Seydou Keita

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Lots will be drawn to determine second place in Group D

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When it comes to the ultra-congested Group D, it wouldn’t have been fitting for the clubs to be separated by an on-field winner.

With all four teams boasting 0W-0L-2D records — all on 1-1 draws — going into the final day of group play, there was the possibility of a four-way tie for first place at the end of Wednesday’s play.

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Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your love for chaos, the Ivory Coast found a winner against Cameroon to make sure there would only be one drawing of lots to see who makes it to the knockout round. That’s because our other match finished dead even.

Here’s the scoop.

Guinea 1-1 Mali

Seydou Keita will be the man sweating the lot drawing just a bit more than the rest of the bunch, as his missed penalty may’ve cost Mali a spot in the Round of 16.

Modibo Maiga bailed him out after halftime in terms of getting to the lots, heading home a cross from Abdoulay Diaby in the 47th minute to level out Kevin Constant’s 15th minute penalty for Guinea.

The lots will be drawn at 10am ET on Thursday. Winner gets Ghana on Feb. 1.

Cameroon 0-1 Ivory Coast

That means the only match that didn’t finish 1-1 in Group D play came at the expense of Cameroon, which had new Montreal Impact man Ambroise Oyongo as an unused substitute.

Cameroon had a 61-39 advantage in possession and a 10-7 edge in shot attempts, but that matters not since Saint-Etienne’s Max Gradel hammered home a shot from 20 yards to push Ivory Coast into a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute that it would not relinquish.

It’s a worthwhile watch:

Video: Pepe spits on Keita; Latter claims past racial slur

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Alternate title: Pepe’s among the worst.

Now that the 31-year-old defender is done sabotaging his country’s chances to emerge from Group G at the World Cup, Pepe has gone back to his more simple pursuit: ruining a tremendously-talented career by being a terrible person.

Given a red card in Portugal’s World Cup opener for head butting Thomas Mueller, Pepe now allegedly spit on AS Roma midfielder Seydou Keita at Monday’s friendly between the clubs in Texas.

Keita has claimed he was the victim of a Pepe racial slur back in 2011, and this will do little to smooth things over.

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To clear things up, here’s what you are about to see in the following non-English language video:

1) Keita refuses to shake Pepe’s hand

2) Pepe walks by Keita and makes a spitting motion at him

3) Keita throws a water bottle at Pepe

Here are the comments from Keita after the incident (From MARCA):

“Back when I played for Barça he called me a macaque, i.e. a monkey. From that moment onwards, I’ve seen him as a good-for-nothing. I haven’t spoken about it in public before because it wasn’t worth it, but that’s why I didn’t want to shake his hand.”

Keita added that he had informed his teammate Mehdi Benatia of his intentions.

“It’s unacceptable for someone to spit at me. I really don’t see why I should have to shake his hand, since in his eyes I’m not a human being,” the veteran railed.

“I have no interest in discussing things with a person who doesn’t consider me a human being. The way he behaves is out of order. Instead of coming over and asking me why I didn’t shake his hand, he chose to spit at me,” insisted the former Camp Nou favourite.

There has been yet to be a comment from Pepe. Even without the video, Yahoo’s Brooks Peck reported that the fourth official claimed he saw Pepe spit at Keita. Could Pepe find himself suspended?

 

Trio of transfer reports include Swiss back’s Premier League return

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Aston Villa, AS Roma and Newcastle United are in the transfer news Thursday morning.

It’s between Villa and Roma for the higher profile signing. Paul Lambert’s Villans have reportedly brought Swiss World Cup defender Philippe Senderos back to the Premier League after a brief spell for Valencia.

Senderos, 29, left Fulham this year after four years with London club and previously spent 2004-10 at Arsenal with loans to Everton and AC Milan. The 6-foot-3 back will be a welcome addition to Villa, and should be a terrific tandem with Ron Vlaar.

Meanwhile, AS Roma continues to build for its Champions League return with the pick-up of Malian star Seydou Keita. The 34-year-old was also at Valencia last season but is best known for making well over 100 appearances for Barcelona between 2008-12.

And Newcastle is set for its first signing in 18 months with the long-rumored acquisition of former Sunderland player Jack Colback. A Geordie boy, Colback would be suiting up for his boyhood heroes. Colback can play outside back in addition to midfield and reportedly will sign on July 1.

Done Deal: Rest of Europe also provides underwhelming end to January

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Having already finished our look around the disappointing end to the Premier League January transfer window, it’s time to take a look at deals around the rest of Europe.

Spoiler alert – it’s not any better.

While Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, and the like sent Premier League fans to bed wishing for more, the rest of the leagues pretty much did the same.

Here’s a snippet from elsewhere in the biggest European leagues.

ITALY:

The biggest Italian transfer news happened to be one that didn’t come off, as Nani’s potential loan moves to Inter Milan or AC Milan never materialized. Manchester United decided they wished to keep the player, and his hamstring injury is taking longer than expected to heal anyways.

LazioThe top-half hopefuls secured Chelsea striker Gael Kakuta on a loan move. It’s Kakuta’s fifth loan deal since 2011, while he has yet to make an appearance for Chelsea in that span.  With every loan deal it looks less likely that Chelsea will retain the 22-year-old long-term, and Lazio would likely hope to make the deal permanent if he impresses in Italy.

Lazio were also mentioned in rumors for Jonathan Biabiany, but the Parma attacker turned them down.

Inter MilanWhile bringing in Kakuta, Lazio sent Hernanes to Inter. More on the midfielder’s emotional farewell to Rome and switch to Milan is here.

JuventusAttempting to sell Fabio Quagliarella, Juventus brought in out-of-favor Southampton striker Pablo Osvaldo. The Old Lady gave Osvaldo a lifeline after he was dropped by Mauricio Pochettino for punching a teammate at training. The move is a loan, but Osvaldo likely won’t play for Southampton again.

They also ended up keeping Quagliarella, leaving Juventus obese at the striker position.  The Serie A leaders now own Osvaldo and Quagliarella alongside Fernando Llorente, Sebastian Giovinco, Mirko Vucinic, and star Carlos Tevez.  They also shopped Vucinic with no luck.

RomaSao Paolo defender Rafael Toloi moved to the Italian capital on a loan move with an option to buy. The 23-year-old central defender was hardly used in Brazil and will provide cover for Mehdi Benatia and Leandro Castan who continue to pick up cards.

SPAIN:

ValenciaValencia were by far the busiest Spanish club.  Los Che have officially captured 20-year-old Brazilian striker Vinicius Araujo as they attempt to save their top-10 fortunes.  The club bought 50% of his rights, and the other half remaining with his current club Cruziero.

The club also added Fulham defender Philippe Senderos in a move that shocked many.  Senderos struggled to settle in at Fulham, who currently sit in 19th in the Premier League. They also failed to announce him properly, hilariously tweeting a picture of another Fulham defender, Brede Hangeland instead. Finally, they added former Barcelona 34-year-old Seydou Keita as a free agent on a 6-month deal following his release from Chinese club Dalian Aerbin.

Valencia also offloaded Argentinian midfielder Ever Banega to Argentine giants Newell’s Old Boys, amid interest from Boca Juniors.

Atletico MadridAs they continue to battle Barcelona and Real Madrid for the league title, Atletico Madrid brought back midfielder Diego from Wolfsburg on loan until the end of the season.

FRANCE:

MonacoWith Falcao out long-term after tearing his ACL, the club moved for Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov adding the closest human personification of the club.  The dead will last until the end of the season.

GERMANY:

Borussia DortmundIn the fight for second place in the Bundesliga, Jurgen Klopp captured 21-year-old Serb Milos Jojic from Partizan Belgrade on a permanent deal worth around $3 million.

Werder BremenHoping to get into the top half of the table, manager Robin Dutt snagged 29-year-old French midfielder Ludovic Obraniak to “bolster our attack.”

NurnbergCrystal Palace offloaded disappointing talent Jose Campana to FC Nurnberg on a 6-month loan, hoping to get the 20-year-old some playing time outside of their relegation battle. There is also an option for Nurnberg to purchase at the expiration of the loan.

Cup of Nations: Penalty kicks see Mali eliminate hosts South Africa

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Yaya Touré may still be the best player in this tournament, but contrary to what was written in this space at the Cup of Nations’ onset, the second-best player in this competition may not be Ivorian. While Didier Drogba may yet live up to his reputation in the knockout round (and he did have a goal in the final group game), he has not been able to match Malian Seydou Keita, another Europe-based player who made the move to China last summer.

On Saturday, Keita gave his third Man of the Match performance of the tournament, scoring a tying goal in the 58th minute that ultimately allowed his team to take the host nation to penalty kicks. There, three failed conversations from South Africa put Mali into the semifinals, 3-1 on kicks after a 1-1 result.

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The Bafana Bafana came out the stronger side and executed a near-perfect counter in the for Tokelo Rantie’s 31st minute opener. Shortly after half, Keita pulled Mali even after he headed home a Mamadou Samassa cross from just in front of the goal. A practically even final hour played out with Mali havin the better chances. South Africa head coach Gordon Igesund was late to put in players like Lehlohonolo Majoro and Siphiwe Tshabalala – player who could provide a bit of creativity or dynamism.

The shootout started with both teams scoring before South Africans Dean Furman and May Mahlangu failed to convert. Malians Adama Tamboura and Mahamane Traoré gave their side a 3-1 lead going into the fourth round of kicks. Lehlohonolo Majoro went well wide with South Africa’s final kick, seeing the hosts out of the tournament.

Despite the defeat, the effort was one of redemption for a team that can fallen so far since 2010. One of the lowest rated teams in the tournament, South Africa wasn’t expected to challenge any serious contenders, yet in closing  group play with wins over Angola and Morocco, the hosts showed more fight than many had predicted. Their first half of play on Saturday validated their place in the quarterfinals, even if that’s as far as they got.

Mali, in the interim, wait for the winner of tomorrow’s Cote d’Ivoire-Nigeria winner. Should Les Elephants advance, their win would set up a rematch a 2012 semifinal won by the Ivorians, 1-0.