the time to reflect: should we totally skip this year 2020? Or should we try to reschedule the 48th edition at the end of the calendar year?

“We had opted for the second option, aiming to reschedule the Maurice Revello Tournament 2020 in December which is obviously an unprecedented challenge.

"This lapse of time allowed us to rework on the organisation of our event and meanwhile to set up all the specific arrangements related to Covid-19 in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved in this event.

“Supported by our major partners, the project started to take shape as several national teams - Japan, Chile, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Vietnam and Indonesia  - agreed to take part in this rescheduled tournament planned to be held in December.

"However, as you have seen, the sanitary situation is deteriorating again in Europe and especially in Southern France, with an upsurge in the number of positive Covid-19 cases.

“The situation has led the French government to set up a curfew in different departments including Bouches-du-Rhone, the home of the Maurice Revello Tournament.

"Now, it’s no longer a question of delivering an international sport event but to follow, as citizens, the government’s recommendations in order to protect the athletes, managers and all the persons necessary for the proper functioning of such an organisation.

“As a result, after consulting with our major partners, we took the difficult decision to purely and simply cancel the 48th edition of the Maurice Revello Tournament.”

Brazil are the defending champions, in a tournament which has previously been graced by the likes of Jean-Pierre Papin, Alan Shearer, James Rodriguez. Javier Mascherano and Thierry Henry.

Original author: Robin Bairner
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VVV-Venlo keeper accuses Ajax counterpart Onana of lacking respect following 13-0 hammering

After conceding a historic number of goals in their Eredivisie match, Delano van Crooy felt let down by his counterpart in the opposition's net

The VVV-Venlo goalkeeper, who was on the wrong end of a 13-0 drubbing byAjaxon Saturday, has complained that counterpart Andre Onana showed him a lack of respect.

The two players embraced at the end of the one-sided game, but Delano van Crooy has hit out at what the Cameroon international had to say to him.

Far from being in the goalkeeper’s union, Van Crooy said the 24-year-old wanted to heap misery onto 10-man VVV by taking a penalty if the chance arose.

Asked by Langs de Lijn if Onana’s hug at the end of the match gave him mixed feelings, he replied: “Yes, when you hear that he actually wanted to take a penalty against me, you think: ‘Was his action genuine?’ You don't take a penalty against another keeper if you respect him. It would have been humiliating.”

Van Crooy spoke of his feelings on being on the wrong side of such a historic score line.

“It cannot be described. You don't really feel anything, that's the bad thing, I think. You are mentally broken, you want to leave. Everyone means well, but you don’t want to wait for everyone’s pity,” he said.

Meanwhile, he would not give himself a mark for his performance in an encounter in which he also saved 10 shots.

“I’ll leave that to the experts,” he said. “I’ve not seen the game again.”

It is an encounter that will make for bad viewing for VVV fans. While their side mustered only three shots – none on target – Ajax fired at goal on 45 occasions.

The Amsterdam outfit took the lead through Jurgen Ekkelenkamp in 12 minutes before Lassina Traore scored in the 17th and 32nd. A further goal arrived before the break through Dusan Tadic.

A red card for Christian Kum early in the second half sparked a deluge of four goals in five minutes, while later in the period three goals arrived in four minutes.

The scoring was finally completed by Traore, who netted his fifth of the afternoon, having also laid on three more.

The result leaves VVV 14th in the 18-team Eredivisie with five points from six games - and a minus-13 goal difference.

 

Original author: Robin Bairner
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'More complicated with Emery and Arteta' - 'Maestro' Ozil backed by ex-Arsenal captain Koscielny

The former Germany international has been given support by a former team-mate who played alongside him under the Arsene Wenger era at Emirates Stadium

Estranged Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has been defended by former Gunners centre-back Laurent Koscielny.

The former Germany international playmaker is presently out of the picture at the Emirates Stadium, having been left out of the Premier League squad and the Europa League squad by manager Mikel Arteta.

He has been involved in a very public battle with the club, notably offering to pay the wages of sacked mascot Gunnersaurus having refused to take a pay cut due to the coronavirus crisis.

As the club’s highest earner, his case has been regularly debated in the media, and Koscielny has backed his former colleague.

“As a man, he’s a very good person, who got along with all his team-mates,” the Bordeaux defender told L’Equipe. “He gave a lot, helped sick children. He is a generous person, with whom I got along very well. 

“As a player, he is in my opinion a phenomenon. He can find passes that no one sees, he’s a maestro. He can rock a game with incredible passes.

“We’re both part of the ‘Arsene Wenger Generation’. The coach loved him as a player. It was more complicated with Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta. 

“Knowing him, he must always be professional in training, always on time. He is undoubtedly at the level demanded by the Premier League.”

The former France man is eager to see the 32-year-old back playing soon – whether that is with the Gunners or elsewhere.

“I hope both sides find a deal that works for everyone. He is a competitor. I hope to see him back on the pitch soon, at Arsenal or elsewhere, because he is real talent,” he said.

Ozil has been with Arsenal since moving to the club from Real Madrid in 2013 and has turned out on more than 250 occasions for the Gunners. 

He has, however, fallen out of favour with Arteta, with his last game a 1-0 win over West Ham in the Premier League back in March.

He created the winning gaol for Alexandre Lacazette on that occasion, his 77th assist for the club in 254 outings, while he has 44 goals to his name.

 

Original author: Robin Bairner
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Asieche: Midfielder confirmed new Sofapaka FC captain

The experienced midfielder takes over from former defender George Maelo, who left Batoto ba Mungu in the current transfer window

Elli Asieche will be the Sofapaka captain in the forthcoming 2020/21 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) campaign.

The position fell vacant after the exit of George Maelo, who was deployed in Machakos, in the current transfer window. It is for this reason the 2009 champions have opted to give the midfielder an opportunity to lead Batoto ba Mungu.

"Head coach John Baraza has confirmed midfielder Elli Asieche is the new club captain," Sofapaka confirmed on their official portal.

"Asieche, who has been with the club for the past three years since his return, will captain the team beginning the 2020/21 season. He takes over from immediate former club captain George Maelo."  

The 29-year-old has promised to help the Nairobi-based team go in the right direction after he was trusted with leadership.

"I am happy for this new capacity and challenge, it shows a lot of trust and faith in me, from the head coach and the entire team. I look forward to leading and helping the club in the right way," Asieche stated after his confirmation.

Baraza has also appointed Willis Obayi and Michael Kibwage as first and second assistant captains, respectively. The latter joined Batoto ba Mungu recently from KCB FC.

"I did not expect this appointment but it is a privilege for me to be handed the responsibility," Kibwage told Goal on Monday.  

"This is a show of faith bestowed on me by the technical bench and the team at large. I promise to give my best and help the team win the Kenyan Premier League in the forthcoming campaign."

In a recent interview, the youngster opined on the tactics used by the former Kenya international.

"[Baraza] is very good at his job and he is always free with players," Kibwage told Goal.

"He knows how to relate with all players and since I moved in, I find it easy to settle in his environment. He is so understanding, concerned, and very wise.

"[Baraza] is also tactical; if you have not understood something, he will come and explain to you until it sinks in. On a good day, his tactics will cause problems to opponents meaning Sofapaka will cause problems to teams."

Apart from Kibwage, the 2009 league winners have signed seven more players in the current transfer window - Lawrence Juma from Gor Mahia, veteran striker Paul Kiongera, former APR Rwanda captain Isaac Mitima, Nigerian Michael Karamor, Michael Bodo, Roy Okal, and Kevin Omondi.  

 

 

Original author: Seth Willis
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Forest Rangers vs Nkana FC tie highlights Zambian Premier League kick-off

The two sides were involved in the title race in a season that was heavily disrupted by the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) Executive Committee has approved the fixtures for the Zambian Premier League 2020/21 season which will start on October 31.

FAZ General Secretary Adrian Kashala said the league has been given permission to start but with strict adherence to the health and safety protocols concerning the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are very happy to announce the fixtures of the 2020/2021 season for the Zambia Premier League. The fixtures have been approved by the Executive Committee clearing the way for the league to kick-off,” Kashala said as quoted by the FAZ Facebook page.

“Clubs will be expected to adhere to the Covid-19 health protocols as we commence the league. The full fixtures have been duly circulated to the members in the Zambia Premier League.”

Zesco United, who missed out on the title that was eventually won by Nkana FC, will start with a match against Napsa Stars. The tie will provide an opportunity for five Kenyan stars to clash in the season opener.

Recently signed Timothy Otieno and goalkeeper Shaban Odhoji of Napsa Stars will face-off while David Owino, Jesse Were, John Makwatta and Ian Otieno are expected to play for Zesco United.

Apart from the Napsa Stars vs Zesco United tie, the Forest Rangers vs Nkana match is expected to attract attention given how the clubs fared last season.

After the league was suspended in March, restarted and suspended once more in August, Nkana and Forest Rangers – separated by goal difference - were first and second, respectively, and consequently earned Caf Champions League slots when the league came to an unnatural end.

Nine matches have been lined up for week one as debutants Indeni FC – the winners of the Second Division - will face traditional Premier League participants Zanaco FC.

The 2020/2021 calendar opened with the Samuel Ndhlovu Charity Shield that was won by Nkana.  The competition is held before every season begins to honour the football achievements of the late great Zambian footballer and coach after which it was named.

Week one fixtures:

Power Dynamos vs Young Green Eagles

Kitwe United vs Prison Leopards

Buildcon vs Lusaka Dynamos

Green Buffaloes vs Red Arrows

Napsa Stars vs Zesco United

Zanaco vs Indeni

Forest Rangers vs Nkana

Kabwe Warriors vs Green Eagles

Lumwana Radiants vs Nkwazi

 

 

 

Original author: Kiplagat Sang
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