Sport

Africa Cup of Nations wrap for dummies, Day 3

By Ant Sims 22 January 2013

It was hands down the most exciting day in the tournament so far, maybe not in terms of goal scores, but definitely in entertainment. If you missed any of it, don’t worry - ANT SIMS diligently watched all of the action so you don’t have to.

WHO PLAYED AND WHAT HAPPENED?

Group C

Zambia 1-1 Ethiopia
Nigeria 1-1 Burkina Faso

It was definitely the most enticing clash in the Africa Cup of Nations to date, because of the way the teams played and because of all the little nuances that went along with it. Expectations were high for the defending champions Zambia, but they had to settle for a draw. Early in the match Ethiopia was given a penalty, but it resulted in nothing, as Saladain Said missed from the spot.

It’s Ethiopia’s first goal in the competition since 1976 and their first appearance since 1982, but that doesn’t mean it was boring or they were trampled.  The action continued when Ethiopia goalkeeper Jemal Tassew was red carded while being carried off on a stretcher.  At first it looked as though the Ethiopians were trying to get their injured player off before the referee could pull out a red card, but it was to no avail.

A reckless lunge in the air resulted in the Black Lions being reduced to ten men early on. Zambia capitalised when Collins Mbesuma found the back of the net in stoppage time during the first half. Adane Girma equalised in the 65th minute as a ten-man side, which looked much better than the defending champions for most of the game, and managed to hold out for a draw – much to the delight of their fans, who had earlier been throwing vuvuzela missiles onto the pitch in irritation.

Two-time Afcon winners Nigeria and Burkina Faso locked horns in a much less enthralling clash, until the final minute of stoppage time. Despite a rather intriguing display of the love for peroxide and facial hair, the game also had plenty of rough and heavy tackles to offer. Nigeria took the lead in the 23rd minute through Emmanuel Emenike, with the Spartak Moscow man netting home from close range.

Nigeria looked to have the win all but sealed, and despite a tough red card in the 73rd minute for Nigeria’s Efe Ambrose, for a slight pull on Jonathan Pitroipa, the Super Eagles still looked pretty much in control. But, as the football gods would have it, Alain Traore equalised, thanks to some fumbling from Nigeria’s defenders.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN CONTEXT?

It means that Group C, just like Group A, is wide open. We know, we know, that’s so terribly clichéd, but we haven’t thought about a better way of saying “everybody still has a chance”.  The football is starting to get much better, and even though there were more red cards in this group than goals in Bafana’s group, the kind of football on show has been watchable, unlike the opening clash. Group C now has it all up for grabs, and with a couple of enticing clashes to look forward to, it can only get better from here.

HAS BAFANA BAFANA SCORED YET?

No. We’re still waiting.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

“I would like to congratulate Ethiopia for a very good performance. I’m not surprised. I said, ‘Be careful of this team; they are able to play very good football.  Today, we have to thank our goalkeeper – without Kennedy Mweene it could have been a very, very bad result. Our fans expected more than we did today, and they are right. Today, it was the fault of the coach. I did not prepare the team well to start the competition – we’ll see how things go after the third game.” Zambia coach Herve Renard

“I’m happy as we missed a penalty and drew. This is our first experience after 31 years so, as you see, it was fantastic. The players have shown their characters and shown the rest of the world they can play football. The goalkeeper also has to defend. He went to defend the ball, and shouldn’t have been red-carded.” – Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw DM

Photo: Burkina Faso’s Alain Traore (C) celebrates his goal with teammates during their African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) Group C soccer match against Nigeria in Nelspruit, January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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