The 20-year-old inspired Zambia to Olympic qualification
She finished as top scorer in the Chinese Women’s Super League 2020
2020 may have been a challenging year, but in footballing terms, Barbra Banda will remember it fondly. She ended a successful spell in the Spanish top flight on a high, finished as top scorer in the Chinese Women’s Super League and, above all, helped Zambia qualify for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament.
An away goals victory over traditional powerhouses Cameroon in the final of the African qualifiers in March secured the Copper Queens a maiden trip to a major global competition, with the 20-year-old captain setting up the clinching strike. And Banda finished the year in style, too, scoring one and setting up the other as Zambia came from behind in November to become the first African side to defeat Chile.
“It was a great year and I am really happy with what I have achieved so far,” the 20-year-old striker told FIFA.com. “I think I have improved on my finishing and I have scored more goals. Of course, my coaches and team-mates gave me a lot of help and pushed me to do my best.”
“And on top of all this, I am glad with what we have done with the national team. Before the final, we all talked about making history for our country and we made it. We feel pride at making history.”
Born in Zambian capital Lusaka, Banda started playing football at six years old, inspired by her father. “My dad was my mentor in the early stages of my career,” she said.
Banda’s unique footballing gifts didn’t go unnoticed as she was recruited by Bauleni United Sports Academy. In 2014 she joined the national U-17 team, for whom she made rapid progress under Kaluba Kangwa.
“Coach Kangwa played a big part in helping me realise my potential,” Banda said. “He believed in me and helped me grow into a football player.”
With exceptional pace and a good nose for goal, Banda emerged as one of Zambia’s hottest prospects. Her talent drew attention from abroad and she moved to Spain to join Primera Division side Logrono in 2018. By doing so, she became the first Zambian female to play in Europe. Banda hit 16 goals in 28 appearances over two seasons with Logrono.
“It was a great experience in Spain,” she said. “We had a great team and I had amazing team-mates. I learned a lot there: new tactics, systems and styles of play. I improved a lot and learned how to understand the game.”
Banda would leave for pastures new, joining Shanghai Agricultural & Commercial Bank at the start of 2020. And looking back, she was satisfied with her debut season in China PR, finishing as the 18-goal leading markswoman and helped her club come third.
“It was hard to leave Logrono but I always want to try something new,” she said. “I am happy with my performance for Shanghai. Praise should go to the organisers of the Chinese Women’s Super League. The competition was perfectly organised.”
We would like to congratulate our skipper Barbara Banda for winning the golden boot in China.
She scored 18 goals in 13 games with 8 assists to her name and 3 hattricks in her first season helping Shanghai Shengli to a third-place finish.
In her spare time Banda has tried boxing: “It helps keep me on my toes. It helps me think fast and learn to understand the importance of balancing attack and defence, which is also key in football.”
Looking ahead, Banda insists Zambia will be a team to be reckoned with at the next Olympics.
“It may be our first time to play in the Olympics, but we are not going just to make up the numbers,” she said. “It is a new challenge for us and we will take it as it comes. We will take it a game at a time.
“If it goes our way and I score as I usually do, we are hopeful of some solid achievements.”
“And I want to help Zambia to do much better in the African Women’s Championship. I hope we can win the African title more than once. And, above all, I hope we can qualify for the Women’s World Cup.”
And for his new team, the Buccaneers, a first-of-its-kind home game, but without the usual home-field advantage.
To put a bow on this make-it-up-as-we-go NFL season — a campaign upended but never fully undone by the coronavirus pandemic — it comes as no surprise that there is no such thing as a straightforward storyline.
Because of restrictions in place due to COVID-19, Tampa Bay’s home stadium will only be about a quarter full when the Buccaneers host the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7 in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs opened as a 3.5-point favorite.
The 43-year-old Brady will expand on his record by playing in his 10th Super Bowl, hoping to expand on another record by winning a seventh title, but the first one in his new home of Tampa Bay.
And 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs will be trying for back-to-back titles, something no quarterback has done since — who else? — Brady, back in his 2003-04 heyday with the New England Patriots.
The showdown will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, where Brady’s Bucs will be the first team in the 55-year history of the Super Bowl to play on home turf.
“Whoever would’ve thought a home Super Bowl for us? But we did it,” said Brady, who led the wild-card Buccaneers to a 31-26 win over Green Bay on Sunday to make it three straight road playoff wins on the way back home for the Super Bowl.
But home-field advantage won’t mean as much as it normally might. This will be the first Super Bowl not played in front of a capacity crowd since the first one — Kansas City vs. Green Bay at the LA Coliseum — in 1967.
In a nod to how the pandemic has changed everything, the crowd for America’s No. 1 sports spectacle will be limited to 22,000 in the 75,000-seat stadium, with vaccinated health-care workers getting 7,500 of those precious tickets.
And even the visiting team — the Chiefs — won’t be staying in a hotel all week, the way both conference champions usually do for the Super Bowl. ESPN reported that Kansas City doesn’t plan to arrive in Tampa until the day before the game.
Most interview availabilities, as they have all season, will take place on Zoom from the teams’ hometown practice facilities. The farce that has become the Super Bowl’s “Opening Night” media session will be a virtual affair, as well. In short, teams will basically treat this like a regular road game (or, in the case of the Bucs, a regular home game), and the Super Bowl city will not much resemble the overflowing party hub it usually does as the big game approaches.
Despite all that, this has the makings of a good matchup, featuring the league’s top (Chiefs) and seventh-rated (Bucs) offenses, each with multiple ways to strike: Receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are standouts for KC and former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is on Brady’s long list of options for Tampa.
It is a rematch of Kansas City’s 27-24 win on Thanksgiving weekend in Tampa. In that one, Mahomes threw for 462 yards — 269 of them to Hill — to help the Chiefs build an early 17-point lead.
This will be the second high-stakes postseason matchup between Brady and Mahomes. Brady was surgeon-like, leading New England to 524 yards in offense in a 37-31 overtime win over the Chiefs in the AFC title game in January 2019.
It gave New England its third straight trip to the Super Bowl, and Brady’s last of nine as a member of the Patriots.
In the two seasons since, Kansas City has represented the AFC.
The Chiefs have done it largely on the arm of Mahomes, though it’s his head and his foot that have been making more news of late. He threw for 325 yards and led the Chiefs to a 38-24 victory over Buffalo on Sunday. He did it despite a bout with turf toe that flared up at the end of a week he spent in the NFL’s concussion protocol following a hard hit in KC’s previous playoff win over Cleveland. (Also a concern now: Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher left Sunday’s game with an Achilles injury.)
Mahomes could join Bart Starr, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, John Elway and, of course, Brady on the list of QBs to win two in a row.
As for Brady? He’s leading the Buccaneers to only their second Super Bowl; the Bucs won on their first trip, back in 2002. Brad Johnson was the quarterback then. But nobody would mistake Johnson for Brady, who could join Peyton Manning as the only other quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two franchises.
It could happen the day after Manning gets the call from the Hall of Fame; Manning is newly eligible this year and is a shoo-in to get in the night before the game.
Soon enough, Brady will be there, as well.
Clearly, though, he still feels his home is on the football field.
“The belief he gave everybody in this organization, that this could be done,” said Bucs coach Bruce Arians, when asked to explain what Brady’s arrival meant to the franchise. “It only took one man.”
FIFA Club World Cup 2020 – News – Mosimane: Al Ahly believe we can do big things
Al Ahly face hosts Al Duhail in their Qatar 2020 opener
Coach Pitso Mosimane hails Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy
He discusses a potential showdown against Bayern Munich
Egypt’s Al Ahly Sporting Club are back at the FIFA Club World Cup after a seven-year absence. The Red Devils are aiming to go as far as they can in a tournament in which they have previously struggled to make an impact.
The reigning African champions found out who they would be facing when the tournament draw was made at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on 19 January. Pitted against host team Al Duhail Sports Club in the second round, the Egyptians have their sights set on a meeting with German giants Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.
“Al Duhail are a good side,” Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane told FIFA.com. “They won the Stars League in Qatar, which is very competitive, with good sides like Al Sadd, who are coached by Xavi and who have a great Algerian forward too (Baghdad Bounedjah).
“Al Duhail won the Qatari league because they’ve got some excellent players who’ve shown what they can do. [Mario] Mandzukic played for them until recently too. Now that we know they’re our opponents, we’ll have a good look at them.
“We can’t choose the opposition in the Club World Cup draw. We have to be ready to play who we’re drawn against.
“Every team and every coach believe they have the ability to win the trophy, but the fact is that it won’t be easy against opponents of the calibre of Bayern Munich and the Copa Libertadores winners. You look at them and you realise how big a job we’ve got.
“We’ve got excellent players and everyone speaks about Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy. That’s maybe because he got us to the Club World Cup with his goals, though he couldn’t have done it without his team-mates. He’s an Egypt international and we’re delighted to have a player of his quality and goalscoring ability. He’s a playmaker and helps us create space too.”
“It was a tough tournament,” he recalled. “The first obstacle we had to overcome was the six-hour time difference between the two countries. Then there was the cold winter weather in Osaka. To be honest, our opponents handled it better than we did.
“We lost 4-1 to Jeonbuk of Korea Republic and 3-0 to Kashima Antlers of Japan. We just had to deal with it and we were sorry we couldn’t give a better account of ourselves and that we came away goalless against Kashima Antlers.
“It was our first Club World Cup experience and I think stage fright got the better of us. We didn’t do well and that just shows the level of competition here. I think TP Mazembe are the only African side to have reached the final [Raja Club Athletic of Morocco also made the final, in 2013], so it won’t be easy.”
Bayern dream, Mazembe inspiration
Every side in the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 is dreaming of taking on the mighty Bayern, Al Ahly among them.
“If we beat Al Duhail, the tournament hosts, we’ll face Bayern Munich, which won’t be easy,” said Mosimane. “That said, we won’t have anything to lose if we get that far. We need to be at our best and fly the flag for the continent, the country and all the fans, so that they can be proud of us. If we give it our all on the pitch and we lose, we can go away satisfied because the level is so high.
“We’re a good side and we believe we can do big things. We’ve got the Qatari team in our first match and then we’ll see what happens. We hope we get the chance to face Bayern. We’d be delighted to play them and it would be an honour for us. There wouldn’t be any pressure on us either, because they’re the team who beat Barcelona.
“Al Ahly have played in the Club World Cup, but not with this generation of players. They did it when Mohamed Aboutrika was around but they couldn’t make the final. It’s a different team now, a different time, and it’s been seven years since they last took part in the Club World Cup.
“Every team has a chance. It’s 90 minutes and we can spring a surprise if we give it all we’ve got on matchday. Football is a wonderful sport in which the unexpected can happen and we should take inspiration from what TP Mazembe did.”
🇪🇬 The Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, has long been the most breathtaking attraction in Egypt. Aside from the 17 years a Giza God was wowing on grass
Turning his attention to the other sides in the competition, Mosimane said: “Brazilian teams are always strong. I’ve seen a few Ulsan Hyundai games. They’re a good side as well. The standard’s going to be high.”
The Al Ahly coach is in no doubt about the importance of the FIFA Club World Cup: “I was here with my coaching staff from the Sundowns and I remember just how tough the competition is. It’s a FIFA tournament and in terms of organisation you can’t compare it with any other competition. Everything is amazing: the hotels, the travel arrangements, everything.
“Qatar is a great country too. When we played in 2016, the team from South America didn’t even make it to the final.”
Wrapping things up, the Mosimane sent a message to the Ahly fans: “Our supporters believe we’ve got a chance. They always back us and push us on and we’ll give our all for them.”
The philosophy is slowly sinking in,and we will get there. We still have a lot of work to do to be at the level we want to be.Rome was not built in one day. pic.twitter.com/G0DvamztDX
Canelo Alvarez next fight: Mexican superstar to face Avni Yildirim at super middleweight in February
Canelo Alvarez is ready for his next challenge. The unified super middleweight champion will take on Avni Yildirim — the WBC mandatory challenger — on Feb. 27, from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Canelo and Matchroom Boxing announced on Thursday.
Alvarez claimed the WBA and vacant WBC super middleweight titles on Dec. 19 with a decision win over Callum Smith in Texas. The pound-for-pound great had been out of action for nearly a year due to the pandemic as well as contractual disputes with Golden Boy Promotions and streaming partner DAZN. However, Canelo also signed a two-fight agreement with Matchroom Boxing and promoter Eddie Hearn, which hosts its fights exclusively on DAZN in the U.S.
“Avni Yildirim is a good boxer and I know we will put on an exciting fight,” Canelo said in a statement. “I’m very glad that we are able to bring this event to Miami, a short distance from where my hero, Muhammad Ali, trained. February 27 will be a great night for the sport.”
Yildirim, the 29-year-old from Turkey, has only lost twice as a pro. That includes his most recent bout against Anthony Dirrell in February 2019 when an accident headbutt in the 10th round ended the fight and sent it to the judges’ scorecards. Yilidirim lost on points. His only other loss came in his only other bout against higher-level competition when he was knocked out by Chris Eubank Jr. in 2017.
“It is an absolute honor to promote the pound-for-pound number one and I’m so excited to head to Miami and the home of the Dolphins at the Hard Rock Stadium,” Hearn said. “Even in a pandemic, Saúl is looking to be more active than ever and in his plan to be undisputed he must overcome his mandatory challengers to keep his belt. Yildirim is the first of those challenges who will be attempting to dethrone the king on February 27. We look forward to a huge night of boxing on DAZN and the start of a huge year for Canelo.”