It’s Day 12 readers. Yes, that’s Day 12 which is exactly half way through the tournament. Here we are with the last of the group games. Group D are tasked with entertaining us today and after last night’s matches the bar is very much raised.
Last night wasn’t a classic of a night in terms of goals but for shocks? Oh my word! First Morocco took on Ivory Coast and, shock alert, the defending champions Ivory Coast are OUT. To be honest, it was no more than they deserved as they were awful. The goal that won it for Morocco was without a doubt the goal of the tournament from Rachid Alioui. He received the ball from the left and still had plenty to do. He ignored the runners and took one touch before curling a fantastic shot over the keeper and into the top right hand corner. This readers, this was a thing of beauty. I promised you a storming game instead you got a storming goal. That one will take some beating. Ivory Coast may try to blame the pitch, which was shocking, but it’s the same for both teams. Having re-watched the goal on YouTube and hearing the Morocco commentator, he was without doubt mentioning different players and famous Ivorians in the public eye. In there was definitely a nod to Didier Drogba, certainly Yaya Toure got a mention and even Wilfried Zaha, which now makes him properly Ivorian. Now, my Moroccan isn’t what it should be but it sounded like it ended with “Alassane Ouattara, your boys took a hell of a beating!” Bhorge Lillelien would of been proud.
The second game saw Togo, stop booing in the back, play DR Congo. Readers I can almost hear your cheering from here. The Leopards went in a goal up after top scorer of the tournament Junior Kabananga scored another. He now has three goals. They scored a further two goals in the second half, with a Togo strike sandwiched in between, to win 3-1. That’s the group won and it’s the quarter-finals next for DR Congo. Togo could point to the fact that their first choice keeper was sent home to look after his house, then their second choice got injured which meant they then had to play their third choice keeper. But that would be a pretty poor excuse for failure. He must still be a fairly decent standard. This isn’t Football Manager where you shrug, take a third choice keeper with 1 for handling and mutter to yourself “what could possibly go wrong?” Yeah, we have all been there as it always goes wrong. At least Emmanuel Adebayor managed two shots on target. But, alas, no goals. Coming to a Premier League team near you won’t be Emmanuel Adebayor. Oh dear. But then again, he may just fit into Sunderland’s crazy signings approach of late. Overrated, over the hill, and probably over paid players, Adebayor fits the bill. What does go through David Moyes head?
So Group C finished with everyone’s favourite DR Congo top, yes that’s top of the group. The runners up and also through are Morocco. Incredibly, the shocking Ivory Coast are out with Togo.
So tonight’s games are the last of Group D. I think even you lot could pick the teams to qualify. Uganda face Mali in game one. Uganda have no chance of qualifying and have been pretty bad, so they will surely get a pasting from Mali who, as we know, will make sure they kick, hustle and bustle their way to a result. So that’s odds on for a draw then!
However it will all be in vain as Ghana, who have already qualified, will probably take the chance to rest some players which will give Egypt a great opportunity to win the game and also qualify, even though a draw is enough. However, Egypt have not hit the heights they would have hoped for so far in drawing with Mali and only scraping past Uganda. They will be hoping Arsenal’s Mohammed Elneny hits some sort of form soon. But readers this is AFCON, and as we know it can be crazy. Who would bet on Ghana beating Egypt and Mali going through? Stranger things have happened.
Over to news of the AFCON variety and Algeria coach Georges Leekens has quit his post after their shock elimination. His resignation came a few hours after they crashed out. Many wonder why it took him that long and instead didn’t just wave the white flag at the final whistle, ala Roy Hodgson. This was Leekens second spell as coach of Algeria. Both lasted four months, so he clearly likes to spend time at a nation. Good job Georges!
In other news Uganda’s coach Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic is rumoured to be swapping The Cranes for The Black Stars once the tournament ends. Avram Grant, the current coach of Ghana, has made it clear he is leaving at the end of AFCON.
Here we go, I’m actually feeling on fire today with my predictions. Egypt v Ghana. With Ghana already through I’m expecting a weakened team from them and therefore an Egypt win, 1-0.
Game two has got draw written all over it, so I will say 1-1. These maybe not two matches for the purist but it does wrap up Group D.
It’s time….. to face…… trivia time! Yes readers, here we go. Now, the first ever goal scorer at AFCON was Raafat Attia of Egypt who scored against Sudan in 1957. Only three teams participated, the fourth team, South Africa, were disqualified due to apartheid. Egypt went on and won the first tournament. Who says learning isn’t fun? Next time you’re down the pub for the pub quiz and the subject is all things AFCON you will be the star of the show.
Now, if you want to prove your knowledge of all things AFCON then all you need to do is tweet your answer to @TalesFromTTF. Today’s question is, “How many different AFCON trophies have been awarded over the years?”
All good things come to an end, or so they say. Today marks the end of the groups and we move into the knockout stages with the quarter-finals taking place on Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow we will take a look at the games and attempt to pick another winner. Who knows, maybe see if some celebrities will take a punt and pick a AFCON winner. Until tomorrow readers, keep loving the AFCON.