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Are The Walls Closing In On CAF President?

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The events of the recent weeks have made it increasingly clear that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) head honcho may lack the chops to lead
It will only really become apparent, in time, just how seismic, and potentially damaging, the recent weeks have been for the Confederation of African Football.
It is not so much what happens as how one handles it, but it is important to establish what came before.
On the 31st of May, the CAF Champions League final second leg took place in Rades, Tunis. Defending champions, Esperance, fresh from a 1-1 result from the first leg in Rabat, welcomed Wydad Casablanca with the odds firmly stacked in their favour, thanks to the away goal.
However, behind the scenes, trouble had already begun to brew.
Hawk-Eye innovations, tasked with providing the equipment for the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, had been unable to get it across to Tunisia in time. This meant that the second leg would have to be played without it, in contrast to the first.
It is unclear whether or not this state of affairs was relayed to both teams, and whether that would have forestalled what was about to happen. In any case, the match kicked off with the VAR monitor propped up, in what now appears to have been a face-saving move on the part of CAF.
Esperance took the lead five minutes before the break, taking the advantage in the tie, but it did not really change Wydad’s mandate: they had come into the game needing to score anyway. It was all set up for a cracker of a second half.
On the hour mark, however, it all blew up.
Wydad thought they had got an equalizer when midfielder Walid El-Karti darted into the box to head home from a cross. The linesman’s flag, however, went up to annul the goal, a decision which incensed the Moroccan side.
It then returns to what report one believes as to whether both teams were advised beforehand of the absence of VAR. If, as Esperance claim, they were, then what followed by Wydad was gamesmanship of the highest order: they insisted, vehemently, that the goal be reviewed by the system.
Even if one were to believe Wydad’s claim that they were not informed of the technical issues beforehand, it displayed an ignorance of the workings of VAR, as it is not the players’ place to demand a review, as is the case in, say, tennis.
Their protests would hold up the game, pulling CAF President Ahmad Ahmad from the stands and onto the pitch itself in search of a solution to the ensuing mayhem. After a wait that lasted well over 30 minutes, the decision was apparently reached that Wydad’s actions constituted a forfeit, and so the game was awarded to Esperance, as was the trophy.
A presentation took place, and captain Khalil Chemmam held the trophy aloft, celebrating a second Caf Champions League triumph in a row.
That, however, was only the beginning, and set the stage for what could potentially become one of the most damaging decisions in the history of African football.
Wydad, smouldering still at the perceived injustice of it all, decided they would appeal, and after consultations, the president of the Morocco FA, Fouzi Lekjaa, indicated they would be throwing their entire weight behind the complaint. Four days after the final, in Paris, Caf ruled that the second leg should be replayed at a neutral venue, and that Esperance would be required to return the trophy, as well as the medals they had received in the presentation ceremony.
For a number of reasons, it was a worrying decision. For one thing, there has been a suspicion that Ahmad enjoys a lot of support from Morocco, and so this is already being construed as the president of Caf dancing to the tune of his benefactor.
Also, in keeping with the theme but in a broader sense, sub-Saharan Africa has, over time, grown increasingly irritated with North Africa’s entitlement where Caf competition is concerned. That they are now seen to be dictating to Caf does nothing to improve that perception, and will only stoke that resentment.
Optics aside, the precedent it all sets is a concern.
VAR, for all that it is the future, is only a recent addition to the African game, and was only in place for the finals. Surely, the integrity of the event should not hinge and turn upon its presence; indeed, it is not stated in the laws of the game that, in its absence, a game should not take place. This makes Wydad’s refusal to continue tantamount to a forfeit, and as such the initial decision to award the trophy was the correct one, even acknowledging that the Moroccan side has a legitimate grievance (the goal, as TV replays would show, should have been allowed to stand).
The sense of farce would only deepen.
Twelve hours after that decision was reached, Ahmad was arrested and taken in for questioning by the French police.
There were no details released, but reportedly this was to do with a sports equipment procurement contract for the Championship of African Nations in 2018 that was awarded to French company Tactical Steel at a huge mark-up, despite an agreement already being in place with the manufacturers.
While he was eventually released without charge – as Caf have been particularly eager to stress through their various communication channels – it does heighten the sense that Africa’s football leadership is constantly teetering on the brink of chaos, and all it takes is the slightest gust to send it over the edge.
What it does seem like, as each day passes, is that Ahmad’s lack of capacity and suitability for the job will inevitably do him in…the only question is when.

 

Solace Chukwu

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Rivers International Marathon To Celebrate Fubara’s One Year

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Former Nigeria international goalkeeper, Peterside Idah says next month’s Rivers International Marathon will be used to celebrate the one year anniversary of His Excellency,  Siminalayi Fubara as the Executive Governor of Rivers State.           Idah, who is the race’s head of media and communications said the event could not have been better timed and organizers have keyed it into the one year celebration of Governor  Fubara’s tenure.       “We want to use this race to celebrate the one year anniversary of our Governor, Fubara who is the main reason Rivers State has been officially termed as the sports hub of the nation by John Enoh, the Minister of Sports Development,” Ida said. Continuing, Idah revealed that the Rivers International Marathon has received massive backing from Governor Fubara as well as corporate Nigeria.        “Governor Fubara is the biggest supporter of the race and we are determined to organise a race befitting the status of Rivers state as the new destination of sort for sports in Nigeria,” Idah stated, adding two financial institutions have thrown their weight behind the race.    “Globus and Zenith bank are backing us as partners and this shows that corporate Nigeria is appreciating the giant strides we have taken in terms of sports development and the many benefits that come with organizing a road race.

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BAL : Rivers Hoopers Arrive Rwanda, Attend Playoff

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Nigeria’s representatives at the 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL), Rivers Hoopers on Sunday landed in Kigali, Rwanda ahead of the competition which dunks off on May 24th .
The Tidesports source hinted: “The KingsMen have arrived in Kigali, Rwanda for the Playoffs. Dakar was good, Kigali be great.”
The KingsMen will face AS Douanes of Senegal in one of the four seeding games in the playoffs in Kigali on May 24th.
The two teams played against each other twice in the Sahara Conference that ended last week in Dakar, Senegal with each winning one game apiece.
The winner between Hoopers and AS Douanes (Game 40) will play against the winner between Petro de Luanda (Angola) and US Monastir of Tunisia (Game 39) in the semi-final, while the loser of the tie will square up against the loser of Game 39 in the quarter final.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s hip-hop star, Adekunle Kosoko aka Adekunle Gold and AG Baby, are among the list of top celebrities who will perform at the 2024 African Basketball League playoffs in Kigali.
The finals usually attract top celebrities from both the sports and music community And this time around, BAL 4 playoffs will feature performances by local and international acts, including the likes of Nigeria’s Adekunle Gold and Rwanda’s very own The Ben, Chris Eazy, Ish Kevin, Kevin Kade, Ariel Wayz, Kivumbi King, Bwiza, Ishami Talent, Inganzi Ngari cultural troupe and Kenny Sol.
The selected artists will perform during the halftime shows of the finals. Globally with special performances to spice up the halftime show atmosphere.

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WAFU U-17: Togo, Nigeria Clash Must-Win For Garba

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Golden Eaglets head coach, Manu Garba, is leaving no margin for errors in ensuring the team beat Togo today in their second Group B match of the WAFU Zone B U-17 Cup of Nations in Ghana.The record five-time world champions made a stuttering start to their campaign with a barren draw against Burkina Faso at the University of Ghana on Thursday, but boosted their title defence with a 1-0 win over Niger Republic on Sunday at same venue, with Raphael Adams’ 31st-minute strike separating both sides.
Nigeria are second in the group with four points, the same as Burkina Faso, who have their nose in front on a superior goal difference. Garba looks to finish at the top of the pile and has declared their last group game against the young Hawks another must-win.
“The Golden Eaglets will have to beat Togo on today. The Togo U-17 team is good, and Nigeria will not underrate them,” Garba saider Alleged N8bn Air Fraud, Food PricOthers
“We have trained the players on goal-scoring drills. Nigeria should have scored three goals against Niger. So, we hope that the players will convert more of their chances against Togo,” he added.
Niger are in the third position with three points from their 3-2 win over Togo, who, though rock bottom, are not pushovers but largely undone by errors.
The tournament, running from May 15 to 29, will see the top two teams from the group facing the best teams from Group A, which includes Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin Republic, in the semi-final.
The two countries that qualify for the final will represent the region at next year’s U-17 African Cup of Nations.

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