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Senegal become first CHAN champions from West Africa

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African Nations Championship (CHAN) hosts, Algeria may have set a new tournament record by not conceding in six games at the tournament in regular time,  their hopes of winning for the first time, especially on home soil was dashed by Senegal in a final that got into the extra time for the first time since 2009.

Great Senegal! They become the first West African team to win the tournament after earlier final failures by Ghana in 2009 and 2014, Nigeria in 2018 and Mali in 2016 and 2020.

In essence, Senegal are current Africa Cup of Nations and CHAN holders, a first time that is happening.

The Local Teranga Lions edged hosts in a very tense final at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers in front of 39,120 spectators on a cold winter night.

Pape Thiaw’s outfit will look back and be proud of their performance on the night that saw them complete the treble for the West African nation in a year that has seen them lift the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as well as the Beach Soccer AFCON.

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Both sides seemed tense in the opening minutes of the final that would see a new champion for the continental tournament that is organised for players that feature in their domestic leagues.

The tension escalated as Gabonese referee Pierre Ghislain Atcho dished out four yellow cards in the opening half hour but they both settled in well thereafter and sought to have an edge over their opponents.

Goalless at the half-time mark, both coaches Madjid Bougherra and Pape Thiaw sought to make some changes in the second half and increase their intensity while maintaining a balanced outlook on the night.

Four minutes into the second half, Senegal defender Cheikh Sidibe tried to clear the ball away from Mokhtar Belkhither, but it bounced off him before he commenced a spirited run into the box but despite his timely pass to Aimen Mahious, the forward’s effort was off target as well as his resulting attempt from a corner kick.

Senegal came close to an opener in the 56th minute but Diallo’s long-range strike from outside the box went over the bar much to the frustration of the Senegal bench who were on the edge of their seats.

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Mahious made a good run into the box from the middle to pass to Zakaria Draoui and then Belkhither in the box whose shot was blocked by Ousmane Diouf as the Senegalese maintained their shape.

With the game ending goalless after regular time, extratime called for extra focus as both sides continued pressing up front but neither was successful.

In the 99th minute, Mahious played a clean through ball for Abderrahmane Ben Tahar on the left wing with the latter sending a timely high ball for Zinnedine Belaid in the box but his header after rising above the Senegalese defence was picked up easily by Pape Mamadou Sy who was well-positioned.

In the 105th minute, Mrezigue had his shot on target saved by the alert Sy who denied him from finding the back of the net. The game eventually went into penalties after both sides failed to score.

Elhadji Mooutarou Balde of Teungueth stepped up first for Senegal and sent his attempt into the lower corner past Alexis Guendouz who guessed right but the power on the ball was too much for him.

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Akram Djahnit hesitated before making his attempt and Sy was quick to save it through the middle to find the back of the net, but Sy was off his line. Djahnit made no mistake with his second attempt, sending it into the left corner to make it 1-1 for the hosts.

Senegal’s Moussa Ndiaye was on point through the middle past Guendouz to give the Teranga Lions a 2-1 lead before Draoui equalized with a nicely taken low shot into the right corner sending Sy the wrong way.

Moussa Kante made way to the penalty spot and as he prepared his attempt, Guendouz psyched himself up in the box but despite going the right way, Kante’s powerful shot was too high for him to save. Senegal took a 3-2 lead.

Soufiane Bayazid equalized for Algeria 3-3 with a powerful shot and his animated celebration was enough to show what this meant for him and his tense teammates in the center of the field.

Cheikhou Omar Ndiaye hit the crossbar to send Guendouz into celebration as he made way for Sy who went the wrong way as Youcef Laouafi sent his shot into the right corner to give Algeria a 4-3 lead.

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Senegal’s poster boy Lamine Camara was calm on the assignment as his shot in the left corner sent Guendouz the wrong way to make it 4-4.

Mahious, who had scored five of Algeria’s nine goals at the tournament, stepped up with confidence and tried the Panenka but his attempt through the middle was picked up easily by Sy.

The Teranga Lions held their breaths as Ousmane Diouf found the back of the net via a sneaky shot past Guendouz who had dived into the right direction to make it 5-4 for Senegal. The pressure was now on Algeria.

Ahmed Kendouci visibly felt it and when he missed his chance to equalize, it was tears for the home side while Senegal ran onto the pitch in animated celebrations to celebrate the country’s first ever CHAN title.

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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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Africa U-17 Nations Cup in Algeria under threat as Morocco appeal CAF’s inaction against Algeria’s hostility

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More troubles brew in CAF as the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) is set to appeal the CAF decision on the Algeria’s prevention of Morocco from defending their African Nations Championship title  in Algeria last month.

Last Saturday, CAF’s Disciplinary Committee absolved Morocco of any blame for their inability to feature in the tournament that is designed for home-based players and dismised Algeria’s claim for damages, but was silent on possible sanction on Algeria.

A retaliatory action is now being feared as Morocco could boycott the U17 Africa Cup of Nations which Algeria will host next month.

According to Morocco World News, the kingdom has  announced its decision to appeal the inaction from CAF against Algeria’s hostile acts during the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

President of the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, announced the news, stressing Morocco’s dissatisfaction with CAF’s decision.

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CAF in its statement at the weekend stressed that the provisions of “strict liability” could not have been “foreseen and should not apply arising out of the statement made by Zwelivelile Mandela, a grandson of the legendry Nelson Mandela during the opening ceremony of CHAN.”

CAF merely sent a “formal reminder” to theAlgerian Football Federation to be “aware of the provisions of vicarious liability and strict liability that may be applied in the future as a result of any political statements.”

Earlier this year, Algeria deprived Morocco’s team of participating in CHAN by refusing to allow the Atlas Lions to fly directly from Rabat to Constantine.

Algeria’s regime also invited Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, who delivered an anti-Moroccan speech that challenged Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over Western Sahara. At the opening ceremony, Algerian fans were seen chanting anti-Morocco slogans.

In response to CAF’s low-key action against Algeria, Lekjaa stressed that CAF mentioned that Morocco is not responsible for not taking part in the competition. However the official body failed to state who would be held responsible for the team’s non-participation.

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“We are not satisfied with CAF’s decision and we will appeal,” Lekjaa said, describing the anti-Morocco rhetoric as “unreasonable.”

“It is unreasonable that our team is prevented from defending its title and Moroccan fans are insulted with obscene remarks and racist remarks during the opening ceremony and in the presence of senior CAF officials,” he said.

He also condemned hostile remarks made against Morocco, stressing that Zwelivile’s speech “carries hatred and targets us.”

CAF’s Saturday statement acknowledged that the Atlas Lions were deprived of their rights to participate in the competition.

The confederation’s  Disciplinary Committee concluded that FRMF was unable to travel and participate in the CHAN “due to circumstances totally beyond their control, and as such no sanction of whatsoever nature is imposed on the Royal Moroccan Federation.” 

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The board also dismissed the Algerian Football Federation’s claim for damages.

Lekjaa stressed that Morocco’s U17 team is also ready to boycott the next African Cup of Nations (AFCON)) which will take place in April in Algeria, if the Atlas Lions are not allowed to fly directly to the host country. 

“The U17 national team will not participate in the next AFCON if we do not take a direct flight as indicated by CAF regulations,” he concluded.

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Africa U-17 Nations Cup in Algeria under threat as Morocco appeal CAF’s inaction against Algeria’s hostility

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Djahid Zefizaf (Algeria), Fouzi Lekjaa (Morocco) Patrice Motsepe (CAF)

More troubles brew in CAF as the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) is set to appeal the CAF decision on the Algeria’s prevention of Morocco from defending their African Nations Championship title  in Algeria last month.

Last Saturday, CAF’s Disciplinary Committee absolved Morocco of any blame for their inability to feature in the tournament that is designed for home-based players and dismised Algeria’s claim for damages, but was silent on possible sanction on Algeria.

A retaliatory action is now being feared as Morocco could boycott the U17 Africa Cup of Nations which Algeria will host next month.

According to Morocco World News, the kingdom has  announced its decision to appeal the inaction from CAF against Algeria’s hostile acts during the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

President of the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, announced the news, stressing Morocco’s dissatisfaction with CAF’s decision.

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CAF in its statement at the weekend stressed that the provisions of “strict liability” could not have been “foreseen and should not apply arising out of the statement made by Zwelivelile Mandela, a grandson of the legendry Nelson Mandela during the opening ceremony of CHAN.”

CAF merely sent a “formal reminder” to theAlgerian Football Federation to be “aware of the provisions of vicarious liability and strict liability that may be applied in the future as a result of any political statements.”

Earlier this year, Algeria deprived Morocco’s team of participating in CHAN by refusing to allow the Atlas Lions to fly directly from Rabat to Constantine.

Algeria’s regime also invited Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, who delivered an anti-Moroccan speech that challenged Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over Western Sahara. At the opening ceremony, Algerian fans were seen chanting anti-Morocco slogans.

In response to CAF’s low-key action against Algeria, Lekjaa stressed that CAF mentioned that Morocco is not responsible for not taking part in the competition. However the official body failed to state who would be held responsible for the team’s non-participation.

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“We are not satisfied with CAF’s decision and we will appeal,” Lekjaa said, describing the anti-Morocco rhetoric as “unreasonable.”

“It is unreasonable that our team is prevented from defending its title and Moroccan fans are insulted with obscene remarks and racist remarks during the opening ceremony and in the presence of senior CAF officials,” he said.

He also condemned hostile remarks made against Morocco, stressing that Zwelivile’s speech “carries hatred and targets us.”

CAF’s Saturday statement acknowledged that the Atlas Lions were deprived of their rights to participate in the competition.

The confederation’s  Disciplinary Committee concluded that FRMF was unable to travel and participate in the CHAN “due to circumstances totally beyond their control, and as such no sanction of whatsoever nature is imposed on the Royal Moroccan Federation.” 

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The board also dismissed the Algerian Football Federation’s claim for damages.

Lekjaa stressed that Morocco’s U17 team is also ready to boycott the next African Cup of Nations (AFCON)) which will take place in April in Algeria, if the Atlas Lions are not allowed to fly directly to the host country. 

“The U17 national team will not participate in the next AFCON if we do not take a direct flight as indicated by CAF regulations,” he concluded.

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Algeria carries the blames for Morocco’s absence at CHAN, CAF rules

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The Royal Moroccan Federation have been cleared of any blame by the CAF Disciplinary Board following the federation’s inability to send its home-based national team to Algeria at the African Nations Championship which ended last month.

According to a press release by CAF, ‘the Royal Moroccan Federation was unable to travel and participate in the CHAN due to circumstances totally beyond their control, and as such no sanction of whatsoever nature is imposed on the Royal Moroccan Federation.’ 

The Disciplinary Committee remarked that it based its findings on deliberations and examination of evidence including a number of correspondences between Algeria, Morocco and CAF.

“In view of the aforementioned finding, the Disciplinary Board dismissed the Algerian Football Federation’s claim for damages.”, the report concluded.

In a related issue in which a grandson of the late Nelson Mandela, Zwelivelile Mandela, made volatile political statements against Morocco at the opening ceremony of the tournament, the Disciplinary Committee decided not to sanction Algeria.  

The Disciplinary Board considered that it should not find vicarious liability on Algeria Football Federation, and that the provisions of strict liability could not have been foreseen and should not apply arising out of the statement made by Zwelivelile Mandela during the opening ceremony of CHAN. 

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However, the Disciplinary Board issued a formal reminder to all National Associations inclusive of that of Algeria, to be aware that the provisions of vicarious liability and strict liability may in future be applied as a result of any political or other statements issued at a formal CAF competition or event which may be made by a third party.

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