2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Sunday 03 February 2013



Ghana (0) 2 – 0 (0) Cape Verde

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

The final score says that in the end there was no fairy-tale for underdogs Cape Verde. However, they may consider themselves unlucky to be exiting the competition. In the opening forty-five  minutes, Cape Verde more than held their own and had the best of the limited chances that were created, when on a couple of occasions, Heldon shot high and wide when well placed. Ghana keeper Duada was also called upon to intercept a low driven cross that had Soares waiting to pounce. 0-0 at half-time with The Blue Sharks more content with their opening forty-five minutes than Ghana. Unfortunately for Cape Verde, they fell behind on fifty-four minutes to a most dubious penalty. Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan went down after a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge with Carlitos and despite protests from the Cape Verde players the referee awarded a penalty. Substitute Wakaso smashed it in straight down the middle of the goal and undeservedly, The Black Stars were ahead. The goal did not deflate Cape Verde and they created a number of excellent chances. Ghana keeper Duada denied Cape Verde an equaliser on a number of occasions, with the pick of the saves from efforts by substitute Platini and Djaniny. With the game deep into time added on, Cape Verde keeper Vozinha came up for a corner, however as the effort was cleared, Wakaso ran onto the ball and was able to slot into an empty net to give Ghana a 2-0 win. The exit for Cape Verde, given the nature of their defeat felt slightly unjust. However, they will long be remembered for being one of the bright moments of the 2013 AFCON tournament. Ghana progress, but on this performance look far from title winning material.


South Africa (1) 1 – 1 (0) Mali AET

(Mali won 3-1 on penalties)

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

The dreaded football foe that is the penalty shoot-out claimed its first victim as hosts South Africa went out in their Quarter-Final against Mali. Bafana Bafana had dominated the first-half and took the lead on thirty one minutes. It was an end-to-end move from South Africa, which started when keeper Khune fed Mahlangu, who drove at the Mali defence, before playing the ball out wide left to Thuso Phala. The Mali defence pulled across too many players, which allowed Tokelo Rantie in plenty of space and with an easy finish from just outside the six yard box, following Phala’s cross. Into the second-half, South Africa started the opening ten minutes on the front foot, but were unable to create a second goal. Instead, Mali started to find a way back into the match and on fifty eight minutes were level. Mahamadou Samassa got out wide on the left and crossed into the box, with three South African players in attendance there looked to be no real threat, but they all inexplicably stopped in their tracks allowing Seydou Keita a free header from six yards out. The crowd in Durban were stunned and it certainly seemed to drain the confidence of the home team, as they rarely threatened in the remaining thirty minutes of normal time. Mali looked the stronger of the teams, without creating a match winning chance. Extra-time couldn’t separate the teams and so it was down to penalties. South Africa took the first and Siphiwe Tshabalala put them 1-0 up, however that was to be their only success as So Diakite saved the efforts of Furman, Mahlangu and Majoro missed. Mali only needed three attempts which were converted by Cheick Tidiane Diabate, Tamboura and Mahamane Traore. Mali probably just about deserved to go through, but it was cruel on the hosts.


Ivory Coast v Nigeria

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

The competition favourites Ivory Coast are unbeaten after two wins gained against Togo and Tunisia and a draw with Algeria, in their Group games. Their qualification to this stage is no surprise and it is not something they have struggled with in recent tournaments. However, they carry the nagging burden that despite the array of talent at their disposal over the years they have only ever been champions once (1992). Nigeria are also unbeaten having drawn with Burkina Faso and Zambia and beaten Ethiopia to claim a Quarter-Final place. Like Ivory Coast, Nigeria are one of the ‘big’ names in African football, appearing at four of the last five World Cup Finals. However, The Super Eagles have not translated the success on the World stage into AFCON wins, with only two titles in 1980 and 1994. This is a clash of African football ‘heavyweights’, with talent on both sides. It’s a tight one to call; my hope is that there is a winner in normal time.


Burkina Faso v Togo

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

The pity for the last of the Quarter-Final games is that it is to be played on the very poor pitch at Nelspruit. However, the conditions are the same for both sides and they will know what to expect having played their during the Group stages. Burkina Faso won Group C after draws with Nigeria and Zambia and an emphatic 4-0 win over Ethiopia. Togo came through on goal-difference after losing their opening game to Ivory Coast, beating Algeria and finishing with a draw against Tunisia. Burkina Faso will start as slight favourites against a Togo team making their first ever appearance in the Quarter-Finals of the AFCON.

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Saturday 02 February 2013


Going into the knock-out stage the bookies see the odds for the final eight teams as follows:

Ivory Coast 11/10, Ghana 7/2, South Africa 8/1, Nigeria 9/1, Mali 11/1, Burkina Faso 12/1, Togo 16/1, Cape Verde 25/1.


Ghana v Cape Verde

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

The bookies odds tell us who the winner should be, the latest CAF Rankings back up that outcome, as does logic. However, Ghana know they can take nothing for granted as they take on Cape Verde. At the 2012 AFCON The Black Stars were comfortable favourites to come through their Semi-Final against Zambia. However, the footballing Gods decreed otherwise and Ghana went out. Today, Ghana come into the game unbeaten after a draw with Congo DR (2-2) and wins over Mali (1-0) and Niger (3-0). Cape Verde are also unbeaten having drawn two games, against South Africa (0-0) and Morocco (1-1) and won their final fixture with a late goal from Heldon to beat Angola 2-1 and progress to the Quarter-Finals. Ghana will have to carry all the weight and expectation that being firm favourites bring. The Blue Sharks have nothing to lose and have proved in the Group fixtures that they are an organised side with some skill to match in players such as Platini. The AFCON has shown in the previous few tournaments that it is not kind to the favourites. Is there another shock in store today?


South Africa v Mali

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Whilst Ghana will be carrying the burden that being amongst the favourites brings, South Africa have to manage the expectation and pressure of being the host nation. Bafana Bafana are unbeaten after draws Cape Verde (0-0) and Morocco (2-2) and a 2-0 win over Angola. Mali are playing against a background of military action in their homeland, which could either act as a massive distraction or as motivation to bring some good news to the troubled country. The Malians won their opening Group game against Niger (1-0), lost to Ghana 1-0 in their next fixture, but secured a Quarter-Final spot after a 1-1 with Congo DR. Mali see themselves as underdogs going into the fixture, but it is too close to call. Could this one go to penalties?

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 – 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.