The action keeps on coming in the Africa Cup of Nations, and while some will insist that it’s an awful tournament, day four did offer a little bit more excitement than the dull, dreary, rain-soaked start. If you missed any of it, don’t worry – ANT SIMS kept an eye on the action, and is bringing it to you in bite-sized bits.
The Africa Cup of Nations does take an awful lot of stick. Sometimes deservedly so, especially in the organisational area. And then, it’s not always such a dramatic show: everybody likes to perpetuate the myth that African football is magical and that it thrives despite adversity, but when you’re used to the rompy-pompy of the Premier League, Afcon might leave some feeling like they’ve just eaten a potato sandwich on white bread.
All has not been that terrible, though, and since the little blip of the two opening fixtures, things have picked up. Yes, it’s different, yes it’s not quite the dreamy stuff of top flight football in England, but there’s been some good football, and it is a nice distraction from other horrors in the world.
WHO PLAYED AND WHAT HAPPENED?
Ivory Coast 2-1 Togo
Tunisia 1-0 Algeria
The action, excitement and moments of disbelief just kept on coming as Gervinho, the same man who in last year’s tournament kicked a penalty that is yet to land, rescued Ivory Coast from what some would term an embarrassing draw against Togo. It was called the clash of the Titans, with a star-studded Ivory Coast up against a Togo side that, despite what a certain broadcaster would have you believe, had Emmanuel Adebayor to rely on.
It took just eight minutes for that man Yaya Toure to find the back of the net and put Ivory Coast in the lead. He nearly doubled it just a few minutes later when he hit the woodwork from almost the same position. Jonathan Ayite squared things up just before half-time, ensuring clichés were in full flow about a game of two halves and some such.
The action continued in the second half, when Togo had a goal disallowed after Dare Nibombe headed in from a corner. (The referee disallowed it because Togo took it too early.) Just two minutes before stoppage time, He of the Large Forehead managed to find the back of the net off a set piece and Ivory Coast, one of the tournament favourites, bagged their first win.
Didier Six, the Togo coach, also had a bit of a strop during the post-match press conference. After mumbling “I think my team deserved something else than that. It wasn’t right (to disallow our goal) – the rules weren’t respected,” he simply stormed out, leaving Ayite to face the press pack alone.
We kind of lied about the excitement, though, because the second match between Algeria and Tunisia was back to the boring stuff. And yet just when everybody had fallen asleep, Tunisia struck. It looked like both sides tried to fox each other into thinking that they didn’t want to win, but Tunisia was the foxiest of the two, and lulled Algeria into a false sense of security. Youssef Msakni, or Little Mozart as he is affectionately known, curled the ball into the back of the net from outside the box, landing it smack bang in the top corner for a lip-smacking goal. But just to make sure anybody who had fallen asleep woke up, he then took his shirt off to celebrate and earned himself a yellow card.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN CONTEXT?
Aha, glad you asked. We finally have an interesting scenario. Well, almost. We so nearly got to rely on goal difference to determine the leader of the group but because both sides have just one goal on their opponent (Ivory Coast had theirs cancelled out because of Togo’s goal). But now we have two teams tied at the top of the table. That’s pretty exciting, though, right?
HAS BAFANA BAFANA SCORED YET?
The lamp-posts were scattered with headlines that Katlego Mphela was ready to strike on Tuesday. Whether it’s to strike a match or join Cosatu, we’re not sure. Bafana hasn’t scored yet. We know they haven’t played yet, either, but when has a journalist allowed facts to get in the way of poking fun at somebody’s ineptitude?
“The first game is now gone. If there’s any lesson to be learnt it’s that you hardly get any second chances in tournaments. So we’re very fortunate that we’re still in it, and we have another game on Wednesday. It’s important that we forget about the past and make sure we don’t repeat our mistakes.” – Bongani Khumalo, South African captain.
“I was expecting something better from us – it wasn’t our best performance. I thought the first match was going to be difficult, but it was much harder than I envisaged. I’m happy with the win, but we made too many mistakes, and will have to use this game as a lesson.” – Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi. DM
Photo: Ivory Coast’s Ya Konan (R) is challenged by Togo’s Mamah Gaffar during their African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) Group D soccer match in Rustenburg, January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings