Posts Tagged ‘African Football’

Group stage round up AFCON 2012

Despite the absence of some big names at this year’s African Cup of Nations, the excitement and quality of play from participant in Equitorial Guinea and Gabon has been top quality, projecting African football to the highest level.

...even the array of attacking options couldn't save them

Group A:
The biggest shock of the tournament till date is the embarrassing exit of one of the tournament’s favorite, Senegal. The Teranga Lions lost their three group games thus leaving Equitorial Guinea with no points, much to the chagrin of their supporters and many bookmakers.

Libya should be proud of their campaign which ended with a solitary victory.

The Zambia won the group with seven points while co-host Equitorial Guniea finished as runners-up.
The game between Knights of the Mediterranean (Libya) and the Chipolopolo (Zambia) was the only draw recorded in  group A while the remaining five had winners and losers.
A total of 15 goals was scored in Bata and Malabo

Group B:

Kolo Toure marshalling the Ivory Coast...

Cote d’Ivorie have left no one in doubt of their mission in Equitorial Guniea by securing maximum nine points. The Elephants started slowly with a narrow victory over Sudan before dispatching Burkina Faso and Angola respectively. Didier Drogba and company may not have hit top gear but the Kolo Toure marshaled defense has been resolute with no goal conceded.

Les Etalons (Burkina Faso) and Palancas Negras (Angola) were expected to jostle for the second spot behind Les Elephants but the Falcons of Jedaine (Sudan) grew stronger after their opening game to secure the quarter final ticket ahead of the other two competitors.

Burkina Faso exciting brand of attacking football was a joy to behold. AJ Auxerre’s Alain Traore pulling the strings upfront but their weakness at the back conceding six goal caused their downfall.

Recent host Angola exit the tournament after round one despite Manucho’s goals.

Five victories and one draw was recorded in this group too with a total of 15 goals scored in Malabo and Bata.

Group C:
My team of the tournament so far – Les Panthers of Gabon haven’t failed to light up the stadium on their match day. The co-host attacking brand of football has yielded three victories including a last gap winner against the Atlas Lions of Morocco on match day two. Crowd favorite and homeboy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who the locals call “Neymar” has shone like a million stars.

My team of the tournament, so far

2004 winners, Tunisia finished in second ahead of their fellow north African brothers Morocco who have disappointed their fans once again while the Mena of Niger leave without a single point but a solitary goal to cherish.

It was a case of winners and losers in here with six victories and no draw. 15 appears to be the number for goals in Libreville and Franceville too.

Group D:
The Syli Nationale (Guinea) turned on the style in Franceville in their make or break game against AFCON debutant Botswana by crushing 6-1. It’s a shame such a emphatic win wasn’t enough to help secure their passage to the next round. A loss to Les Aigles (Mali) in their first match and a draw against tournament favorites The Black Stars of Ghana condemned them to third position on the log.

The Black Stars haven’t been spectacular so far but they have been professional in getting the job done. Emmanuel Badu’s unstoppable belter from outside the box was Ghana’s 100th Nations Cup goal in their 1-1 draw against Guinea. Mali have Seydou Keita to thank for keeping them alive in the tournament but had to endure a nervy five minutes wait for news of a favorably result to filter in from Franceville.
Five victories and one draw settled the round robin games here with a total of 16 goals scored in Franceville and Libreville.

The sub-region of West Africa is the biggest loser in the first round with four teams (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea) crashing out.

The stage is set for quarter-finals.

The first game is between the Chipolopolo of Zambia and the Falcons of Jedaine from Sudan in Bata.

The second game sees tournament favorite Cote d’Ivoire tackle co-host Equitorial Guinea in Malabo for a place in the semis.

Perhaps one that offer more intriguing sight is the game between co-host Gabon and Mali in Libreville. Mali coach Alain Giresse coming face to face with the country he managed before being succeeded by current Gabon coach Gernot Rohr while another favorite the Black Stars of Ghana will take on the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia for a place in the last four.

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Who will win the Africa Cup Of Nations?

As Africa prepares for the start of its most prestigious football championship, everyone is predicting who will win the 28th edition of the continental fiesta that starts on January 21.

Purely as an academic exercise, without going into a full player-by-player, team-by-team, grooup-by-group analysis, I shall look generally at the teams from a helicopter standpoint and shall hazard an opinion as to which of the 16 participants I think will leave Libreville with the trophy. My judgment is based on their history in the tournament and from what I saw about them in qualifying for the championship.

I’ve tried to group them into three categories of those who won’t win, those with remote chances and those expected to be challenging and can win


THE NUMBERS

In football, nothing is impossible but the teams in this category will not win the AFCON 2012. I mean no disrespect by listing them here.

NIGER Republic.

They have no historical antecedence to justify any higher expectation than playing in the group stages and nothing more.

MALI.

They are not complete and they do not have enough quality players needed to compete for higher glory.

BOTSWANA.

They are still too ‘young’ and inexperienced in African football to win the highest trophy in the continent now. Even with their investment in grassroots football development in recent years.

MOROCCO.

They will win a few matches but I don’t see them lasting. Their ability to falter when least expected is their undoing.

BURKINA FASO.

The 1998 host of this same tournament couldn’t win even as host and with better players then. They are a minor in their sub-region(West Africa)

ALGERIA.
Playing against The Pharaohs of Egypt always brings out the best of them. In the absence of their arab brothers, we could be left with little sparks but no fire.

TUNISIA.
They do not have enough quality to win.

LIBYA.
They have achieved more than enough by qualifying. They are nothing more than a featherweight.

ANGOLA.
They couldn’t win it when they hosted and now it will be the same. The team has too many fault lines, too many weakness, and not enough quality players.

REMOTE POSSIBILITY

GABON.

Because they are hosts some will give them a distant chance of winning the championships. But as co-hosts, they start to lose a substantial part of the support that a single host nation brings. Their recent performance against Cameroon and one truly starts to appreciate the very faint possibility of this tiny country going some distance maybe with some luck. The players to deliver aren’t just there.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA.

It is co-host. What else? The country has been making recent appearances in age-grade international competitions and even the female championships. There is something good happening in the country’s football to produce its recent results and exposure. Progressing beyond the group stages will do and anything more is a bonus. Winning would be too far fetched.

ZAMBIA

It may be unfair to include them here considering how they performed in the last edition. They show the desire and capability to win but never do as they do not know how to cap or close critical matches.

CHALLENGERS / CONTENDERS

The absence of some of the continents heavyweights at this year’s AFCON has made this group very narrow and direct.

GHANA.

Most analyst rate the Black Stars as one of the favorites for the title that has eluded them for 30years. Their performances in the last few editions and their exploits at the last two FIFA World Cup gives enough point to justify that position. The team is very balanced albeit without a prolific striker should Asamoah Gyan fail to reach full fitness. The expectation at home in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi, Takoradi etc will be nothing short of the trophy for the 2010 AFCON runners up.

COTE D’IVOIRE.

This West African giant parades some of the very best African footballers at the moment. Unfortunately even when everyone thought they had the best team in the continent in the past two editions of the African Cup of Nations, they faltered. Their talisman, skipper and great centre-forward Didier Drogba who may be well past his best has not delivered for Cote D’Ivorie with all his talent.

This is a reason why doubt their mentality and fighting spirit to win it. Without question, on paper they should be winners. But then it is not the country with the best players that wins, it’s the one with the best team.

SENEGAL

Like their French speaking West African brothers Cote D’Ivoire, they have only one victory to show for the abundance of talent available to them. Also, they boast of an arsenal of forwards such as Mamadou Niang, Papiss Cisse, Moussa Sow, and Demba Ba.

They are a disciplined and athletic side. I would not be surprised one bit if they spring a surprise.

From the above, I can draw a conclusion on who will win. You also can…