Hello and welcome to another report on AFCON 2017. Who would of thought we would of made day 10 together? I’ve had relationships lasting less days. But I digress, yesterday we saw the end of the Group A matches and what drama unfolded.
The early kick off saw Cameroon take on the hosts Gabon. The Indomitable Lions needed only a point to qualify and qualify they did in a dull, dire game of football. Both teams managed a single shot on goal each and that was pretty much it. But, it’s Cameroon who go through even if they did drop a place, as they finished runners up in the group. While Gabon and, in particular, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang crash out it dawned on them they were becoming only the third hosts to exit the tournament in the group stages.
The second game featured Guinea Bissau against Burkina Faso. Guinea Bissau needed a win and Gabon to lose. Burkina Faso’s task was much simpler, they just needed to win and that’s exactly what they did. An own goal on 11 minutes put them ahead and the result was sealed when Bertrand Traore of Ajax (on loan from Chelsea of course,) scored. The first goal was a comical moment as defender Silvia managed to head past his goalkeeper as he came rushing out. Sheer AFCON delight!
With their win it means Burkina Faso top the group. It also means I guessed correctly the winning team. That’s half a point in my prediction table, surely?
After that excitement let’s look ahead to Group B and the matches coming up later this evening.
Zimbabwe against Tunisia is an interesting one. Both teams need to win to go through. Zimbabwe, however, are also relying on Algeria losing to Senegal in Group B’s other match. What can I say about Zimbabwe? That’s right, not a lot. After a draw in their first match against Algeria and then a loss to Senegal they need a performance. We are all hoping the incredibly named Knowledge Musona is given the all clear and will play after returning from injury. Imagine him being the match winner. Oh the headlines we could have tomorrow. But fear not readers, and for this I have to apologise, as we may have a new king to the headlines throne. Step forward central midfielder Marvelous Nakamba. How did this name slip through the net? Where there’s names there is hope and plenty of humour, I mean headlines.
Tunisia are still buzzing after their 2-0 win against Algeria in their last match. It made up for losing to Senegal in the first fixture. We all know there is only one Wahbi Khazri. This man is turning into a bit of a legend with me now. After reporting he is worth a mere £9.50 and having to eat plenty of humble pie, I’m now routing for Wahbi and his super skills. I will state this now, if Tunisia get to the final and win it and Wahbi scores the winning goal I will get him name tattooed on my backside. Another true hero of AFCON. That’s Khazri not me.
With Senegal already qualified, their match against Algeria is pretty much a nothing game for them. For Algeria, however, this is a massive match. Having been shouting from the roof tops over Riyad Mahrez after his first game, to then be whimpering in a corner after his shocking second match, I’m not sure what to expect from him tonight. It has been a mixed bag indeed from the Leicester City player. But surely there is a performance in their somewhere? Riyad are you there? Can you hear me? I get the feeling another Walking Dead performance is beckoning and I don’t mean Rick Grimes, more like one of the walkers. For those who have no clue what I’m talking about walkers = zombies. That should make it a lot clearer. Senegal, I would imagine, will play a weakened team and give a run out to those who haven’t yet played. Maybe the zombie playing Mahrez will have a stormer after all.
Today’s AFCON news sends us off to take a look at the delightful pitch at Port Gentil stadium. How bad can a pitch be when the teams can’t even warm up on it and have to perform their indoor routines indoors? We could see how bad the pitch was for the Ghana and Mali game and with games still to be played on the pitch you wonder if there will be any grass left. Mind you, all this points to more comical defending so we shouldn’t moan.
Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger spoke in his programme notes about the young player Ismael Bennacer who is happily warming the Algerian bench so far in AFCON. Wenger pointed out that Bennacer is not spectacular but very efficient. If ever there was a back handed compliment that was it. Wenger did add “he can defend very well, he’s a fighter, a left footed player and is very efficient going forward”. There’s that word again – efficient. I’ve always felt in football terms, efficient means crap. Apparently he can do all kinds of jobs so it is lucky he’s learnt carpentry. At least he knows how to sand down the substitute bench so he won’t get splinters in his ass!
Comical guess time and my predications for tonight’s games. In my head I dream of two goals from our headliners dream players. I’d love to use “Knowledge is Marvelous” tomorrow but, alas, I think Zimbabwe will crumble and Tunisia will go through winning 2-0.
In the second match I’m backing Mahrez to jump into life, put an axe to the head of every Zimbabwean and prove he isn’t a walker/zombie after all. Just for the record I don’t actually want him to commit murder. I’d just like to see him put in a big performance. With Senegal probably resting a couple of players I’m going for a 1-1 draw and Leicester City to get their players back from Algeria early. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, hey Leicester?
Now for the answer to yesterday’s trivia. Laurent Pokou scored 5 for the Ivory Coast against Ethiopia back in 1968. Ivory Coast won the game 6-1. How did we all get on? You need a quick look on Google? Yeah, me too.
Today’s AFCON trivia teasers is as follows. “How many times have the hosts gone on to win AFCON?” Shame on you Gabon for letting the side down.
So as we wave goodbye to Group B, tomorrow brings us the excitement of Group C. As each group ends, it brings a slight tear to my eye and a tinge of emotion. It’s nice to know my acting classes were never a waste of money. “Extra” work is surely just around the corner.
Until tomorrow readers, enjoy the games. It’s been emotional.