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 – 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 – Tuesday 22 January 2013

Group C: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Zambia (1) 1 – 1 (0) Ethiopia

The 2012 AFCON Champions Zambia were involved in a game that is best described as ‘incident packed’. From the kick-off it was a game that featured some, what only can be described as ‘robust’ challenges and Zambia’s Stoppila Sunzu received a yellow card within the opening fifteen minutes for a crude tackle on Saladain Said. The Ethiopia nearly put his side ahead on eighteen minutes, but his lob over Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene incredibly bounced over the crossbar, thanks to a dry and rock hard pitch. The Champions were living dangerously and on twenty four minutes, they conceded a penalty when Chisamba Lungu fouled Saladin Said. The Ethiopian took the resultant penalty, but his weak effort was easily parried away by Mweene. From the ensuing attack, Zambia nearly scored themselves, but Jemal Tassew saved smartly. However, the hero turned villain when just after the half hour mark he was sent-off for an awful challenge on Chisamba Lungu. The keeper injured himself in the process and left the field on a stretcher as the referee brandished the red card. Zambia made their numerical advantage count with the first-half ticking away, as Collins Mbesuma muscled between two Ethiopian defenders to plant his half volley past substitute keeper Zerihun Tadele. As the Zambians celebrated, objects were thrown at the players from the crowd. Into the second-half, Ethiopia remained resolute and on sixty four minutes levelled the score. Addis Hintsa provided a pin-point pass for Saladain Said and he fed Adane Girma who slotted past Mweene at his near post. Zambia searched hard for a winner, but couldn’t find one and so Ethiopia finished with a point that they richly deserved.


Nigeria (1) 1 – 1 (0) Burkina Faso

Another game in the 2013 AFCON and another draw. Nigeria one of the ‘big guns’ in African football failed to deliver in a game they were expected to win. The Super Eagles dominated the opening exchanges and therefore it was no surprise when they took the lead after twenty three minutes. From a through ball, Ideye Brown’s clever back-heel flick fell to Emmanuel Emenike and he reacted quickest to fire home to give Nigeria a 1-0 lead. There seemed to be no urgency from the Nigerians to seek a second goal and the remainder of the half was a pretty uninspiring passage of play. In the second period Burkina Faso stuck manfully to their task, but there was a distinct lack of quality in some of the play from both sides, with wayward passes and equally wayward attempts on goal. As with the earlier game in Group C, some of the tackles and challenges were crude and on seventy three minutes, Nigeria were reduced to ten men when Celtic’s Efe Ambrose was dismissed for a second yellow card. Despite being a man down, Nigeria continued to create chances, with Ikechukwu Uche particularly wasteful. The Super Eagles were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when in time added-on, substitute Alain Traoré levelled for Burkina Faso. Jonathan Pitroipa received the ball out wide and cut the ball back into the box, inexplicably the two Nigerians defenders dithered and failed to clear it, allowing Traoré to slot home; cue wild celebrations on the Burkina Faso bench. Not a great game by any stretch of the imagination, but one which delivered with some last gasp drama.

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Group D: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Ivory Coast v Togo

Ivory Coast (The Elephants) are the top ranked CAF side going into the competition and also the bookies favourites. However, they have in the past struggled with this weight of expectation and their one and only AFCON title was in 1992. In qualifying for the 2013 tournament, The Elephants overcame Senegal 6-2 on aggregate. The 2nd leg in Dakar had to be abandoned shortly after the Ivory Coast went 2-0 ahead in the seventy first minute, as violence erupted on the terraces. In their last warm-up game, The Elephants overcame Egypt 4-2. Ivory Coast will no doubt make it through the Group stage, but can they hold their nerve to take the crown?

Togo’s (Les Eperviers – The Sparrow Hawks) last experience of the AFCON was surrounded with tragedy as on the eve of the tournament in 2010, their team bus was attacked and three people were killed. Togo withdrew, but were then banned by CAF from the next two tournaments. However, FIFA halved the penalty which meant The Sparrow Hawks could enter qualification for the 2013 competition. They overcame Kenya on away goals after finishing 2-2 on aggregate and sealed their place in South Africa with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Gabon.


Tunisia v Algeria

The first round of Group games concludes with a clash of North African teams and will see Tunisia (The Eagles of Carthage) up against Algeria (Les Fennecs – The Fennec Foxes). Tunisia came through qualification against Sierra Leone on away goals after finishing 2-2 on aggregate. In their warm-up games, they lost 4-2 to Ghana and drew with Gabon 1-1.

Algeria were more convincing in qualification, and saw off Gambia 6-2 on aggregate, followed by victory over North African neighbours Libya 3-0 on aggregate. In their last warm-up game, Algeria took on 2013 hosts South Africa and played out a 0-0 draw.0

The bookies see very little between these teams, whereas the CAF rankings have Algeria at number two and Tunisia at ten. A ‘local derby’, so a draw with honours even and local bragging rights not settled.


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