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AFCON QUALIFIERS TIPS & PREVIEWS: What You Need To Know About Friday Games: Togo Yet To Register A Win!

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Friday AFCON games:

Cameroon vs Malawi5:30

Gabon vs South Sudan 6:00

Angola  vs Mauritania 6:00

Guinea vs Rwanda 6:00

Togo – Gambia 8:00

Mali vs Burundi 9 :00

Algeria vs Benin 9:00

 

Togo and Gambia will be hoping to re-ignite their respective hopes of reaching the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when they lock horns in a third round qualifying match at the Stade Municipal in Lomé on Friday evening.

The two nations have yet to register a win between them after two rounds of fixtures with Group D rivals Algeria and Benin currently occupying the two automatic qualifying spots.

Togo suffered a 1-0 defeat away to the Fennec Foxes before being held to a goalless draw by the Squirrels of Benin in their most recent qualifier.  Gambia have also conjured a mere point thus far with a 1-0 loss in Benin last year followed by a hard-fought 1-1 draw at home to Algeria last month.

The Scorpions head coach Tom Saintfiet has kept faith in the players that helped Gambia to a well-earned point at home to the more fancied Algerians, with the likes of Bubacarr Trawally, Omar Colley, Hamza Barry and Modou Barrow all overlooked.

Instead, Saintfiet will be counting on the likes of Atalanta’s Musa Barrow as they set their sights on what would be a first AFCON appearance in Cameroon next year.

“For the other people (the missing players) it is not a selection against them, it’s a selection for the people we choose,” Saintfiet said.

“It would be unfair as a coaching team not to recognize that, not to respect that and to drop people who have shown me as a new coach that they’re ready to fight and die for the country.”

Claude Le Roy’s Togo can still count on former Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur forward Emmanuel Adebayor who is still scoring goals in Turkey’s top flight.

In three previous meetings between the two sides, both Togo and Gambia have claimed a win apiece with the other game ending all square.

Verdict:

Adebayor to score and Togo will edge it out.

Togo – Gambia-1

Mali’s inform striker Moussa Marega

Can Burundi Upset The Inform Mali?

Mali will be aiming to build on their unblemished record when they play host to Burundi in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako on Friday evening.

The Eagles currently occupy top spot in Group C following two wins from two matches. Mali followed a 2-1 win at home to Gabon with a 3-0 thumping of South Sudan in Juba last month, and will be eyeing a third successive victory in the Malian capital.

Mali head coach Mohammed Magassouba has handed maiden national call-ups to Cheick Oumar Doucoure and Alimani Gory for their back-to-back games against Burundi.

There is still no place for captain Yacouba Sylla who has struggled for game time in Belgium, while West Brom’s Bakary Sako was also not summoned.

Mali boast an exciting squad with the likes of Amadou Haidara,Yves Bissouma and Moussa Marega in their ranks. Haidara has especially caught the eye for Red Bull Salzburg and has been tipped for a bright future. Burundi currently occupy second spot in the group with a 3-0 win over South Sudan.

Verdict:

Mali vs Burundi-1/gg

Zaha is ready despite being in great form at Crystal Palace

Can Ivory Coast Blow Away CAR

Ivory Coast will square off with Central African Republic (CAR) in the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualification Group H match.

The encounter will be played at the Stade Bouake in Bouake on Friday, October 12.

The Elephants secured a 2-1 over Rwanda away in their previous 2019 AFCON qualifier last month.

The win extended Ivory Coast’s unbeaten run to four matches in all competitions having two draws and two wins.  The West African giants will be targeting nothing but a victory against an unpredictable CAR side.

Meanwhile, CAR suffered a 1-0 defeat to Guinea away in their previous 2019 AFCON qualifier last month.

The defeat ended the Wild Beasts’ four-match unbeaten run in all competitions having recorded two draws and two wins.

The West African side will be hoping to cause an upset against a strong Ivory Coast side.

Verdict:

Ivory Coast – Central African Republic-1/over

More betting tips Friday:

Gabon -South Sudan-1

Angola – Mauritania-1

Guinea – Rwanda-1/gg

Cameroon – Malawi-1

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Messi Is Not God – Pope Francis Warns Fans On Calling Barcelona Talisman God

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Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church believes fellow Barcelona talisman and fellow Argentine Lionel Messi, “is not God”.

Many consider the mercurial South American to be a sporting deity, with his achievements raising the bar of individual excellence.

He is worshipped as a hero by millions around the world and has seen his record-breaking on-field efforts lead to him being showered with praise and major honours – both collective and individual.

A five-time Ballon d’Or winner may not seem human to some, but Pope Francis feels it is wrong to bestow labels of “God” onto those who are mere mortals.

Asked by Spanish television show Salvados on La Sexta whether such a billing for Messi could be considered sacrilegious, as it breaks the third commandment by using the Lord’s name in vain, Pope Francis said: “In theory, it’s a sacrilege.

“You can’t say it and I don’t believe it. I think people say ‘he is God’ just as they say ‘I adore you’. You have to adore only God. “It’s expressions that people use. This is a god with the ball on the pitch. It’s a popular way that people have of expressing themselves.

“Of course, it is a joy [to watch Messi play]. But he is not God.”

Pope Francis is known to be a football fan. He is a member at Argentinian side San Lorenzo, having been born and raised in Buenos Aires, and has mingled with stars of the sporting world in the past.

During the summer of 2013, Messi and the rest of the Albiceleste squad took in a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Barcelona’s superstar forward told reporters the event was “short but beautiful”.

Messi and his international team-mates also sent a signed shirt to Pope Francis on the back of their display at the 2014 World Cup which saw them finish as runners-up to Germany. They are back in the trophy hunt for 2019, with the next staging of the Copa America in Brazil fast approaching.

Messi will be excepted to lead the charge once again for his country in that competition, as he waits on a first senior title with Argentina, but he has recently admitted that the pressure placed on his shoulders and the reaction of those in his homeland to his performances can be difficult to handle at times.

Additional reporting from Goal.com

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Uganda Cranes To Bank On Onyango’s Brilliancy Against Tanzania

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AFCON 2019 Qualifier Group L:

Sunday, 24th March 2019

Tanzania Vs Uganda Cranes,6:00

CRANES SKIPPER Denis Onyango, currently alias Mr. Clean Sheets in the Africa Cup qualifiers will be determined to extend his record as they take on Tanzania in the last game.

Cranes qualified in November with Patrick Kaddu’s goal ate Namboole and Sebastien Desabre is expected to experiment with some few young players as he prepares for CHAN.

“We have already qualified and one of our tasks is to take a clean-sheet to Egypt but I give a lot of respect to Tanzania,” Onyango said.

Cranes had a week-long camp in Ismailia Egypt and Farouk Miya was the last professional player to arrive in camp from HK Gorica were he does his professional duties. The game will take place on Sunday.

They are 15 foreign-based players summoned by the French tactician Sebastien Desabre.

What Tanzania need;

Tanzania, the hosts only need to beat Uganda and hope Lesotho falter in Cape Verde to qualify.

Lesotho are second in Group L on five points, same as Tanzania but have a better head-to-head record. The two are a massive eight behind Uganda. All three – Lesotho, Tanzania and Cape Verde – can still qualify on the final day.

“All I am asking for is for Tanzanians to continue to supporting Taifa Stars with prayers for the team to down Uganda Cranes and sail through,” chairman of a special committee formed to ensure the Taifa Stars qualify for the finals Paul Mukonda said.

Head To Head:

Uganda      0-0 Tanzania                

Uganda      1-1 Tanzania                

Tanzania 0-3 Uganda           

Uganda      2-2 Tanzania                

Uganda      3-1 Tanzania                

Tanzania 0-1 Uganda           

Tanzania 0-3 Uganda

Players in camp: Defenders: Murushid Jjuuko (Simba, Tanzania), Timothy Awany (KCCA, Uganda), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers, Uganda), Geofrey Walusimbi (Free Agent), Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Kirizestom Ntambi (Ethiopian Coffee), Nico Wakiro Wadada (Azam, Tanzania)

Midfielders: Khalid Aucho (Churchhill brothers, India), Hassan Wasswa Mawanda (Free Agent), Tadeo Lwanga (Vipers, Uganda), Ibrahim Sadam Juma (KCCA, Uganda), Moses Waiswa (Vipers, Uganda), Moses Opondo (Vendsyssel FF, Denmark)

Forwards: Faruku Miya (Gorica, Croatia), Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (Simba, Tanzania), Allan Kyambadde (KCCA, Uganda), Allan Okello (KCCA,Uganda), Edrisa Lubega (SV Ried, Austria), Muhammad Shaban (Raja Casablanca, Morocco), Henry Patrick Kaddu (KCCA, Uganda), Milton Karisa (MC Oujda, Morocco).

Betting Tips:

Saturday:

Senegal vs Madagascar-‘over’

Burundi vs Gabon-1/gg                 

Cameroon vs Comoros-1              

Niger vs Egypt-2

Zambia vs Namibia-2           

G.Bissau vs Mozambique-1 

Côte d’Ivoire vs Rwanda-1  

Ghana vs Kenya-1

Mali vs South Sudan-1

Sunday:

Zimbabwe vs Congo-GG                

Congo DR vs Liberia-GG                

Central Africa vs Guinea-X1

Benin vs Togo-‘over’/gg info

Tanzania vs Uganda-‘over’  

Cape Verde Islands vs Lesotho-GG                  

Libya vs South Africa-‘over’/gg

Betting Tips

Saturday:

Georgia vs Switzerland-‘over’       

Gibraltar vs Republic-2

Sweden vs Romaia-X1/GG

By Senior Reprter, Kussam Kalema

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AFCON QUALIFIERS: Who Occupies The Last 10 Slots?

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AFCON QUALIFIERS

Friday games:

Malawi vs Morocco, 4:00

Nigeria vs Seychelles,6:00

Burkina Faso vs Mauritania,8:00

Botswana vs Angola,8:00

Sudan vs E.Guinea,8:00

Tunisia vs Swaziland,9:15

Algeria vs Gambia,10:45

Saturday games:

Burundi vs Gabon,4:00

Cameroon vs Comoros,6:00

Niger vs Egypt,6:30

Guinea-Bissau vs Mozambique,7:30

Zambia vs Namibia,7:30

Ivroy Coast vs Rwanda,8:00

Ghana vs Kenya,9:00

Mali vs South Sudan,10:00

Sunday games:

Senegal vs Madagascar,5:00

DR Congo vs Liberia,4:00

Zimbabwe vs Congo,4:00

C.A.R VS Guinea,5:00

Cape Verde VS Lesotho,6:00

Tanzania VS Uganda,6:00

Benin VS Togo,6:00

Libya VS South Africa,8:00

AS the last Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers take place this weekend, the Grapevine breaks down all the games of the teams that are fighting for the last 10 slots.

Cameroon will look to secure a place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when they host the Comoros for their final Group B qualifier. The match is set to be staged at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on Saturday.

Cameroon come into the match in second place in the standings with eight points from five matches, and they hold a three-point lead over the Comoros.

The Indomitable Lions, therefore, need only a draw to secure a place at the 2019 finals. Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf says he is working hard at ensuring his team takes full advantage of their strengths and improve their attacking potency.

“Scoring goals comes and goes with time but the most important thing is that we continue creating chances. The entire team must work and we then we have to score goals,” Seedorf told reporters in Yaounde earlier this week.

“We have to improve on our free-kicks and corners. We have to take advantage of our great physical power and the height in the team. This is something we’ve analysed and are keen on improving.”

Comoros coach Amir Abdou has done credible work with his team, he was recently rewarded with a new contract. The very fact that the minnows still have a shot at qualifying heading into the final round of matches is a highly creditable achievement.

Can Aubameyang Save Gabon?

Burundi and Gabon will battle it out for a ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when they lock horns at the Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium in Bujumbura on Saturday afternoon. Two points separate the two nations in Group C heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures, with first placed Mali having already booked their place at this year’s showpiece in Egypt.

Burundi head into Saturday’s fixture as clear favourites to confirm their place at a first ever Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The hosts sit two points clear with the Panthers in third and nine ahead of winless South Sudan – who have already been eliminated from qualification contention.

The Swallows will advance to this year’s continental showpiece with either a draw or win, while Gabon need nothing but victory if they are to pip their hosts and join Mali in Egypt.

Joint top-scorer in qualifying Fiston Abdul Razak scored four goals for Burundi in a 5-2 win over South Sudan last time out, to fire his nation onto the cusp of qualification.

Battle For Top Place As Ghana Hosts Kenya

Kenya and Ghana will battle for top spot in 2019 Africa Cup qualifiers slated to take place in Ghana Accra on Saturday.

Both nations have already qualified for the tournament in Egypt, following a qualifying campaign that included the disqualification of Sierra Leone.

The Harambee Stars currently top the group with seven points from three fixtures. Kenya beat Ghana 1-0 in Nairobi lasy year thanks to an own goal from Nicholas Poku in the first half.

By Kussam Kalema, Senior Reporter

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