Badri rescues champions Esperance, Wydad fire five goals

first_imgAnice Badri, seventh in the 2018 African Player of the Year competition won by Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah three days ago, saved Tunisian club Esperance from a Group B defeat.The defending champions trailed 2018 quarter-finalists Horoya in Guinea from the middle of the second half when Ghana-born former Burkina Faso international Ocansey Mandela struck.That goal separated the teams in Conakry until the fourth minute of stoppage when 2018 Champions League leading scorer Badri equalised.Horoya were the superior side, keeping Esperance goalkeeper Rami Jeridi busy throughout, only to be deprived of victory at the death.Antonio Souare, the multi-millionaire chairman of the Guinean club, has told his players that he expects nothing less than a Champions League semi-finals place this season.Former champions Orlando Pirates from South Africa are away to group debutants Platinum of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo Saturday in the other Group B fixture.Moroccans Wydad, who won the competition a second time two years ago, scored four second-half goals to trounce Ivory Coast visitors ASEC Mimosas 5-2 in Rabat.Ismail el Haddad and Wonlo Coulibaly exchanged first-half goals before Nigerian Michael Babatunde, Zouhair el Moutaraji, Walid el Karti and Badie Aouk netted for Wydad.Salif Bagate scored a late consolation goal for the Abidjan outfit, who did not concede in four qualifiers, admittedly against far less formidable rivals than the Casablanca club.The triumph took Wydad to the top of Group A on goal difference from Nigerians Lobi, who came from behind to defeat 2016 champions Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa 2-1 in Enugu.Sundowns have never won a group game in west Africa, drawing once and losing four, including two in Nigeria, and their passing was often sub-standard.Liberian Antony Laffor gave the visiting side a first-half lead they surrendered in the final minute of the half when Ivorian Yaya Kone levelled from a penalty.After having an early second-half goal disallowed, Lobi took the lead a minute later with Samuel Mathias punishing sloppy defending to strike what proved the match-winner.Abdenour Belkheir scored on 89 minutes to earn group newcomers Constantine from Algeria a surprise 1-0 win away to former champions Club Africain from Tunisia in Rades.Record eight-time African champions Al Ahly from Egypt host 2018 CAF Confederation Cup runners-up V Club from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the pick of the Saturday matches.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Esperance and Tunisia star Anice Badri (L) in action against Al Ain of the UAE during the 2018 Club World Cup. His stoppage-time goal salvaged a draw for the African club champions away to Horoya in Guinea Friday © AFP / Karim SahibJOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jan 12 – Trophy-holders Esperance snatched a lucky last-gasp draw and Wydad Casablanca went on a five-goal romp Friday as the CAF Champions League group stage kicked off.Lobi Stars won at home and CS Constantine grabbed a late away win in other matchday 1 clashes in the premier African club competition.last_img read more

Theo Walcott says Arsenal have ‘no excuse’ not to mount title challenge next season

first_imgArsenal striker Theo Walcott says the Gunners will have “no excuse” if they do not mount a serious title challenge next year.Arsenal all but secured third place in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday when they drew 1-1 at Manchester United, with Walcott’s impact from the bench instrumental in the Gunners’ late equaliser.Arsene Wenger’s side have endured the preliminary stages of the Champions League for three of the last four years, and Walcott believes they are punching below their weight after failing to properly challenge champions Chelsea this season.“Third place is a step forward from where we finished last year, but we want to – and need to – be pushing on now and trying to challenge for the title,” said Walcott.“There was an opportunity in the season when we were getting close to Chelsea and people were talking about us competing but I sensed throughout the dressing room that we were never quite up there.”Before Arsenal’s defeat at home to Swansea last Monday they had assembled an unbeaten league record stretching back to early February, and Walcott believes their strength in depth bodes well for next season.“Looking at the squad, the manager has an absolute headache to try and pick his best team and we want that going into next season,” said the England forward.“We are looking very strong and you never know, he might add a few extra players but we need to be pushing for the Premier League now. There is no excuse.” Theo Walcott 1last_img read more