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Football | Africa

Steven Pienaar © Action Images

Afcon absentees on target

A couple of Africans who opted out of playing at the 2013 Cup of Nations scored goals at the weekend that helped their clubs reach the last-16 stage of England's FA Cup.

Centre-back Danny Shittu, who put second-tier club Millwall ahead of Nigeria, equalised at home against Aston Villa and a late goal sent the Premier League outfit crashing to a 2-1 defeat.

Everton midfielder Pienaar quit South Africa late last year, citing the physical demands of playing for club and country, and his fortunate goal helped the Toffees win 2-1 at second-tier Bolton Wanderers.



Hulking Nigerian centre-back Shittu set the tone for a weekend of shocks when he put Millwall on their way to a 2-1 win at home to Aston Villa. Darren Bent had put the Premier League side ahead in the 22nd minute but Shittu's powerful headed equaliser five minutes later paved the way for a memorable upset.

EL HADJI DIOUF (Leeds United)

Former Senegal star Diouf was one of Leeds' stand-out players as the three-time English champions shocked Tottenham 2-1 at Elland Road. The 32-year-old former Liverpool winger set up the second-tier side's winning goal in the 50th minute with a lobbed pass over the Spurs defence to Ross McCormack.

DEMBA BA (Chelsea)

Ba played his part as holders and European champions Chelsea twice came from behind to scrape a 2-2 draw at third-tier Brentford. The Senegal striker entered the fray as an 82nd-minute substitute and needed less than a minute to make an impact as he teed up Fernando Torres for a precious equaliser.


South African midfielder Pienaar inadvertently combined with Nigerian teammate Victor Anichebe to open the scoring in Everton's 2-1 win at Bolton. Anichebe took aim at goal in the 18th minute but his miscued effort was heading way off target until it took a huge deflection off Pienaar that sent the ball into the net.

ARMAND TRAORE (Queens Park Rangers)

Senegalese left-back Traore played an unwitting role as Premier League strugglers QPR sank to a humiliating 4-2 loss at home to third-tier Milton Keynes Dons. Traore's fourth-minute own goal gave the Dons an early advantage and the League One outfit did not look back.



Brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew from Ghana both scored for Marseille for the second straight week but had to settle for a draw at Rennes, which left the club three points adrift of PSG and Lyon at the top of Ligue 1. Andre opened the scoring after 37 minutes and Jordan made it 2-1 with eight minutes to go before Rennes equalised in the 88th minute.

JOHN UTAKA (Montpellier)

The Nigerian international was again impressive for reigning champions Montpellier, scoring his side's second goal in the 34th minute at home to Sochaux. Utaka was in a good position six metres out to collect a pass from Cameroon defender Henri Bedimo, which he controlled to strike home.


ASSANI LUKIMYA (Werder Bremen)

The Democratic Republic of Congo defender scored his first Bundesliga goal since joining Werder Bremen in July just nine minutes into their 3-2 defeat at Hamburg in the north German derby.

Despite the 27-year-old centre-back's efforts, Hamburg scored three goals without reply and Bremen finished with nine men after captain Clemens Fritz, then Austria's Marko Arnautovic were sent off in the last 10 minutes.

MAME DIOUF (Hanover 96)

Having scored a spectacular bicycle kick in Hanover 96's 5-4 defeat at Schalke the week before, the Senegal striker scored the 34th-minute winner in his team's 2-1 win over Wolfsburg. After a cross from the right, Diouf headed on to the post, but the rebound hit his left shoulder and went into the net for his fourth league goal in his last four league games.



Retired Ghana midfielder Boateng put in a workmanlike but unremarkable performance for Milan as they battled to a precious 1-0 win at Atalanta, who had defender Davide Brivio sent off for a vicious tackle on Giampaolo Pazzini in the 70th minute. Milan remained under threat until the final whistle but held on to their lead to move up to fifth – 12 points behind leaders Juventus.


Algerian striker Belfodil is gaining a reputation for being a handful for opposition defenders, but he had a relatively quiet game – sending one 25-metre drive wayward in the opening stages – as Parma conceded a 2-1 defeat to title-chasing Napoli.


LASS BANGOURA (Rayo Vallecano)

Guinean midfielder Bangoura played an hour of Rayo Vallecano's excellent 3-0 win over Real Betis. Lass was prominent throughout and had two shots on target and got a yellow card before being replaced.


Senegalese midfielder Diop and Nigerian forward Martins both played full games for Levante, who came from behind to grab a last-minute 2-1 win over Valladolid 2-1. Martins was involved in the fortunate last-minute winner when he miscontrolled a pass from substitute Valdo into the path of the oncoming defender Antonio Rukavina, who turned the ball into his own net.


Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.


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