2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Sunday 27 January 2013

Group D: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Ivory Coast (1) 3 – 0 (0) Tunisia

A performance from The Elephants that justified their tag as favourites as they comfortably overcame Tunisia. Ivory Coast dominated from the off and therefore it was no surprise when the team that is top of the latest CAF Rankings took the lead on twenty one minutes. Tunisia didn’t clear the ball inside the penalty box and instead it was collected by Gervinho who played a one-two with Lacina Traore, whose clever back-heel allowed the Arsenal forward to side-foot past Ben Cherifa in the Tunisian goal. The Elephants were good value for their half-time lead and even had a decent shout for a penalty turned down just before the break. On the hour Ivory Coast were again questioning the abilities of the match officials when Salomon Kalou slotted home after a pull-back from Gervinho. The Gunners forward was flagged offside, but replays suggested he was not. Tunisia stuck to their task, but were undone late in the game. On eighty seven minutes Yaya Toure received the ball outside the penalty area and after one touch let fly with his right foot a shot that arrowed into the net. As the fulltime whistle approached The Elephants got a third goal, as Hannover 96 striker Didier Ya Konan, who had only just came onto the pitch, picked his spot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. A promising display from Ivory Coast, but they have flattered to deceive in previous AFCON tournaments. Is 2013 their year?


Algeria (0) 0 – (1) 2 Togo

After this win Togo know that a draw in their final game against Tunisia will be enough to seem them through to the Quarter-Finals. Algeria though exit the competition after a second successive defeat. Algeria had plenty of possession in the opening half, but it was Togo who went ahead. On thirty one minutes Emmanuel Adebayor played a headed one-two with Moustapha Salifou before coolly finishing past Rais Mbolhi from the edge of the area. Algeria started the second period in a positive manner and had a couple of decent penalty shouts turned down. However, with the game approaching the last five minutes, Algerian Adlene Guedioura ran into his own net and in the process damaged the left hand goalpost. The game was then delayed for nearly fifteen minutes whilst it was fixed. Once the game recommenced, and with an addition thirteen minutes time added-on, Togo got a second clinching goal when Dove Wome collected a through ball before taking it on into the box and then slotting past Rais Mbolhi. When the whistle was eventually blown, Algeria the number two CAF Ranked team were out. Perhaps the bookies knew a think though; they had the Algerians out at 14/1.


Group A:

Morocco v South Africa – Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

The last round of Group games sees the end of the ‘double-headers’ that have featured at the various venues to date, with the remaining games at different venues, but with the same kick-off time. For hosts South Africa a win or draw will see them into the Quarter-Finals. For their opponents Morocco, a win over the Bafana Bafana would definitely see them through. However, a draw might still be enough for Morocco, but their progress will be dependent on the Cape Verde and Angola result. Expect numerous swings in who is in then out as the ninety minutes unfold.


Cape Verde v Angola – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Cape Verde enters the game knowing that if they beat Angola and South Africa beat Morocco, then they will progress. It would be quite an achievement for the side making its debut in the AFCON. A draw will also be enough again if South Africa beat Morocco, but anything less and the various combinations of results, goals scored etc. will come into play. Even currently bottom placed Angola are not out of qualifying for the knock-out stages, as they would progress if they beat Cape Verde and Morocco draw with South Africa. Let the drama commence.

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Wednesday 23 January 2013

Group D: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Ivory Coast (1) 2 – 1 (1) Togo

The tournament favourites Ivory Coast got off to a winning start, but left it very late to clinch it. However, it was a nervy start from The Elephants, who could have gone behind after two minutes. Kolo Toure made a hash of a back pass allowing Emmanuel Adebayor in on goal; however, goalkeeper Boubacar Barry did enough to tip the ball away from the Togo forward. On eight minutes Ivory Coast went ahead, after Gervinho did well to get down the wing and cut the ball back, where Yaya Toure fired in a shot. It found the net after taking a deflection from the despairing lounges of the Togo defence. The Elephants continued to dominate with Max Gradel and Gervinho causing problems as the game move to the half hour mark. However, gradually Togo came into the game in the closing fifteen minutes, but nearly conceded a second on forty four minutes when a Yaya Toure shot cannoned off the post. Togo made The Elephants pay when in time added-on a scuffed corner from Serge Gakpa was clipped in by Jonathan Ayite. Into the second-half and Togo looked to frustrate the Ivory Coast, as both sides shuffled their pack in search of a winner with the subdued Didier Drogba replaced on seventy four minutes. In the end it took an error to provide the next goal, when on eighty eight minutes a free-kick by Yaya Toure was misjudged by Togo keeper Kossi Agassa leaving Gervinho to fire into an empty net. However, Togo so nearly grabbed an equaliser in time added-on, but Boubacar Barry saved brilliantly from Floyd Ayite’s diving header. Three points for the tournament favourites, but they were made to work for them.


Tunisia (0) 1 – 0 (0) Algeria

There was very little good or memorable about this game and just as it looked like the 2013 competition had another 0-0 on its hands a moment of pure class settled this game. As the ninety minutes were up, the crowd saw they had four minutes of time added-on to endure. In the first minute of the four, Youssef Msakni collected the ball outside the box on the left hand side and then cut inside toward the centre of the pitch; he then unleashed a perfect curler into the top corner out of the reach of Algerian keeper M’Bolhi. The goal of the tournament so far and the first upset of the competition as well.


Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Group A: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

South Africa v Angola/Morocco v Cape Verde

With both opening fixtures of Group A finishing 0-0, everyone is on the same footing as the second round of games commences. South Africa as hosts were unable to provide the country with the win they wanted against Cape Verde and Angola will look to capitalise on the pressure the Bafana Bafana will be under. Angola to nick this one and cause despair in Durban. Morocco will find Cape Verde are an organised outfit, but should come through if they can turn the possession they had against Angola into chances.

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.

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Thursday 09 February 2012


At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, one of the talking points before and after the event was the Official match ball, the “Jabulani” (meaning, celebrate in Zulu). It came in for an enormous amount of criticism, with some claiming that the ball was too light and unpredictable in flight. Interestingly an earlier version of the ball had been used in January that year in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, where the Jabulani-Angola was the competition match ball. However, there was little criticism of the ball during that tournament. It may have been that issues were caused when the ball was modified for the World Cup. It may have been the altitude in South Africa. Or could the fact that once some starting complaining, a (possibly unfounded) seed of doubt was planted in players minds about the Jabulani?

For the 2012  Orange Africa Cup of Nations, the “Comoequa” has been used. As with the choice of name for the tournament mascot (Gaguie), there is a simple reasoning to the match ball name. “Comoequa” originates from the River Como and the Equator, both of which pass through co-hosts, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It’s a colourful ball to say the least, as it is mainly yellow and features some of the colours from the flags of both co-hosts. In terms of performance, there doesn’t seem to have been any complaints from the players and from the games I have watched it doesn’t appear to have behaved in any peculiar way at all. What do they say about a poor workman?

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Monday 30 January 2012

Group B

Sudan (2) – (1) Burkina Faso [Estadio de Bata]

Ivory Coast (2) – (0) Angola [Nuevo Estadio de Malabo]

Plenty at stake in the final games today. Ivory Coast were definitely through and Burkina Faso were out. However, one from Angola and Sudan would also progress and the issue of top spot in the Group also needed resolving. Ivory Coast made wholesale changes for the game, presumably to rest their preferred starting line-up ahead of the Quarter-Final.

Both games were relatively quiet and without major incident in the opening thirty minutes with no goals. Then like the proverbial bus, along came two! In Malabo, Ivory Coast took the lead on 33 minutes. Bony won the ball in midfield and carried it forward before crossing into the Angolan six-yard box. Covering defender Miguel made a hash of his attempted clearance and gave Emmanuel Eboue the opportunity to poke home from close range. Meanwhile in Bata, Sudan went 1-0 ahead. The Burkina Faso back line was caught flat which allowed Mudather Eltaib a clear run on goal before coolly finishing past keeper Daouda Diakite. As half-time approached in each game, Ivory Coast continued to press and create chances against Angola, while Sudan and Burkina Faso was a more even affair after the goal. At the break with the scores as they stood, Ivory Coast would top the group and Angola would also go through as runners-up on goal difference over Sudan. In the second half, to progress from the Group, Sudan would have to score themselves to increase their lead, or hope that the Ivory Coast could add to their tally against Angola.

The opening fifteen minutes in both games proved to be cagey, with little threat to a change in the score-lines. Then on 65 minutes, a goal was scored in Malabo. A punt into the Angola half caused confusion and as Angolan keeper Wilson came to the edge of his area to collect the ball, defender Massunguna headed over him, leaving Wilfried Bony to tap the ball into an empty net. Not only did this double Ivory Coast’s lead, but meant that if the scores stayed that way, then Angola were heading out. With ten minutes remaining, Sudan strengthened their grip on the runners-up spot with a goal to double their lead. Keeper Akram kicked downfield and his opposite number in the Burkina Faso goal hesitated allowing Mudather Eltaib to nip in, round Diakite and score his and Sudan’s second. Angola and Burkina Faso reacted positively with the game slipping away, but were unable to score. However, both games had a number of minutes of time added-on. Whilst Angola couldn’t create any late drama, over in Bata Burkina Faso scored through Issiaka Ouedraogo. A long ball in the box, had Sudanese keeper recklessly and needlessly rushing out of his area, so making it an easy finish for Ouedraogo. However, Sudan held on and progressed to the Quarter-Finals on goal difference. Credit to Ivory Coast, who despite a much changed team, didn’t just go through the motions against Angola and played their part in providing the opportunity for Sudan to progress. Angola so close to qualifying missed out on goal difference and depart the competition with Burkina Faso.

Final Positions:

(1) Ivory Coast: 9 pts, (2) Sudan: 4 pts (GD: 0),  (3) Angola: 4 pts (GD: -1), (4) Burkina Faso: 0 pts.

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Thursday 26 January 2012

Group B:

Sudan (2) – (2) Angola

For Angola (nicknamed, Palancas Negras – The Sable Antelopes), a win would guarantee progression to the Quarter-Finals. For Sudan (nicknamed, Falcons of Jediane) avoiding defeat would at least mean they had something to play for in their last game. However, Sudan got off to the worst possible start and conceded a goal on 4 minutes. Nagm Eldin was caught in possession by Manucho who carried the ball into the Sudanese box before firing home confidently. Despite such a terrible start, Sudan didn’t capitulate and showed as they did against the Ivory Coast, good organisational ability to get back into the game. They were rewarded for their efforts just after the half-hour mark to level the game at 1-1. Sudan worked the ball wide to Mudather El Taib, who crossed and Mohamed Ahmed Bashir got between two defenders to sent a flicked header into the net. Buoyed by the goal, Sudan finished the half strongly. As in the first-half, Sudan started badly again in the second period, giving away a penalty within five minutes of the restart. Hamid Nazar clumsily and unnecessarily brought down Djalma and Manucho coolly slotted home the penalty. Credit to Sudan though as they stuck to their task once more to keep Angola at bay. Then on 74 minutes Sudan struck. A long ball into the box found Angolan defender Vunguidica unsure of how to deal with it. His attempted chesting down of the ball merely put the ball into the path of Mohamed Ahmed Bashir, who as four Angolan players looked on, swept in sweetly for his and Sudan’s second goal. The final passage of the game saw both sides look for a winner. In truth, a draw was a fair result and means both these sides are still in with a chance of further progress in the competition.


Ivory Coast (2) – (0) Burkina Faso

As with the match earlier, one side knew that victory would assure a place in the Quarter-Finals; that side being the Ivory Coast (nicknamed, Les Éléphants – The Elephants). What stood between them and that place was the team from Burkina Faso (nicknamed, Les Etalons  – The Stallions). Despite their status as tournament favourites, Ivory Coast were less than convincing in their win over Sudan and knew that Burkina Faso could be tricky fixture. Both sides continued to display the traits from their opening fixtures. Ivory Coast again flattered to deceive, whilst despite good organisation in midfield and up-front coupled with plenty of possession, Burkina Faso again demonstrated poor defensive abilities. After 16 minutes from a throw-in, a cross into the box was flicked at and missed by Yaya Touré allowing Salomon Kalou to fire a sweet half-volley home from six yards out. The second and killer goal came on 82 minutes. A free-kick just inside The Stallions half was pumped into their box and there was no communication between the two Burkina Faso defenders as they both went for the ball. Bakary Koné got the telling touch and with it the dubious pleasure of scoring an own goal and condemning his team to an early exit from the tournament. The Elephants triumphed 2-0 and are through to the Quarter-Finals, but will somebody take that George Graham coaching manual away from their dressing room.

Final Group B fixtures: Monday 30 January – Sudan v Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast v Angola

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Sunday 22 January 2012

Group B:

Ivory Coast (1) – (0) Sudan

After the surprise results on Saturday, was there another shock on the cards as tournament favourites Ivory Coast took on Sudan at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo? From the outset underdogs Sudan were happy to let Ivory Coast have possession and in the opening thirty minutes contained their opponents fairly comfortably. However, with 39 minutes on the watch, the Chelsea pair of Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba combined to put The Elephants ahead. Kalou crossed deep into the Sudan six yard box and Drogba got behind the defender to clinically head home. Sudan responded quickly and  Ivory Coast were able to hold onto their lead at half-time, thanks to a fantastic save from keeper Boubacar just before the break. Sudan continued to frustrate the Ivory Coast in the second half, although there were chances which Gervinho couldn’t capitalise on for The Elephants. Ivory Coast got the victory, but it was by no means convincing. Sudan showed what an organised team they were and will be difficult to beat.


Burkina Faso (1) – (2) Angola

On paper this looked a fairly even game given their respective CAF rankings, with Burkina Faso 14th and Angola 19th and the first-half reflected this as the teams went in at 0-0 at the break. The game was all about the second-half and three quality strikes. Angola opened the scoring on 48 minutes, when Burkina Faso were suicidal in defence. Bakary Kone inexplicitity played ‘keepy-up’ in his own penalty area, but gave the ball away allowing Mateus to collect cut inside and then fire across the keeper. The lead however was wiped out on 57 minutes by a curling free-kick by Alain Traore, with Angolan keeper Fernandes rooted to the spot. Having got themselves back in the game, less than ten minutes later, more poor defensive work by Burkina Faso gave the initiative back to Angola. Manucho gained possession and cut across the line of defence before unleashing a left footed strike which found the net, with keeper Daouda Diakite possibly slow in reacting to the strike. Angola held on and took the three points. So four games played in the tournament and not a draw as yet – so much for cagey opening games.

Group  resumes on Thursday 26 January, with Sudan v Angola and Ivory Coast v Burkina Faso.