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International Football

Egypt 2023: Moroccan official Jayed to take charge of Nigeria, Senegal clash

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Jalal Jayed

The Confederation of African Football has appointed Moroccan Jalal Jayed as referee for Sunday’s Africa U20 Cup of Nations Group A battle between seven-time champions Nigeria and Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium.

Jayed will be assisted by Tunisian Mohamed Bakir (assistant referee 1), Algerian Hamza Bouzit (assistant referee 2) and Ivorian Clement Franklin Kpan, in the match that will kick off at 7pm Egypt time (6pm Nigeria time), three hours after the tournament opening game between hosts Egypt and Mozambique at the same venue.

While Hussein Jenayah from Tunisia will be the match commissioner, Burundian Jean Claude Birumushahu will serve as referee assessor and Imade El Fahouss from Morocco will be general coordinator.

The Flying Eagles had their first official training session in Cairo on Friday at Jewel Hotel training field as the team gets set for the clash with Senegal.  

Nigeria, two-time FIFA World Cup silver-medallists and one-time bronze medallists, will be gunning for an eighth continental title at the finals in Egypt. They play host nation Egypt and Mozambique in other games in Group A.

Only the top four-placed teams at the 12-nation tournament will qualify to represent Africa at this year’s FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Indonesia, 20th May – 11th June.

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Meanwhile, the Flying Eagles trained under the supervision of Coach Ladan Bosso and his technical team for 90 minutes on Friday. The session focused on players’ recovery after the trip from Casablanca to Cairo on Friday.  

Another session is expected to be held on Saturday evening at 8:30pm local time (7:30pm Nigerian time). 

Belgium -based Ahmed Abdullahi has joined the Flying Eagles’ squad in Cairo. The KAA Gent of Belgium forward arrived in Cairo in the early hours of Friday morning. Abdullahi was part of the team that emerged WAFU B U20 Champions in Niger Republic in May last year. 

The nifty forward scored one goal at the regional tournament despite injury ruling him out of the tournament after he suffered head injury during a match with Burkina Faso, and is expected to offer more attacking options upfront to Coach Ladan Bosso.  

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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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International Football

Two Moroccan football players lost at sea, says club official

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Abdellatif Akhrif, IRT player reported missing off the coast of M'diq this Saturday, July 6, 2024. © COPYRIGHT: IRT

Two Moroccan players from top-flight soccer side Ittihad Tanger have been missing at sea since Saturday after strong currents drifted their small yacht, a club official said on Sunday.

They were in a group of five players from the club who went cruising off the northern city of Tangier when strong currents and heavy winds drifted their yacht away as they were swimming in deep waters, club deputy president Anass Mrabet told Reuters.

“Three players have already been rescued on Saturday, while research is still ongoing for the missing Salman Harraq and Abdellatif Akhrif,” he said.

The players did not have buoys on them when they jumped from the small yacht to swim, he said citing recounts by rescued players.

While Akhrif, 24, is already a full member of the squad, Harraq, 18, was about to move up to the senior team this year, Mrabet added.

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Ittihad Tanger have been in the Moroccan top flight since 2015 and won the league title for the first and only time in their history in the 2017-18 season. However, they have struggled in the lower half of the standings in recent years.

-Reuters

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International Football

FIFA launches ‘Football Manager’ World Cup with $100,000 in prize money

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FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development and former soccer manager Arsene Wenger speaks during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

FIFA will host its first ever FIFAe World Cup of Football Manager this year to crown the best virtual manager on the highly-popular video game, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

FIFA is partnering with Sports Interactive, the developers of the game that has sold millions of copies and has also been used by several football clubs to scout players and opponents thanks to its extensive database.

Players will compete for $100,000 in prize money in the final event from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

“This competition requires participants to demonstrate a profound understanding of football strategy and tactics,” said former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is the ambassador for the esports event.

“Success demands not only mastery of game mechanics but also in-depth football knowledge, making this format a fascinating blend.”

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FIFA said in the inaugural year of the event, selected member associations will be invited to be represented at the final event.

Member associations from all six confederations are expected to be invited while players can sign up on FIFA’s website.

-Reuters

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio robbed at gunpoint

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at his home in northern Italy while watching his country’s match against Spain in the Euro 2024 tournament on Thursday, local police said.

Burglars broke into Baggio’s house near Vicenza, hit him on the head with a gun butt and locked him and his family in a room while they stole jewellery, watches and cash, daily Il Corriere della Sera reported. It said he suffered a deep wound.

“Luckily, the violence I suffered only resulted in a few stitches, bruises and a lot of fear. Now it is to overcome the fear,” Baggio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

Baggio, 57, played for clubs including Juventus (JUVE.MI), opens new tab, AC Milan and Inter Milan. He also played 56 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals, and is widely seen as one of his country’s all-time greats.

After the robbery, Baggio, widely known as the “divine ponytail”, was treated at a local hospital where he received stitches for the head wound, Italian media reported.

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Italy lost to Spain 1-0 on Thursday and now must avoid defeat by Croatia to guarantee progression in the tournament.

-Reuters

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