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Sunderland’s Tanzanian project set to finally produce? Rennes fans love Khazri & Lens loves cake

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Sunderland bits and bobs from around the world.

Invest in Africa?

In case you missed it, a report originating in a Tanzanian newspaper late last week claimed that Sunderland have handed trials to three youngsters from the East African country.

There’s precious little to go on bar the identities of the trio and the fact each are also in line to be called into the Serengeti Boys set-up, the youth team of the Tanzania international side.

The schoolboys are midfielder Jordan John, winger Erick Edson and defender Renatus Fidelus and all three have been part of Kahororo FC which is located in the Bukobo Municipality.

The tale is intriguing nonetheless considering it’s now several years since Sunderland began investing in Tanzania. Back in 2013, SAFC became a partner in a football academy project alongside global electricity company Symbion Power.

Gary H Hair with some Tanzanian folks
Image: Sunderland AFC

That initiative followed the Invest in Africa programme and a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. In 2016 Sunderland announced a sponsorship programme with a Tanzanian mining company, but all has been quiet on the African front since Martin Bain was installed as chief executive and Gary Hutchinson left his role as Commercial Director.

Are these three lads the first fruit borne from Sunderland's African links?


Stade Rennais fans love a bit of Wahbi

Wahbi Khazri’s loan stint at Stade Rennais has been picking up nicely in recent weeks. The Brittany-based outfit struggled at the start of the season after spending big in the summer but have won three of their last four to haul themselves up Ligue 1 into 9th place.

Under fire club president Rene Ruello departed a few weeks ago, swiftly followed by manager Christian Gourcuff - and not before time. The crisis had peaked earlier this month when members of the Roazhon Celtic Kop - Renne’s ultra group - entered the club’s training centre to direct their anger at the team’s form.

Stade Rennais continued their improvement yesterday with a 2-1 victory over Claudio Ranieri's Nantes in the Brittany derby. Sunderland-owned Khazri scored both of the victor’s goals to take his tally for the season to 4.

Here’s his winner - a neat finish saved for the 88th minute after he had given his side the lead early in the second half.

Khazri played as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation and the Rennes fans have certainly taken to the Tunisian playmaker. Check out this orchestrated chant to hail their new hero.

Still, it's got nothing on the raw outpouring of emotion witnessed inside Burton Albion’s away end yesterday afternoon at the final whistle.


LoanWatch... elsewhere

Elsewhere, Fabio Borini sat out Milan’s goalless draw with Torini this afternoon, sidelined through injury whilst Papy Djilobodji continues to impress at the heart of FCO Dijon’s defence. The Mustards have now won three of their last four to climb clear of the Ligue One relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Jeremain Lens continues to play little part for Besiktas and was again an unused substitute as his side recorded their second goalless draw in as many games with a stalemate at Yeni Malatyaspor.

The Sunderland-owned winger turned 30 last week and was presented with a git big cake by his teammates who presumably were all too aware of what he would appreciate.

The fat knacker.

God knows what this was all about though.

Meanwhile, defender Michael Ledger was not part of the Hartlepool squad thumped 3-0 at Ebsfleet. The Sunderland youngster recently had an op on the broken nose he suffered a few weeks ago.

And Max Stryjek was back in a Sunderland shirt to play for the U23s against Swansea this afternoon. It's not clear if the Polish goalie is now back on Wearside permanantly but he was probably just back for the game. Stryjek has only played once for Accrington Stanley this term, sitting out the last five on the bench since his return from an injury picked up at the start of the season.