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Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure makes a strong case for unappreciated African footballers

African footballer of the year Yaya Toure

African footballer of the year Yaya Toure

Manchester City and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure believes he is not regarded as one of the best players in the world because he is an African footballer.

Toure, 30, has scored 22 goals this season, helping City to win the League Cup and challenge for the Premier League title.

Samir Nasri recently said Toure would be celebrated  as one of the world’s best midfielders were he not African.

In an interview for Football Focus on BBC World News, he said: “I think what Samir was saying was definitely true.”

The midfielder has won league titles in four countries – Ivory Coast, Greece, Spain and England – and was part of the Barcelona team that won the Champions League in 2009.

He also feels fellow countryman Didier Drogba and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o are undervalued because they are African.

“To be honest, proper recognition has only come from the fans,” said the three-time African player of the year. “I don’t want to be hard and I don’t want to be negative, but I want to be honest.”

Toure feels the media should do more to promote African players.

“If we play well and we don’t have the recognition from the media, we are not going to be where we want to be,” he said.

Toure also feels African players need to do far more to stand out, drawing comparisons with Barcelona duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi, both former team-mates of his.

He says Iniesta and Xavi are often praised for their attacking skills, but rarely singled out for criticism when they fail to defend properly.

In contrast, Toure claims he is regularly picked on by the media when he makes a defensive mistake.

The Ivorian is also unhappy that Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world along with Cristiano Ronaldo, is recognised around the world but players like himself are not.

He said: “If you go to any part of Africa now, people will say, ‘yes, we know him [Messi]‘, but when you come to Europe and say ‘Yaya Toure’ people will say, ‘who is that?’ Some will say they know my name but not know my face. But they will know Messi’s face.”

Toure, who played in Belgium, Ukraine, Greece, France and Spain before moving to England, says he will be disappointed if he is not named player of the year by the Professional Footballers’ Association.

He is one of six players on the shortlist, alongside Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Southampton’s Adam Lallana and the Liverpool trio of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge.

Asked if he would be unhappy not to win the award, Toure replied: “Definitely. As a champion, as a winner, I always want to win.”

Asked to reflect on the fact there has only been one African winner of the Ballon d’Or – former AC Milan and Liberia striker George Weah in 1995 – Toure cited the significant contributions made by players such as fellow Africans Eto’o and Drogba at club level.

“Those players are more than legends for me and Africa,” said Toure.

Asked if he knew if players such as Eto’o and Drogba also felt under-appreciated, the former Barcelona player replied: “Definitely.”

He added: “I am very proud to be African, I want to defend African people and I want to show to the world that African players can be as good as the Europeans and South Americans.”

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“We can stop Argentina’s Messi”- Nigerian defender Ambrose boasts ahead of World Cup clash

Celtic has played against Messi twice with Celtic

Celtic has played against Messi twice with Celtic

Efe Ambrose believes the Super Eagles are capable of containing any threat posed by Lionel Messi and his teammates when Nigeria clash with Argentina in their final Group F game of the 2014 World Cup.

Ambrose has impressed against the Argentine on the occasions when Celtic have clashed with Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League, and the defender is confident Messi and his teammates will be well contained when they meet.
“It makes no difference; it is the same player whether for club or country. Nigeria have a lot of good defenders who can stop Messi and any other striker in the world,” Ambrose told Africanfootball.com.The player refused to be drawn into making predictions on how far Nigeria will go in this summer’s World Cup, but he was optimistic the team will do well.”I can’t say precisely, but by God’s grace we will do well and take it game by game, then we will see where it would take us.”

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Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure Shortlisted for english PFA Award

Yahaya Toure,

Yahaya Toure,

Liverpool trio Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge have been nominated for the Professional Footballers’ Association’s player of the year award.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, winger Eden Hazard of Chelsea and Southampton playmaker Adam Lallana complete the list.

Sturridge and Hazard have also been nominated for the young player award, along with Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Southampton’s Luke Shaw.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Sunday, 27 April.

PFA player of the year winners

2012-13: Gareth Bale (Tottenham)

2011-12: Robin van Persie (Arsenal)

2010-11: Gareth Bale (Tottenham)

2009-10: Wayne Rooney (Man Utd)

2008-09: Ryan Giggs (Man Utd)

2007-08: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)

Uruguay striker Suarez, 27, heads the Premier League scoring charts, netting 29 league goals for top-of-the-table Liverpool.

His strike partner Sturridge, 24, has scored 20 Premier League goals while captain Gerrard, 33, has contributed 13 goals and 11 assists for the free-scoring Reds.

Ivorian Toure, 30, is Manchester City’s top league scorer with 18 goals from 31 appearances, while Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho acclaimed Hazard, 23, as “the best young player in the world”  in February after the Blues’ 1-0 win over Cityat Etihad Stadium.

Lallana, 25, has been the standout player for Southampton this season, and made his England debut against Chile in November.

His Saints team-mate Shaw, 18, made his international debut against Denmark last month and is vying with Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines of Everton for a place in England’s World Cup squad.

Winger Sterling, 19, won his second England cap in the 1-0 friendly win over the Danes and scored Liverpool’s first goal in Sunday’s 3-2 win over title rivals Manchester City.

Wales international Ramsey scored 13 goals for Arsenal before a thigh injury in December forced the 23-year-old out of action for three months. He returned to the Gunners side in their defeat by Everton on 6 April.

Barkley, 20, earned his first senior England cap in a World Cup qualifier against Moldova last September and was recently called “a rare talent” by Everton manager Roberto Martinez.

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Manchester City ready to reject PSG offer for ace midfielder Yaya Toure

PSG has shown interest in the Ivory Coast midfielder

PSG has shown interest in the Ivory Coast midfielder

Manchester City won’t consider any offer from PSG for Yaya Toure.

The Daily Mail says the French are looking at strong midfielders who can help them dominate sides in the Champions League and are keen on City’s free scoring talisman.

The Ivory Coast international admitted in January that he would like to play for PSG one day but City intend to make sure that is not for a few years yet.

They are eager to make Toure, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany remain at Eastlands as part of their own plans to dominate the Champions League next season.

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Ethiopia names former Ghana coach Barreto as new national team coach

Barreto has been tasked to qualify Ethiopia to AFCON 2015

Barreto has been tasked to qualify Ethiopia to AFCON 2015

Former Ghana coach Mariano Barreto has he been appointed as coach of the Ethiopian national team, the EFF has confirmed.

The Portuguese trainer will be unveiled on Tuesday according to EFF president Juinedi Basha.

“We’ve selected Barreto to be the new coach, we’ve agreed on the terms and conditions,” Basha told BBC Sport.

He replaces Sewnet Bishaw, who was sacked in February after a poor campaign at the African Nations Championship in South Africa.

Barreto’s main task will will be to lead the Walya Antelopes to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nationsin Morocco.Ethiopia are one of 21 nations who have gone straight into the group stages of the Nations Cup qualifiers, which get underway in September.

The 57-year-old quit Ghana in September 2004 after just nine months in charge, citing problems in communications with the country’s football association.

He went onto coach Portuguese side Maritimo and several other clubs in Europe including Russian sides Dynamo Moscow and Kuban Krasnador.

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Manchester United join race for Ghana midfielder KP Boateng

Boateng has attracted interest from England

Boateng has attracted interest from England

Manchester United have joined Arsenal in the race for the signature of Kevin Prince Boateng, according to Football Direct News.

Both Premier League giants are interested in the Ghanaian international midfielder, currently on the books with Bundesliga outfit Schalke.

The 27-year-old began to shine at AC Milan following spells with Portsmouth and Tottenham as an attacking midfielder, but this season with the Germans he’s been predominantly deployed at the base of midfield.

United and Arsenal both need a new central midfielder, with the former needing a physical player who can get forward and join in with the attack.

Prince-Boateng has superb feet, and is a huge presence on the field thanks to his large fame and excellent work-rate.

Schalke are unlikely to want to part with the African powerhouse, so any bid from the Premier League would likely have to be very generous.

This term, Prince-Boateng has scored six goals and assisted two.

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Ivory Coast coach Lamouchi considers Saint-Etienne winger Gradel an important to the national team

Gradel has been a bit-part player with the national team

Gradel has been a bit-part player with the national team

Cote d’Ivoire boss Sabri Lamouchi believes talented winger Max Gradel has a big future with the national team.

The Saint-Etienne star has been a regular feature in the Elephants’ squad since making his debut in late 2010, but a major knee injury in March last year kept him on the sidelines for over six months and slowed his progress.

Since his return to the game Gradel has largely been used as a substitute by club and country, but he is fast approaching his best form again to the delight of Lamouchi who considers him a highly influential member of his side.

“Even if he’s not a starter in every game, I consider Max-Alain to be more than a super sub,” Lamouchi told Fifa.com.

“He’s someone who’s well integrated in the squad and serves as a link between the two generations. He’ll start to be given a lot of responsibility in the years to come. He should go on to take over from the senior players.”

The Abidjan-born star is expected to make the squad to the World Cup in Brazil and the Elephants will need his pace and trickery, but most of all his passion for the team.

“They represent everything for me,” Gradel said. “They’re my friends, my family, my driving force, my reason for being. It’s because of them that I exist.”

Though aware the final decision on whether he goes to Brazil or not is not his, the former Leeds United star is keen to make the trip and help his team.

“Obviously I’m hoping to be involved. I have confidence in myself and my ability. I’ll keep working and make sure I don’t have any regrets. I don’t get to have the final say, but I’ll make sure I give myself every chance,” he explained.

“To take part in a World Cup would be a dream come true, and it doesn’t happen to everyone,” he added. “Some players have had fantastic careers without ever getting that opportunity. And this World Cup will be even more special because it’s in Brazil. It’s going to be magical.”

The Ivoirians are making their third consecutive trip to the global showpiece and have been grouped with Colombia, Japan and Greece.

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Liverpool,Celtic friendly to be played in Mauritius

Liverpool could play Celtic in Mauritius

Liverpool could play Celtic in Mauritius

English Pemier League giants Liverpool could take on Scottish champions Celtic in a game to be played in Mauritius at the end of the season.

Reports in the United Kingdom have suggested that both European giants have agreed to travel to the beautiful island in May.

Mauritian company Health and Sport in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Mauritius said in a statement: “Given the friendly relations between Liverpool and Celtic, the Scottish club have agreed to come.”

“They made contact with us and agreed without much convincing. We had requests from German and Italian clubs to play too, but we are happy with Celtic.”

Celtic have revealed that they will agree to play Liverpool, who have already agreed to tour Mauritius for a week if sponsors can secure a deal.

Liverpool will be playing Shamrock Rovers in Dublin in a friendly in May 14, and are just waiting for the sponsors to agree to discharge the money to fund the trip.

30,000-seater stadium, Stade Anjalay in Belle Vue Maurel could be the venue for this glamorous match on Sunday May 18, should both clubs reach agreement with the organisers.

Nigerian winger Victor Moses and Ivorian defender Kolo Toure ply their trade with Liverpool with Efe Ambrose also in the set up for Celtic.
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Gordon Igesund cleared of charges, agents banned from Bafana Bafana camp

South Africa coach Gordon Igesund

South Africa coach Gordon Igesund

The South African FA (SAFA) has banned player agents from visiting the national team camp after the Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, was cleared of any wrong-doing after allegations of player agents influencing his team selection.

Igesund had been accused of colluding with agents on national team selection, as well as instructing players to go on strike during the African Nations Championship earlier this year.

The Norman Arendse Commission was set up by SAFA to investigate the claims, and the results were announced this afternoon.

“The two allegations against the head coach had to substance whatsoever,” a statement read.”On the basis of evidence, the task team found that there was no basis for the allegations.”

Following SAFA’s announcement that Bafana Bafana coach, Gordon Igesund, was cleared of any wrong-doing the governing body has decided to bar agents from visiting the team on camp.

To avoid future misunderstandings, the SAFA Executive committee agreed that player agents should not be involved with the national team coach at any time.

They also revealed that part of the new ground rules would also see the coach having to discuss his selection with the entire technical team – though he would still have the final say.

“The security personnel at hotels where Bafana Bafana will be camping will not allow football player agents to come to the hotel, and also no player agent will be allowed to sleep or book in at the same hotel as the national team.

“The head coach ought not to have a player agent as his own agent,” said SAFA president, Danny Jordaan.

“We will also make sure that the head coach does not select players as an island on his own.

“He may have the final say but he has to invoice the whole technical team including the technical director to help the coach select players
fit for the national team.”

“I think this will help improve the capability of the national team and its performance,” Jordaan concluded.

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Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis looking at Nigeria striker Aluko to boost midfield

Aluko is frustrated at Hull City

Aluko is frustrated at Hull City

Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis is chasing Hull City midfielder Sone Aluko.

The Mirror says the Nigeria striker, 25, has hinted that he is ready to quit the FA Cup finalists this summer.

Pulis is ready to hand him first-team football and will pay the £3.1million City would demand for the marksman.

Aluko said: “It was very frustrating not to start on Sunday. If you are not playing, then you start to wonder, ‘Is this for me? Do I need to find a new club?’”

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