Ghana defender Harrison Afful is suspended for the second leg clash of the CAF Champions League final.The 26-year-old picked up a yellow card in Esperance’s 1-1 draw away to Al Ahly in the first leg game on Sunday.The 55th minute booking now sees Afful suspended for the second leg match for accumulated cautions.The Ghana international picked up a yellow card in last month’s semi final match against TP Mazembe.This means the ex Asante Kotoko defender will not be playing in his third straight Champions League final in a fortnight in Tunis.Afful’s solitary strike won the African Cup for the Tunisian club last season.
World Cup QuarterfinalMatch: Brazil v BelgiumTime: 6pm (buildup starts 5.30pm)Commentary: George Addo Jnr & Gary Al-Smith–There was a spell, for the first 20 minutes or so, when it seemed Mexico might be able to trouble Brazil. Carlos Vela was getting the better of Fagner on the Brazil right and it felt that Mexico, as they had throughout the group stage, were struggling to convert decent positions into clear opportunities.But the longer the game went on, the more it became apparent that Brazil were comfortably holding Mexico at arm’s length. That first 20 minutes, though, perhaps offers Belgium the best hope there is.One of the less talked about aspects of Tite’s Brazil revolution is the way he has stiffened their defensive resolve. In his 25 games in charge, Brazil have conceded only six goals. In this tournament, they have leaked only one – and that the header by Switzerland’s Steven Zuber from a corner that might have been ruled out for a push.Belgium’s biggest problem in trying to beat Brazil is finding a way to score against a supremely well-drilled defence. This is the balance of which Tite speaks incessantly. Tactics are only part of it. Tite is a hugely impressive figure who projects calm and confidence, but there is still a sense that Brazil might be emotionally brittle. Zuber’s goal knocked them off their stride and the recriminations over that mildly controversial decision, together with the furore that surrounds every challenge on Neymar – who continues to try to turn the World Cup into a personal biopic – suggests that the hysteria that undid them in the semi-final four years ago may not have been entirely expunged. It may be, in fact, that it is an inevitable corollary of the expectation that surrounds them.But that opening quarter against Mexico did suggest a possible tactical opportunity for Belgium. Once Dani Alves was ruled out of the squad through injury, Brazil always looked vulnerable at right-back. Danilo played in the draw against Switzerland, since when Fagner has been deployed there. Vela, and Hirving Lozano when he moved to the Mexican left, both made him look slow on the turn. The problem for Belgium, though, is that their 3-4-2-1 does not necessarily push a player tight up against the full-back.Yannick Carrasco can get forward from left wing-back but he is likely to have his hands full dealing with Willian. That then means Eden Hazard, who operates almost as an inside-left behind Romelu Lukaku, with Dries Mertens alongside him, needs to pull to the left to try to pressure Fagner.But that in turn leaves an additional problem, one that Mexico faced, which is how to get sufficient players into the box to take advantage. If Hazard pulls left, it places great onus on Kevin De Bruyne to get forward to join Mertens and Lukaku in the box.The absence of Casemiro through suspension breaks up the highly effective triangle he and the two central defenders, Miranda and Thiago Silva, had formed, but the back of midfield is an area in which Brazil have cover. Fernandinho is used to operating as a breakwater in front of two central defenders, dropping between them if necessary. He is, though, a more dynamic presence than Casemiro and while that means he may be more effective at joining counterattacks, it also perhaps offers Belgium, and De Bruyne in particular, an opportunity to counter back against him.Belgium themselves have an issue at the back of midfield, Axel Witsel being badly at fault for Japan’s second goal in their last-16 game. If he is similarly lax against Neymar or Philippe Coutinho, it is hard to see much hope for Belgium.Against Mexico, Brazil switched from the fairly orthodox 4-3-3 they had used through the group to something closer to 4-4-2, with Neymar operating more centrally and Willian dropping deeper. Neymar perhaps benefits from the more central role but it would be a surprise if Tite did not go back to the 4-3-3 against Belgium.With the 4-4-2, Belgium would have three against two at the back with two central midfielders plus two inside forwards against two in the centre of midfield, which would allow them to overman even if Coutinho played narrow on the Brazilian left. So long as Carrasco and the right wing-back, Thomas Meunier, were able to hold their own on their flanks, that would, in theory at least, allow Belgium to control the centre of the pitch and probably possession – although as Brazil showed against Mexico, that is not necessarily something which concerns them.A 4-3-3, though, immediately causes problems for Belgium by having Willian target the space behind Carrasco, while Neymar operates in the awkward zone between Toby Alderweireld, the right-sided centre-back, and Meunier.There is still potential for a four on three in midfield, but if Meunier is forced back Marcelo can advance to give Brazil an extra man on their left. That side of the field, with Marcelo behind Coutinho and Neymar, looks as though it could be vulnerable, but so far their positional work has been good enough that they have not been exposed.That is testament to Tite’s work. Belgium may have been more fluent so far in the tournament, but Brazil have looked a far better-balanced side.— Follow the World Cup with the Multimedia Group! With live English radio commentary on Joy 99.7 FM radio, Akan radio commentary on Asempa 94.7 FM and livestreaming on Myjoyonline.com, we’ve got you covered all-tournament long.
Asmir Begovic, Stoke City’s goalkeeper, is urging children across Staffordshire to score a victory against hatred and intolerance by playing in a nationwide football tournament to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.Secondary school teachers in Staffordshire can enter their students in Remembering Srebrenica’s 8-3-7-2 Tournament, which aims to unite 8372 young people in 380 schools across the country to play football on the same day – Friday, June 5.The event is being backed by Bosnia-Herzegovina international ‘keeper Begovic . It aims to encourage pupils to learn lessons from the genocide. The figure 8372 represents the number of individuals who lost their lives during the atrocity in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina in July 1995.The Stoke City star, who was forced to leave Bosnia-Herzegovina as a child during the 1992-1995 conflict, is tournament ambassador.(Source: Staffordshire Newsletter)