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AFCON 2023: Resurgent Elephants Dethrone Senegal, Book Quarter Final Ticket In Shootout Win




By Henry Okoduwa

Cote d’Ivoire shocked the bookmakers to record probably their biggest win in the ongoing African Cup of Nations after coming from behind to send current champions, Senegal packing from the tournament courtesy of a shoot out win in Abidjan late on Monday.

Senegal who had not lost a single game following emphatic victories over Guinea, Cameroun and Gambia had been favoured by the bookmakers to have the edge over an Ivorian side that had had a calamitous campaign before then.

Ivorian players redeemed themselves by crashing the dreams of the Senegalese on Monday

The Ivorians who had only managed a single win in three games before their clash with the Senegalese were low on confidence having waited till the last day of the preliminary rounds to qualify as a third best team from Group A that had Equitorial Guinea, Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau.

Against the Teranga Lions who were on a fantastic run, garnering as high as the maximum nine points from their group, the Elephants did not stand a chance.

But the two-time winners and hosts of the current edition did find a way to revive their campaign in a game full of so much drama, and bring smiles to the faces of their long-suffering compatriots who had endured their tepid renditions up till then.

The Elephants had found themselves trailing as early as the third minute after Habib Diallo guided home a sleek Sadio Mane pass to deal a crucial blow to any hopes the Elephants had of starting the game on a strong footing.

They were in disarray and were just like sitting ducks waiting to be taken apart by a Senegalese side full of confidence and technical ability.

But, fate would play a hand in favour of the hosts as they came back into the game after Nicolas Pepe had been brought down in the Senegalese box barely in the 83rd minute.

Franck Kessie stepped forward, scored the resultant penalty to send a once silent stadium full of Ivorians into raptures. There were, of course, close shaves where the Ivorians escaped being punished on the counter by a Sadio Mane-led attack but the Elephants did well to smother them and send the game into extra time.

Extra time was a ding-dong affair and the action swung from end to end with no clear chances created by either team to put the game to bed.

At the end, the game would go to penalties. Senegal scored all but one of their spotkicks while Cote d’Ivoire proved the more clinical of both teams, putting away all five of hers.

Former Arsenal star, Nicolas Pepe began the kicks and Franck Kessie finished it as Cote d’Ivoire won the game 5-4 on penalties to cause an absolute bedlam in the stadium as well as in the streets of Abidjan, and indeed all major cities in the French-speaking West African country.

Cote d’Ivoire will now be playing Cape Verde who had beaten Mauritania by the odd goal in an earlier fixture on Monday.



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Mbappe Joins Real Madrid



– Kylian Mbappe unveiled as Real Madrid player
– Signs five-year contract and gets No. 9 shirt
– Calls himself a “happy boy” and promises to give his all

Kylian Mbappe was officially presented as a Real Madrid player at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday.

Following a successful medical earlier in the day, Mbappe put pen to paper on a five-year contract with the Spanish giants.

Club president Florentino Perez handed Mbappe the iconic No. 9 shirt, a gesture that left the French striker beaming with pride.

“For years, I’ve dreamed of playing for Real Madrid, and today my dream has come true,” Mbappe said, addressing the thousands of fans in attendance. “I’m a happy boy, and I’m going to give my life for this club,” he added.

Although his teammates have already begun training, Mbappe will enjoy a few more days off before joining the squad.


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Spain’s Young Talents and Veteran Experience Blend for Euro 2024 Final Showdown



Spain's Young Talents and Veteran Experience Blend for Euro 2024 Final Showdown

As Spain prepares to face England in the Euro 2024 final on Sunday, coach Luis de la Fuente is rallying his team to make history.

The Spanish national team, known as La Roja, is aiming for a record fourth European Championship title, their last victory coming 12 years ago.

De la Fuente praised the current generation of players, highlighting their potential to create a lasting legacy. “It’s a brilliant generation, many of them have come through successful youth levels and that usually bodes well for success,” he told reporters on Saturday. “We want to start to make history – and we have made history already in the run to (the final)… I trust in a great future, there’s both present and future.”

While Spain’s previous successes were built around stars from Barcelona and Real Madrid, the current squad boasts a more balanced mix of talent. The team’s unity has been a recurring theme throughout the tournament.

Despite Spain’s impressive run to the final, De la Fuente expects a closely contested match against England. He emphasized the importance of concentration and capitalizing on opportunities, stating, “We need to have maximum concentration, not make any mistakes and take advantage of the chances we have – put them away.”

The coach also addressed the blend of youth and experience in his squad. Speaking about young talents Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams, De la Fuente said, “It’s not at all hard, they have such joy, and incredible maturity for such young players, they understand the sport very well and they are well accompanied by more experienced players.”

On the other end of the spectrum, 38-year-old defender Jesus Navas brings a wealth of experience to the team. Navas, who has won multiple international trophies with Spain, expressed his joy at still representing his country: “To still be enjoying myself with my national team at 38 is incredible.”

As Spain looks to add another chapter to its footballing history, the combination of youthful exuberance and seasoned experience could prove crucial in their pursuit of European glory against England in Berlin.

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