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Japanese Grand Prix cancelled for 2021 due to ongoing Covid-19 issues in the country

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October’s Suzuka race will now not take place for the second year in a row due to the pandemic; F1 understood to have a number of options to fill vacant slot on calendar with final season schedule expected to be published in forthcoming weeks

The Japanese Grand Prix in October has been cancelled due to the “ongoing complexities” of Covid-19 in the country.

After discussions with F1 and the Suzuka event’s promoter, the country’s government have taken the decision to shelve the October 8-10 event for the second successive year amid the pandemic.

F1 is understood to have been planning for such a scenario and have options to keep the calendar at the planned 23 races.

The cancellation of November’s Australian GP last month meant there was already one slot free on the schedule.

A finalised 2021 calendar is expected to be announced in the forthcoming weeks.

“Formula 1 has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula 1 events this year and beyond,” read an F1 statement.

What next for the rest of the 2021 season?

Eleven of the planned record 23 races for 2021 have already taken place. Twelve more were originally scheduled to follow in the space of 16 weeks up to and including the season finale in Abu Dhabi on December 12.

The F1 season resumes next week after its summer break with the Belgian GP, the first event of a triple header in Europe which also includes the returning Dutch GP at Zandvoort and then the Italian GP at Monza.

The cancellations of Australia and Japan mean only 10 of the remaining events are currently confirmed, while doubts remain over several more ‘flyaway’ rounds such as Mexico and Brazil – both of which are also currently on the government’s travel red list.

What does the rest of the F1 calendar currently look like?

DateGrand Prix
August 29Belgian GP
September 5Dutch GP
September 12Italian GP
September 26Russian GP
October 3Turkish GP
October 10Japanese GP
October 24United States GP
October 31Mexico City GP
November 7Sao Paulo GP
November 21Australian GP
December 5Saudi Arabian GP
December 12Abu Dhabi GP

That list also currently includes Turkey, which is scheduled to hold a race in Istanbul on October 3. But the possibility of different onward travel arrangements amid calendar reshuffles, rather than the need to return immediately to the UK to fulfill the quarantine period, mean F1 retain flexibility on venues and dates.

F1 is understood to continue to have interest from venues not currently on the 2021 calendar.

Title-chasing Honda to bow out without final home GP

While the figure-of-eight Suzuka layout is one of the drivers’ favourite, the track is also owned by Honda – engine suppliers of championship-contending Red Bull.

The Japanese manufacturer is leaving F1 at the end of this season and had hoped to enjoy one final race weekend at their own circuit, where Red Bull would inevitably have been in the hunt for victory with title rivals Mercedes.

“At Honda, we are particularly disappointed, because this is the final year of our Formula 1 project and we know that so many fans were looking forward to attending the event,” said Koji Watanabe, Honda’s chief officer for brand and communication operations

“The 2021 season is now heading for an exciting climax and we will be giving our all, fighting hard all the way to achieve our goal of winning the championships as this Honda Formula 1 project comes to an end and we hope our fans will continue to support us.”

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How AC Milan missed out on Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan

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Afena Gyan scores brace for AS Roma against Genoa

Afena-Gyan makes Serie A record

Afena-Gyan valued at €20m

Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan may be excelling for AS Roma but he could have ended up at rivals AC Milan.

The youngster has risen from the youth side of the Italian giants and taking a spot on the first team where he is in the process of establishing himself as a key cog in Jose Mourinho’s side.

His two goals in AS Roma’s victory over Genoa made him the first player born in 2003 to score in the Italian top flight league.

It has however emerged that Afena-Gyan was once on the books AC Milan and could have had his development in Milan instead of Rome.

Oliver Arthur, the Ghanaian football agent credited with the discovery of the 18-year-old has revealed that Afena-Gyan had trials with AC Milan who were interested in signing him.

Oliver Arthur says the choice of AS Roma as the club for Afena-Gyan was informed by his quest to get a place where the youngster’s development was not going to be impeded.

“He initially had trials at AS Roma, then Sassuolo before going to AC Milan. Milan, just like the other clubs, was very much interested in him. But, we needed to make a decision and look at the best for the player and we settled on AS Roma,” he said Kumasi-based Pure FM.

Oliver Arthur also spoken about how the youngster’s stock has risen since he broke into the first team of AS Roma.

He disclosed that Afena-Gyan is now valued at €20million following his good display for AS Roma.

“It will really be difficult. Very difficult. Range? May be between €15m-€20m. For what he’s done and the abilities he possesses, I think, yes, €20m” he told Angel TV

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Africa to use VAR in World Cup play-offs after Ghana vs South Africa incident

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Ghana defeats South Africa 1-0

South Africa petitions FIFA over penalty in Ghana game

Senegalese referee to be punished by FIFA, says South Africa coach

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used in the final phase of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Gianni Infantino, the President of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has said.

Infantino has disclosed that FIFA and CAF will use the technology in the play-off to improve officiating in those matches.

Speaking at the extraordinary general assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo, Egypt Infantino said FIFA is making efforts to enhance the quality of matches and introduction of VAR is one of the measures.

“The final stage of the African World Cup qualifiers will see an improvement in refereeing performance due to the use of VAR,” said Infantino.

The President of CAF, Patrice Motsepe who is a South African refused to comment on the specific case of Ghana versus South Africa but promised an investment in officiating.

“We are going to invest in the competitions because our competitions are everything,” said Motsepe.

“That’s why the announcement that we are making today regarding referees is critically important. Africa have got good referees, and we have got world-class referees. We’ve also got referees who are not so good.

“Then we’ve also got referees who are even further from not so good, but they all try. We want to train them, and also pay them good money and look after them. So that they can make a career out of being referees.”

Ghana defeated South Africa 1-0 at the Cape Coast Stadium on November 14, 2021 via a controversial penalty.

Defender Daniel Amartey earned Ghana the penalty which was converted by skipper Andre Ayew on the 33rd minute.

South Africa took issues with the decision by referee Ndiaye and petitioned FIFA to probe what they perceive to be match manipulation.

According to SAFA, the referee was compromised and thus ruled the game in favour of the host team.

The Ghana Football Association has meanwhile disputed the claims and emphasized the Black Stars deserved victory.

It is expected FIFA will issue a verdict on the game in the coming days.

The draw for the play-off will be held in January next year after the Africa Cup of Nations.

The ten countries that have qualified include Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.

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Forget about replay FIFA, will only ban referee Ndiaye Maguette – Hugo Broos

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It appears that head coach of South Africa, Hugo Broos has given up hope of forcing a replay of the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana from FIFA.

The Black Stars defeated the Bafana Bafana of South Africa by a lone goal to secure the only slot in group G for the play offs of the 2022 World Cup.

South Africa after the game accused the match official of match fixing, match manipulation among others before lodging an official complaint with FIFA.

Ghana had a penalty after Daniel Amartey went to ground in the penalty box following a challenge from Rushine De Reuck although it appeared soft there was a nudge in the back of the Leicester City defender.

The Senegalese referee Ndiaye Maguette who was standing just a few meters outside the penalty box swiftly awarded the penalty without any second thought.

FIFA urged the two Associations that is Ghana and South Africa to present any comments or evidence it deems appropriate latest by 20th November 2021 as they referred the protest to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee who began their work on 23rd November,2021.

FIFA is now due to issue a verdict on that appeal which has created friction between Ghana and South Africa in football circles.

Ahead of the verdict, South Africa’s Belgian tactician doesn’t seem confident.

“Fifa met on Tuesday,” Broos told HLN Sportcast. “We expect a decision in the course of this week. It’s not just about the penalty kick, it’s about the whole game. The referee made 71 decisions, 47 of which were foul. The analysis has shown that. And 90 percent of those 47 wrong decisions were against us.”

“You have to be able to prove something like that in black and white. Was he bribed? Wasn’t he pressured? Or was he just having a really bad day? The numbers are there, but is that enough for FIFA? I personally think that it will remain with a suspension for the referee and that we should not count on a replay.” he said.

The draw for the play offs will come off in January while the matches will be played in March 2022.

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