The race to host the 2019 and 2021 African Nations Cup

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty ImagesNigeria won the last Africa Cup of Nations in 2013.

When Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Algeria, Guinea, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in footballing competition, it’s usually through their national teams. But over the next few months, they will be jostling for something else: the right to host the African Cup of Nations (ACN) in 2019 and 2021.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have begun their inspections to determine where the continent will host its football tournament in those years.

One of the contenders -- Guinea -- has already been visited earlier this month. Continue Reading...

Azam FC a breath of fresh air in Tanzania

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Courtesy of Azam FCAzam FC have claimed their first ever Tanzanian Premier League title.

Irony is one way to describe the news that Tanzania's oldest football club, Young Africans, have been displaced as Premier League title-holders by one of league's newcomers, Azam FC. The seven-year old team has only been playing in the top flight since the 2008-09 season and claimed the crown with a 2-1 win over Mbeya City at the weekend which puts them out of touching distance of the chasing pack.

Azam's achievement is more than just the story of the vast distances a start-up can travel in a short space of time; it is also a nod to what big business can do for professional sport in Africa. Continue Reading...

Ba enters Senegal spotlight

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Demba Ba scores the dramatic 87th-minute goal which edged Chelsea past PSG.GettyImagesDemba Ba scores the dramatic 87th-minute goal that put Chelsea past PSG.

The Demba Ba goal that put Chelsea into the semifinals of the Champions League gave him a chance to disprove Jose Mourinho’s “real strikers” comment but could mean much more than just European glory and a few smart quips. Indeed, it could show Senegal coach Alain Giresse what he wants to see ahead of African Nations Cup qualifying later this year and secure the striker’s presence in his national side after a whirlwind year.

The raw truth is that Senegal have to do something of significance on the international stage, and they have to do it soon. Continue Reading...

How FIFA can help make African football better

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Friedemann Vogel/FIFA/Getty ImagesFIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke hopes that a cash injection from soccer's governing body will help develop the game in Africa.

African football is going to get help, whether it wants it or not. At a FIFA seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week, the organisation’s secretary general, Jerome Valcke, promised not only $900 million for various development projects around the continent, but also an increased focus on assisting Africa in professionalising its game, from infrastructure to governance.

Twenty-six African countries were present at the three-day event and some of the recipients have welcomed FIFA’s offer. Continue Reading...

Sierra Leone Premier League returns

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Mohamed KallonGettyImagesFormer Inter Milan striker Mohamed Kallon is still the icon of Sierra Leonean football.

Sierra Leone's most recent Premier League champions, Diamond Stars, are the first club from outside the capital Freetown to win the title. They claimed the trophy in the 2011-12 season and will only now have the chance to defend it.

The reason for this is that the 2014 season kicked off just last week following a lengthy break in play that disrupted the whole of the previous campaign. Ten out of 14 premier league teams boycotted parts of competition, rendering its completion impossible, after Isha Johansen, the president of the Sierra Leone FA, was elected unopposed this past July. Continue Reading...

Chiefs complain about refereeing, Congolese opposition

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty ImagesKaizer Chiefs head coach Stuart Baxter was irate with the refereeing following his team's exit from the CAF Champions League.

For a second year in succession, a South African club has accused opposition from the Democratic Republic of Congo of playing dirty in the CAF Champions League. Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter spewed his disgust with what he suggested were time-wasting tactics by Kinshasa-based club AS Vita, which he believed had the referee's buy-in.

"I have never played in a game where the frustration level -- due to a referee or an opponent that is constantly cheating -- is so high," Baxter said after Chiefs were dumped out of contention for the group stage despite a 2-0 win at home. Continue Reading...

WAGS at the World Cup

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesNigeria head coach Stephen Keshi has stressed that wives only will be permitted to accompany the Nigeria players at the World Cup.

Last week Ghana's Black Stars received news that their World Cup budget had been more than halved from what they had at their disposal four years ago because of a public outcry about the country's expenditures. This week the team's psychologist, Professor Joseph Mintah, asked the FA to consider allowing the players' significant others to travel with the squad to Brazil, something that is certain to cost extra money.

If Mintah's recommendation is followed, the WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) will stay at a nearby hotel -- as is often the case when footballers' wives are on the road -- and meeting their spouses would be scheduled according to a timetable. Continue Reading...

Nkana FC's uphill climb

Posted by Firdose Moonda

mtnfootball.comEnoch Jeve and Nkana FC of Zambia will look to advance in the CAF Champions League when they meet Zamalek of Egypt on Sunday in Cairo.

If Zambia's Nkana FC do not beat Zamalek in Cairo this Sunday, it will be five years since a team from their country last participated in the group stage of the CAF Champions League. That may not sound too serious, but remember that over that span Zambia's national side were crowned continental champions at the African Nations' Cup in 2012, so the lack of similar success for Zambia's clubs is concerning, especially when reflecting on the high road Nkana have taken so far.

From the outset, the Zambian champions have been climbing uphill. Continue Reading...

Tale of two Al-Ahlys

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Al Ahly Cairo CAF Champions League celeb trophyGettyImagesAl Ahly defeated Orlando Pirates 3-1 over two legs in the 2013 CAF Champions League final.

To decide who will compete in the CAF Champions League this year, Real Bamako will face Esperance, ES Setif come up against Coton Sport, AS Vita clash with Kaizer Chiefs, Sewe Sport will tangle with TP Mazembe, Horoya meet CS Safixien, AC Leopards meet Al-Hilal, Nkana square off against Zamalek and Al-Ahly play Al-Ahly.

No, that's not a mistake. Egypt's Al-Ahly, the most decorated club on the continent, have been drawn against Libya's Al-Ahly Benghazi, whose reputation is not as well-known but similarly revolutionary. Continue Reading...

Ghana tightens belt ahead of World Cup

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Schalke's Kevin-Prince Boateng is back for Ghana.GettyImagesKevin-Prince Boateng's brother could get bigger bonuses with Germany.

Ghana's Black Stars will have to tighten their belts for this year's World Cup. The country's government announced a package of 9.6 million dollars for the tournament, less than half of the 19 million dollars they provided for the 2010 tournament in South Africa four years ago and significantly reduced from the initial figure of 22 million dollars they were going to pour into the Brazil campaign.

The announcement, from the nation's sports minister, came seven weeks after news that Ghana's economic growth is likely to slump to a four-year low when the latest data is released in April. Continue Reading...

Poor form, poor game: The story of Malawi's ANC 2015 withdrawal

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty ImagesA lack of funds has caused Malawi to pull out of the 2015 African Nations Cup.

When Malawi appointed a new national technical team, just less than six weeks ago, it was with the intention they would lead the team to the African Nations Cup next year. Coach Young Chimodzi and his assistant Jack Chamangwana can already categorically state they will not fulfill that mandate. Malawi's football association has withdrawn the men's senior side from 2015 ANC qualification for the first time in 38 years because of a lack of funds.

The Flames' financial situation has been flickering precariously since last July when Tom Saintfeit agreed to coach them voluntarily for two months. Continue Reading...

South Africa slip a little too far

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty ImagesThe Bafana Bafana were soundly defeated by Brazil on Wednesday night in Johannesburg.

If South Africa football needed confirmation of how far they are behind the world's top-ranked teams, it came on Wednesday night.

Their 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Brazil turned into much more than a cutesy affair between the most recent World Cup hosts and the next ones. It was 90 minutes of alarm bells as the team, who 18 years ago were ranked best on the continent, were made to look like as though they'd spent that time going backwards.

- Coelho: For Brazil, winning is everything

Bafana Bafana's worst-ever defeat, which was the loss to Brazil, is as embarrassing as it sounds. Continue Reading...