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U-17 AFCON

Algerian starlet, Moslem Anatouf adopts  Osimhen as role model

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After delivering a man of the match performance with a two-goal return against Somalia in the opening match of the U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Saturday,

The skipper scored both goals in Algeria’s win and was selected player of the game, having dazzled and showed numerous flashes of his brilliance.

The forward, who turns 17 in May, spoke exclusively to CAFOnline.com on his ambitions for the tournament and what his team hopes to achieve.

He spoke of the admiration he has for Nigerian goal poacher Victor Osimhen, whose star also started shining at the U17 tournament in 2015.

How have the preparations been for the tournament?

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This is a team that has been in the works for the last three years. Our preparations started way back but heading into the tournament, we intensified over the last few weeks and we played some friendly matches to ensure we are ready.

The friendly matches helped us to study our areas of strength and weakness and we feel we are ready to compete now.

The Algerian team won the U17 Arab Cup last year. Does that give you the hunger for the African title?

The Arab Cup was one of our avenues for preparation of the U17 AFCON which has been our main target. We want to perform well and obtain a ticket for the World Cup. Winning the Arab Cup definitely motivated us and now our goal is to become African champions.

What are your personal ambitions during the competition?

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My primary ambition is to help my country win the title and that means I give my best whenever I am handed an opportunity to play, by scoring goals.

The U17 AFCON is always an opportunity for young players to demonstrate their abilities. Does this tournament inspire you to look forward to making a big transfer?

This is true, and I personally have been very familiar with the story of the Nigerian international, Victor Osimhen. His story is motivating for young players and this competition is a great platform for players to shine and give themselves a chance to be scouted, especially since there are several clubs following the matches.

You have mentioned the story of Nigeria’s Osimhen, do you want to replicate his path?

Absolutely yes. He is a player who has set an example for me in my career and I am determined to go all the way just as he did.

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Who is your global role model?

My global role model is Kylian Mbappe. He is a player I aspire to be like.

You starred during the 2022 Arab Cup with Algeria, have you received offers to turn professional?

I haven’t had any offers to move out and after the Arab Cup, I preferred to still stay at my Academy as I first looked to be stable especially because the interval between the Arab Cup and the AFCON was short. I preferred to remain there and concentrate on this first.

From which teams do you expect competition in this tournament?

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This competition will involve 12 teams, all of whom are candidates to win the title. There are strong teams like Mali, Burkina Faso, Morocco and Senegal. Everyone has shown that they have the class and capability and it will be a close tournament to call.

What would be your special message to the home fans ahead of kick off?

I would like to ask the Algerian public to come out in large numbers to the stadium and support us because their presence is a motivation for us and always remains special. This support will provide us the strength we need in the field and it will make a big difference.

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.

U-17 AFCON

Bitter-sweet for Golden Eaglets, wins WAFU 3rd place but miss U17 AFCON

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NFF Searches For New Coach For Golden Eaglets -

The Confederation of African Football has clarified that next year’s Africa U17 Cup of Nations will still have 12 finalists in attendance, as against the minimum of 16 teams being projected by African football enthusiasts.

This means that despite defeating host nation Ghana in Tuesday’s third-place match of the WAFU B U17 Championship, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria have not qualified for the finals.

“The final tournament will still have 12 teams,” CAF’s Director of Competitions, Samson Adamu, told thenff.com.

Expectations had been high among African football aficionados that the 2025 Africa U17 Cup of Nations would be expanded, following FIFA’s allocation, at its Congress in Bangkok, penultimate week, of 10 slots to the continent for the 2025 FIFA U17 World Cup that Qatar has been designated to host.

Qatar will host five consecutive FIFA U17 World Cup finals beginning next year, each having 48 teams in attendance.

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U-17 AFCON

Morocco honour U17 team at sumptuous Mohammed VI Football Complex

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The Moroccan team was honoured with a warm reception at the luxurious Cinema hall of the Mohammed V! Football Complex after arriving back home from Algeria, where they finished second at the  U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The team, led by their coach Said Chiba were hosted to a reception at the Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca, hosted by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation boss Fouzi Lekjaa

Morocco had a historic run in Algeria, qualifying to the final for the first time ever, but fell at the final hurdle with defeat to Senegal in last Friday’s final in Algiers.

A message from the Moroccan King was also delivered to the players, praising them for their exceptional performance as well as qualification for the World Cup.

“It is with great joy that We extend to you Our warmest congratulations for the exceptional feat you have achieved by reaching the final of the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations and ensuring your well-deserved qualification for the 2023 World Cup,” the message said.

The King further added; “These performances honor this country’s football. I am proud of the remarkable maturity and discipline, the fine performance, the great competitive spirit and the high well-established behavior of the team.”

Meanwhile, Lekjaa was delighted that investments made over the years for the development of football in the country are finally starting to bear fruit.

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At the same time, head coach Chiba was delighted with the support the team received while in Algeria, saying it gave them the motivation to battle for their dreams.

He says the results in Algeria were as a result of teamwork, discipline and hard work, tenets he says were a pillar for their success. Chiba now says the team needs to build on these performances for future assignments, including the World Cup.

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U-17 AFCON

Five over Five as Senegal sweep all Africa football titles

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* Africa Cup of Nations 2021 – won on 6 February 2022 in Cameroon

*African Beach Soccer 2022 – won in Mozambique on 21 October 2022

*African Nations Championship – won in Algeria on 4 February 2023 in Algeria

*African U-20  Cup Nations – won in Egypt on 11 March 2023

*African U-17  Cup of Nations – won in Algeria on 19 May 2023

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All the five national teams’ football titles have been won by Senegal. Apart from the Beach Soccer titles which have always been won by Senegal, their victories in the other four competitions were the first.

 This is unprecedented in the continent. The fifth title, was attained Friday night when Mamadou Sawane headed home the winning goal seven minutes from time as Senegal scored twice in four minutes to come from a goal down and beat Morocco 2-1 to clinch their first ever  U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in a dramatic finale at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.

Skipper Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal had given Morocco a 14th minute lead, one they kept until the 79th minute when Serigne Falou Diouf scored a VAR awarded penalty.

Sawane towered the entire defense to head home four minutes later, completing the hard-earned turnaround for the Teranga Cubs.

Senegal has now won a third consecutive continental title within four months, their team of local based players having won the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) title in February at the same venue of their conquest on Friday, while they also won the U20 AFCON title in Egypt in March.

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Their senior national team began the continental dominance last February when they clinched the AFCON 2021 crown then continuing with an AFCON Beach Soccer title later in the year.

Heading into the Friday night’s duel, both teams were in unfamiliar territory, playing their first ever final, but it was Morocco who would go ahead first.

Skipper Ait Boudlal peeled away from his markers before beating the keeper to the ball to head home from an Abdel Hamid Maali corner.

It was a nerve calming goal for Said Chiba’s boys, as just 10 minutes before, the Senegalese had come close with skipper Amara Diouf having a freekick fly inches wide off target.

The game went into a full contest, with both sides battling for possession, but clear-cut chances at goal diminishing.

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In the second half, Senegal started faster off the blocks, Mamadou Sadio shooting just over with only 45 seconds gone on the clock. On the other end, Morocco had a chance when Maali struck a shot from the edge of the box, but it flew wide.

Senegal’s turnaround came in the 76th minute when Moroccan skipper Ait Boudlal was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box. After visiting the pitch-side monitor, the referee awarded the penalty and Serigne tucked it home.

The goal inspired the Senegalese and they piled pressure on Morocco in the final 10 minutes of the game. Just four minutes later they had their reward when substitute Sawane stormed in to the edge of the six yard box to head home what would be the winner from a corner.

The goal punctured the entire Moroccan side, and even senior national team coach Walid Regragui who had flown in for the final, was dismayed, standing in anguish at his sitting spot in the VIP dias.

Senegal managed to see off the remaining minutes, plus six of added time, to win the title for the first time ever.

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