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Raja Casablanca hinges CAF Champions League dreams on new signings

Raja have been overshadowed in recent years by neighbours and fierce rivals Wydad Cssablanca

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Raja Casablanca hinges CAF Champions League dreams on new signings

Raja Casablanca coach Patrice Carteron has strengthened his squad with six signings as they set their sights on winning the CAF Champions League, which kicks off Friday. 

Forward, Ben Malango from Democratic Republic of Congo club TP Mazembe is the latest acquisition by the Moroccan club who last won the competition 20 years ago.

Another Congolese, Fabrice Ngoma, Malian Salif Coulibaly and Moroccans Hamid Ahaddad, Omar Arjoun and Mohsine Moutouali have also joined the three-time African champions.

France-born Carteron guided Mazembe to the Champions League title in 2015 and took Al Ahly of Egypt to the final two years later.

Raja have been overshadowed in recent years by neighbours and fierce rivals Wydad Cssablanca, who have won the Champions League and been runners-up in the past three editions.

Wydad were declared losers of the 2019 final against Esperance of Tunisia this week by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after storming off the field during the second leg.

A disallowed second-leg equaliser by Wydad in Tunis could not be reviewed because of a VAR malfunction and the visiting team refused to continue playing.  

Esperance, Wydad and Mazembe received byes into the round of 32 of the 2019/2020 edition, leaving Raja and 57 other clubs to compete in two-leg preliminary ties. 

Brikama United of the Gambia are the first hurdle Raja must clear, and they should do so without too much difficulty.

Security reasons –

Raja are among 11 clubs who have been crowned African champions that will be in action between Friday and Sunday.

Egyptian sides have won the competition 14 times — more than any other country — and Ahly and Zamalek launch their campaigns away to east African minnows. 

READ: CAF declares Esperance winners of controversial African champions league

Record eight-time trophy-holders Ahly meet Atlabara of South Sudan while five-time champions Zamalek take on Dekedaha of Somalia in Djibouti for security reasons.

Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, the only semi-finalists from last season not to receive a bye, face a potentially awkward away assignment against AS Otoho of Congo Brazzaville. 

Otoho shocked 2018 semi-finalists, Primeiro Agosto, last season and their aggressive style could unsettle former champions Sundowns. 

Fellow South Africans Orlando Pirates travel to Green Eagles of Zambia, one of nine sides debuting in the premier CAF club competition. 

Both Nigerian representatives, two-time champions Enyimba and Kano Pillars, face fellow west African sides. 

Enyimba are away to Rahimo of Burkina Faso while Pillars host Asante Kotoko of Ghana, who have been African champions twice, but not since 1983. 

Hafia of Guinea, who conquered Africa three times during the 1970s, return to the Champions League after a 36-year absence and face fellow former champions Etoile Sahel of Tunisia.

Etoile are under the guidance of veteran Faouzi Benzarti, the most successful African coach in CAF club competitions with five titles. 

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Nigeria’s FA reacts to FIFA’s ban on coach Siasia

FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to match-fixing

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Nigeria's FA reacts to FIFA's ban on coach Siasia
Acting NFF President, Seyi Akinwunmi.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said on Monday that they were “shocked” by a life ban on former national coach Samson Siasia by FIFA for bribery, vowing to overturn it.

On Friday, the governing body of world football banned Siasia, 52, from football, following a long-running investigation into convicted match-fixer, Wilson Raj Perumal.

After his arrest, Perumal collaborated with investigators.

FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”

Siasia, a striker, played 51 times for Nigeria and had two short spells as national coach. 

Acting NFF President Seyi Akinwunmi said in a statement that the FIFA report had been given to the body’s lawyers “to study and provide legal advice to the federation,” he said, adding that Siasia “gave his all for Nigeria.”

The statement read:

“The NFF was shocked to learn of the investigation and the subsequent decision by the FIFA Ethics Committee (Adjudicatory Chamber) placing a life ban on Mr Samson Siasia.”

“Siasia is a football legend but most importantly he is a Nigerian”, he said.  

“We respect the FIFA processes”, said Akinwunmi but added, “the least we as a Federation can do is empathise with him at this time make ourselves available to him and hope that in some way he is able to clear his name.”

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FIFA bans ex-Nigeria football coach for match fixing

Siasia was also handed a fine of 50,000 US dollars

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FIFA on Friday banned former Nigeria Football Federation official Samson Siasia for life after the body’s ethics panel found him guilty of taking bribes in connection with match fixing. 

In a statement, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s independent ethics committee said the probe targeting Siasia stemmed from a wider investigation involving Wilson Raj Perumal, who has confessed to international match-fixing.

The probe that began in February found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics,” the statement said.

In addition to being banned from all football related activity for life, Siasia was also handed a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,000, 46,000 euros).

Siasia, a former striker, also briefly coached Nigeria’s men’s national football team. 

FIFA did not detail the nature of ties to Perumal, a Singaporean national who was arrested and jailed in Finland in 2011 for fixing top-tier football games there. 

Perumal later collaborated with match fixing investigators.

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Sebastien Migne resigns as coach of Kenya’s national football team

Frenchman Migne took charge of the team in May 2018 and took Kenya to their first AFCON finals appearance in 15 years

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Sebastien Migne resigns as head coach of Kenya's national football team
Kenya's coach (now-former) Sebastian Migne. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Kenya’s football federation said on Monday coach Sebastien Migne was leaving by “mutual consent” eight days after his team were eliminated from qualifying for the 2020 African Nations Championship.

Kenya were knocked out of the tournament, for teams made up only of African-based players, on penalties on August 4 after both legs of their first-round tie with neighbours and arch-rivals Tanzania ended goalless. 

Frenchman Migne took charge of the Harambee Stars in May 2018 and steered the side to a first African Cup of Nations finals appearance in 15 years.

Hampered by injuries to key players, Kenya were eliminated at the group stage despite beating Tanzania, 3-2.

“Football Kenya Federation and Harambee Stars head coach Sebastian Migne have agreed to terminate the coach’s contract on mutual consent” said  Barry Otieno, the federation’s acting general secretary.

“Consequently, FKF and Migne have agreed on a settlement for the coach, over a period of time.”

Otieno said the re-organisation and appointment for a new coaching team was already underway.

Kenya play Egypt in the preliminary round of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo in November.

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