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African Football
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Zimbabwe players threatening to boycott African Cup opener

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Zimbabwe players are threatening to boycott Friday’s opening game of the African Cup of Nations against host Egypt because they haven’t been paid, raising the prospect of another major embarrassment for African soccer at the end of one of its worst weeks.

Players and a team official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation said a meeting with federation officials at the team hotel on Thursday failed to resolve the standoff.

Zimbabwe is due to open Africa’s top tournament against Mohamed Salah and Egypt in Cairo.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

The players refused to train on the eve of the game and spent most of the day in their hotel rooms before emerging to meet with officials. They are demanding to be paid their allowances for the African Cup, along with allowances and match fees still owed to them from a regional tournament last month.

One of the people with knowledge of the situation said some players had asked to be released from the squad so they could return home.

The Zimbabwe Football Association said in a statement that the game against Egypt would go ahead and there was no strike threat, but that was countered by the five players and the team official who spoke to the AP. They said there was still a deadlock in the negotiations.

A player strike to start its top tournament would leave African soccer in a mess.

World body FIFA announced Thursday it was taking steps to clean up the continent’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football, which is plagued by allegations of corruption and financial misconduct against its president and is an organizational shambles.

FIFA is sending its secretary general Fatma Samoura to lead the African confederation for an initial six-month term starting in August, when she will oversee a complete forensic audit of the organization that runs soccer’s largest continental confederation.

CAF president Ahmad, who goes by one name, was detained by French authorities while attending a FIFA meeting in Paris this month and questioned. He was released but is the subject of that criminal investigation and an ethics committee investigation by FIFA, where he is a vice president.

The Madagascan is accused of negotiating improper business deals as head of CAF and of bribing African soccer presidents. He’s also accused of misusing official money to buy himself luxury cars and sexual harassment of staff at CAF.

He has denied the allegations but it’s unclear if he’ll play a leading role at the African Cup, which runs until July 19.

Player strikes have become common among African teams at major tournaments. A number had strikes, or threatened strikes, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and 2017 African Cup in Gabon.

In one case, Ghana’s government hurriedly sent a chartered plane full of bundles of cash to Brazil to hand out to its players to ensure they played.

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

AFCON wrap: Tunisia joins Senegal in knockout rounds (video)

AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Half of the field is set for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations knockout rounds, as Group B completed his final day of group play on Monday in Gabon.

[ FIFA: World Cup draw date at Kremlin ]

Senegal will move onto play Cameroon on Saturday, while Tunisia will take on Burkina Faso.

Senegal 2-2 Algeria

Leicester City’s Islam Slimani scored twice, but it wasn’t enough to get Algeria into the knockout rounds of AFCON.

Papakouly Diop and Moussa Sow answered Slimani’s goals, and Senegal enforced its hold on the group it had already clinched after two matches.

Algeria needed a win and help, and looked to get it when Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani carried over their chemistry from the Foxes of England to the Fennecs of Algeria.

Zimbabwe 2-4 Tunisia

Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri scored the last of Tunisia’s four first half goals as the Eagles of Carthage emphatically clinched their knockout round spot. Tunisia lost in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Lille’s Naïm Sliti was also among the goal scorers for Tunisia, with Youssef Msakni (Lekhwiya) and Taha Yassine Khenissi (Esperance de Tunis) also netting markers.

Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates) and Knowledge Musona (Oostende) scored for Zimbabwe.

AFCON wrap: Senegal clinches first knockout round slot

AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Senegal has advanced to the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving three teams to work for the second Group B slot come the final day.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe

Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Henri Saivet (Saint-Etienne) scored within the first 13 minutes as Senegal clinched Group B with a win over Zimbabwe. There were 48 shots between the two teams, 24 for Senegal, in a fairly open affair. As for the Warriors, they’ll need to beat Tunisia on Monday.

Algeria 1-2 Tunisia

Tunisia rebounded from a loss to Senegal without scoring from the run of play. Lille mid Naim Sliti scored a penalty after an Algeria own goal made it 1-0. Anderlecht midfielder Sofiane Hanni scored for Algeria.

Friday’s matches
Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo — 11 a.m. ET
Morocco vs. Togo — 11 a.m. ET

AFCON 2017: Mahrez rescues draw for Algeria; Senegal rolls past Tunisia

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After an intriguing opening at the African Cup of Nations, it was Group B that took center stage on Sunday as a tournament favorite needed late rescuing from a Premier League star.

[ MORE: Nothing separating four Group A sides at AFCON 2017 ]

Algeria pulled out a 2-2 against Zimbabwe to open group play behind a pair of goals from Riyad Mahrez. The Leicester City attacker netted on both sides of halftime, with his second finish coming in the 82nd minute of play.

[ MORE: CSL set to limit the number of foreign players ]

Zimbabwe went behind after 12 minutes when Mahrez nicked his first goal on the day, but the 103rd ranked team responded with two goals of their own to take the lead inside of the opening half hour.

Kudakwashe Mahachi got the scoring underway for the Warriors in the 17th minute before Nyasha Mushekwi handed Zimbabwe the lead soon after from the penalty spot.

In the afternoon’s second contest, Senegal managed to take early control of Group B after picking up a 2-0 win over Tunisia.

Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane got things going for Senegal after 10 minutes when the 24-year-old converted from the penalty spot. Then, Kara Mbodji doubled the advantage for the West African nation at the half hour mark.

Group B action will resume on Thursday as Algeria takes on Tunisia and Senegal faces off with Zimbabwe.