Good afternoon readers and welcome to Day 6 of AFCON. First I would like to take a moment with you all. Back through the years there have always been miracles. The birth of Christ was considered a fairly big one, if you are into all that. I have read how a man’s wedding ring deflected a bullet and saved his life. The birth of a baby is considered a miracle which happens on a daily basis and, of course, Leicester City actually winning the Premier League.
But readers, I can now say with confidence an even bigger miracle has taken place. Stop the press, put down whatever you are drinking and rejoice. Because yesterday one of my predictions was actually spot on! I even predicted a goal scorer. Having witnessed Gabon play Burkina Faso, you can imagine my delight at full time as I jumped up off the sofa with a scream and a fist pump. I even stole some moves off Wilfried Zaha as I danced around the living room, to be quickly told by my wife to sit down and pull myself together. Clearly I am still a long way short of my dancing impressing the wife. But with the correct score and goal scorer I deserved my moment, at least in my head.
So without further ado let’s look at that first game. It was Burkina Faso who took the lead, Prejuce Nakoulma picked up a long ball, held off two players before slotting the ball passed the bewildered keeper. The lead didn’t last long however as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang slotted home a penalty after being brought down in the area. That was Aubameyang’s second goal of the tournament. The match ended 1 – 1 with sheer delight from me, and despair from the host’s supporters who now need a win against Cameroon to proceed through the group.
After the match, once I had pulled myself together, I quickly thought of my next prediction. I was on a roll people. Almost Arsenal like as they gather pace during a season, I felt I was gaining more and more momentum. What could possibly go wrong? Well in true Arsenal style……failure. After predicting a goalless draw and even worse telling AFCON fans to not bother watching. Cameron played out an entertaining 2 – 1 win against Guinea Bissau. Clearly the partying had finally caught up with the party boys. Guinea Bissau took the lead with a superb solo goal from Piqueti, who ran from deep inside his own half, very quickly, before lashing the ball into the back of the net. It was the goal of the tournament so far by a long way. Cameroon finally came to life in the second half with goals from Sebastien Siani and Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui to secure the win. The Indomitable Lions now head the table by two points and look favourites to qualify.
Don’t say this too loud, but is it me or is AFCON now starting to warm up quite nicely?
Today we have the second matches for Group B. Algeria will be hoping to get over their disappointing draw in the first match and I’d expect them to come out all guns blazing against Tunisia. With Riyad Mahrez of Leicester now finding form they can be quietly confident. Or maybe even loudly confident. But Tunisia do boast Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri who I can confirm is looking on fire in training. I’ve been told he is looking every bit as good as his undisclosed fee states. Having watched Khazri for Sunderland from time to time, I have to admit the undisclosed fee must have been something around the £9.50 mark. He certainly is living up to his price tag. Although some might say over priced!
The next game I’m hoping will be a classic. I know, I know, I have said this many times before but Senegal against Zimbabwe has all the makings of an open game and goals. Surely I can’t get this wrong? I like this Senegal team and they have real quality in the squad as we know. Sadio Mane, as always, is the player to watch out for. But The Teranga Lions are not a one man team and are blessed with talent. Zimbabwe who, as previously reported, are many pundits’ dark horses. I still reiterate that I can’t see it and it’s surely only a matter of time before they get found out. I remember one year in the Premier League some tin pot team kept winning and everyone said they would be found out sooner or later. To this day I still can’t believe Leicester City actually were Premier League Champions. I have tried for many months to block this from memory but it comes back to haunt me daily. I can still see Gary Lineker’s smug face!
AFCON news time now, and Egypt are sweating a little as they now only have one fit goalkeeper and when I say fit, I mean he can walk. Well, just. Essam El Hadary is the only available keeper left due to injuries. He is also the only player in the tournament who gets a free bus pass due to his age. Egypt are ensuring El Hadary gets plenty of early nights, a cup of cocoa before bed, and limit his Werther Originals intake to just 5 a day.
Amusing AFCON news time. Emmanuel Adebayor claims to have rejected Lyon just before AFCON had started. Adebayor claims because he was representing Togo and would be away in the tournament, Lyon didn’t take up the option. Yeah I smelt it too, not even Accrington Stanley want Emmanuel.
After my prediction miracle I go into today full of confidence. So here goes! Algeria to beat Tunisia 2 – 1 with the on fire Khazri scoring for Tunisa and sending all Mackems into raptures. That should put a pound on his price tag! The second match will be a classic with Senegal to come out 3 – 1 winners. Mane will score a brace. This is when the tournament comes alive.
Now I know yesterday’s question would of been a tester for even the hardened of AFCON fans but I knew you all would have come up with the same answer. There are 15 teams who have never qualified for AFCON. For those stat heads among us they are as follows. Deep breath now. Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritania, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia , South Sudan, and last and by no means least Swaziland. I know you all got them.
Today’s question is – what is the longest penalty shootout in the tournament’s history?
Tweet your answers to @TalesFromTTF
Enjoy today’s games readers. The Senegal vs Zimbabwe match will blow your mind so make sure you get plenty of rest after. The last thing you need is to be off sick due to over excitement. You have been warned!
Until tomorrow, when we can all take a deep breath and enjoy another day of AFCON wonder.