Today feels a bit like when you lose a pet. You know at some point it’s going to happen, but you hope it will last for ever. In the end you just have to accept it and move on. But fear not readers because on Day 16 we are going to enjoy our dead pet for being around for so long, and when I say pet I really mean DR Congo. You knew that right? Of course you did.
Well it was going to happen and finally it did. Our guilty pleasure DR Congo were knocked out of AFCON. The game didn’t come to life until the second half when Ghana scored to go 1-0 up. Jordan Ayew grabbed the goal with a neat finish. The Leopards replied almost immediately with a fantastic long range thunder bolt from Paul Jose M’Poku from 25 yards which flew into the back of the net. I cheered, I jumped, I fist pumped but the feeling was short lived. West Ham’s Andre Ayew coolly converted a penalty after Christian Atsu was brought down. DR Congo had chances to equalise and will be wondering how they didn’t score. Finally the whistle blew and Congo were out. The dead pet feeling kicked in.
There was a huge sigh of relief however from Ghana coach Avram Grant and the celebrations from the Black Stars at the end shows their respect for Congo. The win sees them into the semi finals.
The second game, as usual when I promise goals, ended up a dull affair. There were chances for both teams, Morocco having the majority of them, but both to find the back of the net. With the game looking like it would go in to extra time, up popped Mahmoud Abdul-Moneim to tap home the winner on 87 minutes. A scrappy goal, but a goal none the less.1-0 to Egypt and although not the classic I predicted a good looking semi final has been created.
So now we know who is through. The Semi Finals take place over two days. On Wednesday we have Burkina Faso against Egypt and Thursday will see Cameroon take on Ghana.
Burkina Faso topped Group A, level on points with Cameroon. They won one and drew two before dispatching Tunisia in the quarter-finals. They have Chelsea player Bertrand Traore currently on loan at Ajax in their midfield and in good form. Coach Paulo Duarte will be hoping for another good display from his team who continue to impress.
Egypt topped Group D, winning two and drawing one before knocking out Morocco 1-0. They still haven’t conceded a goal all tournament. Within their squad is Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal, although he has picked up an injury and could be out. It’s good to know Arsenal are back to filling their physio room again. They also have Premier League stars Ramadan Sobhi of Stoke City and Ahmed Elmohamady of Hull. Ex Chelsea man Mohamed Salah, now of Roma, will be hoping to continue his good form and make Chelsea look even sillier for shipping him out. Coach Hector Cuper will be hoping to make it eight AFCON tournament wins for Egypt.
Cameroon finished second in Group A behind Burkina Faso. They won one and drew two before beating Senegal on penalties to progress to the semi final. They have up front Vincent Aboubakar of Beskitas in goalscoring form, and who can forget Tottenham’s Clinton N’jie? Probably Tottenham as he’s on loan at Marseille. Just avoid social media if he scores. Head coach Hugo Broos will want to mastermind an AFCON win to take Cameroon’s AFCON tournament wins to five.
Ghana as we saw, beat DR Congo in the quarter-finals 2-1. In the group stages they finished runners up in Group D winning two and losing one. They feature Daniel Amartey of Leicester and West Ham’s Andre Ayew. The star player is Asamoah Gyan who back in the day turned out for Sunderland. Coach Avram Grant must be feeling a little stressed out after the tough match against DR Congo. Any ideas for Avram to unwind? Apparently he has been seen pacing the streets of Gabon.
In today’s AFCON news another coach bites the dust and this time it’s Michel Dussuyer. You know, the manager of the Ivory Coast. He’s quit after their elimination from AFCON.
The Senegal FA are baffled by how the team did not win the tournament and how they were knocked out. It’s quite easy to explain, they got beaten on penalties to a team who can score from 12 yards. Although there’s still rumours that some German voodoo was to blame.
Finally Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri has upset Tunisia after refusing to acknowledge the coach after being substituted after 63 minutes. To top that off, he got his own flight home. You got to feel that’s maybe his international career over. Oh how the mighty have fallen Wahbi, it was all going so well for you.
Now admit it, you were stumped on the last trivia question. Well to put you out of your misery to the question, “Which two coaches have won the most AFCON tournaments?” the answer, readers, is Ghana’s Charles Gyamfi (1963, 1965, 1982) and Hassan Shehata of Egypt (2006, 2008, 2010). Ah, your kicking yourselves right, you all knew that really.
Today test is as follows. “Name the teams who have managed consecutive AFCON cup wins.” Easy today I know. As usual tweet @TalesFromTTF your answers.
I’m going to leave you with these wise words. They have meant so much to me over the last 16 days. For one last time here goes. Sing along, you all know the words.
“Way down deep in the middle of the Congo
A hippo took an apricot, a guava and a mango
He stuck it with the others and he danced a dainty tango
The rhino said ‘I know. Well call it Um Bongo’
Um Bongo, Um Bongo. They drink it in the Congo.”
You still don’t know the song do you? That’s not at all awkward.
Until next time AFCON out.