Sport

Africa Cup of Nations wrap for dummies, Day 5

By Ant Sims 24 January 2013

South Africa won a match on Wednesday. They scored two goals and kept a clean sheet, and now they are at the top of their group. It was quite a day in the Africa Cup of Nations, and some might even say Phillip is back – for a little while, anyway. By ANT SIMS.

Into the second round of group games we go, and while many people would have opted to tune into some or other repeat of a programme which used to air 10 years ago rather than keep an eye on Afcon, even the most cynical wouldn’t have been able to contain their curiosity as word spread that Bafana Bafana had actually managed a win.

It was something quite spectacular, and while the most diehard fans will almost certainly be saying ‘I told you so’, it’s important to remember that you can critique while supporting. Bafana was good, but Angola was awful in equal measure, and to think that one good performance an Afcon win makes would be downright foolish.

Nonetheless, the colourful crowd in Durban were given a rare treat, even if they all showed up a bit late.

WHO PLAYED AND WHAT HAPPENED?

Group A

South Africa 2-0 Angola
Cape Verde 1-1 Morocco

We’re into round two of the group matches, and the first clash on Wednesday saw hosts South Africa come up against Angola. South Africa looked a completely different team:  less stilted, less stifled and like they were actually interested in the game. Angola didn’t really turn up, but Bafana Bafana finally looked like the team Gordon Igesund has been trying to convince everybody they are. 

Whether they went to see that herbalist who promised them some help or whether they’ve finally just shaken off their egos, nobody knows, but they played like a team for the first time in ages. There was chemistry and electricity – and while a few chances were still skied so high over the crossbar that you’d be forgiven for thinking the goal posts had been moved to the seating area – they did have a couple of magical moments.

The bad news for Bafana is that one of the goal scorers, Lehlohonolo Majoro, was injured after clashing with Angola’s goalkeeper. The clash resulted in a massive gash on his leg which had to be stitched up, and he will be out for two matches.

Meanwhile, Cape Verde very nearly sprung a surprise over Morocco. Well, a surprise for those who don’t know that Cape Verde is the highest ranked team of Group A.  The island nation went ahead just 36 minutes into the match, with Platini chipping off Ryan Mendes. Platini, whose actual name is Luis Soares, was understandably delighted and so was his entire team.

Cape Verde did well to hold its own against Morocco and keep the opponents at bay until the 78th minute, when Youssef El-Arabi swept the ball in off a cross and scores were level.

With five minutes of added time, there was some proper end-to-end stuff as both teams looked for a last-minute win, but it wasn’t to be. Cue plenty of excitement about how “the little tiny island nation” did so incredibly well.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN CONTEXT?

Lo and behold, it means that South Africa is top in its group, with just one match left to play against Morocco. Our chances of progressing are actually good now. We know – we’re confused about it, too.

HAS SOUTH AFRICA SCORED YET?

We have. Not just once, either. We’ve scored twice. And not from a penalty or own goal.  (This also means this section of the daily wraps needs to be replaced with something else.)

QUOTE, UNQUOTE 

“I gambled today because it was a must-win situation. We had four defenders, one holding midfielder, and the other five players were committed to attacking. The players believed in themselves – the nerves that affected us so much against Cape Verde were gone. It was not easy out there on the pitch with the weather so hot.” – South African coach, Gordon Igesund

EXTRA TIME

Ethiopia was fined $10,000 for its delirious fans, who threw vuvuzelas onto the pitch during their match against Zambia on Monday. Half of the fine has been suspended on condition that Ethiopia is not found guilty of a similar offence at the tournament. Goalkeeper Jemal Tassew, who was red carded while on a stretcher, has also been slapped with a ban for two matches. DM

Photo: South Africa’s Bernard Parker (C) dribbles the ball past Angola’s Dede (L), Pirolito, Lunguinha (2nd R) and Bastos (R) during their African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) Group A soccer match at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

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"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." ~ Thomas Paine

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