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Group A – Cote D’Ivoire V Guinea Bissau: Facts & Figures –

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Group A - Cote D'Ivoire V Guinea Bissau: Facts & Figures -

The 34th edition of the  African Cup of Nations kicks off on Saturday with hosts Cote d’Ivoire taking on Guinea Bissau.

Ahead of the tricky match, CafOnline.com takes a look at some interesting facts and figures of the two sides.

  • This will be the first encounter between Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
  • Côte d’Ivoire are taking part in their 25thCAF Africa Cup of Nations; only Egypt have made more appearances in the continent’s premier competition (26). They will be attempting to win the trophy for the third time, after 1992 and 2015.
  • Côte d’Ivoire are hosting the CAF Africa Cup of Nations for the second time, 40 years after it was initially held in the country, in 1984. Cameroon won the title whilst Côte d’Ivoire were knocked out in the group stages.
  • The hosts/co-hosts of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations have systematically reached the knockout stages of the tournament in all bar one of the last 14 editions – the exception was Gabon in 2017. However, no host has won the AFCON since Egypt in 2006.
  • Côte d’Ivoire are unbeaten in their last 12 opening matches at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (W7 D5) – the last time they lost their first match in an edition of the tournament was in 1996 (0-2 v Ghana). Their opening match will be their 100thin the AFCON, becoming the third team to reach that tally after Egypt and Ghana.
  • This is Guinea-Bissau’s fourth Africa Cup of Nations appearance after making their debut in the competition only six years ago in 2017 – they have finished bottom of their group in each of their three previous participations, with a total of three draws and six defeats.
  • Only Benin (14) and Mozambique (12) have played more matches than Guinea-Bissau (9) at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations without ever winning one.
  • Guinea-Bissau have failed to score in their last seven matches at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, a record for any team in the history of the competition. In total, it’s been over 11 hours since they last found the net (707 minutes), a goal by Piqueti against Cameroon on 18 January 2017.
  • If Max Gradel plays, this will be his seventh CAF Africa Cup of Nations, equaling Boubacar Barry, Siaka Tiéné and Kolo Touré as the Ivorians with most AFCON appearances. He was part of the winning squad in 2015.
  • The duo of Zinho Gano and Jorginho scored 55% of Guinea-Bissau’s goals in the qualifiers for the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations (3 goals each, out of a total of 11 team goals).

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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Boxing

Furious Fury to clash again with Usyk in October

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All hope is not lost for Tyson Fury who lost his WBC heavyweight championship belt to Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia early this Sunday morning.

Both boxer had agreed before the unification bout that the loser of their fight would be eligible to trigger a rematch.

Owing to the two-way rematch clause, there will be a second showdown. As for a date, nothing is set in stone. The hopeful Saudi boxing chief Turki Alalshikh confirmed that a rematch is likely to go ahead on 12th/13th October 2024, not taking into account exceptional circumstances such as injuries or unforeseen events.

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Premier League

Liverpool fans say sad farewell to ‘one of us’ Klopp

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Premier League - Aston Villa v Liverpool - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - May 13, 2024 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp acknowledges the fans after the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File Photo REUTERS

Liverpool fans were bidding farewell to their charismatic manager Juergen Klopp on Sunday with songs, murals and other tributes to an eight-year reign that brought the glory days back to one of England’s greatest clubs.

The bespectacled 56-year-old German was to manage his beloved Reds for the 491st and final time at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) against Wolverhampton Wanderers in front of a sellout crowd at Anfield.

With the Premier League game itself largely irrelevant now Liverpool cannot win the title, all focus was on Klopp, who had fought back tears as fans serenaded him at his final away game.

“We’ll never see his like again … He’s one of us,” waxed John Pearman, founder of Liverpool fan magazine “Red All Over The Land” which brought out a special Klopp edition.

After leading the team to seven trophies, including Europe’s Champions League in 2019 and a first English league title in three decades in 2020, Klopp is leaving of his own volition to recharge his batteries.

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KLOPP’S CITY

He has not said what he will do next, beyond ruling out managing another club in England, out of respect for the working class port city he came to love as his own.

“I could have grown up here,” he said in a club video.

“We gave Liverpool the best time of our life, and the other way round as well. I will never walk alone ever again in my life,” he added, alluding to the song by 1960s Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers that became the club anthem.

It was not only success that endeared Klopp to fans.

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They loved his passion and personality: fist-pumps at the end of games, bear hugs for players, time for charitable causes, indignant protests at dubious decisions, and insistence on a high-energy aggressive “gegenpress” style of football.

After decades of mediocrity, when arch-rivals Manchester United were the top dogs in England, Klopp restored Liverpool’s pride, his irrepressible zeal eclipsing other Premier League managers.

“Watching Klopp and so many of the incredible players he developed made me fall in love with football, making the fact he’s leaving hurt even more,” said 15-year-old fan Freddie Williams before the Wolves game.

“He’s given the fans what they’d been longing for the past 30 years, putting Liverpool back on top. The moments he’s created, the laughter he’s given us along with his immense success has made him irreplaceable at LFC.”

In pubs and back streets, supporters recalled their favourite Klopp moments: the four-goal comeback against Barcelona in a 2019 Champions League semi-final, a 7-0 drubbing of Manchester United in 2023, or his manic leaping charge across the pitch after a last-ditch winner against derby rivals Everton in 2018.

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Ever the gentleman, Klopp later apologised for disrespecting Everton.

‘I’M IN LOVE’

The fans’ song for Klopp is a delirious version of the Liverpool-born Beatles’ “I Feel Fine”.

“I’m so glad that Juergen is a Red, I’m so glad he delivered what he said!” they chant.

“Juergen said to me ‘you know, we’ll win the Premier League you know’, he said so! I’m in love with him and I feel fine!”

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Players, too, were emotional about the man who revived careers and made giants of the likes of Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk, while nurturing a plethora of new talent.

“He’s like a fatherly figure for everyone,” said 21-year-old midfielder Harvey Elliott. “An amazing person to be around. I’ve learned so much off him, I can’t be thankful enough.”

The German’s stay in Liverpool has also spawned a slew of new wall art. One of the latest murals shows a heroic-looking Klopp in black-and-white holding his hand to his chest against a backdrop of Liverpool’s red-and-white colours.

Above it are the words: “We believed”.

Reuters

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Boxing

Sympathy for Ukraine behind Usyk’s heavyweight win, says Fury

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Heavyweight Tyson Fury said sympathy for Ukraine was behind the judges’ awarding a split-decision victory to Oleksandr Usyk in their heavyweight title fight on Sunday, with the Briton calling for an immediate rematch.

After cruising through the middle of the fight, Fury never recovered from a standing eight count in the ninth round, and the judges gave the fight to Usyk, making him the first undisputed heavyweight champion in almost 25 years.

“I believe I won that fight. I believe he won a few of the rounds but I won the majority of them …. His country’s at war, and people are siding with the country at war, but make no mistake, I won that fight,” Fury said in a post-fight interview in the ring.

Ukraine has been fighting a Russian invasion that started more than two years ago.

“I’ll be back. I’ve got a rematch clause,” the previously undefeated Fury added, with promoter Frank Warren saying in the ring another fight between the two was a certainty.

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“That’s what the contract says. It’s what he wants. It’s his call, it’s Tyson’s call. So whatever he wants to do, it’s up to him,” Warren said.

After an intriguing 12-round battle that saw both men enjoy success, plenty of boxing fans would relish the chance to see the pair go at it again, especially after Usyk managed to turn the tide.

“We’ll go back to our families and I’ll see him again in October. We’ll go back, rest up. I believe I won the fight but I’m not going to sit and cry and make excuses. We’ll run it again in October,” Fury said.

Asked if he would be prepared to face Fury again, Usyk, who did not respond directly to Fury’s claim, was unequivocal.

“Yes, of course,” the 37-year-old Ukrainian said.

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-Reuters

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