They might have not be pre-tournament favorites to reach this stage, but they proved worthy to compete for one of the final tickets, and an automatic qualification to next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Cote d’Ivoire locks horns with neighbors Ghana in a West African derby as the ongoing Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations reaches its semifinal stage. Both sides are aiming to continue their fairytale story with a place in the Olympics at stake.
Les Elephants started their group stage campaign with a hard fought 1-0 victory over holders Nigeria. After losing with the same result against South Africa, they bounced to beat Zambia 1-0 and finish Group B on top.
On the other hand, Ghana’s Black Meteors came from behind to hold Cameroon to a 1-1 draw, before twice surrendering their lead to lose 3-2 against hosts Egypt. A 2-0 victory over Mali coupled with Egypt win over Cameroon guaranteed them a place in the semifinals.
While missing their star forward Christian Kouame who grabbed a knee injury that will see him sidelined for a long period, Cote d’Ivoire will be counting on the heroics of the likes of Edgard Dakoi, Youssouf Dao and skipper Ismail Diallo.
Meanwhile Ghana led by former Black Stars midfielder Ibrahim Tanko will hope the likes of Yaw Yeboah, Evans Mensah and Habib Mohamed would be inform to inspire the Black Meteors to an Olympic return.
Tuesday 19 November 2019
Cote d’Ivoire v Ghana – Cairo International Stadium (16:00 local time, 14:00 GMT)
What they said
Soualiho Haidara (Coach, Cote d’Ivoire)
We have to be ready to face Ghana. I studied them well and we are focused and prepared. The semifinal is different from the group stage and we have to beware. We are missing a couple of key players, but whoever plays can do the job.
Ismail Diallo (Captain, Cote d’Ivoire)
We will do our best. Now we are just one step away from Tokyo 2020. We play all our games to win whoever the opponent is. Anything can happen against Ghana, and we have to be proud of ourselves now.
Ibrahim Tanko (Coach, Ghana)
Cote d’Ivoire is a difficult team and facing them is not going to be easy especially in a game of this magnitude. I trust my players to win and reach the final, and also grab the ticket for the Olympics. All my players are ready.
Yaw Yeboah (Captain, Ghana)
We are ready. All the teams in the semifinal are very strong and they deserved to be here. We will give our best to win this match and achieve our target which is a place in the Olympics.
Cristiano Ronaldo Jr. Named Best Striker In Europe.
On Monday, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s son Cristiano Ronaldo Jr won a football tournament with the Juventus Under-9 team, thereby showing all signs of following in his famous father’s footsteps.
Ronaldo Jr was also named the best striker of the tournament, for scoring three goals throughout the tournament. Afterwards, Cristiano Ronaldo himself took to Instagram to post a picture of his son with his “best striker” award.
“I’m a proud daddy,” the Juventus ace wrote alongside the picture. Take a look:
According to Football Talent Scout information, Ronaldo Jr. has incredible stats for his age.
He has made just 28 appearances for the Juventus Under-9 team so far, but has already recorded 58 goals and 18 assists. However, earlier this year, Cristiano Ronaldo claimed that his son will struggle to be as good as him at football.
Speaking to beIN Sports as reported by The Sun, the 33-year-old Portuguese superstar and five-time Ballon d’Or winner said: “I hope that Cristiano can be like his father. He says he will be better than I, but I think it will be difficult.”
The 34-year-old recently lost out on the race for the 2019 Ballon d’Or title, finishing third behind Lionel Messi who lifted the trophy for a record sixth time in his career, as Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk came second.
BOXING: “I’m Ready To Face Wilder. – WBA, IBF and WBO, Anthony Joshua
Last Saturday night in Saudi Arabia, Anthony Joshua reclaimed the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles with a lopsided twelve round unanimous decision over Andy Ruiz in their anticipated rematch.
Ruiz had decked Joshua four times to secure a seventh round stoppage in their June clash at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Joshua is now going to return in the first half of 2020, likely against IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. But Joshua would love to have a full unification fight with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
“I’m ready [to fight Wilder]. I’ve got my belts back and I’m ready to fight him. But I’m not looking too far into the future because it takes your eyes off what is front of you,” Wilder told Sky Sports.
“I take it step by step and, by the time I get to unification, I will be ready. I’ll knock them down one by one and, when the big boys are ready, I’ll be ready to become the next undisputed champion of the world. I really want to make that happen.”
Wilder is going to make a defense against Tyson Fury in a rematch scheduled for February of next year. Joshua is focused on keeping his titles, so he intends to make his mandatory defenses against Pulev, and the mandatory challenger under the WBO – Oleksandr Usyk.
“I’m focused on my next fight. Anyone can get it, my resume shows me that. I’ll be keen to handle my mandatories because the current WBC champion is fighting Tyson Fury. Good luck to them,” Joshua said.
“In the meantime, I will handle my mandatories because I don’t want to vacate a belt. I’ve worked hard to get them so I don’t want to give them away.”
Russia Banned From All International Sporting Competition.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have issued Russia with a four-year ban from international sporting competition over doping failures.
This means the country will not be able to compete at the 2020 Olympics, the Winter Games and World Cup in 2022.
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s board made the announcement after they convened on Monday for a meeting around the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
At the meeting, it was revealed that Russia had tampered with laboratory data. The agency found out that Russia planted fake evidence and deleted files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats.
Nine members of the 17-strong group, including chair Beckie Scott, and British former Paralympian Vicki Aggar, said such a step was ‘the only meaningful sanction’.
‘We maintain that the fraud, manipulation, and deception revealed to date will only be encouraged and perpetuated with a lesser response,’ the statement read.
‘Until these critical abuses of integrity in sport are confronted with courage and a resolute commitment to protect athletes and clean sport, they will continue, and the sports we love remain tarnished.’
According to the agency, Russian officials have 21 days to lodge an appeal with the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. If unsuccessful, they will miss the 2020 Olympics, the Winter Games and World Cup in 2022.
Anthony Joshua Goes The Distance To Win World Titles Back From Andy Ruiz Jr.
On the night when rain and wind spat and scudded across Saudi Arabian desert, Anthony Joshua whipped up a minor storm of his own to win back his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles from Andy Ruiz Jr.
In their first encounter in June, the Mexican-American had been able to disrupt the validity of boxing’s oldest and most indomitable laws – that a good big fighter usually beats a good smaller one – by stopping Joshua in seven. This time the tables were turned as the Briton used his eight-inch reach advantage and improved footwork to much better effect claim a wide points victory.
It was not a classic. But for the most part Joshua was able to keep the fight at distance and use his stiff left jab as a cattle prod to keep him his opponent at bay and rack up the points. At the end the judges’ scores, with two of 118-110 and one of 119-111, seemed about right.
Ruiz, the belly sagging over his shorts, was dangerous whenever he got in range. But his 20st frame was not quick enough to repeatedly chase down Joshua, who switched from side to side to keep his opponent off balance. As the final rang Ruiz beat his chest angrily and said “fight me”, knowing he had been outfoxed.
Before Saturday night only three fighters in the 127-year history of the world heavyweight title had successfully regained their title in a direct rematch, from the 10 fighters who attempted it: Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis. That is the company Joshua now keeps – although he will certainly have to improve to be mentioned in the breath as Ali and Lewis in the pantheon.
Both men had shown plenty of respect for each other in the protracted buildup and the fight started cautiously, with Ruiz stalking his prey and the Briton on the back foot. But shortly before the end of the round a nasty right hand from Joshua suddenly bloodied his opponent above his left eye.
Anthony Joshua was disciplined throughout and restricted Andy Ruiz Jr’s opportunities to break through his defence.
Anthony Joshua was disciplined throughout and restricted Andy Ruiz Jr’s opportunities to break through his defence. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA
The old Joshua might have scented blood and gone for the kill. But he remained content to dance on the outside and allow his jab attempt to dominate proceedings. But just before the end of round two a double left hand by Ruiz left Joshua too with a cut over his right eye – although it his corner did an expert job of stemming the blood.
Joshua remained unperturbed and kept pawing out his jab, which was acting almost as a praetorian guard for his chin. He probably took the third but in the fourth Ruiz finally got much got much closer to his man and landed several times – including on the back of the head.
But the familiar pattern reverted in the fifth and six. Before the fight Joshua had promised to go back to fight school and learn the sweet science and he proved as good as his word, jabbing and moving to good effect.
Now and again though there was a sense that the Briton was allowing Ruiz’s roughhouse tactics to get to him – and that he wanted to trade too much. In the eighth he paid the price as the Mexican landed with a good left hook followed by a right hand. But it was Ruiz, with his granite chin, who was still taking more big punches as the fight went into the championship rounds.
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The crowd, who had paid between £105 and £10,000 for tickets, certainly enjoyed it. And so, clearly, did Joshua.
Earlier in the week Joshua, who earned around £60m from the fight, was warned that he was being duped by a Saudi regime that was using it to sportswash its reputation. He will continue to face criticism from human rights groups. But with so much in the bank, and with three world titles back around his waist, he will hardly care.
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