First 11: AFCON Refereeing Drama + Other Big Sports Stories This Week

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Actions continued at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) this week. Several teams including hosts, Cameroon, booked their spots in the next round of the competition. Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open ordeal also took another twist. 

These and more are some of the stories that make up Sports Eleven for this week. Enjoy! 

Refereeing Errors Mar AFCON

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 continues to make headlines across the world. But just days into the tournament, a refereeing error from Janny Sikazwe triggered more conversations about the level of officiating in the biennial competition.

In Mali vs Tunisia game which the Eagles won by a lone goal, the Zimbabwean had ended the match twice before time, stirring pushbacks from the 2004 champions.

The Tunisian press had in the wake of the controversy, slammed the decision and labelled it a “scandal.”

Although the Carthage Eagles had filed an appeal for the match to be replayed, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) dismissed the protest.

“After examining the protest of Tunisia and all the match officials’ reports, the Committee decided to dismiss the protest lodged by the Tunisian team,” the continent’s leading football body said in a short statement late Thursday. ”It also decided that the match result will stand as 1-0 in favour of Mali.”

Push For Knockout Stage Berths Intensifies

And as the second round of matches intensifies at the competition, the push for a place in the next stage of the AFCON has also increased. Host nation Cameroon were the first to seal a round of 16 place after a comfortable 4-1 win over Ethiopia. The Indomitable Lions had beaten Burkina Faso 2-1 in the AFCON 2021 opener.

Cameroon were not the only side to have reached the next round of the soccer fiesta. A day after their win, the North African team, Morocco, also got to the knockout stage following a 2-0 win over debutants, the Comoros Island on Friday.

Later on, Malawi revived their hopes of qualification after a 2-1 victory against Zimbabwe. Senegal drew with Guinea and will need to wait until the final round of games to seal a round of 16 spot.

Super Eagles Aim For Qualification

Nigeria are confident of sealing a place in the next stage of the tournament when they take on Sudan in their second Group D tie.

The Super Eagles are favoured to take all three points against the Falcons of Jediane, days after they beat record-holders, Egypt.

Ahead of the game, Coach Austine Eguaveon said his team are focussed on winning the game and will take each match as they come.

“I am happy with the players and their ability to give their best on the pitch. I am focused on winning against Sudan at the moment,” the 1994 AFCON winner said.

“I am not thinking about anything else or how we will start our third match. We are completely focused on our match against Sudan. Beating Egypt was not easy, and we are looking forward to continuing our victories and qualifying for the next round.”

In the other game in the group, Egypt will want to reignite their campaign against Guinea-Bissau.

Djokovic’s Vaccination Drama Continues

Away from football, tennis star, Novak Djokovic’s vaccination drama continued as the Australian authorities delayed his deportation.

This is pending his renewed legal challenge. During an emergency hearing, Stephen Lloyd told a judge that the Australian government could not detain Djokovic before an interview with immigration officials on Saturday morning and he would not be deported before his case is heard.

The vaccine-sceptic Serbian won a court battle to remain and has been training at Melbourne Park and was included in the draw for the competition.

Winter Olympics: Germany Warns Athletes 

Weeks before the Winter Olympics, German authorities have warned its athletes to avoid Chinese food.

The German Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) fears that athletes may risk ingesting clenbuterol, a steroid that is used to fatten pigs and calves before they are sent to slaughter.

“The consumption of meat should, therefore, if possible, be avoided, and the alternatives should be discussed with the nutritionist,” said NADA in its on Monday.

Man Linked With Okagbare’s Doping Arrested

An American,  Eric Lira, has been arrested in connection to Blessing Okagbare’s failed drug test.

He was arrested on Wednesday in El-Paso, Texas for enabling doping in international sports. One of the charges against Lira claimed he gave performance-enhancing drugs to the sprinter during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

NPFL Enters Matchday 6

On the local scene, matches are billed to take place this weekend in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).

In one of the big games, Rangers International will host MFM in Enugu on Sunday. Other matches will see Abia Warriors take on Heartland; Gombe United welcome Enyimba in another encounter on Sunday while Rivers United and Kwara United battle each other.

NWFL Gathers Steam

Just as the men, the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL) games have also gathered steam. Earlier in the week, six games were played across the country.

Edo Queens defeated Nasarawa Amazon 2-1; Adamawa Queens beat Confluence Queens by a lone goal while Osun Babes down Pelican Stars 2-0 in Group A of the league.

And in Group B,  Bayelsa Queens devoured Royal Queens by 3-0; Sunshine Queens FC snatched a win over FC Robo Queens. The other match saw Rivers Angels clip Abia Angels’ wings 4-0.

FIFA Suspends Pape Gueye

Senegal’s Pape Gueye has been suspended by FIFA due to a transfer dispute. His Senegalese coach, Aliou Cisse confirmed this on Friday.

“There were problems between Watford and Marseille on a transfer. FIFA has suspended him,” he said.

Midfielder Gueye, who is with the Teranga Lions at the AFCON – began his career at Le Havre and was due to become a free agent in the summer of 2020.

In April of the year, Gueye sealed a pre-contract with Watford before changing his mind and agreeing to a deal with Marseille.

He has since played 61 times for the Ligue 1 side in all competitions.

Sterling Wins Player Of The Month

England striker, Raheem Sterling, has won the Premier League Player of the Month for December.

The Manchester City forward netted give league goals and also provided one assist in the month under review. His efforts helped City win all seven domestic matches.

Sterling, who became the first Manchester City player to win the prize this season, beat teammate, Joao Cancelo.

Guardiola Scoops Manager of the Month

Sterling’s boss, Pep Guardiola, also claimed the Premier League Manager of the Month for December.

The win is the Spaniards 11th award as the manager of the month, moving him third on the overall standings. Only former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, and ex-Manchester United coach, Alex Fergusson have more awards.

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