Algeria won their maiden Arab Cup with a 2-0 win against Tunisia on Saturday after extra-time goals from substitute Amir Sayoud and Yacine Brahimi in Al Khor, a victory that backs up their credentials for the Africa Cup of Nations.

It also underscores North Africa's domination in a tournament that served as a World Cup dress rehearsal for Qatari organizers.

The African champions needed 99 minutes to find the opener through Sayoud against a formidable Tunisian side, who created opportunities and danger of their own but failed to capitalise.

With the last kick of the game, talisman and Qatar-based Yacine Brahimi, clean through on goal, wrapped up the 2-0 victory in the 125th minute to deservedly crown Algeria champions after a formidable tournament.

Algeria had also left it very late in their semi-final against hosts Qatar when Youcef Belaili netted a winner in the 17th minute of injury time.

In response, Qatari club Qatar SC terminated Belaili's contract.

On Instagram, Belaili, who had been at the Doha club since 2020, wrote: "Thank you very much to Qatar SC for the moments spent by your side and a huge thank you to the fans and the management. Now I am a free agent."

On Saturday, both Algeria and Morocco demonstrated the best and the worst of North African derbies with fine build-up play and skillful combinations as well as sloppy passages of play and theatrical interludes.

There was nothing to separate the two sides in Doha until Sayoud struck left-footed in extra-time to leave Tunisia's goalkeeper Mouez Hassen no chance.

Tunisia responded with chances for Mohamed Benalarbi and Ghailene Chaalali, but Brahimi decided the match when Tunisia left their goal undefended, wrapping up a two-week tournament that replaced the Confederations Cup as a warm-up event for the World Cup.

The African continent had six representatives at the tournament, last staged in 2012 but revived by Fifa in an expanded 16-team format to include more participants from across the Arab world and test Qatar's readiness for the World Cup.

Both Sudan and Mauritania exited the competition bottom of their group, but Morocco emerged as strong contenders, scoring nine goals without conceding to be one of four teams - alongside Qatar, Algeria and Egypt - to progress unbeaten from the first round.

Algeria's Arab Cup victory, however, reinforces their credentials to defend their continental crown in January when they start their campaign Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone in Group E.

In Qatar, Africa's number side were without their major stars, including Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez.

Countries often travelled with reserve squads because clubs were not compelled to release their players for the Arab Cup, a tournament outside of the Fifa calendar.

It allowed coaches to experiment and assess a number of fringe players in a bid to prepare for next month's Nations Cup.

With Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt - whose fourth-place finished has intensified pressure on coach Carlos Quieroz - in the competition until the last day, the Arab Cup had a distinct North African flavour with fevered fans often igniting the storied rivalries in the stands.

More than 500,000 tickets were sold for the 32 matches across six stadiums, all World Cup venues, the bulk of which went to Qatari residents.

The Arab Cup allowed Qatar's 2022 World Cup organisers to test operations and stage the matches in a bio-secure way through the introduction of Fan IDs and a local contract-tracing application.

The quarter-final between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates at the Al-Bayt Stadium drew 63,439 fans, the single highest attendance ever for a sporting event in Qatar.

The tournament confirmed Qatar's hosting credentials ahead of next year's global finals, which will kick off on November 21 and mark the culmination of the country's decade of super-acceleration.

Qatar projects to spend $200 billion on infrastructure, including $6.5 billion directly on the World Cup, to stage the 28-day extravaganza next year, but the country's reputation has been tested by allegations of corruption and human rights abuses.

Source: BBC

Former England international Steven Caulker is now eligible to play for Sierra Leone and could be selected for next month's Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The 29-year-old former Tottenham defender was given official clearance on Friday by football's world governing body Fifa to represent the West African country.

"I can confirm that the player's status chamber of Fifa has just cleared Caulker to represent Sierra Leone," the country's football association president Thomas Daddy Brima told BBC Sport Africa.

Nine years ago Caulker won a single cap for England in a 4-2 loss to Sweden in a friendly match, even weighing in with a goal.

His selection by the Three Lions came after he had played every single minute of Great Britain's campaign at the 2012 London Olympics.

He is eligible to swap allegiances under Fifa regulations and he qualifies to play for the Leone Stars through his paternal grandfather, who is from Sierra Leone.

In October Caulker took part in a training camp with Sierra Leone and played in an unofficial friendly match against a Moroccan team of home-based players.

The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) added that it had been given the green light for Dutch-born Issa Kallon to swap allegiances to play for Sierra Leone.

The 25-year-old forward, who plays for Dutch top-flight side SC Cambuur, had represented the Netherlands at every level from under-15 through to under-20 but is eligible for Sierra Leone through his parents.

The duo could make their competitive debuts at the delayed Nations Cup finals in Cameroon if called up by Coach John Keister.

Sierra Leone are set to make their first appearance at the Nations Cup since 1996 and will face defending champions Algeria, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea in Group E.

Another player who was also told he can represent Sierra Leone without submitting paperwork is Greece-based midfielder Sahr Jonathan Morsay.

Morsay was born in Sweden and played for the Scandinavians in friendlies at Under-19 level, and as such does not need official Fifa approval.

However the 24-year-old recently picked up a hamstring injury and it is doubtful that he will be fit in time for the Nations Cup.

Source: BBC

Only fans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and have proof of a negative test in the run-up to a game can attend January’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, organisers say.

In a joint statement from Cameroon’s government and football association (Fecafoot), as well as the Confederation of African Football (Caf), the tournament has been re-confirmed as going ahead between 9 January and 6 February.

Twenty-four teams, some of whom will feature major Premier League stars like Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Senegal’s Sadio Mahrez and Riyad Mahrez of defending champions Algeria, are set to take part.

“The government has devised an elaborate special sanitary anti-Covid protocol for the Nations Cup,” the statement read.

“Supporters can only access stadiums for Nations Cup matches if they are fully vaccinated and present a negative PCR test within 72 hours or a negative lateral flow test within 24 hours.

“Health authorities will take all necessary measures to facilitate vaccinations and Covid tests on all sites during the competition.”

At present just 2% of Cameroon is fully vaccinated, according to figures from Our World in Data.

The Nations Cup, which has been delayed a year because of the pandemic, will be played in five venues across Cameroon, including the capital Yaounde.

A fortnight ago the European Club Association, an independent body, expressed its “deep concerns” regarding player welfare following the emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus and the “worsening public health situation”.

Rumours have abounded this month that the tournament could either be postponed or change location, but Caf dismissed that notion when contacted by BBC Sport Africa last week.

On Wednesday, Caf communications official Lux September criticised media “lies” in response to one report stating the Nations Cup could be cancelled, and Thursday’s statement reiterated the intention to go ahead with the finals as planned.

“Despite the additional challenge this pandemic represents, our Nations Cup must be played,” the statement continued.

“The global Covid pandemic and its several variants demand that we take appropriate and adequate measures in order not to spread the virus, which constitutes a serious and real danger.

“Nonetheless, life must continue and we must learn to live with the virus.”

Source: (BBC)

Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay has been named Africa's best cyclist of the year by organisers of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, an annual cycling tour held in Gabon.

The 21-year-old clinched his second consecutive award ahead of South African Ryan Gibson and two of his countrymen; Merhawi Kudus and Henok Mulubrehan.

Eritreans dominate cycling competitions in Africa in almost all categories, both at the individual and at national team level.

The Horn of Africa nation has recorded six wins at the men's elite African Road Championships, more than any other country, in the last decade.

The country's biggest feat globally came at the 2015 Tour de France when Daniel Teklehaimanot became the first African to wear the polka dot jersey and Merhawi Kudus, then 21, was the field's youngest rider.

Several Eritrean professional cyclists have been recruited by clubs in Europe and South Africa over the years.

Source: BBC

Guinea and Sudan have named caretaker coaches to lead their teams at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon, which kicks off in just four weeks' time.

Kaba Diawara continues as Guinea coach while Burhan Tia replaces Hubert Velud in charge of Sudan.

French-born former Guinea international Diawara took over temporarily after French coach Didier Six was sacked in October after Syli National failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Under Diawara, who has been handed the role for the next three months, Guinea drew 0-0 against visiting Guinea-Bissau and then lost 3-0 in Morocco. He will continue to work with Mandjou Diallo.

Diawara, who turns 46 on Thursday, made 15 appearances for Arsenal in 1999 after signing from Bordeaux. The forward went on to play for Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain before making 11 appearances on loan at West Ham.

Meanwhile the Sudan Football Association (SFA) has appointed local coach Tia for the Nation Cup, after parting ways with Frenchman Velud.

The move comes after Sudan lost all three group games at the ongoing Arab Cup in Qatar, conceding 10 goals and failing to score.

Velud had helped Sudan qualify for the Nations Cup for the first time since 2013, after being appointed in January 2020.

As well as the poor showing at the Arab Cup, Sudan also finished bottom of their World Cup qualifying group with three points from three draws in their six group games, as they played Morocco, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.

The new interim coach Burhan Tia, who will be assisted by Mubarak Salman and Mohsen Said, has worked in the Sudan Premier League for 26 years.

Tia was also Sudan assistant coach during the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) as they finished third in Morocco.

The Africa Cup of Nations begins on Sunday, 9 January.

Source: BBC

Organizers of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) hope the competition will be expanded in the future, with 12 teams once again set to take part in its second season.

However, the 2022 campaign will see the sides from around the continent split into two conferences of six teams, with a total of 38 games - an increase from 26 matches in the inaugural season played in Kigali, Rwanda earlier this year.

One conference will played in the Senegalese capital Dakar in March, with the other hosted in the Egyptian capital Cairo in April.

Each conference will be made up of 15 matches on a round-robin basis, with the top four progressing to the play-off event in Kigali in May,

"I have no doubt that the interest is there and in due course we will look at getting more teams involved," BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall told BBC Sport Africa.

"For now we are pleased with the path and are going to continue to be very strategic in terms of the changes we make at the end of every season, like we did at the conclusion of last season.

"Going from 26 games in the first season at a single site in Kigali last year to 38 games in three cities and playing over a period of three months is progress and really some big steps. We get a lot of questions about the number of teams and whether we are going to increase it, but for now we are sticking to 12 teams.

"We have a solid foundation for long-term success."

Twelve national league champions will once again qualify for the second BAL season, including through the Road to BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by Fiba Africa across the continent.

Egyptian club Zamalek won the inaugural BAL in May as they beat US Monastir from Tunisia.

The second season will begin on 5 March 2022, with further announcements about competing teams, conferences and additional details set to follow at a later date.

Source: BBC

Former Morocco captain Medhi Benatia has retired from football, two years after quitting the international game.

Now 34, the central defender has most recently been playing his club football in Turkey for Super Lig side Fatih Karagumruk.

During a 14-year career which started in France, the land of his birth, Benatia represented some of the world's biggest clubs and won four straight titles in a row during spells in Germany and Italy.

He won two Bundesliga titles and a German cup with Bayern Munich and three Serie A championships, two Italian Cups with Juventus, with whom he lost a Champions League final, in 2017.

He also played in the 2018 World Cup and four Africa Cup of Nations for Morocco, for whom he made over 60 appearances.

One of his two international goals sealed his nation's place at Russia 2018 as the Moroccan captain led the way when scoring in a decisive 2-0 qualifying win in Ivory Coast.

"This job has also allowed me to defend and represent my country, Morocco, with whom I have experienced unforgettable moments, the various Nations Cups but in particular the 2018 World Cup," he said on Thursday.

"From a young age I had only one dream, to become a professional footballer," Benatia wrote on social media as he announced his retirement.

"To get there, I had to force myself to work hard, make sacrifices, but above all set new goals at each stage of my career.

"Thank God I had the good fortune to become a professional footballer but as they say in this profession, the hardest part is not to sign your first contract but to last over time.

"After more than 15 years of "good and loyal service" to football, having played in the most prestigious competitions, I have decided to end my career!"

Despite being expelled from prestigious French football academy Clairefontaine one year ahead of schedule, Benatia bounced back in impressive style - calling his dismissal from the school 'fair' as well as being 'like an electric shock'.

Born just south of Paris to a Moroccan father and Algerian mother, Benatia was on the books of Marseille, Lorient, Tours and Clermot in France, also played for Udinese and Roma, where he was named in Serie A's team of the 2013-14 season, in Italy before winding down his career in Qatar and Turkey.

"Throughout my career I have met great people who have allowed me to build myself, which is why I want to pay tribute to all the clubs I have been to," he wrote before listing all 10.

"I would like to thank all those who have supported me for all this time; my parents, wife, children, agent, close friends and you who follow me. They say that the end of one thing is always the beginning of another."

Benatia retired from international football in 2019, shortly after captaining Morocco at the Nations Cup in Egypt where the Atlas Lions lost on penalties to Benin in the Last 16.

Source: BBC

Tiger Woods will make his comeback playing alongside son Charlie at the PNC Championship in Florida next week.

The 15-time major champion has not played competitive golf since sustaining serious injuries in a car crash in February.

Woods, 45, said last month that he does not expect to play full time on the tour following the accident.

The 36-hole PNC Championship sees a field of major champions playing alongside their children or parents.

"Although it's been a long and challenging year, I am very excited to close it out by competing in the PNC Championship with my son Charlie," said Woods.

"I'm playing as a dad and couldn't be more excited and proud."

Woods wants to target certain one-off tournaments on his return and said he would "love to play" at St Andrews when the 150th Open is staged there next July.

The PNC Championship is organised by the PGA Tour and will be held on 18-19 December at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando.

The players must have won either a major championship or the Players Championship in order to be invited.

The 20-team field this year includes the reigning champions, 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and his father Mike.

Source: BBC

Liverpool became the first English side to win all six Champions League group games as they completed a perfect journey into the knockout stage with victory over AC Milan in Italy.

Manager Jurgen Klopp made eight changes with qualification for the last 16 already assured as group winners, while the Serie A leaders went in search of the win they hoped would secure their own passage into the next phase.

 

Milan’s hopes rose on the half-hour when Takumi Minamino missed a near-post corner and goalkeeper Alisson could only push the ball out to England defender Fikayo Tomori, who scored from close range.

Liverpool’s line-up may have had an unfamiliar appearance but they were by far the more accomplished side. Mohamed Salah was in the starting line-up and once again demonstrated his predatory instincts with the equaliser seven minutes later, driving home the rebound after Milan keeper Mike Maignan saved from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

It meant the prolific Salah became the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush to score 20 goals in five successive seasons, also scoring the most goals for the club in the group stage of a European competition with seven.

Liverpool continued to dominate and Divock Origi scored his first goal in the competition since the 2019 Champions League final against Tottenham when he headed in after Maignan saved from Mane 10 minutes after the break.

Liverpool’s Smooth Progress

When the draw for Champions League Group B was made, it was regarded as one of the toughest sections as Liverpool faced Atletico Madrid, Porto and AC Milan. Instead, they made a mockery of suggestions this could be a tight squeeze by ending with an astonishing 11-point advantage over second-placed Atletico, who beat Porto to go through with them.

Liverpool are now so well-oiled a machine that Klopp could change the face of his team to such an extent after Saturday’s win at Wolves and still put out a side that looked dangerous, well-organised and far too good for one of European football’s biggest names.

Nathaniel Phillips slotted smoothly into defence with Virgil van Dijk left out and, apart from the goal and a late save from Franck Kessie, Liverpool and keeper Alisson survived virtually untroubled, looking far more likely to add to their advantage than concede another goal.

It was another graphic demonstration of the power of the Premier League as Milan, who head Serie A, were outmaneuvered with ease by a Liverpool side bearing little resemblance to their full-strength team.

Liverpool will enter the last 16 as one of the most feared teams in the tournament, with their biggest threats appearing to come from Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City, along with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

Klopp and his players, however, will progress with real confidence that they can once again make it into the latter stages of the Champions League after this latest show of strength.

Source: BBC

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has dismissed rumours that next month's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) could be moved away from Cameroon following the recent discovery of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The new variant has led to travel restrictions being introduced by some countries for several African nations, with Nigeria, which neighbours Cameroon, the latest to be added to the United Kingdom's 'red list'.

In recent days, some media organisations have suggested the dates of the 24-team tournament could change or even the location be moved, possibly to Qatar.

Caf's director of communications Alex Siewe says neither his organisation nor leading Cameroon officials have discussed such events.

"We can't keep spending time dealing with rumours," he told BBC Sport Africa.

"We did not receive any other message or information from our leaders - nothing such as changing of dates or countries. We did not discuss such during all our last meetings."

"We are on site. We are working."

Africa's football showpiece, which has already been delayed because of the global pandemic, is due to kick off on 9 January in Yaounde with the final on 6 February.

Staff from the Caf arrived in Cameroon this week to organise the Afcon finals.

"An official delegation from Caf has been released and general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba is joining us in two days," Siewe added.

The European Club Association, an independent body which represents clubs across Europe, has expressed its "deep concerns" regarding player welfare before the tournament, adding that the public health situation "continues to deteriorate in an alarming manner".

Source: BBC