Good afternoon and welcome one and all to Day 9 of AFCON 2017. Today sees the final games in Group A with all 4 teams able to qualify. Both games kick off simultaneously at 1900 which means my eyes will be split trying to take in all the action. I’m not sure how easy this will be but I am willing to go cross-eyed for the Tales cause.
But first let’s review the two games from Group D yesterday. Now did you manage to stay awake? What was it I said, 0-0? Well Ghana against Mali lived up to the hype! Ok it wasn’t a draw but Asamoah Gyan’s goal secured a 1-0 win. Captain Gyan popped up to score on 21 minutes with an excellent headed goal. The moment of the match was the team celebrating the goal. It was almost like watching Take That in their heyday as the team choreographed a dance routine. Nine grown men standing in a line bouncing on their feet with a look of what I can only describe as riding a horse. Now, I’m no dance expert as we know, but I have no idea if that was great or just embarrassing. If this was Strictly and I could do an impression of Len Goodman I would give that a “seven!” Then, just to confuse matters, the players ran to the touch line and held up t-shirts with a get well message to Baba Rahman who left the tournament due to injury. Nice touch or insanely mad? You choose. It does put Ghana through to the next round, although their Jekyll and Hyde performance will have coach Avram Grant concerned.
A trivial note on Asamoah Gyan. He has now become the first player to score in 6 consecutive AFCON tournaments. Well done Asamoah.
In game two, Egypt took on whipping boys Uganda. I promised you goals and well you got…..a goal, just. Abdallah El Said scored in the 89th minute in what was a shocking match. Uganda were that good they had no shots on target. Yet, they did give away 23 fouls which tells you a lot about how they decided to play against The Pharaohs. Uganda are now unable to qualify out of the group. What probably didn’t help both teams was a pitch that was cutting up more than a butcher in a butchers shop. Which is a stupid saying, where else would a butcher be?
Looking ahead to today’s games and Group A, Cameroon will be hoping to secure the one point needed to qualify against Gabon. The Indomitable Lions will be favourites going into the game with the hosts, Gabon, being poor in their two games so far. Cameroon should have enough about them. Spurs loanee Clinton N’jie has played well so far and will be hoping to make an impact. Along with Vincent Aboubakar and Jacques Zoua an early goal will make it difficult for Gabon and really put the pressure on. Gabon do have the mighty Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who, with two goals already in this tournament, is a potent threat in any game. It’s an old cliche, but who ever scores first will turn the screw on their opponent. This game could be tighter than Arsene Wenger purse strings. It just needs an early goal.
In the final game of Group A, Guinea Bissau take on Burkina Faso. The Stallions have played well so far and should be favourites against Guinea Bissau. For the party boys, they need to win and hope Gabon do not – In the words of a well known Meerkat….Simples. But we know their partying has come back to haunt them of late. Let’s hope they have put down the booze, have got some decent shut eye and plenty of Alka Seltzer. Burkina Faso have it simpler. Win and they go through, although their task is harder after injuries to the two Johns! For those unsure that’s Pitroipa and Zongo.
Here’s some AFCON news. Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has been voicing his opinion on the playing surfaces. He has claimed it’s hard for flowing football and players are getting injured. However, it’s even harder to play free flowing football when you failed to qualify, right Gernot? You do feel he has a point. My opinion is this. I love the dodgy pitches, I love how the players can’t trust the bounce of the ball, leading to players flying all over the pitch trying headers that miss the ball completely or tackles that have defenders randomly falling over. This is AFCON after all, and this is what we want! The injuries part I will just skip over and pretend I didn’t see it. Almost like Cameroon ignoring someone’s retirement fax.
In stranger news, hackers based in Russia from the New World Hackers Group hacked into the AFCON website. Although AFCON could not confirm or deny this as there were some technical issues but they are unsure if this was due to being hacked or not. Brilliant! The work was carried out by hackers Kapustkiy, Cyric, and Maxie. They sound like some sort of 80’s pop group if you ask me.
Now my predictions are as follows. Wish me luck readers although I do feel lucky. Cameroon will beat the hosts 2-1 to top the group. Guinea Bissau face a difficult task against Burkina Faso, but Burkina Faso should have enough about them to win 2-1 meaning they finish 2nd in the group and also qualify.
This is the bit you have all been waiting for. Your daily AFCON trivia. The youngest ever player to play at AFCON is the brilliantly named Chiva Star Nzighou who was 16 years, 2 months and 30 days old when he played in the 2000 tournament. Well done to anyone who got that.
Today’s question is, “who has scored the most goals in one single match in AFCON?” You know the drill. Think, guess, don’t cheat and tweet your guesses to @TalesFromTTF.
So with Group A almost decided things are hotting up. For the sake of the tournament, is it the be all or end all that the hosts may go out. The fact that at some games there have been less people watching the game than on the pitch playing it, even with the government giving away free tickets and cheap tickets of 500 Central African Francs. That sounds a lot doesn’t it – 500? No readers its not, it’s a massive 70 pence! 70 pence to watch AFCON, book me a flight now, I’m on my way to Gabon.
Until tomorrow readers enjoy AFCON, I’m off to pack!