Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Liverpool duo, Aubameyang are CAF Player of the Year finalists

Leave a comment

Mohamed Salah‘s bid to become the third player to win consecutive African Player of the Year awards faces some stiff competition.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines, Wk 21 ]

Salah (Egypt) is joined by Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) as finalists for the confederation’s award, set to be handed out Jan. 8 in Senegal.

The Egyptian won in 2018 — his first year as a finalist — edging second place Mane and third place Aubameyang last year. Aubameyang won the award in 2015, and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez claimed the honors in 2016.

Salah will be the heavy favorite despite Aubameyang’s outstanding year, if only because he was the lone member of the three to appear in the 2018 World Cup.

Still injured from a Sergio Ramos challenge in the UEFA Champions League Final, Salah scored both of the Pharoahs goals as Egypt failed to claim a point in a group with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay.

Salah already won the BBC’s award. Surprisingly, Aubameyang was left off the BBC’s five-man shortlist, which instead chose Kalidou Koulibaly, Mehdi Benatia, and Thomas Partey. That’s trying a bit too hard, in this man’s view. Alex Iwobi and Wilfred Ndidi were also denied by the CAF.

El Hadji Diouf, Samuel Eto'o, and Yaya Toure were the others to win back-to-back African POTY honors.

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

Twitter/@channelstv
Leave a comment

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

Stadium stampede kills at least one during AFCON qualifying

Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A mad rush to get into a stadium in Madagascar has led to death of at least one spectator and injuries to over 30 more.

[ MORE: USMNT loss to Brazil still shows hope for future ]

The Stade de Mahamasina uses only one entrance. That’s a fatal flaw that should’ve been remedied long ago, and the stadium also saw two fans die and many more injured during a 2005 stampede to get into an already packed building.

The Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match went ahead as scheduled between Senegal and Madagascar. From the BBC:

Thousands of spectators were still trying to get into the stadium through the only entrance.

Two of those hurt are in a critical condition in the capital, Antananarivo.

Unfortunately, as the BBC notes, stadium stampedes are not a rarity.

The match finished 2-2, with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Stoke City’s Mame Diouf scoring for Senegal.

Report: Kouyate has medical ahead of Palace switch

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Crystal Palace can count on continued improvement if it keeps adding pieces like this.

The Eagles have had a slow start to the transfer season, adding goalkeeper Vicente Guaita in an offseason which saw Damien Delaney and Yohan Cabaye leave Selhurst Park.

[ MORE: Chattanooga announces as USL D-III franchise ]

Most important, though, is that Palace have so far resisted all offers for Wilfried Zaha, and are said to be on the verge of two significant signings.

As noted in our rumor roundup, Multiple reports say that Max Meyer will join on a free transfer from Schalke.

And Sky Sports says West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate will join Meyer and Luka Milivojevic in Palace’s midfield should the Senegalese midfielder pass a medical.

Kouyate, 28, also deputized at center back last season, and has made 147 appearances for West Ham since 2014. Kouyate has 15 goals and 10 assists with West Ham, and also 51 caps for Senegal.

Palace is good money to improve their standing this season, especially if Zaha can stay healthy (The Eagles lost every match he missed last season).

FIFA to review fair-play tiebreaker, but unlikely to change

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
2 Comments

MOSCOW (AP) — FIFA plans to review a rule that resulted in Senegal being eliminated from the World Cup because it had more yellow cards than Japan, but is unlikely to remove the measure.

[ MORE: 2018 World Cup Best XI (so far) ]

“We will review after this World Cup, we will see what the feedback and the situation is,” FIFA’s competition director Colin Smith said Friday, “but as it currently stands we don’t see any need to change.”

The rule, in use for the first time at the World Cup, caused a stir when the last games in Group H were being played simultaneously and it became obvious it would be needed as a tiebreaker between two teams finishing equal in every other way.

Japan barely attacked in the end of its 1-0 loss to Poland — preferring instead to take a safety first approach against a team that was already out of contention — because it was due to qualify on its disciplinary record ahead of Senegal. At the time, Senegal was losing 1-0 to Colombia, which jumped from third spot to top of the group.

Previously the situation would have been resolved with the drawing of lots, which would have meant that during the game, no team would have been assured of going through in the same circumstances.

[ MORE: Predicting the round of 16 ]

“What we want to avoid is the drawing of lots. We believe that teams should go forward on their performance and what happens on the pitch, not in a draw bowl,” Smith said. “The preference is that slots and teams advancing is on the basis of goals and results and there’s clear winners.” He said the ‘fair play’ rule was clear to all teams.

Smith added that FIFA had no complaint about England’s 1-0 loss to Belgium on Thursday, which was widely likened to a friendly game because of the combined 17 changes to the starting lineups and perceived lack of attacking intent. Both teams had already qualified for the knockout stages, and the losing team could face lower-ranked opponents in subsequent rounds.

“Fans who have paid money” deserve to see competitive games, Smith said, but he added that he Adnan Januzaj’s curling shot for Belgium’s goal showed the game was indeed competitive.

“If Belgium didn’t want to win, they obviously forgot to tell the goalscorer,” Smith said, “Because it was a cracker.”