African Cup of Nations, so far so good

by Mystical Mike

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

We’re over the halfway stage now in Angola and it has proved to be everything I hoped for; excitement, bags of goals, ridiculous refereeing, gravity defying longshots and abysmal defending. What I didn’t hope for was the terrible Togo shooting incident that overshadowed the earlier part of the tournament. Mickey Marbles did an excellent piece on this and our thoughts are with everyone associated with the Togo team.

Something I didn’t count on was how some of the more fancied teams struggled in the earlier games. Five of the teams who qualified for The South African World Cup really made hard work of it against the so-called underdogs. Plucky Zambia have made it to the quarters finals at the expense of 2004 champs Tunisia who were the only team I called wrongly when putting down my 8 qualifiers but it certainly wasn’t plain sailing for the big boys. Here is a run down of the remaining fixtures and who I think will get through over the next 2 days.

Jan 24th

Angola V Ghana

The hosts take on one of the my pre-tourno faves in the 1st of the quarter-finals and it wouldn’t surprise me a jot if the home crowd spur them on to the semis. Ghana have been disappointing and besieged by injuries, most notably Michael Essien who if reports are to be believed, may even miss the World Cup. Their 3-1 loss to the Elephants wouldn’t have been good for moral and the 1-0 win over Burkina Faso hardly set the pulse racing. Maybe it was the late start due to Togo pulling out of Ghana’s first scheduled game but The Black Stars will have to buck their ideas up if they are to progress further, especially with Angola looking tasty earlier on (the first 80 minutes of their first game!).

Ivory Coast V Algeria

The Elephants & The Desert Foxes started the tournament with mixed results. Malawi thrashed Algeria 3-0 to send shockwaves out to the rest of the group and I’m sure Fabio was pretty chuffed when he saw how sloppy the defence was. The Algerians then improved in the next 2 games against Mali & Angola but I still think they will come up short. Ivory Coast didn’t pull up any roses with their draw 0-0 with Burkina Faso but got it together in the 3-1 mauling of Ghana. If they can play like that for the remainder of the tournament, they should be lifting the trophy next Sunday, especially with the world class players they possess, but will they hold it together mentally?

Jan 25th

Egypt V Cameroon

This is the game I’m looking forward to the most. The Egyptians go into it with 3 out of 3 and will psychology be pumped up German styley. They have been strong in all departments handing out spankings to Nigeria 3-1, Mozambique 2-0 & finally Benin 2-0 conceding just one goal which incidentally gave them a 15 game unbeaten run and a new AFC record, I now really fancy my pre-tournament longshots. Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions contain plenty of star names and of course Eto’o but were lucky to sneak through at all. Bossman Paul Leguan has been bigging them up but surely he is bricking it downstairs. They were lucky to have come back twice against Tunisia in the final group games and it was only their extra goal which put them above Gabon as the group was a 3 way tie. The game has a bit of agg factor about it now as well because guess who Egypt took that unbeaten run record from……Cameroon!

Zambia V Nigeria

Zambia play Nigeria in Lubango on Monday and good on them, I didn’t give them or Gabon a prayer but they have proved everyone wrong. Kalaba and Chamanga made the difference in the 2-1 over Gabon to pull through and they could have had more goals in all the games if it wasn’t for some sloppy finishing. Nigeria face them in the final quarterfinal tie and I fancy this one to go the distance. Nigeria struggled against Egypt in their first game and only a Yakubu penalty gave them 3 points against little Benin.  They looked much better in the final game with Odemwingies 2 minute brace and a late Martins strike taking out Mozambique but, it was only Mozambique. This is a tight one to call but I would love to see Zambia upset the odds and get through to the semis, I might even put a few sheckles on it.

So that’s how I think it will roll out before we get to the business end of the tournament. The semis are being shown on BBC1 on Thursday (why haven’t they given the tournament more airtime is anyone’s guess –they showed plenty of action two years ago?). The 3rd place play-off is next Saturday and the final is on Sunday. No big payday for me this year, I’m brassic so didn’t get round to putting the reddys on before the first game. What are the odds that’s gonna come back and bite me on the arse & my longshots Egypt do it again, surely lightning doesn’t strike 3 times? I think maybe it might.

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  • Darren

    Egypt are looking very good, solid all round. That’s a cracking game to look forward to.

    Nigeria should get passed past Zambia, Ivory Coast will be way to strong for the Algies and the hosts should make the semis.

  • dexylongshot

    This compo gets better and better by the day. Last night, Ivory Coast, 89 minute to put them through surely. 92 minute Algeria equalize, cue extra Time. Algeria go on to get another and hold of The Elephants and knock them out, cue sob sob sob!

    Egypt later, go on The Pharoahs!!!!

  • Dexylongshot

    Egypt v algy again. The word aggro was invented for games like this! I’m getting on a red card tickle!!! My faces out. Wot is it withe elephants? All the attributes of a great team playerwise but all fail to deliver on the big stage. Remind you of anyone???

  • dexylongshot

    What a game last night, Egypt dishing out a whopping to Algeria, The Big Payback. 4-0 and the Algerians got 3 sent of, pity I can only collect on red card as predicted. That Zidan is a wicked little player, i fancy the Pharoahs big time now for the final on Sunday.

  • dexylongshot

    * That’s collect on red card instead of 3.

  • dexylongshot

    * That’s collect on 1 red card instead of 3.

  • dexylongshot

    JJ, sort this out, my 1 is sticking.

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