With all twenty Premier League teams on show this weekend, many of Africa’s star players had the chance to impress. Goal.com reports on mixed fortunes for some of the continent’s boys.
Another cracking weekend of English football served up ten engaging encounters, as the league table began to take greater shape, and as various players asserted themselves as would-be key figures in this year’s race. Among these players were several African stars, although if truth be told, it was a mixed weekend for the continent’s players.
Many made the headlines before the matches, in one of the weekend’s key subplots. With recent incidents bringing racism in football back to the forefront of debate, a number of players chose to boycott the FA’s ‘Kick it out’ campaign, and protest against the lack of progress in the fight against racist behaviour. Many African players chose to partake in this protest, choosing not to wear the t-shirts endorsing the campaign. The dialogue is likely to continue, but for players such as Victor Anichebe, Nedum Onuoha, and Steven Pienaar, the weekend provided a good opportunity to declare their disdain for the FA initiative.
At Carrow Road, Norwich beat Arsenal 1-0, and Africa’s finest performer this weekend was surely Canaries centre-back, Sebastien Bassong. Whilst Arsenal failed to truly implement their sleek attacking football, the Norwich defence was impervious to their attempts – Bassong, marshalling the centre of defence, was key to this display, and his superiority and assurance adds to the disbelief around Cameroon’s failure to qualify for the Afcon.
In Sunday’s matches, two African stars saw red, arguably costing their teams the chance of victory. Newcastle man Cheick Tioté was first to go, the Ivorian enforcer being ejected immediately after a raised foot and a blunt tackle on Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher. The North-East derby is always a fractious affair, but Magpies fans would have been confident of victory had they managed to keep eleven men on the field.
South African star Steven Pienaar was also expelled during the later kick-off between Everton and QPR after a second yellow. Everton still managed to depart London with a point, but Blues boss David Moyes bemoaned Pienaar’s dismissal in the post-match – arguing that with the influential midfielder on the pitch, his team could well have galloped to victory.
Mixed Fortunes for the Premier League’s African Stars