2019 African Cup of Nations

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Report: Nigeria, Bordeaux striker Kalu collapses in training

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According to multiple reports out of Alexandria, 21-year-old Nigeria international Samuel Kalu collapsed while taking a corner during training and has been transported to a local hospital.

Initial reports were that Kalu had suffered a heart attack, but according to Nigeria press officer Ademola Olajire, the Bordeaux striker was struggling from dehydration and was in stable condition upon arriving at the hospital. In fact, reports now suggest that Kalu remains in contention to start in Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations opener against Burundi on Saturday.

The high in Alexandria today was 84 degrees and it was quite humid, likely pushing Kalu to his illness.

The youngster was an important squad player for Bordeaux last season, racking up over 1,200 league minutes across 21 appearances, scoring three goals and assisting three more. He joined the French side last summer from Belgian club KAA Gent where he had spent the previous year, with the transfer costing a reported $9.6 million.

Kalu has already collected six international caps, including a full 90 minutes in their latest friendly, a 1-0 loss to Senegal five days ago. Kalu has two goals and an assist in his short international career. He is battling attackers such as Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo, Samuel Chukwueze, Henry Onyekuru and Moses Simon for playing time in the national team, as Nigeria is stacked with young talent.

Kalu has had a trying last few months after his mother was kidnapped back in March in his home nation, although she was released unharmed according to police.

Field set for African Cup of Nations as last five teams qualify

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South Africa became the last team to qualify for the African Cup of Nations as it ended Libya’s hopes with a 2-1 win in Tunisia.

Bafana Bafana took the 24th spot at an expanded African Cup in Egypt in June and July, the first time the continental championship will be increased from 16 to 24 teams.

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South Africa was one of five teams to leave it to Sunday, the last day of qualifying, to book its place. Benin, Zimbabwe, Congo and Tanzania also made it to complete the 2019 African Cup lineup.

Striker Percy Tau was South Africa’s hero with both goals as the game against Libya came alive in a dramatic 20-minute spell after halftime.

Tau put South Africa ahead in the 49th minute with a powerful left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area. Ahmad Benali equalized with a penalty in the 65th after South Africa goalkeeper Darren Keet kicked a Libyan player in the face as he went up to catch the ball.

Tau re-established South Africa’s lead just three minutes later with a right-footed goal this time.

South Africa needed just a draw to qualify. Libya had to win.

Egypt in surprise bid to be new African Cup host

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CAIRO (AP) The Egyptian Football Association says it has submitted a bid to replace Cameroon as next year’s African Cup of Nations host, a surprise pitch by the North African country which wasn’t initially thought of as a contender.

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Egypt’s bid, announced Thursday to meet Friday’s deadline, came after Morocco said this week it wouldn’t put itself forward as a candidate. Morocco had been considered the front-runner after being a candidate to host the 2026 World Cup. It lost out in that race to a joint United States-Mexico-Canada bid.

The Confederation of African Football has given countries until the end of Friday to submit bids for the 2019 African Cup, which was taken away from Cameroon last month because of poor preparations and a violent insurgency in parts of that country. CAF wants a new host in place by Dec. 31, with the tournament in June and July looming.

South Africa is another possible stand-in host, but the South African Football Association hasn’t confirmed it will bid and says it needs government approval before any decision.

Report: 1 dead, 37 hurt in crush at Madagascar-Senegal game

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ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) French radio service RFI is reporting at least one person has died and 37 have been injured in a crush before an African Cup of Nations qualifying soccer game in Madagascar involving Sadio Mane‘s Senegal team.

RFI says a stampede happened before kickoff at the Mahamasina Municipal Stadium on Sunday.

Television pictures showed packed stands at the stadium, which has a capacity of around 22,000. Reports say thousands began queuing hours before kickoff in an attempt to get a ticket to watch Mane and Senegal’s other stars. It’s unclear if the crush happened inside or outside the stadium.

The Madagascar vs. Senegal qualifier went ahead and ended in a 2-2 draw.

RFI quoted a local hospital as saying one person was dead and 37 injured. The Madagascar ministry of sport also listed 37 injured on its Facebook page.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Kenya loses hosting rights to 2018 African Nations Championship

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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Kenya has been stripped of the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship.

The Confederation of Africa Football cited “accumulated delays” in Kenya’s preparations for the tournament, which is the continental championship for players playing in their home leagues.

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CAF made the decision to take the tournament away from Kenya at an executive committee meeting in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday and opened the bidding process for a new host on Sunday. CAF says applications must be received by next Sunday and the new host will be announced in just over two weeks.

The African Nations Championship is scheduled to be played from Jan. 12-Feb. 4.

Kenya’s preparations for the 16-team tournament were already troubled before August when its presidential elections were nullified and a re-vote was ordered. That re-vote is scheduled for next month, and the political instability has meant preparations for the soccer tournament have been undermined.

CAF also says it is opening a tender process to recruit an audit firm to examine Cameroon’s preparations for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, Africa’s top soccer event.

Like Kenya, Cameroon’s readiness to host the Cup of Nations has been under scrutiny. CAF says it needs to examine the state of Cameroon’s “infrastructure to host the tournament,” with the 2019 Cup of Nations the first to be expanded from 16 to 24 teams.