This Past Week: SUPER MO, SALAH-VATING PREMIER LEAGUE FANS

CAF to give African representatives a send-off gift to the world cup.

The mother body of football in the continent has pledged to give each of the 5 nations (USD) $500 000 to help finance their campaign.

Moroccan stars fire world cup warning shots.

The Lions of the Atlas might have been drawn in the so called group of death with Spain, Portugal and the first team to qualify from Asia, Iran but some its stars who make up the team are starting to show what they are capable of at club level. On Sunday, Noureddine Amrabat on loan from English side Watford came on to setup two goals for Spanish club CD Leganes in their 3-1 victory over Villareal. Nabil El Zhar was also on the score sheet. With other starts like Sofianne Boufal (Southampton), Captain Mehdi Benatia (Juventus), 18-year old Achraf Hakini (Real Madrid) and veteran coach Herve Renard who led Zambia and Ivory Coast to African glory, the Morrocan side is no pushover. 

Bony, Ogbonna, Mahrez and Diouf on target.

Africans continue to make headlines in the EPL with Swansea captain, Wilfried Bony opening the scoring at Stoke with a great strike which however proved not enough to get rid of his club’s woes. The Nigerian, Ogbonna scored for the solitary goal for Westham against Man City and Mame Biram Diouf secured the points for Stoke against his West African’s counterpart team, Swansea. Riyad Mahrez might just have picked up his terrestrial form once more as he also scored the winner for Leicester against Tottenham that moved his team into the top half of the league.

Mo Salah involved in Liverpool goals again.

The Pharaohs’ start bagged a brace in midweek against Stoke City after coming on as a substitute and somehow beat four defenders at Brighton to set up Firmino with the Reds eventually cruising to a 5-1 victory. Mohamed Salah has so far scored 17 goals in all competitions surpassing Liverpool last season top scorer in less than half the games. He is currently the top goal scorer in England. With Suarez and Uruguay, Group A will definitely not be starved of a goals at next year’s showcase in Russia.

Victor Moses crowned 2017 Nigeria’s player of the year.

It really was kind of inevitable. The Super Eagles star was a key player in the Chelsea’s title winning team in the 2016/17 season put an icing on the cake by inspiring his nation reach the world cup finals unbeaten. He has surely silenced his doubters this year.

PSL’s “worst” wins the “best”.

South African side, Bidvest Wits who are currently rooted at the bottom of the top flight league standings beat Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 in a domestic cup final, Telkom Knockout. With only 6 points separating the top 11 teams in the ABSA premiership after 12 games – we are certainly in for a treat in the title race. You don’t want to miss any of the action.

THIS PAST WEEK ON FT AFRICA (SPECIAL): WORLD CUP DRAW REACTION

The draw has been made, war cries ready, CAF readies its support funding, the players are making headlines in prominent leagues across the world and the fans have not been shy to raise their hopes high. Before we walk with you in the build up to the World Cup Finals in Russia. Let’s us give you a quick summary on how we view the groups from an African perspective.

Here are the groups with the final 32 once more.

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Group A

This might not be a group of death but basing on recent performances, the teams look to be at par. It surely will be one of the most competitive groups. Egypt will probably finish 3rd or 2nd. They will beat Saudi Arabia and draw with either Russia or Uruguay.

Group B

This had been marked by most as the group of death and rightly so. Morocco qualified for the finals without conceding a single goal but will have to score too if they are to see off the European champions, Portugal, star studded Spain and the Asian surprise package, Iran. It will be an entertaining group with Morocco causing one or more upsets but will eventually not make it to the last 16. The Lions of the Atlas will finish 3rd.

Group D

Surely no love lost between Nigerian and Argentina. The two sides have been meeting each other for at least 5 times now in the tournament. Even though fairytale Iceland and Luka Modric’s Croatia sum up the group. I still favor the Super Eagles to progress. I strongly believe they will upset Argentina this time who has not really been inspiring. 

Group G

Tunisia is certainly the less talked about team among the five probably because they aren’t a lot of “big” players making headlines in several leagues. It should however be noted that they qualified top of the group ahead of free-scoring DR Congo who were top scorers in the qualifiers. They are quite a disciplined team and very much capable of frustrating the big guys, England and Belgium. I however do not see them progress but will definitely not finish last.

Group H

The Lions of Terranga sum up the 5 African representatives. I actually fancy them to progress form this group. They are up against a shaky Colombia, determined Japan and top ranked Poland. It won’t be pretty but they will do just enough to progress like they did in the qualifiers. They don’t play the most attractive football but undoubtedly one of the most aggressive teams in the tournament. With their top goalkeeper, Sadio Mane and Diafra Sakho – they might win games with one game changing pass or shot.

Stay tuned for more as we continue building up to the grand soccer showcase from an African perspective.    

Dennis Takaendesa