Sports highlights of 2019

A review of the sporting activities that caught the world’s attention in the year 2019.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia won the men’s singles title at the 2019 Australian Open, defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the men’s final-.

From Australia up to the Northern hemisphere to see arguably the most watched tv event, the American super bowl. The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 to become the champions of Super Bowl 2019.

A long season in Europe’s top flight club football competition was decided in Madrid in May after two English clubs historically hijacked the Uefa champions league finals as the case was in 2008.

Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 win to be crowned champions of Europe for the 6th time with Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Sadio Mane of Senegal playing key roles along the way.

What started as a soccer tournament consisting of three countries – Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt – in 1957 has exploded into a major competition on the soccer schedule with 24 participating countries. Host country Egypt were shocked with an early round of 16 exit while Madagascar and Benin made the last eight of the tournament. High flying Algeria scored in every single game in the tournament, beating Senegal at the group stage as well as the finals to lift the Africa Cup of Nations 2019.

June-July also assembled the world’s best female footballers from across the globe to the world cup in France.

The host nation France and 23 others thrilled the world with spectacle, goals and fine goals. The US entered the competition as defending champions after winning the 2015 edition in China. They went all the way to beat the Netherlands 2-0 to win their 4th world cup competition. Sweden finished 3rd ahead of England.

Over 1700 athletes trooped in to Qatar Doha for the 17th edition of the IAAF world athletic championship in 49 different events.

Africans had a say during the one month competition as Kenya finished third on the overall medal table with 11 medals only behind the USA and Jamaica.

Ethiopia bagged 8 medals while Uganda had 2. Nigeria, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Namibia, Morocco and Ivory Coast all took home a medal each.

South Africa made history in the world of Rugby after winning this year’s world cup in Japan. It was the third time the springboks lifted the trophy, this time Siya Kolisi was the first black man to do so.

The team put up a fierce show beating every team on the way to the finals but for a group B match which they lost to New Zealand. They convincingly beat England at the finals by doubling their score 12-32.

Host nation Brazil won the U 17 world cup after winning every game in the competition that had 4 African representatives, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal and Angola.

A competition considered too strong for the Africans as all 4 teams crashed out at the round of 16 with Champions Cameroon failing to win a single game in the group stage.

Brazil beat Mexico 2-1 in the finals,

Egypt hosted a second Afcon in 2019 as _ teams contested for the title as champions at the U 23 nations cup as 8 nations were involved

Egypt beat Ivory coast 2-1 at the finals in a competition they dominated from start to finish. South Africa edged Ghana in the classification match to back home the bronze medal as well as qualification ticket for next year’s Olympic games in Tokyo Japan. Finalists Egypt and Ivory Coast also qualified for the games in 2020.

The best was reserved for the last as a historic visit to Africa by Fifa’s president Gianni Infantino made headlines for days.

It warms the hearts of millions as the president accompanied by a CAF delegation visited Madagascar, Lesotho, Angola, the republic of Congo and the Democratic republic of Congo where he participated in a football match to commemorate 80 years of existence of TP Mazembe in Lumumbashi. The fifa president also unveiled the new offices of the Congolese football federation in Brazzaville as well as promised 6 million dollar aid to Angola football geared towards youth and female football development. The one week visit was the longest ever by a Fifa president, one who promises to bring African football to the limelight.

Leonel Messi is the most decorated Ballon D’or winner after the Argentinian was crowned winner

Messi was declared winner ahead of Vigil Van Dijk, Christiano Ronaldo while Liverpool and Senegal’s Sadio Mane was 4th on the pecking order.

The ward raised world wide questioning of the criteria as many analysts feel Senegal’s Sadio Mane deserved better than a 4th spot.

For the first time in the award, three Africans featured in the top ten that included Egypt’s Salah and Algeria’s Mahrez.

And that is how we saw the year 2019 marked by these huge sports events across the globe, hoping for a more busy 2020 schedule, Philemon Mbale, Africanews, December 2019.

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Aubameyang Seals Arsenal FA Cup Win

Aubameyang leads Arsenal to FA Final Cup victory scoring twice against Chelsea which raises speculations about his future at the club.

Arsenal 2-1 Win Against Chelsea

Thousands of fans flooded the streets of London Saturday, after Arsenal captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, scored twice to beat Chelsea 2-1 leading the Gunners to win the FA Cup final on Saturday.

This victory secured the club’s place in the Europa League next season as they risked missing out on European football for the first time in 25 years after finishing eighth in the Premier League.

After losing the Carabao Cup final in 2018 and then the Europa League final in 2019 with Arsenal, this was Aubameyang's first time winning a trophy at the Emirates. On an individual level, Aubameyang's star has always shone brightly. His wins of the Golden Boot in both the Bundesliga and Premier League mark his status as a world-class footballer. In addition, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year in 2015.

Don't Drop the Cup!

COVID-19 hygiene measures made it so Aubameyang struggled to collect the trophy himself. He immediately seemed to find the trophy hard to hold as he struggled to take it over to his team-mates. During the customary celebratory moment when the cup is lifted into the air, the team captain dropped the iconic silverware - to the amusement of his teammates. Fortunately, the cup seemed to avoid any serious damage as Aubameyang eventually lifted the title over his head in celebration.

A resounding victory for Arsenal

This marks a record 14th time that the club has experienced this ârticular victory in its history; But perhaps, admittedly, not one that many will forget in light of the cheerful clumsiness on the part of the top scorer of the match.

Future at Club

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, also saw the lighter side of the awkward display promising the striker more wins to come if he chooses to re-sign with the club. Facing another season without Champions League football and just one year left on his contract at the Emirates, many have been speculating about the future of the Gabonese international star at Arsenal or elsewhere.

Another Blow to Drogba’s FIF Presidency Campaign

Another setback in the FIF presidency campaign for Ivorian soccer star, Didier Drogba, Tuesday when the AFI backed a rival candidate on Tuesday.

Last Leg of Campaign

Another setback for Ivorian soccer star Didier Drogba on Tuesday when the Association of the Nation's Players (AFI) announced its backing of current Ivorian Football Federation vice-president (FIF), Idriss Diallo. A harsh blow to Drogba’s FIF presidency campaign — upon officially registering to run earlier today, as this is the fourth out of the five eligible bodies to not sponsor the greatest goal scorer in the history of the national team.

Huge support from fans in spite of lack of support from AFI

The AFI statement reads, "In accordance with the majority of its members, the board of directors has decided to grant the AFI's sponsorship to the list headed by Idriss Diallo. This choice is in line with the recommendation made by two-thirds of the delegates at the end of last Friday's meeting" said the AFI in a statement signed by its secretary-general Aruna Dindane, another former international.”

Diallo also has backing from The Coaches' Association - as well as from the former internationals Bonaventure Kalou, Cyril Domoraud and Ahmed Ouattara, in the 5 September election.

In light of the recent disappointment, Drogba reiterated his platform, "Our football is not... Our football is not going well, it's no secret. That's why my team and I are committed to the rebirth of Ivorian football."

Drogba's Supporters

A sentiment shared by — both many citizens at home and Ivorian players in Europe, who are worried about the current state of national football and are perplexed by the AFI’s lack of support for the retired player.

Joël Dolou, a fan of Drogba, showed up on the scene with dozens of others to make public his avid support for the star’s presidential candidacy, "We've come to offer our support because we're not just going to limit ourselves to social networks. But to show everyone here in Abidjan, inside and the whole international community that we are indeed ready for him, we are ready for man, we are ready for Didier's 'Renaissance' project."

Still Hope

The Former Players' Association and the Referees' Association sponsor the league president, Sory Diabate while The Coaches' Association has also supported Diallo. However, there might still be hope for Drogba’s campaign as the Society of Football Doctors has not yet endorsed a candidate.

African football back in Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia

Morocco has decided to re-open its Major League Football tournament the Botola Pro 1 after four months. Tunisia and Egypt to follow in the next weeks.

Morocco decided to re-open its Major League Football tournament the Botola Pro 1, after four months away from the pitch.

Leader of the competition before Covid 19 put a stop to the Botola, Wydad Athletic Club is aiming to maintain itself at the top of the league, with only 9 games to play.

Despite its draw yesterday against Difaâ Hassani d'el-Jadida, Rival club Raja Club Athletic will try its best to catch up to Wydad, in what is expected to be a fascinating finish to the season.

But as governments have ordered Matches be played behind closed doors in order to keep social distancing in application, supporters will not be back in the stadiums anytime soon.

Football back in North Africa

Even though the coronavirus pandemic hasn't been put to a stop, the coming forthnight will see North African major league football tournaments be back to a near normal.

Tunisia's football fans will have to wait until next Sunday to see their favourite teams out on the pitch again.

Espérance Sportive de Tunis, four time CAF Champion's league champion, is well ahead of runner up Club Sportif Sfaxien.

Egypt should expect matches to resume on August 6th. Halfway into the season, Al Ahly Sporting Club is in the lead, 16 points ahead of Al Mokawloon Al Arab Sporting Club.

Other countries, such as Nigeria or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are not willing to resume any time soon.

CAF Champion's League's final location still unkown

Matches of the Final Fours of the CAF Champion's league will no longer be played in Cameroon as expected.

Both semi finals, Al Ahly SC vs Wydad AC, and Zamalek SC vs Raja CA, will be disputed as two legged home and away matches between Egypt and Morocco.

The Final's location has yet to be announced.

Should two teams of the same country face each other, the Final will take place in the home country of the two teams.

But should an Egyptian team face a Moroccan Team, the Confederation of African Football will have to find a neutral ground.

The Africans conquering Europe [Football Planet]

The conquest of Europe by Africans.

The conquest of Europe by Africans. As the season draws to a close, many African footballers have been crowned champions in their respective championships. Leading the pack, Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

A solid defender but in fragile health. The Ivorian international is worried by his many injuries. Since Eric Bailly’s arrival at Manchester United, the 2015 AFCON winner has missed no fewer than 64 matches and accumulated more than 365 days of out of action for his club.

And then two guests on the show. Senegalese U20 international Moussa Kalilou Djitté. The Grenoble striker, who plays in the French Ligue 2, will talk about his first season in France and his ambitions for the future. Next is Ajara Nchout Njoya, one of the stars of African women’s football. We will talk about her season at club level, in Norway and the news of CAF canceling the 2020 Women’s AFCON.

Our Wahany Johnson Sambou has the details of these and more on your weekly Football Planet.

With coronavirus onside, 2020 Ballon d'Or 'flagged offside'

Created in 1956 by France Football, the Ballon d’Or has become the most prestigious individual trophy in the world.

There will be no Ballon d’Or winner in 2020, with France Football announcing that due to the “lack of sufficient fair conditions”, the prize that has been dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent times will not be awarded for this calendar year.

A prestigious Golden Ball has been handed out to the best player on the planet since 1956, however the decision has been taken that it would not be right to pick out a leading performer given the circumstances in which professional sport is currently being played.

That means 2019 winner Messi will keep his crown for another 12 months. The Barcelona superstar has six Ballons d’Or to his name, with rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus boasting five.

Announcement on Ballon d’Or no show for 2020

As the organizer of the Ballon d’Or, the Group L’Équipe, to which France Football belongs, decided not to award the most prestigious individual trophy there is in 2020.

Pascal Ferré, editor-in-chief of France Football:

« For the first time since 1956, the Ballon d’Or will take a break. There will be no edition in 2020, because it turns out, after thoughtful consideration, that all the conditions are not met. We believe that such a singular year cannot and should not be treated as an ordinary one.

From a sports perspective, two months (January and February), out of the eleven generally required to form an opinion and decide who should lift the trophies, represent far too little to gauge and judge ; without forgetting that the other games were played – or will be played – in unordinary conditions (behind closed doors, with five replacements, Champions League’s Final 8 played in a single game).

Finally, the equity that prevails for this honorary title will not be warranted, especially when it comes to accounting and preparation : all the award seekers will not be in the same boat, some having seen their season cut short. Therefore, how can we establish a fair comparison? To avoid overly convoluted calculations and projections, we chose the least bad of the options.

This decision, which was taken of course with all the Group stakeholders, does not delight us but it seems to be the most responsible one. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means ensuring its flawlessness over time.

The Ballon d’Or will gather again the football big family and enthusiasts in 2021, to relive the happiness that surrounds the ceremonies as we have experienced them in recent years ».

The France Football Dream Team at the end of the year

Instead of the four usual winners (men and women BO, Kopa and Yachine Trophies), France Football will designate 11 players at the end of the year and establish an all-time team chosen by the usual BO jury (180 juries from all over the world).

The idea? Each jury will choose 11 players from a list of names established by FF redaction to build their Dream Team. This team of legend will be unveiled on L’Équipe and France Football various channels.

About the Ballon d’Or

Created in 1956 by France Football redaction, the Ballon d’Or has become the most prestigious individual trophy in the world. The greatest football players, such as Johan Cruyff, George Weah, Zinédine Zidane or Cristiano Ronaldo, have won it.

Since 2018, the Ballon d’Or also rewards the best female football player.

Two other trophies complement the BO « galaxy » : the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best young player since 2018, and the Yachine Trophy, handed to the best goalkeeper since 2019.