Ghana have sacked coach Milovan Rajevac eight days after the Black Stars crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the group stages.

The country's football association (GFA) first discussed the 68-year-old Serb's position just three days after the shock 3-2 loss to Comoros which sealed their fate at the tournament in Cameroon.

"This follows the receipt of the technical report from the coach, and the report from the management committee, following Ghana's early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations," a GFA statement on Wednesday said.

"The GFA will soon announce the reconstituted technical team and management committee after due engagement with all relevant stakeholders."

Ghana will need to have a coach in place ahead of their crucial two-legged 2022 World Cup play-off against West African arch-rivals Nigeria in March.

The Black Stars suffered a dismal tournament in Cameroon under Rajevac, taking only a single point from games against Morocco, Gabon and Comoros and finishing bottom of group C.

The defeat by Comoros in a game they needed to win to qualify for the last 16 marked one of the lowest points in the national team's history.

Rajevac was re-appointed for his second spell as Ghana boss in September 2021 and initially did well, successfully guiding Ghana through the second round of World Cup qualifying with a controversial win against South Africa.

Source: BBC

Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle said defender Eric Bailly was "very down" after his penalty was saved in their last 16 shoot-out defeat by Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Manchester United man saw his effort tipped on to the bar, and the Elephants were knocked out 5-4 on penalties following a 0-0 draw.

"He was crying and it was very hard," Beaumelle told BBC Sport Africa.

"I hugged him and I just said 'You are a big champion'."

Centre-back Bailly had returned to the Ivory Coast side in Douala after suffering a head injury in their second group match.

The 27-year-old sported a rugby scrum cap for protection and impressed at the back over 120 minutes, but substitute Egypt keeper Gabaski pulled off a crucial save to deny Bailly from 12 yards.

Eric Bailly penalty in the third round of kicks was saved, and the miss proved costly for Ivory Coast

Afterwards, Beaumelle was full of praise for Bailly's attitude.

"What he has done during the competition, he has shown that he is a big champion," the Frenchman added.

"All the big champions miss penalties, I have so many examples.

"I think the goalkeeper did well. He saved two or three chances in extra-time and saved the penalty from Eric.

"You know, when you lose on penalties you have nothing else to say. I am very sad for the boys because my feeling was we could go very far in this competition."

Elephants must 'accept exit'

Ivory Coast had beaten defending champions Algeria 3-1 to top their Nations Cup group in Cameroon and had looked capable of extending their bid for a third continental crown.

Their encounter with Egypt in Cameroon on Wednesday was a close game and the nature of the defeat left Beaumelle "sad and disappointed".

"I think it was a very balanced game," he said.

"Each team got opportunities and deserved to score, it was 50-50 but a very good game. When you go to a penalty shoot-out it is hard.

"We didn't want to stop like that. When you lose sometimes you prefer to lose because the opponent is better but we feel like we deserved to go through like Egypt.

"But it is football and we have to accept it."

Beaumelle took charge of Ivory Coast in March 2020, having been assistant when the side won the 2015 Nations Cup on penalties.

The Elephants had previously lost two finals on spot-kicks, against Egypt in 2006 and Zambia in 2012, and were also knocked out of the 2019 tournament on penalties by Algeria in the quarter-finals.

The West Africans have failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, having been eliminated by Cameroon in November, yet Ivory Coast but will host the next Nations Cup in 2023.

Beaumelle says it is "too early to talk about" their potential challenge on home soil next year but believes his side have "a great future".

Meanwhile, the 43-year-old remains unsure of his own future.

"I don't want to talk about myself. I don't want to talk about my contract," he said.

"In my mind I am still in the game and I need two or three days to cool down and we'll see what is going to happen."

Source: BBC

Kenyans are mourning a popular football fan who painted his body during matches.

Isaac Juma was hacked to death at his hometown in western Kenya on Wednesday night, local media report.

Mr Juma was known for using his body as a canvas during national and local teams' matches.

He had in the past travelled out of the country with the national team.

During a 2018 interview with local Citizen TV, he said he hoped the Kenyan team would qualify for the Afcon games that are currently going on in Cameroon.

Kenyans online have eulogised Kenya One, as he was popularly referred to by his fans.

"You were a gem, jovial and entertaining," Abu Rumi tweeted.

"We will truly miss your unwavering support for Kenyan football, Omwami. You were a devoted follower! Fare thee well!," @SallyBolo wrote.

Source: BBC

Egypt beat Ivory Coast 5-4 on penalties to reach the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon following a 0-0 draw.

The North Africans got the upper hand in the shoot-out when substitute keeper Gabaski saved Eric Bailly's effort in the third round of spot-kicks.

And Pharaohs captain Mohamed Salah netted the decisive penalty to send the record seven-time champions through.

Egypt will face Morocco in the last eight in Yaounde on Sunday (16:00 GMT).

The finale was somewhat harsh on Manchester United defender Bailly, who had performed superbly at the back while sporting a rugby scrum cap on his return from a head injury.

Yet he took a short run-up for his penalty and placed his effort too close to Gabaski, who dived to his right and stuck out his left hand to push the ball onto the bar.

The Zamalek keeper had come on right at the end of the second half after Mohamed El Shenawy picked up a leg injury, and may well start against Morocco depending on the extent of the injury suffered by Egypt's number one.

Source: BBC

Goalkeeper Jesus Owono was Equatorial Guinea's hero as they shocked Mali in a penalty shootout to reach the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Owono, 20, saved twice in the shootout to help them go through 6-5 on spot-kicks after a 0-0 draw.

Initially, the referee indicated the decisive save from Falaye Sacko's effort needed to be retaken, but a VAR check showed Owono's foot was still on the line.

Equatorial Guinea play Senegal next.

Mali, 61 places higher in the world rankings than their opponents, had the better chances but were frustrated by another resilient Equatorial Guinea performance.

A high-tempo but untidy first half saw Mali's Amadou Haidara have the best chance when the RB Leipzig star - who has been linked with a move to the Premier League - was only able to scuff a weak shot from close range.

Five minutes before the break, the Eagles were awarded a penalty when Moussa Doumbia clashed with Equatorial Guinea's Josete Miranda.

But referee Bakary Gassama reversed his decision when he viewed the incident on the touchline monitor.

Mali improved further in the second period and Red Bull Salzburg's Mohamed Camara spurned another opportunity in the 56th minute.

After great work from Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma on the right, Camara got the ball, but fired over from close to the penalty spot.

Substitute Moussa Djenepo also came close to putting the Mali in front but his powerful effort was deflected just wide.

Equatorial Guinea, who inflicted a first defeat in 36 games on defending champions Algeria in the group stage, rarely threatened at the other end.

But former Middlesbrough and Birmingham defender Emilio Nsue came on as a sub for them with an hour to go and played an increasingly influential role.

He curled a shot over in the last moments of normal time and was a constant menace to the Mali defence in the extra period.

Mali keeper Ibrahim Mounkouro was forced into a rare save when Basilio Ndong struck from distance.

But one shot on target from each team in 120 minutes of football told the story, and it came to penalties to decide who would go through to face Sadio Mane and Co in Douala on Sunday in the last eight.

Nsue blazed the first kick over the bar, but Mali also missed through Massadio Haidara, and both keepers then made saves in the sequence to take it to sudden death.

Mali's Sacko needed to score to keep his team in it, but Owono dived low to make a fine stop.

Celebrations were held up for a few moments as the VAR check took place, but then Equatorial Guinea - who reached the semi-finals back in 2015 when they hosted the tournament - had their victory confirmed.

It was a bitter disappointment for favourites Mali, who had been the better team throughout, but failed to make their quality and opportunities count.

Home TeamMaliAway TeamEquatorial Guinea

Possession

Home58%

Away42%

Shots

Home14

Away9

Shots on Target

Home1

Away1

Corners

Home6

Away2

Fouls

Home11

Away31

Source: BBC

Sadio Mane scored as Senegal beat nine-man Cape Verde 2-0 in the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations, but was immediately forced off with concussion.

Mane curled in off the underside of the crossbar soon after keeper Vozinha had been dismissed over a nasty clash of heads with the Liverpool forward.

Mane continued despite appearing to be briefly knocked out in the incident.

After celebrating his goal he lay down on halfway, and before the game restarted he was led off the field.

Cape Verde midfielder Patrick Andrade had been shown a straight red card midway through the first half, while Bamba Dieng added Senegal's second in second-half injury time.

The match in Bafoussam was preceded by a minute's silence for the victims of the crush at the Olembe Stadium on Monday.

Senegal will face either Mali or Equatorial Guinea in the last eight on Sunday.

Concern for Mane after clash

Tournament organisers the Confederation of African Football may have questions to answer about their concussion protocols after Vozinha and Liverpool striker Mane were both floored in the 53rd minute.

The Cape Verde keeper rushed out of his box in an attempt to intercept a long kick downfield by Senegal keeper Edouard Mendy, and collided head-first at pace with Mane, who had got to the ball first and headed forward.

After a lengthy stoppage a clearly groggy Vozinha was about to be substituted but, following a video assistant referee review, deserved to receive Cape Verde's second red card for his reckless challenge.

Somehow Mane was deemed fit to continue and, after having a shot saved by substitute keeper Marcio Rosa, the forward then broke the deadlock from the resulting corner.

Senegal manager Aliou Cisse said Mane had been taken to hospital following the game.

"He felt faint, his head was spinning and he had to go there," said Cisse.

Mane later posted a picture from his hospital bed of himself and Vozinha on his Instagram account, adding that everything was well.

Source: BBC

In our series of letters from African writers, Algerian-Canadian football journalist Maher Mezahi, who is in Cameroon to cover the Africa Cup of Nations, reflects on how the recent deaths of fans at a stadium has left him with mixed feelings about the tournament.

 

When I was first asked to do a piece about my impressions about the tournament in Cameroon, I had wanted to compile a list of the things that make it so special and sets it apart from other major football competitions.

I was planning to celebrate African football.

After all, Afcon is a special tournament, adored by everyone on the continent and intrinsically linked to pan-African values.

The first two in 1957 and 1959, for example, were used in part as a statement against apartheid in South Africa.

Players, fans and journalists have all spoken about how it is closer to the true spirit of football, rather than the more sanitised and corporate tournaments elsewhere.

There is also the warm and friendly atmosphere as well as the pride that Afcon creates in all countries across the continent.

A carnival of super fans

Amongst the positive things are the medical protocols to deal with Covid-19, including pulmonary scans.

These are among the strictest in world football and intended to prevent any medical emergencies.

On the terraces, everyone lauds the carnival-like atmosphere that African football supporters manage to generate.

Recognisable super fans are present at every biennial championship.

Take Tunisia's "Reda The Elephant", who covers his belly in body paint and has the best goal reactions, or Ivory Coast's "Petit Bamba", who orchestrates the National Elephants' Supporters Committee dance moves.

"The atmosphere is so pure," says Alex Cizmic, an Italian freelance journalist, who has often been amazed at the relaxed atmosphere around the teams.

"In 2019 in Egypt, I was fortunate enough to attend one of the Uganda Cranes' training sessions. When it was over, I had a chat with star striker Farouk Miya, who I had never met before," he recalls in a surprised tone.

"Then I arranged a quick call with his former coach Milutin Sredojevic, who I was in contact with. It all felt very familial."

And smaller nations have shone.

The Gambia and Comoros were debutants in this edition of the tournament, and they have done their nations proud.

Before The Gambia played their first match against Mauritania, I asked a Gambian friend to write down what he felt as the anthem was playing.

"I felt a real sense of pride, love for country, and honour hearing the Gambian national team anthem for the first time," he said.

"When the first goal went in, I couldn't do anything. Deep inside of me I was just proud, knowing what the goal means. It really united our country."

Abandoned shoes

But in one evening, all of the positive aspects of the Afcon have been overshadowed by a tragedy of unspeakable proportions.

As hosts Cameroon were set to play their second round match against Comoros at the new Olembé Stadium in the capital, Yaoundé, a bottleneck began to build outside.

At around 19:30 local time, just half an hour before kick-off, thousands of fans were stuck in a crush that ended up killing eight people, including an eight-year-old boy, according to Cameroonian authorities.

I had arrived at the stadium earlier in the afternoon, but even several hours before the match started, the incessant cordoning off of spectators was irritating.

I have been to football matches in seven African countries and every time I make the same observation: there are so many police officers and so little safety.

For a stadium with a capacity of 60,000, it seemed extremely odd that journalists, supporters and everyone who was not a VIP were being ushered in through the same gate outside the campus.

The following morning the Confederation of African Football (Caf) accepted shared responsibility for the incident and presented its condolences to the families.

But matches were not postponed and the tournament is continuing.

I do not think games should have taken place on Tuesday - the day after the tragedy.

It seemed disrespectful to the families, and everyone involved in the competition is still trying to process what happened.

It does not feel like a time to talk about or celebrate football.

 

Source: BBC

Debutants The Gambia booked their place in the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations as Musa Barrow's goal gave them a famous 1-0 victory over Guinea.

Bologna forward Barrow collected a pass and slotted past Aly Keita from the centre of the box in the 71st minute.

Defender Ibrahima Conte had an equaliser ruled out for offside before The Gambia's Yusupha Njie was sent off.

Guinea struck the post in injury time before another shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Baboucarr Gaye.

It was a stunning save by Gaye to keep out the powerful strike by Jose Kante, which came immediately after Conte had rattled the left-hand upright from a narrow angle.

Even then, Guinea forward Morgan Guilavogui latched onto the rebound off the bar and had his follow-up attempt blocked by Pa Modou Jagne.

Kante headed over from the resulting corner and the Scorpions, the lowest-ranked side at the tournament, held on to win as Guinea centre-back Conte was also dismissed in injury time for a second booking.

The Gambia, who are 150th in the world, will now face Cameroon in the last eight on Saturday after the hosts saw off Comoros 2-1.

Scorpions continue remarkable run

The Gambia went unbeaten through the group stage, beating Mauritania and 2004 champions Tunisia, and Tom Saintfiet's side pulled off another giant-killing in Bafoussam.

They had few clear-cut openings, with their best chance in the first half coming when Barrow stung the palms of Keita with a long-range strike.

The Scorpions were at times careless in possession, gifting Mohamed Bayo a sight at goal just after the half-hour mark, but the striker had his shot blocked by James Gomez before Gaye smothered Bayo's follow-up.

In the second half, defender Omar Colley denied Guinea midfielder Ilaix Moriba with a well-timed challenge shortly after Kante had sent a header over.

Yusupha Bobb set up the winner with a fine pass to Barrow, but the debutants survived a nervy and frantic finale after substitute Njie was sent off with three minutes left following two harsh cautions.

The Gambia's lowly position in the world rankings is underlined by the fact they began their Nations Cup qualifying campaign in the preliminary round, where they needed penalties to beat Djibouti back in October 2019.

But the Scorpions showed steely determination to extend their run in Cameroon with another historic result.

Home TeamGuineaAway TeamGambia

Possession

Home51%

Away49%

Shots

Home19

Away12

Shots on Target

Home2

Away3

Corners

Home6

Away2

Fouls

Home19

Away17

Source: BBC

Cameroon narrowly beat 10-man Comoros in the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations, in a result that was overshadowed by reports six people have been killed and dozens hurt in a crush outside the stadium.

Video footage showed football fans struggling to get access to the Paul Biya stadium in a neighbourhood of the capital Yaounde.

The stadium has a capacity of 60,000 but because of Covid restrictions it was not meant to be more than 80% full.

The last-16 match between Cameroon and Comoros took place despite the incident and ended with a 2-1 win for the hosts.

Goals from Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar gave the Indomitable Lions a 2-1 win after Nadjim Abdou's early red.

But Comoros deserve a lot of credit after giving the hosts a tough match.

Youssouf M'Changama scored a stunning free-kick and Chaker Alhadhur, normally a left-back, produced a brilliant performance as stand-in goalkeeper.

Cameroon progress to face The Gambia in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Home TeamCameroonAway TeamComoros

Possession

Home66%

Away34%

Shots

Home19

Away13

Shots on Target

Home6

Away7

Corners

Home6

Away1

Fouls

Home12

Away8

Source: BBC

At least eight people are reported to have been killed and dozens hurt in a crush outside an Africa Cup of Nations match in Cameroon.

Video footage showed football fans struggling to get access to the Paul Biya stadium in a neighbourhood of the capital Yaounde.

One child is among the dead, according to a health ministry report obtained by the AFP news agency.

Another report said a number of children had lost consciousness.

The stadium has a capacity of 60,000 but because of Covid restrictions it was not meant to be more than 80% full.

Match officials were quoted as saying that some 50,000 people were trying to attend.

Journalist Leocadia Bongben was at the game. She told the BBC's Newsday programme that she saw commotion coming from one of the "fan zone" areas outside the stadium.

"People started shouting. A minute after that an ambulance came to the stadium, but when we got to the place the police would not allow us to get close to where the stampede was," she said.

She had received a list of eight people who lost their lives, she said.

"It's really quite a sad situation that people go to watch a game and they end up dying there."

Six people are reported to have been killed and dozens hurt in a crush outside a stadium hosting an Africa Cup of Nations match in Cameroon.

Video footage showed football fans struggling to get access to the Paul Biya stadium in a neighbourhood of the capital Yaounde. 

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Nick Cavell, a producer for BBC Africa, was at the match and said that news of the crush did not seem to filter through to the crowd until there were reports on social media.

Lots of discarded shoes and other debris was strewn around the entrance of the stadium, he said.

Nurse Olinga Prudence told AP that some of the injured were in a "desperate condition".

The Confederation of African Football, CAF said in a statement that it is "currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired".

The last 16 match between Cameroon and Comoros took place despite the incident and ended with a 2-1 win for the hosts.

 

Source: BBC

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