African Cup of Nations 2017

Hello readers and welcome back to AFCON 17. I have no idea what day it is so we are going with 14.

How are we all feeling after our AFCON break? I know, I felt it too, waking up yesterday in a cold sweat, shivering uncontrollably as it dawned on you there were no games. But fear not, we are back and today we have the first batch of the quarter finals and what a line up we have!

First up we have Burkina Faso against Tunisia. The Stallions coach Paulo Duarte is keeping his cards close to his chest by not naming his team to the press or even telling the players who is playing. Paulo was quoted saying “this is a tactic to confuse our opponent!” I love a bit of mind games, either that or he actually has no idea himself who’s starting. One player who will probably start is Betrand Traore currently on loan at Ajax from Chelsea. The attacking midfielder has been in fine form and Chelsea will be thrilled one of their 30 odd loan stars is doing so well. Which ever one that is hey Chelsea? There’s that many. Who actually does know? In fact who cares?

The Tunisians, as we all know, have Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri. The question is, can he do it on the bigger stage? He is clearly loving the tournament so far and is putting in some fine performances. I can imagine David Moyes now, bouncing up and down in the centre circle of the Stadium of Light. Good job David on your one and only classic signing. Oh hold on, this was a Big Sam signing, never mind David. Next step for Wahbi however; can he do it on a rainy evening in Darlington?

Game two kicks off at 1900 and sees Senegal play Cameroon. Senegal, who are seen to be everyone’s favourite for the competition, are laden with Premier League stars. They are definitely the team to beat now. Sadio Mane is one player in form and scoring goals. How Jurgen Klopp would love to have Mane back. Jurgen will be watching with interest, probably wearing his Cameroon shirt cheering on the Indomitable Lions praying for Sadio to come back home. Senegal also boast Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, Stoke City’s Mame Biram Diouf and West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate.

Cameroon, however, will be hoping to knock out Senegal and use some of their experience that has seen them win 4 AFCON tournaments in the past. They have played ok through the group stages and will be hoping they have enough about them to go through.

Now the question is, “how many Premier League managers will be supporting the opposing teams against their own players over the next few days?” Probably every single one who still has a player left in Gabon. Have I mentioned poor Jurgen? He is clearly feeling the strain. There’s been even more back of the head scratching from him than normal in interviews.

Over to AFCON news and Ghana will be hoping that Asamoah Gyan recovers from injury before Sunday’s crunch game . Apparently he should recover from a left thigh muscle contusion. Yeah I have no idea what that is either, but it sounds nasty.

Big, big, big news this. From the quarter-final stages onwards there will be a reserve assistant referee. Or, for those like me who like to use their proper name, a reserve linesman. What this means is, if the linesman gets injured they have a replacement ready and maybe even willing to come on in there place. Sorry did someone shout “pointless!” at the back? Only in AFCON people, only in AFCON.

Now is my time to shine with my predictions for the day. Game one will see Burkina Faso lose 1-0 to Tunisia with my dear friend Wahbi scoring the goal. In game two I am expecting a classic. I know every time I use that word the games turn into shockers but surely not this time? Tonight I feel goals, which means Senegal to win 3-1 against Cameroon.

Talking of predictions, I did indeed tweet many footballers/ex-footballers and ask them for their prediction for the winner of AFCON 2017. Now, I have to admit, I was expecting to hear defenening silence so imagine my surprise when I had three responses. I was thinking of putting the results into a nice pretty table and maybe show you some graphs but instead I will just tell you.

Will Fuller, who is goalkeeper for Welsh Premier League team Cardiff Met, has gone for Senegal although he did tell me to plug the team if he gives me his prediction. So if you’re ever in South Wales, go and give Cardiff Met a watch. You’ll get great football and a, er, great atmosphere. There you go Will.

Adrian Clarke, who played at every level of English football including Arsenal, also went for Senegal. He did say he has not seen many of the games but they were his hunch.

And, finally, Lee Dixon. The ex-Arsenal and England defender was very honest with his reply when he answered, “Sorry not watched a game I’m afraid!” A brilliant response from Lee, but the question is “how can you not watch AFCON?”

So I can say with confidence that the choice of the players / ex players are Senegal. Pretty conclusive that!

I know you have all been waiting for trivia time and I’m sorry you had to wait the extra day. The question for those who can’t remember, and more importantly those that don’t care, was, “Which two men have won the tournament as player and coach?” The answer is, of course, Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary (1959 and 1998) and the late Stephen Keshi of Nigeria (1994 and 2013).

After a short break I am giving you all an easy one this time. “What was so special about the AFCON tournament held in 2000?”

You know what to do, tweet your answer to @TalesFromTTF to prove your AFCON knowledge.
Sit back and enjoy today’s games, it’s time to welcome back AFCON like a long lost friend, deep fry your Plantain fritters and enjoy the magic.

AFCON is back, AFCON is back.