Why do African countries hire non-African football coaches so much?

June 23, 2018

“It seemed strange when in the run-up to Afcon 2013, Nigeria’s coach Stephen Keshi forcefully criticised African football associations for their preference for white coaches. That when Zambia, until this week the great success story of African football, had Hervé Renard to thank for masterminding their unlikely triumph last year in Libreville. Yet Keshi has a point. The success of Zambia under Renard should not obscure the fact that African football administrators have always failed to appreciate and make use of its own resources and talent. This is true of football as it is of Africa’s national economies.” Africa is a Country


At African Soccer Event, Games of Cat and Mouse

January 30, 2018


“CASABLANCA, Morocco — Standing just inside the lobby of Casablanca’s Novotel, Koly Koivogui was hard to miss. Dressed in a bright red zip-up track top bearing the insignia of the Guinean national soccer team, Koivogui, a large, barrel-chested coach, stood guard. He was making sure that uninvited player agents or scouts did not harass members of his team on the eve of the 16-team African Nations Championship, a competition for national teams with rosters made up solely of players who play club games in their birth countries. …” NY Times


2018 African Nations Championship: Group-by-group guide

January 12, 2018


“The 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco is the fifth edition of the tournament that features only players plying their trade in their own domestic championships. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) introduced the tournament in 2009 when Ivory Coast hosted an eight-team finals that was won by DR Congo. In 2011, the tournament – hosted by Sudan – expanded to 16 teams with Tunisia emerging as winners before Libya lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2014 and DR Congo won again in 2016, when Rwanda staged the finals. The holders and record two-time champions will not be in Morocco however, after losing to Congo Brazzaville in qualifying. …” BBC


Emmanuel Adebayor puts Cabinda behind him as Togo go through

October 8, 2017

“Togo secured the draw they needed against Tunisia and so made it through to the quarter-final of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in their history. Those are the bald facts, but they don’t begin to tell anything like the full story of an extraordinary night at the Mbombela. It may not have been great football, but it was magnificent drama. …” Guardian


In Soccer’s Hinterlands, World Cup Expansion Opens a Door

January 19, 2017

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Uganda, celebrating a goal against Botswana, is one of the teams that are likely to benefit the most from the coming World Cup expansion.
“While the soccer world was chewing over FIFA’s controversial decision on Tuesday to increase the size of the World Cup finals to 48 teams from 32, Milutin Sredojevic was trying to block out the noise. Sredojevic, a Serbian coach, is in Dubai preparing Uganda’s national team for the Africa Cup of Nations, the continental championship that begins Saturday in Gabon. Uganda, which is in the tournament for the first time since 1978, is a heavy underdog. Yet despite Sredojevic’s best efforts to focus on the task ahead, news of the expansion, which could benefit smaller federations like Uganda’s, filtered through anyway.” NY Times


Algeria 1-2 Tunisia: Afcon 2017 – as it happened

January 19, 2017

“After an even first half, Tunisia emerged the stronger for the second half and were in total control after Naïm Sliti’s penalty made it 2-0. Sofiane Hanni’s goal made the last few minutes edgy for Tunisia, but an Algeria equaliser would have been deeply unfair. Algeria are not out yet, but they will need to beat Senegal, and hope Zimbabwe overcome Tunisia, to stand any chance. On today’s evidence, that’s unlikely. All credit to Tunisia, who lacked star names, but delivered the superior team performance.” Guardian


Afcon 2017: wider spread of talent makes winner impossible to predict

January 19, 2017

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Riyad Mahrez, Diedonnei Mbokani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah are among the stars at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“The pattern has become familiar: a country wins the right to host a tournament and there is excitement, then come doubts about costs and readiness, but in the days before the event, the negativity falls away and excitement takes over. Not here. In 2015, Gabon stepped in to replace Libya as the hosts because of the conflict there but, as the 31st Africa Cup of Nations approaches, there is a clear sense a significant proportion of the country does not want it to happen.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Global Series | Top 10 African Players of 2015: Toure, Kidiaba and Brahimi feature

December 19, 2016

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“… 8. ROBERT KIDIABA Kidiaba is the veteran goalkeeper at TP Mazembe, is one of the most decorated African players in the game today. Kidiaba started off his career at AS Saint Luc, and his success there prompted the national team to take him to the AFCON in 1998. This brought attention to the young keeper, and he signed for Mazembe after the tournament. Ever since then, he’s been a constant in their side, winning league titles galore, and 3 African Champions League trophies as well.” Outside of the Boot


History of the BBC African Footballer of the Year award

November 18, 2016

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“Before the BBC African Footballer of the Year 2016 launches on Saturday, BBC Sport looks at all the previous winners. The prize started life as the BBC African Sports Star of the Year award in 1992, when Ghanaian footballer Abedi Pele was the inaugural winner. The format has evolved and now a shortlist of five players is announced following a poll of football journalists from every country in Africa – after which a public vote decides the best for that year. Names etched on the trophy include George Weah, Didier Drogba, Jay-Jay Okocha, Yaya Toure and Sammy Kuffour.” BBC


Political unrest in Gabon casts shadow over 2017 Africa Cup of Nations draw

October 20, 2016

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“No news, they say, is good news. Either that or it’s the result of a government blackout. The draw for the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Libreville, Gabon, on Wednesday but yet again the buildup to a tournament has been dominated by doubts over where it will be staged as the aftershocks of Gabonese presidential elections continue to be reverberate.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


African players in the Premier League

March 20, 2016

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“Peter Ndlovu was the first. Now 246 African players have played in the Premier League since it began in 1992, scoring 1,776 goals in 14,210 appearances. Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has scored the most goals (104), Kolo Toure has made the most appearances (349) while Nigeria (35) has contributed the most players. As the Premier League live fan park comes to Cape Town this weekend learn all you need to know about African players in the English top flight.” BBC, BBC – You can read an accessible version of this graphic here.


Ivory Coast win Africa Cup of Nations in penalty shootout against Ghana

February 10, 2015

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“Could there have been a more unlikely hero than Boubacar Barry? He was the reserve keeper, the relic of the past, the clownish figure so often blamed for Ivorian failure. Elevated to play in the final only because Sylvain Gbohouo had suffered a thigh strain, he seized his opportunity in a ridiculous, hilarious, remarkable way, saving two penalties and then scoring the decisive kick in the shootout himself.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

AFCON 2015 – the winners and losers
“The overriding theme of AFCON 2015 was undoubtedly one of Ivoirian redemption. Favourites for virtually every tournament across the last decade, Les Éléphants were perceived as being both fundamentally flawed psychologically and a disaster waiting to happen defensively. Yet under Hervé Renard – who in masterminding Ivory Coast’s victory becomes the first man to lift Africa’s most prestigious crown with two separate nations – they were a side reborn. The Frenchmen instilled both discipline and togetherness, alongside a sense of character that had long deserted the West Africans. A blend of youth together with the remaining fragments of the golden generation reaped dividends, as the previously much maligned Elephants visibly blossomed through the tournament’s progression – perhaps the seminal result, from a mental perspective at least, being a 3-1 quarter-final triumph over Algeria.” backpagefootball

Afcon 2015: Five lessons from the Africa Cup of Nations
“The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations came to a dramatic end on Sunday night when Ivory Coast sealed a thrilling 9-8 victory over Ghana on penalties. The win brought to an end a 22-year drought for Ivory Coast, and capped a tournament that was moved at the last minute and almost overshadowed by violence. But what did we learn? Here are five key lessons from this year’s competition.” BBC

Independent: In Pictures: Ivory Coast claims African Cup of Nations after epic sudden death 22 penalty shoot-out against Ghana


Avram Grant putting his shirt on Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations chances

February 8, 2015

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Riot police shield Ghana’s John Boye and his team mates from objects thrown by Equatorial Guinea fans at the end of the first half of the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final.
“As the helicopter descended, Avram Grant glanced up, his face as cadaverous as ever, but seemed emotionless. Whatever he actually felt amid the violence that led to Ghana’s Cup of Nations semi-final against Equatorial Guinea being suspended for almost 40 minutes, his outward appearance was calm. When the smoke grenades cleared, fans were evacuated from two stands of the Estadio de Malabo and the bottles and other missiles were cleared from the pitch, the overriding sense was of the sang-froid with which Ghana had reacted.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Ghana players, fans pelted with missiles in win over Equatorial Guinea
“The Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana was suspended for almost 40 minutes on Thursday night after crowd disturbances that led to police evacuating part of the stadium with smoke bombs and a helicopter. In scenes that will colour what remains of the tournament, home supporters aimed bottles at Ghana players and supporters, and the visiting team were forced to leave and re-enter the pitch under cover of riot police shields either side of half-time. The crowd was largely dispersed, with reports that trouble continued outside the stadium after the match. Eventually the game was restarted in front of near-empty stands before the Gabonese referee, Eric Otogo, blew for full-time five minutes early.” Guardian


Allez Les Éléphants!

February 8, 2015

“Two of the teams I had huge hopes for in World Cup 2014 were Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; sadly things didn’t work out as well for them as many of us hoped. But that’s why I’m super excited for this superclásico tomorrow, the final of the African Cup of Nations 2015!!! Judging from the record cover, back in 1984 Côte d’Ivoire must have not had the team that they have today; “La victoire est possible” is even more hesitant than the Mexicans’ “Sí se puede”; when you have to explain to your team that they *could* win, things might not be looking so good for you. But things are very different today, and I’m really hoping to see this golden generation finally get the big win. Plus, I’ve waited years for the right moment to share this record with you, this better be it! Allez Les Éléphants!!! La Pelanga (Video)


Are DR Congo’s leopards rising from a prolonged slumber?

February 5, 2015

“With less than half an hour remaining in their quarter-final duel with Republic of Congo, it seemed DR Congo’s less than flattering AFCON campaign was destined for an ungainly conclusion – having just witnessed their limited yet well drilled neighbours move into an implausible 2-0 lead. It was at that point however where the fixture’s landscape shifted, as Republic of Congo – who prior to this tournament hadn’t tasted AFCON victory in 40 years -seemingly froze in the face of the momentous accomplishment that was within their grasp. Within minutes Dieumerci Mbokani had halved the bewildered Red Devils advantage, as a DR Congo suddenly rediscovered an attacking mojo that had been non-existent up to that point.” backpagefootball

Ivory Coast survive wobble against DR Congo to reach Cup of Nations final
“Could it be that one of the longest waits in football is at last coming to an end? For a decade, Africa has expected Ivory Coast’s golden generation at last to reach fulfilment and perhaps now, as the Elephants approach their third final in nine years, the itch will be scratched. Yet perhaps this isn’t even the golden generation any more: after all, only four players remain from the squad that lost to the hosts in the final in Egypt in 2006.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Ivory Coast march on but this tale of two Tourés is far from pretty

February 1, 2015

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Kolo Touré / Ivory Coast
“The good news for Ivory Coast is that they’re through. They’re not playing with any great fluency or style, but they have made it through to the quarter-finals, where they will face Algeria, and there is at least about them a sense of purpose and defensive resolve. “We will fight like elephants,” said Kolo Touré after a second successive draw had left them needing to win their final game, against Cameroon, to progress and if that means presenting a solid barrier, absorbing blows before prevailing through a goal based on raw power, they did just that. Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Cameroon, a team who had beaten them 4-1 in qualifying, was classic Hervé Renard.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Guinea and Mali to draw lots for Africa Cup of Nations knockout place
“The final place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals will be decided by the drawing of lots after Guinea and Mali drew 1-1. Both teams had played out 1-1 draws in their previous Group D matches, meaning lots will be required to decide who finishes second and will face Ghana. Every match in the group finished 1-1 except Wednesday’s other match, in which Ivory Coast beat Cameroon 1-0 to qualify. It is a remarkable set of circumstances and one not seen at the Africa Cup of Nations since 1988, when the drawing of lots sent Algeria through to the knockout stage at the expense of the Ivory Coast. Bizarrely, the draw will not be made immediately but at a meeting of Confederation of African Football officials on Thursday.” Guardian


Claude LeRoy: French coach is African legend

January 26, 2015

“Congo’s qualification for the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations was a remarkable achievement for an unfancied side, but also a personal triumph for coach Claude LeRoy – one of the grand old men of African football. Frenchman LeRoy, 66, has managed five different African national teams since first taking charge of Cameroon in 1985. He has coached at eight Cups of Nations and has now reached the quarter-finals on seven occasions, winning the trophy once. BBC Sport caught up with LeRoy to find out more about his extraordinary journey – and what continues to drive his passion for African football.” BBC


Ghana’s loss to Senegal leaves Avram Grant in familiar territory

January 22, 2015

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“Avram Grant has faced enough hostile press conferences in his career to know that he got away lightly. The Ghanaian media was clearly disappointed by the 2-1 defeat to Senegal on Monday but it was relatively restrained in the way it dealt with Grant, who sat in familiarly morose pose as a bat fluttered back and forth above his head. Perhaps the gentle approach was born of a recognition that this was Grant’s first competitive game in charge, or perhaps it was simply that the poor performance wasn’t unexpected.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Afcon 2015: Star players, prizes and stats from Equatorial Guinea
“The opening round of group games at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations has delivered penalty misses, last-gasp winners, no goalless draws and some man-of-the-match presentations with a twist. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has given fans the chance to hand out awards to the chosen star man in fixtures, but have they gone to the right players? Here, we put forward the round-one stars chosen by you, our reporters on the ground in Equatorial Guinea and African football’s governing body.” BBC

Zambia 1 Tunisia
“Tunisia made the most of Zambia’s wastefulness in front of goal as they came from behind to win. Emmanuel Mayuka opened the scoring when he blasted home a cross from the impressive Rainford Kalaba. But Mayuka was injured when stretching for a chance to turn the ball into an empty net and moments later Tunisia scored against 10 men when Ahmed Akaichi scored from two yards out. Tunisia improved after that and Yasine Chikhaoui headed home a late winner.” BBC


Algeria favourites for an open Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea

January 17, 2015

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Storm clouds gather over the Bata stadium in Equatorial Guinea, the host nation of the 2015 tournament.
“The still of early afternoon in Malabo was abruptly shattered. A pick-up screeched to a halt at a crossroads, a couple of dozen Malian fans clinging to the back, waving shirts and flags and blowing whistles. It was followed by another and then another and another until finally there were six in the convoy, all swaying dangerously from side to side, horns tooting. Workers on a nearby building site, grinning in bemusement, wandered to the kerb and waved. Spontaneous excitement of this nature, one suspects, is not a common sight in Equatorial Guinea.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


5 Young Players to Watch at the African Cup of Nations 2015

January 17, 2015

“Often described as the hotbed of footballing talent, the AFCON represents an opportunity for the world to cast their views on the footballing talents of the vast African continent. Though plenty of the participants venture into Europe fairly early, many escape the popular views despite playing in some of the more established leagues. The African Cup of Nations provides a platform to see the beauty the continent has to present. The following five young players stand-out among the 16 participating nations who could make an impact in Equatorial Guinea.” Outside of the Boot


Burkinabe Rapper Art Melody’s Playlist For Les Étalons (Afcon 2013 Playlist N°3)

January 17, 2015

“Later today we play against Zambia for a place in the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations. We are first in our group, we just need to handle it well. Zambia has to win, we need at least a draw. I’m convinced we can qualify. Let’s just remember: ‘Ensemble soutenons les étalons à la conquête du ballon rond’ (together, let’s support the Etalons in their conquest of the round ball”). Here’s some songs to build morale ahead of the clash.  Black So Man’s ‘Les étalons’ was the anthem in the 1998 Afcon, but shortly after Black So Man had an accident, he passed away before attending the cup. To this day it remains the national soccer anthem, there are many other ones, but this is the best.” Africa Is A Country (Video)


Cameroon look better off without Alex Song for Africa Cup of Nations

January 14, 2015

“Last time Alex Song wore a Cameroon shirt, against Croatia at the World Cup, he was sent off five minutes before half-time for dragging his elbow down Mario Mandzukic’s back. That was the centre-piece of a general implosion from Cameroon that also included rows over bonuses, widespread rumours of dressing-room unrest, allegations of match-fixing and Benoît Assou-Ekotto seemingly trying to head-butt Benjamin Moukandjo after a row in injury time.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Favourites Algeria dealt AFCON minefield

December 7, 2014

“The pot compilation of yesterday’s 2015 African Cup of Nations draw always meant a strong viability for a series of heavy weight assortments, yet for the majority of sides assigned a spot in Group C their hand represented the nightmare assignment. The inevitably dubbed group of death compiles the intimidating quintet of Algeria, Ghana, South Africa and Senegal. If Algeria – undoubtedly Africa’s standout outfit in Brazil last summer and the continent’s highest ranked side – are to clinch a first crown in 22 years they must now do it the hard way. That being said as arduous as Algeria’s examination might appear, for their three opponents the Fennec Foxes represent the worst case scenario.” backpagefootball


Africa Cup of Nations’ lop-sided draw promises intrigue if not high quality

December 4, 2014

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Democratic Republic of Congo fan – African Nations Cup
“Given the seeding pots, the potential for an atrociously difficult group at next month’s Africa Cup of Nations was always there. The draw delivered, spectacularly and brutally. Algeria, the top-ranked team in Africa, the only one of the Cup of Nations qualifiers to reach the last 16 of the World Cup, were the danger lurking in Pot 2 and Ghana the unlucky seeds. But worse than that, Ghana had already been grouped with Senegal – by some distance the best team in Pot 4 – and, from Pot 3, the side that eliminated the champions Nigeria in qualifying, South Africa, resurgent under Shakes Mashaba.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Africa Cup Disrupted by Ebola Concerns

November 12, 2014

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“Fear of the spread of Ebola has now thrown Africa’s most important soccer tournament into disarray. Morocco was removed Tuesday as host of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and expelled from participating in the biennial championship after it sought to delay the 16-team event, concerned about a spread of the virus. No replacement host has yet been named for the tournament, which is scheduled from Jan. 17 to Feb. 8. The expulsion of Morocco was announced by the Confederation of African Football, or C.A.F., the regional soccer governing body, which accused Moroccan officials of being alarmist in wanting to delay the Cup of Nations by six months or a year. Ebola has not been detected in Morocco, the organization noted recently.”
NY Times


Departing Stephen Keshi finally pays the price of chaos in Nigerian football

October 17, 2014

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“Stephen Keshi was sacked as coach of Nigeria late on Wednesday night, bringing to an end a protracted and tawdry departure that has dragged on since the end of the World Cup. It’s a saga that reflects well on nobody and has left the African champions struggling even to qualify for next January’s Cup of Nations and it’s telling of how little football has had to do with the decision that it should have been taken a few hours after an impressive 3-1 win over Sudan that restored hope.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


DR Congo: Gunshots and shaking buses on international breaks

October 13, 2014

“His Peterborough team-mates are playing Crawley this weekend, but League One defender Gabriel Zakuani is making a much longer trip during the international break. The 28-year-old is a Democratic Republic of Congo international and will be aiming to stop Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony when his country face Ivory Coast on Saturday and Wednesday in two crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Kinshasa and Abidjan. Zakuani was born in Kinshasa but grew up in London. He made his DR Congo debut in 2005 and was part of the squad at the Cup of Nations in South Africa in 2013.” BBC


AFCON 2015 Qualifying – 10 Best African Youngsters to Watch

September 6, 2014

“Who are the best African youngsters to keep an eye out for in Africa Cup of Nations 2015 qualifying? Matt Carter runs down 10 of Africa’s finest young players….” Just Football


It starts here… Africa Cup of Nations 2015 – 2nd round qualification preview

July 21, 2014

“In early May the long journey towards Morocco and the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 began for the sizeable percentage of African sides – indeed for Mauritania that voyage started way back in April with a preliminary round fixture against Mauritius. Before Africa’s elite, including champions Nigeria, endure the rigors of qualification the rest must be whittled down to just seven – having seen 14 sides depart during May’s first round, that number will be halved once again in the second round.” Just Football


World Cup 2014: Super Eagles can be the best of Africa

May 8, 2014

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“If there has been a consistent theme in these World Cup columns – and there has been at least one, honest – it is that the Ivory Coast are not as good as people think. Given they have vied with Egypt as the best African team of this century but have a much higher global recognition factor because so many of their players play in the major western European leagues, that’s perhaps understandable – but support for them goes against the evidence of the last Africa Cup of Nations. In South Africa, the Ivorians looked what they are: an ageing squad. Yaya Toure, of course, remains an exceptional player and his influence can still turn games, but with Didier Drogba now 36, he is increasingly having to do it alone.” Betting – Jonathan Wilson


The Long Revolution of the Ultras Ahlawy

November 13, 2013

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Graffiti of several Port Said victims daubed on one of the American University in Cairo’s external walls
“… On Sunday, as Ahmed Abdel Zaher turned to celebrate scoring his side’s second goal in the final of the African Champions League, he did something strange with his outstretched right hand. He extended his four fingers, and tucked his thumb over his palm. The goal itself was significant — it ensured that Cairo’s mighty Al-Ahly team would beat South Africa’s Orlando Pirates for its eighth champions league title. But in Egypt, it was Abdel Zaher’s celebration that later stole the limelight. For his four-fingered salute has over the past three months become a potent and divisive sign of opposition to the overthrow of Egypt’s former president, Mohamed Morsi. It invokes August’s bloody demolition of an encampment of Morsi’s Islamist supporters outside a mosque called Rabaa al-Adawiya. (Rabaa means ‘fourth’ in Arabic.)” SI

Ahly Ultras show patience in quest for justice, but for how long? 15 February 2012
“Almost three weeks after the Port Said football disaster, no tangible legal action has been taken against the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Ahly’s main Ultras groups, the Ultras Ahlawy, known as UA07 and centralized in Cairo, and the Ultras Devils, whose members are situated in Port Said, Alexandria, Zagazig and Suez, seem to be running out of patience as they demand swift justice.” Ahram Online

Recalling the Past: The Battle over History, Collective Memory and Memorialization in Egypt
“History is inescapable in Egypt. Foreign tourists drawn to the abundant physical remains of Coptic, Pharaonic, Hellenic, and Islamic cultures are reminded of the contemporary past as they head downtown from the Cairo airport past the triumphant October War Panorama, a war museum commemorating the 1973 war with fighter jets parked out front. Numerous place names—Sadat City, the Twenty-sixth of July Street, Talaat Harb Square, the Sixth of October Bridge—are constant evocations of persons and events raised to iconic status by former regimes.” Jadaliyya

“Ultras Ahlawy (UA-07) is an Egyptian ultras group that supports the Cairo-based Egyptian Premier League football club Al-Ahly. The group was founded in 2007 by former members of the first Ahly support group, Ahly Fans Club (AFC). Ultras Ahlawy raised its banner for the first time at a match against ENPPI on 13 April 2007. Ultras Ahlawy also supports the Al-Ahly basketball, volleyball, and handball teams. Ultras Ahlawy first became known for its banners and pyro shows. Later the group began introducing derby matches using theWE ARE EGYPT chant. Ultras Ahlawy also introduced long-form supportive songs to Egyptian stadiums. It’s popular that it’s the fire Ultras in Egypt and Africa. Banner and pyro displays. Ultras Ahlawy is known for its members’ banners at both home and away games. The most famous examples were the Al-Ahly logo at a SuperSport United F.C. match in the CAF Champions League, the red devil at a Zamalek match in the Premier League, and a Freedom for Ultras banner at the match against Espérance in the CAF Champions League. During a match against ZESCO United F.C. in the CAF Champions League, Ultras Ahlawy made a pyro show in the 55th minute.” Wikipedia


Out Of Africa

June 9, 2013

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“To the outsider, Africa is a complex dichotomy, a region where the joyful expressions of tradition and culture take place amid the reality of dire poverty and chronic malnutrition. Home to over one billion people and thus resistant to easy generalisations, Africa is often referred to as the birthplace of humanity, but viewed as a neglected suburb of the modern world. The African contribution to global progress has historically been restricted by exploitation and hampered by the corrosive effects of political corruption and civil war, but despite these endemic structural problems, Africans continue to strive to make their mark on the world.” In Bed With Maradona


Africa’s big guns are feeling the heat in World Cup 2014 qualifiers

June 4, 2013

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“The nearer it gets to its denouement, the more you look at the format Africa has chosen for World Cup qualifying and wonder. It is brilliantly absurd, a guaranteed way of generating drama, with the very real possibility that many of the continent’s grandees will miss out. Pre-qualifying whittled it down to 10 groups of four, with the group winners to play off in five two-legged ties for the five qualifying slots. In that the system makes no concessions to vested interests of established powers it is to be applauded, although its wisdom may be questioned if none of the continent’s big guns make it through: one bad day in October could be enough to see any side out.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Nigeria 1-0 Burkina Faso: Nigeria triumph

February 11, 2013

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“Nigeria won the Africa Cup of Nations following a typically tight, tense final. Stephen Keshi was able to select Victor Moses (who had been a doubt) but Emmanuel Emenike was injured, and replaced by Ikechukwu Uche. Paul Put, who has tinkered with his formations and line-ups throughout the tournament, was able to name an unchanged side after Jonathan Pitroipa’s suspension was overturned. This was a disappointing game, both in tactical and entertainment terms. Nigeria played better football, but there were very few shots on target from either side.” Zonal Marking

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Sunday Mba gives Nigeria victory at last
“It says much for the baffling politics of Nigerian football that a week before the Cup of Nations began there were moves afoot in the sports ministry to have Stephen Keshi replaced as coach. And it says much for the 52-year-old’s strength of character, his combination of thick skin, single-mindedness and good humour that he was able to ignore all the distractions so that he stood on the touchline in Johannesburg on Sunday night beaming as only the second man – after the Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary – to win the Cup of Nations as both player and coach.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Stephen Keshi has worked miracles for Nigeria, but will they keep him?
“Back in 2006, when Stephen Keshi was still manager of Togo, he gave an interview to a handful of journalists in a hotel lobby in northern Cairo. The first time I’d spoken to him, four years earlier in Bamako, he had been lying on a sun lounger by a swimming pool and, metaphorically at least, he still was. Keshi always gives the impression of being laid back. But for a moment, the hardness beneath showed through. ‘Some day,’ he said, ‘I will be coach of Nigeria and then they will know they have a coach.'” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Keshi avoids politics as usual by winning Africa Cup of Nations
“The Cup of Nations, in the end, was won and lost in the thunderstorm in Rustenburg. Nigeria had gone into its quarterfinal with hope but little concrete evidence of its abilities. Then it defeated the perennial favorites, Ivory Coast, 2-1 and discovered a profound sense that it would win the tournament. It went on to hammer Mali 4-1 in the semifinal before beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in Sunday’s final.” SI


Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals: giants set sights on a return to power

February 8, 2013

“As the dust settles after the quarter-finals, the landscape looks strangely unfamiliar. The favourites, Ivory Coast, have gone; the hosts, South Africa, have gone; and Egypt, who dominated the tournament in the last half of the first decade of this century, didn’t even qualify. So the Africa Cup of Nations will go either to one of the traditional powers of African football, Ghana or Nigeria, both of whom nurse the pain of years without a title, or to a first time-winner, Mali or Burkina Faso.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Nigeria 4-1 Mali: a battle of attacking left-backs

February 8, 2013

“Nigeria qualified for the final by controlling the game in midfield and attacking with more speed. Stephen Keshi named an unchanged side from the XI that triumphed over the Ivory Coast at the quarter-final stage. Mali coach Patrice Carteron left out Samba Sow and Samba Diakite, with Mahamane Traore coming into the side on the left, and Mohamed Traore in the centre. Mahamdou N’Diaye returned in place of Adama Coulibaly. Nigeria dominated this match and fully deserved their victory.” Zonal Marking

Burkina Faso 1-1 Ghana: Burkina Faso dominate and win the game on penalties
“Burkina Faso upset the odds to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations final. Paul Put made various chances to the side which beat Togo – in came Artistide Bancé upfront, and Prejuce Nakoulma on the right. With two holding midfielders, Charles Kabore became the number ten and Jonathan Pitroipa moved left James Appiah made one change – Wakaso Murabak replaced Albert Adomah. Ghana went ahead but Burkina Faso deserved the win – they pressed well, passed smoothly and Bancé was magnificent upfront.” Zonal Marking


‘Match-fixing is reality’ says Burkina Faso coach banned in Belgium

February 5, 2013

“For Paul Put, the Belgian coach of Burkina Faso, the statement from Europol that it had found evidence that as many as 380 matches in Europe had been fixed came as no great surprise. He is one of the very few coaches to have been banned for fixing games, serving a three-year ban in Belgium that expired in 2011 after being found guilty of fixing two matches while manager of Lierse.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Adebayor to play on with Togo
“Emmanuel Adebayor has said he has no plans to retire from international football despite Togo’s recent African Nations Cup exit. Togo were eliminated at the quarter-final stage after losing 1-0 to Burkina Faso on Sunday. But Adebayor, who has had a troubled relationship with the Hawks because of his differences with the nation’s football authorities, said he still had plenty to achieve with the country of his birth.” ESPN


Didier Drogba and Ivory Coast’s golden generation fail again

February 5, 2013

“Unbolt the doors, roll up the window blinds: the lock-in in last chance saloon is over. Didier Drogba was as statesmanlike as he always is in an orange shirt, walking round his team-mates picking them from the floor and raising spirits but he must fear that this is the end. He said afterwards that if he is wanted he will stay and spoke of shifting the focus to World Cup qualification but the Ivory Coast captain is 34 now; will he really be around in Morocco in 2015 for yet another last shot at the Africa Cup of Nations?” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


A Moth for Mali

February 5, 2013

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“The Western-most tip of Africa seemed like as good a place as any to watch the Mali vs. South Africa quarter-final in the African Cup of Nations. On Saturday, I was at the Pointe des Almadies in Dakar, a tourist stop and hang-out with a beach carpeted with black stones and hand-holding couples. On offer there were grilled fish, birds, paintings made of butterfly wings, ham and cheese crepes and beer, Bob Marley renditions — and a tiny television tuned to the match. We stood packed behind a bar watching. Everyone, as usual, was both coach and expert tactician.” Soccer Politics


Pitroipa hits extra-time winner

February 3, 2013

“Unfancied Burkina Faso will play an African Nations Cup semi-final outside their own country for the first time following an extra-time win over Togo in Nelspruit. Jonathan Pitroipa headed in the only goal of an otherwise tedious contest seconds before the half-time whistle in extra-time. The Rennes forward was one of the few creative influences and deservedly provided the decisive moment in a match that was hampered by a sandy surface at the Mbombela Stadium.” ESPN

Nigeria trample Elephants
“Tournament favourites Ivory Coast crashed out of the African Nations Cup at the quarter-final stage after they were beaten by Nigeria at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Emmanuel Emenike gave the Super Eagles the lead just before the break and although Cheick Tiote equalised early in the second half, Sunday Mba’s deflected effort won the game for Nigeria, who will now face Mali in the last four on Wednesday.” ESPN


African Cup of Nations: Quarter final preview

February 1, 2013

“After twelve days of soccer in South Africa, eight nations are set to battle it out as the journey towards the final of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations continues. South Africa, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso,Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Togo have all booked their places in the last eight of the Africa Cup of Nations tourney. The Black Stars of Ghana will lock horns with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in the first of a series of four quarter final games starting on Saturday, January 29. Coming into the game as the clear under dogs, Cape Verde will undoubtedly hope their fairy tale story in South Africa continues especially after defying the odds to qualify for the next round ahead of the more fancied Morocco and Angola in Group A. Though they had eliminated Cameroon during the qualifiers for the tourney, little was expected from the debutants, who have so far defied expectations. The Blue Sharks boisterous march in the tourney, led by coach Lucio Antunes, has caught the attention of many soccer pundits.” Think Football

Emmanuel Adebayor puts Cabinda behind him as Togo go through
“Togo secured the draw they needed against Tunisia and so made it through to the quarter-final of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in their history. Those are the bald facts, but they don’t begin to tell anything like the full story of an extraordinary night at the Mbombela. It may not have been great football, but it was magnificent drama. The Sparrowhawks, exploiting Tunisia’s shambolic offside line, broke through again and again in the early stages and eventually took the lead after 13 minutes, Emmanuel Adebayor laying in Serge Gakpo, whose firm low shot from just inside the penalty area beat Moez Ben Cherifia.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


No North African side in the last eight

January 30, 2013

Algeria's Sofiane Feghouli and South Africa's Dean Furman
Sofiane Feghouli, Algeria
“Didier Drogba scored his first goal of the African Nations’ Cup to ensure Ivory Coast go into the quarterfinals on an unbeaten run in the competition. Their opponents in that match, Nigeria, and their place in the group was already decided but they surged back anyways from 2-0 down to draw level with Algeria. The group’s bottom-feeders left with their respect intact. Although Algeria failed to record a single win in the competition, similar to their 2010 World Cup, the much-talked about Sofiane Feghouli made his impact on the competition with a goal through a penalty and assist for Hilal Soudini. But Algeria’s disappointment was compounded with Tunisia’s exit which means that no North African team will play the quarter-finals of the 2013 ANC.” ESPN

Mali’s Seydou Keita hails ‘priceless hope’ brought to crisis-torn land
“For Mali, this is becoming a habit: win the first group game narrowly, lose to Ghana, do just enough in the third match to get through and set up a quarter-final against the hosts. What they did in Libreville a year ago, when they beat Gabon on penalties, they will have to do again on Saturday as they face a newly enthused South Africa in Durban.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Tiny Cape Verde is Africa Cup of Nations’ Cinderella story
“When Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes entered the press conference room in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, he found his team had gotten there before him. They were lined up on the dais behind the desk, bouncing up and down in glee as a African Football Confederation official sat sheepishly in the foreground, aware he had formalities to complete but unwilling to interrupt the jubilation. Defender Gege, wearing his shirt back to front, leapt on a chair and carried on dancing. Antunes, at 46 and a little too old for that sort of thing, initially looked a little uncomfortable but then, after some awkward shuffling, draped himself in the flag and began directing the celebrations. Usually, he directs planes.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Salomon Kalou, Ivory Coast eye missing Africa Cup of Nations title
“he Africa Cup of Nations has always been one of my favorite international tournaments, and for the first time it’s possible for fans in the U.S. to watch every game live easily and legally, thanks to ESPN3 picking up the rights. One of the biggest storylines is whether a remarkable generation of Ivory Coast players — Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Touré, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho and others — can finally get over the hump and win the tournament after falling short in each of the past four occasions.” SI


The 2013 African Cup Of Nations: Seconds Outs, Round Two

January 28, 2013

CAN2013-Bafana
“The 2013 AFCON is neither the first nor last international football tournament to have an, ahem, ‘disappointing’ opening round of group matches. But that has usually been down to teams’ fear of losing their first game, something which the laws of football say you must not do. In South Africa, even when the attitude wasn’t fearful, the football was mostly dreadful. The second round had to be better. Didn’t it?” twohundredpercent

Tiny Cape Verde is Africa Cup of Nations’ Cinderella story
“When Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes entered the press conference room in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, he found his team had gotten there before him. They were lined up on the dais behind the desk, bouncing up and down in glee as a African Football Confederation official sat sheepishly in the foreground, aware he had formalities to complete but unwilling to interrupt the jubilation.” SI – Jonathan Wilson
Jonathan Wilson

Salomon Kalou, Ivory Coast eye missing Africa Cup of Nations title
“The Africa Cup of Nations has always been one of my favorite international tournaments, and for the first time it’s possible for fans in the U.S. to watch every game live easily and legally, thanks to ESPN3 picking up the rights. One of the biggest storylines is whether a remarkable generation of Ivory Coast players — Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Touré, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho and others — can finally get over the hump and win the tournament after falling short in each of the past four occasions.” SI


Goalkeeper scores spot-kick to save Zambia

January 26, 2013

“Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene netted a late penalty after Nigeria missed one against him in the first half to rescue the defending champions from defeat at the Africa Cup of Nations on Friday. The 1-1 draw at the Mbombela Stadium between the two heavyweights in Group C leaves both teams perilously placed without a win but still with a chance to grab a quarter-final place early next week.” Four Four Two

Dropping Drogba pays off on dark day for the continent
“Drastic changes have yielded dramatic results in the tournament so far and the Ivory Coast were the latest team to benefit from that. Sabrui Lamouchi took a massive gamble when he decided to drop the talismanic Didier Drogba to the bench and replace him with Lacina Troare, but his team now sit on the cusp of the quarterfinals as a result.” ESPN

Highlights: Zambia 1-1 Nigeria
ESPN – Highlights: Zambia 1-1 Nigeria (Video)


Riots kill 27 after fans sentenced to death

January 26, 2013

“CAIRO — At least 27 people, including two soccer players and two policemen, are dead after angry relatives and residents rampaged through an Egyptian port city Saturday after a judge sentenced nearly two dozen soccer fans to death for involvement in deadly violence after a game last year. The violence in Port Said erupted after a judge sentenced 21 people to death in connection with the Feb. 1 soccer melee that killed 74 fans of the Cairo-based Al-Ahly team.” ESPN (Video)


The 2013 African Cup Of Nations: The Group Matches, Round One

January 23, 2013

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“Blimey. They could have warned us Mark Bright was a British Eurosport analyst for the ‘AFCON 2013’. With the first group games being largely turgid, Bright had a lot of gaps in the action to fill. He chose to do so with ‘y’know,’ – an ironic nervous tic when discussing tournament nerves. He rattled them off at ten-to-the-dozen at first, eventually settling down to produce 178 during the 90 minutes plus stoppage time, although this was only 12 higher than Danny Mills, who also began with sentences which mostly were y’knows, before settling down to about two-per-minute. And if you think the football must have been bad for me to be able to count them, you’re right.” twohundredpercent

South Africa’s decline apparent as African Cup of Nations begins
“On June 24, 1995, South Africa won the rugby World Cup, a triumph detailed by the film Invictus. That was a remarkable triumph, and there is no decrying the symbolism of Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springboks shirt, delivering the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar, black president and white captain united in achievement. This was the glorious moment at which the dream of the rainbow nation seemed achievable.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Africa Cup of Nations preview: Ivory Coast primed to fly or flop again

January 19, 2013

“Ah, Ivory Coast. As we approach kick-off in another Africa Cup of Nations, all we can say for sure is that it would be as foolish to back against Didier Drogba & Co as it would be cavalier to count on them. For the fifth time in a row the Elephants go into the tournament as one of the heaviest favourites, but this time no one will be surprised if they flop in timid or traumatic fashion. Bad luck and bad attitudes have been foremost among the factors that have led to seemingly the most gifted generation of Ivorian players losing the 2006 and 2012 Nations Cup finals on penalties and getting dumped out of the two tournaments between by opponents who turned out to be sharper and more balanced (Egypt in the 2008 semi-finals and Algeria in the 2010 quarter-finals).” Guardian


The African Cup Of Nations: Back So Soon?

January 19, 2013

“Whether it was a sign of maturity or resignation, it was good to hear so little moaning from Premier League clubs about losing African international players to Africa’s Cup of Nations, especially given the decision to move the biennial tournament away from World Cup finals’ years by holding tournaments in 2012 and 2013. But Premier League clubs have accepted their temporary depletion of playing resource with relatively good grace, with the minor kerfuffle over Tottenham’s Emanuel Adebayor down to the player’s selection uncertainties – the Togolese striker being dropped for criticism of the team’s management before being re-instated at the behest of their football federation chief.” twohundredpercent

African Cup of Nations Preview: Group D
“Group D: Ivory Coast, Algeria, Tunisia, Togo. This looks the most difficult group having been labelled the `Group of Death` by most football pundits. Ivory Coast, Algeria and Tunisia are all powerful football nations in Africa. Togo can’t be taken for granted either, they can boast of some talented footballers who can win games individually such as Adebayor. This is also a very tricky group and very difficult to predict, but I will be brave to make my prediction. I see Ivory Coast and Tunisia advancing from this group. Tunisia play as a team and most of their players play together in the local league. Ivory Coast have some of the best players in World football and will likely put in a strong showing again.” Think Football


African Cup of Nations Preview: Group B, Group C

January 17, 2013

“Ghana, a power house in African football, are seen as clear favourites to top this group; whilst Mali and DR Congo also will probably contest the second qualifying slot. Niger can be classified as the underdogs as they don’t have the quality to match the other teams in this group, but in AFCON there is always room for a surprise. The game between Congo and Mali could prove crucial for both sides, who as stated will want to qualify second, behind an experienced and talented Ghana side.” Think Football

“Zambia are the defending champions going into the 2013 AFCON tournament, which will be their 16th appearances in the AFCON. Their unbelievable underdog victory against African footballing fiants Cote D’Ivoire last time round captured the imagination of football fans Worldwide, leaving many fans to wonder how the Zambians can fare in South Africa. On the 27th of April 1993, the Zambia national team were on their way to play Senegal in a World Cup qualifier when the plane crashed and killed all 18 players on board, plus the coach and backroom staff. That team was the best Zambia has ever had and potentially one of the greatest in African history.” Think Football


African Cup of Nations 2013 Preview: Group A

January 15, 2013

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“The Africa cup of nation which is the biggest football tournament in Africa, will kick off in South Africa from January 19th to February 10th 2013, promising to be an incredibly exciting tournament. As always the case at the AFCON, last year was filled with some beautiful football, great goals, drama and passion. Zambia surprisingly emerged as winners of the last edition after defeating favourites Ivory Coast in the final. The last time they reached the final was in 1994, just a year after 18 of their national team members died in a plane crash as they took off from the Gabonese capital Libreville. For Zambian football it was a devastating plane crash. Coincidentally last year final also took place in Gabon.” Think Football


Nigeria and Ghana battle the egos in Africa Cup of Nations buildup

January 9, 2013

Marseille's Andre Ayew
André Ayew
“There is a new mood of militancy about west African football. The buildup to previous Cups of Nations has often been dominated by will-he-won’t-he sagas as big-name players decide whether they really want to take a month out of the league season to go to play for their countries. This year, the coaches have hit back. The Ghana coach, Kwesi Appiah, on Monday omitted Marseille’s André Ayew from his squad after the Marseille winger reportedly turned up late for a squad get-together; he follows Nigeria’s Steve Keshi, who had already refused to select Peter Odemwingie and Shola Ameobi on the grounds they didn’t seem bothered enough about representing their country.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Match-fixing scandal in South Africa overshadows Africa Cup of Nations

January 3, 2013

South Africa
“So much for the World Cup legacy. As South Africa prepares to host the Africa Cup of Nations, it should have been celebrating the fact that it had the infrastructure to step in as host when civil war forced the tournament to be moved from Libya, showing off once again the infrastructure built for 2010. As it is, the South African Football Association is left dealing with a match-fixing scandal whose tentacles stretch across the world and that has forced its president and four other officials to stand down.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Africa Cup of Nations qualifying is a rushed mess – but fascinating

September 4, 2012


“The qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations reach their climax this weekend. For 16 teams, the qualifiers also start this weekend. There surely can never have been a hastier, more flawed qualifying process for any tournament that presents itself as major. The result is that Ivory Coast and Senegal will pay each other on Saturday and then again on 12 October and, whoever wins over the two legs goes through. Whoever loses is out. Neither side has played any qualifiers before now. Both qualified for the Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon earlier this year, beginning the tournament as first and third favourites. They’ve done nothing wrong; just been unlucky with the draw.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


African Football and the Power Of Juju

August 26, 2012


“Superstitions are not uncommon in sport, and football and its players are no exception to this rule. From the greatest in the sport to the myriad others hoping to become so, weird practices/routines before, during or after the game are as much as a part of playing the game itself. Chelsea captain and England defender, John Terry apparently sits in the same place in the team bus. Former England and Manchester United defender, Gary Neville too admits to following set routines – same set of shoes, same belt, etc. In a desperate attempt to help his team get back to winning ways, Barry Fry, during his days as the Birmingham City manager, admitted to urinating in the 4 corners of the field. His team did fare much better, but Fry was soon kicked out.” In Bed With Maradona


Zambia gain redemption to stun Ivory Coast in Africa Cup of Nations

February 14, 2012


“Zambia 0-0 Ivory Coast (Zambia win 8-7 on pens). Stopila Sunzu began Sunday as an unheralded centre-back for the Congolese side TP Mazembe. He ended it as the unlikely hero of one of the greatest stories of redemption football has ever known. As Kalusha Bwalya, the greatest Zambian footballer of all time, was engulfed by the Zambia players after their victory in a penalty shoot-out, there were tears of joy but also tears born of the knowledge that this should have been his team-mates celebrating with him.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Zambia 0-0 Ivory Coast: Zambia win the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations on penalties
“Zambia completed an astonishing victory on penalties after a tight final. Hervé Renard made the predictable but astute decision to switch to the team which ended the semi-final win over Ghana. That meant Emmanuel Mayuka starting upfront, Chisamba Lungu on the wing, and Isaac Chansa back in the centre. After plenty of rotation throughout the competition, François Zahoui went for an unchanged side from the XI which beat Mali in the semi-final. However, there was an early change for Zambia when left-back Joseph Musonda went down injured, and was replaced by Nyambe Mulenga, shown on the diagram.” Zonal Marking

Zambia’s triumph heals 19-year-old rift with Gabon over plane disaster
“Of all the extraordinary memories of the Africa Cup of Nations final, perhaps the most remarkable was the reaction of the crowd. In the aftermath of the 1993 plane crash that killed 18 Zambia players just after take-off after refuelling at Libreville, relations between Zambia and Gabon sunk to ugly lows.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

The 2012 African Cup Of Nations: The Final
“Cote D’Ivoire never had a chance. Whatever the multi-talents of their squad, the Elephants were going to struggle in this African Cup of Nations final…up against two teams. As if the Zambian side at this competition wasn’t good enough, there was the memory of their 1993 predecessors with which to contend, and the current squad’s hugely admirable determination to do justice to that memory. Arguably Zambia’s most-talented, all-but-one of the 1993 squad lost their lives in a plane crash off the Gabonese coast near capital Libreville – the venue for this year’s final – as they journeyed to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal.” twohundredpercent

Best and worst moments from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations
“From the disappointment of Senegal, to Kily Alvarez’s goal and Ali Bongo’s wild celebration…” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Spot-kick drama secures fairytale title
“Zambia clinched their first African Nations Cup crown with a poignant penalty shoot-out win over Ivory Coast. Nineteen years after a plane crash which killed 18 members of their squad in Libreville, the Chipolopolo returned to the Gabon capital to record the most famous victory in the country’s history. A dramatic shoot-out at the end of 120 minutes of largely underwhelming football went the way of Zambia when Gervinho shot wide and Stophira Sunzu stepped up to slot home.” ESPN


Zambia may have destiny on their side

February 12, 2012

“Romantics will watch and read the story of the Zambian football team’s poignant visit to a Gabon beach with a tingling feeling on their skin as goosebumps form and a stinging in their eyes as they blink back tears. Few sporting tales cause such emotion and this one could not have been scripted any better.” ESPN

Zambia’s remarkable journey makes them winners regardless
“Together they walked slowly to the coastline, singing in unison. Once there, and despite the entourage, a gentle ocean breeze and the swish of waves kissing sand were the only sounds. A team, representing a nation, stood in silence. Those present laid flowers. A few said prayers, many shed tears. The coach Herve Renard stood solemnly behind his players and observed, a mix of pride, sorrow and conviction in his eyes. Kalusha Bwalya, the country’s greatest ever player, laid a wreath. Zambia united in grief and remembrance.” FourFourTwo


Mali 0 – 1 Ivory Coast

February 10, 2012

“The Ivory Coast set up an African Nations Cup final against Zambia after Gervinho’s solo goal saw them past Mali in Libreville. The Elephants will return to the same venue on Sunday seeking their second title after the Arsenal forward ran from his own half and slotted home. His side’s defence then kept their opponents at bay in the second half to ensure their progression to the final for the third time.” ESPN

Ivory Coast to face Zambia in African Nations Cup final
“Ivory Coast secured a place against Zambia in the African Nations Cup final after defeating Mali 1-0 in the semi-finals Wednesday. The two teams will face off in the Gabonese capital of Libreville on Sunday.” France24 (Video)

The 2012 African Cup Of Nations: The Semi-Finals
“‘Check that’s not Jackie Chan, will you?’ after one particularly high challenge in the African Cup of Nations (ACN) semi-finals. Ah yes. Gary O’Reilly was back on Eurosport. And welcome back too. However, the most telling comment of any international football tournament is ‘no goals against.’ And that’s a quote from Cote D’Ivoire.” twohundredpercent


Zambia 1 – 0 Ghana

February 8, 2012

“Emmanuel Mayuka’s second-half strike was enough to send Zambia through to the final of the African Nations Cup as they upset ten-man Ghana in Bata. Star Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan was made to rue his seventh-minute penalty miss, and a host of other chances, as the unfancied Zambians reached the final for the first time in 18 years.” ESPN

Zambia 1-0 Ghana: Ghana fail to break down deep opposition and Zambia subs win it
“Emmanuel Mayuka came off the bench to score an excellent goal, and Zambia are in the final. Zambia coach Herve Renard made a couple of surprising moves, dropping Mayuka to bring James Chamanga in the side upfront. He also went more defensive in midfield, meaning no place for the tricky Chisamba Lungu, and Isaac Chanca pushed out wide. Ghana coach Goran Stefanovic was without Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, so Derek Boateng started in the centre of midfield. Sulley Muntari was only on the bench, with Kwadwo Asamoah and the Ayew brothers supporting Asamoah Gyan.” Zonal Marking

The 2012 African Cup Of Nations: The Quarter-Finals
“They huffed and puffed. And Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, Africa’s two best footballing nations according to Fifa’s rankings (so it must be true), are looking good to contest Sunday’s African Cup of Nations final, without looking good in getting there. That said, they form half of what was nearly a semi-final line-up that some (i.e. me) thought ideal – the two favourites against the two most exciting and capable underdogs. Zambia have been in that latter category literally from day one and their expansive first-half display against tournament flops Senegal. Co-hosts Gabon, and their vibrant young side with a vibrant old centre-forward, would have been ideal semi-finalist number four.” twohundredpercent

A life less ordinary
“Almost anywhere in the world you can get a t-shirt with a variation of the expression, ‘Football is life, everything else is only detail,’ emblazoned on it. In most places the actual meaning of that slogan is nothing. It’s cute, it’s catchy, it speaks to the dedication, commitment, passion and even obsession of lovers of the game but it still does not amount to anything but words.” ESPN


Miracle man Kalusha Bwalya behind Zambia’s rise as they take on Ghana

February 8, 2012


“Look at all that is good about Zambian football and you will see the hand of Kalusha Bwalya. He scored a hat-trick when Zambia beat Italy at the 1988 Olympics. After the air-crash of 1993 had wiped out almost the entire team, he was the rallying point the new side was built around. And, as Zambia look to reach their first Cup of Nations final since that remarkable renaissance side of 1994 in Wednesday’s semi-final against Ghana, it is Kalusha, now president of the football federation, who drew the blueprint.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Africa Cup of Nations 2012: Mali’s heroes weep for a nation at war
“There were a lot of tears in Libreville on Sunday. There were the tears of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, overwhelmed by having missed the decisive penalty in Gabon’s shootout defeat to Mali and there were the tears of Seydou Keita as he used his side’s progress to the semi-final for the first time in 10 years to highlight the crisis overwhelming his country.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Ghana ‘lucky’ to be in Nations Cup semi-finals

February 6, 2012


Zambia 3-0 Sudan
“Ghana have admitted they are lucky to have reached the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, after being gifted a quarter-final winner by Tunisia.” BBC

African Cup Of Nations: Ivory Coast, Ghana on collision course
“Thoughts on the winners from the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals…” SI

Six points on Ghana 2-1 Tunisia
“Ghana replicated the Ivory Coast’s tendency to rely on opposition mistakes and set-pieces to get their goals. Forcing errors in the opposition is a large part of attacking, and dead ball situations make up a high percentage of goals at any level of football. But the dependency on those two avenues is a damning indictment of the lack of creativity in the two sides considered to the best in the tournament. A final between the two is probable, but it could turn into a defensive stand-off.” Zonal Marking

Ivory Coast 3-0 Equatorial Guinea: Ivory Coast reliant on set-pieces and mistakes
“The individual quality of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure proved too much for Equatorial Guinea, but the Ivory Coast are yet to convince. Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui has made plenty of changes to his side in this competition – always in a 4-3-3 shape. He seems keen to utilise his strong squad, and almost every position aside from the goalkeeper and centre-backs has seen rotation.” Zonal Marking