2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Tuesday 29 January 2013

Group B:

Niger (0) 0 – 3 (2) Ghana

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

This game was as straightforward as the final score suggests. Ghana were ahead within six minutes, when Albert Adomah was able to get behind the Niger defence to pull back the ball for Asamoah Gyan, who lashed it home from the edge of the six-yard box. There was however, a controversial moment on ten minutes, when Niger had a goal disallowed after the referee adjudged Moussa Maazou to have fouled Ghana keeper Dauda. It did look harsh and with that went the last major threat Niger posed during the game. On twenty three minutes, The Black Stars doubled their advantage; with the Niger defence back-pedalling Asamoah Gyan was able to cross to Christian Atsu, who controlled the ball on his chest before poking into the net as Niger defender Kourouma comically fell over, making the finish even easier. Ghana strolled to half-time with the game all but over at 2-0. Within four minutes of the second-half, the game was killed off when from a free-kick Asamoah Gyan’s header was spilled by Daouda and John Boye scored with the simplest of tap-ins. Ghana created further chances, but it was a comfortable 3-0 victory as one of the tournament favourites finished top of Group B.


Congo DR (1) 1 – 1 (1) Mali

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

This was the game in Group B that held all the interest, as the two sides were playing for second spot and progress to the Quarter-Finals. Mali knew that a draw would be enough, whist Congo DR had to win. Congo were positive from kick-off and hit the post in the opening minute from Lomana LuaLua. However, they didn’t have to wait long to actually go ahead as they were awarded a penalty on three minutes when Yves Diba was brought down by Momo Sissoko. Dieumerci Mbokani confidently converted the spot-kick to give Congo DR a 1-0 advantage and of course enabled keeper Robert Kidiaba to give the best goal celebration of the tournament so far, another airing. However, in a frantic opening fifteen minutes, Mali were soon on level terms. It was in truth a scruffy goal as Congo DR didn’t deal with the ball in the box and Mahamadou Samassa was able to finish from just outside the six-yard area. That goal meant Mali were back in second spot, but the game still had seventy five minutes to run. The pace of the game did not let up, but it became quite physical for a time as Youssouf Mulumbu and Seydou Keita received yellow cards. However, there were no more goals as the teams went in at the break at 1-1. Congo DR started the second period by bringing on striker Tresor Mputu, however Mali were proving to be well organised in dealing with the attacking threat of their opponents. As the half went on, it gained the ebb and flow that it had in the first period. However, as the game entered the last ten minutes it was Mali who looked the more likely to score as they hit the post on two occasions. First, a header from substitute Kalilou glanced off the right-hand post; then fellow substitute Cheick Diabate hit the post after rounding Congo DR keeper Robert Kidiaba. Into time added-on another chance fell to Mali as after a one-two Seydou Keita had his shot saved by Kidiaba. At the whistle there were scenes of joy and despair; Mali celebrated as they made it through, whilst the unbeaten Congo DR departed, deeply disappointed after three draws meant they were out.



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

Final Standings:

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


Group C:

Burkina Faso v Zambia – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Ethiopia v Nigeria – Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Like the final round of games in Group A, those in Group C could also see a dramatic climax. Zambia the 2012 AFCON Champions know that they must beat Burkina Faso to ensure they make it through to the knock-out stage, whilst opponents Burkina Faso need only a draw to go through. Nigeria could go through with a draw if Burkina Faso beat Zambia, but would definitely qualify if they beat Ethiopia. The Ethiopians could progress as well, but that would require them beating Nigeria and hope that Zambia and Burkina Faso draw. My gut feeling is that Nigeria will get the win they need to go through to the Quarter-Finals, and that Zambia will exit the tournament after only drawing with 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

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Tuesday 31 January 2012

Group C

Gabon (1) – (0) Tunisia [Stade de Franceville]

Niger (0) – (1) Morocco [Stade d’Angondjé]

In terms of qualification for the Quarter-Finals, that was already done and dusted prior to kick-off. Gabon and Tunisia were playing to establish who would top the Group, whilst Niger and Morocco were in opposition to avoid the ‘cuillère en bois’

Incredibly going into this game, there had not been one fixture which had ended 0-0. After 45 minutes in both games without a goal, the indications were that perhaps this was about to change. The two games provided quite a contrast. In Franceville, Gabon and Tunisia provided a half of genuine pace and passion. Daniel Cousin and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had ‘put themselves about’ and were causing the Tunisian defence some real problems. Meanwhile in Libreville, Niger and Morocco produced a pretty awful first-half. Niger did hit the bar just before the break when Moussa Maazou was unlucky with his strike, otherwise there was little to excite the crowd.

Thankfully there was a little more for spectators to get excited about in the second period of each game. Co-hosts Gabon completed a clean sweep winning all three games and finished on 9 points after a 1-0 victory over Tunisia. The winning goal came on 62 minutes with a rapid fire attack from Gabon. Starting inside the Gabonese half the ball was swept to Cousin, his first-time ball found Aubameyang, who took it on before shooting from just outside the Tunisian box. The ball found its way into the net but Rami Jeridi in goal for Tunisia was at fault, as the shot ricocheted and spun off his body. Gabon deserved their lead and also continued to press in the remainder of the game. There was still enough passion in this game as ninety minutes approached for a little fracas between the players. At the whistle went, both teams could celebrate, as they were both through and the challenge of the Quarter Finals awaited. In the game at Libreville, thankfully Morocco sparked into life in the second-half. Younes Belhanda was the catalyst for a better tempo as he was involved in all the positive work by Morocco. The goal came on 79 minutes, when Marouane Chamakh, who did appear offside, laid the ball through for Belhanda to finish. Morocco finished with a win, but didn’t live up to their pre-tournament promise, whilst Niger left empty handed.

Final Positions:

(1) Gabon: 9 pts, (2) Tunisia: 6 pts, (3) Morocco: 3 pts, (4) Niger: 0 pts.

Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Monday 23 January 2012

Group C:

Gabon (2) – (0) Niger

Fellow Tournament co-hosts Gabon got there campaign up and running at Stade d’Angondjé in Libreville with a comfortable 2 – 0 win over a nervous looking Niger team. Gabon were always in command of this game, but it was not until the half-hour mark that the breakthrough was made. Niger had chances to clear their lines before the ball broke to Stephane Nguema, who from the right, put over a deep cross that Niger keeper Kassaly Daouda always looked like he was struggling to reach. With the ball heading seemingly out of play, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed in unchallenged from a very tight angle. Will half-time approaching Gabon struck again. The danger on this occasion came from the left wing as Moussouno’s cross was headed on target by the dangerous Aubameyang. Niger keeper Daouda brilliantly saved this close range effort, but the rebound was easily put way by Stephane Nguema to send Gabon in at half-time with a deserved 2 – 0 lead. The second-half saw Gabon continue to dominate the game and create chances, but Niger held out. Both co-hosts start with a win to keep the home fans happy.


Morocco (1) – (2) Tunisia

This North African ‘derby’ saw Tunisia emerge winners, although Morocco will feel they should have at least got a draw. In a fairly open first forty five minutes, Tunisia were thankful that their keeper Mathlouthi was in such good form. Morocco created the better chances and it was somewhat against the run of play that Tunisia went ahead. On 33 minutes, a floated free-kick from Khaled Korbi found its way into the net, with the Moroccan keeper seemingly distracted and therefore late diving as Tunisian forward Saber Khelifa tried to flick-on the free-kick. Morocco continued to create chances, but were unable to beat Mathlouthi in the Tunisian goal. For the second-half Morocco coach Eric Gerets’ brought on Adel Taraabt for Oussama Assaidi to seek an early equaliser. The change saw Morocco continue to create chances but Mathlouthi continue to keep the Moroccans at bay. With Tunisia happy to play on the break they scored a second goal on 75 minutes. Substitute Youssef Msakni received the ball outside the Moroccan penalty area and in a twisting run past three defenders slotted home to double the Tunisian lead. With just four minutes remaining Morocco gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Houcine Kharjah scored. It came from a corner which was not fully cleared, with the ball eventually being knocked back into the box by Ahmed Kantari for the Moroccan captain Kharjah to stab home. With five minutes of time added on, Morocco searched desperately for an equaliser, but it never came. Marouane Chamakh has had a difficult season to date at The Emirates and it continued here tonight. It’s a cliché, but you have to take your chances, and tonight Morocco were wasteful.

Group C resumes on Friday 27 January, with Niger v Tunisia and Gabon v Morocco.