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Man City defender Kabore celebrates Burkina Faso AFCON prospects

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Manchester City defender, Issa Kabore, hopes to catch the eye with Burkina Faso at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Kabore has been outstanding on-loan with Troyes this season.

Speaking to Troyes’ website, Kabore said: “I am very happy to participate in this competition and I can’t wait to start it. In previous years I watched the competition on television and now I will find myself on the pitch. It’s a pleasure to be able to play the CAN and I will give everything, especially to make the people of Burkina Faso proud.

read also:Liverpool Covid-19 outbreak included lots of false positives: Klopp

“It is a childhood dream today to participate in this great tournament. I think we have some very good players. Some young people like me who also play their first CAN. We all want to do great things as a team. We hope to create the feat during this competition.

“We will play [Cameroon] with a lot of determination and seriousness. We know that we are facing a great football nation and we will have to respond present on the field. I’ve never faced this team and can’t wait to meet them.”

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Nigeria battle Tunisia for AFCON q-finals ticket

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Africa Cup of Nations returns with another nerve-racking fixture as two African heavyweight in Nigeria and Tunisia go head to head at the Roumde Adija Stadium for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

This will be the second knockout-stage encounter between the sides in three years after the Super Eagles secured a slender 1-0 victory in last edition’s third-place playoff tie in Egypt and this makes for an exciting watch.

Nigeria’s William Troost-Ekong celebrates scoring their second goal against South Africa on July 10, 2019
© Reuters

Nigeria have enjoyed a sensational start to the Africa Cup of Nations and head into the knockout stages as the standout side and team to beat at the tournament after a string of thrilling results.

read also:Awoniyi eyes victory over Tunisia after Berlin win
The Super Eagles kicked off their quest to conquer the continent for a fourth time on a brilliant note as they saw off fellow group favourites Egypt 1-0 on January 11 courtesy of Kelechi Iheanacho’s 30th-minute strike.

This was followed by an even more dominant display in their second group outing as they cruised to a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Sudan four days later, when Samuel Chukwueze, Taiwo Awoniyi and Moses Simon netted before Walieldin Khidir pulled one back from the spot in the 70th minute.

Nigeria wrapped things up in the group stages last time out when they claimed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau when the sides met at the Roumde Adjia Stadium last time out.

With the Djurtus needing all three points to secure passage into the knockout stages, it was Augustine Eguavoen’s men who took the lead through Umar Sadiq’s goal 11 minutes after the interval before William Troost-Ekomg made sure of the result with a 75th-minute strike.

With three wins from their first three games, Nigeria clinched top spot in Group D, three points ahead of second-place Egypt, and are the only side with a perfect record at the tournament so far.

The 2013 champions head into Sunday’s game unbeaten in each of their last six outings across all competitions, claiming five wins and one draw since a October’s 1-0 loss against Central African Republic in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

On the other hand, Tunisia, who have barely caught the eye at the tournament, head into the round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides in the group stages.

The Eagles of Cartage were denied a dream start to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign when they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mali at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium in their opening game on January 12.

Like all good sides do, Mondher Kebaier’s men responded in fine fashion as they steamrollered Mauritania 4-0 in their second group outing four days later, when veteran forward Wahbi Khazri put on a clinic, scoring two goals and registering one assist.

However, the 2004 champions were stunned by an inexperienced Gambia side who secured a 1-0 win when they met in their final group game last time out, when Ablie Jallow scored a dramatic 93rd-minute winner to send the Scorpions through to the knockout stages in their first-ever appearance at the tournament.

Tunisia’s struggle for form so far has been in no small part owing to the lack of sting at the attacking end of the pitch as they have now failed to score in three of their last four games across all competitions.

They will now look to bounce back once again and get one over their West African counterparts who snatched a 1-0 victory courtesy of Odion Ighalo’s third-minute strike when the sides went toe to toe for Bronze in Egypt three years back.

Looking at past results between Nigeria and Tunisia, we can expect a cagey contest on Sunday as the results have been split right down the middle in the history of this fixture, with both sides claiming six wins apiece, while the spoils have been shared on eight different occasions.

 

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Serie A: Dzeko strikes late to save Inter against Venezia

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Edin Dzeko made sure that Inter Milan would hold off their Serie A title rivals on Saturday with a last-gasp strike which gave the league leaders a 2-1 win over Venezia.

The Bosnian’s first goal in nine matches in all competitions put the champions five points ahead of AC Milan, who now need to beat Champions League-chasing Juventus on Sunday night to make sure that their local rivals don’t start to pull away from the chasing pack.

With the Milan derby next up after the coming international break, Dzeko’s bullet header relieves the pressure on Inter, who were below their best against spirited opposition who had come into the game hit with a host of Covid-19 cases.

Third-placed Napoli are now seven points behind Simone Inzaghi’s side before they host bottom-side Salernitana on Sunday afternoon.

Defeat was a crushing blow for Venezia, who opened the scoring through Thomas Henry but sit 17th, two points above the relegation zone.

Henry gave the away side a shock lead in the 19th minute when he met Ethan Ampadu’s deep cross with a powerful header that flew past Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

From that moment on it was almost entirely one-way traffic, with a well-organised Venezia holding off a wave of Inter attacks which lacked their usual incisiveness.

A home crowd limited to 5 000 by Covid regulations grew frustrated as hosts struggled to break down their relatively lowly opposition, with Lautaro Martinez sending a bicycle kick way over the bar 10 minutes before the break.

However they did find the breakthrough five minutes five minutes later when after Ivan Perisic’s fizzing volley was pushed away Nicolo Barella lashed home his second league goal of the season on the rebound.

A baffling Dzeko miss left fans opened-mouth just before the hour mark, the Bosnia striker somehow poking over the bar from inches away after Luca Lezzerini fumbled the ball into his path from Stefano de Vrij’s header.

Inter created little after Federico Dimarco’s powerful free-kick was pushed away but Dzeko made up for his earlier miss by meeting Denzel Dumfries cross with a header to which Lezzerini couldn’t get near.

Earlier Genoa played out a goalless draw with Udinese in the struggling Serie A side’s first match under new coach Alexander Blessin.

Blessin, a top-level novice, arrived on the Italian riviera from Belgian team KV Oostende on Wednesday as Genoa try to climb out of the drop zone.

Genoa performed with more verve than under his predecessors Andriy Shevchenko and Davide Ballardini but missed some presentable opportunities.

They kept pushing for their first league win since mid-September after Andrea Cambiaso was sent off with 11 minutes remaining.

Read Also: AFCON: Moses Simon, Troost-Ekong listed in CAF Best XI

However they stay second-bottom in Serie A after their 20th match without victory, on 13 points, five behind Venezia.

Blessin was a left-field name for Genoa, as Oostende was Blessin’s first senior coaching position after coming up through the academy system at RB Leipzig.

He took over at Oostende in 2020 and led the team to fifth in the Belgian top flight. His former team sat 15th in the 18-team league, four points above the relegation play-off spot, when he departed for Genoa.

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EPL: Man City held by Southampton

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Aymeric Laporte spared Manchester City’s blushes as the Premier League leaders were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Saturday.

City were rocked by Kyle Walker-Peters’ first ever top-flight goal in the opening minutes.

After a poor first half by their high standards, Pep Guardiola’s side kicked into gear after the break.

Spain defender Laporte headed the equaliser, but City could not extend their winning streak in a one-sided finale that saw the visitors lay seige to the Southampton goal.

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Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte

Read Also: AFCON: Moses Simon, Troost-Ekong listed in CAF Best XI

The champions had to settle for a result that left them 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who have two games in hand and face Crystal Palace on Sunday.

For the first time since they were beaten 2-0 by Palace on October 30, City finished a league game without all three points.

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