Fourth division unknown scores as CAR stun Nigeria in World Cup

Central African Republic forward Karl Namnganda (27) scores a last minute winner in the World Cup qualifier against Nigeria at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, Oct. 7, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 08 October 2021

Fourth division unknown scores as CAR stun Nigeria in World Cup

  • Last minute goal by 25-year-old unknown Karl Namnganda from the Vendee les Herbiers Football club in the French fourth division gives CAR shock win in Lagos
  • The countries meet again on Sunday at the Stade Barthelemy Boganda, a 50,000-seat fortress where the Central African Republic seldom fail

JOHANNESBURG: Karl Namnganda, who plays in the French fourth division, scored in the 90th minute to give the Central African Republic (CAR) a stunning 1-0 away win over Nigeria on Thursday in World Cup qualifying.
The goal by the 25-year-old unknown from the Vendee les Herbiers Football club came against opponents boasting globally-known forwards like Victor Osimhen of Napoli and Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City.
Namnganda came off the bench in Lagos to make only his second appearance for his country after being substituted when he debuted against Liberia last month.
He silenced Nigerian supporters by winning a sprint down the middle of the pitch against two defenders and firing a low shot past goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.
“We missed the creativity of Alex Iwobi, we also missed Wilfred Ndidi so much,” said Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, referring to two injured Premier League midfielders.
“The boys do not understand how they lost this match. We dominated possession and had several opportunities to score but did not do so.”
Having drawn with Cape Verde and lost to Liberia in earlier qualifiers, a Central African Republic side coached by Swiss Raoul Savoy was given no chance of avoiding defeat in Nigeria.
But after snatching the lead, a team popularly known as the Wild Beasts survived eight minutes of added time to achieve a famous victory.
Central African Republic pulled off one of the greatest shocks in African World Cup qualifying despite lacking their star performer, Atletico Madrid midfielder Godfrey Kondogbia.
He refused to take part in qualifying for the 2022 finals in Qatar, citing poor management of players when he answered previous call-ups.
The Beasts changed coaches just before qualifying kicked off in September with Savoy put in charge a third time after Ivorian Francois Zahoui departed.
Central African Republic were ranked 124th in the world this month — 90 places below six-time World Cup qualifiers Nigeria.
The only crumb of comfort for the humiliated Super Eagles is that they remain top of Group C halfway through the second qualifying phase despite the loss.
Nigeria have six points, Cape Verde and the Central African Republic four each and Liberia three with only the section winners reaching play-offs next March, which will decide the five African qualifiers for the 2022 finals.
After hosting Cape Verde and Liberia in Cameroon because the national stadium in Bangui did not meet international standards, rushed improvements will permit the Beasts to play Nigeria at home.
The countries meet again on Sunday at the Stade Barthelemy Boganda, a 50,000-seat fortress where the Central African Republic seldom fail.
Losing in Lagos will inevitably lead to calls for Nigeria to sack German Rohr, a 68-year-old whose CV includes spells in charge of Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso.
He was hired by Nigeria in 2016 and his recent contract renewal included demands that he win the 2021/2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Cape Verde snatched a 2-1 away win over Liberia in the same section through a stoppage-time goal from Garry Rodrigues after teammate Jamiro Monteiro had equalized.
Benin boosted their chances of winning Group J with a 1-0 victory in Tanzania through a goal from Steve Mounie, who played for Huddersfield Town when they were in the Premier League during the last decade.
The Squirrels have seven points, two more than the Democratic Republic of Congo, who overcame Madagascar 2-0 in Kinshasa with 35-year-old Dieumerci Mbokani among the scorers for the third straight match.
Benin host Tanzania on Sunday and bottom team Madagascar next month while DR Congo are away to the same two countries before hosting the current leaders in the final round.
Mali crushed Kenya 5-0 with Ibrahima Kone scoring a hat-trick and Tunisia trounced Mauritania 3-0 to stay on course to win two of the other groups.

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Bangladesh, Pakistan second test hit by rain, draw likely

Updated 06 December 2021

Bangladesh, Pakistan second test hit by rain, draw likely

DHAKA, Bangladesh: The third day of the second and final cricket test between Bangladesh and Pakistan was called off Monday due to persistent rain without a ball being bowled.
The announcement came about 90 minutes after the scheduled lunch break as there was no sign of an end to the rain that was caused by Cyclone Jawad. Rain has fallen heavily on each day of the match so far.
The third session of the first day was lost to rain and bad light and only 6.2 of 98 overs were possible on day two.
With more rain or thundershowers being predicted in many parts of Bangladesh in the next 24 hours, a draw looks like the only possible result.
Pakistan, which opted to bat first, reached 188-2 in 63.2 overs with captain Babar Azam batting on 71 and Azhar Ali on 52.
Pakistan won the first test by eight wickets and leads the two-match series 1-0. Earlier, the visitors swept the three-match T20 International series.


Pollard out of West Indies white-ball tour of Pakistan 

Updated 05 December 2021

Pollard out of West Indies white-ball tour of Pakistan 

  • He withdrew after failing to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained in the T20 World Cup 
  • West Indies are due to play three T20Is and three ODIs at the Karachi National Stadium from Dec 13 to 22 

ST JOHN’S, Antigua: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard withdrew Sunday from the upcoming white-ball tour of Pakistan after failing to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained in the T20 World Cup. 
Pollard was replaced in the ODI squad by Devon Thomas and in the T20 squad by all-rounder Rovman Powell.

Pollard will be reassessed in a few weeks ahead of the upcoming home tours by Ireland and England in January 2022, Cricket West Indies said.

The West Indies are due to play three T20Is and three ODIs at the Karachi National Stadium from Dec. 13-22. 


Sebastian Vettel invited Saudi women to karting event to learn about their lives

Updated 04 December 2021

Sebastian Vettel invited Saudi women to karting event to learn about their lives

  • The German Formula 1 driver said wanted to hear their first-hand accounts of recent changes in the country what life is like for them in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: In an effort to learn more about life in Saudi Arabia and recent changes in the country, and as an activist for equality, Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel said that he organized a special karting event this week for women in Saudi Arabia.

In comments shared on social media, the German driver, who races for Aston Martin, said he hired a karting track in Jeddah on Thursday and invited some Saudi women to race so that he could hear their first-hand accounts of what life is like for them in the Kingdom.

Vettel said: “It’s true that some things are changing here. There are a lot of questions that have been asked and I have asked myself. So I was thinking of what I can do. I really tried to think of the positive side.

“And so I set up my own karting event today, under the hashtag Race for Women, and we had a group of seven or eight girls and women on the track.

“I was trying to pass on some of my experiences in life and, obviously, on the track; to do something together to grow their confidence. Some of them had a (driving) license, others they did not. Some of them were huge Formula 1 enthusiasts, others had nothing to do with Formula 1 or racing before today.

“It was a good mix of women from different backgrounds and a great event. Everybody was extremely happy,” he continued. “And I was, I have to say, very inspired by their stories and their backgrounds, their positivity about the change in the country.

“It was important to get to know some of these women. And I think it was a very, very memorable and inspiring day and a great way to kick-off the weekend by focusing on the positive.”

Vettel will compete in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Sunday, Dec. 5.


Jailed former paralympic athlete Pistorius moved closer to victim’s family

Updated 02 December 2021

Jailed former paralympic athlete Pistorius moved closer to victim’s family

  • Pistorius went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that drew worldwide interest
  • He is set to speak to Steenkamp's parents in a process known as victim-offender dialogue

CAPE TOWN: Former South Africa paralympic superstar, Oscar Pistorius, jailed in 2016 for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been moved closer to her family ahead of reconciliation talks that could help pave the way for his early release from prison.
Pistorius, known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs, went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that drew worldwide interest. He becomes eligible for parole after serving half of his 13-year sentence.
Pistorius is set to speak to Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry Steenkamp, in a process known as victim-offender dialogue — an integral part of South Africa’s restorative justice program in its prison system that brings parties affected by a particular crime together in a bid to achieve closure.
“They are participating in the process because they have committed themselves to being part of the victim-offender dialogue. They feel they have to do this for Reeva,” Tania Koen, lawyer for the Steenkamps, said of the family.
Pistorius’ lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Gold medalist Pistorius, once the darling of the Paralympic movement for pushing for greater recognition and acceptance of disabled athletes, shot dead Steenkamp, a model and law student, in his bathroom in 2013.
Pistorius said he had believed she was an intruder but was jailed in 2016, initially for a six-year term. After an appeal by prosecutors who said this was too lenient the term was increased to 13 years.
He has now been moved from a prison near Johannesburg to one on South Africa’s east coast, near where Steenkamp’s parents live.
Neither their lawyer Koen nor Singabakho Nxumalo, a spokesman for the department of correctional services, could provide Reuters with a timeline for the discussions.
“It is very sensitive process, highly emotional... and we do not force people to participate in it,” Nxumalo said.
“But we are saying at least it does lay a foundation where people can, if possible, forgive each other, find one another and then try to move forward in harmony,” he said.


COVID-19 hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix

Updated 03 December 2021

COVID-19 hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix

  • Team Principal Jost Capito tests positive for Covid before traveling to Jeddah, Williams ‘team will continue to operate trackside as planned’
  • Still mourning the loss of founder Frank Williams, the team goes to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit having garnered 23 points so far this season

PARIS: Williams’ Team Principal Jost Capito has tested positive for COVID-19 before traveling to Jeddah for this weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, the British Formula One outfit announced Thursday.
“Jost is now following UK national health authority guidelines,” the team said in a statement. “There has been no wider impact on Williams Racing personnel and the team will continue to operate trackside as planned.”
Still mourning the loss of founder Frank Williams, the team goes to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit having garnered just 23 points so far this season.
The penultimate round of the 2021 World Championship season sees Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton of Britain clinging to the tail of Dutch championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull with just eight points separating the pair.