Cameroon became the first major casualty of the 2016 Olympic Games football qualifiers in Africa after being eliminated by Sierra Leone this weekend. The outsiders scored a stoppage-time goal in Yaounde to snatch a 1-1 draw and win the second-round tie on away goals after a goalless first leg last weekend. Sierra Leone captain Sorie Barrie scored in the 93rd minute, after Joseph Minala (pictured) had put Cameroon ahead. Minala, the 18-year-old Italy-based footballer caught up in an age storm last year amid claims he was over 40, had put the ‘Indomitable Cubs’ in front in the opening half at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo before Sierra Leone’s decisive equaliser. Adding to the humiliation of Cameroon – the Sydney 2000 Olympics football gold medallists – was the fact that they had home advantage in both legs of the qualifier restricted to under-23 footballers. Sierra Leone was not able to host international fixtures because of the deadly Ebola epidemic. Exiting the Olympics qualifiers at the first hurdle is the latest in a string of woeful performances this year by Cameroonian sides, once among the strongest in Africa. The Olympic team also flopped in the 2015 All-Africa Games, losing an eliminator in Zimbabwe and drawing the return match. Cameroon fared dismally at senior level, too, failing to win a match at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and being eliminated after the first round. Clubs have fared equally poorly with all four representatives going out of the 2015 Caf (Confederation of African Football) competitions in the early stages. The scene is equally bleak at age-limit level. Cameroon did not qualify for the 2015 African youth championship and failed to get beyond the first round of the junior championship. Sierra Leone will now face Algeria in the third round of qualifying. Elsewhere, Ghana’s Black Meteors were also eliminated. They lost the second leg against Congo Brazzaville 1-0 which took the tie to 1-1 overall. Congo then won the subsequent penalty shoot-out 5-4 in front of a home crowd at Pointe-Noire. Zambia went through with a 2-0 win over Botswana in Lusaka on Sunday, winning 3-1 on aggregate. Second half goals from Ronald Kampamba and Kelvin Mubanga earned Zambia a meeting with Ivory Coast in the next round. Adama Niane sealed a 3-1 victory for Mali over Mauritania in Bamako by converting an 88th-minute penalty. He also scored the opening goal on two minutes, Boubacar Bagili equalised, and Moctar Mohamed Cisse put the Malians ahead again midway through the second half. Mali, who forced a 1-1 first-leg draw in Nouakchott, advanced 4-2 on aggregate and play reigning African under-23 champions Gabon next. Uganda secured a showdown with Egypt by defeating Rwanda 2-0 in Kampala to complete a 4-1 overall triumph. The Ugandan Kobs scored twice within five minutes just past the hour with a John Ssemazi goal followed by one from Faruku Miya.
The World Footballer of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo was pictured holidaying in St-Tropez after a trophy-less season with Real Madrid. He seems to be having fun as he topped up his tan while lying on a yacht on the French Riviera.. More pictures follow.
Namibia won the COSAFA Cup for for the first time in their history, beating Mozambique 2-0 in the final in the South African mining village of Moruleng. Winger Deon Hotto scored both of Namibia’s goals to steer his nation to victory in the southern African championship. Both countries went into the match as past runners-up, with Namibia reaching the final in 1997 and 1999 and Mozambique in 2008. Earlier in the day, Madagascar won the third place play-off match. They beat fellow beaten semi-finalists Botswana 2-1 to take the bronze medal. Sarivahy Vombola scored both of Madagascar’s goals and finished as the 2015 tournament’s top scorer with five goals to his name.
Real Madrid vice-president Eduardo Fernandez de Blas has accidentally let slip at the meeting of a fans’ group that Rafa Benitez will be the new club coach. Benitez will leave Napoli at the end of the season and has been hotly tipped to take over from Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernabeu. Real have yet to name Ancelotti’s successor but an offhand comment during a club event on Saturday evening appears to have confirmed the former Liverpool manager’s arrival. “Ancelotti is an absolute phenomenon and we give him all our appreciation,” Fernandez de Blas told the Madrid members’ group. “Until three days ago he was the best trainer in the world as two years ago it was Jose Mourinho and from this week onwards it will be Rafa Benitez.” Italian Ancelotti was dismissed a year after he ended 12 years of Champions League failure and led Real to a record-extending 10th European crown, as well as a Copa del Rey triumph. Former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez, who once had a stint as a Real youth team coach, is expected by local media to be named on Wednesday as the new man at the helm.
Ten-man Mali beat nine-man Mexico 2-0 in their first Group D match of the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, as Senegal lost 3-0 to Portugal in their opening Group C fixture. Mali, who secured the biggest upset of the competition so far through goals from Adama Traore and Dieudonne Gbakle, were forced to defend for much of the first half against Mexico. Mali seemed likely to be further stretched when Hamidou Maiga was shown a red card in the 56th minute for a clumsy tackle on Hirving Lozano. But Mexico went from being a man up to a man down in the space of two minutes. Diego Gama was sent off for an off-the-ball incident in the 66th minute, and Oscar Bernal received a second yellow card for his challenge on Souleymane Diarra in the 68th. Mali quickly capitalized on their numerical advantage. Adama Traore headed home Youssouf Kone’s free-kick 14 minutes from time, and Mali sealed the game three minutes later when Dieudonne Gbakle slammed the ball home. Mali coach Fanyeri Diarra said the early win lifted pressure from his team. “I’m amazed by the great shape my players are in physically,” he said. “They’re up to the task even though they’re coming to the end of the regular season at club level.” Mali are top of Group D after Uruguay beat Serbia 1-0.
Substitute Alessandro Matri was the unlikely hero when he scored an extra-time winner to give Juventus a 2-1 win over Lazio in the Coppa Italia final, keeping them on course for the treble. Matri, who has changed clubs in each of the last four transfer windows and been a fringe player since returning to Juventus in January, blasted the ball into the roof of the net in the seventh minute of extra-time. It was a record tenth Coppa title for Juventus, although their first since 1995. Having already won Serie A for a fourth successive season, Juventus will attempt to cap their season by winning the Champions League in the final against Barcelona on June 6. Lazio took a shock lead after four minutes when Andrea Pirlo failed to cut out a free kick into the area and Stefan Radu rose to head the ball into the top of the net. Juventus needed only seven minutes to reply, central defender Giorgio Chiellini popping up to volley home from close range after Pirlo’s floated free kick was knocked down by Paul Pogba. Matri had a goal ruled out for offside late in the second half but made no mistake when Tevez’s shot rebounded at his feet in extra-time in a move set up by an incisive ball by Pirlo.
Barcelona club won the “Copa del Rey” (Spanish King’s Cup) by defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 in the final at the Nou Camp inBarcelona on Saturday night. “Barca” star Lionel Messi made his team take the lead in the 20th minute. Argentine forward found the net after skipping four Athletic Bilbao players, 1-0. Barcelona’s Brazilian flamboyant forward Neymar doubled the score in the 36th minute, 2-0. In the 74th minute, Barcelona star Messi appeared on stage once again. Messi received the ball in the penalty box and found the net, 3-0. Dani Alves produced the assist. Five minutes later Athletic Bilbao scored their consolation goal when Inaki Williams headed the ball into the net, 3-1. Barcelona won the match 3-1. Catalan side Barcelona’s captain Xavi Hernandez, who will be leaving the club at the end of the season, lifted the trophy handed by King Felipe VI of Spain. Barcelona are the most time Copa del Rey winners with 27 titles. Basque club Athletic Bilbao, who won this trophy for 23 times so far, lost the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona for the third time after 2009 and 2012. Spanish La Liga and Copa del Rey champions Barcelona are looking for making the “treble” by snatching the UEFA Champions League title away from Italian team Juventus in the final on June 6 in Berlin.
Wolfsburg won this season’s “DFB-Pokal” (German Cup) by beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the final game at Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday. Wolfsburg won the trophy for the first time in their history. Dortmund took the lead in the 5th minute when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the net, 1-0. However Wolfsburg equalized in the 22nd minute when Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo scored, 1-1. Wolfsburg came back after their Belgian attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne’s long range effort in the 33rd minute, 2-1. Five minutes later Dutch striker of Wolfsburg, Bas Dost made it three with a header. This goal sealed the triumph for the “Die Wolfe” (The Wolves). Meanwhile, Wolfsburg commemorated their deceased player Junior Malanda. Malanda’s shirt with the number “19” was placed in a green heart on the left side of a jersey particularly prepared for the final. The 20-year-old Belgian defensive midfielder Malanda died in a traffic accident in January. Borussia Dortmund’s manager Jurgen Klopp said goodbye to Dortmund fans after the final whistle.
Paris St-Germain became the first French side to complete a domestic treble thanks to Edinson Cavani’s headed winner against a dogged Auxerre in the French Cup final. The Uruguay striker settled the outcome midway through the second half when his effort struck the bar, then the back of goalkeeper Donovan Leon. “We won the rest of the trophies,” said PSG’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “No other team has done this and I’m very proud of the team.” PSG coach Laurent Blanc added: “We finished the season very well. We wanted this cup and it was hard to win it. “Auxerre played very well and you have to take your hat off to them. They played to their strengths.” The Ligue 1 and French league cup champions also went close through Thiago Motta, who hit a post with a 25-yard drive, while Cavani had a header saved and a shot blocked near the goal line.
Arsenal became the most successful club in FA Cup history as they outclassed Aston Villa 4 – 0 at Wembley to earn Arsene Wenger a record-equalling sixth triumph. The Gunners retained the trophy they won against Hull City a year ago to put Wenger’s total of wins alongside George Ramsay – who previously stood alone with the record for his victories with Villa between 1887 and 1920. Arsenal’s 12th final victory was never in doubt as they dominated with a magnificent display, the only surprise being that it took until five minutes before half-time for their control to be rewarded with Theo Walcott’s goal. Alexis Sanchez confirmed that superiority with one of the great FA Cup final goals shortly after the restart – a swerving, dipping 25-yard thunderbolt that flew high past startled Villa keeper Shay Given. Villa were a shadow of the side that performed so impressively to beat Liverpool at Wembley in the semi-final, their flaws exposed ruthlessly as Per Mertesacker took advantage of an embarrassing lack of marking to head the third. Substitute Olivier Giroud’s fourth in the final moments only completed what was a harrowing day for Tim Sherwood’s side, who had travelled to Wembley high on optimism and expectation after an impressive run to the final.
What happened to the prediction by the psychic penguin that Aston Villa will win???