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2018 Sports Review [1]: Winners, losers and questions facing African football

2018 Sports Review [1]: Winners, losers and questions facing African football

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<p><strong>It was an eventful year in the world of sport for Africa, as athletes in different disciplines reached for greatness on the national, continental and global stage.</strong> </p> <p>In some instances, like the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the entire Africa fell short, but in some brilliant moments like Eliud Kipchoge’s record-breaking run at the Berlin Marathon, the continent’s sports prowess shone brightest.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll review the highs, lows and notable sports takeaways over this year.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Salah, Salah, Salah</h2> <p>Egypt and Liverpool forward took the English Premier League by storm in the 2017/2018 season, breaking the record for goals scored and winning the best player accolades.</p> <p>He was crowned <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/01/04/live-caf-crowns-2017-african-player-of-the-year/"target="_blank">African Player of the Year</a> by the Confederation of African Football (<span class="caps">CAF</span>) in January, and was nominated for the <span class="caps">FIFA</span> Best player, <span class="caps">UEFA</span> best player and the prestigious Ballon d’Or.</p> <p>Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech was named the <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/09/06/morocco-s-hakim-ziyech-named-best-footballer-in-netherlands-league/"target="_blank">best footballer in the Dutch League</a> in September, becoming the third Moroccan to win the top accolade.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Morocco wins <span class="caps">CHAN</span> 2018 and more</h2> <p>Morocco in January hosted and won the Championship of African Nations (<span class="caps">CHAN</span> 2018), defeating Nigeria’s Super Eagles (4-0).</p> <p>Moroccan club sides dominated football on the continent as Wydad Casablanca defeated Congolese side TP Mazembe to win the Super Cup in February.</p> <p>Another Moroccan side, Raja Casablanca lifted the African Confederations Cup this month, after beating Congo’s AS Vital (4-3) over a two-legged final.</p> <p>Tunisia’s Esperance were crowned champions of <span class="caps">CAF</span>’s Champions League last month after beating Egypt’s Al Ahly (4-3) in the two-legged final.</p> <a style="font-size:16px; font-color:yellow;" href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/12/03/raja-wins-confederations-cup-north-african-sides-dominate-football-in-2018/"target="_blank"><span class="caps">READ</span> <span class="caps">MORE</span>: North African sides dominate football in 2018</a> <p>Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup was unsuccessful, as it lost out to a joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada. The North African is however determines to host the world’s biggest football tournament as it prepares a bid for the 2030 World Cup.</p> <a style="font-size:16px; font-color:yellow;" href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/11/20/spain-morocco-discuss-joint-africa-europe-bid-for-2030-fifa-world-cup/"target="_blank"><span class="caps">READ</span> <span class="caps">MORE</span>: Spain, Morocco discuss joint Africa-Europe bid for 2030 <span class="caps">FIFA</span> World Cup</a> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Africa’s miserable World Cup</h2> <p>Speaking of the World Cup, African sides put in a dismal showing at the tournament in Russia, as all five national sides failed to go past the group stages.</p> <p>Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Nigeria were all eliminated, leaving the continent asking questions and waiting for yet another opportunity to take a shot at bringing the coveted trophy to Africa.</p> <a style="font-size:16px; font-color:yellow;" href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/06/29/africa-risks-world-cup-wipe-out-in-setback-for-sport-s-development/"target="_blank"><span class="caps">READ</span> <span class="caps">MORE</span>: Africa’s disastrous performance at the World Cup in Russia</a> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Hanging up the boots</h2> <p>Following the World Cup that ended in July, Egypt’s veteran goalkeeper <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/06/26/world-cup-egypt-s-eliminated-but-record-breaking-goalkeeper-saves-penalty/"target="_blank">El-Hadary</a> (45) retired from international football.</p> <p>Nigeria’s midfielder Victor Moses, also shocked his fans when he announced his <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/08/16/nigerians-shocked-by-premature-retirement-of-super-eagles-star-victor-moses/"target="_blank">retirement</a> in August. The 27-year-old explained that he needed to focus on his club career at Chelsea. </p> <p>Chelsea and Ivorian legend, Didier Drogba hang up his boots last month, after an illustrious 20-year career that saw him lift four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League.</p> <a style="font-size:16px; font-color:yellow;" href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/11/23/essien-adebayor-hail-drogba-s-impact-on-african-football/"target="_blank"><span class="caps">READ</span> <span class="caps">MORE</span>: Essien, Adebayor hail Drogba’s impact on African football</a> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Celebrating Women’s football at <span class="caps">AWCON</span> 2018</h2> <p>Nigeria’s Super Falcons <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/12/01/live-south-africa-vs-nigeria-in-2018-awcon-final/"target="_blank">won their ninth African Women’s Cup of Nations</a> title last month in Accra, Ghana, after winning a post-match penalty shootout against South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.</p> <p>The Nigerians, South Africans and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses will represent Africa at the World Cup in France next year.</p> <a style="font-size:16px; font-color:yellow;" href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/12/10/2019-fifa-women-s-wc-nigeria-sa-cameroon-in-tough-groups/"target="_blank"><span class="caps">READ</span> <span class="caps">MORE</span>: Nigeria, SA, Cameroon draw tough groups at 2019 <span class="caps">FIFA</span> Women’s WC</a> <h2 style="font-size:16px;"><span class="caps">CAF</span>’s <span class="caps">AFCON</span> 2019 headache</h2> <p>While at least 13 nations have already qualified for the Africa Nations Cup (<span class="caps">AFCON</span> 2019), <span class="caps">CAF</span> is yet to find a host for the tournament to be held in June next year.</p> <p><span class="caps">CAF</span> re-opened bidding for hosting rights after it stripped Cameroon of the opportunity, citing infrastructural delays and insecurity.</p> <a style="font-size:16px; font-color:yellow;" href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/12/07/is-it-time-for-caf-to-revise-process-of-awarding-afcon-hosting-rights/"target="_blank"><span class="caps">READ</span> <span class="caps">MORE</span>: Is it time for <span class="caps">CAF</span> to revise process of awarding <span class="caps">AFCON</span> hosting rights?</a> <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/10/16/madagascar-attains-historic-afcon-qualification/"target="_blank">Madagascar</a> and <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/11/19/mauritania-s-historic-afcon-qualification-plus-results-of-weekend-action/"target="_blank">Mauritania</a> will be playing at Africa’s biggest tournament for the first time.