2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Tuesday 22 January 2013

Group C: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Zambia (1) 1 – 1 (0) Ethiopia

The 2012 AFCON Champions Zambia were involved in a game that is best described as ‘incident packed’. From the kick-off it was a game that featured some, what only can be described as ‘robust’ challenges and Zambia’s Stoppila Sunzu received a yellow card within the opening fifteen minutes for a crude tackle on Saladain Said. The Ethiopia nearly put his side ahead on eighteen minutes, but his lob over Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene incredibly bounced over the crossbar, thanks to a dry and rock hard pitch. The Champions were living dangerously and on twenty four minutes, they conceded a penalty when Chisamba Lungu fouled Saladin Said. The Ethiopian took the resultant penalty, but his weak effort was easily parried away by Mweene. From the ensuing attack, Zambia nearly scored themselves, but Jemal Tassew saved smartly. However, the hero turned villain when just after the half hour mark he was sent-off for an awful challenge on Chisamba Lungu. The keeper injured himself in the process and left the field on a stretcher as the referee brandished the red card. Zambia made their numerical advantage count with the first-half ticking away, as Collins Mbesuma muscled between two Ethiopian defenders to plant his half volley past substitute keeper Zerihun Tadele. As the Zambians celebrated, objects were thrown at the players from the crowd. Into the second-half, Ethiopia remained resolute and on sixty four minutes levelled the score. Addis Hintsa provided a pin-point pass for Saladain Said and he fed Adane Girma who slotted past Mweene at his near post. Zambia searched hard for a winner, but couldn’t find one and so Ethiopia finished with a point that they richly deserved.


Nigeria (1) 1 – 1 (0) Burkina Faso

Another game in the 2013 AFCON and another draw. Nigeria one of the ‘big guns’ in African football failed to deliver in a game they were expected to win. The Super Eagles dominated the opening exchanges and therefore it was no surprise when they took the lead after twenty three minutes. From a through ball, Ideye Brown’s clever back-heel flick fell to Emmanuel Emenike and he reacted quickest to fire home to give Nigeria a 1-0 lead. There seemed to be no urgency from the Nigerians to seek a second goal and the remainder of the half was a pretty uninspiring passage of play. In the second period Burkina Faso stuck manfully to their task, but there was a distinct lack of quality in some of the play from both sides, with wayward passes and equally wayward attempts on goal. As with the earlier game in Group C, some of the tackles and challenges were crude and on seventy three minutes, Nigeria were reduced to ten men when Celtic’s Efe Ambrose was dismissed for a second yellow card. Despite being a man down, Nigeria continued to create chances, with Ikechukwu Uche particularly wasteful. The Super Eagles were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when in time added-on, substitute Alain Traoré levelled for Burkina Faso. Jonathan Pitroipa received the ball out wide and cut the ball back into the box, inexplicably the two Nigerians defenders dithered and failed to clear it, allowing Traoré to slot home; cue wild celebrations on the Burkina Faso bench. Not a great game by any stretch of the imagination, but one which delivered with some last gasp drama.

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Group D: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Ivory Coast v Togo

Ivory Coast (The Elephants) are the top ranked CAF side going into the competition and also the bookies favourites. However, they have in the past struggled with this weight of expectation and their one and only AFCON title was in 1992. In qualifying for the 2013 tournament, The Elephants overcame Senegal 6-2 on aggregate. The 2nd leg in Dakar had to be abandoned shortly after the Ivory Coast went 2-0 ahead in the seventy first minute, as violence erupted on the terraces. In their last warm-up game, The Elephants overcame Egypt 4-2. Ivory Coast will no doubt make it through the Group stage, but can they hold their nerve to take the crown?

Togo’s (Les Eperviers – The Sparrow Hawks) last experience of the AFCON was surrounded with tragedy as on the eve of the tournament in 2010, their team bus was attacked and three people were killed. Togo withdrew, but were then banned by CAF from the next two tournaments. However, FIFA halved the penalty which meant The Sparrow Hawks could enter qualification for the 2013 competition. They overcame Kenya on away goals after finishing 2-2 on aggregate and sealed their place in South Africa with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Gabon.


Tunisia v Algeria

The first round of Group games concludes with a clash of North African teams and will see Tunisia (The Eagles of Carthage) up against Algeria (Les Fennecs – The Fennec Foxes). Tunisia came through qualification against Sierra Leone on away goals after finishing 2-2 on aggregate. In their warm-up games, they lost 4-2 to Ghana and drew with Gabon 1-1.

Algeria were more convincing in qualification, and saw off Gambia 6-2 on aggregate, followed by victory over North African neighbours Libya 3-0 on aggregate. In their last warm-up game, Algeria took on 2013 hosts South Africa and played out a 0-0 draw.0

The bookies see very little between these teams, whereas the CAF rankings have Algeria at number two and Tunisia at ten. A ‘local derby’, so a draw with honours even and local bragging rights not settled.


Prediction: (1) Ivory Coast, (2) Algeria, (3) Togo, (4) Tunisia.

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Monday 21 January 2013

Group B: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth.

Ghana (1) 2 – 2 (0) 2 Congo DR

The first goals of the 2013 AFCON tournament duly arrived, but also perhaps unexpectedly resulted in another drawn game. Congo DR were not overawed by the stars or reputation of the Ghana side and had the first real chance of the game on twelve minutes. Lomana Tresor LuaLua smashed the ball goal-ward, but Ghanaian keeper Fatau Dauda managed to tip the effort onto the bar. This game was shaping up as a much more open affair than yesterday’s Group A encounters, with play going from end-to-end. One such break saw Asamoah Gyan put through on goal, but his finish was wastefully wide. However, with five minutes remaining before half-time, Ghana went ahead. In a lovely one-to-one move, Kwadwo Asamoah swapped passes before crossing for Ageymang-Badu who beat the defender to it, to finish and give The Black Stars a 1-0 half-time advantage. Ghana started the second-half brightly and on fifty minutes poor marking from a corner allowed Kwadwo Asamoah to make it 2-0. The Leopards though did not panic and on fifty three minutes had got a goal back. A lovely through ball from Cedric Makiadi found Mputu, who finished beautifully. Congo continued to press and on sixty eight minutes were awarded a penalty after Jerry Akaminko pulled Mobokini down by the shirt. Mobokini got up to take the penalty and sent the keeper the wrong way to complete the comeback and level the game at 2-2. With just over twenty minutes remaining, the game continued to ebb and flow with both sides having opportunities to win it. Ghana had two excellent chances but Congo keeper Kidiaba saved well from Gyan and then did well to readjust his position and push a free-kick over the bar. Not to be outdone, The Black Stars keeper Duada saved well from an effort by Youssouf Mulumbu. At the whistle it was a point each for the teams and at last a game that got those watching, on their feet.


Mali (0) 1 – (0) Niger

After the excitement of the early game, this encounter will be remembered as one which at times was very physical and for goalkeeping that was of a variable quality to say the least. In the first-half, Niger keeper Kassaly Daouda and Mali keeper Mamadou Samassa had looked less than convincing at dealing with crosses and corners. However, the underdogs Niger had the best opportunity of the opening forty five minutes, when Kofi Dankwa saw his shot well saved by Mali keeper Mamadou Samassa. With the teams going in at half-time at 0-0, the fear for anybody watching was that another goalless encounter was on the cards at the start of the 2013 AFCON tournament. However, the second-half did improve with Mali midfielder Seydou Keita becoming more influential as Mali looked for a winner. With six minutes remaining the breakthrough came when Niger keeper Daouda left his line to gather a cross but only succeeded in dropping it for Keita to gratefully strike home. Mali just about deserved it and secured the first win of the competition, in a game that was by no means a classic.


Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Group C: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Zambia v Ethiopia

The current AFCON Champions Zambia (Chipolopolo – The Copper Bullets) start the defence of their title today against Ethiopia. However, it not been an easy year for Zambia and their form coming into the tournament has been poor. They nearly didn’t make it to South Africa at all, as they only got through the qualifying round on penalties against Uganda after drawing 1-1 on aggregate. However, Zambia will point to the fact that no one fancied their chances in 2012, so are probably happy that this is the case again. Ethiopia (The Walya Antelopes) came through on away goals in both their qualifying rounds. They first saw off Benin (1-1 on aggregate) and then Sudan (5-5 on aggregate). Against Sudan, Ethiopia lost the 1st leg 5-3 but two second-half goals in the 2nd leg saw them qualify for South Africa. In their warm-up games, Ethiopia drew with Tunisia 1-1 and beat Tanzania 2-1. Ethiopia like Niger are rank outsiders for the tournament, so expect Zambia to sneak this one in a tight encounter.


Nigeria v Burkina Faso

Nigeria (The Super Eagles) returns to the AFCON Finals after missing out on the 2012 tournament. They qualified after beating Rwanda 2-0 on aggregate and then Liberia. The Super Eagles only drew 2-2 in Paynesville, but a 6-1 victory in Calabar delivered an emphatic 8-3 aggregate win. In their last outing Nigeria drew 0-0 with Cape Verde. However, they are one of the “big” names in African football and should overcome underdogs Burkina Faso. Les Etalons (The Stallions) qualified after beating the Central African Republic 3-2 on aggregate. They played in both the 2010 and 2012 Finals, but did not secure a win in either tournament. In their warm-up fixtures, The Stallions drew 0-0 with Niger and beat Swaziland 3-0. Despite these results it will probably be another unsuccessful and winless Group exit for the West African side.


Prediction: (1) Nigeria, (2) Zambia, (3) Ethiopia, (4) Burkina Faso

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Sunday 20 January 2013

Group A: National Stadium, Johannesburg.

South Africa (0) 0 – 0 (0) Cape Verde

The twenty ninth African Cup of Nations has started, but with a whimper rather than a bang. In drizzly conditions, hosts South Africa and their opponents Cape Verde served up a pretty uninspiring 0-0 draw. In the first-half South Africa didn’t create a decent effort on goal as they stuck to a long-ball game. The only real chance in the opening forty five minutes fell to the Cape Verde midfielder Platini on the quarter hour mark, but he scuffed his shot horribly wide after being put through on goal. Indeed, Cape Verde looked more comfortable on the ball than the hosts and Mendes and Heldon were creating problems for the South African defence. Despite ringing the changes in the second-half, the home team didn’t improve significantly much to the frustration of Coach Gordon Igesund. As in the opening half the only real chance was created by Cape Verde, when midway through the second-half, Heldon’s header was clawed away by Khune in the South African goal. That was pretty much it as the game petered out towards full-time. A disappointing opener, but things can only get better.


Angola (0) 0 – 0 (0) Morocco

With many of the crowd having gone from the National Stadium, either due to the weather or as a result of the uninspiring display from the hosts, it was left to Angola and Morocco to entertain those who remained. The opening quarter of an hour provided more entertainment than in the previous ninety as Moroccan keeper saved well from Mingo Bille’s shot in the opening minutes, which was followed by two decent chances for Morocco from Mounir El Hamdaoui and Oussama Assaidi. However, in the remainder of the half, little else was created as Angola contained the Moroccan threat going forward. Angola nearly made a perfect start in the second-half, when Moroccan keeper Lamyaghri dropped a cross, but substitute Guilherme Afonso put his effort wide. Guiherme made a difference to Angola going forward in the second period, but despite some patches of enterprising play, neither side could find a winner and Group A had its second 0-0 of the day.


Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth


Group B: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth.

Ghana v Congo DR

After the disappointment of the opening games yesterday, all eyes will turn to Ghana and Congo DR to get the tournament started. Ghana (The Black Stars) are amongst the favourites to win the competition, but that expectation can be a burden as it proved in the 2012 AFCON tournament when they exited in the Semi-Finals to Zambia. However, The Black Stars have looked accomplished in their warm-up games in January after beating Egypt (3-0) and Tunisia (4-2). Their opponents today as Congo DR (The Leopards), who football fans of a certain era will remember, were the first black African side to qualify for a World Cup Finals tournament. The country was then known as Zaire and they took part in the 1974 competition in West Germany. Going into this game all the talk has centred on whether Coach Claude LeRoy is still in charge of the side which will have done little to help preparations for this game. Given this, expect Ghana to score the first goals of the 2013 AFCON tournament and take the three points.


Mali v Niger

Mali (Les Aigles – The Eagles), come into the tournament high in the CAF Rankings, but less favoured by the bookmakers. Their cause hasn’t been helped by the fact that they haven’t played any warm-up games, as Mali were unable to get the release of their European players for the games. In qualifying The Eagles comfortably overcame Botswana 7-1 on aggregate. Their opponents today, Niger (Ménas – Gazelles) are the rank outsiders in this competition. However, they put out Guinea (2-1 on aggregate) in qualification, and in their warm-up games beat Togo 3-1 and drew 0-0 with Burkinso Faso. Mali should not underestimate Niger, as any overconfidence could see the Ménas take a point. The Eagles should win today, but Niger will make them work for it.


Prediction: (1) Ghana, (2) Mali, (3) Congo DR, (4) Niger

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Saturday 19 January 2013

National Stadium, Johannesburg

The 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations starts later today with a double-header in Group A at the National Stadium in Johannesburg. In the first game, South Africa will be under tremendous pressure as the host nation in the opening fixture against Cape Verde. The Bafana Bafana (Boys, Boys) come into the game having lost to Norway (1-0) and drawn 0-0 against Algeria in friendlies during January. Coach Gordon Igesund landed the role in June 2012 after South Africa started poorly in their World Cup 2014 Qualification campaign. This opening game with Cape Verde will be a difficult one. The Tubarões Azuis (Blue Sharks) clinched qualification for their first Finals with a shock defeat of Cameroon coming through 3-2 on aggregate. Their last game prior to South Africa was a 0-0 draw with Nigeria. The expectations of the South African fans will be immense and Cape Verde could cause an upset if the hosts don’t grab an early goal.

In the second game in Group A, Angola (The Palancas Negras – The Sable Antelopes) are up against Morocco (Lions of the Atlas). Angola won both friendlies in January prior to this tournament, beating Zambia and Botswana and will be difficult opponents in a Group that is not easy  to call. Morocco played two friendlies in January beating Namibia 2-1 and drawing with current ACN Champions Zambia 0-0. Two pretty evenly matched and organised teams, so am going for a draw in this one.

Prediction: (1) Morocco, (2) Angola, (3) Cape Verde, (4) South Africa.

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Preview

In twenty four hours the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations begins in South Africa. The twenty ninth tournament begins with two games in Group A, with the first match between hosts South Africa against Cape Verde followed by Angola taking on Morocco at the National Stadium in Johannesburg.

Here in the United Kingdom games will be available on ITV4 and British Eurosport, with coverage including a mixture of live games and highlights packages. For those looking for players currently with British clubs taking part in the competition the list is as follows:


Adlène Guedioura (Nottingham Forest)

Congo DR:

Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough United) and Youssouf Mulumbu (WBA)


Albert Adomah (Bristol City)

Ivory Coast:

Abdul Razak (Manchester City), Arouna Koné (Wigan Athletic), Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United), Gervinho (Arsenal), Kolo Touré (Manchester City) and Yaya Touré (Manchester City)


Modibo Maïga (West Ham United) and Samba Diakité (QPR)


Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa) and Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool)


Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Mikel John Obi (Chelsea) and Victor Moses (Chelsea)

South Africa:

Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic) and Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace)


Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur)


Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton)

In terms of ranking, FIFA released the latest positions on 17 January 2013 just prior to the start of the Africa Cup of Nations and the standing in terms of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Rankings for the teams taking part is as follows:

Group A

South Africa (22), Angola (19), Morocco (17), Cape Verde (15)

Group B

Ghana (4), Mali (3), Niger (25), Congo DR (27)

Group C

Zambia (5), Nigeria (9), Burkino Faso (23), Ethiopia (31)

Group D

Ivory Coast (1), Tunisia (10), Algeria (2), Togo (18)

When looking at betting odds for the tournament, William Hill have the following in terms of the prices for the teams to win the competition:

Ivory Coast (7/4), Ghana (6/1), South Africa (7/1), Nigeria (8/1), Zambia (10/1), Morocco (12/1), Algeria (14/1), Mali (14/1), Tunisia (14/1), Angola (40/1), Burkino Faso (50/1), Cape Verde (50/1), Congo DR (66/1), Togo (66/1), Ethiopia (150/1), Niger (150/1).

Unfortunately, as in previous years the tournament will be played against a volatile political situation in some countries. With the opening kick-off not until tomorrow, the hostage situation in Algeria and civil unrest in Mali are the events making the headlines. Football like any sport should be an occasion of participation, celebration and joy; let us hope that the 2013 tournament doesn’t become remembered for events off the pitch.

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Draw

The draw was made this week for the (Orange) 2013 Africa Cup of Nations which takes place in South Africa in January next year. The four groups will be as follows:


FIFA Ranking

CAF Ranking

Group A:



South Africa



Cape Verde












Group B:






Congo DR












Group C:












Burkina Faso






Group D:



Côte d’Ivoire












Note: Rankings as at 03 October 2012.


Group A:


South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Hosts
Cape Verde First ever appearance at Finals
Morocco 1976 Africa Cup of Nations Winners
Angola 2010 Africa Cup of Nations Hosts
Group B:  
Ghana 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982 Africa Cup of Nations Winners
Congo DR 1968, 1974 Africa Cup of Nations Winners (as Zaire)
Niger Second appearance in Finals.
Mali 1972 Africa Cup of Nations Runners-Up
Group C:  
Zambia 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Winners
Ethiopia 1962 Africa Cup of Nations Winners
Nigeria 1980, 1994 Africa Cup of Nations Winners
Burkina Faso Qualified for third successive Finals
Group D:  
Côte d’Ivoire 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Runners-Up
Togo Qualified for 2006 World Cup in Germany
Tunisia 2004 Africa Cup of Nations Winners
Algeria 1990 Africa Cup of Nations Winners 

2013 Africa Cup of Nations: Second Qualifying Round (Second-Leg)

The final games to confirm the fifteen qualifying teams joining hosts South Africa in January 2013, took place over the weekend of Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October 2012.

There were two big aggregate wins from the fifteen matches. The first saw Mali (CAF ranking 3) already 3-0 ahead from the First Leg, complete a 7-1 aggregate win with a 4-1 victory over Botswana (34) in Lobatse. In the second, Liberia (27) and Nigeria (13) had played out a 2-2 draw in Paynesville. However, in the Second Leg it was never a close affair. Efe Ambrose scored in the opening minute and Ahmed Musa put Nigeria two up and in control before the break. Chelsea forward Victor Moses got a brace in the second-half, with goals from fellow Blue John Obi Mikel and Ikechukwu Uche ensuring a 6-1 victory for Nigeria.

However, there were two games which created the most headlines. Côte d’Ivoire (1) went into the Second-Leg fixture in Dakar with a 4-2 lead and put the tie further beyond Senegal (15) with two goals from Didier Drogba. However, when the second goal (a penalty) was scored, violence erupted in the stadium. With players and some fans seeking refuge in the centre-circle the game was suspended and CAF allowed the result to stand with Côte d’Ivoire progressing 6-2 on aggregate. The other game which received a great deal of attention, saw Cameroon (16) lose 3-2 on aggregate to Cape Verde (10). Cape Verde had a 2-0 lead going into the game at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé and went further ahead in the tie with a goal from Nhuck on twelve minutes. Achille Emana got one back for Cameroon ten minutes later, but they were unable to break down Cape Verde until a goal from Fabrice Olinga in time added-on gave Cameroon a 2-1 win on the night, but on aggregate missed out on the Finals again.

There were also a number of other teams who caused upsets as lower ranked sides “put one over” on those above them. Niger (42) had lost their First-Leg game against Guinea (12) 1-0, but in the return game in Niamey, two second-half goals saw Niger through with Chikoto Mohamed and Issoufou Boubacar Garba, the goal-scoring heroes. Togo (24) had drawn 1-1 with Gabon (8) ahead of the Second-Leg game. At the Stade de Kégué in Lomé, Togo went ahead through Dové Wome, a lead that was doubled with an effort from Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor. 2012 Co-hosts Gabon threatened to get back into the tie with a goal on eighty minutes from ex-Hull City striker Daniel Cousin. However, Togo held on for a 3-2 aggregate win. Burkina Faso (23) lost 1-0 to the Central African Republic [CAR] (9) in Bangui and found themselves 2-0 down on aggregate when David Manga opening the scoring for CAR in the Second-Leg. However, Alain Traoré pulled a goal back on eighteen minutes and the tie was level just before half-time through a Moumouni Dagano penalty. The incredible comeback was complete by Burkina Faso when in time added-on, Alain Traoré got his second to send the home fans into wild celebration.

Three games were decided by the away-goals rule. Facing a 3-1 deficit from the First Leg, Angola (20) overcame Zimbabwe (21) after two goals from Manucho in the opening ten minutes in Luanda levelled the tie at 3-3. Having drawn 2-2 against Sierra Leone (14), Tunisia (7) were always going to be favourites to take this tie, but they had to settle for a 0-0 to see them through. Sudan (29) lead 5-3 going into the game against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa and at half-time must have thought a place in the Finals was a real possibility with the score at 0-0. However, goals from Adane Girma and Saladin Said gave the advantage to the Ethiopians.

One game was not able to be settled by away-goals and that involved Zambia (6) and Uganda (22). Having won the First-Leg 1-0, the holders Zambia found themselves behind in the Second-Leg, when Geofrey Massa put Uganda ahead in the first-half. However, neither side could find a decisive goal, and it took penalties to separate the teams, with Zambia emerging 9-8 winners and so progressing to defend their title in South Africa in January 2013.

Elsewhere, Ghana (4) completed a 3-0 aggregate win over Malawi (26) and Algeria (2) went through by the same margin against Libya (11). Congo DR (30) were 4-0 up from the First-Leg against Equatorial Guinea, and despite a 2-1 loss in Malabo, went through 5-2 on aggregate. Morocco (18) had the comeback of the round over Mozambique (28). The Moroccans were 2-0 down before the return game in Marrakech. Abdelaziz Barrada gave Morocco a 1-0 half-time lead, but had to wait until the sixty fourth minute when a penalty from Houssine Kharja levelled up the tie. Youssef El-Arabi put Morocco ahead with five minutes to go and a 4-2 aggregate win was sealed with a goal in time added-on from Nordin Amrabat.

The sixteen teams who will take part in the Finals in January 2013 are as follows:

Algeria Angola Burkina Faso Cape Verde
Congo DR Côte d’Ivoire Ethiopia Ghana
Mali Morocco Niger Nigeria
South Africa Togo Tunisia Zambia


They now await the draw (which takes place on 21 October 2012) to see how the Groups will look for the Finals in South Africa.

[Note: CAF Ranking as at 03 October 2012]

2013 Africa Cup of Nations: Second Qualifying Round (First-Leg)

These First-Leg, Second Round Qualifying games took place between 08-09 September 2012. The Second-Leg fixtures will take place between 12-14 October 2012 with the winners of each tie qualifying for the 2013 Finals in South Africa. The figure in square brackets shows the CAF Ranking as at 05 September 2012.

[15] Cape Verde (2) – (0) Cameroon [12]

Cameroon could be about to miss out on qualifying for a second successive Africa Cup of Nations (ACN) after a First-Leg loss to Cape Verde. Goals from Ricardo (15 minutes) and Djaniny (61 minutes) put The Blue Sharks on the road to qualification for their first ever ACN Finals.

[14] Central African Republic (1) – (0) Burkina Faso [22]

This tie is very much in the balance after Mabidé (21 minutes) gave the Central African Republic a slender advantage going into the return game. Burkina Faso will hope to overturn the deficit and qualify for a third successive appearance at the Finals.

[30] Congo DR (4) –  (0) Equatorial Guinea [28]

It was 2006 when the Congo DR lasted qualified for the Finals, but this emphatic 4-0 with second-half goals from Mbokani  (55 & 81 minutes) Kanda  (64 minutes) and Mpeko (74 minutes), looks to have secured The Leopards a place in South Africa in 2013. It will be something of a miracle if 2012 Co-hosts Equatorial Guinea can turn this tie around.

[1] Côte d’Ivoire (4) – (2) Senegal [13]

The top ranked team in CAF, Côte d’Ivoire were involved in a six goal thriller with Senegal in Abidjan. Senegal were twice ahead in the game. The Lions of Teranga took the lead on 33 minutes with a goal from Dame N’Doye, only for recent Lille signing Salomon Kalou to level the scoring ten minutes later. Newcastle United striker Papiss Cissé put Senegal back in front on the hour mark, but they were again pegged back on 65 minutes by a goal from Arsenal forward Gervinho. At 2-2 and with ten minutes remaining, Senegal would have been happy to end the game there. However, Didier Drogba converted a penalty on 80 minutes and Côte d’Ivoire got another five minutes later when ex-Leeds United striker Max Gradel made the score 4-2. The first goal in the return game in Dakar will be crucial.

[9] Gabon (1) – (1) Togo [26]

Two names familiar to British football fans scored the goals in this 1-1 draw in Libreville. Both goals came in the second-half with Daniel Cousin  (ex-Hull City and Rangers) scoring on 69 minutes for Gabon and  Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor replying just five minutes later. This one is too close to call for the Second-Leg.

[3] Ghana (2) – (0) Malawi [24]

A professional job from Ghana with a goal in each half has put them in the driving seat going into the Second-Leg. Atsu scored after 8 minutes with Anthony Annan wrapping up the 2-0 victory with a goal on 53 minutes.

[17] Guinea (1) – (0) Niger [38]

Despite the huge difference in ranking Niger put up a real fight at the Nongo Stadium in Conakry. Ibrahim Yattara scored the only goal early in the second-half for Guinea, but there could yet be an upset in the Second-Leg.

[31] Liberia (2) – (2) Nigeria [10]

Another “David v Goliath” tie, with the underdogs Liberia giving a good account of themselves. Omega Roberts gave the home team the lead after 5 minutes, but two goals in quick succession from Nosa Igiebor (22 minutes) and a penalty from Ikechukwu Uche (26 minutes), put the visitors ahead. However, a second-half goal from Sekou Oliseh after 66 minutes ensured it is all square for the return game in Akure.

[5] Libya (0) – (1) Algeria [2]

This game was played at the Stade Mohamed V, in Casablanca (Morocco) because of the political situation in Libya. It looked as though this was heading for a draw until El Arbi Hillel Soudani scored two minutes from time to give Algeria the advantage with their home game in Blida to come.

[4] Mali (3) – (0) Botswana [36]

Chieck Diabaté was one of the joint leading scorers at the 2012 ACN and he opened the scoring for Mali with a penalty on 27 minutes against Botswana. Second-half goals from N’Diaye and Maïga gave The Eagles a 3-0 First-Leg win which should be enough to see them progress to the Finals.

[29] Mozambique (2) – (0) Morocco [16]

Could their be an upset in this tie? Mozambique shocked Morocco with two late goals from Miro (75 minutes) and Domingues  (90+3). The home team have only qualified once for the Finals since 2000, but have given themselves a great chance to progress to South Africa with this result.

[11] Sierra Leone (2) – (2) Tunisia [7]

Sheriff Suma shot Sierra Leone into a 1-0 half-time lead, but Gharbi levelled for Tunisia on 65 minutes. The home side must have thought they had the game won when Alhassan Kamara (currently on loan in Sweden with Örebro SK) scored with five minutes remaining. However, on 87 minutes Youssef Msakni brought the scores level again at 2-2 to set up an enthralling decider in Monastir.

[27] Sudan (5) – (3) Ethiopia [32]

Eight goals at the Khartoum Stadium as Sudan eventually triumphed 5-3. The goal-feast began on 7 minutes  when Careca put the home side in front, only for the visitors to level on 14 minutes through Kebede. However, within a minute Bisha had restored the lead for Sudan. When Mosaab Omer added a third in time added-on at the end of the first-half, the Falcons of Jediane must have been thinking the game was there for the taking in the second period. However, Ethiopia stormed back with a second goal for Kebede on 50 minutes and the equaliser on 68 minutes from Adane Girma. The drama wasn’t over though and Sudan striker Muhannad Tahir turned the tie with a penalty on 83 minutes and a further strike on 90 minutes. The first goal will be crucial in the Second-Leg in Addis Ababa.

[8] Zambia (1) – (0) Uganda [23]

Current ACN holders Zambia, took the lead on 18 minutes with a goal from Chris Katongo, but were unable to build on that early goal against underdogs Uganda. If Zambia are to qualify and defend their title in South Africa they will have to battle hard at the National Stadium in Kampala come October.

[25] Zimbabwe (3) – (1) Angola [20]

Zimbabwe raced into a 3-0 half-time lead with goals from Mateus (own goal), Billiat and Gutu. However, a goal from Djalma on 56 minutes has given Angola hope for the Second-Leg in Luanda. However, Zimbabwe look favourites to make it through to only their second ever Finals (the first was Egypt in 2006).

2013 Africa Cup of Nations: 1st Round Qualification

Whilst in Poland and Ukraine Euro 2012 was taking place, the second leg of the 1st Round of qualification for the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations (ACN) Finals was completed. In ranking terms, the biggest upset saw Egypt (Confederation of African Football [CAF] Ranking 8) beaten by the Central African Republic (22). Given the current political situation and the shadow of the Port Said Stadium disaster earlier this year, perhaps it is no surprise that the Egyptians were knocked out. In the first leg at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt were twice ahead, but lost the game 3-2. In the return game the game ended level at 1-1 and the seven times ACN winners, Egypt were out 4-3 on aggregate.

There were high scoring aggregate wins for Cape Verde (18) over Madagascar (43) 7-1, Congo DR (38) against the Seychelles (48) 7-0 and Algeria’s (3) 6-2 victory over Gambia (28).

São Tomé and Príncipe (34) went into the second-leg game against Sierra Leone (10) with a 2-1 lead and must have fancied an up set was on the cards when they took the lead at the National Stadium in Freetown after just two minutes to have a 3-1 aggregate advantage. However, Sierra Leone scored four goals in the opening half to open up a 5-3 cushion. São Tomé and Príncipe responded early in the second-half to cut the aggregate deficit to 5-4, but they couldn’t find another goal, which would have taken them through on away-goals.

Lowly ranked Guinea-Bissau (44) made four time ACN winners, Cameroon (13) work very hard over both legs, with Cameroon only winning each leg 1-0 for a 2-0 aggregate win. Another ‘big-name’ Nigeria (11) made heavy weather of progressing against lower ranked opposition after a 2-0 second-leg win over Rwanda (35).

Three games were decided on away goals with Ethiopia (39) causing a bit of a shock over Benin (17), Zimbabwe (26) overcoming Burundi (40) and Togo (24) seeing-off Kenya (29). Away goals couldn’t separate Tanzania (42) and Mozambique (33) and the tie went to penalties. Mozambique missed their first two spot-kicks but eventually emerged 7-6 on penalties.

In the remaining games, Uganda (23) overturned a 3-1 first-leg deficit, with a 4-0 victory over Congo (19), Malawi (27) beat Chad (30) 4-3 on aggregate and Liberia (37) held onto their 1-0 first-leg lead over Namibia (41) after drawing the second-leg 0-0.

The fourteen winners of these 1st Round games are now joined by the sixteen teams that took part in the 2012 African Cup of Nations and will play over two-legs in September and October 2012, with the winners gaining a place at the 2013 Finals in South Africa. The teams are to be place in two pots, with a team from each pot drawn against each other. The method by which the pots are decided can be found at the following link.

The draw is as follows:

 Mali v Botswana

Zimbabwe v Angola

Ghana v Malawi

Liberia v Nigeria

Zambia v Uganda

Cape Verde v Cameroon

Mozambique v Morocco

Sierra Leone v Tunisia

Guinea v Niger

Sudan v Ethiopia

Libya v Algeria

Ivory Coast v Senegal

Congo DR v Equatorial Guinea

Gabon v Togo

Burkina Faso v Central African Republic

2013 African Cup of Nations: Preliminary Round Qualification

Before a ball was kicked in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Finals in Gabon & Equatorial Guinea, qualification for the 2013 Finals in South Africa had begun. On 15 January 2012 at the Estádio Nacional 12 de Julho, São Tomé and Príncipe played Lesotho in the Preliminary Round, 1st Leg and won 1-0 through a third minute penalty scored by Jair Nunes do Espírito Santo. A week later the 2nd Leg took place at the Setsoto Stadium in Maseru where a 0-0 saw São Tomé progress to the First Round. In the other Preliminary Round game, Seychelles advanced after Swaziland withdrew for financial reasons.

With the tournament being switched to take place in the ‘odd’ years, it meant qualification for the 2013 Finals had to be a shortened process. Therefore instead of the usual Group stage to illicit the finalists, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) went for qualification on a knockout basis, with the following format.

Preliminary Round

  • Four lowest ranked teams.
  • 1st Leg: 15/01/12 – 2nd Leg: 22/01/12
  • Two teams progress to First Round (São Tomé and Príncipe & Seychelles)


First Round

  • Twenty six team who failed to qualify for 2012 Finals and the two Prelimanry Round winners.
  • 1st Leg: 29/02/12 – 2nd Leg: 15/06/12
  • Fourteen teams progress to Second Round


Second Round

  • Sixteen teams who competed in 2012 Finals and fourteen winners from First Round.
  • 1st Leg: 7-9/09/12 – 2nd Leg: 12-14/10/12
  • Fifteen winners join hosts South Africa in 2013 Finals.


Both legs of the First Round games between Egypt and Central African Republic will be played in June 2012 due to the Port Said Stadium disaster earlier this year. The results in the First Round 1st Leg games were as follows:

Burundi 2-1 Zimbabwe
Chad 3-2 Malawi
Congo 3-1 Uganda
Ethiopia 0-0 Benin
Gambia 1-2 Algeria
Guinea-Bissau 0-1 Cameroon
Kenya 2-1 Togo
Liberia 1-0 Namibia
Madagascar 0-4 Cape Verde
Rwanda 0-0 Nigeria
São Tomé and Príncipe 2-1 Sierra Leone
Seychelles 0-4 Congo DR
Tanzania 1-1 Mozambique


Apart from 4-0 wins for Cape Verde and Congo DR the remaining ties look to be still up for grabs. Many of the lower ranked teams more than held their own, with São Tomé and Príncipe (CAF ranking 45) winning 2-1 against Sierra Leone (13), the standout result. Also causing upsets were Burundi (41) who beat Zimbabwe (23), Chad (40) who emerged 3-2 victors over Malawi (22) and Congo (36) with a 3-1 win over Uganda (20). Of the ‘big-guns’, Algeria (3) emerged 2-1 winners in Gambia (30), so will expect to qualify with the home leg to come. Nigeria (8) had to settle for a 0-0 in Rwanda (26), whilst Cameroon (15) should make it through with a 1-0 lead and the home leg to come against Guinea-Bissau (44).

So as with the 2012 Finals, the 2013 qualification games are already throwing up some shocks. It makes the 2nd Legs in June 2012 something to look forward to. Who needs the European Championships?