2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Friday 25 January 2013
Group B: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Ghana (1) 1 – 0 (0) Mali
Ghana went to the top of Group B with a single goal victory over Mali. However, Mali will point to a controversial incident that happened in the sixth minute which may have changed the course of the game. As Ghanaian defender John Boye attempted to shepherd the ball back, keeper Fatau Dauda came out of his area and slipped. As Mali midfielder Seydou Keita looked to capitalise on the slip, Dauda handled outside the area, clearly denying a goal scoring opportunity. The referee Noumandiez Doue from the Ivory Coast decided to merely book the errant keeper, much to the obvious disbelief of the Mali players. From the resultant free-kick, Keita curled his shot just wide with Dauda static on his line and well beaten. Genuine chances were few and far between, but just after the half-hour mark, a free-kick from Ghana’s Mubarak Wakaso was met by a powerful header from Emmanuel Agyemang Badu which grazed the outside of the post. Badu was then instrumental in Ghana taking the lead, when on thirty eight minutes he was brought down by Adama Tamboura. Mubarak Wakaso fired home and The Black Star were ahead 1-0 a lead they took into half-time. The second-half became memorable not for an outstanding forty five minutes of football, but a scruffy tussle as five more players entered the referee’s notebook. Ghana took the three points and moved to the top of the Group.
Niger (0) 0 – 0 (0) Congo DR
Another draw and another 0-0 in the 2013 AFCON tournament. What will be remembered is that it was the first point Niger gained in AFCON Finals. In their debut in 2012, The Menas lost all three Group C games to Gabon (2-0), Tunisia (2-1) and Morocco (1-0). Whilst the game was far from being a classic, what chances were created brought out the best of the two goalkeepers, Daouda for Niger and Kidiaba for Congo DR. In the final round of matches, Niger plays Ghana, whilst Congo DR will take on Mali.
Group C: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Zambia v Nigeria/Burkina Faso v Ethiopia
It’s a case of all square before these games kick-off later today, as both opening round games ended 1-1. These second round fixtures look difficult to call and it could be that both games end in draws again. In a Group ’round-robin’ format, the nature of the results and the order of opponents can create all sorts of mindsets for players and coaches alike. In the instance of the perceived favourites Zambia and Nigeria fixture today, are they content to take a point each and then look to clinch qualification in the last game against supposed weaker opposition? Or it there an attempt to win the game and so look to eliminate one of the stronger teams now and so not have the prospect of facing them in the knock-out phase? For Burkina Faso and Ethiopia is it a case of win at all cost to have any chance of qualifying? Of the eight opening round games, five were drawn (63%), which compares to 50% of the four games played so far in the second round. It will be interesting to see how the three rounds compare.