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World’s fastest woman kickstarts season training in Kenya

Ta Lou finished last season at the top of the 100 metres world rankings

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Ivorian, 100 metres champion Marie-Josee Ta Lou is in Mombasa for the first time in almost nine years as she prepares to start her early season training along Kenya’s scenic coast.

Marie-Josee Africa’s fastest woman is expected to be put through her paces with a rigorous workout regime on the Kenyan coast as she warms up for this year’s indoor season.

Ta Lou finished last season at the top of the 100 metres world rankings having run four of the 10 fastest times, including a personal best 10.85 at the season-opening Doha Diamond League meeting on May 4.

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Cameroon warns rivals ahead of AFCON group stage

We highlight the teams in Group F, where Cameroon and Ghana seem set to dominate against Benin and Guinea-Bissau

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Cameroon warns rivals ahead of AFCON group stage
Cameroon coach and former Dutch international footballer Clarence Seedorf addresses a press conference. (Photo by Reinnier KAZE / AFP)

Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf has a message for Group F opponents at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this month: “no one is going to have an easy time against us.”

He says the surprise winners of the last edition are “in good shape and positive” ahead of matches with Guinea-Bissau, four-time champions Ghana and Benin. 

“I believe we have regained international respect thanks to some great performances after missing out on the World Cup in Russia last year.”

Here, we highlight the teams in Group F, where Cameroon and Ghana seem set to dominate against Benin and Guinea-Bissau sides seeking first wins in the competition.

Benin

After eight losses and a draw in three previous appearances, the Squirrels are craving a maiden victory at the African football showpiece.

“Above all else, we want to win a match at the Cup of Nations,” says Steve Mounie, who played for the Huddersfield Town team relegated from the English Premier League last season.

The best chance they have of achieving that ambition should come in Ismailia on June 29 when they face Guinea-Bissau, 30 places lower in the world rankings. 

For the opening match against Ghana, Benin will be without suspended captain and star Stephane Sessegnon, who needs one goal to become the leading all-time scorer for the national team. 

Verdict: best they can hope for is a last-16 place 

Cameroon

The Indomitable Lions hope to match the teams of 2000 and 2002 and win back-to-back African titles. Former superstar Roger Milla is supporting Seedorf.  

“He has played in many top competitions and knows what it takes to win big tournaments,” Milla said of the four-time Champions League winner with Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan.

Seedorf has been less successful as a manager with short reigns at AC Milan, Shenzhen in China and Deportivo la Coruna after only 17 victories in 52 matches with the three clubs. 

Vincent Aboubakar, the 2017 final matchwinner against Egypt, misses out through injury but Karl Toko Ekambi has been netting regularly for Spanish La Liga outfit Villarreal.

Verdict: can go far but unlikely to retain title 

Ghana

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey says “unity holds the key to success for Ghana”, a country without a Cup of Nations title since winning their fourth in 1982.

President Nana Akufo-Addo had to intervene recently and persuade veteran Asamoah Gyan to return to the squad after the forward quit when stripped of the captaincy.  

Turkey-based midfielder Andre Ayew, one of two sons of Ghana legend Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew in the squad, will lead the Black Stars in Egypt.

Ghana have finished second, fourth twice, second and fourth in the last five Cups of Nations and coach Kwesi Appiah can call on many experienced international campaigners. 

Verdict: it will be difficult to achieve sixth straight top-four finish  

Guinea-Bissau

The transformation of the national team from perennial strugglers into two-time Cup of Nations qualifiers has been remarkable.

They were competitive in Gabon two years ago before bowing out after the first round and will eye the match against Benin as an opportunity to record their first victory.

However, the Djurtus (wild dogs) cannot realistically expect to beat Cameroon or Ghana, leaving hopes of a last-16 place hinging on being among the four best third-place finishers.

The captain and star is Slovakia-based midfielder Jose Luis Mendes Lopes – known as Zezinho – and the defenders include Marcelo Djalo from relegated Premier League club Fulham.  

Verdict: squeezing into second round will be the goal   

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North Africa

CAF says Morsi’s death will not affect tournament

Egypt play Zimbabwe in the opening match in Cairo on Friday.

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) building in Cairo, Egypt

Africa Cup of Nations organisers said Tuesday the death of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi would have no impact on the security situation in Egypt and the tournament would go ahead.

A source within the African Confederation of Football (CAF), speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was “no reason” that the tournament would be cancelled or postponed as a result of Morsi’s sudden death on Monday.

Egypt play Zimbabwe in the opening match in Cairo on Friday.

Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president who was overthrown after a turbulent year in power, collapsed and “died as he attended a hearing” over alleged collaboration with foreign powers and militant groups, the prosecutor general’s office said.

He was buried Tuesday in Cairo.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing — the Freedom and Justice Party — accused Egyptian authorities of “deliberately killing him slowly” by holding him in solitary confinement.

The United Nations and rights groups have demanded an independent probe into the conditions of Morsi’s detention and the circumstances of his death.

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North Africa Sports

AFCON 2019 host defeat Guinea in a warm-up match

Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah came off the bench but did not score as the 2019 AFCON hosts defeated fellow qualifiers Guinea 3-1

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Mohamed Salah of Egypt's Control the ball as Egypt defeats Guinea 3-1

Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah came off the bench but did not score as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosts defeated fellow qualifiers Guinea 3-1 Sunday in a warm-up match. Marwan Mohsen gave the Pharaohs an early lead in Alexandria that was cancelled by Sory Kaba midway through the second half.

Ahmed Ali, recalled for the Cup of Nations after a lengthy absence from the national squad, put Egypt ahead again and Omar Gaber scored a late goal to ensure victory. It was the second warm-up victory for Egypt, who defeated qualifiers Tanzania 1-0 three days ago at the same stadium.

Egypt are in Group A with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe for the June 21-July 19 tournament as they seek a record-extending eighth African title. While Egypt are on a winning streak, serious title contenders Morocco suffered a second home loss in a row as they fell 3-2 to non-qualifiers Zambia.

Ajax Amsterdam star Hakim Ziyech equalised twice for a team considered one of the biggest threats to title favourites Egypt only for Enock Mwepu to snatch a 75th-minute winner.

Morocco, who lost to the Gambia last Wednesday, are guided by Frenchman Herve Renard, the only coach to win the Cup of Nations with different countries. He led outsiders Zambia to the title in 2012 and repeated the feat three years later with the Ivory Coast.

Everton star Idrissa Gueye scored the first half goal that gave Senegal a 1-0 victory over Nigeria behind closed doors in Ismailia, one of the venues for the African showpiece. Three-time champions Nigeria and former runners-up Senegal are expected to go far in the first Cup of Nations to feature 24 teams, up from 16 two years ago in Gabon.

Andy Delort, a late call-up by Algeria after the axing of Haris Belkebla for baring his back side online, scored the winner in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Mali in Doha. Mali were in front twice before Delort netted nine minutes from time for Algeria, whose lone African title came at home 29 years ago.  

This match was played behind closed doors as coaches put the final touches to preparations for a tournament that kicks off Friday with a match between Egypt and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe led at half-time through a Knox Mutizwa goal and Mbwana Samatta equalised for Tanzania in a 1-1 draw between the qualifiers in Cairo.

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