Sunday, June 16, 2024

2023 Ethiopian Premier League season fixtures announced


Addis Ababa stadium’s return into premier league action is hardly to come true; Adama Science and Technology University stadium and Diredawa Stadium are the selected two venues for the first round fixtures. The first ten fixtures are to be held at Adama then the remaining five to take place at Diredawa.
Kidus Giorgis is the defending champions while Ethiopia NegedBank, Shashemene and Hambericho are the three teams that joined the top tier in the 2023 new season. 
The season curtain raising match at Adama University stadium on October 1st brings together home side Adama entertaining newcomers Ethiopia NegedBank under Beselot Lulseged while the day’s second match is Seyoum Kebede’s Sidama Coffee facing Ethiopia Bunna the only side to bost a foreign Coach.
The season opening fixture second day brings Southern derby match between newly promoted Shashemene and Wolayta Dicha while premier league debutant Hambericho-Durame encountering Eastern region sole representative Diredawa Ketema.
Signing a two year extension Zeray Mulu leads his much revamped Hawassa to a head on big clash against title aspiring Fasil Ketema under Wubetu Abate. The third day second fixture is between Hadiya-Hossana and the Army side Mechal. Gebrekrstos Birra in the hot seat and number of big name players joining force, Mechal is considered one of the strongest title contenders.
Defending champions Kidus Giorgis’ season opening match is against relegation survived Wolkite Ketema. Although a number of big players left the club following a much talked about financial and administrative constraints, Giorgis appears to be ready for its third consecutive title under Coach Zerihun Shengeta. The final match of the opening fixture is the big clash between the two strong title contenders Ethiopia Medin and Baherdar. A big step on the international stage and having new talents in the rank Baherdar is the favorite to come clean with all three points. 

Ethiopian Gudaf shattered World 5000m record

Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay smashed the women’s 5,000 meters world record with a run of 14 minutes 00.21 seconds on Sunday at the Eugene Diamond League finale, breaking Kenyan Faith Kipyegon’s previous mark set in June.

Kenyan Beatrice Chebet finished second in 14:05.92 while Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye was third in 14:21.52.

Gudaf set a blistering pace from the start and was pushed by Chebet as the two rivals pulled away from the chasing pack.

She broke away from Chebet, who finished third in the distance at the Budapest World Championships, with about 800 meters to go, with the fans at Hayward Field on their feet as she raced against the clock.

The Tokyo bronze medalist was well ahead of the rest of the field as she powered through the final stretch, gritting her teeth with Kipyegon’s mark within reach.

The crowd erupted with joy as she broke the tape at the same track where she collected world championship gold in the distance last year, and she offered a subdued celebration.

Tsegay, who won the 10,000 meters at the world championships in Budapest, collapsed to the track in sheer exhaustion before going to the stands to sign autographs. The 26 year old vowed to try to go under 14 minute’s next-year.

The Prefontaine Classic normally run in late May was this year’s final stop on international Diamond League circuit. The 32 champions crowned during the two day meeting earned $30000 apiece. It was the last major international track and field competition before the athletes begin gearing up for the Paris Olympics next summer.

Almaz tops Vedanta-Delhi Half Marathon elites

Ethiopia’s 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana and Kenya’s world 10,000m silver medalist Daniel Ebenyo lead the preliminary elite entries for the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race, on 15 October.

Almaz, winner of the world 5000m and 10,000m titles in 2015 and 2017 respectively, won in New Delhi on her debut at the distance, clocking 1:07:12.

The Ethiopian, who clocked a personal best of 1:05:30 earlier this year to win in Lisbon and finished seventh at the London Marathon one month later, is now targeting the Delhi course record of 1:04:46 set by compatriot Yalemzerf Yehualaw in 2020.

Ayana will have stiff competition from fellow Ethiopian Betelihem Afenigus. The 22-year-old has contested five half marathons already this year and has a personal best of 1:06:46. Kenya’s Viola Chepngeno, who has a best of 1:06:48, will be another runner to watch out for.

Ebenyo, who finished sixth at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst in February, has a half marathon PB of 59:04, set last year in Manama. That’s just 11 seconds shy of the Delhi course record of 58:53, so the Kenyan will head to the Indian capital with high expectations.

His compatriots Roncer Konga (59:08), Leonard Barsoton (59:09), Isaac Kipkemboi (59:17) and Isaiyah Lasoi (59:27) will also be on the start line, alongside Ethiopia’s Tesfahun Akalnew (59:22). Barsoton and Akalnew finished fifth and sixth respectively in Delhi three years ago, so they’ll be keen to make it on to the podium in 2023.

Kuss survives Stage 20 to win La Vuelta as Jumbo-Visma sweep podium

Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) became the second American in history to win the Spanish Grand Tour, adding to teammates Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic’s previous 2023 successes with the trio poised to round out the La Vuelta podium.

Jumbo-Visma have completed a historic sweep of Grand Tours as Kuss crossed the finish line arm in arm with teammates Vingegaard and Roglic to celebrate the American’s first ever Grand Tour victory and a perfect 1-2-3 for the Dutch outfit at La Vuelta.

The victory for Kuss follows Vingegaard’s Tour de France success from July and Roglic’s thrilling victory at the Giro d’Italia in May, becoming the first time in the history of the sport that a leading team has won all three Grand Tours in a calendar year.

The Jumbo-Visma triumvirate finished 10 minutes and 37 seconds behind stage winner Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) on the penultimate day of the race, as Vingegaard and Roglic maintained their respective 17 second and one minute and eight second gaps on their American teammate en route to becoming the first team to take a clean sweep of a Grand Tour’s top-three podium positions since Spanish squad KAS in the 1966 Vuelta a España.

The spontaneous show of team unity was a dream come true for super domestique Kuss.

“It’s very difficult to put this into words, I’m very happy and it was a great way to finish it all off at the end. I’ve almost, almost won, although there’s still tomorrow to come,” he said.

Kuss’ success in the Vuelta, too, means that barring absolute disaster on Sunday’s last stage, that his victory will come having been present in all three Grand Tours this year either as a domestique or a leader.

“For me personally, it’s just cool to be part of all three of them. Each of these races are very different from the others, and just seeing the differences in each of them, I guess it’s easy to say you get used to it, but there will always be surprises along the way,” he said. “So that’s the thing that’ll always stay.”

As for the race itself, Kuss started the Vuelta as a top domestique and ended it as the outright winner, and as a result, he said, he has discovered a lot about himself and his capacities in a Grand Tour. He was undecided, it seemed about whether this represented a major change in his career goals from hereon, given he is fond of both of his roles.

“I’d like to do more of this [as a GC contender],” he said, “but I like my position as domestique as well.

“I learned a lot of the mental side of being a Grand Tour leader, being focussed and being there, because normally in the Grand Tours there are a lot of days when I’m more checked out mentally because it’s not my battle. Getting through the harder moments – that’s something that I learned.”

That also means that Kuss has learned more about his two teammates as well and how they have helped him en route to what is by far the biggest victory of his career.

“I’ve realise what they’ve done for me, what they’ve had to sacrifice, sporting wise, to help me is not easy because they’re two of the best cyclists in the world,” he concluded. “That’s not so easy when used to winning the biggest races in the world. So I’m very grateful for what they’ve done for me.” (SBS Sport)

Swimming South Africa launches High Performance Academy in Pretoria

Budding young swimmers gathered at Garsfontein High School in Pretoria on Wednesday morning for the launch of Swimming South Africa’s High Performance Academy.

The academy, which will be run at the school in collaboration with Royal Fins Aquatics swimming club, is just one of many that Swimming South Africa is planning to launch across the country in order to increase participation in the sport with a view to competing at international level.

Selected as an ambassador for the High Performance Academy was Olympian and Commonwealth Games champion Pieter Coetzé, who was at the launch this week. The Pretoria swimmer is considered one of the top prospects in the country heading to next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

Speaking at the launch, Coetzé said: “I think the initiative is great for young swimmers and to develop the sport a bit from a young age, because that’s when it’s really got a big impression and when you can really start to fall in love with swimming a bit like I did.

“So I think it’s great to get more young swimmers to train and actually swim more than doing other sports, or rather than stopping swimming to do other sports.”

Also at the launch in Pretoria was Swimming South Africa’s High Performance Manager Dean Price who explained: “Today was a very important day for Swimming South Africa. It was the launch of one of our performance schools in Garsfontein in Pretoria. And this is a huge step, and a very important step, because the direction in which high performance swimming, and South African swimming as a whole, is going is to establish relationships with schools and tertiary institutions.”


Price explained that Swimming South Africa is forming partnerships with these institutions to make use of their facilities as municipalities and clubs are struggling.

“We see that it’s very hard for municipalities to sustain their structures. We see that private clubs are no longer supporting individual performance squads and training, so the only realistic area where we can keep the sport alive is by having relationships with schools,” he said.

“And this is one of the first relationships where we have established a performance centre in Pretoria, which is a fantastic initiative by both Royal Fins Swimming Club and Garsfontein High School… It’s a massive school, almost a thousand kids and we can give these kids the opportunity of getting into swimming, and not only just getting into swimming but also to be competitive at the highest level.”

Price added that the goal is to establish at least 20 of these types of centres around the country.

“This will give us a huge base, a huge pool of swimmers which we can draw on and perform at the highest level, Olympics, world champs. So this is a big initiative, it’s a laudable initiative, it’s the only thing that’s going to work in our country in the future is to have centres that can sustain themselves, with loadshedding and all the other kinds of problems that the general population have to deal with.

“We really want to encourage schools and clubs to form a relationship where we can come in as Swimming South Africa and establish a High Performance Centre where we can give the swimmers, especially linked to an education system, the opportunity of training and performing at the highest level of sport in the world.”

100m hurdles: Amusan makes Diamond League history

Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan is bouncing back from recent setbacks. She had been suspended for doping and then rehabilitated, but unfortunately finished 6th in the 100 hurdles final at the World Championships. Amusan finishes her season in style. She won her third consecutive women’s 100 m hurdles title at the Diamond League in Eugene.

She finished 1st in the race and set a season’s best of 12’33. Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn was second in 12’38 and American Keni Harrison third in 12’44. World champion Danielle Williams of Jamaica was fourth in 12”47.

Amusan, with Sunday’s remarkable performance, made history as the second woman in Diamond League history after Dawn Nelson-Harper to win a hat-trick of 100 m hurdles titles.

Mohammed Usman: UFC heavyweight tries to ’embrace the emotions’ after losing son to drowning accident

Mohammed Usman believes the trauma he has suffered outside the cage has prepared him for the challenges that lie ahead in the UFC.

Usman’s two-year-old son Nash tragically died in a drowning accident in 2019.

The UFC heavyweight spoke of his heartbreak during season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter and dedicated his finale victory over Zac Pauga to Nash.

“You’ve got to be one with your emotions and instead of masking them just embrace it,” Usman tells BBC Sport.

“These emotions inside are like a whirlwind and they are fuelling me to compete. I just embrace the emotions, flow with them and let them carry me to the finish line.”

His knockout win over Pauga secured a UFC contract and Usman followed that up with a unanimous decision victory against Junior Tafa in April.

Usman, who decided to embark on a career in MMA after Nash’s birth in 2016, is now looking focus on the next chapter.

“It’s something that happened in my life, and I’m not saying that I’m trying to put it behind me, but you get to a certain point where there are some things you don’t need to keep peeling the wound back,” Usman says.

“I don’t just want to keep opening up my scab, I just want to let him [Nash] rest in peace.”

The Nigerian recognises he isn’t alone in going through a hugely life-altering experience but believes, with the support of family and friends, he has emerged as a stronger person.

Usman says: “You can’t judge anyone until you know their story and a lot of fighters have been through something traumatic.

“When I sit back and think about the struggles I’ve been through, they are way harder than getting into the cage, so people better be prepared because I’ve been through some stuff.

“I’ll take the cage any day over what I’ve been through. I’ve been through so many hardships in life that stepping into the cage gives me a release.”

‘Anything you want takes hard work’

Usman, 34, moved to America with his family at the age of six, landing in Arlington, Texas, and it was a world away from his previous surroundings in Nigeria.

After settling into life in the US, the Usman family was torn apart in 2010 when father Muhammed Nasiru Usman was sentenced to 15 years in prison, of which he served almost 10, after being charged with multiple counts of health care fraud.

Usman refused to let that incident define his path and went full steam ahead in trying to pursue a career in the NFL.

He spent a season playing college football with the Houston Cougars and then had two campaigns with the Arizona Wildcats, however, he was not selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.

“Knowing the struggles it took my family to get here and watching my parents struggle for everything has made me grateful for everything I have today. If there’s anything you want in this life it takes a lot of hard work,” Usman says.

“We know where we are from and know our roots. I think it gives you a certain type of energy and respect.

“When I didn’t make it to the NFL it taught me a lot about not quitting.”

The Usman name carries plenty of weight in the MMA world, thanks to older brother Kamaru, who was ranked as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC prior to losing his welterweight belt to Leon Edwards in August 2022 – the rematch in March went the same way as Briton Edwards retained the belt at UFC 286.

Mohammed’s victory on season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter saw him follow in Kamaru’s footsteps, with the former welterweight champion having been crowned winner of season 21.

Now it’s on to the next chapter for ‘The Motor’ as he looks to further emulate his brother by earning a UFC title and he wants to lay his hands on the heavyweight belt by the time he makes his eighth appearance in the octagon – one fewer fight than Kamaru took to claim welterweight gold.

His next opponent is UFC veteran Jake Collier, who has lost his last three fights, at UFC Fight Night 228 in Las Vegas on 23 September and Usman feels he can be a problem for the heavyweight division.

“I just want to get to work and start competing against the best guys in the world,” Usman says.

“I think I fit right in because I’m a big hitter and I can show my skills. I’m more athletic than most of these guys, I’m going to use my grappling and wrestling.

“I feel I fit perfectly into the division and I bring something different because I’m not just a big hitter.” (BBC)

Morocco earthquake: Gambian minds ‘not on the game’ prior to Afcon qualification

Captain Omar Colley says he still cannot celebrate The Gambia’s qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) given the trauma of being caught up in the Moroccan earthquake.

Without a suitable stadium to host international football, the West Africans’ final 2023 Afcon qualifier against Congo-Brazzaville had been moved to Marrakesh. Colley and his team-mates were in the city when the magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck nearby late on Friday evening; nearly 3,000 people died.

The Gambians had to play their decisive qualifier within 48 hours, coming back from two goals down to secure a finals place with a 90th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

“I still cannot celebrate how I would want to when we qualify because I still cannot believe what happened,” the 30-year-old told BBC Sport Africa.

“After everything we went through, I still cannot get it out of my head when I sit down alone. Anytime I hear a noise or whatever – the sound of a car or an aeroplane – I feel like it’s coming back.”

Colley, who joined Turkish side Besiktas in February after five years with Sampdoria in Italy, says he suffered a panic attack for the first time in his life as the devastating tremor unfolded.

“After the quake, I ran to the swimming pool where the team manager asked me if I was OK, but I couldn’t say a word,” he recalled of his ordeal.

The defender said he found it “so sad” when he learned that The Gambia had to fulfil their final Group G tie despite the devastation all around them, while Scorpions coach Tom Saintfiet questioned the morality of deploying medical staff to the match given priorities elsewhere.

“The few policemen and the few people from the Red Cross who were around the stadium could have been used to rescue people – as football is then not important,” the Belgian told the BBC.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) did accept Morocco’s request to postpone their tie against Liberia, saying the hosts were “directly impacted by the tragedy”, but the Gambian delegation did not submit such a proposal.

“I was little bit disappointed because playing in a country where there’s been a natural disaster, with the loss of thousands of lives, I thought Caf would have cancelled the game until the next window,” Colley said.

“I think people sometimes forget that we are human beings. Just imagine hiding your emotions and feelings before then playing a most difficult game.

“Our second half display was, to me, a miracle and one of the greatest comebacks in the history of African football.”

‘It was a nightmare

As he freely admits, Colley – who became The Gambia’s permanent captain in 2021 – has been left emotionally distressed by Friday’s quake, which took place 71 kilometres south-west of Marrakesh, high in the Atlas Mountains.

“I was deep asleep when it happened – it was like I was having a nightmare – and I woke instantly without knowing what was happening,” the player recalled of the moment Morocco was hit at 23:11 local time.

“I tried to open my hotel room door but couldn’t because there was concrete falling in front of it.”

“Then I ran to try to open the back door because I was on the second floor – to maybe try to jump. But as soon as I tried, the glass door started shaking, so I couldn’t even pull it.”

“I went back to the front door, with all the pieces falling, and found my way down to the reception where there was no one as it was almost destroyed.”

Colley joined Besiktas just two days after the devastating 6 February Turkey earthquake that left more than 50,000 dead and forced over 150,000 to live in tents, containers and other makeshift accommodation.

Amid the terror of Friday’s tremor, his thoughts turned to the fear of the aftershocks his current home endured.

“At that moment, I thought the world is coming to an end because I saw how people were suffering in Turkey,” he said.

Upon his return to Istanbul earlier this week, Colley sought professional help.

“I spoke to the club psychologist who told me that if you want to get rid of everything, you just need to voice it out, speak to your family and then maybe it will make you feel better,” he said.

“I explained to my wife what happened and she was in a big shock that I played this game. I spoke to my sister and my [Besiktas] team-mates, and that made me feel better.”

“With people around me, I think everything will normalise.” (BBC)

Libya floods: Footballers among those killed in city of Derna

The devastating floods in Libya have claimed the lives of a number of elite footballers, according to the Libya Football Federation.

The floods, caused by Storm Daniel, resulted in two dams bursting, sweeping away large parts of the eastern port city of Derna.

The mayor of Derna estimates as many as 20,000 people could have been killed. Thousands more are reported to be missing.

The LFF has officially announced the deaths of four footballers in the region – Shaheen Al-Jamil, Monder Sadaqa and brothers Saleh and Ayoub Sasi.

Sadaqa played for Derna-based Premier League side Darnes, where the Sasi brothers were part of the youth team. Al-Jamil recently signed for Al-Tahaddi, another Premier League team in the city of Benghazi.

BBC Sport Africa understands that another footballer, Ibrahim Al-Qaziri, also died in the floods. He had played for several Libyan Premier League sides and was most recently at second-tier Nusour Martouba.

Darnes are one of two teams playing in Derna along with Al-Afreky, another club in Libya’s second-tier known as the First Division.

The club’s stadium, one of the landmarks of the city, has suffered significant damage in the flooding, having recently been rebuilt having been destroyed during the civil war.

In an official statement via social media, the LFF mourned the loss of the players and all victims of the disaster, saying “We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”.

The federation also announced it would suspend meetings scheduled to take place in coming days to allow it to prepare for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

A number of clubs in the country have undertaken humanitarian initiatives to help flood victims, including sending convoys carrying equipment and foodstuffs to the affected area.

Should Libyan clubs play in Caf competitions this weekend?

BBC Sport Africa has learned that Libyan clubs Al-Ahly Benghazi and Al-Hilal have asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to postpone their forthcoming matches in the African Champions League and African Confederation Cup respectively.

Al-Ahly are scheduled to play ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast on Sunday.

Al-Hilal are set to face Rwanda’s Rayon Sport on Friday, with Al Hilal club official Ali Al Sharif telling the BBC, “the situation is really not suitable for playing football in light of the disaster that befell us”. (BBC)

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