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International Football

CAF Champions League Enters First Leg Into Money Spinning Stage





The revamped CAF Champions League enters crucial stage as clubs struggle to get into the lucrative group stage. Two Nigerian clubs, Enugu Rangers and Rivers United are up against vast experienced oppositions.

In Cairo, Enugu Rangers will be facing Zamalek of Egypt on Sunday. Except for the then IICC Shooting Stars overcoming Zamalek after penalty shootout in the then African Winners’ Cup semi-finals in 1976, no Nigerian club has had positive results in confrontation with Zamalek.

On two occasions, Zamalek overcame Shooting Stars to become continental champions in 1984 and 1996. Zamalek had gone ahead to win the title three more times to become five-time African champions and two times runners up.


Shooting Stars, Super Stores, Kwara United, Enyimba all have fell by the way side in epic confrontation with Zamalek.

It is the spate of such bad results that continental returnee, Enugu Rangers will be attempting to halt when they meet the Cairo side on Sunday.

Rivers United, debuting in the continent. carry the same burden as they face Sudan’s El Merrikh who are on their 21st appearance in Africa’s lead clubs’ competition.

Rivers will be hoping to replicate the potency in attack they exhibited against Real Bamako in the preliminary round and obtain a good result ahead of the return leg.

In other places, four most successful clubs in African competitions enter the 2017 CAF Champions League this weekend expecting to build first-leg leads at home in last-32 ties.


Record eight-time title winners Ahly of Egypt only managed a 1-0 win over South African league leaders Wits, who are playing in the elite African competition for the first time.

Ahly last won the Champions League in 2013, and six of the Egypt squad that finished Africa Cup of Nations runners-up last month came from the Cairo “Red Devils”.


TP Mazembe of the DR Congo, second behind Ahly with five successes, meet unimpressive preliminary round winners CAPS United of Zimbabwe.

Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, the only club to win all five current and past CAF competitions, also boast nine combined titles ahead of a clash with AS Tanda of the Cote d’Ivoire.


The last-32 line-up includes eight winners of the Champions League, including title-holders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, who host Kampala Capital City Authority of Uganda.

Esperance of Tunisia, V Club of DR Congo and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco complete the line-up of clubs who lifted the richest and most prized African trophy.

Another five challengers, Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, FUS Rabat of Morocco, Horoya of Guinea, Al Merrikh of Sudan and Enugu, have won other CAF titles.


All the fixtures


Friday 10 March 

  • Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 2-0 Kampala CCA (Uganda)

Saturday 11 March 

  • Young Africans (Tanzania) 1-1 Zanaco FC (Zambia)
  • 17:00 Wydad de Casablanca (Morocco) vs. Mounana (Gabon)

18:30 Ahly (Egypt) vs. Bidvest Wits (South Africa)

Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia) 3-1 Horoya (Guinea)

  • 21:30 USM Alger (Algeria) vs. RC Kadiogo (Burkina Faso)


Sunday 12 March 

  • Al Ahli Tripoli (Libya) vs. FUS Rabat (Morocco)
  • Ferroviario Beira (Mozambique) vs. Barrack Young Controllers (Liberia)
  • TP Mazembe Englebert (DR. Congo) vs. CAPS United FC (Zimbabwe)
  • Cotonsport (Cameroon) vs. CNaPS Sport (Madagascar)
  • Leopards de Dolisie (Congo) vs. Kedus Giorgis (Ethiopia)
  • Rivers United FC (Nigeria) vs. Al Merrikh (Sudan)
  • Zamalek (Egypt) vs. Enugu Rangers (Nigeria)
  • Gambia Ports Authority (Gambia) vs. AS Vita Club (DR Congo)
  • Al Hilal Omdurman (Sudan) vs. AS Port-Louis 2000 (Mauritius)
  • Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) vs. AS Tanda (ICote d’Ivoire)

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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International Football

Grudgingly, Eto’o accepts new Cameroon coach Brys, but fails to attend ceremony



Cameroon’s new coach Marc Brys penned a contract on Monday but the Belgian’s appointment by the government remains contentious as the football federation did not attend the signing ceremony.

Brys has been handed a 2-1/2-year contract by Cameroon’s sports ministry but the federation (FECAFOOT) was conspicuous by its absence at the event in Yaounde.

Last week, FECAFOOT criticised the unilateral decision of sports minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombito to appoint the 61-year-old Brys, who has no prior experience as a national team coach and has not previously worked on the African continent.

FECAFOOT president Samuel Eto’o issued a statement on Monday, excusing himself from the unveiling event.

“We thank you for inviting us to the ceremony. Following this, we inform you of the fact that we received the letter two hours before the said ceremony,” wrote Eto’o.


“Unfortunately, we are busy organising the funeral of our late Dad, and for this reason we will not be able to attend presence at the ceremony.”

His father’s funeral is to be held at the weekend.

Eto’o balked at Brys’ appointment and is now in a deepening standoff with the minister.

In Cameroon, the government has long paid the salary of the national team coach and therefore held powerful sway over FECAFOOT’s affairs, even if such state interference is frowned upon by world football’s governing body FIFA.

Any heightened dispute risks a potential ban from international competition for Cameroon, one of the heavyweights of African football.


FECAFOOT held an emergency meeting on Saturday and asked Eto’o to propose an alternative coach for the national team.

Earlier on the weekend, the minister had defended the appointment, saying he had acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

In a letter to FECAFOOT, Kombi said his ministry’s appointment of coaching staff “in no way affects the autonomy of FECAFOOT and does not violate any of the ‘supranational regulations”.

He said FECAFOOT had suggested three candidates to the ministry but their salary demands ranged between 1.5 million euros and 2.5 million euros ($1.63 million and $2.71 million) per year.

“These are excessive amounts never paid to any coach in the history of the Indomitable Lions,” Kombi said.



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International Football

Cameroon FA to propose national coach after emergency meeting –



BREAKING! Turmoil In Cameroon Federation Over Naming Of New National Coach Brys -

Cameroon’s football federation (FECAFOOT) held an emergency meeting on Saturday and asked its president to propose an alternative coach for the national team, deepening a standoff with the sports ministry.

FECAFOOT on Wednesday accused the ministry of unilaterally appointing Belgian Marc Brys as coach and other staff to manage the Indomitable Lions, who are five-times African champions.

The dispute risks a potential ban from international competition as world soccer’s governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations.

In a statement, FECAFOOT said its emergency committee had met on Saturday and unanimously confirmed that the federation had not been involved in the appointments in alleged contravention of regulations.

As a result, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours.


Responding to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the ministry said the result of the FECAFOOT meeting was “an appeal. It is not yet a decision.”

On Friday, Sports Minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombi wrote to FECAFOOT to defend the coaching appointments, which he said were in accordance with national and international rules.

In a letter seen by Reuters, Kombi said the ministry’s move “in no way affects the autonomy of FECAFOOT and does not violate any of the ‘supranational regulations’.”

A spokesperson for the ministry confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

Kombi’s letter also said the salaries requested by three candidates earlier proposed by the federation for the position of coach ranged between 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) and 2.5 million euros per year.


“These are excessive amounts never paid to any coach in the history of the Indomitable Lions,” Kombi said.

FECAFOOT did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.





BREAKING! Turmoil in Cameroon federation over naming of new national coach Brys.

Soccer Cameroon appoint Brys as new head coach


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National team and club-mate Owolabi commiserates with grief-stricken Odegbami –



National team and club-mate Owolabi commiserates with grief-stricken Odegbami -

Powerful left-wing back in his playing days, Felix Owolabi has expressed great grief over the loss of a son of former teammate, Segun Odegbami.

Both Felix Owolabi and Odegbami share common traits as the earliest tertiary institution footballers featuring for clubs and the national team.

While Odegbami was a mechanical engineering student at The Ibadan Polytechnic, Owolabi was an undergraduate at the University of Lagos.

Both were players of the then rampaging IICC Shooting Stars and the Africa Cup of Nations winning team of 1980. The crucial goals that won the cup for Nigeria were scored by the duo.

While Owolabi’s goal against Morocco sent Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations final match for the first time, Odegbami’s two goals in the final against Algeria put a stamp of definity to Nigeria’s victory before another club-mate Muda Lawal put in the third.


“We have come a long way”, remarked Owolabi in a message to the Sports Village Square  Thursday morning.

“I have just arrived from Morocco on a national assignment trying to adjust and deal with the extreme and gruelling hot weather here in Nigeria when I got the sad news of the sudden death of the son of my dear brother and senior colleague Dr Olusegun Odegbami.


“Hearing the death of Oluwagbeminiyi Omo Odegbami,  I paused for a moment and did not know what to say.

“All the media both print and electronics carried it as a breaking news.


“And that was when it dawned on me that I had to call ‘Big Sheg’ as he is fondly called by me.

“His authoritative confirmation about it dealt a blow on me and put me total darkness.What would have happened to this our vibrant and such an enterprising Oluwagbeminiyi?

“Why would death be so so wicked to suddenly take this gentleman away from us without notice. Going on a journey that he will need not to look at anybody, an eternal journey till Christ come.

“My heart and  that of my entire family are with you and the rest of the family”, remarked Owolabi.

“It is well. I pray that God grant him eternal rest. I pray also that the almighty God grant you the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Today the death of Oluwagbeminiyi has made me to believe and conclude that death is real and it is universal





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