Hello readers, and welcome to Day 17 of AFCON! It’s the first of the Semi Finals. Now I know we have all missed AFCON but thank goodness it is back, and back with a bang. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun and here we are with only 4 matches left till the end of the tournament.
Today we see Burkina Faso take on Egypt.
Burkina Faso have performed well in the tournament so far and remain unbeaten. Goalkeeper Herve Koffi has only conceded two goals, neither of them from open play. Young Herve is 24 years younger than Egypt keeper Essam El Hadary, who celebrated his 44th year on the planet. Yes, that’s 44 years old. You have to wonder how they have managed to keep getting him out onto the pitch. Rumours that El Hadary is a robot are unfounded at this stage. However, a drugs and oil test will be undertaken after the match. According to Hector Cuper, El Hadary is the first on the training field and the last to leave. He may be the first to arrive but he actually leaves after 20 minutes but it takes him that long to shuffle off by the time he gets to the changing room his team mates have showered and left.
Burkina Faso do boast a strong spine in Bakary Kone, Charles Kabore, Prejuce Nakoulma and scoring sub Aristide Bance. Yeah I know, clearly all house hold names for someone. Just not me. They will be hoping Bertrand Traore, surprisingly a Chelsea player out on loan at Ajax, will be able to put in a performance to push them through. But even so, after finishing runners up in 2013 they are fast becoming a force in African football.
As we know, Egypt are no slouches. They have won the tournament seven times and have great experience. They are without Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny who is out with a calf injury and also a doubt is Marwan Mohsen. Hector Cuper has played his excuse card early and already citing the fact The Stallions have had an extra 24 hours to recover. Oh Hector really? I would be more worried about the amount of crosses they struggled to deal with against Morocco, which put El Hadary under pressure to not only jump but to actually move. Old age comes to us all. Mohammed Salah will be keen to continue his good form in the tournament and secure a spot in the final for The Pharaohs.
Over to AFCON news and Liverpool, who are in complete panic mode, sent over a private jet to pick up Sadio Mane and get him home in time for the Chelsea game. However, they were dealt a blow as the flight was delayed due to red tape issues. It meant Mane missed training and is now doubtful for the big match. You have got to question what exactly is this red tape that always gets blamed?
Arsenal’s Ismael Bennacer has been sent out on loan to Ligue 2 club Tours after his amazing display in AFCON for Algeria. Apparently his tea and coffee making skills really came to the fore and are a force to be reckoned with, as he failed to play a single minute on the pitch.
Prediction time and with just one match to predict and my form from the Quarter Finals quite shocking it is time for me to step up. Today will see a 2-1 win for Egypt with Salah getting on the score sheet. That is a confident prediction!
Now who knew the answer to the last AFCON teaser? Hands up, anyone? Well the answer to, “name the teams who have managed consecutive AFCON cup wins” is as follows. There have been 3 teams and they are Ghana (1963, 1965) Cameroon (2000, 2002) and Egypt (2006, 2008, 2010).
Today’s question is, “who is the only player to have won the tournament’s most valuable player more than once?” You know the drill, tweet your answer to @TalesFromTTF.
With the tournament now at its most exciting, it’s time to see who the pressure gets to and who excels to go through to the final. Winning the game gives you not only a place in the final and a chance for glory but also mean you don’t have to play the demoralising 3rd place playoff match. Nobody wants to play in that. That should be motivation enough for all the Semi Finalists.
Sit back and enjoy people and until tomorrow enjoy the crazy world of AFCON.