Golden Generations: The Story of the 2006 FIFA Men’s World Cup tells the tale of one of the most action-packed international tournaments in recent memory.

From Philipp Lahm’s extraordinary goal just six minutes in, to Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt, it was a World Cup that had it all.

With all six confederations represented for the first time since 1982, there was a truly global feel to this World Cup. There were subplots attached to almost every nation at the tournament.

Germany were in the midst of a rebuild, the Italians had the cloud of Calciopoli hanging over them and France and England were nearing the end of an era with their talented squads.

Even the debutant nations were filled with household names, from the Touré brothers and Didier Drogba with the Ivory Coast to Dwight Yorke dropping into midfield to captain Trinidad and Tobago.

Golden Generations explores the plots and subplots that defined the 2006 World Cup, from the tournament’s beginnings to the legacy it left behind.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. July 2023. Hardcover: 352 pages)


Buy the book here: Golden Generations

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Thursday 31 January 2013

Group D:

Algeria (0) 2 – 2 (0) Ivory Coast

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Despite the fact that there was nothing riding on this game as Ivory Coast were through and Algeria were out, it actually proved to be an entertaining encounter. With the pressure off, Ivory Coast rested a number of players, although Didier Drogba started for The Elephants. Algeria had the chance to go ahead in the first half when they were awarded a penalty, however Ryad Boudebouz could only hit the post and the chance was gone. Into the second-half and on sixty four minutes Arthur Bokam clumsily handled in the box to give Algeria a second penalty. Sofiane Feghouli made no mistake, putting it firmly into the top left hand corner. Six minutes later Algeria scored a second, when Feghoul got down the right wing and his cross was headed home by El Arbi Hillel Soudani, who had easily lost his marker. On seventy seven minutes Drogba got Ivory Coast back in the game when he delicately flicked home a header. The comeback was complete with nine minutes remaining, when Wilfried Bony let fly from outside the box, and his shot found the net after a wicked deflection off defender Rafik Halliche. At the whistle, Algeria left the tournament with their first goals and only point in the competition, whilst for Ivory Coast, the quest for the 2013 title continues.


Togo (1) 1 – 1 (1) Tunisia

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Togo knew a point would be enough to see them through to the Quarter-Finals for the first time in their history, but it was by no means a simple task. They started the more positive of the two teams and took the lead on thirteen minutes. Adebayor made a surging run from half-way before playing in Serge Gakpé who finished smartly. However, replays suggested that Gakpé was offside, but the goals stood and Togo were ahead. Tunisia though responded and were level on the half-hour when Khaled Mouelhi converted a penalty after Walid Hichri was brought down following a corner; 1-1 at the break. The second-half became the story of the referee, South African Daniel Bennett, as blatant penalties were turned away for both sides, and then one awarded for a ‘soft’ challenge on Saber Khlifa. Khaled Mouelhi stepped up again but this time he hit the post; justice done. In addition, Bennett mistakenly booked Nibombe Dare, when in fact the foul was committed by Serge Akakpo. Despite the best efforts of Tunisia, Togo held on to progress. Tunisia like their North African neighbours Algeria were out.



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


Final Standings:

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


The competition now has a two day break and resumes on Saturday with the first two Quarter-Finals, with Sunday seeing the remaining two being played. The fixtures are as follows, with the latest CAF Rankings in brackets:

Saturday 02 February 2013

 Ghana (4) v Cape Verde (15)

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth


South Africa (22) v Mali (3)

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban


 Sunday 03 February 2013

 Ivory Coast (1) v Nigeria (9)

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg


Burkina Faso (23) v Togo (18)

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Sunday 12 February 2012

Africa Cup of Nations – FINAL

Ivory Coast v Zambia


Ranked 16 in the CAF standings, in footballing terms Zambia’s progression to the Final today is a remarkable achievement. Their two most noteworthy results in the tournament to date include the group win over highly fancied Senegal and the Semi-Final win over pre-tournament favourites Ghana. Others will say though this journey is all about fate and that The Copper Bullets are destined to win the trophy. The reason? Back in April 1993 the Zambian team were flying to a World Cup Qualifying game in Senegal. After a fuel stop in Libreville, the plane took off, but crashed soon after, just off the Gabon coast. All passengers and crew were killed and included 18 players. So for the modern-day Zambian squad that crash and loss of their compatriots has been there in the background – a part of their drive, an unconscious positive force – and maybe, just maybe it will take them to one more incredible victory.

Ivory Coast have yet to concede so far in the competition and another statistic of note is that none of the previous thirty one games have produced a 0-0. Could The Elephants lose the tournement on penalties having not lost a game or conceded a goal? Does the competition have one last twist? Football logic says that the footballing stars of the Ivory Coast will take the title, but is it written in the celestial stars that Zambia will be crowned champions?


Sometimes you get an image that says so much. As the captains exchanged pennants before kick-off, the camera drew back and revealed Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba standing by Zambian skipper, Christopher Katongo. Drogba physically dwarfed the opposing captain – an obvious visual ‘David and Goliath’ – a representation of The Elephants, a side full of stars, the favourites, against The Copper Bullets, the unfancied minnows.

Pleasantries over, Ivory Coast kicked-off in drizzly conditions and within a minute Zambia showed that they were not here to make up the numbers as they forced a corner. It was well worked and Nathan Sinkala fired in an excellent shot that was not only saved but held by Boubacar Barry the Ivory Coast keeper. Almost immediately the action switched to the other end where Zambian defender Joseph Musonda makes an important interception. However, the defender is in pain as replays shows his ankle twist and fold beneath him on the greasy surface. He goes off for treatment but does return, however it is evident he is in pain, and in tears departs the game after only 11 minutes. Drogba sportingly consoles the Zambian, but Musonda is understandably distraught. Mulenga comes on as substitute and so grabs his chance of glory. It does not seem to effect Zambia and on 13 minutes from a long throw, Chisamba Lungu crosses and Emmanuel Mayuka heads over on onto the roof of the net. The first fifteen minutes have belonged to Zambia, but Ivory Coast then started to get into the game as in quick succession runs by Drogba at the Zambia defence result in free-kicks within shooting range. The first is high and wide, the second a comfortable catch for Kennedy Mweene in the Zambian goal. Just past the twenty minute mark, Zambia have a free-kick, but it only results in a corner. The Elephants then press and win two corners in quick succession, with the second causing panic in the box and is eventually scrambled clear. Despite this flurry of activity, it is thirty minutes into the games before Ivory Coast create a genuine chance on goal, when from a Drogba back-heel, Yaya Toure shots wastefully wide. As the game enter the final ten minutes of the half, it loses momentum as there are breaks for injuries and it all becomes rather scrappy. After two minutes of time added-on the whistle is blown and despite the 0-0 score-line, Zambia go into the break the happier of the two teams.

Ivory Coast start the second period more positively with Gervinho getting out wide and attacking the Zambian defence. The Elephants dominate the opening ten minutes without actually creating a decent chance. However, Zambia nearly catch out the Ivory Coast as they have consecutive corners which rattle The Elephants defence. With twenty minutes to go Ivory Coast bring on Max Gradel to reinforce the threat to the Zambian defence down the flanks. Salomon Kalou departs and looked less than impressed as he left the field. The double threat of Gervinho and Gradel pays dividends, when on 70 minutes, Gervinho is bundled over in the box by Isaac Chansa – a pretty soft penalty really. Drogba takes the spot-kick and ballons it over the bar. The Chelsea man points accusingly at the turf, whilst Zambian keeper Kennedy Mweene celebrates mockingly in front of The Elephants skipper. Once more the question looms, are Zambia fated to win this trophy? The game enters a scrappy phase again and without realising it, extra-time is a real possibility. However, with a minute to go, Gradel is in the Zambian box and creates a chance for himself, with defender and keeper wrong-footed, he drags his shot just wide. Four minutes of added-time ebbs and flows and in the Final game of the tournament we have our first 0-0.

As with the start of the game, Zambia nearly take the lead in the first period of extra-time. Skipper Christopher Katongo gets down the by-line and cuts back for brother Felix. His shot looks to be going in, but Boubacar Barry in the Ivorian goal sticks out a leg and manages to deflect the ball onto the post. Replays show that the vital deflection is off the keepers studs! That turns out to be the only real goal attempt and suddenly the game is underway again for the final fifteen minutes. Ivory Coast look the more dangerous in the second period, but there is now an inevitability about the onset of penalties.

This morning I dared to venture whether The Elephants would end up losing the competition having not conceded a goal. I didn’t honestly believe that would happen, but here I was watching from afar with that outcome a real possibility. At this point, I have to say that I wanted Zambia to complete this incredible victory by winning the shoot-out. Ivory Coast went first and Tiote, Christopher Katongo, Bony, Mayuka all scored as penalties reached 2-2. Bamba then had his penalty saved by Mweene, but it had to be retaken as the keeper was adjudged to have moved too early. Bamba slammed in his second attempt and Chansa, Gradel and Felix Katongo all scored to tie it up at 4-4. Drogba was then up next for Ivory Coast, but despite the pressure of his earlier miss, there was no error this time and he gave The Elephants a 5-4 lead. The spotlight then feel on Zambian keeper who took the fifth penalty for The Copper Bullets. Calmly he scored and the two keepers (both who had played so well in the Final) shared a ‘Keepers Union’ moment, before sudden death penalties began. Tiene, Sinkala, Didier Ya Konan  and Chisamba Lungu all slot home to bring the score to 7-7. Kolo Toure was next up and had a run-up that seemed to begin at the half-way line. His penalty was a week effort and Mweene comfortably saved. Zambia had the chance to win it as Rainford Kalaba stepped-up. However, he blasted way over and the chance was gone. Gervinho had the chance to put The Elephants back in front, but he shot high and wide and once again, The Copper Bullets had the chance to clinch the trophy. Stoppila Sunzu became the hero and ensured that Zambia fulfilled their destiny. Many banners in the crowd acclaimed the victory as being for the victims of the ’93 air-crash and the Zambian players formed a circle to offer a prayer at their memory and their victory, another image which said so much. Zambia coach Herve Renard carried down the injured Musonda to join his colleagues and all that was left was the presentation of the cup, once it had been delivered by tribal dancers.

Third time lucky for Zambia. They will tell you it wasn’t about luck, but their destiny.

 2012 Africa Cup of Nations – Final

Ivory Coast (0) 0 – 0 (0) Zambia [AET]

Zambia won 8-7 on penalties

 Stade d’Angondjé, Libreville

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Wednesday 08 February 2012

Zambia (1) – (0) Ghana (Staid de Bata)

Mali (0) – (1) Ivory Coast (Stade d’Angondjé)

Congratulations to Zambia and Ivory Coast. Commiserations to Ghana and Mali. Both games settled in ninety minutes and both by a single goal. However, that doesn’t begin to tell the story of another dramatic night in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

In Bata Zambia and Ghana were the first game of the day. The game hinged around two key moments and an old football adage. The first key moment came on 8 minutes when Ghana were awarded a penalty. Asamoah Gyan took the spot-kick and he went for placement rather than power. Unfortunately for Ghana, Zambian keeper Mweene went the right way and saved with his left hand. After their 2010 World Cup exit on penalties and now this, perhaps The Black Stars are starting to develop the English penalty phobia. The second key moment came on 78 minutes. Emmanuel Mayuka received the ball on the edge of the Ghanaian box with his back to goal, he created some space for himself to turn and although surrounded by white Ghanaian shirts managed to curl in a shot which nestled in the net after clipping the post. To paraphrase David Coleman, “Zambia…one nil”. Finally, the old football adage, “…you have to take your chances…”. Having missed a penalty Ghana did create plenty more opportunities. Certainly Kennedy Mweene had an excellent game in goal for Zambia, but Ghana were wasteful upfront and they paid the price when Mayuka scored the winner for Zambia. The Black Stars wait for another tournament win continues, whilst Zambia keep defying the odds.

With one of the favourites gone, Ivory Coast would have been nervously eyeing their opponents Mali as the game kicked-off. Ivory Coast like Ghana created plenty of chances in the opening half and must have been wondering if they would also suffer the same fate as The Black Stars as a goal eluded them. However, with half-time approaching, Gervinho produced one of the goals of the competition. He collected the ball in his own half and then beat Mali defender Ousmane Berthe. Gervinho then ran the length of the Mali half to cut into the box and calmly finish past Soumaila Diakite. In the second-half The Elephants did what they have done in previous games in this tournament and basically absorbed the threat of the opposition and comfortably held on to their single goal win.

There is a break now until Saturday, when the 3rd/4th place play-off game between Ghana and Mali takes place in Malabo and then Sunday the Final itself, when Ivory Coast take on Zambia. 

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Tuesday 07 February 2012

Slowly but surely the end of the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations is coming into view. Tomorrow the last four teams take part in the two Semi-Final fixtures. Depending on the result it will lead either to an appearance in a Final and perhaps the opportunity of a career defining moment or having to take part in a game that no one wants to play in – the dreaded 3rd/4th Place Play-Off.

First up will be the game between Zambia and Ghana in Bata. The Zambians have crept into the Semi-Finals pretty much under the radar. They have got past this stage to play in two previous Finals, the first in 1974 and the second in1994. The 1974 tournament was held in Egypt and in the Final The Copper Bullets faced Zaire (who were later that year to take part in the World Cup in West Germany). The game went into extra-time (after it finished 1-1 in normal time). Zaire went 2-1 ahead, but Zambia equalised with virtually the last kick of the game and a replay was needed. Zaire proved too strong and took the cup in 1974 with a 2-0 win. Twenty years later in Tunisia, Zambia faced Nigeria in the Final, but a 2-1 score-line saw the Zambians finish as runners-up again.

They say you need a certain amount of luck in the Cup and Ghana will feel they had that in their last outing against Tunisia, when they were literally handed the game after a terrible goalkeeping error. The Black Stars have been billed as one of the favourites from the start of this competition, but have rarely shone so far. Their record in the Africa Cup of Nations is impressive with four wins (1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982), but will reflect that it is 30 years since that last triumph. The pressure will be on them to make it through and I’ll take them to get past Zambia in a close game that will require extra-time to separate the teams.

The second Semi-Final will see Mali take on Ivory Coast at the Stade d’Angondjé. Mali have appeared in a Final and that was back in 1972 in Cameroon, where they lost 3-2 to the Republic of Congo. The Eagles face an Ivory Coast squad that boasts the best CAF and FIFA ranking, but like Ghana have at times flattered to deceive. I didn’t tip Mali to get past Gabon in the Quarter-Finals, and really can’t see them getting past Ivory Coast on this occasion. The Elephants to go through 2-0, to set up a Final between Ivory Coast and Ghana.

If my predictions come to pass, then the Final will be a repeat of that which took place in 1992. The game finished 0-0 at full-time and extra-time couldn’t separate the teams either. So to penalties and it turned into a dramatic episode. The first seven penalties were successful and Ivory Coast led 4-3 as youngster Isaac Asare took the next for Ghana. He was unsuccessful and suddenly Ivory Coast had the chance to clinch the cup with the next kick. Joël Tiéhi took the kick, but couldn’t clinch his place in the football history of the Ivory Coast. Tony Yeboah (then of Eintracht Frankfurt, before his move to Leeds United) brought Ghana level at 4-4 and the drama continued as penalties moved into sudden-death. At 10-10 all the players had taken a penalty each and so Basile Aka Kouamé who had started the shoot-out for Ivory Coast prepared to take his second. He scored but Ghana keeper Ansah having gone the right way merely pushed the ball into the net to give The Elephants a 11-10 lead. Anthony Baffoe then had the task of making it level once more, but his effort was a very tired one and Gouamené in goal for The Elephants made a comfortable save and with it Ivory Coast had their first (and to date, only) Africa Cup of Nations title. Anybody for a repeat in 2012?

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Saturday 04 February 2012


Zambia (3) – (0) Sudan [Estadio de Bata]

Ivory Coast (3) – (0) Equitorial Guinea [Nuevo Estadio de Malabo]

De La Soul once sang, “…three, that’s the magic number…” and so it proved to be for Zambia and Ivory Coast tonight as my predictions to progress indeed made it through to the Semi-Finals.

In the opening game of the evening at the Estadio de Bata, Zambia met Sudan. Zambia dominated from the off and were 1-0 up within the opening fifteen minutes. Kalaba swung in a Zambian free-kick from the wing and as the Sudanese defence stopped, Sunzu (sporting a rather fine mohican) headed in. Now depending whether you are part of the goalkeeping union or not, you would either say that Sudan custodian Akram was left badly exposed by his defence and had no chance with the header, or his challenge at punching away the incoming ball into the box was too little too late. Whatever you point of view, it added more fuel to the fire in the debate about the standards of goalkeeping in this competition. Sudan struggled to get into the first-half and any chance of establishing any rhythm was hindered by two enforced substitutions due to injury as Yousif Ela Eldin and Hamid Nazar were replaced. Overall, Zambia deserved their half-time lead. Sudan however dominated the opening twenty minutes of the second half with good chances created for Eltaib and Ahmed Khalifa. They were still in the match on 66 minutes, but then threw the game away. Kalaba broke into the Sudan penalty area and was being forced wide, when inexplicably, cynically and crudely, Saif Eldin Ali Idris hacked the Zambian down. A penalty was awarded and Sudan were down to ten men. Akram did well to save the spot-kick, but the rebound fell kindly to skipper Christopher Katongo who swept it in and put the game out of reach of Sudan. The result was put beyond doubt on 86 minutes, as James Chamanga curled in a beauty to make it 3-0. Undoubtedly, the turning point was the sending off and penalty, as it was still only 1-0 with about 25 minutes still to play. However, Zambia were the better team and are emerging as a dark horse in the tournament.

In the second game of the night the first-half was very much about The Elephants captain Didier Drogba. After thirty minutes (in which Ivory Coast had dominated), a penalty was awarded after Didier Zokora was fouled. Drogba stepped up, but his effort was well saved by Emmanuel-Danilo. However, within six minutes Drogba redeemed himself. Rui Fernando Gomez make a hash of controlling the ball, Drogba pounced, drove into the box and after cutting inside two defenders squeezed a shot past Danilo; 1-0 and Ivory Coast had their half-time lead. As in their previous fixtures, The Elephants seemed content to absorb the pressure in the opening of the second-half and play on the counter. The killer blow came with twenty minutes remaining. Yaya Toure fired in a free-kick and Drogba placed a bullet header into the net for his and The Elephants second. If that finish wasn’t impressive enough, then with just ten minutes to go, Yaya Toure scored with an absolutely stunning curling free-kick and clinch a 3-0 win. The Elephants through and yet to concede a goal – ominous for the other teams. Equatorial Guinea did their country proud and they will no doubt rise up the CAF and FIFA rankings after this showing.

The great shame about the games tonight were the attendance figures, with a reported crowd of only 200 in Bata and surprisingly in the capital Malabo, the stadium was not full even for home team Equatorial Guinea, with a reported crowd of 12,500 in the 15,000 capacity stadium. When the CAF organising committee review this tournament, the issue of attendance figures will surely be on the agenda.

Tomorrow the remaining two Quarter-Finals take place with the first involving co-hosts Gabon up against Mali in Libreville and the second with Ghana playing Tunisia in Franceville. Gabon looked an accomplished side in winning their three group games with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the star attacking force for The Panthers. Mali who face Gabon, clinched their Quarter-Final berth after coming from behind in their last game to beat Botswana. For me, Gabon will have too much for The Eagles. In the later game, Ghana take on Tunisia. Ghana like Ivory Coast, haven’t really got into top-gear, but did enough to top their group. Their four goals to date have been scored by four different players, which shows that they have a number of options in that department. Tunisia have yet to keep a clean-sheet in the tournament and will for me struggle to contain The Black Stars. G-force tomorrow then, with Gabon and Ghana to go through.

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Friday 03 February 2012

After a two day break the action resumes on Saturday, when the first two Quarter-Finals take place and will see Zambia v Sudan (in Bata) and Ivory Coast v Equatorial Guinea (in Malabo). Sudan and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea are the two lowest ranked teams in the competition and would not have expected to have made it this far. However, Sudan will feel they have a chance of causing an upset when they meet Zambia, but will have to contain two useful strikers in Christopher Katongo and Emmanuel Mayuka who have both scored two each for Zambia in the tournament so far. For me, the attacking abilities of The Copper Bullets will bring down the Falcons of Jediane and Zambia will progress to claim a Semi-Final place.

Over in Malabo the second Quarter-Final will see the favourites and top ranked team, Ivory Coast, attempt to break the hearts of the locals when they take on Equatorial Guinea. The Elephants have by no means been outstanding so far, but have won all their games in an efficient, if somewhat unspectacular fashion. However, Ivory Coast have yet to concede a goal in the tournament so far, and with the strength of squad that includes the experience of Eboue, Drogba and Zokora and younger talent such as Bony, there seems to be no outcome except a win for the Ivory Coast. Of course we all love the underdog, but this really does look on paper a game too far for Nzalang Nacional.

Throughout the “diary” for the competition I have made reference to the rankings of teams, so detailed below is the current full list for the Confederation of African Football (CAF). This was last published on 18 January 2012 and will be updated on 15 February 2012. It shows the ranking within the CAF and FIFA. Each team is given a number of points (not shown here) which is based on a calculation which is arrived at by the following factors:

Points from a single match x Importance of game x strength of opposition x strength of opposition football association/confederation.

However, below each of those criteria is another set, so for instance, in terms of “importance of game” there are a range of points available depending on the type of competition the game took place in. For full details of how it all works, click here

Q = Qualified for 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations.

CAF Ranking FIFA Ranking Team Name
1 18 Ivory Coast (Q)
2 26 Ghana (Q)
3 32 Algeria
4 36 Egypt
5 43 Senegal (Q)
6 45 Nigeria
7 56 Cameroon
8 56 South Africa
9 58 Cape Verde Islands
10 59 Tunisia (Q)
11 60 Sierra Leone
12 61 Morocco (Q)
13 63 Libya (Q)
14 66 Burkina Faso (Q)
15 69 Mali (Q)
16 71 Zambia (Q)
17 79 Guinea (Q)
18 82 Uganda
19 85 Angola (Q)
20 91 Gabon (Q)
21 94 Botswana (Q)
22 98 Niger (Q)
23 99 Malawi
24 100 Togo
25 102 Zimbabwe
26 105 Mozambique
27 110 Rwanda
28 116 Congo DR
29 118 Gambia
30 120 Sudan (Q)
31 121 Kenya
32 122 Namibia
33 123 Liberia
34 128 Central African Republic
35 131 Congo
36 133 Ethiopia
37 136 Benin
38 137 Tanzania
39 141 Burundi
40 142 Chad
41 151 Equatorial Guinea (Q)
42 153 Lesotho
43 160 Madagascar
44 162 Guinea-Bissau
45 180 Swaziland
46 187 Comoros
47 188 Seychelles
48 189 Eritrea
49 190 Somalia
50 194 Mauritius
51 196 São Tomé e Príncipe   
52 198 Djibouti  
53 204 Mauritania

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.