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International Football

Fever Over Ronaldo at El Clasico Miami

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Soccer fans in Miami, US are hoping Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in Saturday’s highly anticipated El Clasico, a clash of the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona  in Miami.

According to a report Sports Village Square has gathered from Miami Herald, the burning question on the lips of avid soccer followers had been: “Ronaldo show up?”

Until now, it was initially unclear if Ronaldo would be returning to Manchester United. But he has now confirmed he would be staying with the La Liga giants. Fans are awaiting another potential struggle for supremacy between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as their clubs clash in what is dubbed “El Clasico Miani” at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Madrid superstar, who has 107 million Instagram followers and many fans in South Florida, was not in Santa Clara, California, with his team on Sunday for their International Champions Cup opener against Manchester United.

Some speculated that his absence was either to avoid playing against his former club, Manchester United or he was preparing to return to the Premier League side. He is also not expected for Wednesday’s game against Manchester City in Los Angeles.

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But ICC officials are in contact with Ronaldo and his handlers, and they remain optimistic that he will make it to Miami for Saturday’s game.

“We are doing everything we can to get him here,” said Daniel Stillman, the CEO of the ICC. “We are still hopeful that he will make it.”

Ronaldo, 32, has been on an extended summer vacation after a long season with Real Madrid, the June 8 birth of his twins, and a run to the June 28 semifinals of Confederations Cup in Russia with Portugal’s national team. He also is scheduled to testify July 31 at a tax fraud hearing in Spain, leading to rumors that he would not be able to fit El Clasico Miami into his schedule.

Ronaldo spent this past weekend in Asia, fulfilling commercial obligations. He was in Singapore on Friday meeting with friend and billionaire Peter Lim, who owns Spanish club Valencia and also owns Mint Media, which owns Ronaldo’s non-Real Madrid image rights. On Saturday, he went to Shanghai for an endorsement event, and also visited Beijing.

He was reportedly back in Madrid on Monday, but his plans the rest of the week are unknown. The Real Madrid and Barcelona teams and their entourages are due to arrive in Miami on Thursday, after playing games in California on Wednesday night. They will be staying within blocks of each other in downtown Miami.

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The Barcelona roster for the U.S. tour includes Argentine megastar Lionel Messi (76.4 million Instagram followers), Brazilian star Neymar (who is being wooed by Paris Saint-Germain), Uruguay standout Luis Suarez, and Spaniards Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta.

Among the Real Madrid stars due to be at the game Saturday are Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas, Wales star Gareth Bale, Crotian Luka Modric, Karim Benzema of France, and Toni Kroos of Germany.

A sellout crowd of 64,767 is expected at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday for the match. A few thousand tickets remained as of Monday afternoon.

More than 40,000 are expected for Wednesday’s game between French club Paris Saint-Germain and Italian team Juventus. PSG has been based in Miami for a week, and held an autograph session Sunday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which was attended by 300-400 fans, and open training session Monday morning at Barry University.

A crowd of 25,000-plus is expected at the stadium Friday night for Barcelona and Real Madrid training sessions, with tickets ranging from $20-$30. Barcelona is practicing from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and Real Madrid trains from 8 to 9:30 p.m.

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Casa Clasico, a free fan fest at Bayfront Park downtown with live music and soccer interactive activities, is open Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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International Football

New twist in Cameroon football coach crisis

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The coaching crisis in Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions has taken a new dimension as the football federation, FECAFOOT, led by former international, Samuel Eto’o goes in direct confrontation with the coaching crew appointed by the sports ministry which also picks the bills.

  According to a Cameroon official who will not like to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, the claims and counter claims of both the sports ministry and the FECAFOOT led by Eto’o had been heard and decided by the conciliation and arbitration chamber of the Cameroonian national Olympic committee, which is a court in charge of sports cases in Cameroon.

  “What is in contention is not the position of the Belgian coach, Marcc Brys, but that of the Cameroonian assistants attached to him.”

  The source explained to Sports Village Square that although the employment of Brys by the sports ministry was initially contested by Eto’o, the former player has come to accept the situation.

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  “In Cameroon, there is always a techenical crew of nine to 11. The foreign coach is allowed to bring in two foreign assistants, while the others are always Cameroonians.

  In this case, the sports ministry approved the list of two foreign assistants by Brys while also announcing another set of local assistants that included former international, François Omam-Biyik, one of the stars of Italia ‘90  and the scorer of the goal that gave Cameroon a 1-0 win over a Diego Maradona-inspired  Argentina.

  “That is where the problem is. FECAFOOT also submitted a list of technical crew that included Brys and his two foreign assistants but dropped the names of the local assistants with new ones.”

  In essence, there are two lists with both having three names as same, but differ on the rest.

 According to the source, the list submitted by the sports ministry was upheld by the tribunal which threw aside that of FECAFOOT.

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  In another twist, FIFA has already removed the name of Marc Brys from the profile of Cameroon on its website. Only the name of national women’s coach, Jean-Baptiste Bisseck is listed.

The removal of Brys’ name is happening a second time as it was first removed at the end of last month before being reinstated.

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Cameroon’s appointment of Brys as manager suspended by sports tribunal

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Marc Brys

Cameroon’s appointment of Belgian Marc Brys as head coach was suspended by the country’s top sports tribunal on Tuesday following the petition of an amateur football club.

The country’s sports ministry stirred controversy last month when it named 61-year-old Brys as manager of the Indomitable Lions without consulting the football federation (FECAFOOT).

The move sparked a dispute between the sports ministry and FECAFOOT, which said the government had made a unilateral decision.

In response, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours, deepening its standoff with the sports ministry.

Eto’o kept Brys as head coach but named different assistants, technical, medical and administrative staff.

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An amateur club, meanwhile, took the matter to the Arbitration and Conciliation Chamber of the Cameroon National Olympic and Sports Committee.

In a provisional ruling on Tuesday, the court suspended the FECAFOOT appointments while it fully examined the matter. Concerned parties have 24 hours to appeal.

FECAFOOT in response said it “reserves the right to refer these decisions to FIFA, as they hinder the preparation process for the forthcoming sport events.

“The Emergency Committee of FECAFOOT will meet immediately to take appropriate measures,” it said in a statement.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations and has frequently banned countries when governments get involved in federation affairs.

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The president of the Cameroon Association of Amateur Football Clubs, Balla Ongolo Henri, had previously said Eto’o’s appointments would damage Cameroon’s image and disrupt preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers next June.

Brys, 61, penned a contract on May 8 as head coach of the Indomitable Lions following the dismissal of Rigobert Song in February. FECAFOOT did not attend the signing ceremony.

The sports ministry says it has acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

Reuters

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Amokachi, Adebayor and Amanda Dlamini confirmed for CAF African Schools Championship Finals

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African football legends, Emmanuel Adebayor, Daniel Amokachi and Amanda Dlamini are some of the top names that have been confirmed for the Continental Finals of the CAF African Schools Football Championship 2024 scheduled in Zanzibar between 21 – 24 May 2024.

The CAF African Schools Football Championship is the school’s competition that includes over 44 African countries with over 800 000 participants of Boys and Girls under the age of 15.

This is the second edition of the competition that is not only focused on Football but also on a number of programmes including Young Referee’s Programme, Young Reporter Programme and Safeguarding. 

Adebayor, CAF Player of the Year in 2008, represented Togo at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for their only appearance at the tournament. Ex-striker for Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and others, the Togolese star has had a successful career, earning over 85 caps with Les Eperviers.

Nigerian football star Amokachi played 42 international matches for the Super Eagles. He participated in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups and was part of the team that won the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and the Olympic Games in 1996.

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Former Banyana Banyana (South Africa) captain Dlamini played in two TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations competitions where they finished third and second in 2010 and 2012, respectively. She is one of the few footballers, both in the men’s and women’s national teams to reach 100 caps.

Dlamini recently made history when she became the first female to be part of the world commentary feed at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.

Also on the list are local stars Abdi Kassim Sadalla, former Tanzanian National Team Captain, and Hilda Masanche, Head coach of the Tanzania U17 Women’s National Team.

The Legends will feature in various activities to promote and support football development among African youth.

The finals will bring together talented young players from across the continent, providing them a platform to showcase their skills and passion for the game.

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-CAF

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