Football

Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane the main men in African Nations Cup final

Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane will renew their English Premier League rivalry in Egypt, with African Nations Cup glory awaiting the victor of the final between Algeria and Senegal tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Algerian star Mahrez was part of the Manchester City team that pipped Mane's Liverpool to the English title last season, grabbing a pivotal goal on the final day of the campaign.

Liverpool standout Mane, however, is attempting to fulfil his "wildest dream" as one of just a handful of Africans to win both the Champions League and Nations Cup.

For the marquee name in a Senegalese side ranked top of the continent, and a surprising 46 places above Algeria, the ride to the final for Mane and his team has encountered its share of roadbumps.

Two missed Mane spot-kicks, a group-stage loss to Algeria, and the loss of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to a broken finger have tested Senegal's resolve in their quest for the Holy Grail of African football.

Coach Aliou Cisse, 43, is on a mission for redemption. He was the skipper of the side beaten on penalties in the 2002 final, with his missed kick handing the title to Cameroon.

Standing in the way, however, is an Algerian outfit that has undergone a remarkable transformation since the arrival of Djamel Belmadi as coach a year ago.

The Algerian, 43, has led them to the brink of a first Nations Cup title since 1990.

Mahrez, who scored a late free-kick in the semi-final win over Nigeria, has been in fine form. Their hopes will also be boosted by the suspension of Senegal's key defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

In yesterday morning's third-place play-off, Nigeria pipped Tunisia 1-0, thanks to Odion Ighalo's fifth goal of the competition, which extended his edge in the Golden Boot race over Mane, Mahrez, Algeria's Adam Ounas and Congo's Cedric Bakambu, who have three goals each. - AFP

Daniel Sturridge fined and banned for breaching betting rules

Former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been fined £75,000 (S$127,000) and banned for six weeks - four of which are suspended - for breaching betting regulations, the Football Association said yesterday.

The FA said the 29-year-old had been charged with 11 alleged breaches of its betting rules, nine of which were dismissed by an independent regulatory commission.

Sturridge, who was released by English Premier League club Liverpool after his contract expired last month, can resume playing from July 31.

But the FA added that it disagreed with the commission's findings and would appeal the decision to dismiss most of the charges against him.

"I am pleased that nine of the 11 charges were dismissed and that the panel found me to be an honest and credible witness, and that my actions on one particularly difficult day were out of character," Sturridge said in a statement.

"The case was heard over seven days by a distinguished panel, which resulted in a lengthy and carefully considered decision, and followed an extensive investigation by the FA.

"It is therefore extremely disappointing to hear that the FA will be appealing this decision."

Sturridge was accused of passing on inside information about his potential transfer moves away from Liverpool in January 2018 to close friends and relatives that was then used for, or in relation to, betting.

The commission found Sturridge guilty of two of the charges, which alleged he had instructed his brother, Leon, to bet on a possible move by him to La Liga side Sevilla. - AFP

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