Group E was perhaps the most intriguing of today’s matchups in Africa World Cup qualifying. It was already a busy day on the continent, what with Ethiopia having to stage a comeback to eliminate South Africa’s chances, and Nigeria easily dispensing with ten-man Malawi.
Going into Saturday’s matches, the teams were snuggled nice and close. Sure, Niger was already out of the running. And Gabon would’ve had to pull off a pretty spectacular win over Burkina Faso to overtake Congo at the top. But the point was that it could happen. That’s what these runs to the World Cup are about, right? Hope.
And for once, hope did not disappoint. Burkina Faso, sitting one point back from Congo, needed a victory combined with Niger drawing or beating Congo. Niger, with nothing to play for, still gave it their all. The Ménas took the lead after just 34 minutes and, although Niger came back twice to even the scoreline, managed to hang on for the 2-2 draw.
With that result, Burkina Faso still needed a win — and Gabon didn’t make it very easy on them. But the Stallions scored shortly after the second half started, via a goal from Prejuce Nakoulma. Turned out that one goal was all they needed to record the 1-0 win, put 12 points on the board next to Congo’s 11, and progress through to the next round.
Keep tuning in to CAF qualifying. Later tonight, Tunisia and Cape Verde, separated by two points, meet to determine the winner of Group B. Then Senegal and Uganda face off to see who goes through from Group J.
All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.
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Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.
Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:
“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”
“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”
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On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Western Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”
MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.
There are certainly already some comparisons between new Premier League record holder Jamie Vardy and fictional Santiago Munez from the “Goal!” movies.
But that isn’t going to stop “Goal” screenwriter Adrian Butchart from heading to Tinseltown and pitching the Vardy story as a basis for a new film, according to The Sun.
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And he’s got a who’s who of young actors in mind for the role of Vardy.
From The Sun:
Butchart believes Hollywood A-listers Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and Zac Efron all have potential to fill Vardy’s boots in a film version of his life.
Unfortunately, they don’t ask Butchart who should play Claudio Ranieri, or Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Fortunately, we’re here with our cast (The first one is easy):
Aaron Paul as Vardy.
Robert Downey, Jr. as Van Nistelrooy.
James Franco as Riyad Mahrez.
Tommy Lee Jones as Ranieri.
Ryan Gosling as Kaspar Schmeichel.
Liam Neeson as Nigel Pearson.
And Danny Drinkwater as himself.
The Eastern Conference’s second-stingiest team is looking to enhance its already-strong back line.
Joining MLS Best XI defender Laurent Ciman could be Siaka Tiene, a longtime international teammate of Didier Drogba on the Ivory Coast squad.
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The 96-times capped Tiene will be 34 when next season starts, but will have fresh legs having not played since last season ended for Montpellier.
MLSSoccer.com does the translation work for us:
A report from RDS.ca states that the Impact have signed 33-year-old left back Siaka Tiéné, an Ivory Coast international who boasts World Cup and African Cup of Nations experience.
Aside from Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo is the only Impact back currently under contract.
Tiene played relatively well last season, but was limited to just 17 appearances in Ligue 1.
Phil Neville is one stroke of the pen from opening his full managerial career at a vaunted La Liga stop, with a club in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Nuno Espirito Santo stepped down from his manager’s role at Valencia on Sunday, with the Bats in ninth place, five points outside the Top Four.
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In his place in former Manchester United and Everton legend Neville, who will take charge of the team in the interim.
As weird as it would be to give the job to a man who has only led Salford City — a club he co-owns — on a caretaker basis, the hire would be no weirder than Tim Sherwood being allowed to run Tottenham Hotspur.
Would it be a surprise, given the time of season, if Neville was at least given through the end of the year?
And consider, from the BBC:
The club’s Singaporean owner, Peter Lim, has a stake in Salford City, the non-league club co-owned by Neville with his former Manchester United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.
Valencia needs to beat Lyon in its final UCL Group H game, and hope Gent draws or loses at home to first-place Zenit Saint-Petersburg. Otherwise, it’s on to the Europa League.