The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has slammed Uefa president Michel Platini for giving his opinion on whether the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) should be called off over Ebola fears.
During a televised debate on Sunday, the UEFA boss questioned whether the tournament – scheduled to be held between January 17 and February 8 next year – should be postponed due to the outbreak of the virus in west Africa.
“In Morocco they are right to ask themselves about the organisation – or not – of the Afcon,” Platini told beIN Sport.
“They should contact the World Health Organisation to know if there is risk or not to play it. I think the health of the people is an absolute priority. It would not be easy to postpone it, the football calendar is extremely packed already.”
However, Caf, yet to confirm where the tournament will be held after planned hosts Morocco requested a postponement, has urged Platini to concentrate on his own affairs.
“The president of Uefa, Michel Platini, found it necessary to question maintaining the scheduled date of the Afcon,” a statement from Caf read.
“The issue has been debated and has been in the public domain the last few days following a request for postponement by Morocco due to the Ebola outbreak.
“Caf, under the leadership of its president, Issa Hayatou, has always promoted free expression within it. Far from it, therefore, can it claim to deprive anyone latitude to express themselves. But we must beware of what appears in every way as interference by a president of a confederation, in cases involving first and foremost Africa and Caf.”
Caf then took an opportunity to bite back at Uefa, firing veiled criticism at Europe’s football governing body for not banning Ukrainian teams from its tournaments following military action in the eastern European nation.
“Under the principle of non-interference required to comply, Caf has refrained so far to comment on some issues on the managing of European football or any other continent,” the statement continued.
“Despite the risks involved in armed conflict in Ukraine, a country where a civilian plane was shot down killing nearly 300 people, Uefa did not consider it necessary to exclude Ukrainian clubs from its competitions as a security parameter by hosting games outside this nation, as treacherously raised once it is about Africa.
“Caf hereby reaffirms the importance it attaches to respect of its sovereignty and does not intend to let anyone interfere in the management of its affairs.”
Moroccan midfielder Adel Taarabt is confident his relationship with QPR fans remains rock solid.
The midfielder has accused Harry Redknapp of trying to create a rift after the QPR manager’s rant on Sunday.
“When I was playing at Milan, sometimes Kaka or Robinho weren’t getting in the team. Then I come to QPR, and that’s not to disrespect my team-mates because I have a good relationship with them, but I was surprised I was not in the squad,” he told the Daily Mail.
“When I came back from Milan, the QPR kitman said ‘you are no more No 10′. I never wanted to be No 10 but the fans asked the chairman for Adel to be 10 not 7 because of the legend Stan Bowles – they wanted me to have the 10 shirt.
“They said they had never seen an exciting player like this for 20 or 25 years, so I said to Tony Fernandes I will take it. Then this summer I was told I would be 27 so I said ‘OK, no problem’. I said nothing.
“I just think that obviously at QPR the fans love me, I love QPR and I love the fans. They are my club. You can’t break the relationship with me and the fans. He wants to get the fans against me.”
West Ham striker Diafra Sakho scored his sixth goal in six matches as West Ham rose to fourth in the English Premier League with a 3-1 win at Burnley.
Fellow Senegalese Mohamed Diame of Hull and Sadio Mane of Southampton were also on target in a profitable weekend for Africans.
Kenyan Victor Wanyama was another scorer as Southampton crushed Sunderland 8-0 and Ivorian Wilfried Bony converted a penalty for Swansea in a 2-1 loss to Stoke.
In Italy, Ghana striker Richmond Boakye was the hero for Atalanta with a 90th minute winner, whle Angolan Manucho scored in first goal for Rayo Vallecano in Spain.
DIAFRA SAKHO (West Ham)
Sakho nodded the Hammers in front four minutes after half-time at Turf Moor to stretch his goal-a-game scoring streak to six matches in all competitions. The 24-year-old Senegalese joined the Londoners in mid-year from French club Metz.
WILFRIED BONY (Swansea)
The Ivory Coast striker was wrestled to the ground and then got up to score the ensuing penalty as Swansea went 1-0 up at Stoke in the 34th minute. However, another Bony penalty appeal was rejected and Stoke came back to win 2-1.
MOHAMED DIAME (Hull)
He equalised just four minutes after the Tigers had fallen 1-0 behind in the 13th minute at Arsenal. The midfielder burst through the home back-line before placing a delicate chip over advancing goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal claimed Diame had pulled back Mathieu Flamini, who appeared to win the ball off him, but the referee ignored their protests and awarded the goal. The match was drawn 2-2.
VICTOR WANYAMA (Southampton)
On as a substitute, the Kenyan favourite was played in by Dusan Tadic to score Southampton’s seventh goal in the 79th minute of their extraordinary 8-0 home demolition of Sunderland.
SADIO MANE (Southampton)
Another substitute, the Senegal midfielder was also teed up by Tadic four minutes from time to complete the scoring in what was the Saints’ record English top-flight victory.
IKECHUKWU UCHE (Villarreal)
Nigerian striker Uche struck twice as Villarreal moved up to sixth with a comfortable 2-0 win over Almeria. The 30-year-old was in the right place at the right time to tap home the opener after Ruben Martinez had saved from Mario Gaspar. And Uche was very fortunate not to be flagged offside for his second goal as he turned home Moi Gomez’s cross at the second attempt.
MANUCHO (Rayo Vallecano)
Former Manchester United frontman Manucho handed Rayo Vallecano three vital points with the winner three minutes into stoppage time in a 1-0 victory at Granada. The Angolan collected Chelsea loanee Gael Kakuta’s pass inside the area before coolly slotting into the far corner to register his first goal since joining the Madrid club on a free transfer.
NORDIN AMRABAT (Malaga)
Moroccan Amrabat scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot as Malaga moved into the top half of the table with a 2-1 win at bottom club Cordoba.
RICHMOND BOAKYE (Atalanta)
Boakye emerged as the hero for Atalanta in a dogfight between two sides languishing in the Serie A doldrums. As the match headed for a scoreless draw, Boakye got his toe to a loose ball in a crowded area to poke home a 90th-minute winner for the Bergamo side, who pulled three points clear of the relegation zone.
MICHAEL ESSIEN (AC Milan)
Ghanaian Essien’s first start for Milan this season ended on a happy note, the Rossoneri claiming a precious 3-1 win at Verona thanks largely to a Keisuke Honda brace for the visitors that helped move Milan up to fourth. Essien had a relatively uneventful 90 minutes.
KWADWO ASAMOAH (Juventus)
Asamoah was an unused substitute in Juventus’s 1-1 draw at Sassuolo that saw the champions’ league lead over Roma reduced to a point. Patrice Evra was preferred to the Ghanaian, suggesting Asamoah could start Wednesday when Juve meet Champions League opponents Olympiakos.
GERVINHO (AS Roma)
Gervinho was an unused substitute in Roma’s 3-0 home win over Chievo that, along with Juve’s 1-1 draw at Sassuolo, allowed the capital side to close the gap on the Serie A leaders to a point. Gervinho is almost certain to start for Roma in Tuesday’s Champions League clash at home to Bayern Munich, when the Ivorian’s pace could prove the difference for Rudi Garcia’s men.
NICOLAS NKOULOU (Marseille)
The 24-year-old Cameroon defender opened the scoring in Marseille’s 2-0 win over Toulouse in front of a 61,846 crowd at the newly-refurbished Stade Velodrome. Nkoulou found the target in the 21st minute when he rose to convert a Dimitri Payet free-kick, the ball appearing to go into the net off his shoulder.
CHEICK DIABATE (Bordeaux)
Mali striker Diabate put Bordeaux ahead from the penalty spot after 22 minutes against Caen, but the visitors levelled for a 1-1 draw as Bordeaux missed the chance to go back above PSG into second place.
FLOYD AYITE (Togo)
The 25-year-old France-born Togo international scored six minutes after half-time to give Bastia a 1-0 win at Nice. Despite a furious fightback from mid-table Nice, the Corsicans held on for only their second win of the season. The match was marred by a mini pitch invasion from disgruntled Nice fans at full-time.
KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG, ERIC-MAXIM CHOUPO MOTING (Schalke 04)
Ghana midfielder Boateng returned from an ankle injury by playing 78 minutes of Schalke’s 2-0 victory at home to his former club Hertha Berlin. Boateng put in a strong display as an attacking midfielder and Cameroon striker Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting was involved in the build-ups to both goals.
ASSANI LUKIMYA (Werder Bremen)
The Democratic Republic of Congo defender was powerless to prevent Germany star Mario Goetze turning him and burying his shot into the far corner for Bayern Munich’s last goal in their 6-0 rout of Werder Bremen. Lukimya’s Congolese team-mate Cedrick Makiadi also started for Bremen, but the league’s bottom side were outclassed.
Gernot Rohr has resigned as Niger national coach after accepting the blame for the poor results that sees them lying bottom of their qualifying group for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 61-year-old German – who spent the majority of his career either playing or coaching in France and guided Bordeaux to the 1996 Uefa Cup final – added their cause would have been helped no end if his employers had been more amenable to his demands as to how best to prepare the team.
“We haven’t won many… thus I have tendered my resignation to Fenifoot (the Niger football federation),” he said.
“I am the most responsible for these bad results. But I am not happy either with the means placed at my disposition to prepare the team, notably logistically.”
Rohr, who has been in charge since September 2012 but asked to stay on when his contract terminated in August this year, said he left on good terms.
“As I did not have a strong hand of cards I asked the Niger football bosses to let me leave and we came to a mutual agreement.
“I leave on friendly terms with Niger,” added Rohr, who formerly coached another African national side Gabon.
Niger, who qualified for the previous two Africa Cup of Nations, have garnered just two points from their qualifying matches and meet Cape Verde in their next game in November and round the qualifiers off at home to Mozambique.
Nigeria could host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations if Morocco pull out of staging the continent’s biggest football showpiece due to fears over the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease, according to vice president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Seyi Akinwunmi.
With Morocco yet to confirm whether they will let go the opportunity to host the tournament, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has already written to a few countries including Ghana and Egypt to ask if they can host the Cup of Nations.
The North African country is asking CAF to postpone the tournament to a later date instead of its present January/February schedule but the governing body is not ready to.
And Nigeria could throw her hat in the ring to stage the tournament despite fears of the possibility of teams from Ebola-ravaged countries qualifying for the competition and bringing along their supporters.
Africa’s largest country was certified Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation on Monday, six weeks after the last case of the disease was reported and this could prompt renewed interest from international organizations.
“I think we are interested [in hosting the Afcon],” new NFF vice president Seyi Akinwunmi was quoted on Goal on Monday.
“It is not strictly the purview of the NFF alone but we have been asked [if we can host the competition] and we have said yes, why not?
“I think that the National Sports Commission or the Federal Government is looking at the possibility of hosting the tournament,” said Akinwunmi who disclosed that CAF had not yet written to Nigeria.
South Africa have already turned down the opportunity to host the tournament with Safa president Danny Joordan saying: “The Afcon 2015 tournament will not be held here. That issue doesn’t exist. Caf must discuss this matter with Morocco.”
With the Super Eagles struggling to qualify for the 2015 tournament, hosting the competition would give them automatic qualification to defend the title they won in South Africa last year.
It could also be a way for Nigeria to show its leadership role on the continent after successfully curtailing the spread of the disease, something for which it has already earned the praise of the international community.
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Chairman, Amuja Pinnick, has disclosed that the country’s ruling football body had signed a deal with a company that has agreed to pay the salary of a new foreign coach for one full year.
He said the NFF has concluded the deal that would take the country’s football and the Super Eagles to greater heights. He spoke at the Ikoyi Club 1938 Table Tennis Tournament, Lagos, sponsored by the Arco Petrochemical Company Limited.
“Only today, I was privileged to get to a company… it’s not that we don’t believe in Nigerian coaches, we believe so much in Nigerian coaches, but right now we need a foreign coach to actually train and rediscover our potentials.
“We concluded a deal to sign a foreign coach and the company has agreed to pay the foreign coach for one full year. We have done that. Our approach is basically scientific and you will see the result in due course,” Pinnick said.
According to the new NFF helmsman, who spoke on football without relegating the table tennis championship he came for: “There is an event going on right now in Nigeria. I was elected exactly three weeks ago. From then till now I have turned grey; that shows that football is a very tedious business. But our approach this time is basically scientific. Like I told someone, United Kingdom (UK) today is not the best footballing nation.
“But today they have the best and richest football culture. And that is exactly what we are trying to do in Nigeria. Victory to us is not defined by winning laurels everyday, but victory to us is creating a scientific approach to sustaining football development in Nigeria, where you can go to the stadium with your kids and watch matches.”
Mr. Pinnick, however, said that the reason for the choice of a foreign coach was for the country to redeem its pride of place in the footballing world. “Our approach is long, short, and medium terms. Our short approach is creating a data-base of the best Nigerians players.”
“For example, Obafemi Martins is the hottest commodity today, I wonder why you will go to China to get a player instead of Martins. NNF will not allow that. We are going to give from a pool of players to take from. Our Federation will also get all the clubs to have the Under-13 clubs where they will have their own junior league. Our approach is basically to get them young and nurture them.
Newly appointed coach of the Super Eagles Amodu Shaibu has asked that Nigerians be moderate in their expectations of the team but has promised to give his best in salvaging Nigeria’s hopes of participating at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Shaibu, along with Salisu Yusuf, Gbenga Ogunbote and Alloysius Agu were named in the new Super Eagles technical crew on Thursday, with their immediate task being prosecuting the last round of qualifying matches to Africa’s biggest soccer showpiece next January.
“We have been given an assignment that is tough and very challenging but not one that is impossible to accomplish. We will give it our very best and see how things can be turned around.”
“I think this situation is very similar to what we had in the qualifiers to the 2002 World Cup. We worked hard, did our bit and were fortunate to have results elsewhere also going our way.”
“There are somethings that, as humans, we cannot control just as there a lot more we can influence. I can assure everybody that we will give this assignment all we have and then hope that all other things fall in place for us.”
“Let us all be modest in our expectations so that we do not put ourselves under undue pressure. Let everybody involved in the game in Nigeria pull together in the right direction and then we see what we can achieve with the next two games as mandated by the the Nigeria Football Federation.” Shaibu said.
Ahead of the final round of qualifiers in November,the Super Eagles coach said a detailed plan of action will be unveiled to the media as soon as ongoing deliberations are concluded.
“Planning has commenced. A lot of deliberations and discussions are already going on.We need to be very thorough with all aspects of our planning. Once we have concluded all these,we will unveil them to the media.” He concluded.
The Super Eagles are third in Group A of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers behind South Africa and Congo. Nigeria will need maximum points from their remaining games to be sure of their place at the biennial tournament she won in South Africa in 2013.
Senegal striker Demba Ba produced a man-of-the-match display for Besiktas in their victory over Sivasspor on Sunday night.
The former Chelsea man scored twice and assisted the third as the Black Eagles ran out 3-2 winners.
Sivasspor opened the scoring through Morocco defender Manuel da Costa in the 39th minute from a corner. The visitors, featuring Nigerians John Utaka and Macauley Chrisantus, held on till the 58th minute and then it became the Demba Ba show.
The 29-year-old brought the scores level, finishing off a Gokhan Tore cross, and struck again seven minutes later, sweeping home another cross, this time by full-back Ramon Motta.
However, Sivasspor were soon level, as da Costa set up Hakan Arslan to score from close range following a corner.
Parity was, however, short-lived; having notched his brace, Ba turned provider for Olcay Sahan, who made no mistake to settle a thrilling encounter.
This victory continues Besiktas’s unbeaten start to the league campaign, and they sit at the top of the Super Lig table with 14 points from six games.
Former Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is expected in Ethiopia this week to finalise discussions over taking charge of the country’s team, according to reports.
A close source in the Ethiopian FA, is said to have confirmed that they expect Keshi in Addis Ababa this week to continue talks on the possibility of taking over the national team.
“He is expected in Ethiopia late this week,” revealed the source.
Ironically, Keshi denied Ethiopia the chance to qualify for their first-ever World Cup last year when the Super Eagles beat them both at home and away in a final playoff.
Last week, the Nigeria Football Federation fired Keshi after the country’s laboured campaign to qualify for next year’s AFCON.
“We hope we can get him because he is a high profile coach who has won AFCON with Nigeria and also took them to the World Cup.”
Keshi, who has already coached Togo and Mali, is expected to salvage Ethiopia’s Nations Cup hopes as they are third in Group B with three points from four matches, three points behind second-placed Mali.
Algeria have already qualified for the tournament proper after compiling 12 points.
Ethiopia’s remaining matches are first away in Algeria and then at home to bottom team Malawi next month.
The source further said Ethiopia are not comfortable with Portuguese coach Mariano Barreto who only managed a 3-2 away win over Mali on Wednesday in an 2015 AFCON qualifier, but has lost 99% of their matches including build-ups.
Barreto was signed in April this year after long serving coach Sewnet Bishaw was axed in February after a dismal run at the 2014 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN).
The former Ghana coach and assistant manager of Dynamo Moscow, was given the job after the EFF failed to reach an agreement with first-choice Goran Stevanovic of Serbia.
Queens Park Rangers slumped to a 3-2 reverse against Liverpool, and many fans have questioned about the absence of talented Moroccan Adel Taarabt.
The attacking midfielder spent the second half of last season rampant at AC Milan, but has not found playing time impossible at Loftus Road.
Replying reporters after the topsy-turvy encounter, which saw his team give away two own-goals, manager Harry Redknapp was brutally honest.
“He’s not fit. He played in a reserve game the other day and I could have run more than he did.”
Redknapp’s side are in dire need of inspiration in the final third, following the departure of Loic Remy. However, in spite of chairman Tony Fernandes’ convictions that Taarabt would prove his critics wrong, Redknapp appears to have completely lost all patience with him.
“I can’t pick him,” said the former Tottenham and Portsmouth manager. “I pick people who want to try. I can’t keep protecting people who won’t train and are 3-stone overweight.”