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CAF’s Ahmed refused visa for US entry to attend FIFA Council meeting

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CAF’s Ahmed refused visa for US entry to attend FIFA Council meeting

Africa’s leading football official, Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar, has been refused a visa to travel to the US to attend the crucial FIFA Council meetings in Miami at the end of this week, according to African sources.

Ahmad, president of the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF), is a key ally of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and would have been one of the important voices of support for Infantino’s global calendar plans.

The reasons for the denial of Ahmad’s visa by US authorities are unknown. There are no US government-issued travel bans to the US on Malagasy citizens. Madagascar is not part of the US’s ESTA Visa waiver programme.

The denial of a US visa is particularly unusual for such a high ranking official attending an important meeting in the country. It is not clear whether he will be able to appeal the decision in time to attend or whether higher US government forces will intervene on his behalf – much would obviously depend on the reasons for the visa denial

The US is taking the lead in hosting the World Cup in 2026 and while it questions their travel policy, it does also spotlight the CAF president who has come under increasing criticism by his own supporters within Africa for an increasingly autocratic decision-making style at the confederation.

Ahmad Ahmad (C) of Madagascar is congratulated by Fifa president Gianni Infantino (2ndR) after being elected the new president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Addis Ababa on 16 March 2017.

That style has led to an open letter from CAF executive committee member Musa Bility, former president of the Liberian FA, questioning Ahmad’s authority to make what have apparently been unilateral decisions on the hosting of the Africa Cup of Nations as well as on the ethics surrounding a deal for a new betting sponsor.

Another executive committee member, Isha Johansen from Sierra Leone, has similarly called for more African unity and transparency in CAF’s decision making. Both Bility and Johansen were vocal supporters of Ahmad in his 2017 election campaign that saw him unseat long time CAF president Issa Hayatou.

That lead to a sweeping change of CAF management with Ahmad relying heavily on his allies in Morocco. His Moroccan alliances now look to be alienating the rest of his support in Africa.

CAF’s secretary general Amry Fahmy returned recently from illness to find Ahmad had effectively sidelined him with the appointed of a ‘General Co-ordinator’ from Morocco who had become the main liaison between CAF’s executive committee (exco) and its full time executive, often taking decisions that had not been agreed by the exco.

Fahmy, an Egyptian, was part of a family dynasty at CAF following in the footsteps of his father Mustapha, who held the post until 2010 before being appointed as the director of competitions at FIFA. Mustapha had taken over the position from his father Mourad.

With the waning Egyptian influence in CAF has come the very rapid increase of influence from Morocco. An influence that has caused pan-regional concern with CAF recently holding all its key meetings in the country rather than at its headquarters in Cairo. Moroccans hold key positions leading and managing the finance committee while there at least 12 Moroccans reportedly sitting on CAF committees.

It is understood that Ahmad’s concentration of power and decision making has even raised concerns within the Egyptian FA, traditionally a leading power in the African region and no friend of the previous Hayatou regime in its dieing days. Egyptian president Hany Abo Rida, a hugely significant supporter and facilitator at Ahmad’s election, is understood to have reservations over the direction CAF has taken.

Ahmad to a large degree has relied on his influence at, and the protection of, FIFA, to bolster his decision-making confidence. But it looks like he will not be in Miami to give support to, or rally support from, his friends. And it looks like those within his previous support base may no longer be comfortable with his governing style, and indeed the governance surrounding it.

Source: insideworldfootball.com

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Ghana 1-0 Kenya: Ekuban strike sinks Harambee Stars in Accra

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Ghana 1-0 Kenya: Ekuban strike sinks Harambee Stars in Accra

March 23, 2019 will be stay with Caleb Ekuban forever as he came off the bench on his debut Black Stars on his birthday to score the goal that beat Kenya 1-0 in Accra in the final Group F AFCON 2019 Qualifier.

In the 83rd minute, the Trabzonspor forward allowed a pass from midfield to go in front of him and he followed through with a powerful that slipped under Kenyan goalie Patrick Matasi.

Until that moment, the Black Stars did not look like finding the breakthrough despite a bit more urgency in the second half.

Christian Atsu, Lumor Agbenyenu and Mubarak Wakaso were liveliest Ghanaian players on the field but their efforts were still off the mark.

Ekuban’s goal could have been the second for Ghana had Andre Ayew’s goal in the 33rd minute not been ruled for a foul on Matasi.

After an opening poor 32 minutes, Daniel Opare got a cross right and it found Ayew whose header was saved by Matasi but he spilled the ball and Andre Ayew followed up and tucked it in albeit illegally according to the referee.

In between that moment and the goal from Ekuban, the Stars struggled all game against their own lack of creativity and the discipline of the Kenyan defence.

The only moment that seemed promising came in the 72nd as Atsu and Jordan Ayew combines to release the Newcastle United winger but his shot was off target.

The victory for Ghana sends them to the top of Group F ahead of Kenya even though both teams have made it to the final tournament in Egypt.

However, top spot will now mean being seeded and the possibility of a decent group in the tournament.

Man of the Match: Mubarak Wakaso

Although Christian Atsu ran him close, Mubarak Wakaso was the team’s best player on the day. He gained control of the boat and he gave the Black Stars a base from which things could happen.

His passing was assured and that served as the starting point for the forays going forward.

He was also willing to do the defensive work and he was available to stop Kenyan counter-attacks.

Ghana starting lineup:

Richard Ofori; Daniel Opare, John Boye, Nicholas Opoku, Lumor Agbenyenu; Thomas Partey, Mubarak Wakaso, Christian Atsu, Andre Ayew (Joseph Aidoo 86′); Jordan Ayew (Ernest Asante 75′), Emmanuel Boateng (Caleb Ekuban 60′)

Source: citinewsroom.com

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Ghana wallop Gabon 4-0 in U-23 AFCON Qualifier

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Ghana wallop Gabon 4-0 in U-23 AFCON Qualifier

The Black Meteors of Ghana took a giant step in qualifying for the Under 23 AFCON in Egypt as they gave Gabon a 4-0 mauling at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Ghana started the game brightly making early incursions to the Gabonese vital area. Kwabena Owusu had the first clear chance of the game in the fourth minute but his effort from close range went wide.

Poor defensive work by Zakaria nearly gifted the Gabonese the opener but Meteors Goalkeeper Kwame Baah pulled a superb save from Babicka shavi to keep Ghana in the Game.

In a split second, Kwabena Owusu also went solo on the left flank after being beautifully played through. He turned his marker inside out but his swerving effort was saved by goalkeeper Apaya Ngouegne.

The Meteors opened the scoring in the 16th minute after Kwabena Owusu excellently curled the ball to the left corner of the net after being superbly set up by Osman Bukari.

Two minutes later, Joseph Paintsil was played through but with Benjamin Tetteh in a better position to score, the winger selfishly went for personal glory and his effort was saved.

The game was gaining momentum with Ghana dictating the pace of the game. Benjamin Tetteh found space on the right wing and delivered a superb cross to Musah Nuhu but with the yawning net at his disposal, the defender just tapped the ball off target to the dismay of the supporters.

The Gabonese came strongly in the game with danger man Babicka Shavi hitting the wood work after the Ghana back four failed to clear their lines.

Despite the late scare from the Gabonese, Ghana finished the first half with their lead intact.

Bernard Tekpertey replaced Benjamin Tetteh just after the break as Ibrahim Tanko decided to play one top.

The Paderborn FC winger netted Ghana’s second goal with his first touch of the game as he hit a pile driver inside the box after cutting back.

The Gabonese recoiled to their shells and decided to hit the Meteors on the counter but it did not work out as Simon Zibo who played in the heart of midfield thwarted all their effort.

Ghana had the third goal through Osman Bukari in the 78th minute as the Slovakian-based attack hit the roof of the net with a sumptuous effort after going through the Gabonese backline.

Coach Ibrahim Tanko brought on Isaac Twum for Joseph Paintsil to stabilize the midfield and it worked to perfection as skipper Yaw Yeboah who was by far the best player on the field had more room to operate.

With just two minutes to end the game, Bukari completed a brace after pouncing on a loose ball and racing into the Gabonese penalty box to unleash a ferocious strike to make make it four for Ghana.

Richard Danso replaced Bukari in injury time as Ghana held on to a convincing 4-0 win.

Source: footballmadeinghana.com

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Chelsea whiz-kid Hudson-Odoi breaks 64-year-old record in England victory

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Chelsea whiz-kid Hudson-Odoi breaks 64-year-old record in England victory

Chelsea whiz-kid Callum Hudson-Odoi broke a 64-year-old record to become the youngest player to make his England debut in a competitive match when he came on during the Three Lions’ 5-0 win against Czech Republic in the EURO 2020 qualifier on Friday.

Hudson-Odoi came on for Raheem Sterling after 70 minutes to earn his first international cap at the age of 18 years 135 days, breaking the record set by former Manchester United forward Duncan Edwards.

Edwards was 48 days older than Hudson-Odoi when he made his Three Lions debut in a British Home Championship tie against Scotland in April 1955.

The tricky wideman made an impact too, with his late curling effort parried by goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka into the path of Tomas Kalas, who inadvertently deflected to ball into his in own net to complete the scoring.

Hudson-Odoi’s introduction meant England ended the game with two 18-year-olds on the pitch with Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho handed his first competitive start.

It’s the first time England have had two players aged 18 or younger in an international match in 138 years, going back to a meeting with Wales on February 26th, 1881.

Hudson-Odoi was originally called-up to the England Under-21 squad but was promoted to the senior side after the squad was hit by a number of withdrawals.

That is despite not yet starting a Premier League game for Chelsea, with his long-term future at Stamford Bridge uncertain.

Next up for Southgate’s side is a game against Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday.

Source: GHANAsoccernet.com

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