Hello readers! Here we are for Day 18 of AFCON and what a day we have for you. Hopefully you have all got over the first semi-final last night. What do you mean you have no idea of the score? Well let me update you on the match.
With a place in the final at stake, Burkina Faso and Egypt went head to head. Egypt once again decided that sitting back and defending would stand them in good stead. It’s a tactic that has worked so well for them so far. The match was extremely cagey and the football wasn’t the best as a defensive game of chess developed. The deadlock was finally broken Mohamed Salah by curling in a shot into the left hand corner to put Egypt ahead. Finally, the Pharaohs were unlocked and Aristide Bance scored after chesting down a cross. It was the first goal Egypt had conceded in the tournament. That was about it for excitement as full time came. Extra time brought no more goals and we moved on to penalties.
Burkina Faso’s goalkeeper was 20 years old, fresh faced and energetic. Egypt’s keeper was Essam El Hadary, old, struggling and wondering would he ever get a rest. First blood went to the youngster as he saved the first penalty and the pressure was all on Egypt. Both teams continued to slot them away until it was penalty number 4 for Burkina Faso. In their wisdom they decided that young keeper Herve Koffi should step up. Young against old, fresh face against decrepit face. Koffi struck the ball, to which El Hadary stuck out his Zimmer frame and the penalty was saved. Egypt then scored their next penalty, which left Bertrand Traore to score from 12 yards. One of Chelsea’s many on loan stars, stepped up and the old man did it again. A veteran hero – take a bow El Hadary, if you can. You give us all hope!
So Egypt are through to Sunday’s final. El Hadary is off for a well-deserved rest.
The second of the semi-finals takes place today with Cameroon taking on Ghana. Cameroon will be buoyed after knocking out the Ivory Coast on penalties in the previous round and will be hoping they can reach the final, a feat they have not achieved since 2008. The five time AFCON winners face a Ghana team who last reached a final two years ago, but it’s been over 30 years since they have last won the tournament. Cameroon can count on Vincent Aboubakar of Beskitas to score the goals and Clinton N’Jie to miss them. The Tottenham player, currently on loan at Marseille, is having an up and down tournament. Having started the first game, he was subbed on 77 minutes. His second game he came off at half time and hasn’t started a game since. But we all know he only needs one moment of magic to make him a world beater, hey Spurs fans? Cameroon have stuttered their way through having not scored in their last two matches. They need some creativity.
Ghana do boast Daniel Amartey of Leicester and West Ham’s Andre Ayew to put them in the back of the net. They also have the wily old fox Avram Grant as coach and he will be hoping the Black Stars can get a result. However, with fans on the backs of the players for their poor performances so far, they have a lot to turn round. Avram has also gone down the same route of getting his excuses in early, pointing out that Cameroon have had an extra day rest. Excuses, excuses, and we all know Avram is great with them!
Ghana keeper Razak Brimah has been fined for hitting back at the critics who criticised him. The joys of social media, but Razak went one better and made a video. That’s how you hit back at fans Razak, good job, although his fine was not ideal. Next time maybe be more constructive. An expletive laden tirade is not how you get fans on board! Both teams need a performance and if ever there was a time to do it, it’s now.
In AFCON news of the day, Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte has been talking bromance with The Special, not so Special, maybe becoming Special One again, Jose Mourinho. Having worked with him for one season apparently Jose left his mark. According to Paulo, Mourinho is like a father to him. Which is interesting considering Jose is only 7 years older.
You won’t believe the next part readers. Now, I hope you’re sitting down. Well somebody did get suckered in and signed everyone’s favourite Emmanuel Adebayor. Istanbul Basaksehir have taken the plunge and actually given him an 18 month contract. I can hear you all asking, who are this team? I don’t even think Football Manager have this team in their database. But I have it on good authority from Mr G. Oogle that they are second in the Super Lig in Turkey. Who knew? The rumours that David Moyes made a late unsuccessful bid have not been proven, but looking at his recent signings Adebayor may have been too young!
After last night’s match I have gained back some street cred in my predictions. I got the goal scorer and team to win, right? Here it goes for the second semi-final. I want to tell you goals and I want to tell you classic, however both teams have yet to put in a performance so I’m going for a 1-0 win to Ghana, Ayew with the goal.
Trivia time! How did you all get on with yesterday’s question of, “Who is the only player to have won the tournament’s most valuable player more than once?” The answer is, of course, Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan, who won it in 2006 and 2010.
Today’s question is a tough one. “Who was the original AFCON trophy named after?” If by some miracle you know the answer Tweet @TalesFromTTF.
The last of the semi-finals is with us so sit back, get a good book and have it on in the background. It’s going to be dull, cagey and, with one goal predicted, a pretty non eventful. But fear not you can save yourself the trouble and just come back tomorrow and read all about it on Tales From The Top Flight!
If you do watch it, good luck readers and remember to stay awake. I have my energy drink at the ready.