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The magic is over as Pele’s Brazil’s club, Santos is relegated for first time ever

Pele’s former club Santos were relegated for the first time in their 111-year history on Wednesday following a 2-1 home loss to Fortaleza in the final round of Brazil’s Serie A.

The costal city team were one of three clubs, along with Sao Paulo and Flamengo, never to have been relegated from Brazil’s top flight but a woeful run of five games without a victory saw them drop to 17th in the standings with 43 points.

America Mineiro, Coritiba and Goias had already been assured of relegation from the 20-team division.

City Football Group-owned Bahia secured their top-flight status with a resounding 4-1 win over Atletico Mineiro, while Vasco da Gama stayed out of the drop zone with a 2-1 win over Bragantino.

Santos had looked set to stave off relegation when they stood level at 1-1 with Fortaleza in the second half and with Vasco being held 1-1 by Bragantino.

However, Serginho’s goal for Vasco in the 82nd minute and a stoppage-time goal from Fortaleza’s Lucero condemned the three-times Copa Libertadores champions to relegation in front of their frustrated home fans.

At the other end of the table, Endrick, who is set to join Real Madrid in July, scored in the 21st minute to help Palmeiras to a 1-1 draw at Cruzeiro that secured back-to back championships and a record-extending 12th title.

Late Brazilian great Pele helped Santos become one of the most famous clubs in world football, the side enjoying a golden era in the 1950s and 1960s that saw them win 10 state and six Brazilian league titles.

They also lifted the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, in 1962 and 1963, the same years won they won the Intercontinental Cup, the trophy played for by the top teams from Europe and South America.

In addition to Pele, Santos has produced a host of outstanding players such as former AC Milan striker Robinho, Brazil’s top scorer Neymar and Real Madrid forward Rodrygo.




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Italy’s sports prosecutors request 4-year ban for Pogba

Italy’s sports prosecutors have requested a four-year ban for Juventus (JUVE.MI) midfielder Paul Pogba over doping allegations, sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport and other Italian media reported on Thursday.

Pogba was suspended in September after a test by Italy’s national anti-doping organisation detected testosterone, a hormone that increases athletes’ endurance, after Juve’s 3-0 Serie A season-opening victory at Udinese on Aug. 20.

His positive doping test was confirmed in a counter-analysis on a second sample in October.




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 Oshoala set for record extending sixth win of African Women’s Footballer of the Year


Serial winner, Nigeria and FC Barcelona’s Asisat Oshoala has been named in the final three of the African Women’s Footballer of the Year. Contesting with her are the duo of Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa and Zambia’s Barbara Banda .

Oshoala, a winner of the UEFA Women’s Champions League with FC Barcelona and also the Copa de la Reina (Queen’s Cup) is gunning for a sixth win since her first ‘coronation’ in 2014. She was also the winner in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2022.

She remains the most winner after edging out compatriot and four time winner: Perpetua Nkwocha. Her major opponent will be Thembi Kgatlana, winner of the 2018 edition.

Kgatlana plays as a forward for America’s Racing Louisville. She featured at the 2016 Olympics and was at the  2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations  Player of the Tournament and was the highest goal scorer.

Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa

Kgatlana was at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France where she scored her country’s first goal ever in the tournament. On 2 August 2023, she scored the winning goal in a 3–2 victory over Italy at the Women’s World Cup. It was South Africa’s  first ever win in the competition which led to their qualification to the knockout phase.

The third contender is Zambia’s Barbara Banda who surmounted pre-tournament gender controversy to score the historic 1,000th goal in Women’s World Cup history.

Zambia’s Barbara Banda

Before then, the former woman professional boxer and captain of the Zambia’s women football team was denied the chance of playing at last year’s WAFCON in Morocco due to her abnormally high levels of testosterone.

In layman’s language, she was seen more as a man than a woman. FIFA however cleared her to feature at the Women’s World Cup this year.

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Last hurdle for Osimhen to be crowned as African soccer king


Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen is on track to be named as the first African Footballer of the Year since Nwankwo Kanu was crowned in January 2000 as the winner for the 1999 edition.

Twenty three years later, the pendulum heavily swings to Osimhen’s favour. With barely five days to the ‘coronation day’, CAF has unveiled Victor Osimhen as one of the top three nominees for the lead award, the African Footballer of Year.

The two other contenders are home boy, Achraf Hakimi of Morocco who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in the French Ligue 1 as well as serial contender,  Mohamed Salah of Egypt and English Premiership side, Liverpool.

Similarly, the final three of all the other categories have been unveiled.

The ultimate winner of each category is decided following votes from a panel consisting of CAF Technical Committee, media professionals from Member Associations, Head Coaches and Captains of Member Associations and clubs involved in the group stages of the Interclub competitions.

The Awards Gala will take place on Monday at the Palais des Congrès, Movenpick, Marrakech, Morocco at 7pm in Nigeria and local time (18H00 GMT).


Full List of Nominees (in alphabetic order by Member Association):

Player of the Year (Men)

Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool)

Achraf Hakimi (Morocco, Paris Saint-Germain)

Victor Osimhen (Nigeria, Napoli)


Player of the Year (Women)

Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria, Barcelona)

Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa, Racing Louisville)

Barbara Banda (Zambia, Shanghai Shengli)


Interclub Player of the Year (Men)

Fiston Mayele (DR Congo, Pyramids)

Peter Shalulile (Namibia, Mamelodi Sundowns)

Percy Tau (South Africa, Al Ahly)


Interclub Player of the Year (Women)

Refilwe Tholakele (Botswana, Mamelodi Sundowns)

Fatima Tagnaout (Morocco, AS FAR)

Lebohang Ramalepe (South Africa, Mamelodi Sundowns)


Coach of the Year (Men)

Abdelhak Benchika (Algeria, Simba SC)

Walid Regragui (Morocco)

Aliou Cisse (Senegal)


Coach of the Year (Women)

Reynald Pedros (Morocco)

Desiree Ellis (South Africa)

Jerry Tshabalala (South Africa, Mamelodi Sundowns)


Goalkeeper of the Year (Men)

Andre Onana (Cameroon, Manchester United)

Mohamed El Shenawy (Egypt, Al Ahly)

Yassine Bounou (Morocco, Al Hilal)


Goalkeeper of the Year (Women)

Khadija Er-Rmichi (Morocco, AS FAR)

Chiamaka Nnadozie (Nigeria, Paris FC)

Andile Dlamini (South Africa, Mamelodi Sundowns)


Young Player of the Year (Men)

Abdessamad Ezzalzouli (Morocco, Real Betis)

Lamine Camara (Senegal, Metz)

Amara Diouf (Senegal, Metz)


Young Player of the Year (Women)

Comfort Yeboah (Ghana, Ampem Darkoa)

Nesryne El Chad (Morocco, Lille)

Deborah Abiodun (Nigeria, Pittsburgh Panthers)


National Team of the Year (Men)





National Team of the Year (Women)



South Africa


Club of the Year (Men)

Al Ahly (Egypt)

Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco)

Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)


Club of the Year (Women)

AS FAR (Morocco)

Sporting Casablanca (Morocco)

Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)

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Egypt gets hosting rights for 2027 African Games

The Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA) awarded Egypt the hosting rights for the 2027 African Games, the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports announced on Tuesday morning.

The African Games, formally known as the All-Africa Games or the Pan African Games, are a continental multi-sport event held every four years.

The announcement was made by ANOCA on Monday, in which they confirmed that the 2027 African Games would be the African qualifiers for the LA 2028 Olympic Games.

Six-time winners of the tournament, Egypt, previously hosted the African Games once in 1991, winning the title at the time.


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Argentina’s Messi named Time’s Athlete of the Year for 2023

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been named Time magazine’s Athlete of the Year for 2023 after winning the Ballon d’Or for a record-extending eighth time and elevating the profile of the sport in the U.S. with his move to Inter Miami.

Messi played a key role in guiding Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years when they beat defending champions France in the final in December last year.

The 36-year-old had no shortage of offers when he left Paris St Germain earlier this year, choosing to sign for Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami despite being linked with his former team Barcelona and a big-money move to Saudi side Al-Hilal.

“The truth is that fortunately, I had several options on the table that were interesting, and I had to analyse them and think, even weigh them up with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami,” Messi told Time.

Messi made an instant impact at Miami, scoring 10 goals in seven Leagues Cup appearances as he spurred them to victory in the tournament which features MLS teams as well as sides from Mexico.

The Argentine’s arrival in the U.S. also made waves off the pitch, causing a massive spike in searches for match dates and tickets to see him in action, with fans also buying up his official pink Inter Miami shirt.

The price of tickets to Inter Miami games skyrocketed, while Apple TV, which has a 10-year partnership with the MLS, saw a significant increase in subscriptions, according to research firm Antenna.

“Messi managed to do what once seemed impossible: turning the U.S. into a soccer country,” Time wrote.

Simone Biles, LeBron James and the United States women’s soccer team have won the award in recent years, with Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees winning in 2022.



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Morocco 2024 WAFCON field now complete

Most of the heavyweights make the final cut as all the 12 teams for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations have now emerged.


The biggest absentees are Equatorial Guinea sides who ranked next in terms of titles. They were winners in 2008 and 2012.


Multiple champions, the Super Falcons of Nigeria lead a loaded field comprising of reigning champions, South Africa, Morocco (Hosts) Algeria, Botswana,  Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia. The others are three-time finalists, Ghana and one-time bronze medallists DR Congo


Nine-time champions Nigeria and hosts Morocco lead an exciting field packed with leading continental heavyweights.

Joining them are reigning title holders South Africa, three-time finalists Ghana who return after a six-year absence, North African powers Algeria and Tunisia alongside Mali.

DR Congo whose last participation dates back to 2012 joins the party while Senegal, giant-killers Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana complete the list of confirmed qualifiers at the Morocco 2024 finals.

Two-time winners Equatorial Guinea were the major casualties alongside four-time finalists Cameroon in the qualifying stages concluded ended on Tuesday.

With all 12 berths now sealed, anticipation turns towards the draw at a date and venue to be announced later.

The final match of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) between Morocco and South Africa set a new record for attendance, with 50,000 fans in attendance. The match was broadcast live in over 45 territories, with coverage available on CAFTV and The upcoming edition of the tournament, which will be hosted by the previous host nation, promises to be an exciting event, with ambitious teams and renowned players set to compete.


Road to the qualifiers

South Africa return seeking to emulate their successful title defence in 2022 which showcased improving pan-African depth.

Banyana Banyana displayed resilience as Linda Mothlalo and Nicole Michael secured a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso in a gripping return leg at Pretoria’s Lucas Moripe Stadium on Monday.

Algeria secured a 1-0 win over Burundi, sealing their return to the competition after missing out in 2022. Ines Boutaleb’s 17th-minute goal secured their two-legged victory.

The 1998 Bronze medallists DR Congo secured their place with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday, following a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Botswana earned qualification by defeating Kenya 1-0 at the Botswana National Stadium, advancing 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Nigeria and Zambia qualified with big aggregate score lines to complete the line-up of 12 teams to play at the competition to be held next year.

After landing the hosting rights, Morocco now hope to seize their maiden WAFCON title at the fifth attempt next July and boost women’s football.

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NPL club owners are united behind Rivers United in Confederation Cup chase

The Vice Chairman of the Club Owners Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Suleiman Umar is soliciting support for Rivers United, the country’s only representative on the continent in the CAF Confederation Cup to return to the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium for their home games.

This he said should be done in earnest so that they can enjoy the support of their fans in Rivers state.

Alhaji Umar who was speaking on behalf of the association was specific about the kind of support the Port Harcourt based team needs to make Nigeria proud.

“The most consistent football club from Nigeria on the continent in the last three seasons has been Rivers United and it’s not a surprise that they’re the only team still flying Nigeria’s flag on the continent.

“What they need right now is for Nigeria to play the politics at CAF’s level so that they can return to Port Harcourt to play their remaining home games at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium. We’ve seen some of the stadiums they’ve played their away games in Africa that are not anywhere near what you’ve in Port Harcourt”, explained the proprietor of Doma United of Gombe state.

Meanwhile, speaking in the same vein after his clubs 2-1 loss in Ghana on Sunday, the General Manager of Rivers United, Chief Okey Kpalukwu believes that Nigeria stands a chance of wining the CAF Confederation Cup if only his team is allowed to play at home in Port Harcourt.

“My pitch at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium in Port Harcourt is better than the several pitches that I have played in on the continent, including that of Sunday’s game in Kumasi, Ghana, yet CAF approved it for the club because they have their people upstairs protecting their interests in CAF.

“There’s no place like one’s home ground, we want Nigerians, including our fans in Port Harcourt to come out enmasse and be saved the stress of traveling outside of Rivers state to come and support us. We will once again appeal through the appropriate channel, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to interface with CAF to allow us play in Port Harcourt because our stadium meets all their requirements”, stated the NPFL Club Owners chairman.

Rivers United are in the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup alongside Club Africain of Tunisia, Dreams Fc of Ghana and Academica do Lobito of Angola in group C.

With a win and a defeat in two games played so far, The Pride of Rivers awaits Club Africain this Sunday at the Godswill Akpabio stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.


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Nigeria Premier League hammer falls on Katsina United

Few days after the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) issued a practice directive to clubs on dress codes for the Technical Crew and Players, Katsina United was found to have flouted the code during their MatchDay 11 fixture in Lagos against Sporting Lagos.


A Katsina United player wore a jersey that was inappropriately numbered and the NPFL has not only sanctioned the club but is also reporting the Match Officials to the NFF for dereliction of duty in allowing the player come into the game on Sunday.


Commenting on the breaches and the sanctions, Davidson Owumi, the Chief Operating Officer of the NPFL noted that the regulatory role of the body is to identify, investigate acts that may undermine the integrity of the NPFL and impose appropriate sanctions based on the provisions of the Framework and Rules.


“Our rules have sufficiently made provisions to keep away conducts that are inimical to the overall best interest of the clubs, their players and fans.


“While we cannot stop any club or individual from certain behaviours, we definitely would not condone such misconduct and would always apply sanctions to serve as deterrence”remarked Owumi.


He is particularly peeved at the case of Katsina United which he noted has occurred in just over a week when the NPFL issued a practice directive on dress codes for Managers and players and which was shared with Match Commissioners and Referees.


Katsina United, Gombe United and Niger Tornadoes are three clubs that came under sanctions in the most recent tranche of regulatory enforcement announced by the NPFL on Monday after investigations into reported breaches of the NPFL Framework and Rules.


Katsina United was found in breach of Rule B9.7 for inappropriate display of the surname of Player, Ibrahim Yahay with jersey No. 27.


The club, in a second charge was found to have breached Rule C9 in failing to ensure the proper conduct of its officials which resulted in the Kit Manager of the club attempting to harass the Assistant Referee 1.


For the cited breaches, Katsina United has been ordered to pay ₦1million for the inappropriate display of the player’s name and number while the Kits Manager, Masudu Lawal received a one year ban from all NPFL activities for improper conduct


In the aftermath of fans unruly conduct in another MatchDay 11 fixture, Gombe United were fined a total of ₦7million and a one match stadium ban to fans for breaches ranging from disruption of match by fans throwing objects on to the field of play, to disruption of live broadcast of the match and failure to provide adequate and effective security.


In a case arising from MatchDay 10 between Niger Tornadoes and Akwa United, the former was charged with breach of Rule B8.21, C9 and C1.1 for which it was fined a total of ₦3.250million including compensatory payment to the Centre Referee.


The sanctions include a fine of ₦1million for failure to provide adequate and effective security for Match Officials.


Another fine of ₦1million for failure to ensure the proper conduct of its officials (Stewards/Security Personnel).

There was a third fine of ₦1million for misconduct and a ₦250,000 compensatory payment to Referee (Ahmad Rabiu from Kano State Referees Council) for losses resulting from the harassment.


The Ahmadu Bello Stadium home ground of Niger Tornadoes has been ordered closed to fans for the next three home fixtures of the club.


All three clubs are free to submit to the decisions or elect to appear before a disciplinary commission for a review. This they must communicate in writing to the NPFL Legal and Compliance Unit within 48 hours.

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Nigeria hitman Osimhen scoops Italian Player of Year honours

Nigerian Victor Osimhen capped a remarkable year by deservedly being crowned Italian Footballers’ Association (AIC) Player of the Year on Monday night.

The Napoli striker plundered 26 goals in 32 Serie A appearances last season to propel the Neapolitans towards a first Scudetto since 1990.

By landing this prestigious peer-voted award previously won by icons like Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Osimhen’s stock continues rapid ascent.

Osimhen claimed the individual gong during a ceremony where the AIC Team of the Season featured four of his triumphant team-mates.

Despite reported interest from several clubs in the summer, the 24-year-old remained in Naples and is repaying that loyalty emphatically.

Osimhen has already netted another six league goals this term to help Luciano Spalletti’s entertainers to be among the Serie A’s pacesetters once more.

Recognition amongst Italian football’s modern greats represents just reward after a year establishing the Nigerian among Europe’s hottest striking talents.

With Napoli hunting further glory, more achievements likely await to reinforce Osimhen’s dramatic elevation into global superstardom.


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