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Foreign workers from neighbouring Burkina Faso water the several acres of lettuces, radishes and onions growing in the soil between Abidjan’s lagoon and the luxury golf course. “The earth here is rich,” says a security guard watching over these inner-city farmers from his bench at the entrance to one of Africa’s biggest football clubs.

This is Sol Beni, “the blessed soil” that is home to ASEC Mimosas Football Club. It is not just the earth that is rich. For almost two decades the coaches at ASEC have cultivated some of the finest footballers in…

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