UEFA 2020 Euro Championship – Day 21

A second rest day, as the last eight clubs prepare to raise themselves once more for the Quarter-Finals to come on Friday and Saturday.

Euro 2020 Official match ball (c) Adidas

So a chance to look at other aspects of the tournament and an item that any game can’t do without – the ball. Some balls have become iconic and associated forever by a particular competition. For those of a certain age, if you think of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, you will always have an image in your mind of the Adidas Tango which made it appearance as the Tango Durlast. It was so successful that variations of the Tango have been used down the years since for both the World Cup and European Championship Finals.

Whilst also being iconic they can also be controversial, step up (or should I say swerve) the Adidas Jabulani used in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The ball was widely criticised by managers and players alike for its unpredictability in terms of movement, with claims that at altitude the ball could make this even more pronounced. It certainly wasn’t on the Christmas list of too many goalkeeper’s.

For the 2020 Euros, Adidas has produced the Uniforia Pro Ball, which the company states represents, “a celebration of football and culture…The Uniforia Pro Ball knows no borders and speaks all languages. With design elements paying homage to the host cities.” I’m not sure the players would be too bothered by that market-speak but will just be relieved that it is a quality ball that they can get to grips with and does nothing out of the ordinary. Well it hasn’t as yet…and Jordan Pickford and his fellow No:1’s will be hoping it stays that way.

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Thursday 07 February 2013


Mali (0) 1 – 4 (3) Nigeria

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

This was a pretty clinical display by Nigeria and a game that was over by half-time. The Super Eagles were able to exploit a Mali defence that looked very square and static. Nigeria went ahead on twenty five minutes, as Victor Moses twisted and turned out on the right-hand side. As the cross came in the four Mali defensive players stopped which allowed Echiéjilé to stoop low and head in. Just five minutes later the lead was doubled, as Emmanuel Emenike crossed from the right for Brown Ideye to slide in. Everything was going the way of the rampant Nigerian’s and on forty four minutes a Emenike free-kick was deflected by Momo Sissoko for an own-goal to make the score 3-0.

Into the second-half, Mali had a chance straight away to get back in the game but Seydou Keita dragged his effort from inside the box wide of the post. A final nail in the coffin arrived on the hour when Musa Ahmed was played in behind the Mali defence and he nut-megged the keeper for a 4-0 lead. Ahmed thought he had a second just three minutes later but it was ruled out for offside. As Nigeria eased off, Mali got a consolation goal on seventy five minutes through Cheick Diarra. Indeed it was the best period of the game for the Malians as Vincent Enyeama in the Nigerian goal made good saves from Cheick Diarra and Cheick Diabate. However, Nigeria were the better team and deserved the victory on the night.


Burkina Faso (0) 1 – 1 (1) Ghana AET

(Burkina Faso won 3-2 on penalties)

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

In a week which has seen the release of the Europol document highlighting match fixing in football, there were decisions in this game that must have raised an eye-brow and might set the alarm-bells ringing at CAF and beyond. To say that Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi was incompetent would be an understatement. Virtually from the off, the referee got the major decisions wrong. Within the opening five minutes, Jonathan Pitroipa with ball at his feet went into the penalty box and was blatantly bundled over by Ghana’s John Boye; decision – no penalty. Then on thirteen minutes, a ball is lofted into the Burkina Faso box, where Mady Panandetiguiri of Burkina Faso jumps with Ghana’s Christian Atsu. Minimal contact is made, but after Atsu falls to the ground as a result of the 50/50 challenge, Ghana are inexplicably awarded a penalty. Mubarak Wakaso converts and as in the Cape Verde game The Black Stars are controversially ahead. To their credit The Stallions didn’t let it affect their game and as the half went on created chances with Jonathan Pitroipa and Prejuce Nakoulma prominent for Burkina Faso. Ghana too had chances with the best falling to Solomon Asante just before the break.

On the hour the game was level at 1-1, as Ghana lost possession, Charles Kaboré threaded the ball through for Aristides Bance to wrong-foot the keeper. In the remaining thirty minutes neither side could find a winner, so extra-time ensued. It proved to be a highly controversial period with referee Slim Jedidi back in the spotlight. With the first period of time almost up, following a ball into the box, Burkina Faso’s Prejuce Nakoulma was shoulder to shoulder with Ghana’s Kwadwo Asamoah, but managed to poke the ball past Dauda in the Ghanaian goal. There seemed nothing wrong with the goal yet the referee disallowed it. Further controversy followed when with four minutes remaining Jonathan Pitroipa was clearly hacked down in the box; not only is a dead-cert penalty not awarded, but Pitroipa is booked for diving and sent-off as it was his second yellow card. Slim Jedidi – more like Slim Shady. So penalties came to pass and The Stallions must have thought given how their luck had been that an exit on penalties would add to the cruelty. However, justice was done as Burkina Faso took the shoot-out 3-2. Vorsah and Clottey missed horribly for Ghana, with Agyemang-Badu having his effort saved by Diakite. Just twelve months ago Burkina Faso lost all three of their Group games at the 2012 AFCON Finals, now they are one game from taking the title.

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 – Friday 01 February 2013

With the action on the pitch not resuming until tomorrow, today provides an ideal opportunity to catch up with looking at the match-ball used for 2013 AFCON tournament.

Adidas are once again providing a specially commissioned ball, having produced the Wawa Aba (2008 AFCON – Ghana), Jabulani (2010 AFCON – Angola) and Comoequa (2012 AFCON – Equatorial Guinea and Gabon). For the 2013 tournament in South Africa, the Katlego was created.

Katlego, comes from the Sesotho word for ‘success’ and was selected by African football fans via an online voting competition. Adidas had provided three suggestions and Katlego emerged as the most popular, the other two names were Khanya (light) and Motswako (mixture).

The ball is a dinstinctive yellow colour and has the Adidas and CAF logo’s on it. In addition there is a triangular centrepiece surrounded by a splash of colours. This feature was inspired by the bold colours and geometric designs of the Ndebele print artworks and the dominant colours in many of the African national flags.

Unlike the much criticised version of the Jabulani ball used in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Katlego has not been the subject of any controversy (so far) in this tournament. Long may it continue to cross the line in a goals-fest as the competition enters the knock-out stage!

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

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Wednesday 30 January 2013

AFCONaltGroup C:

Burkina Faso (0) 0 – 0 (0) Zambia

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

The 2012 AFCON Champions Zambia’s reign came to an end with a whimper rather than a bang. The Chipolopolo knew going into the game that only a victory would guarantee their passage into the Quarter-Finals. However, on the Nelspruit pitch that looked to be more sand than grass, Zambia could only draw 0-0. The draw would have been enough, if Nigeria had the same result against Ethiopia. In truth, Zambia created very few chances and even once news filtered through from Rustenburg that Nigeria were ahead, there seemed little urgency from the AFCON holders. Burkina Faso secured top spot with the draw, but their biggest worry is the injury to Alain Traore, who left the field on a stretcher in the opening quarter of the game. A disappointing exit for Zambia, but a fantastic achievement by Burkina Faso, putting behind them the disastrous 2012 Finals performance when they lost all three Group games.


Ethiopia (0) 0 – 2 (0) Nigeria

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

In the end Nigeria came through to win the game and so clinch a place in the Quarter-Finals. However, with eleven minutes remaining the prospect of exiting the tournament by virtue of a worse disciplinary record than Zambia was a distinct possibility. Nigeria started the game well, but when they didn’t score, the nervousness of their fans seemed to translate to the players and Ethiopia came into the game. However, the Ethiopians were in long-ball mode and Nigeria easily dealt with the threat. Nigeria continued to dominate possession in the second-half, but it wasn’t until the seventy ninth minute that the breakthrough came. Alula Girma brought down Victor Moses and the Chelsea man got up to calmly score from the spot. Victory was confirmed on ninety minutes Moses was again the man who caused all the danger, when Ethiopia keeper brought him down and was subsequently dismissed. With the Ethiopians having used all their substitutes, midfielder Addis Hintsa donned the gloves to face the penalty. Moses again scored and The Super Eagles were on their way to the knock-out stage.



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


Final Standings:

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


Group D:

Algeria v Ivory Coast – Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Togo v Tunisia – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

With Ivory Coast already through, the attention in these final Group games falls on the Togo v Tunisia fixture. A draw would be enough for Togo to go through, whilst Tunisia have to win to ensure progress. Ivory Coast should see off Algeria to finish with a 100% record, and are likely to be joined by Togo who will beat Tunisia.

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 – Monday 28 January 2013

Group A:

Morocco (1) 2 – 2 (0) South Africa

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban


Cape Verde (0) 2 – 1 (1) Angola

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth


If on Sunday football fans in England thought that the three FA Cup Fourth Round games (Brentford v Chelsea, Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur and Oldham Athletic v Liverpool), had provided drama, it was nothing compared to the last ten minutes of the final round of games in Group A at the 2013 AFCON. At half-time in Durban, Morocco were ahead 1-0 from a tenth minute goal from Issam El Adoua, whilst in Port Elizabeth, Angola were leading 1-0 after a thirty third minute own-goal from Nando Maria Neves. So at the break, Morocco were going through as Group winners with South Africa in second ahead of Angola (both were on four points) due to the head-to-head rule. The various permutations started to come into play when on seventy one minutes, May Mahlangu brilliantly curled in an equaliser for South Africa from outside the penalty area. That goal meant Morocco were out and that South Africa and Angola would progress to the Quarter-Finals. It was all quiet until eighty one minutes and then it was pandemonium. In Port Elizabeth Fernando Varela scored for Cape Verde to make it 1-1 and a minute later in Durban Abdelilah Hafidi gave Morocco a 2-1 lead. Now Morocco and South Africa were going through. On eighty six minutes, South Africa levelled with another brilliant curling effort from outside the box, this time from Siyabonga Sangweni. Morocco knew that they were now in trouble as a goal in the game at Port Elizabeth would see the out of the tournament. Incredibly, with the game in time added-on, Héldon Ramos fired homefor CApe Verde, after Angolan keeper Lama spilled a cross-shot. Cape Verde saw out the remaining minutes, but the game was still going in Durban. However, Morocco could not find another goal and they exited the competition, as hosts South Africa topped Group A with Cape Verde in second.


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

Final Standing:

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


Group B:

Niger v Ghana

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth


Congo DR v Mali

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban


Ghana could lose and still qualify (depending on the other result); however a point against Niger would guarantee progression in the tournament. Niger could qualify, but will have to beat Ghana and hope the other result goes their way. It is a very simple equation for Congo DR; they can only progress to the Quarter-Finals if they beat Mali. For the Malians to qualify for the knock-out phase, they only need to avoid defeat. Will Group B provide as much spectacle as the final round of games in Group A?

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.