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FireNews : Eq Guinea keeper offered Michael Jackson glove #FireNews365

Could one of Michael Jackson’s famous gloves ended up in the hands of Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesus Owono?

Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesus Owono has an extra incentive ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final, after being given a chance to own a piece of pop music history.

Owono, 20, has been offered a glove worn by Michael Jackson if he can help the team go on and lift the trophy on Sunday, 6 February.

The country’s vice-president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who was handed a three-year suspended jail term for corruption by a French court in 2017, is the man who has put his memorabilia on the line.

Equatorial Guinea, ranked 114th in the world, face 2019 runners-up Senegal in the last eight on Sunday (19:00 GMT).

“The results of the Nzalang National have us all euphoric, but I want to focus on our young goalkeeper, Jesus Owono,” Obiang tweeted.external-link

“If [Equatorial Guinea] wins the Nations Cup, I’ll give him one of Michael Jackson’s gloves for his impressive work during the competition.”

Owono, who plays for Spanish side Deportivo Alaves, has kept three clean sheets at the tournament in Cameroon and proved to be a penalty-saving expert.

He denied Kei Kamara from 12 yards in their final group match against Sierra Leone to help seal a 1-0 win and kept out two spot-kicks in the 6-5 shoot-out win over Mali in the last 16.

Obiang is the son of Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Africa’s longest-serving leader, who seized power in 1979 and is described by rights organisations as one of Africa’s most brutal dictators.

His 53-year-old son – known for his lavish lifestyle and love of Jackson memorabilia – was appointed a government minister in 1998.

A $275,000 crystal-covered glove which the singer wore on his 1980s Bad tour is among his collection, which includes at least three items of Jackson’s famous hand wear.

Jackson, dubbed the King of Pop, won 13 Grammy awards while his 1982 album Thriller is the biggest-selling album of all time. He died in June 2009 aged 50.

Luxury cars and million-dollar bonuses

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue picturedin 2012

Last year Obiang, who has been accused of embezzling state funds, was among five people to receive “anti-corruption” sanctions from the United Kingdom.

In 2016, Swiss prosecutors seized 11 luxury cars belonging to him, and said Obiang had plundered his country’s oil wealth to buy luxuries, including a private jet and Jackson memorabilia.

A year later, a French court handed down his suspended jail term following a trial, from which he was absent, which found him guilty of embezzlement.

The court ruled his assets in France should be seized, including a 25m euro (£28m; $30m) mansion in Paris. He also got a suspended fine of 30m euros (£27m; $35m).

The Paris judge found that the president’s son had used his position as agriculture and forestry minister to siphon off payments from timber firms who were exporting from Equatorial Guinea.

Obiang had acquired a collection of luxury assets and properties in France, and also boasted 18 luxury cars in France, artworks, jewellery and expensive designer fashions, the court found.

He denied the charges, saying his wealth had come from legitimate sources.

This is not the first time Obiang has made such a gesture to his country’s national football team.

When Equatorial Guinea co-hosted the Nations Cup in 2012, Obiang paid the squad a $1m (£641,000) bonus for beating Libya in their opening match of the tournament.

Equatorial Guinea, a small country on the west coast of Africa, struck oil in 1995 and is one of the continent’s major oil exporters.

Nonetheless, most of its 1.4m-strong population lives in poverty.

Jesus Owono celebrates Equatorial Guinea's penalty win over Mali
Owono was feted after his two penalty saves against Mali in the last 16

Additional reporting by Rob Stevens.

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