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Afcon 2021: Mo Salah to face Sadio Mane in finals after Egypt brushed aside Cameroon on penaties

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Cameroon 0-0 Egypt (1-3 penalties): The Pharaohs triumphed in a shootout once again to reach the AFCON final, where they will face Senegal

Mohamed Salah will go up against his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations after Egypt overcame the challenge posed by Cameroon in their last-four clash on Thursday evening.

The Pharaohs will face Senegal for the coveted trophy on Sunday in a match that will see two of the Premier League’s best wingers go head-to-head for continental glory.

Mane booked his place in the final by chipping in with a goal and an assist as Senegal beat Burkina Faso in their semi-final clash on Wednesday.

It remains to be seen whether he will come out on top against Salah and Egypt, who needed extra time and penalties to snatch a remarkable victory against the tournament hosts in Yaounde.

Salah struggled to get into the game throughout the first half as Cameroon stamped their authority on the contest from the first whistle.

The hosts started well and began to ask questions of Egypt’s defence in the early stages of the match, with the Indomitable Lions feeding off the raucous atmosphere created by home crowd

They went close after just 17 minutes when Vincent Aboubakar struck the woodwork with a headed effort from close range.

Michael Ngadeu and Toko Ekambi missed further chances to hand their side an early lead just moments later, with Cameroon unable to break the deadlock before the interval.

Egypt were forced into mounting their attacks on the break in order to stand any chance of shifting the momentum in their favour as the second half progressed.

However, they often found themselves unable to stay on the ball for long enough, leaving Salah isolated in his role as the Egypt’s main attacking outlet.

The Liverpool ace registered his first shot on target shortly before the hour mark but was unable to cause any problems for Andre Onana between the sticks with a trickled effort from the edge of the area.

He was later denied once again by the Cameroon stopper as he bore down on goal after he was gifted possession on the edge of the area.

Tempers flared in the closing stages of regular time as Egypt manager Carlos Queiroz received a second yellow for bellowing at the officials over an alleged punch on Ramadan Sobhi and was sent off from the technical area, where he was soon joined by his assistant.

Queiroz was far more animated than many of the players on the pitch during the closing seconds, with both sides short of intent and movement as an energy-sapping 90 minutes ended all square.

Clear-cut chances remained few and far between during the 30 minutes added on but Egypt had a fantastic chance to win it at the death only for Sobhi’s driven cross to miss all the white shirts waiting in the area.

The match went to penalties and the Pharaohs built on their experience from earlier in the tournament when they beat Ivory Coast via a shootout to progress.

The Indomitable Lions Cameroon were the architect of their own downfall from 12 yards and Njie’s blase effort which missed by a huge distance summed up their dismal performance from the spot.

The hosts will have the chance to restore some pride in the third-place play-off game against Burkina Faso on Sunday, before Egypt take on Senegal in the all-important final.

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Minister Tasks Team Nigeria To Use African Championship As Rehearsal

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Minister of sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh
Minister of sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh
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The minister of sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, has admonished Nigerian athletes to treat the upcoming African Championship in Cameroon as a perfect rehearsal for the Olympic Games in Paris.

Senator Enoh in a statement by his S A media, Diana Nsan stated following the Athletics Federation of Nigeria’s (AFN) announcement of a formidable list of 40 athletes that will represent the country at the African Championships in Douala.

Among notable names are Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, and Chidi Okezie, some of Nigeria’s biggest stars heading to the competition.

The Minister emphasized the importance of this championship as a precursor to the Olympics, highlighting its role in preparing athletes for podium success at the world’s biggest sporting event in Paris.

“The African Athletics Championship should serve as a dress rehearsal for the Olympics,” Senator Enoh stated. “I charge all our flag bearers to represent the green and white flag with pride and aim to bring back the first position trophy at the end of the tournament.”

He also advised the athletes to be cautious about their diet and hydration, noting the significance of this Olympic year and the heightened scrutiny they will face.

“Knowing fully well the remarkable achievements you had in Ghana, I believe you can replicate and even surpass those feats. You have done it at the African Games, and you can do it again.”

Senator Enoh’s call to action is a motivational boost for the athletes as they prepare for the African Championships, with the eyes of the nation and the world upon them. The dedication and hard work of these athletes continue to inspire hope and pride among Nigerians.

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Spain Beat England 1-0 To Win First Women’s World Cup

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Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in their history with skipper Olga Carmona sweeping in the only goal for a deserved 1-0 victory over England in Sunday’s final.

In front of a crowd of nearly 76,000 at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Spain were the more accomplished side and had more chances, including missing a second-half penalty.

Spain’s triumph is vindication for Jorge Vilda and the Spanish football federation, who stuck with the coach even after 15 players last year said they no longer wanted to represent their country under him.

England coach Sarina Wiegman, who has now suffered back-to-back defeats in the final, and her European champions can have few complaints.

Spain are the fifth team to lift the World Cup since the tournament began in 1991, joining outgoing champions the United States, Germany, Norway and Japan.

In front of Spain’s Queen Letizia, defender Carmona scored what turned out to be the winner, rampaging from left-back to thrash the ball in low and hard on 29 minutes.

Wiegman had resisted the temptation to recall Chelsea attacker Lauren James after her two-match ban and kept faith with the team that beat co-hosts Australia 3-1 in the semi-finals.

Playing in their blue second kit, England had the first sniff of a chance in the fifth minute but Lauren Hemp shot weakly at goalkeeper Cata Coll.

There was little to choose between them in the opening exchanges before both teams had golden opportunities on the quarter-hour mark.

First, Manchester City forward Hemp struck the bar with a curler that had Coll well beaten.

Spain went up the other end and should have scored but Salma Paralluelo — in for Alexia Putellas — missed the ball in the six-yard box.

Then Alba Redondo hit a first-time strike straight at goalkeeper Mary Earps with the England goal gaping.

Hemp then had another tame effort saved, before the game was momentarily held up in the 24th minute when a spectator darted on to the pitch before being wrestled away by security.

Five minutes later Spain, who had never won a knockout game at the Women’s World Cup until this tournament and had lost 4-0 to Japan in the group phase, were ahead.

Spain’s forward #08 Mariona Caldentey (2L) and Spain’s midfielder #03 Teresa Abelleira (L) celebrate after Spain scored their first goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup final football match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 20, 2023. (Photo by Izhar KHAN / AFP)

Mariona Caldentey slid in an inch-perfect pass for Carmona, who came flying unmarked down the left before lashing the ball into the bottom corner.

Vilda, who recalled three of the 15 mutineers for the World Cup, did not even raise a smile on the sidelines.

England looked uncharacteristically rattled and the 19-year-old Barcelona attacker Paralluelo, who was a constant threat, shaved the post with the last kick of the half.

Wiegman, who suffered agony in the final four years ago when her Netherlands team lost 2-0 to the United States, made a double change at the break.

James and Chloe Kelly replaced Rachel Daly and Alessia Russo as Wiegman switched from a back-five to a flat back-four.

But it was Spain who nearly doubled their lead almost straight after half-time, Caldentey dinking inside and forcing Earps to turn the ball around the post.

Hemp was booked for clipping Laia Codina as England’s frustration mounted.

Midfield schemer Aitana Bonmati, who has been one of the players of the tournament and was one of the three refuseniks recalled by Vilda, fired narrowly over Earps’s bar.

With 20 minutes left, Spain were awarded a penalty when VAR was called into action and, after a long review, Keira Walsh was judged to have handled the ball in the box.

Jennifer Hermoso stepped up but her penalty was weak and Earps saved comfortably to keep England just about alive.

Officials indicated 13 minutes of injury time at the end, but if anything, it was Spain who looked the more likely to score as England’s dreams of a first World Cup melted away.

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Spain Beat Sweden, Reach First Women’s World Cup Final

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Olga Carmona’s stunning late strike gave Spain a 2-1 win over Sweden on Tuesday to propel them into the Women’s World Cup final for the first time in their history.

Spain’s thrilling victory at Eden Park sets up a showdown in Sydney on Sunday with either Australia or England, who meet in the other semi-final on Wednesday.

The semi-final in Auckland seemed to be drifting towards extra time before suddenly bursting to life when substitute Salma Paralluelo put Spain ahead with nine minutes left.

Rebecka Blomqvist equalised for Sweden in the 88th minute only for full-back Carmona, Spain’s captain, to score with a superb shot in off the underside of the crossbar from the edge of the box.

It has been a remarkable run for a nation who had never previously gone beyond the last 16 at a Women’s World Cup, and for a team who had been in disarray in the months leading up to the tournament.

Fifteen Spanish players told their federation last September that they no longer wished to be considered for selection, principally out of unhappiness with coach Jorge Vilda, and only three of them returned for this World Cup run.

While their dream of World Cup glory remains alive, Sweden are left with a familiar feeling after going so far at another major tournament before falling short.

This is the third time in four World Cups in which they have reached the semi-finals, only to lose on each occasion.

Peter Gerhardsson’s side also lost in the last four at the European Championship last year, having been beaten in the final of the Tokyo Olympics on penalties against Canada in 2021.

Vilda decided against handing a start to Paralluelo, after she came off the bench to score the winner in the quarter-final against the Netherlands.

Instead, he recalled Alexia Putellas and the reigning Ballon d’Or winner started for the first time since Spain were walloped 4-0 by Japan in the group phase.

The plan was clearly to dominate possession and make a more physically imposing Sweden do the chasing.

Spain had far more of the ball in the first half yet neither Putellas nor Aitana Bonmati were allowed the time and space to really influence the game.

The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was from long range, when Jennifer Hermoso laid the ball back to Carmona, whose shot whistled wide.

Sweden had taken the game to Japan in an impressive 2-1 win in the quarter-finals but they offered next to nothing here until suddenly they almost struck three minutes before half-time.

Nathalie Bjorn sent a hanging cross from the right to the back post for Fridolina Rolfo –- facing seven of her Barcelona club colleagues in the Spain starting line-up -– but her side-foot volley was saved by Cata Coll.

Vilda’s plan was clearly to save the pacy Paralluelo for when the Swedish defence was beginning to tire, and it was just before the hour mark that he turned to the former athlete.

Paralluelo took the place of Putellas, who has still not completed 90 minutes at this World Cup as she continues to recover from full fitness following a serious knee injury.

The substitute’s persistence almost brought the opener for Spain with 20 minutes left as she stretched to keep the ball in play following a cross by Hermoso, but Alba Redondo turned her cutback wide.

Paralluelo then struck with nine minutes of normal time remaining, showing a killer instinct to lash a shot low into the corner.

But Sweden did not give up, drawing level in the 88th minute thanks to two substitutes of their own.

Lina Hurtig had only just come on when she nodded down a cross for Blomqvist to fire home, raising the spectre of extra time once again.

But Carmona, the Real Madrid left-back, had other ideas as she clinched victory for Spain in style.

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