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Algeria win 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

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By AFP
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Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years after a fiery 1-0 victory over Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.

Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute when his deflected shot looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, and it proved enough for the 1990 champions to lift the trophy on foreign soil for the first time.

Algeria's forward Riyad Mahrez (centre) receives the trophy from Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (left) after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez (centre) receives the trophy from Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (left) after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Algeria's forward Riyad Mahrez (centre) receives the trophy from Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (left) after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | JAVIER SORIANO | AFP

Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez (centre) receives the trophy from Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (left) after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | JAVIER SORIANO | AFP

Algerian players celebrate after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algerian players celebrate after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFPAFP

Algeria's goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi (left) and Algeria's defender Rafik Halliche pose with their medals after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | JAVIER SORIANO | AFP

Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi (left) and Algeria’s defender Rafik Halliche pose with their medals after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | JAVIER SORIANO | AFP

Algerian players celebrate after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algerian players celebrate after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria's forward Riyad Mahrez celebrates after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez celebrates after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria's coach Djamel Belmadi is carried shoulder high by his players after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria’s coach Djamel Belmadi is carried shoulder high by his players after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria's forward Baghdad Bounedjah celebrates after scoring a goal during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria’s forward Baghdad Bounedjah celebrates after scoring a goal during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria's players and officials celebrate their opening goal during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | JAVIER SORIANO | AFP

Algeria’s players and officials celebrate their opening goal during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | JAVIER SORIANO | AFP

For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.

It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.

With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.

Senegal had understandably feared the absence of Napoli star Koulibaly, banned after two bookings in the knockout rounds, although the towering Sane was desperately unlucky as Algeria grabbed the lead with scarcely a minute played.

As Bounedjah took aim from 20 yards his effort smacked off Sane and arced high into the air before dropping underneath the crossbar and beyond a static Gomis, sparking delirious celebrations from both players and fans, some of whom arrived for the final on military planes provided by the Algerian government.

An Algeria supporter waves the Egyptian flag ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | MOHAMED EL-SHAHED | AFP

An Algeria supporter waves the Egyptian flag ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | MOHAMED EL-SHAHED | AFP

Algerian fans cheer for their team prior to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algerian fans cheer for their team prior to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

It was the first time Gomis had conceded in almost 400 minutes in Egypt having replaced the injured Edouard Mendy ahead of Senegal’s final group game.

Henri Saivet, who missed a penalty in the 1-0 victory over Tunisia, tried to catch Rais Mbohli out with a free-kick while Mbaye Niang fizzed a powerful drive just over as Senegal gradually showed signs of life before the half ended with both sets of players embroiled in a scuffle as they headed for the tunnel.

Algeria's goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi makes a save during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi makes a save during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

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Senegal thought they had won a penalty on the hour when Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum pointed to the spot for a suspected handball by Adlene Guedioura, but the official reversed his decision after a VAR review.

Niang rounded an advancing Mbohli after a searching ball through from Cheikhou Kouyate but the forward sliced wide of the target from a tough angle, with the Algeria ‘keeper then acrobatically tipping over a rasping drive from Youssouf Sabaly.

Algeria's midfielder Ismail Bennacer (left) vies for the ball with Senegal's Lamine Gassama during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Algeria’s midfielder Ismail Bennacer (left) vies for the ball with Senegal’s Lamine Gassama during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Senegal's forward Sadio Mane (centre) fights for the ball with Algeria's midfielder Adlene Guedioura (right) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane (centre) fights for the ball with Algeria’s midfielder Adlene Guedioura (right) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

The Desert Foxes started to look jaded as Senegal brought on fresh legs in Krepin Diatta and Mbaye Diagne, but Youcef Belaili nearly made it 2-0 when his cross brushed the head of a defender and skimmed the roof of the net.

Sarr blazed over on the volley as Algeria clung on to their advantage in the closing minutes, the final whistle greeted by an outpouring of raw emotion as the North Africans emerged worthy winners of the expanded 24-team event.

Algerian fans cheer for their team under the moon during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algerian fans cheer for their team under the moon during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria's forward Riyad Mahrez drives the ball during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez drives the ball during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Algeria 1 (Bounedjah 2) Senegal 0

Rais Mbolhi; Mehdi Zeffane, Aissa Mandi, Djamel Benlamri, Ramy Bensebaini; Adlene Guedioura, Sofiane Feghouli (Mehdi Tahrat 85), Ismael Bennacer, Riyad Mahrez (capt); Youcef Belaili (Yacine Brahimi 84), Baghdad Bounedjah (Islam Slimani 89)

Coach: Djamel Belmadi (ALG)

Alfred Gomis; Lamine Gassama, Cheikhou Kouyate (capt), Salif Sane, Youssouf Sabaly; Idrissa Gueye, Badou Ndiaye (Krepin Diatta 59), Henri Saivet (Mbaye Diagne 75); Ismaila Sarr, Sadio Mane, Mbaye Niang (Keita Balde 85)

Algeria: Bensebaini 34 minutes, Belaili 54 minutes, Guedioura 90+4 minutes

Senegal: Gueye 79 minutes, Gassama 80 minutes

Referee: Alioum Alioum (CMR)

Senegal's forward Sadio Mane (centre) is greeted by Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (left) and Fifa President Gianni Infantino following the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane (centre) is greeted by Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (left) and Fifa President Gianni Infantino following the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Senegal's coach Aliou Cisse (left) helps Senegal's forward Sadio Mane back to his feet after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Senegal’s coach Aliou Cisse (left) helps Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane back to his feet after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Senegal's forward Sadio Mane (centre) fights for the ball with Algeria's midfielder Adlene Guedioura (right) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane (centre) fights for the ball with Algeria’s midfielder Adlene Guedioura (right) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Egyptian actress and singer Donia Samir Ghanem performs during the closing ceremony ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Egyptian actress and singer Donia Samir Ghanem performs during the closing ceremony ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Fifa President Gianni Infantino (centre) gestures next to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (right) and Egyptian Youth and Sports minister Ashraf Sobhy ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Fifa President Gianni Infantino (centre) gestures next to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad (right) and Egyptian Youth and Sports minister Ashraf Sobhy ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP

Senegal supporters cheer ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Senegal supporters cheer ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Dancers perform during the closing ceremony ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

Dancers perform during the closing ceremony ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI | AFP

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Serena off to flying start in Australian Open

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AFP

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Serena Williams blitzed the first set in 19 minutes as she launched her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a quickfire demolition of Anastasia Potapova at the Australian Open on Monday.

The 38-year-old American, wearing a lilac dress and matching trainers, and sporting heavily decorated fingernails, powered past the Russian teenager 6-0, 6-3 in 58 minutes.

The eighth seed plays Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia or Han Na-lae of South Korea in round two in an expectant Melbourne, where she can equal the all-time record of Grand Slam titles.

Williams comes into Melbourne in ominous form after breaking her three-year title drought with victory in Auckland — her first since becoming a mother to daughter Olympia.

Olympia was there to see her mother win the title last week, but Williams said after easing to victory over the 18-year-old Potapova: “It was really special for me (Olympia) and her — I hope for her.”

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But the American legend, speaking to an adoring crowd at the 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena, admitted that Olympia “just cares about Play-Doh”.

“I try to tell her I’m someone, you know,” she joked.

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“(But) I am just known about town as Olympia’s mum — I love that.”

Williams threatened to blow away Potapova — who was temperamental at times — in embarrassingly rapid fashion.

But the 90th-ranked Russian, overawed in the first set, fought back and broke Williams’ serve in the second, helped by some sloppiness from the American.

Williams double-faulted to go down a surprise 2-1, but there was never a hint of an upset as the American broke back before pulling away to an easy win.

There is huge pressure on Williams as she eyes the 24 Grand Slams won by Australia’s Margaret Court.

Since winning the title in Melbourne in 2017 she has lost four Slam finals, each time failing to even win a set.

Williams, the highest-earning female in sport, was pregnant with Olympia when she lifted the Melbourne crown three years ago.

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Kenya Cup heads to crucial stage

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AYUMBA AYODI

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya Cup enters the third and critical phase on Saturday when teams revert to their respective pools following the end of match day 11 last Saturday.

Saturday witnessed the last round of six matches where teams from the opposing pools battled in a one-off, which was the second phase.

It’s visiting Nakuru, who weathered both a previous defeat by Kabras Sugar and a second half assault from Mwamba to beat Kulabu 18-13 in a thrilling Kenya Cup match at the Railway Club, Nairobi. Nakuru had lost to Kabras 38-0 in their previous outing.

That happened as leaders Kabras Sugar, defending champions Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Homeboyz refused to bulge from the top of the log after they claimed convincing victories.

Kabras Sugar thrashed touring Kenya Harlequin 34-3 at the Bullring to claim a bonus point from the victory and stay top with an improved tally of 50 points.

KCB mauled Kisumu 55-3 at Kisumu Polytechnic grounds to remain second with 49 points with Kabras Sugar and KCB having lost one match each so far.

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Homeboyz rolled a swift 36-11 victory against hosts Nondescripts at the Jamhuri Park to also stay third with 44 points.

Menengai Oilers failed to uphold their giant-killing instincts when they fell to Impala Saracens 37-29 in a tight clash at the Impala Sports Club. Oilers had stunned Mwamba 30-14 in their previous outing.

The victory saw the Sarries stay fourth with 35 points as hosts Blak Blad crushed visitors Western Bulls 44-0 in a bottom-of-the-table clash at Kenyatta University grounds.

Oilers stayed fifth with 30 points with Nakuru occupying the sixth and last semi-final playoff place with 29 points, while Mwamba are placed seventh with 25 points followed by Nondies 21 and Quins 17.

The only shift in the league came after Blak Blad hammered visiting Western Bulls 44-0 to move one position to 10th and a place from relegation with 13 points.

Western Bulls and Kisumu are 11th and 12th and in relegation zone with 13 and five points respectively.

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In Pool “A”, champions KCB, Western Bulls, Quins, Nakuru, Oilers and Homeboyz will face-off in return legs with Kabras Sugar, Nondies, Impala, Blak Blad, Mwamba and Kisumu taking on each other in Pool “B”.

The top two teams after the end of the third phase proceed to the semi-finals direct with the next four engaging in a playoff for a place in the semis.

Back at Railway Club, there was no end to Mwamba’s miseries after they failed to recover from last Saturday’s defeat to Oilers.

Mwamba camped in Nakuru’s half virtually for the better part of second half, but wasted a lot of opportunities. Nakuru failed to venture into Mwamba’s 22 metre zone the whole of the second half as the Great Rift side deployed an impregnable defence.

Nakuru scored all their points in the first half with centre Oscar Ouma and hooker Emmanuel Mboya landing a try each. Full back Collins Onyango made one conversion and kicked in two penalties to lock the duel.

Fly-half Brian Kivasia gave Mwamba the penalty in the first half with the burly eighth man David Machanje landing from rolling mauls but all was in vain.

“The absence of my prop Felix Omondi was really felt in the second half as my forwards had to dig in for the slim victory,” Nakuru coach Felix “Mwalimu” Oloo said, adding that they have now resolved what he terms “domestic issues” that had seen his side register poor results.

Mwamba coach Peter Kefa rued the mistakes that cost his side. “We lost a vital try-scoring chance and two penalties in the second half and it made the big difference,” said Kefa.

Kabras Sugar 34-3 Harlequins; Mwamba 13-18 Nakuru; Impala 37-29 Menengai Oilers; Nondescripts 11-37 Homeboyz; Blak Blad 44-0 Western Bulls; Kisumu 7-55 KCB.

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AFC should now aim for FKF Cup

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JOHN ASHIHUNDU

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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AFC Leopards loyalists have stood with the team through thick and thin and the best way for the team to reciprocate the kind gesture is by winning the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Cup and represent the country in the Caf Confederation Cup.

Ingwe will take on the winner between lowly ranked Elim Football Club and CUSCO in the annual knockout tournament that started at the weekend. Some 48 teams are competing for top honours countrywide.

In the Kenyan Premier League (KPL), Leopards are in position seven with 28 points from 17 matches. Our chances of winning the league title since 1989 are very slim, therefore, winning the KFK Cup will be a consolation to Ingwe supporters.

The last time Leopards represented Kenya in the Caf Confederation Cup was in 2017 under coach Robert Matano.

The team was knocked out in the first round by Fosa Juniors from Madagascar. We have another chance to prove our critics wrong by winning the FKF Cup and playing to the quarter-final of the Caf Confederation Cup next year.

Our players must bear in minds that representing the county in continental assignments is a major highlight in their careers.

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Thirteen time Kenyan champions AFC Leopards have won the FKF Cup (previously GOtv) for the 10th time in 2017 after beating Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 at Kasarani.

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Although the FKF Cup is unpredictable in knockout stages, AFC Leopards players must be at their best to progress. As we plan for a respectable finish in the league this year, let’s start early preparations to win the KPL title next season. If they know what the club means to fans, players should be prepared to die with their boots on.

Ingwe stated the league campaign this season on a high note but did not maintain the momentum. We lost dependable players including defender Soter Kayumba, Wyvonne Isuza and Dennis Sikhayi who left together with head coach Andre Cassa Mbungo amid the financial crisis at the Den.

They terminated their contracts after going for five months without pay. AFC Leopards legends Anthony Kimani, Tom Juma and Lawrence Webo who took charge of the team are doing a good job.

Let’s ensure the current crop of young players are retained. The technical bench only needs to add a few stars. Ingwe fans are hopeful that the team will remain focused and deliver the goods.

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