Mahrez targets Afcon title

24 May, 2019 - 00:05 0 Views
Mahrez targets Afcon title Riyad Mahrez


Noel Munzabwa

IT’S been a excruciating 29 years since Algeria last won the Africa Cup of Nations — just a couple of months before Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez was born and next month he will squarely carry the weight to end the futile campaigns.

Fresh from a quadruple (Community Shield, League Cup, English Premier League and FA Cup), the Algerian maestro is targeting adding the continental title — if his interview with AFP is anything to go by.

“It is 29 years since Algeria won the Cup of Nations and I want to be part of the team that repeats that feat,” he said after collecting his third winners’ medal of the season.

Apart from the above interview, Ghana all-time leading goal scorer, Asamoah Gyan’s to retire from international football barely a month before the Afcon edition kicks off in Egypt dominated news ahead of Wednesday’s provisional squad announcement.

The Kayserispor forward made the decision to step down from the national team on his Twitter page on Monday with wide spread speculation the 34-year-old skipper was dissatisfied over captaincy issues within the team.

He was expected to lead the Black Stars to Africa’s most glorified football event in June and his absence will be a huge blow to James Kwesi Appiah and the rest of the squad as they seek to lift the trophy after failed attempts in 2010 and 2015.

Gyan has scored 51 goals in 106 appearances since his national team debut in 2003 and is Ghana’s all-time record goalscorer and has represented Ghana at the 2006 , 2010 and 2014 Fifa World Cups and scored six goals, to become top African goalscorer in the history of the World Cup.

Gyan has also represented Ghana at the 2004 Summer Olympics and in seven Africa Cup of Nations (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017). He helped Ghana finish third-place in 2008 and runner-up in 2010 and 2015.

Ghana will face Benin, title holders Cameroon and Guinea Bissau in Group F in Egypt.

Coach Appiah was expected to announce Turkey-based midfielder Andre Ayew as the substantive Ghana captain in a massive shake-up ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, exclusively revealed this week.

This comes after coach Appiah took the decision to strip Gyan of the team’s leadership role as he would only be a pit-part player at the tournament in Egypt and give the band to Ayew who commands big respect among the players in the Black Stars is expected to instill the needed discipline in the squad to help Ghana win the title.

With the inspirational Fenerbahce player moving up, a new deputy captain will be named by the coach as part of the measures meant to inject new energy in the squad and this will be the first time Ayew is captaining the senior level permanently but he has led Ghana before at youth level.

He famously captained the Black Satellites to the World Youth Championship title in 2009.

The Ayew legacy thus continues, following the exploits of the legendary Abedi Pele who captained Ghana for almost 10 years.

In Uganda, Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre was planning to trim his squad in camp before the team left for Abu Dhabi to continue preparations for 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations.

According to reports, Star Times Uganda Premier League top scorer, Juma Balinya was likely to be dropped from the Afcon squad but join the team that was preparing for the Cosafa under Abdallah Mubiru.

In total about 10 players were to be dropped.

BBC reports that Guinea will not take part at this year’s Under-17 World cup in Brazil after they were found guilty of age-cheating at the recent U-17 Africa Cup of Nations which served as World Cup qualifiers.

Guinea, who were runners-up at the U-17 Nations Cup in Tanzania in April, thought they had secured their World Cup spot by reaching the semi-finals.

But the Confederation of African Football (Caf) says Guinea used two ineligible players in Tanzania and that Senegal will replace them in Brazil.

“The players Aboubacar Conte and Ahmed Tidiane Keita were not eligible to participate with Guinea in the Final Tournament of the U-17 Afcon played in Tanzania,” Caf said in a statement.

“Due to the existence of two different passports for each of the players concerned, one passport was used for the International Under-16 Cup held in Japan, the year of birth date being 2001, and the other for the final U-17 Afcon tournament in Tanzania, which indicated the year of birth as 2002, which clearly shows that there was forgery.”

“Because of their participation, the team is excluded from the competition and all its results and achievements during the competition must be cancelled.”

“The Guinean Football Federation, following its disqualification, is prevented from representing Caf at the Fifa U-17 World Cup to be held in 2019.”

“The Organising Committee will be invited to reinstate Senegal and the Executive Committee to approve the participation of Senegal as Caf’s 4th representative at the Fifa U-17 World Cup to be held in 2019,” Caf stated following a meeting of its disciplinary committee.

Senegal will now join Cameroon, Nigeria and Angola as Africa’s representatives at this year’s U-17 World Cup in Brazil.

Guinea, who have been banned from taking part in the next two editions of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, have appealed and claimed that Caf’s “decision is clearly wrong”.

The Guinea Football Federation has also been fined US$ 100,000 with half of the amount being a suspended fine for a period of four years.

The runners-up silver medals which Guinea received in Tanzania must be returned within 21 days and if they fail to do so a penalty of $US20 000 will be imposed.

Guinea’s punishment is the result of a second protest. During the tournament in Tanzania, Caf had initially cleared Guinea of any wrong doing after the Senegal FA filed a complaint against the two players.

Both had featured in a 2-1 win over Senegal in the group stage.

Caf had also stopped six players — including one Guinean — from taking part at the Nations Cup in Tanzania following MRI tests before the tournament.

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