Reports: Hundreds of Ghanaian fans seeking asylum in Brazil

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Conflict in West Africa has already generated unfortunate headlines during the World Cup. Now the often untold strife occurring in places like Ghana and Nigeria is having an impact on the ground in Brazil.

According to reports from Ghanaian website All Sports, about 200 Ghanaian soccer fans who attended this summer’s World Cup are seeking asylum in Brazil. Having initially drawn attention when they didn’t return on a charter flight after the Black Stars group stage elimination, the fans are have trickled into federal offices in the Brazilian city of Caxias do Sul over the last seven days.

According to the city’s head of police, the “the Ghanaians said they were Muslims who were ‘fleeing the violent conflicts between different Muslim groups.'”

From All Sports:

Sao Paulo seems to be the preferred destination of the asylum seeking destination with da Silva Melo confirming that about 150 of the asylum seekers had already left for the largest city in the country where employment is easy to find …

Vanessa Perini Moojen of the Roman Catholic Church’s Migrant Support Center said the asylum-seekers “faced life-threatening situations back home.” She would not elaborate …

Allsports.com.gh earlier reported that almost 240 fans failed to return on the chartered flight that was procured for their trips to support the national team during the World Cup.

More, from the BBC:

Another 1,000 Ghanaians are expected to request refugee status once the tournament is over, police said.

The Brazilian authorities believe many of the Ghanaians are looking for the right to work legally in the country.

“This region – Serra Gaucha – is known as an area of full employment. It has became a magnet for foreign workers,” federal police chief Noerci da Silva Melo said in Caxias do Sul …

Brazilian legislation allows potential refugees to work legally in the country once they have filed for asylum.

The fact that the Ghanaians have entered the country on tourist visas should not be taken into consideration when considering whether to grant them asylum, a Justice Ministry official said.

“Asylum cannot be requested at a Brazilian embassy. The asylum seeker must be in the country to apply,” said Joao Guilherme Granja.

Ghana exited this year’s World Cup with a loss in Brasília to Portugal on June 26. Caxias do Solis is located just over 1200 miles of the capital, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world

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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.

Renard, Morocco ‘very proud’ of unlucky national team

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If you would’ve told Morocco fans or their manager, Herve Renard, that they’d outshoot and outpossess both Iran and Portugal at World Cup, their next question would probably be, “So do we need to do against Spain to win Group B?”

Alas, Morocco lost a pair of 1-0 decisions to become the first team knocked out of the 2018 World Cup.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The Lions of Atlas fell to Iran in their opener on a stoppage time own goal after carrying 64 percent possession and a 13-8 advantage in shot attempts, then lost to a Cristiano Ronaldo fourth minute goal on Wednesday despite a 16-10 shot advantage and 53 percent of the ball.

“I’m very proud of the performance and I am very proud of my players, I’m very proud of this country,” Renard said.

With no hope of advancing to the next round, the manager is finding the experience bittersweet. From RTE:

“What I am sure of at this moment is that the entire Moroccan people is proud of this team. Of course it’s easier to play with a player who has one chance and he puts it away. But we are in Morocco.

“We have quality players. Despite the ups and downs of the game, we should have been more effective. Because, like in the first game, we had plenty of chances. I won’t blame anyone. That’s football. It’s always those who know how to be present in the box, the most gifted players, who make the difference. We took a lot of risks and we didn’t get our reward.”

It’s unlikely Morocco will hold either of those statistical advantages against Spain, especially a Spanish side yet to qualify, but there is plenty to like from the tournament aside from poor finishing quality.

But the performances of 19-year-olds Amine Harit (Schalke) and Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid) — not to mention Hakim Ziyech (25, Ajax) — seem to hint at a promise for 2022. And Renard’s men can still play spoiler for Spain, which is no small shockwave.