Champions of Africa Ivory Coast parade through Abidjan,

Champions of Africa Ivory Coast parade through Abidjan,
Fans celebrate Ivory Coast's victory at the Africa Cup of Nations 2024, during the parade in Abidjan, on Feb. 12, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 13 February 2024
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Champions of Africa Ivory Coast parade through Abidjan,

Champions of Africa Ivory Coast parade through Abidjan,
  • After their lap of honor the players stepped on to the pitch, one by one, with Max-Alain Gradel, the only survivor along with Serge Aurier from the last Ivorian team to win the title in 2015, presenting the trophy to the crowd.
  • Three weeks ago no one not even the most ardent Elephants supporter could have dreamed of this day

ABIDJAN: Tens of thousands of jubilant fans crammed the streets of Abidjan on Monday for the Ivory Coast’s victory parade after the hosts’ remarkable Africa Cup of Nations triumph the night before.

Just as in 2015 for their last AFCON triumph, the Elephants roamed the streets of the country’s economic capital.

Sebastien Haller, who scored the decisive goal in Sunday’s 2-1 final win over Nigeria, and the rest of the squad were perched on a truck fitted out for the occasion with a three star sign to mark the Ivorians’ third title.

With Monday declared a special holiday fans massed on bridges and avenues, many ignoring the oppressive heat to run alongside the victors’ mechanical chariot.

After a festive four hour parade the team, under heavy police escort, arrived at the Felix Houphouët-Boigny stadium.

Wearing ‘African champions’ t-shirts the 2024 AFCON champions did a lap of honor to stands packed with fans — all decked out in orange — the national color.

Some players were clearly moved by the welcome accorded them.

“The overwhelming feeling is one of pride,” said Junior Djedjess, one of the fans on hand to soak in the national team’s astonishing run after a terrible group stage.

“With three stars we have now joined the great African nations,” he added with only Egypt (seven titles), Cameroon (5) and Ghana (4) boasting better records in the continental showpiece.

After their lap of honor the players stepped on to the pitch, one by one, with Max-Alain Gradel, the only survivor along with Serge Aurier from the last Ivorian team to win the title in 2015, presenting the trophy to the crowd.

“Ivory Coast, here is your African cup. May God bless the Ivory Coast” the 36-year-old captain said before handing the trophy to the Prime Minister Robert Beugre Mambe.

Three weeks ago no one not even the most ardent Elephants supporter could have dreamed of this day.

They should have really been knocked out in the group stage after losing 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea on January 22, their heaviest ever home defeat.

Their group-stage showing led to the departure of veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset, who had been in charge since May 2022.

He was replaced by Emerse Fae, a former Ivorian international who had never coached before.

Yet Fae oversaw an incredible turnaround in the team’s fortunes, as the Ivorians came from behind to beat holders Senegal in the last 16 and overcame a 1-0 deficit with 10 men to beat Mali in the quarter-finals.

After beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 in the last four they duly completed their fairytale run on Sunday night against Nigeria.

“After that 4-0 defeat I was downhearted but we were still in it and a new team was born,” reflected Junior Djedjess.

The celebrations continue for the team on Tuesday when they will be received by the country’s president Alassane Ouattara.


Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm

Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm
Updated 14 sec ago
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Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm

Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm
  • Holloway made no mistake in the 60m hurdles, an event in which he has remarkably not lost since he was 16, stretching over 74 races
  • Bol once again stole the show, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion bettering her own world indoor record to 49.17 seconds to win the 400m

GLASGOW: Record-setting Femke Bol proved unstoppable and Grant Holloway extended his 10-year win streak at a high-octane second day of the world indoor championships in Glasgow on Saturday that also featured double British gold.

Bol once again stole the show, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion bettering her own world indoor record to 49.17 seconds to win the 400m, leading from gun to tape in an exceptional display of running.

“It was amazing. It was such a strong race. I knew I had to go out fast,” said the Dutch athlete after sending a warning to potential rivals at this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Norway’s Karsten Warholm, like Bol an elite hurdler seeking a pre-Paris Games workout over the 400m flat, was undone by hard-charging Belgian Alexander Doom.

But the Norwegian, the world record holder, three-time outdoor champion and Olympic gold medallist in the 400m hurdles, was not too upset by the result.

“All in all, it’s an acceptable time, so it’s OK,” he said. “It was a last-minute decision to come here. Of course, I wish I had won today but it was so nice coming out here and performing in front of all that noise.”

Holloway made no mistake in the 60m hurdles, an event in which he has remarkably not lost since he was 16, stretching over 74 races.

He matched his own championship record of 7.29sec for a totally dominant victory.

“The streak is for you guys, I come out here and get to the finish line before everyone else!” said Holloway, the three-time 110m hurdles world champion.

There was a particularly British, and notably Scottish, tang to the evening session, with Molly Caudrey, Josh Kerr and Laura Muir guaranteeing a raucous home welcome at a packed-out Emirates Arena.

Caudrey and Kerr came good, winning the women’s pole vault and men’s 3000m to help set the stage for a thrilling night of track and field.

It climaxed with Saint Lucia’s Julien Alfred reeling in fast-starting Pole Ewa Swoboda for gold in the women’s 60m.

Alfred clocked 6.98sec, two-hundredths ahead of Swoboda, with Italy’s Zaynab Dosso taking bronze (7.05).

“Losing last season at the world championships and coming that close to a medal in both the 100m and the 200m, gave me a boost,” said Alfred.

“I was very hungry coming to the next season.”

There was a shock in the women’s 3000m as American Elle St. Pierre dug deep to outsprint massive Ethiopian favorite Gudaf Tsegay down the home stretch for victory in 8min 20.87sec to shatter, by 13sec, the championship record set by Dutchwoman Elly Van Hulst in Budapest in 1989.

“It was a hard pace from the beginning, I knew it was a very competitive field,” said St. Pierre, who won silver at the last world indoors in Belgrade in 2022 and gave birth to her first child just a year ago.

Tsegay, a global medal winner over multiple distances and 5,000m world record holder, accelerated away with two laps to go, taking Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech and St. Pierre with her, not thinking that the latter had the legs to outdo her for gold.

While Muir had to be happy with fifth, world outdoor 1500m champion Kerr timed his run to perfection to win the men’s 3000m in 7:42.98, with American Yared Nuguse taking silver and Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega bronze.

Barega and teammate Getnet Wale took turns to put in surges to split the field, Kerr bided his time and sprang into action as the bell rang for the final lap, outstripping Barega down the far straight before sprinting clear.

“I didn’t want to shortchange anyone,” said Kerr, draped in the Saltire flag. “It was a hard-fought race, up and down like we expected.

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t emotional out there. Keep a cool head and send it with 400m to go. I win every 50-50 I’m in.”

In the field, Caudery sealed Britain’s second gold of the night when she held off New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney to win the pole vault with a best of 4.80m.

The competition was held up for several minutes after France’s Margot Chevrier tumbled off the mat and had to be stretchered off.

Chevrier said on Instagram later that she had fractured her ankle and would have surgery in Glasgow on Sunday followed by another operation after she returns to France.

“It will take what it takes,” she said. “Paris 2024, I will be there.”

Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango won the men’s triple jump with a best of 17.53m on his fifth attempt ahead of Yasser Mohamma Triki of Algeria (17.35m) and Portugal’s Tiago Pereira (17.08).


Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships
Updated 5 min 49 sec ago
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Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships
  • French No. 5 seed dispatches 7th seeded Kazakh 6-4, 6-3 to win 6th career title
  • Tallon Griekspoor, Jan-Lennard Struff claim men’s doubles title with 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 victory over Ivan Dodig, Austin Krajicek

Dubai: Ugo Humbert produced a ruthless masterclass to defeat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in straight sets and seal ATP 500 victory in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The French No. 5 seed, who rose to a career-high world No. 14 after his heroics in Dubai, made it a clean sweep of six titles in six ATP finals with a clinical 6-4, 6-3 dismantling of No. 7 seed Bublik, the world No. 19, in front of a capacity Center Court crowd at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Humbert, who defeated compatriot Gael Monfils, Britain’s Andy Murray, world No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz, and world No. 4 Daniil Medvedev to reach the final, unleashed his full repertoire of booming forehands and laser-like double-handed backhands to eclipse Bublik, who progressed past 2022 Dubai champion Andrey Rublev in a dramatic semi-final, which saw the No. 2 seed disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After tight opening exchanges where the pair were evenly matched, the final stayed on-serve until the 10th game when Humbert, who had failed to convert break points in Bublik’s two previous service games, finally broke the Kazakh’s resistance to clinch the first set 6-4.

With Bublik delighting the Dubai crowd with a combination of whipped forehands and a deft array of dropshots, Humbert, relaxed and controlled, raced into a 3-1 second set lead after breaking Bublik. From there, the 25-year-old left-hander relied on his own dominant serve – unbroken throughout the final – to close out the match on his second championship point.

Humbert, who claimed the winner’s prize of $550,140, said: “I played a fantastic level all through the week, but it was not easy. I really don’t know how I stayed calm.

“I have too much respect for (Bublik), he’s such a nice guy on and off the court, and congratulations to him on a great start to the year.”

Bublik said: “This week has had almost everything for me, and I can’t wait to come back here again in 2025.

“Before the final, I thought if I won, I would dedicate it to my son, but sorry, maybe next time,” the 26-year-old, who bagged the runner-up prize of $296,000, added.

In the men’s doubles final, the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff narrowly defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and the US’ Austin Krajicek 6-4, 4-6, 10-6.

With a pair of service breaks enough to settle the opening two sets, Griekspoor and Struff came from 1-3 down in the deciding super tiebreak, winning nine of the last 12 points to claim a maiden Dubai title and a share of the $180,700 prize pool. Beaten finalists Dodig and Krajicek split a runners-up purse of $96,370.

After the match, Griekspoor said: “It’s the first time we’ve played together, so maybe we should keep it one week. We played really well and had a great time; it was a lot of fun on court. I had such a pleasure on court this week.”

Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “This magical evening has provided a fitting end to a memorable Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships fortnight. We have seen crowds of over 45,000-plus revel in match after match of wonderful tennis during the men’s ATP 500 week.

“Our congratulations go to the 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winners, men’s singles champion, Ugo Humbert, and our doubles champions, Tallon Griekspoor and Jan-Lennard Struff – all truly worthy winners.

Ramesh Cidambi, chief operating officer of Dubai Duty Free and chairman of the tournament organizing committee, said: “This year’s ATP 500 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has, once again, exceeded our expectations with a week of scintillating tennis, unbelievable moments on and off court, and enthusiastic grandstands.

“Thank you to all the players, officials, and fans who have contributed to the runaway success of the 32nd Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in 12 months’ time.”


Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion

Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion
Updated 17 min 40 sec ago
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Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion

Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion
  • The 25-year-old from Sydney captured his eighth career ATP title after dropping four straight finals since downing American Tommy Paul in last year’s final, the most recent last month at Rotterdam

MEXICO CITY: Australia’s Alex de Minaur won his second consecutive ATP Mexican Open title on Saturday, defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 in the final at Acapulco.

The 25-year-old from Sydney captured his eighth career ATP title after dropping four straight finals since downing American Tommy Paul in last year’s final, the most recent last month at Rotterdam.

World No. 9 de Minaur, a two-time winner also at Atlanta, dispatched 11th-ranked Ruud after one hour and 57 minutes, improving to 2-0 against his European foe after winning their only prior meeting at the 2019 ATP NextGen Finals.

Ruud, a two-time French Open runner-up and the 2022 US Open runner-up, missed out on his 11th ATP title for the second week in a row after dropping last week’s final at Los Cabos to another Aussie, Jordan Thompson.

Ruud’s most recent ATP crown came last April at Estoril.

The players exchanged praise after the match, Ruud telling de Minaur: “Fantastic playing all week. Too good today. Seems like you are enjoying Acapulco quite well. You did a great job.”

De Minaur replied, “Great stuff. It was hard work. Thank you for a great match.”


James becomes first NBA player with 40,000 points but Lakers lose

James becomes first NBA player with 40,000 points but Lakers lose
Updated 22 min 9 sec ago
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James becomes first NBA player with 40,000 points but Lakers lose

James becomes first NBA player with 40,000 points but Lakers lose
  • James, who just over a year ago overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time scoring mark, is a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player as well as the league’s oldest active player, now in his 21st campaign
  • Mikal Bridges scored 38 points to lead host Brooklyn over Atlanta 114-102 while Jimmy Butler netted 37 points to power the Miami Heat over visiting Utah 126-120

LOS ANGELES: LeBron James became the first NBA player to reach 40,000 career regular-season points on Saturday, the 39-year-old superstar scoring nine against defending champion Denver to achieve the milestone.

But James called the historic effort “bittersweet” because it came in a losing cause as Nikola Jokic scored 35 points to rally the Nuggets late for a 124-114 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Being the first player to do something, it’s pretty cool in this league ‘cause you just know the history, you know the grace that has come through the league,” James said.

“But the main thing is always the main thing and that’s the win. And I hated that had to happen in a defeat especially versus a team that plays extremely well.

“We played some good basketball but wasn’t able to close it out, so bittersweet, but I enjoyed every moment though, while on the floor.”

James scored a team-high 26 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, but the Nuggets stretched their win streak to six games.

“I’m glad we’re playing good,” Jokic said. “We’re doing the things we want to do. We don’t have too many breakdowns. I just like how we’re playing the game right now.”

James, who just over a year ago overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time scoring mark, is a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player as well as the league’s oldest active player, now in his 21st campaign.

“Just happy for him. It was a hell of an accomplishment,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Wish we could have got the win to cap it off. But my hat’s off to him. Amazing, amazing run that continues to this day.”

James scored his first basket on a fast break layup 6:20 into the opening quarter to give the Lakers an 18-12 edge, then added a 3-pointer from the left corner 63 seconds later for a 23-14 advantage.

He sank a layup 14 seconds into the second quarter to pull within two of the milestone, then missed a free throw and on the next Laker possession missed a 3-point shot.

James scored the historic basket with 10:39 remaining in the second quarter, banking in a driving layup from the left side of the basket to give the Lakers a 37-32 lead.

The crowd gave James a standing ovation during a timeout and the ball James used for the milestone hoop was removed from the game.

“Much respect and much loyalty to the Laker fan base for showing me that love during the timeout,” James said.

Asked if he thought another NBA player could crack 40,000, James replied, “I have no idea.”

“You have to play the game quite a while and have some good luck as far as injuries and things of that nature. You have to take care of your body. You have to be present on the floor and then you have to be productive as well.”

The Nuggets equalized at 89-89 entering the fourth quarter and seized command with a 9-0 run in the final minutes to lead 117-110, Denver hitting 15-of-22 from the floor in the final quarter.

“I just want to be better,” James said. “It’s always over the last few minutes of the game where they make plays, we don’t make plays that can be frustrating.”

Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. went 10-for-10 from the floor and scored 25 points while matching Jokic’s 10 rebounds.

“He was amazing,” Jokic said. “It’s always a good thing when you have a guy on your team that can shoot like that.”

The Lakers, 33-29, rank 10th in the Western Conference while the Nuggets are 42-19, third in the West but only a half-game behind leading Minnesota.

In other games, Mikal Bridges scored 38 points to lead host Brooklyn over Atlanta 114-102 while Jimmy Butler netted 37 points to power the Miami Heat over visiting Utah 126-120.

Anfernee Simons hit 30 points to lead Portland’s 107-100 overtime triumph at Memphis while Jalen Green’s 34 points led Houston over host Phoenix 118-109.


Eddie Howe answers Newcastle United tactics critics as Magpies outwit rivals Wolves

Eddie Howe answers Newcastle United tactics critics as Magpies outwit rivals Wolves
Updated 55 min 30 sec ago
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Eddie Howe answers Newcastle United tactics critics as Magpies outwit rivals Wolves

Eddie Howe answers Newcastle United tactics critics as Magpies outwit rivals Wolves

Newcastle: Criticism, at this level, is only ever just around the corner. One year you may be returning a club to the Champions League after two decades, the next some may be calling for change at the top.

That is the situation that has recently faced Eddie Howe at Newcastle United.

A one-trick pony. The lack of a plan B. Howe has faced up to some tactical criticism from certain sections of the Newcastle fanbase in a drift from top four contenders to the fringes of the bottom half of the division in what has turned into a winter of discontent on Tyneside.

And in fairness, some of that criticism has been justified.

However, when a tactical tweak was needed, Howe delivered, landing a blow to his critics by producing a compact, robust Newcastle setup that was far too much for opposite number Gary O’Neil — transforming a resurgent, on-the-rise Wolverhampton Wanderers’ bark into a whimper at St. James’ Park.

Alexander Isak gave the hosts the lead on the break, while another counter goal by Anthony Gordon had the Magpies cruising at half-time. A late wondergoal from youngster Tino Livramento added a flourish in the dying embers.

Famed for their transition play, Wolves have torn teams apart in the Premier League on their rise. And getting caught by teams on the transition, has been Howe and Newcastle’s kryptonite during their winter struggles.

Answering that, Howe tweaked it, as Newcastle sat deeper, invited the pressure and surrendered possession wilfully. It worked wonders.

After recording the Magpies’ first home win since Dec. 16, Howe said: “We changed things tactically today. It was a big win.

“We knew, being back at home, that we hadn’t won here for quite a while, certainly in 2024. Our home form has always been so good. Ever since I’ve come to the football club, even in the season when we stayed up and then making the top four in the following one, the home form was really the bedrock of all our success.

“So, to have our first wobble here was a concern. We’re delighted to win; it was a massive game for us.

“It was a slight tweak from our normal way of playing. We analyze our opposition, like we do always, and I know there’s a lot of people that say we play the same way every week, but I can assure you that’s not the case.

“There’s always tweaks and little things we try to do to help us in our performance, and that was one today, to try to maybe play a slightly more transitional game.

“I still think we’re not quite where we were at times last year, and also at times this year, but I thought it was better. I thought we had a better physical look about us, with really good running capacity, highlighted by our first goal, which was really transitional.

“There were players running the full length of the pitch, with a real desire to score. I thought, individually, we looked better as well in that respect.

“As I’ve said many times, confidence can ebb and flow, from individuals and the team. But I thought toward the end of the game, we started to see the confidence flow back into the group, and the last 10 to 15 minutes was really good,” he added.

Newcastle have so often been starved of options when they have needed them, and injuries to key players at key times has limited what the head coach can do off the bench.

With just 12 games left, that situation is clearly easing — and it is no surprise to see Newcastle put in arguably their most impressive, coherent performance in 2024.

Turning to goalscorer Livramento as well as summer signing Harvey Barnes, coupled with Miguel Almiron, Lewis Miley, and Elliot Anderson off the subs bench is as strong a group as Howe has been able to name for months.

Arguably, the biggest impact of all, however, was getting Joe Willock back into the starting 11.

After 12 months of struggles, this was the first match the former Arsenal man has started since November. And what a difference his energy and legs gave to a United midfield that has lacked anything like it for so long.

Howe said: “Naturally, I think our midfield does have a different complexion with Willock in the team. I think he has different qualities, although I have to compliment Lewis Miley when he came on because that’s a difficult game situation for someone so young, but I thought he did really well.

“Joe does add a running and an athleticism that maybe we don’t have without him. I was delighted with his contribution. Yes, we’ve managed his game minutes, but it’s great that he’s come through three games and done really well.

“I thought he (Bruno Guimaraes) was very good and had moments where he really showed his class. When he’s at the top of his game, for me, there’s no one better in playing the role that he does. I was really pleased with his impact in the first goal because it’s a full length of the pitch counterattack and he’s had to make up a lot of yards to get a vital contribution to that goal.

“That lets me know that, mentally, he’s in a good place and, physically, he’s in a good place too after a three-game week with extra-time. I was really pleased with that part of his game,” Howe added.