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The BBC has announced the five nominees for the 2018 BBC African Footballer of the Year award. The shortlist was unveiled to football fans around the world during a launch program in Lagos over the weekend.

The Contenders

Juventus centre-back Benatia, 31, won his fourth consecutive league title this year - two with Bayern Munich and two with Juve - and captained Morocco at this summer's World Cup.

Napoli defender Koulibaly, 27, played his part in his club's battle with Juve for the Serie A title, including the winner against the eventual champions in the run-in. He played all 270 minutes for Senegal in the World Cup.

Liverpool forward Mane, 26, also played in all of Senegal's World Cup games, captaining his country in two and scoring against Japan. He was the joint-second top scorer in last season's Champions League - with 10 goals for Liverpool, including one in the 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid in the final.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Partey, 25, established himself as a first-team regular for Diego Simeone's side, including a late appearance as a substitute in the Europa League final win over Marseille. He scored in international friendlies for Ghana against Japan and Iceland.

Liverpool forward Salah, 26, won the Premier League Golden Boot with 32 goals in May and, like Mane, scored 10 Champions League strikes in their run to the final. He scored both of Egypt's World Cup goals - 40% of their all-time total at the tournament.


Voting kicked off at 1900 GMT on Saturday, 17th November and will run until 2000 GMT on Sunday, 2nd December when the vote closes.

The public can vote online for their favorite player by visiting:

The winner of BBC African Footballer of the Year 2018 will be revealed live during Focus on Africa on BBC World News and BBC World Service on Friday, 14th December at 1730 GMT.

Previous winners of the award include: Mohamed Salah (2017); Riyad Mahrez(2016), Yaya Touré (2015 and 2013); and Yacine Brahimi (2014).

BBC News Africa and BBC Sport will also be the online home of social and digital extras, including video profiles.

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The former PSG boss has been tipped to deliver success to the Gunners by one of his most famous former players

Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil star Neymar lauded Unai Emery and believes the coach will bring success to Arsenal.

Emery took charge of the Premier League club earlier this year and Arsenal have made a decent start to the season, sitting fifth in the table.

Neymar, who played a season under Emery at PSG, backed the Spaniard for success in England.

"Now it's easy to say because Arsenal are playing really great football. They are coming from a great run in recent matches and everybody knows he's a really great coach," he told a news conference on Thursday, ahead of Brazil's friendly against Uruguay in London.

"We know about their quality and I was really happy to work with him because he's a really hard working guy. He really wanted to coach us and really wanted to study about football.

"I think he will bring good things for Arsenal, which is a really huge and important club here in England. I wish him luck."

The Gunners had recovered from early-season losses to Manchester City and Chelsea and have not lost since, but three straight draws have seen the club slide back a bit in the table. 

They sit eight points back of league leaders City and three back of fourth-placed Tottenham and are top of their Europa League group having picked up 10 of 12 possible points so far. 

The London side return from the international break with a clash against Bournemouth in the Premier League and a Europa League tie against Vorskla to close out November. 

They'll open their December schedule with two crucial matches in the league. They'll host Tottenham on December 2 before heading to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United three days later. 

And while Neymar has praised his former manager, he and PSG have rolled through the opening part of their season in Ligue 1, running of 13 straight wins to jump out to a 13-point lead on nearest challengers Lille. 

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Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer to have graced the football pitch. The little magician has had one of the most celebrated and trophy-laden careers of all-time, despite having a bittersweet run with his home country Argentina.

Every great story has a start, which may or may not be great – but in the end it plays a pivotal part in how the story shapes. 

Here are 6 interesting things that you never knew about Lionel Messi:

1. The growth hormone deficiency and a love for Coke!

We all know Messi was born in Rosario – a birthplace he shares with the legendary revolutionary Che Guevara. 

Not only that, during his tender years he had a growth hormone deficiency which required expensive medication and many believe that it was Barcelona who paid for this treatment when he was signed by the Catalan giants in 2001.

However, contrary to popular belief his treatment was taken care of by the Argentinian social security.

Despite the growth hormone deficiency and all the brouhaha surrounding it, Messi was just 13 when he joined Barcelona and like any other teenager had a sweet spot for Cola drinks. His love for the aerated drinks was such that all the soda machines in La Masia had to be removed as the little genius was its most frequent customer.

2. The paper napkin that rewrote footballing history.

Messi rewrote most of the footballing record books with his goal scoring exploits but it all started when Barcelona technical secretary Carles Rexach was mesmerized by the brilliance of the then 13-year-old Leo.

Rexach was so spellbound by what he had seen that due to lack of suitable paper, he decided to seal the deal on a piece of paper available instantaneously – in this case a paper napkin. 

That paper napkin has been kept in a frame to preserve it for the ages as the mark of a new era in the history of a footballing dynasty, after all Barcelona are more than just a club!

3.  Lionel Messi or Lionel Mecci?

Messi made a name for himself on the shores of Spain but his success reverberated across the Atlantic in his home nation of Argentina. 

However, despite being the apple of Barcelona’s eye he was a new kid on the block and not everyone was aware of the presence of a diminutive genius, who would go on to be equally loved and hated by the South American nation.

When Messi received his first call up from the Argentine Football Association for the Under-20s national team, they were not sure what his name was - as he was the only player who plied his trade outside Argentina – and they issued the call up to one Leonel Mecci. 

4. The unholy start for the divine one.

Messi made his debut for the senior Argentine national team on 17th August 2005 at the age of 18, when he came on as a 63rd-minute substitute for Lisandro Lopez in a friendly against Hungary.

It should have been the day we all look back and remember as the day Messi began his love story with La Albiceleste but it turned out to be anything but that.

In a debut which lasted 43 seconds, Messi came on and immediately found himself with the ball. He went on one of his trademark runs, which torments defenders in their sleep as they wake from it hoping to catch the great one but only managing to catch a glimpse instead – akin to how they are left in his wake as he bears down on goal. 

However, it was not to be, as Hungarian international Vilmos Vanczak held the 18-year-old by his shirt. While trying to shake off Vanczak, Messi struck him on the face with his arms and the referee deemed it – incorrectly I must add – as a deliberate elbow and the rising star was shown a red card before the world even caught a glimpse of him!

It has been reported that following his unceremonious debut, Messi was found weeping in the dressing room with his head buried in his hands.

Incidentally, that remains as Messi’s only red card for club and country.

5. Inmessionate.

Words become superfluous when you try to describe the genius that is Lionel Messi. And that is not just a case of me having a poor vocabulary, even dictionaries find it hard to catch up with the little maestro.

In February of 2013, Santillana – a dictionary in Spanish – saw a new adjective added to its books. INMESSIONATE.

The word was chosen by the then Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella in association with Pepsi and roughly means:

1.    Perfect way to play football, an unlimited capacity for self-improvement.

2.    Describes the best player of all time.

However, Messi is not the only footballer to have an entry in the dictionary apart from the record books. In 2012, Sweden honoured their greatest ever footballer – Zlatan Ibrahimovic – with an inclusion in the Swedish dictionary.

The word ‘Zlatanera’ is a verb and means – ‘to dominate’. Fitting!

6. The real reason why he stands alone on the side in all team pictures

Even the greats are also mortals and despite his outlandish footballing skills, there is a part of Messi that is still human. 

Messi can always be seen on the left corner of any team picture standing arm in arm with his compatriots but with a slightly different stance. 

The reason behind that is because of a latent inferiority complex, that the diminutive Argentine has had to suffer in his early years, when he was still the most gifted of the lot but had not yet conquered the footballing world. 

By standing alone on one end of the picture, Messi does not need to bend his knees and his stance appears taller than that of his teammates, who bend their knees, to fit in for the perfect photograph.

It is these small things that remind us, that no matter how gifted or outlandish or phenomenal Messi might be, when all is said and done – Messi is all but a mere mortal!

We may know him as ‘La Pulga’ – ‘The Flea’ - but it is not necessarily a nickname that he loves, or likes to be addressed as. For it will always be a reminder for him of his small stature.

source: sportskeeda

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Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says he and his team holds no fear over facing Nigeria’s Super Eagles in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the FNB Stadium Johannesburg, reports

Baxter who is gunning for his third win in three games when Bafana face the Super Eagles expects the three-time African champions to have vengeance on their mind ahead of the clash.

The British gaffer led South Africa to a 2-1 win over Nigeria in 2004 in a Mandela Challenge before defeating the Super Eagles 2-0 in a 2019 AFCON qualifier in Uyo in June 2017 – his first match in his second stint at the helms.

“Everybody knows what I said in the first press conference (a week ago) that despite that (the injuries) I want to speak about the players that we do have because even though we respect Nigeria, we do not fear them.

“I think we have still enough talent‚ enough desire and if we can structure a game plan in the next three or four days‚ I think by the time we run out onto the FNB Stadium, we would be confident‚ we would not be complacent‚ because Nigeria have just come from a (2018) World Cup (in Russia).

“They are undefeated since we beat them the last time (in the first qualifier in June last year) and they will certainly want to wreak their revenge.

“So‚ we will be ready and I still believe that we have a very good chance of getting the result that we need.”

After the match-day-five AFCON qualifiers on Saturday in Johannesburg, the Bafana Bafana will travel to Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium to welcome Paraguay in the Nelson Mandela Challenge next Tuesday.

A former international, Garba Lawal has said the 2019 AFCON qualifier against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa is a must win match for the Super Eagles.

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CM Punk's UFC career might be over after June's lopsided unanimous decision loss to Mike Jackson (who could have realistically finished the former WWE Champion any time he wanted), but 'The Voice Of The Voiceless' looks to have his next mixed martial arts gig lined up.

Per MMA Junkie, Punk will commentate Cage Fury Fighting Championships' CFFC 71 event on 14 December.

As well as marking Punk's debut as an announcer, the event will be CFFC's first to stream on UFC Fight Pass. A lower-level MMA promotion, they have nonetheless helped kick-start the careers of several UFC alumni, including Jimmie Rivera, George Sullivan, and Paul Felder.

Punk had the following to say on the matter:-

“I can’t wait for this opportunity to call the CFFC fights on UFC Fight Pass. CFFC has a long history of putting on exciting fights featuring some of the sport’s up-and-coming athletes. This card is going to be a lot of fun, and I’m really excited to have the chance to be a part of it.”

Though he continues to keep professional wrestling at arm's length, this looks like a logical move for Punk. He didn't make it as a fighter at the sport's highest level, but he's a charismatic talker who seems completely dedicated to MMA, and he'll have an experienced play-by-play guy in Mike Gill to help ease his transition on 14 December.

Let's hope the former WWE star is finally on a career path that makes him happy again.


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LEWIS HAMILTON says Formula 1's calendar is already too bloated and has suggested he could quit the sport if Liberty continue to add more grands prix to the schedule. Plans for a Vietnam GP to be introduced in 2020 were confirmed this week, while races in the Netherlands and Miami are also in the pipeline, with Liberty having previously suggested a 25-race calendar is on the cards.

The street race in Hanoi has split opinion among fans, while commercial chief Sean Bratches' suggestion that classic tracks like Silverstone may have to make way for the new venues has again caused consternation.

Hamilton says he would prefer an 18-race schedule – every season since 2010 has featured at least 19.

The freshly crowned five-time world champion says he won't stick around to see if he can hack a 25-race calendar, putting a dent in Liberty's expansion plans.

"It already feels like we are on race 25 this year, so I don't think that's a good thing personally," he said.

"I think 18 was probably the best back in the day.

"I'm someone who really loves racing but the season is long. It's a lot of commitment for all of us and a lot of time away from families and the seasons are getting longer and the off time is getting shorter. All I can speak is for myself.

"The turnaround is so short, you start preparing for your next season often as soon as the season is done.

"Getting your mind turned. That's very difficult. Then you have to find a way of switching off and recovering at the same time. It's most likely I'm not going to be here when it gets to 25 that's for sure."

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According to the World Health Organisation, one in four adults is not active enough, and more than 80 per cent of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active. In addition, inactivity serves as one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases.

Sport can consequently play a fundamental role, especially for younger generations. However, it has not only health benefits, as it can also be an essential driver for social change and inclusion.


The Sport and Active Society Development Grants are an initiative of the IOC’s Sport and Active Society Commission: non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and International and National Sports Federation (including IOC-Recognised International Federations) can submit their applications by 14 December, and winners will be announced within the first few months of 2019.

To be eligible for 2018 Grants, the projects must focus on at least one of the following themes:

Social inclusion of refugees through sport and physical activity

Promoting gender equality at all level of sport

Bringing sport and physical activity to the urban setting

Engaging young people and/or senior citizens in physical activity

In addition, candidate’s projects should demonstrate some key elements: long-term and sustainable timelines; sport or physical activity as effective tools to tackle social issues; available public space and/or sports facilities and venues used to promote participation in physical activity; long-term partnerships to sustain the project; and/or a monitoring plan is in place.

To apply for a grant, organisations can read the Grant Regulations and then send the application form to

The last edition’s Grants were given to three organisations that developed truly inspiring programs: HelpAge International, which promoted health ageing through active ageing groups in Tanzania; Skateistan, which created a project to encourage education through skateboarding for Afghan youth; and Pro Sport Development, which developed and implemented a variety of sports and sports-based programs for young marginalized and underprivileged people in India in various settings and institutions.

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Fans will have to wait until Sunday for the best match of the fourth round of the A-League season, when two of the league's three undefeated teams, Adelaide United and Perth Glory, battle it out in the city of churches.

It is hard to remember a better week in the history of Adelaide United football club, with Marco Kurz's side winning the FFA Cup Final last Tuesday and then cruising past the Central Coast Mariners by a scoreline of 3-0 in Gosford on Sunday.

Reds winger Craig Goodwin has hit a real purple patch of form, scoring four goals in his last two outings, which will surely see him come into calculations for Australia's Asian Cup defense in January.

Meanwhile, Perth's Andy Keogh has netted a goal in each of the club's three games so far, and his partnership with Chris Ikonomidis will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this one.

The home side are a $2.10 AUD favorite to make it two wins from four games while the visitors are $3.30 to make it three wins from four matches, according to AustralianGambling.

Another striker who will be hoping to represent the green and gold in two months' time is the Brisbane Roar's Adam Taggart, who has scored both of the club's goals this season, including a well-taken chance in the 65th minute of the season-opening draw against the Mariners.

Taggart and his teammates travel to Sydney this Saturday to take on a Western Sydney Wanderers side who moved into the top four with a 3-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix last weekend.

Markus Babbel's charges are a $2.10 favorite to make it two wins in a row when they host a Roar ($3.20) lineup who've collected just two points from their three outings so far.

Speaking of the Phoenix, they make the trip to the Victorian capital for the opening match of the round against Melbourne City.

Despite their poor showing against Sydney FC last Friday, City are the second-shortest-priced favorite of the round at $1.57 to be too good for a Wellington ($5.50) side who have opened their season with one win, one draw and one loss.

The shortest-priced favorite of the round is City's cross-town rival, Melbourne Victory, who are $1.36 to beat the Mariners ($8.50). The latter finally got their first win of the season last weekend with a 1-0 victory over the Newcastle Jets in a match between teams from last season's Grand Final.

The Jets are at home again on Saturday night, this time hosting Sydney FC, who remained in top spot on the ladder after a 3-0 win over City and are a $2 favorite to make it three wins from four starts.

The pressure is beginning to mount on Newcastle manager Ernie Merrick, with last season's Grand Finalists collecting just a single point from their three games to date. They're a big outsider to win their first game here at $3.60.


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Six packs constitute the main target of virtually every guy/girl who goes to the gym or undergoes a regular training session at home.
No other part of the body receives so much attention but, at the same time, nothing is more difficult to sculpt than the abs.
Whether you are trying to get rid of the extra fat around your stomach or you are attempting to increase your muscle mass in that area, transforming your abs into a six pack is NOT an easy task.

In addition to the innate intricacy of the process, some of us are also encountering seemingly insurmountable obstacles.



Nowadays due to the standard diet that consists primarily of intensively processed food, your body is very prone to retain water.

Particularly when your meals include high levels of sodium and you do not drink the recommended quantity of water, your organism will develop a lot more fat and, as a consequence, your abdominal muscles will not show. What you can do is limit the salt intake and start drinking about 8-10 ounce glasses of water per day.

You should be able to notice the effects of proper hydration in less than a week.


There is a misconception in the world of fitness that suggests cutting down carb-rich foods from your diet can help you lose the abdominal fat quickly, therefore making your abs more visible.

True, the main role of low carb diet plan consists of downgrading your levels of fat but, at the same time, this is not the right way to go if you want ripped abs.
The reason for this is that a very low carb intake will also reduce the effectiveness of your anti-fat hormones, effectively causing the metabolism to decelerate up to a full stop.

As of such, you will end up at the point where your organism is no longer consuming calories or creating muscle tissue.



Sub-optimal muscle tone in your abdominals is the classic and most frequently encountered reason why, no matter how much you try, the six pack refuses to show.

In other words, every person has a different level of abs development.
Some have too much, others have too little.
The dimensions of the abdominal muscles will determine whether or not they are actually visible through the belly fat, making your stomach appear “ripped”.

If this is indeed your problem, then intensive weight exercises for the abs including reclined sit-ups represent the perfect solution.


One will be asking what is the connection between getting enough sleep and boasting an enviable six pack?

It’s simple, the body of an individual who constantly sleeps for less than the recommended period or who has chaotic sleep patterns will tend to secrete more cortisol.
This little hormone is a directly responsible factor in promoting the development of fat in the stomach area.

Therefore, sleep well because the advantages don’t only include a stagnation in the cortisol secretion, but also elevated energy levels throughout the day, allowing you to engage in higher intensity workouts.


Genetics play a major role in your ability to enlarge your abs and grow the notorious six pack.

To put it simply, certain individuals have a propensity towards a higher level of abdominal fat tissue, which means that in spite of their success in toning the arms, legs and upper back, the abs refuse to show.

Keep in mind that genes influence the overall appearance – and functionality for that matter – of our body a great deal, so in this particular situation trying to sport a six pack is a losing battle.


Binge eating is almost exclusively related to a very low caloric/carb intake throughout the day, but some of us also tend to snack under stress.

Therefore, in order to eliminate this unhealthy habit from your routine the best thing you can do is to adjust your carb/caloric intake to your body’s dimensions and of course, activity levels.


Since the abdominals are so difficult to shape by default, you have to pay more attention to it, at all times.

What this entails is that you cannot stop training the abs once your workout is complete, not that you should go against rule no. 6.

In other words, throughout the entire day, you should educated yourself to tighten and pull the abs until this becomes a habit. Thus; train the abs outside the Gym too by eating RIGHT


Nobody says that you can’t enjoy a few beers on Friday with your friends, but you must learn how to refrain from frequently indulging in excessive alcohol consumption if you plan to rip your abs.
Alcohol is a real obstacle in terms of trimming the fat – especially in your stomach area – so in turn that means your abs will not show.

In addition, the associated painful sensations in that region that come the next morning will prevent you from exercising properly.


Stress, like the lack of sleep, is one of the factors that boost the cortisol secretion of the body.
However, studies show that stress is also involved in the decrease of lean muscles. In essence, the combination of these two effects deems stress as the absolute abs-killer.


You might believe that a routine focused mainly on your abs is the road to success, but unfortunately that is false.

Instead, if you construct your workout in a manner that exercises all groups of muscle – compound movement – then you will definitely increase the number of calories burned by roughly ten times and sculpt the abdominal muscles in the process.

After all, you want your body to appear uniformly ripped, don’t you?

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A father had had enough when he witnessed a rough tackle on his son during a football game. Just on Monday, an Alabama dentist got arrested for allegedly slapping a youth football player who injured his son during a tackle last month.

The father of the injured football player who has been identified as Marcus Dempsey, of Northport, Alabama, has been charged with harassment, reported. He was released on a $300 bond.

The 43-year-old was working on the chain crew during the little league football game on Sunday.

Police said the tackle occurred on Oct.4 and Dempsey walked onto the field and slapped a player who injured his son  The paper reported, citing an investigation by the Tuscaloosa police’s Juvenile Division.

Jay Stuck, an attorney representing Dempsey, denied the allegations and told the paper “we are confident that once the facts are heard and examined by neutral parties his innocence will be clear to all involved.”

“We eagerly await his day in court to address these allegations as laid out by the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

“We are confident that once the facts are heard and examined by neutral parties, his innocence will be clear to all involved.

“As his attorney, I would hope the media will report that determination with the same zeal and speed in which they have reported this current matter,” Stuck said.

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