Cameroon, Namibia round off AFCON 2023 qualification

By JerryOwilli

FILE: The Africa Cup of Nations trophy. /CFP

All 24 slots for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations have been filled after Cameroon and Namibia qualified on Tuesday night.

The five-time African Champions, Cameroon, beat Burundi 3-0 on the last match day of the AFCON qualifiers to seal their spot, also ensuring Namibia qualify as runners up.

The two teams from Group C played only four games in their qualification journeys after Kenya was slapped with a FIFA ban, rendering the Harambee Stars ineligible to participate.

The Indomitable Lions and the Southern African country’s Brave Warriors join an impressive list of teams that will battle it out for honors in the continental tournament that will be staged in Côte d’Ivoire in January-February 2024.

Cameroon will be looking forward to playing in Côte d’Ivoire, having won the competition the last time the West African country hosted the event in 1984.

Coach Rigobert Song and his side will be tasked with hunting down an elusive sixth AFCON title, having failed to deliver on home soil in the last edition held in 2022.

Other countries that have qualified for AFCON 2023 are; Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia.

Ghana, Angola and Tanzania qualify for Africa Cup of Nations finals

Reuters News

Football – Bayern Munich v FC Barcelona – UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany – 12/5/15 General view of the match ball before the game Reuters / Michaela Rehle

CAPE TOWN – Ghana, Angola and Tanzania qualified for January’s African Cup of Nations finals when they finished in the top two of their respective groups on Thursday, leaving only six more places to be decided in the next days for the 24-team tournament in the Ivory Coast.

Ghana and Angola finished one-two in Group E while Tanzania forced an unlikely goalless draw away in Algeria to also go through.

The result denied already qualified Algeria the chance of being the only country to complete the qualifying campaign with a 100% record.

Tanzania’s point in Annaba also left neighbours Uganda falling one point short despite beating Niger 2-0 away.

Algeria topped Group F with 16 points from six games with Tanzania on eight and Uganda on seven.

It was a startling scoreline for the Tanzanians, who were given little chance against Algeria but benefited from the fact that their opponents left Said Benrahma and Riyad Mahrez on the bench until the second half when they made little impact after coming on.

Uganda had started their game in neutral Morocco hoping Algeria would do them a favour and beat Tanzania, leaving them sure to advance if they beat Niger. They did their bit with two first-half goals from Aziz Kayondo and Joseph Ochaya but did not get the result they needed from the other group game.

Substitute Ernest Nuamah scored two minutes from time to secure a come-from-behind 2-1 victory for Ghana over the Central African Republic in Kumasi while Angola also qualified despite being held to a goalless draw in Lubango by already-eliminated Madagascar.

Ghana finished top of Group E on 12 points with Angola on nine, two more than the Central African Republic, who had needed to win their final match to qualify for the first time.

The Central African Republic went ahead through stand-in skipper Louis Mafouta as they tried to write history, even without injured captain and Olympique de Marseille midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.

West Ham United’s new signing Mohammed Kudus equalised for Ghana just before halftime and Antoine Semenyo set up the winner when he stripped the visiting defence of the ball and unselfishly passed for the 19-year-old Nuamah to net the winner from close range.

The newly qualified teams will join Algeria, Burkina Faso, the Cape Verde Islands, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia at the finals in the Ivory Coast, who qualified automatically as hosts.

Tunisia beat Botswana to finish first in Group J but needed a 60th-minute own goal from Alford Velaphi to break the deadlock before going on to win 3-0. The Tunisians had already qualified but edged Equatorial Guinea out of top place. Equatorial Guinea drew 1-1 away in Libya on Wednesday.

There are more qualifiers on Friday but the next decisive ties come on Saturday.

South Africa’s Maharaj, Magala included in World Cup squad


Cricket – South Africa Practice – Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – August 24, 2022 South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj during practice Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

Sept 5 (Reuters) – South Africa have included spinner Keshav Maharaj and seamer Sisanda Magala in their World Cup squad after the pair overcame fitness concerns, while wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock announced he would retire from the format after the tournament.

Coach Rob Walter has included only seven players with past World Cup experience as South Africa seek to lift a trophy that has eluded them in oftentimes bizarre circumstances since they made their debut in 1992.

The squad will be captained by batter Temba Bavuma, with Maharaj overcoming a ruptured Achilles. He played for the first time since March in South Africa’s five-wicket Twenty20 International loss to Australia on Sunday.

Magala had been laid low by a knee injury and missed that series, but his clever change of pace and guile with the ball will be an asset on Indian wickets.

Experienced all-rounder Wayne Parnell is a notable absentee but has been struggling with a shoulder injury, while young batters Dewald Brevis and Tristan Stubbs have not been selected.

South Africa go into the tournament with two frontline spinners in Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, though batter Aiden Markram is a more than useful third option.

“It’s great having a mix of experienced players and players who will be competing in their first 50-over World Cup – you get that sort of exuberance of excitement to be doing something for the first time,” Walter said.

“Similar to the level of experience, we have endeavoured to curate a well-balanced group of players and skill that will allow us to effectively adapt to the conditions in India.”

The 30-year-old De Kock, who has already retired from Test cricket, confirmed he will not play One-Day Internationals beyond the World Cup.

“We understand his decision to step back from ODI cricket and we want to thank him for his service over the years,” South Africa’s director of cricket Enoch Nkwe said.

“We wish him well for the future but still look forward to seeing him represent the Proteas in T20 cricket.”

The team begin their campaign against Sri Lanka on Oct. 7.

South Africa squad:

Temba Bavuma (captain), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.

South Africa’s Women’s World Cup success highlights unequal pay issues

By Thando Hlophe

Soccer Football – FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – Round of 16 – Netherlands v South Africa – Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia – August 6, 2023 South Africa’s Karabo Dhlamini and teammates applaud fans after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine Acquire Licensing Rights

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 18 (Reuters) – South Africa’s surprise success in reaching the knockouts at the Women’s World Cup has highlighted their inferior pay and resources when compared with the historically less successful men’s team.

South Africa’s women’s team, known as “Banyana Banyana”, reached the last 16 at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand earlier this month — the first time either the men’s or women’s team had achieved the feat.

The achievement, however, was partly overshadowed by a spat between the team and the South African Football Association (SAFA) in the leadup to the tournament over bonus payments.

The SAFA said last month that the dispute had been resolved after a charity stepped in with a donation, but the row focussed attention on discrepancies in the pay and bonuses of the men’s and women’s teams.

In a 2022 investigation into the bonus structure for Banyana Banyana, South Africa’s Commision for Gender Equity found that “players are not remunerated on the same scale (as) … their male counterparts”.

For instance, South Africa’s women’s players received only a 55,000 rand ($2,885) bonus for reaching the final of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, which they went on to win.

Each player on the men’s team by contrast would have received a 250,000 rand bonus if they had qualified for the World Cup in Qatar in December — which they did not.

“We’re coming from very disadvantaged homes, we become breadwinners,” Portia Modise, former Banyana Banyana captain, told Reuters after playing a friendly in the township of Soweto. “Not getting paid (enough) makes life difficult.”

Differences in the pay for male and female soccer players is not unique to South Africa. FIFA announced in March that $152 million in prize money would be on offer for the Women’s World Cup, three times the amount offered at the previous tournament and 10 times the one before that.

That figure compared with $440 million for the men’s tournament in Qatar.

Linda Zwane, vice president of SAFA, told Reuters: “We appreciate everything that (the women’s team) went through, and we learned,” adding that he hoped this meant they could focus on the next tournament instead of “squabbling about issues of payment”.

Africa exceed expectations with incredible run at Women’s World Cup

By Mark Gleeson

Soccer Football – FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – Group H – Morocco v Colombia – Perth Rectangular Stadium, Perth, Australia – August 3, 2023 Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina celebrates after the match as Morocco qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Africa’s run at the Women’s World Cup has been nothing short of extraordinary at the end of the group phase on Thursday as debutants Morocco joined Nigeria and South Africa in the last 16.

Morocco had been thrashed 6-0 by twice champions Germany in their opening match of the finals but bounced back to beat South Korea and Colombia to secure their passage into the knockout stage of the tournament.

Their surprise run of results led to the group stage elimination of the highly fancied Germans in one of the biggest shocks of the tournament.

The upset came some 24 hours after South Africa had snatched a dramatic stoppage time winner to oust Italy, and also after Nigeria had advanced from Group B following two draws and a win over co-hosts Australia.

Even Zambia, who had been eliminated after two successive five-goal thrashings, were able to depart with a win, overcoming Costa Rica in their last group game.

Africa’s chances of getting a team through to the knockout phase were always going to be better with the expansion of the finals’ field to 32 teams and the continent’s representation increased to four.

But even then, there was little expectation for the quartet of African teams as they travelled to Australia and New Zealand.

Nigeria have not missed out of any of the nine Women’s World Cups but their dominance in Africa had been ended as they struggled at last year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and only finished fourth.

South Africa won the continental title but their preparations were dogged by arguments over money as the players went on strike last month.

As for Morocco, the first Arab nation to compete, they looked out of the depth as they produced a horror defensive display and looked every bit the 70 places they were ranked below Germany in a rude World Cup welcome.


But they showed inspiring resolve to come back and win a top two place in Group H, albeit with some assistance as Germany failed to beat South Korea on Thursday.

“You’ve always got to factor in the magic of the World Cup,” their coach Reynald Pedros had predicted before the game.

Morocco shook up the traditional order when finishing fourth in Qatar last December in Africa’s best showing at the men’s World Cup and the women now have a chance to also break new ground.

No African team has ever won a knockout game at a previous Women’s World Cup but there will be high hopes now that the continent’s mazy run can continue, even if the odds are stacked against them.

In the last 16, South Africa face the Netherlands, Morocco will be up against France while Nigeria will take on Euro 2022 champions England.

“They’ve shown that nothing can stop them if they put their mind to it and they play for each other,” South Africa coach Desire Ellis said of her players ahead of Sunday’s tie in Sydney against the in-form Netherlands.

Editing by Pritha Sarkar

Nigeria into World Cup last 16, Zambia bows out with victory

By JerryOwilli

Nigeria players pose for a team photo prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup at Brisbane Stadium on July 31, 2023 in Brisbane. /Getty Images

Nigeria is in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Round of 16 after holding the Republic of Ireland to a goalless draw on Monday.

The Super Falcons came into the match needing only a draw to secure progression into the next round.

The game, played in high tempo, saw both sides come close on several occasions but all efforts proved fruitless as the West Africans became the first African side to qualify for the knock-out stage of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Nigeria, the runners-up from Group B,  will now face the winner of Group D in the knockout stage. England, Denmark and China all have a chance to win Group D.

Elsewhere, Zambia ended its World Cup campaign with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Costa Rica.

The Zambians lost their opening two games against Japan and Spain and could not advance.

Despite knowing they would not move on in the tournament, the Copper Queens were hungry for a positive result, displaying an energetic performance throughout the game.

Lushomo Mweemba, Barbra Banda and Racheal Kundananji each scored a goal apiece.

Banda was named the Player of the Match.

Morocco stuns Colombia to advance to last 16 at Women’s World Cup

By DavidOchieng Mbewa

Morocco’s Nesryne El Chad, center, celebrates with fans after the Women’s World Cup Group H soccer match between Morocco and Colombia in Perth, Australia, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Gary Day)

For the first time ever, three African teams will participate in the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Morocco stunned Colombia 1-0 in their final Group H match in Perth on Thursday to qualify. With the win, Morocco joins Nigeria and South Africa in the Round of 16.

Despite the loss, the South Americans will also advance as Group H winners.

Anissa Lahmari scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of halftime from close range when Sakina Ouzraoui Diki squared the ball to her after Ghizlane Chebbak had her penalty saved by Catalina Pérez.

The Atlas Lionesses, like their male counterparts at the men’s World Cup in Qatar, then mounted a spirited defensive effort to keep out the Colombians and secure the win.

Moroccan goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi also pulled off a series of outstanding saves denying Daniela Montoya and Mayra Ramírez an equaliser.

Even after weathering the barrage of Colombian attacks, there was still a tense wait after the final whistle as the players awaited the result of Germany’s game against South Korea. Germany could only draw 1-1 and crashed out of the group stage for the first time in their history.

Morocco (72), who are making their debut at the Women’s World Cup, are now the lowest-ranked team to make it to the knockout stage of the tournament. It is a remarkable turnaround for a team that lost its opening match 6-0 to Germany but followed it up with consecutive 1-0 victories to progress.

Morocco is the second African nation to reach the knockout stages of successive men’s and women’s World Cups since Nigeria did so in 1998 and 1999.

Morocco will play France on August 8 for a place in the quarterfinals.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

Women’s World Cup: South Africa stun Italy to advance to the Round of 8

South Africa’s midfielder #10 Linda Motlhalo (L) fights for the ball with Italy’s forward #10   –   Copyright © africanews

By Rédaction Africanews with AFP

South Africa will reach the last 8 of a Women’s World Cup for the first time in their history after beating 2019 quarter-finalists Italy 3-2 in Wellington on Wednesday.

The South Africans, 2nd in Group D (4 pts), will face the Dutch, 1st in Group E (7 pts), in the next round. Leading 1-0 after just eleven minutes, the South Africans scored twice (2-1), before conceding a second goal, synonymous with elimination (74th). But Thembi Kgatlana gave her team victory in added time, taking advantage of yet another Italian defensive error.

Zambia earns first Women’s World Cup win with 3-1 victory over Costa Rica

Zambian women celebrate their 2nd goal during the Women’s World Cup Group C match against Costa Rica in Hamilton, New Zealand, on July 31, 2023   –   Copyright © africanews
Abbie Parr/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

By Rédaction Africanews

Lushomo Mweemba scored the fastest goal at this year’s Women’s World Cup, and Barbra Banda added the 1,000th goal in tournament history, as tournament newcomer Zambia earned its first ever win with a 3-1 victory Costa Rica on Monday.

The victory sent Zambia home from its first World Cup on an emotional high. Both teams had already been eliminated from the knockout stage before the match.

The Copper Queens’ opening goal, the first in their history, came after just 2 minutes and 11 seconds off Avell Chitundu’s corner kick. Mweemba lofted a volley into the roof of the net over goalkeeper Daniela Solera.

Banda scored the milestone goal in the 31st minute on a penalty kick. The referee gave the penalty after the 23-year-old striker appeared to be taken down in the box by Katherine Alvarado.

The referee handed out five yellow cards and called a total of 30 fouls in the fast-paced match.

In the 47th minute, Melissa Herrera knocked a cross over the line with her chest for Costa Rica’s lone goal. Costa Rica later saw both a potential penalty and a goal taken away by offsides calls.

More than 8,000 spectators were at Waikato Stadium, which holds 18,009.

-Key moments-

Zambia wasted no time against Costa Rica, scoring its first-ever tournament goal just 131 seconds into the match. Mweemba’s one-timer changed the momentum of the match as the Copper Queens controlled much of the first half and got their second goal on Banda’s penalty.

Rachael Kundananji sealed the victory three minutes into injury time. Banda’s through ball set up the forward, who scored easily.

-Why it matters-

Zambia returns home having won a match in its first appearance at the Women’s World Cup. It ended the tournament in third place of Group C with three points.

Las Ticas are still in search of their first World Cup win after failing to get a victory both this year and in 2015, their only other appearance.

-In their own words-

“I was confident, but at the same time I was nervous, but I just had to have courage because I was carrying thousands of people back home so it was an honor for me,” Banda said about her penalty kick.

“We knew yesterday it was going to be an open match, a hard match, and those who made fewer mistakes won the match,” Costa Rica coach Amelia Valverde said.

-What’s next-

Zambia’s next match is scheduled for Oct. 23 against Mali in the second round of Olympic qualifiers.

Costa Rica bounces out of its second Women’s World Cup in fourth place in the group.

Additional sources • AP

African nations reaffirm closeness to Russia through football

African footballers in Russia   –   Copyright © africanews

By Philip Andrew Churm with AFP

Despite being diplomatically isolated as a result of the Ukraine conflict, Russia faces little hostility from African leaders, many of whom have gathered in St Petersburg for the Russia-Africa summit where many top footballers are set to play a gala match together.

Melvin Camden is among them and is grateful for the opportunity. 

“I would like to start by thanking you for issuing visas to us, so that we could participate in the championship,” he says.

“That is to say, they still love Africans and they want to ensure that we are united together.”

Russia has been banned from all major international competitions but the country has drawn up an intercontinental student tournament on the summit’s sidelines.

Coach of the Cameroon international student team William DeAnda thinks it is good for the countries to work together. 

“The population of Africa needs a good relationship between Africa and Russia because it is more practice,” he says. “It is more real than the other colonial relationship that we have with countries in Europe or America.”

The first day of the forum includes a session on using sports as a bridge of friendship between Russia and Africa.

Russia’s sports project, the World Friendship Games, scheduled for September 2024, will also be showcased at the forum.

Andrey Stukalov, president, National Student Football League says: “This is a good platform to revive international competitions, so we decided to start with Africa. 

“We decided to invite these four African universities, I think that in the near future we will consider a similar version of the Russia-Asia, Russia- Latin America meeting, and it will be just as interesting. And so we could gradually resume that influence and that activity internationally that we had before Covid.”

The sports programme in St Petersburg will also feature a diplomats’ match, where employees from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African embassies will compete together.