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Afcon roundup: Morocco into last 16, Ghana in trouble after heated draw – The Guardian

Afcon roundup: Morocco into last 16, Ghana in trouble after heated draw

  • Group C: Morocco 2-0 Comoros, Gabon 1-1 Ghana
  • Group B: Senegal 0-0 Guinea, Malawi 2-1 Zimbabwe
Selim Amallah (left) celebrates with Achraf Hakimi after scoring the opening goal for Morocco against Comoros.

Morocco proved too strong for Africa Cup of Nations debutants Comoros, winning 2-0 in Yaoundé to book their place in the last 16.

Selim Amallah put Morocco in front from close range after 16 minutes at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, and the Atlas Lions missed a number of chances to take control of the game. Their captain, Romain Saïss, headed a corner against the crossbar before Ayoub El Kaabi missed two good opportunities after the break.

Morocco forward Youssef En-Nesyri came off the bench on his comeback from injury but saw his late penalty saved by Salim Ben Boina. The Comoros keeper, who plays in the French regional leagues, produced an inspired display but could not keep out Zakaria Aboukhlal’s stoppage-time strike, initially disallowed for offside but awarded by the VAR.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s side have six points from two matches and will top Group C if they avoid defeat against Gabon in their next game. The Panthers sit second in the group after a 1-1 draw with Ghana that leaves their opponents at risk of an early exit.

Ghana took the lead through their captain, André Ayew, who blasted home a superb left-footed shot after after 18 minutes. The Black Stars appeared on course for victory but Gabon substitute Jim Allevinah levelled with two minutes to go, realistically leaving Ghana needing a victory against Comoros to escape the group.

Allevinah’s spectacular finish was also controversial, with Ghana angry that Gabon failed to return the ball after it had been put out following an injury. Tempers flared and Ghana’s Benjamin Tetteh was sent off for his part in the post-match scuffles. Gabon were without three players, including talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, after post-Covid medical tests.

Gabon and Ghana players clash after the final whistle in Yaoundé.

In Group B, Orlando Pirates striker Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango scored twice for Malawi as they stunned southern rivals Zimbabwe with a 2-1 victory, boosting their hopes of a first-ever appearance in the Afcon knockout stages.

Ishmael Wadi put Zimbabwe ahead in the first half, but Mhango levelled just before the break in Bafoussam, converting Francisco Madinga’s cross at the far post. Mhango struck again in the 58th minute as he took advantage of some hesitant defending and supplied a poacher’s finish.

Victory was the Flames’ second ever win at an Afcon finals, after beating Algeria in 2010. Elsewhere in Group B, pre-tournament favourites Senegal failed to sparkle as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Guinea in the early kick-off.

Senegal coach Aliou Cissé was without 10 players due to Covid-19, including centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, first-choice goalkeeper Édouard Mendy and midfielder Idrissa Gueye. Guinea were missing four players for the derby game in Bafoussam.

The Senegal captain, Sadio Mané, had a chance from a close-range free kick early in the game, but struck the wall with his effort. Mané was largely overshadowed in the opening half by his Liverpool teammate Naby Keïta, who split the Senegal defence with a through ball. Seny Dieng did well to deny Ilaix Moriba before Morgan Guilavogui botched the rebound.

Sadio Mané on the ball for Senegal.

Bouna Sarr’s searching free kick was close to delivering the first goal as Senegal improved in the second half. Centre-back Abdou Diallo powered a header just over the crossbar before Sarr fired wide after being set up by Mané. The draw means both teams are likely to progress with four points from two games.

“It’s been very difficult for us with all of these missing players,” Cisse said after the match. Senegal face Malawi in their final group game on Tuesday, with Guinea taking on bottom side Zimbabwe in Yaoundé.

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UK: Injured Zim International gets new Plymouth Argyle deal – New

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Defender Brendan Galloway will be doing all that he can to be fit again for pre-season this summer, according to Plymouth Argyle manager Steven Schumacher.

Galloway, 25, is setting out on a rehabilitation programme after an operation to repair a torn patellar tendon in one of his knees.

The Zimbabwe international has been boosted by signing a new contract with the Pilgrims this week which will take him through until June 2023.

Now, with his future settled, Galloway can concentrate on recovering from the injury he suffered in the 3-0 League One defeat by Wycombe Wanderers at Home Park in late November.

Galloway had previously been on a short-term deal with Argyle after joining them in pre-season as a free agent.

However, his impressive performances before his injury clearly warranted a longer contract and the club were ready to do that even though he will not play again this season.

Schumacher said: “It had been agreed for a couple of weeks, it’s just that he has been up north with his family in the early part of his rehab.

“He came back early on this week and the contract was there ready for him to sign. I’m pleased he has done it and made up for him, and now he can fully focus on getting himself fit again.”

With Galloway sidelined, Argyle have brought in 22-year-old Romoney Crichlow on loan from Huddersfield Town until the end of the season to compete for the place on the left side of defence with Macaulay Gillesphey.

All being well, Galloway will be ready for the start of the 2022/23 EFL campaign.

Schumacher said: “Speaking to the medical team, that’s their plan. They have got a rehab programme in place for Brendan that he will follow.

“Brendan is a good professional and he has been in this situation before where he knows how to get back to full fitness.

“It’s not something that’s new to him. I know he will be doing everything he can to get himself right for pre-season, and if he gets back in pre-season then we have got another real good player for our squad, ready to go.”

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Taiwan on COVID alert as domestic Omicron cases spike – NewsDay

Taiwan’s government ordered a tightening of controls on Saturday after a rare spike in domestic transmission of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, saying it needed to act now to prevent being overwhelmed even though overall numbers remain quite low.

After months of no or few community infections, Taiwan has seen a small rise in local COVID-19 cases since the start of the month, almost all Omicron, mainly linked to workers at the main international airport in the northern city of Taoyuan who were infected by arriving passengers.

The infections have gradually spread although numbers remain comparatively low with a dozen or so new cases a day, but on Friday evening the government announced 60 new cases at a factory near the airport after testing 1,000 workers.

There have been no deaths and most of the cases have had only mild or no symptoms.

Speaking to reporters, officials announced a series of new steps, including a ban on eating and drinking on public transport and limits on the number of people visiting temples, ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday which starts at the end of this month.

Testing will be expanded to reach the largest number of possible contacts, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

“Of course we think this pandemic is threatening, so we must raise our vigilance,” he said.

In a statement, Premier Su Tseng-chang said even though this outbreak has brought no serious illness, steps needed to be taken now.

“If the pandemic cannot be contained, it will still cause a burden on the medical system,” he said.

Taiwan has been highly successful at controlling the pandemic due to early and strict border checks and a well-oiled tracing system.

Current new daily cases are well below the middle of last year when thousands were infected during a three-month domestic outbreak, and life has carried on as normal for most people.

More than 70% of people in Taiwan have received two vaccine doses and booster shots are currently being rolled out, though only around 15% of residents have had their third shot so far.- Reuters

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Be brave, I was once an orphan too, little one! – Daily Mail

Be brave, I was once an orphan too, little one! Poignant image shows Kadiki the elephant wrapping her trunk around baby Beatrix to reassure her as she meets the rest of the herd in Zimbabwe

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