RABAT Morocco (Xinhua) --
The 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN)
kicks off in Morocco on Saturday, offering an ideal opportunity
for emerging African talent to impress scouts.
Held until Feb. 4.,
the tournament is reserved only for African players who play
club football in their own domestic championships.
First staged in Cote
d’Ivoire in 2009 with eight-team finals, the CHAN quickly
doubled in size to 16 in the last edition in Rwanda in 2016.
capital Casablanca hosts the opening match between Morocco and
Mauritania, an Arab and northwest Africa derby. The hosting team
is eying to repeat the scenario of the two teams last encounter
in November when Morocco defeated Mauritania 4-2 in a friendly
in their build-up for the competition.
The Moroccan side
aim to lift their first trophy in the tournament after
frustrating participation in 2016 when they left from group
stage and a better one in 2014 as they reached quarter-finals.
They feature one of
the best squads in the championship with six stars from the
Wydad Casablanca team that won the 2017 CAF Champions League,
six from city rivals Raja and three stars from 2017 CAF
Confederation Cup semi-finalists FUS Rabat.
In addition to
Morocco and Mauritania, Group A features also Guinea and Sudan.
Group B consists of
Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Uganda and Namibia, while 2014 champions
Libya make up Group C with Nigeria, Rwanda and debutants
Angola, Congo Brazzaville and Burkina Faso in Group D.
CHAN 2018 will
witness the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology for
the first tie in Africa. VAR, which is scheduled to be used from
the quarter-finals, will allow off-field match officials to
assist referees in “game-changing” situations such as goals,
penalty kicks, straight red cards and cases of mistaken
While the biennial
tournament is regarded as one of the most unpredictable African
competitions, there is one thing that is sure this time: a new
champion will duke it out in the name of the fifth edition of
the tournament. The holders and record two-time champions DR
Congo (2009-2016) will not be in Morocco to defend their title
after losing to Congo Brazzaville in qualifying.
However, the winners
of the two remaining editions are present, namely Tunisia,
winners of second edition in Sudan in 2011, and Libya who lifted
the trophy in South Africa in the third edition in 2014.
Nourredine Naybet (Morocco), Robert Kidiaba (DR Congo) and Adel
Chedli (Tunisia) have been appointed ambassadors for the African
Nations Championship (CHAN) Morocco 2018.
Naybet enjoyed a
successful spell with Wydad Casablanca both locally and
continentally, winning particularly the 1992 CAF Champions
League, before leaving for successful career in Europe.
Winner of the first
edition of the CHAN in 2009 with DR Congo, Kidiaba earned global
status with TP Mazembe, where he has won virtually every title
at both domestic and continental levels.
As for Tunisian
Chedli, he made history by becoming the first and only player to
win both Africa Cup of Nations and CHAN titles.
The trio were named
in recognition of their contribution and impact towards the game
in their various capacities, and will conduct ambassadorial
duties during the tournament.
Ngbakoto back to
French football league from QPR
PARIS, (Xinhua) --
Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC) international midfielder Yeni Ngbakoto has made his
appearance back to the French football league as he joined Ligue
1 outfit Guingamp from Championship side Queens Park Rangers.
Ngbakoto, 25, was a
product of the FC Metz youth system and a former France youth
international. He made 185 appearances in total between 2009 and
2016 before moving to QPR.
He was the first
signing in winter transfer window of Guingamp, who sat eighth on
Ligue 1 table after the first half of the season.
“I’m very happy to
come here and become a part of the Guingamp family,” Ngbakoto
said following his move for an undisclosed fee.
“I have wanted to
sign for this club for a long time and today we did the deal, so
I’m very happy,” he added.