Do Patrice Carteron and Volker Finke know what they've signed up for? The pair accepted two of the toughest jobs in Africa, with the former leaving Mali to join TP Mazembe and the latter in his first international assignment with Cameroon. Attached to their new posts is prestige and glamour but also massive expectations, perhaps more than either has bargained for. Carteron has already started on a sour note. His former bosses have threatened to "sanction" him because he has breached his contract.
First there was no Emmanuel Emenike. The African Nations' Cup joint top-scorer was ruled out of Nigeria's squad for next month's Confederations Cup with a knee injury that will keep him out of action until at least July. Now there is also no Victor Moses or Kalu Uche. Moses was withdrawn after Chelsea decided he needed to treat a recurring injury, while Uche, who has been playing with a niggle for Turkish side Kasimpasa where he ended as the league's second highest goal scorer, said the doctor has advised him to take time off.
This half of the Champions League draw will likely catch fewer eyes than its counterpart. Group B does not seem to sparkle with superstars but it is definitely worth a second look. The pool contains a defending champion, a rising West African talent and two newcomers who have everything to prove. Here's what to look forward to when these four teams kick-off. - Group A: Princes of Egypt, Pirates and Leopards Esperance The Blood and Gold are out and out favourites if only because they have been here many times before.
Soweto will sing again. For the second year in succession, a club from their quarters have been crowned South African champions. Kaizer Chiefs will take the trophy off Orlando Pirates after securing the league title with a draw against SuperSport United last night. It's the first time Chiefs have ascended to the top in eight seasons, having last tasted league success in the 2004-05 season and their first piece of silverware since 2008. Interestingly, they got there under a man few thought could achieve league glory, Stuart Baxter.
Derbies between Cairo's giants, Al-Ahly and Zamalek, will headline this year's CAF Champions League, even before it reaches the crucial stages. The Egyptian heavyweights were drawn in the same group for the tournament and are favourites to advance to the semi-finals out of Group A. That's the tougher of the two pools on paper, if only because it has the bigger names with Orlando Pirates and AC Leopards expected to put up tough resistance. Football Africa examines the quartet that make up this section of the draw.
After a three-year absence, will anyone even notice the COSAFA Cup is back? Maybe the presence of a strong South Africa, who hope to gain valuable playing time at the event, will work in its favour when the 14-team competition is held July 6-20 in Zambia. Maybe the East African particpants -- Kenya and specifically Tanzania, who could cause an upset in their World Cup qualification group -- could do it. Maybe the novelty of having the regional competition back will be enough. But it's doubtful.
Alex Ferguson's 26 years in charge of Manchester United is longer than the average African has been alive. The continent's median age is a youthful 18, which means for a significant number of people here Ferguson is the only Manchester United coach they have known. That may explain why, in addition to the obvious attention around his legend, his retirement is being felt personally on the continent even though Ferguson did not leave too much of a mark in Africa. In fact, one of the criticisms he continually received is he did not secure the services of enough players from Africa during his time in charge.
Lubumbashi is best known for being the mining capital of the DRC. It is said that three percent of the world's copper comes from this area. It is also home to the country's Simba brewery, where the iconic Tembo Beer is manufactured. But last night in Lubumbashi, their most popular football club, TP Mazembe, had neither the reason to believe they could get close to medals made of any metal, nevermind copper, nor a cause for a celebratory pint as they were knocked out of contention for the CAF Champions League group stage by South Africa's Orlando Pirates.
Sadness hung thick in Lusaka's air for more than one reason yesterday. The 20-year anniversary of the death of the 18 players who perished off the Gabonese coast was commemorated with a friendly match against Zimbabwe, which Zambia won 2-0, and a small ceremony at their incomplete burial ground at the Independence Stadium. Their families mourned both those whom were lost and the government's refusal to release a report into exactly what happened. When that will happen, no one knows. Zambia's army chaplain, Colonal Reverend Vincent Mwenya has asked that the relatives "move on".
I last saw Muhsin Ertugral more than two months ago. He was walking along Cape Town's Sea Point Promenade with an expression as calm as the ocean in front of him. That's not to say he was strolling leisurely. I don't think he would know how. He was surging ahead at good pace, determined to get in some brisk exercise. He did not pause to greet anyone who wanted to say hello but he smiled broadly, at everyone. He looked happy; much happier than he has so often been on the touchline of the football pitch.
Burkinabe referee Ouangraoua Moumouni was only 38-years old. He was a regular officiator in the country's Ligue 1. During a fitness test, he collapsed on the pitch and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. His body underwent an autopsy but his family rejected the results, which have not been made public. While they have already laid him to rest, speculation continues to swirl regarding the cause of his death. The most likely theory is a heart-attack, and he would not be the only referee to suffer that fate.
Egypt's twin giants, Al-Ahly and Zamalek, Tunisia's Blood and Gold, Esperance, the DRC's pride and joy, TP Mazembe and the continental champions' sole representative at this stage of the CAF Champions League, Nigeria's Enugu Rangers, will all face must-win matches in their second leg second round qualifiers after unexpectedly poor results last weekend. Zamalek and Rangers were held at home, Al-Ahly and Esperance away and TP Mazembe were beaten soundly by a South African side, Orlando Pirates, who were clear underdogs heading into the fixture.