African Cup of Nations 2017

Hello AFCON fans and here we are on Day 7. The tournament is alive and kicking which is more than we can say about Egypt’s El Hadary who is, well, just about alive. I’m not too sure about the kicking part however. Training and matches must be taking its toll on the old guy. But every match he plays he sets a new record of oldest player. He is a true hero of AFCON 2017.

What happened last night? The first match saw Algeria play Tunisia and what can I say? Tunisia pulled off a 2 – 1 win and that man Wahbi Khazri starts and has a stormer. Yes the same Khazri I have slated, yes the one I said was worth £9.50. Keep the laughter down at the back! Some of Tunisia’s best football came through the Sunderland player, and suddenly the world sat up and watched. Well I did, opened mouthed, muttering some obscenity at the TV screen. He even won the penalty for the second goal after some woeful defending from Algeria. It wasn’t a good day at the office for The Dessert Foxes as they looked devoid of ideas, with Mahrez quiet throughout. After Aissa Mandi deflected a cross into his own net to put Tunisia one up, they then gave away a penalty. Comedy and clumsy defending all in one – AFCON magic. They did muster a consolation on 90 minutes but they now face a struggle to qualify. Tunisia, however, are now second and have a great chance of making it to the quarterfinals. I am now eating a large slice of humble pie – thanks Wahbi.

The second game was Senegal vs Zimbabwe. Well, I got the winning team correct so I’m claiming that and, ok, Sadio Mane only got one but he still scored so I am claiming that too. Believe me, with my record I’m claiming anything as far as my predictions go. Senegal looked comfortable and two early goals secured the game. Mane scored the first from a low cross and the second came from an excellent free kick from St Etienne’s Henri Saivet, currently on loan from Newcastle. The North East will be buzzing today. Senegal have now reached the quarterfinals of AFCON 2017. A note on Zimbabwe. Now I’m no expert, which you can tell from my shocking predictions, but even I could see Zimbabwe were a poor team from the outset. Who are these people tipping them as dark horses? Are they mad? Do they even watch football? What’s that? Have I heard of who? Wahbi Khazri? Oh that’s awkward. Shall we move swiftly on?

Today’s games sees Group C teams in action. The Ivory Coast play everyone’s guilty pleasure, DR Congo. The Elephants will be favourites for this game but we all know Congo have plenty of juice in the locker to make it a difficult game. Yannick Bolasie of Everton, yes that’s Everton people, will be looking to upset the apple cart, in fact the whole stall, mixed fruit everywhere. If DR Congo can pull off a result they will be dancing a dainty tango way down deep in the middle of the Congo. Clearly, like any cheap comedian, I will continue to recycle the Um Bongo jokes.

Match number two sees Morocco take on Togo. Come on Morocco! Oh sorry, did I say that out loud? As a reporter of AFCON it’s important I stay impartial and not be hoping every team that play Togo hammer them. I’m sure Togo is a lovely place, and any Togo supporters I apologise to. It’s just one man, step forward Emmanuel Adebayor. He is currently on a one man crusade to find himself a team by giving many interviews, claiming what a nice guy he is and….. I’m sorry I actually nodded of talking about him. Sorry Emmanuel no one is buying it. Morocco need to get a result after losing in their first game to DR Congo 1 – 0. Coach Herve Renard needs to work his magic to get them firing on all cylinders. One quick note, why is it when I see Renard I instantly think Zoolander?

On to AFCON news and Ghana’s Baba Rahman has gone home injured, possibly requiring surgery on a damaged knee. Currently at Schalke, on loan from Chelsea (like everyone) who are currently searching through pages of paperwork to work out exactly which on loan player it is. Other injury news includes Burkina Faso’s Jonathan Pitroipa and Jonathan Zongo who have departed the tournament. This is after Gabon’s Mario Lemina and Johann Obiang both went home through injury previously. It seems that AFCON 17 is more like a scene from Casualty with no signs of improving. MEDIC!

So, predictions for today. I’m going all Paul Merson with these ones. Which actually means I’ll give you some garbled message followed by a prediction which is not even close. Just like every day, a cynic might suggest.

Here goes.

Ivory Coast to face a difficult match against the boys from Congo. It is Congo, right Jeff? Well whatever they are called. Ivory Coast are a top, top, top team and won it last year but as you know Jeff, football isn’t all about yesterday, it’s all about now.  But Ivory Coast to edge it 2-1.

So I can see Togo springing a surprise on Morocco who really need a win. Morocco just looked lost, too many players looked like fish on trees in their first match. For Togo they needs goals and scoring goals is the hardest thing in football to do but doing it with a struggling team is double harder. But we know goals dictate how matches go so 3-1 Morocco for me Jeff. Oh Magic Merse and your top, top quotes.

Trivia time! Yesterday the question was ‘What is the longest penalty shoot out in the tournament?’ The answer is 24 penalties achieved twice both by Ivory Coast against Ghana in the 1992 final and then in the 2006 final against Cameroon. Both times the Elephants won the trophy. Easy huh, your knowledge of AFCON astounds me.

Today’s trivia is as follows. ‘Who has scored the fastest ever goal at AFCON?’

Good luck readers, tweet your answers to @TalesFromTTF

Readers, make sure you watch today’s games and enjoy them. As Paul Merson once said you ‘you don’t want to bite your nose off to spite your face!’ Is there ever a better pundit than Paul?

Till tomorrow people.