African Cup of Nations 2017

So here we are, Day 5 of AFCON and I’m so glad you’re all still with me. You are still here? Hello, anyone? Ah I know you’re out there…somewhere.

Swiftly moving on, let’s take a look at last night’s matches. Ghana took on the poor man’s Hull, better known as Uganda. West Ham winger Andre Ayew scored from the penalty spot on 32 minutes which proved to be the winning goal. That was about it for total excitement, but fear not because next up was Mali against Egypt. This will be a classic surely? How wrong could one person be?

With both teams deciding it was easier to not bother to attempt to score and in what must be described as the most boring match ever, the game finished 0 – 0. Now, I know many of you are thinking, “thank the lord I don’t have to watch these games,” and I for one would love to think the same. But I feel it’s my duty to report to you the good and bad of AFCON and man, was this bad. I think my eyes are actually still bleeding after watching that!

However with plenty of bad comes some good.

Now turn up your hearing aids and let me hear you clank your Zimmer frames together and congratulate Egypt keeper Essam El Hadary on becoming the oldest ever player to play a game in AFCON after coming on for injured keeper Ahmed El Shenawy. El Hadary is rumoured to be 94 and 2 days old. I might have exaggerated his age by a year or two but even so, what an achievement. Luckily he didn’t have to pick the ball out the net for fear of his back going. It’s always good to see football do their bit for charity. Help the Aged are said to be thrilled.

After all that excitement I know it’s difficult to focus on the next treat which, of course, is to have a look at the games today.

We are now back to Group A and the second matches in the group. Hosts Gabon will want to overcome their disappointment of drawing their first match as they take on Burkina Faso. With two draws so far, this group is still very much open. Gabon will be hoping to gain the three points and get the supporters back on side after being jeered at after the dismal result against Guinea Bissau. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will be hoping to increase his goal tally and add to the one he’s bagged already. If the Panthers learnt anything from watching Burkina Faso they will have learnt not to give away any free kicks. Cameroon tried and failed miserably and paid the price. But how hard can it be? The whole of Gabon will be screaming for the players to stay on their feet and not dive in. Yet this is AFCON and we all know there is only one way to tackle. Hard, fast and, if possible, high. This tournament is not for the faint hearted. There is definitely a new home for Tony ‘drop goal’ Pulis when he decides that the Premier League has taken its toll. Odds on he’s the next Burkina Faso coach.

Match two gives us Cameroon as they take on the party boys Guinea Bissau, who I’m sure will be buzzing even more after their draw against the host nation. You can’t knock a team that party all night then get out on the pitch and perform so well. It takes me back to playing Sunday League, when half the team were still knocking back their tequila shots, the other half having a fag, and yet we all managed to get changed and out on the pitch. Of course the football was atrocious but what did we care? Half the team didn’t even remember losing every game. Another special mention to Junior Francisco. A second good game in a row and I think it will be possible to hear all Toffee’s fans jaws hit the floor simultaneously. Who would of thought he could play?

Onto AFCON news, slightly further afield admittedly, but AFCON related. It doesn’t matter if you retired in September 2015 you still can be called up if the national team decides to close their eyes real tight and pretend they didn’t see the email. It does make me think Arsene Wenger is suited so well to African international football. But right now poor Liverpool defender Joel Matip cannot play a game for the Reds as Cameroon will not accept his retirement. Jurgen Klopp is far from impressed, while the rest of the Premier League sniggers in a corner.

A note to Mr Robbie Collins, who has pointed out that Yannick Bolasie actually plays for Everton and not Crystal Palace as I previously have said. Good spot Mr Collins, I have, as requested by yourself given myself 50 lashes. It is nice to know I have my very own groupie though. Although he did point out he was more stalker than groupie. Ah who cares if he’s a stalker I’m happy with that! I should also have a word with the editor who claims he checks this at least once before it goes up.

Now prediction time! Both games look to have draw written all over them. Gabon and Burkina Faso will play out another 1 – 1 draw and Cameroon against the Party Boys will finish a dull 0 – 0. Probably not one to watch, but for the boys from Guinea Bissau, party on dudes!

And now AFCON trivia time. Do I even need to tell you the answer to yesterday’s poser? Well only for consistency, as you all knew the answer to ‘who is the top all-time scorer in AFCON?’ Obviously it was the one and only Samuel Eto’o with a truly remarkable 18 goals. Truly an AFCON legend.

Today’s question is tough. How many teams have never qualified for the AFCON finals? Tweet your answer to @TalesFromTTF – and no, Brazil don’t count.

I think we can all learn and take something from today’s piece and I’m not talking about AFCON trivia. More importantly, if you retire from your work place please make sure you receive written confirmation from your company. The last thing you want is 15 years down the line someone from HR ringing you up and asking “umm Jim, seriously your inbox is really piling up, any chance you’ll be back to work next week!”

Until tomorrow readers, enjoy the first game because the second will be a shocker. You heard it here first. AFCON out.