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Nigerian Makes History At The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

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Kamaru Usman made history on the 3rd of March 2019 by becoming the first African UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Champion. Usman, 31, achieved the feat by beating the defending champion, Tyron Woodley in Las Vegas. Woodley became the champion in 2016 and has defended the title four times before his loss to the Nigerian fighter. After his crowning, Kamaru Usman said,

“Can’t nobody handle me? I’ve been wanting this fight, and I’ll be honest, I might be the best striker in the world. But when it comes to mixing this stuff up, I’m the best welterweight on the planet right now.”

Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman

The win extends Kamaru Usman’s win in the mixed martial arts (MMA) to 14 while preserving his unbeaten record. Usman also told the press in a post-match conference how he has been walking around in a supportive boot after suffering a fracture.

How it happened at the T-Mobile Arena octagonal cage

The UFC combines boxing, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, and wrestling. In the opening stages, Kamaru was a lot cautious in his attack. He attempted a couple of takedowns which Woodley repelled. Usman finally tamed Woodley with strings of punches and dropping elbows.

The judges unanimously scored the fight 50-44, 50-44, and 50-45 in favor of Kamaru Usman. His mother was the first to hug him after the announcement. Usman celebrated his victory with his daughter in the ring amidst the cheering spectators. He held her to his chest and kissed her cheeks.

Kamaru Usman’s childhood and career

Kamaru Usman was born in Nigeria and spent part of his childhood in Auchi, Benin City. He migrated with his parents to Arlington, Texas as a child. His wrestling origin goes back to his high school days in Texas. Usman took traces of his origin with him into the ring by wearing a mouth guard bearing the Nigerian green and white color. In the post-match conference, he greeted the journalists in Arabic and switched to pidgin.

“Nigeria, I have told them, we would do it, I told them we never fail. And we have done it today”.

Today Kamaru Usman bears the moniker, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’. However, he is not the first to bear that nickname. Other Nigerians like Christian Okoye, the former Kansas City Chiefs American Football and Samuel Peter, the former professional boxer earned that nickname during their career. Usman also invited these two to his match.

Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou

Francis Ngannou

Kamaru Usman is the reigning champion in UFC welterweight. However, he is not the only African revered in the MMA. The Cameroonian heavyweight fighter, Francis Ngannou has also gained a reputation as ‘The Predator’. Ngannou lost a title fight against Miocic on January 20, 2018. However, he has won his last two fights by either a KO or TKO.

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African Cup Of Nations Draw And Ticket

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The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is a biennial competition organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). However, this year’s African Cup of Nations will witness a lot of changes. Firstly, it will be the first time that 24 teams (previously 16 teams) will be fighting for the prestigious trophy. Also, instead of January or February as has been the case in the past, this edition will take place from 21st June to 19th July. This means that Europe-based African players will not miss club games.

The draw which was held next to the famous pyramids of Giza pitched the host country, Egypt, against DR Congo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Egypt will kick-start the tournament with Zimbabwe. However, attention will be on Madagascar, Burundi, and Mauritania, the tournament’s debutants. Reacting to the draw, Hany Ramzy, the assistant coach of Egypt said,

“We are confident, we are here in our land with the supporters behind us. So, we have to work hard to reach the final. The big difference between teams is not really there anymore like it was 10 years ago in Africa. Now every team has players who play in Europe so they have the experience to play at a high level”.

Teams in the six different groups

The draw for the 32nd edition of the African cup of Nation took place on the 12th of April. Consequently, six countries were seeded into four different pots. Egypt, as the host, was automatically in group A. The showpiece will hold across six different venues. This includes; Al Salam Stadium, Ismaili Stadium, Air Defence Stadium, Alexandria; Suez Stadium, Borg El-Arab Stadium, and Cairo International Stadium.

The 24 teams were drawn into six different groups as follows;

A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe

B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi

C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania

D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia

E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola

F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau

African Cup Of Nation draw

Sale of tickets for 2019 AFCON

The price of the tickets for the upcoming African Cup of Nations has been announced. Consequently, the price will range between EGP 100 (approximately $6) to EGP 2,500 (approximately $145). According to Amr El-Bortoqali, the head of the ticket sub-committee, the prices were in harmonization with CAF. However, he also clarified that the price was in line with previous tournaments.

Ticket prices for games that do not involve Egypt will be slightly lower. They will be available at three levels namely EGP 100, 300, and 500 respectively. However, the price of tickets involving Egypt will be available at four levels namely EGP 200, 400, 600, and 2,500 respectively. Each ticket will give the fan pass to two games on the same stadium on the same day. Consequently, the sale of tickets is likely to begin mid-May.

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Top 20 African Soccer Players To Watch In 2019

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This year has been great for African soccer players. Gone are the days African footballers were a peripheral part of the team. Now, they play major roles and contribute to the success of their teams. Fans chant their names with pride. However, choosing the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019 is a daunting experience. This is because there is a long list of young African players pacing rapidly to the peak of their career. Notwithstanding, we managed to put together a list of 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019 based on their CAF rating, market value according to Transfer Markt as well as their club and national performances and age.

#1 – Mohammed Salah (Egypt)

Mohammed Salah

Egyptian Premier League legend, Mohamed Salah comfortably sits on the top of the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019. Born June 15, 1992, Salah is considered one of the best players in the world and Liverpool’s top scorer. Salah kicked off his international club career with Basel in 2010. In 2014, he joined Chelsea for £11 million. Salah won the African Footballer of the year in 2017 and 2018. Other recent awards to his name are Player of the year (Liverpool 17/18), English Champion (Chelsea FC 2015), and Top Scorer (Liverpool FC 17/18). Salah is one of the three forwards on The Africa Best 11. Salah’s market value is €150 million. Salah is famous for his speed, dribbling, and impeccable finishing.

#2 – Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Sadio Mane

The 27-year-old Senegalese winger is currently rated number 2 in Liverpool and number 1 in Senegal. His career began in Metz, France before being transferred to Red Bull Salzburg in 2012. He joined Liverpool in 2016 for £34 million. This made him the most expensive African footballer at that time. However, besides club success Mane is a key figure in the national team with 60 caps. Mane is also one of the forwards in The Africa Best 11. His market value is €85 million.

#3 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The 29-year-old Gabonese striker is one of the hottest sensations in the English Premier League. Following a brilliant performance at A.C Milan Youth-setup, Aubameyang was promoted in 2008 into the first team. However, his move to Arsenal in 2018 was a club-record worth €64 million. Aubameyang completes the top 3 strikers on The Africa Best 11. In 2015 he won the African Footballer of the Year. He also won the German Cup in the following year with Borussia Dortmund. He was also the top scorer of the season (16/17). Aubameyang’s market value is €75 million.

#4 – Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)

Kalidou Koulibaly

The 27-year-old Senegalese center back has a market value of €70 million. Consequently, this makes him one of the most expensive defenders in the world. Koulibaly is also one of the four defenders on The Africa Best 11. Like Mane, Koulibaly began his professional career in Metz in 2010. Four years later he moved to Napoli. However, he made Senegalese senior team debut in 2015. Subsequently, he was part of the 2018 World Cup team. Koulibaly won Senegal Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018. These accomplishments earn him number 4 spot on top 20 African Soccer Players.

#5 – Naby Keita (Guinea)

Naby Keita

The 24-year old Guinean central midfielder began his professional career in 2013 with FC Istres. However, the following year he moved to Red Bull Salzburg. In the same year, he won the Austrian Cup and Austrian Football Bundesliga. He currently plays for Liverpool and captains the Guinea national team. He won CAF Team of the Year 2018. Currently valued at €65 million, Naby is one of The African Best 11 midfielders.

#6 – Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Riyad Mahrez

The 6th on the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch is Algerian winger, Riyad Mahrez. The 28-year-old has a market value of €60 million. He was the African Footballer of the Year in 2016. In the same year, he won the English Champion with Leicester City. Mahrez was also the player of the year in Leicester (15/16). The Algeria skipper came to limelight in 2014 after signing for Leicester City. Subsequently, he joined Manchester City in 2018. The two-time Algerian Footballer of the Year winner is also on The Africa Best 11 list.

#7 – Thomas Partey (Ghana)

Thomas Partey

The 25-year old Ghanaian and Atletico Madrid defensive midfielder is worth €50 million. Partey signed for Atletico Madrid in 2011. However, following unsuccessful spells to break into the first team, he was loaned to RCD Mallorca and then UD Almeria. He returned to Atletico in 2015 and has remained a regular. In 2018, Partey won UEFA Super Cup and CAF Team of the Year. Partey is also a midfielder for Africa Best 11.

#8 – Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)

Hakim Ziyech

The 26-year-old Moroccan and Ajax midfielder is famous for his free-kick ability, speed, and finishing. Ziyech professional career began in 2012 with Heerenveen. However, he had to wait until the following year to score his first goal. The versatile attacking midfielder won the Best Moroccan Player in 2016. In 2017-18 he was the AFC Ajax Player of the Year. The following year he won the Golden Boot as the Dutch Footballer of the Year. The midfielder is worth €35 million. Ziyech may not be on the Africa Best 11 but he has earned a spot on the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019.

#9 – Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

Wilfried Zaha

The 26-year-old Ivorian forward currently plays for Crystal Palace. Zaha is Alex Ferguson’s last signing before his retirement. Following an unsuccessful spell at Manchester United, Zaha joined Crystal Palace on loan. With a current market value of €35 million, the valuable forward has a lot of individual honors. However, his recent achievement is Premier League Player of the Month for April 2018. For three consecutive seasons, Zaha has remained Crystal Palace Player of the Year. Consequently, his inclusion on the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch is well-deserved.

#10 – Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Wilfred Ndidi

Like Ziyech and Zaha, the 22-year-old Nigerian and Leicester City midfielder is worth €35 million. Ndidi began his professional career with Genk. In 2015. His most memorable moment in the Belgian Pro League was scoring a long-range goal. The goal was later judged as the ‘goal of the season’. However, he moved to Leicester the following year for £17 million. Ndidi is a force to reckon with in the Super Eagles’ midfield.

#11 – Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

Eric Bailly

Born April 12, 1994, the center-back has been a sensation since making his professional debut in Espanyol. However, after spending 5 years in the Spanish league, Bailly signed for Manchester United in 2016. The Ivorian and Manchester United player is also one of the defenders on The Africa Best 11 list. His most prominent career achievement is three times CAF Team of the Year (2016, 2017, and 2018). Currently worth €35 million, Bailly is one of the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch.

#12 – Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)

Achraf Hakimi

Just 20 years but Achraf Hakimi already has an impressive career. The Madrid and Moroccan defender is also versatile, alternating between left-back and central defender. Hakimi has been with the Real Madrid youth setup since 2006. However, he made his professional debut for Los Blancos in 2016. Hakimi won 2017-18 UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid. Consequently, he was named 2018’s CAF Youth Player of the Year. Hakimi is worth €35 million.

#13 – Jean Michael Seri (Ivory Coast)

Jean Michael Seri

Seri is another player that has worked his way to the top 20 African Soccer Players. The 27-year-old Ivorian and Fulham central midfielder is also worth €35 million. Seri began his professional football career in 2010 with ASEC Mimosas. His most remarkable quality is ball control. He joined Fulham in 2018. In 2017 he won OGC Nice Player of the Year and Prix Marc-Vivien Foé.

#14 – Yacine Brahimi (Algeria)

Yacine Brahimi

The nifty Yacine Brahimi plays as an attacking midfielder and winger. The Algerian and Porto playmaker is worth €26 million. The 29-year-old began his professional career with Rennes. Brahimi has an intimidating individual record. However, his most promising year was 2014. Some of the awards he won that year are; best Algerian athletes of the year, Algerian Ballon d’Or, DZFoot d’Or, CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year, BBC African Footballer of the Year, and LFP Awards Best African player.

#15 – Victor Wanyama (Kenya)

Victor Wanyama

Kenyan and Tottenham Hotspur’s Victor Wanyama may not be the most expensive African player but he deserves a spot on the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019. Wanyama current market value is €25 million but the 27-year-old still has a promising career. He holds the record as the first Kenyan player to score in the UEFA Champions League. The energetic player also won SPL Young Player of the Year (2012–13).

#16 – Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)

Serge Aurier

The 26-year-old Ivorian and Tottenham Hotspur right-back is also a defender on Africa Best 11. Aurier launched his professional career with Lens of France. However, he joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2017 for £23 million. Now worth €20 million, the defender has lots of honors to his name. This includes winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.

#17 – Nabil Bentaleb (Algeria)

Nabil Bentaleb

Bentaleb is a creative midfielder. The 24-year-old plays for Algeria and Schalke 04. He started his professional career with Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. However, he was loaned to Schalke 04 in 2016. His goal against Augsburg was named Bundesliga Goal of the Season (2016-17). Bentaleb’s current market value is €20 million.

#18 – Joel Matip (Cameroon)

Joel Matip

Born August 8, 1991, the Cameroon and Liverpool center back deserves a place on the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch. Born in Germany, Matip began his professional career with Schalke 04. However, he moved to Liverpool in 2016 on a free transfer. It was with Schalke 04 that he won DFL-Supercup in 2011. Matip’s current market value is €20 million.

#19 – Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)

Idrissa Gueye

The 29-year-old Senegalese and Everton defensive midfielder is also worth €20 million. Gueye began his professional career with Lille in 2008. However, he got into the first team in the 2010-11 season. He has scored important goals for his club and country. He also won Ligue 1 (2010-11) with Lille OSC.

#20 – Medhi Benatia (Morocco)

Medhi Benatia

Benatia is not only the oldest but also the player with the least market value on the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch. However, his club and individual records also earned him a spot on The Africa Best 11. The 32-year-old Moroccan and Al-Duhail center back began his professional career at Marseille. His last top flight football was with Juventus (2016-19). Among his numerous awards are two times Mars d’Or (Best Moroccan Player) and Globe Soccer Awards Best Arab Player of the Year. Benatia is worth €15 million.

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Yomif Kejelcha Has Set A New 1-Mile Indoor World Record

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Yomi Kajelcha set new indoor mile record

Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha on Sunday 3rd March set a new 1-mile indoor world record. The previous record was set in 1997 by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj. Yomif Kejelcha finished at 3:47.01 to break the previous record of 3:48.45. Three weeks earlier, Kajelcha came close to breaking the record but missed by hundredth of a second with a time of 3:48.46.

The 21-year old runner trumped the former record by 1.44 seconds in Boston. Yomif Kejelcha who is a two-time champion of 3000m came to Boston with the intention of breaking the 1500m and 1-mile world record. Although he missed the former, his split time of 3:31.25 is the third-best all-time indoor behind Tefera and El Guerrouj.

Yomif Kejelcha’ lap performance at the race

The race began with Sowinski, the indoor bronze medalist leading. However, Kajelcha got his big break from the pack after the first 409 meters. The indoor 1-mile record is one of the longest in tracks and field. Yomif Kejelcha cruised through the 809m in 1:52, leaving no doubt about his intention. He hit the bell at 3:18.54 and ran a time of 28.47 in the last lap to break the 22-year old record. Second-placed Johnny Gregorek also put himself second on all-time America indoor list with 3:49.98.

https://t.co/C3mLNgzQ7n

After crossing the finish line, Yomif Kejelcha did not hide his joy. The moment the result was displayed on the scoreboard he did a series of celebratory jumps amid the cheering crowd. This was a clear contrast to his mood after the Millrose Games miss on February 9. Yomif Kejelcha current record shows great improvement from his 2018 season.

ALSO READEthiopia Makes History With Their New President

Other Africans that hold world records

Africans fare well in the track and fields and Yomif Kejelcha is another addition to the record book. Both in the male and female categories, a large number of Africans hold the world record. In the indoor men’s category, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele holds both the 2000 meters, Two miles, and 5000 meters world record set in 2007, 2008 and 2004 respectively. This also makes him the highest African world record holder in the indoor long distance category.

In the female category, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba has no rival in the long distance race. Dibaba holds the world record for the 1500 meters, 1-mile, 2000 meters, 3,000 meters, Two miles, and 5,000 meters. However, her most recent record was in 2,000 meters in 2017.

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