Title holders Democratic Republic of Congo left it late to secure an African Nations Championship quarter-finals place in Sudan on Monday.
Striker Mulota Kabangu, one of 11 stars from FIFA Club World Cup runners-up TP Mazembe in the Congolese squad, equalised eight minutes before full-time against lowly Mali and a 1-1 draw proved just enough.
But the 2009 champions and competition favourites owe a debt of gratitude to Cameroon, whose 2-0 victory over the Ivorians condemned the losers to an early exit from Group C in a biennial tournament for home-based footballers. Had the Ivorians won they would have reached the knockout phase this weekend while DR Congo licked their wounds and headed home from a tournament that has already seen fancied Ghana depart without securing a single point.
Cameroon became the second team after shock Group B winners South Africa to finish the three-match mini-league schedule boasting a one 100 per cent record and a maximum nine points. DR Congo collected four, the Ivorians three and Mali one. Hosts Sudan dropped two points when winning Group A from Algeria while none of the candidates to top Group D — Angola, Senegal, Tunisia — have perfect records going into their final fixtures Tuesday.
Cameroon will face the Group D runners-up in Omdurman Saturday and DR Congo confront the Group D winners three hours later in Khartoum, across the river Nile from the other match venue.
The Congolese were rocked with 10 minutes left in cooler-than-usual Omdurman as striker Alou Bagayoko from the Djoliba club in Bamako scored the first Mali goal of the tournament and broke the deadlock. Falling behind stung the Congolese and they levelled just 120 seconds later through Kabangu and Mali had to settle for a point following solitary-goal defeats by the Ivorians and Cameroonians last week.
Midfielder Arnaud Monkam from perennial Cameroon club champions Cotonsport Garoua put his team ahead on 58 minutes, but they did not clinch victory until one minute into stoppage time when defender Jean-Paul Ngah added a second goal. While neutral football followers enjoyed the thrilling group climax, DR Congo coach Muntubile Santos must be concerned at the failure of his Mazembe-bolstered squad to get going in Sudan.
Outplayed by Cameroon in their first outing, the Central Africans needed to come from behind to edge Ivory Coast and hopes that the corner had been turned were dashed as they struggled against Mali. Officials close to the defending champions blame fatigue with continuous national team and club commitments taking their toll on Mazembe stars like goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba and frequent-scoring midfielder Dioko Kaluyituka.
RSG Restates Commitment To Youth Dev Via Sports
The Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on School Sports, Chief Aribitonye Okiri, has said that the state government-led by Chief Nyesom Wike, is committed to develop youths in the State through sports.
He stated that it is not in doubt that the State has hidden talents at the grassroots that are yet to be discovered.
Chief Okiri, said this at the finals of the National School Sports Competition held at Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports Complex in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday.
According to him, Governor Wike is poised to reach out to young ones in all the local government areas, in the state and engage them with sporting activities in a bid to discover hidden talents.
“As I speak, the governor has reiterated his desire to reach out to the children in all parts of the state and unearth their talents through engagement in sports, believing that all Rivers children are talented” Chief Okiri said.
Also speaking, the second Vice President of Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Pastor Emmanuel Ebong, thanked Governor Wike, for proving a worthy partner of NSSF and appeal to other corporate organisations to emulate Nigeria Breweries Ltd in partnering NSSF in sports development.
At the end of the final competition, Community Secondary School, Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area, dominated the medal table.
24 States Set For Lagos Athletics Championship
The Lagos State Athletics Association has confirmed the entry of 24 states and some clubs for its lucrative Athletics Meet fixed for Thursday, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Yussuf Alli who is the Meet Director for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship made the disclosure at the weekend even as he hinted a few other states may still join the already confirmed 24 states and clubs.
He said: “Yes, we are very much on track for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship which will be coming up this Thursday.
“Right now, we already have 24 states and some top racing clubs that have confirmed their participation, a few more may join before we close the window.”
The Lagos Open Athletics Championship is a one-day meet simultaneously serving as another qualifying window for the Tokyo Olympics as well as a preparatory event for athletes that have already qualified for the sporting showpiece.
In the past days, Lagos has been a beehive of activities with the National trials at the Yaba College of Technology Sporting complex and now the train is moving to the heart of the city in Surulere as the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics continues to gather momentum.
The list of events to be competed for at the Lagos Open Athletics Championship includes the 5,000 meters, 400 meters hurdles, 100 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters, and 100 meters.
There would also be top-quality action across the relay events including; the 4×100 meters open, 4×100 meters open and 4×400 meters mixed relay.
Long jump, High jump, Triple jump, Shot put as well as 4×100 secondary schools relay and 4×100 secondary schools relay have all been penciled down for the maiden Lagos Open Athletics Championship.
Already, the top three finishers across all the events have been assured mouthwatering prizes by the organisers.
Okagbare Sets New Record At Olympic Trials
Blessing Okagbare will be heading to Tokyo Olympics in the best form of her life after running the second fastest time in the world this season.
The 32-year-old ran 10.63 seconds to win the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Olympic Trials at the Sports Complex of Yaba College of Technology in Lagos on Thursday.
The 10.63 seconds time saw her tie with Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’ best time in 2021 ahead of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Okagbare ran 10.99 seconds in the semifinal of the event to set a new championship record , and before clocking 10.63 seconds in the final to set a new record. The scorching 10.63 time is also a new African record. Only Florence Griffith Joyner who holds the world record at 10.49 seconds has run faster. The Nigerian has now emerged one of the favourites for the 100m gold at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who first ran 10.63 seconds this season.
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