“Recent contests over the presidency of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) have been keenly contested, with good reason. Nigeria’s size and football pedigree (the Nigerian men’s national team has qualified for the World Cup six times and won the African Cup of Nations three times) mean occupants of the NFF presidency have frequently used this position as a launch pad for more senior positions in both the continental (CAF) and global (FIFA) football governing bodies. Amaju Pinnick, the current president, is no exception. …”
Africa Is a Country
“Now that the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) party is over and the continent’s spotlight is no longer on Cameroon, many realities of its citizens’ daily lives are hitting them hard, including escalating food prices. President Paul Biya’s government might have spent billions in a blatant attempt to appease a frustrated youth and improve his dwindling support, but the Afcon failed as a public relations exercise.
The Olembé Stadium stampede that claimed the lives of eight people on 24 January had already put a damper on the festivities of the tournament. And the Indomitable Lions’ failure to win the Afcon, instead settling for bronze, didn’t help the situation. …”
Feb 2000: A Ghana fan during the African Nations Cup in Nigeria.
“The build-up to the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers between Ghana and Nigeria, on 25 and 29 March respectively, has been typical of clashes between the two teams: lots of banter and assertions of superiority by everyone. The African continent can lay claim to some of the most colourful football rivalries, but few match the history and intensity of Ghana versus Nigeria, at least at international level. So after the fixture, when one of them will be celebrating their place in Qatar, the other will be cowering under the weight of trolls in a West African derby given a significant new dimension by social media. …”
“There is a metaphor somewhere in Senegal’s first African Cup of Nations (Afcon) championship in its history. The 2021 Afcon, played last month and this week because of a postponement from last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ended Sunday with Sadio Mane, the Liverpool star, scoring the decisive penalty in the final. With that, a one-month-long festival of football by Africa’s men’s national teams and everything else that surrounded it came to an end. Most of the players now return to their clubs, where some of them are stars, mostly in Europe. There’s a metaphor in that too. …”
Africa Is a Country
20 January 2022: A dejected Youcef Belaïli of Algeria during the Africa Cup of Nations match against Ivory Coast at Japoma Stadium in Douala, Cameroon.
“If anyone ever doubted the power of a football match result, just show them Algeria’s 270 minutes in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) that led to people completely second-guessing the success of The Fennecs. Prior to the tournament, Algeria had a 35-match unbeaten run, easily disposing of Ghana in a pre-tournament friendly. They were justifiably dubbed favourites alongside hosts Cameroon as well as Morocco and Senegal, yet they were sent packing after just three group-stage matches. It is a serious blow considering that, in the new 24-team Afcon format, four of the best third-placed teams also qualify for the knockout stage. …”
Egyptian fans celebrates in a street in Cairo after Egypt beat Cameroon in their African Cup of Nations quarter-final football match in Angola on January 25, 2010.
“Nearly every day when I arrive for work at the New Cairo campus of the American University in Cairo, I walk through the Omar Mohsen Gate. This pedestrian security gate was named after an undergraduate economics major who died violently at a 2012 soccer match in Port Said between Egyptian Premier League teams Al Ahly and Al Masry. The tenth anniversary of that match passed earlier this month on February 1st. Egyptians appeared to have hardly noted it. If they did, they did not say or write much about it, and with good reason: four days later, their Pharaohs of Egypt would play against the Téranga Lions of Senegal in the marquee final match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. The tension and drama of the final did not disappoint, though the outcome left many Egyptians disappointed as much as it left many Senegalese—whose team had never won the AFCON title—elated. …”
Africa Is a Country
W – Port Said Stadium riot
“Our writers relive their highs and lows of a tournament completely overshadowed by the Olembe Stadium tragedy. … This Cup of Nations was played under a shadow from the moment eight supporters died outside Olembe Stadium a fortnight ago. There is no excusing what happened at a venue surrounded by vast spaces and the depressing sense remains that its causes will be swept under the carpet. After driving back to Yaoundé the following day and speaking with Romaric, who had been in the ground and encountered people who had been caught up in the crush as he left, the horror of what had occurred started to become clear. A subsequent visit to the emergency hospital brought some harrowing testimonies; these are, sadly, the words and images that linger. …”
The Athletic – Cox: Italy-esque Senegal shackled Egypt with five men – they were deserved winners (Audio)
****An African Cup of Nations Primer
NY Times – Africa Cup of Nations: Soccer Tournament Offers Joy Amid Coups and Covid
AFCON 2021: The Review
W – 2021 Africa Cup of Nations
YouTube: Senegal vs Egypt | AFCON 2021 FINAL HIGHLIGHTS | 02/06/2022, Cameroon vs Egypt – CAF African Cup of Nations 2022 2:10:39
Fans from Burkina Faso, which recently underwent a coup, rehearsed their dances and drumming before Wednesday’s semifinal.
“Mohamed Salah against Sadio Mané, two great Liverpool forwards going head-to-head in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nationsfinal. It’s the headline clash of Egypt against Senegal, the meeting of the most successful side in African history and a team that has never lifted the trophy. But to focus on them would be misleading: although both have had an influence late in games, neither Senegal nor Egypt could be said to be teams based around their attacking talent. There is an unavoidable sense that even to focus on the football is itself uncomfortable, given the tragic events of a fortnight ago when eight fans were trampled to death outside Stade Olembé, where the final will be staged. The quarter-final at the venue was moved, but after a review it was decided Thursday’s semi-final should be played there. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian – Lions, Panthers and Pharaohs: the best photos from the Africa Cup of Nations
BBC – Senegal 0 Egypt 0, Senegal win 4-2 on penalties
The Athletic – Vote Salah: Why does Liverpool’s superstar struggle for global acclaim?
24 January 2022: Football fans watch the round-of-16 match between Cameroon and Comoros on television in Douala, Cameroon.
“The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) buzz that has gripped Cameroon, which not even a stampede and eight people dying could damper, has yet to reach some parts of the country even as the tournament reaches its crescendo. In certain areas of the central African nation, watching football is a luxury. While most of Cameroon and the rest of the continent have been enjoying the football fiesta, fear and militarisation have gripped the English-speaking parts of the country. …”
“Africa’s two best players will square off in Sunday’s final but, before this tournament’s marketing team gets too excited about a clash between Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, it would be best to expect a slow burner. Egypt revel in those, and showed it again here. They survived a series of first-half scares against Cameroon, who were enthusiastic but blunt, and then stretched proceedings to their elastic limit. Once penalties loomed there was a sense everyone bar the noisy 900 fans who had flown from Cairo might as well head home: Egypt simply do not lose them and, for the sixth shootout running, showed cool heads while others wilted. …”
BBC: Cameroon 0 Egypt 0
The Athletic: Liverpool’s Salah and Mane to meet in AFCON final as Egypt beat hosts Cameroon on penalties
Guardian: Sadio Mané seals Senegal’s passage to Afcon final as Burkina Faso blown away – Jonathan Wilson
“A solid defence plus Mohamed Salah equals progress. It might not be particularly edifying or good to watch but it does seem to work. This was a dismal game, two hours of spoiling with a dusting of football but, in the football that was played, Salah was decisive. He scored the equaliser and set up the winner, so Egypt will meet Cameroon in Thursday’s semi-final, a meeting of the two most successful sides in Cup of Nation’s history. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
“Senegal and Cameroon – they’ve each got about a 75% chance of reaching the AFCON 2021 semi-finals with dream quarter-final draws, but that’s about where the similarities end. We’ll start this off with one of those teams and end with the other while weaving through the remaining six sides with key numbers for each. A disclaimer before reading on: Teams playing attacking football (looking at you, Morocco) will be handsomely rewarded with more words. …”
“In Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa and much of southern Africa, the rains which start falling in November, the onset of summer, are a welcome respite after the preceding dry, winter months. However welcome the rains are, the relief is sometimes tinged with a measure of trepidation – especially among some rural communities. After all, rains come with lightning and thunder. It so happens that our region receives a disproportionate amount of lightning compared to the rest of the world. One reason for the phenomenon is the minerals extant in the rocks beneath us that draw the electricity from the sky. Nonsense, some will say – the real reason is African metaphysics. …”
Abandoned shoes were the only evidence that there had been a problem before the match.
“In our series of letters from African writers, Algerian-Canadian football journalist Maher Mezahi, who is in Cameroon to cover the Africa Cup of Nations, reflects on how the recent deaths of fans at a stadium has left him with mixed feelings about the tournament. …”
“It ended, as it had for a long time seemed that it would, with penalties. And as has happened twice before at the Africa Cup of Nations in the past 24 years, Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Eric Bailly, who had had an excellent game, saw his dinked effort pushed against the crossbar by Egypt’s substitute keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal. Combined with Mohamed Salah’s decisive spot-kick, it was enough for Carlos Queiroz’s Egypt to progress. …”
Guardian: Jonathan Wilson
BBC: Ivory Coast 0 – 0 Egypt
Injured goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina sums up the mood in the Comoros camp.
“While the fairytale story of Comoros’s journey to the knockout stages of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations will some day make an inspirational feel-good movie, one suspects Disney’s scriptwriters will have to leave out some of the finer details on the grounds that audiences may find them just a little bit too far-fetched. Hailing from a financially impoverished archipelago with a population of less than one million people located off the east coast of the continent, Les Coelacantes pulled off something of a miracle in merely qualifying for Afcon but certainly weren’t expected to make it this far. …”
“It has snuck up on us in a whirl of postponed fixtures, the FA Cup’s third round and the Carabao Cup semi-finals but this weekend is the last push before the Premier League takes a two-week break. Don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty of football to keep us going in the meantime — with the EFL continuing, the Africa Cup of Nations’ knockout phase, World Cup qualifiers and the FA Cup fourth round to keep us entertained — but it’s an opportunity for many Premier League squads to get some time on the training pitch or simply take a well-deserved rest. Ralf Rangnick has opted to give his Manchester United players six days off, and the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea will also have extended breaks. But Newcastle United (Saudi Arabia) and Arsenal (Dubai) are off to warmer climes. Here, The Athletic’s club writers give you the rundown of what your lads are going to be up to over the next couple of weeks…”
W – 2022 EFL Cup Final
“In March 1957, Ghana cast off British colonialism and became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve political self-rule. At its independence celebrations, the new prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah, offered a hopeful message: ‘We are going to create our own African personality and identity. It is the only way we can show the world that we are ready for our own battles.’ I was remembering that line last week as I watched the early matches of the Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament of soccer teams representing 24 countries from across the continent. This year’s competition is being hosted by Cameroon; it began on Jan. 9 and runs until Feb. 6. …”
“Ivory Coast thumped Algeria 3-1 to send the defending champions crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations finals following a disastrous Group E campaign. Nicolas Pépé’s fine solo goal early in the second half put the game out of sight, the Arsenal winger advancing into the penalty area and curling the ball into the far corner with his left foot. The Elephants led 2-0 at half-time thanks to Franck Kessié’s opener and an Ibrahim Sangaré header from Serge Aurier’s free-kick. …”
Guardian: Africa Cup of Nations Group A,B,C,D,E,F
“Egypt is one of the most successful teams in Africa, a country known for its attacking-first style of football (especially under Hassan Shehata’s leadership) and that has won the Africa Cup of Nations a record seven times. … Taking over from former manager Hossam El Badry, whose period witnessed a great fluctuation in performance, this heightened pressure on Queiroz has proven to be successful. The technical staff includes Diyaa El Sayed, Mohamed Shawky, Essam El-Hadry, and Wael Gomaa, as well as performance analyst Mahmoud Seleem. This piece will look to investigate all aspects of Egypt’s play, including how players fit the game model and training sessions used in the process. …”
Breaking the Lines
W – Carlos Queiroz
“Ethiopia might have had a miserable showing in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), but nevertheless their playing in the continental showpiece is a massive win for the country. The Walia Ibex, as the men’s national team is known, returned to the Afcon after a nine-year absence. The team’s participation comes at a crucial time as the country seems to be moving towards peace from a conflict that has dragged on for more than a year. … Since November 2020, the Ethiopian National Defence Force has been battling with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which the government has classified as a terrorist group. The conflict has had a devastating impact. …”
New Frame: Is Ethiopia moving towards peace?
“Each team have played two games at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations – some have already qualified for the last 16, some have very little hope of going any further. What have we learnt from the opening two matchdays so far? …”
“Pitso Mosimane has done enough winning in the last year, plus change, to talk about nothing else. In November 2020, only three months after he was appointed manager of the Egyptian club Al Ahly, he won the African Champions League title. He did so by beating Zamalek, Al Ahly’s fiercest rival. The final was cast as the derby of the century. Nobody in Egypt thought it was an exaggeration. Eight months later, he repeated the trick. The calendar contracted and concentrated by the pandemic, Al Ahly returned to the Champions League final in July to face Kaizer Chiefs, the team Mosimane had supported as a child in South Africa. He won again. He was showered with golden ticker tape on the field, then presented with bouquets of roses by government grandees when he returned to Cairo. …”
Tunisia’s coach Mondher Kebaier remonstrates with the referee Janny Sikazwe at Africa Cup of Nations
“Janny Sikazwe made a mistake and ended up blowing for full time after 85 minutes of Wednesday’s Africa Cup of Nations meeting between Mali and Tunisia. Forgetting to stop the watch during a water break (if that is what happened) is an understandable error – particularly given he was subsequently taken to hospital suffering from heatstroke – and one that could easily have been rectified. As it was, though, Sikazwe, an experienced referee who took charge of the 2017 Cup of Nations final as well as Belgium v Panama and Japan v Poland at the 2018 World Cup, looked rattled. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
The Athletic: Three final whistles, two penalties, a dubious red card and a potential replay – the AFCON game mired in controversy (Audio)
“For a goalkeeper of Andre Onana’s experience, the passage of play midway through the first half of Cameroon’s Africa Cup of Nations opener should have been routine. Instead, it was anything but. Not once but twice, Onana misjudged the flight of the ball as it was crossed from one side of the field to the other. The second flap at thin air allowed Burkina Faso to take the lead, and left Onana with his head in the turf, acutely aware of his role in the chaos. …”
NY Times (Video)
W – André Onana
“The 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations began today, Sunday, 9 January, in Cameroon. AIAC founder and editor Sean Jacobs joins Will to talk about the history of the tournament, its contemporary politics, and its relationship to the hegemony of European football. The most important question of all, of course, is who will win this year’s showpiece? Listen below for some predictions.”
Africa Is a Country 1:11:15 (Audio)
24 September 2013: Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sá reacts during an MTN 8 semifinal match against Kaizer Chiefs at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
“Roger De Sá is not giving too much thought to the possibility of setting a South African record of sorts at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), which kicked off on 9 January and runs until 6 February. An Afcon winner with Bafana Bafana back in 1996, albeit as an unused substitution, the former goalkeeper could become the first South African to win a second gold in Africa’s premier competition should he help Egypt become champions for an eighth time. De Sá is coach of the Pharaohs. …”
W – Roger De Sá
Vincent Aboubakar is looking to lead Cameroon to a sixth Nations Cup title
“Cameroon came from behind to beat Burkina Faso 2-1 in an incident-packed opener at the Africa Cup of Nations. An acrobatic volley from Gustavo Sangare put the Burkinabe ahead midway through the first half in Yaounde. But two unerring penalties from captain Vincent Aboubakar turned the game around for the hosts before half-time. Indomitable Lions keeper Andre Onana made two crucial second-half saves as Toni Conceicao’s side opened their Group A campaign with victory. …”
Guardian: Relief and atmosphere as Cameroon open Africa Cup of Nations in style – Jonathan Wilson
“The latest Africa Cup of Nations is just around the corner. It’s been a long road to get here for a competition that has been moved around the calendar multiple times and, in the style of Euro 2020 last summer has the ‘wrong’ year in its official title, but 24 teams are now finally set to duke it out in Cameroon to become the next champions of Africa, with the tournament getting underway on Sunday, and finishing on Sunday, February 6. Here’s everything you need to know. …”
The Athletic (Audio)
NY Times: The Joy in Embracing the Unknown (Video)
New Frame: Behind concerns over Afcon is a culture of disdain
Predicting the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 Winner
GOAL – Afcon 2021 predictions: The contenders and the pretenders (Video)
“First scheduled to start in June 2021 but subsequently brought forward to January last year to avoid Cameroon’s rainy season, the tournament has been delayed to 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has faced criticism over the timing of its continental showpiece, and last month had to address rumours the tournament would be further delayed or moved following the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright said some of the negative media coverage has been ‘disrespectful’ and ‘tinged with racism’. …”
Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Edouard Mendy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Maxwel Cornet and more will be gone for several weeks
“The Africa Cup of Nations begins next month, with over 30 Premier League players set to miss several weeks of the season as they head to Cameroon. Arsenal, Leicester City and Watford are each set to lose a league-high four players. Liverpool will lose three – including forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – as will Crystal Palace. Chelsea are going to be without keeper Edouard Mendy, who could miss the Fifa Club World Cup and league games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham, among others. …”
“African Cup of Nations organizers insist the tournament will begin as planned in Cameroon despite the fast-spreading omicron variant adding to an extensive list of concerns. Perhaps the biggest doubts now are when national teams will have their full 28-man squads to prepare for Africa’s biggest football event early next month. European clubs have been threatening not to send any players at all after raising doubts about coronavirus health protocols put in place by the Confederation of African Football….”
“If anything has defined the landscape of world football in 2021, it has been the desire to shift from the traditional to a new order of competition. In April, European football was hit with the unexpected, if not exactly unprecedented, news that a number of its most influential clubs had signed up for a splinter Super League. While fierce public backlash saw nine of the founding members back down from the idea, the stage was set for a year of upheaval. The second half of the year brought its own peculiar agenda, with world football governing body Fifa angling for a shift to a biennial World Cup tournament as part of a wider revamp of the football calendar. …”
“Only four top-flight clubs are in line to be unaffected by tournament that kicks off in Cameroon on 9 January. … Jürgen Klopp is not the only Premier League manager who will have Afcon on his mind over the coming weeks. With the delayed 33rd edition of the continental showpiece due to begin in Cameroon on 9 January, planning for the absence of up to 40 players from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Wilfried Zaha during one of the most intense periods of the domestic season will present a major headache for several. Much to the annoyance of Klopp and European club managers, the tournament was switched back to its usual mid-season slot after the 2019 Cup of Nations in Egypt was held for the first time during the European summer, because June and July are part of the rainy season in Cameroon. …”
W – 2022 African Nations Championship
YouTube: AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS 2022 DRAW RESULT
“The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Final was a football match that took place on 8 February 2015 to determine the winner of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, the football championship of Africa organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The match was held at the Estadio de Bata in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, and was contested by Ghana and Ivory Coast. Ghana qualified for the final by finishing as the winners of Group C and then defeating Guinea and Equatorial Guinea in the quarter-final and semi-final, while Ivory Coast qualified as winners of Group D, after which they beat Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The final finished 0–0 at the end of normal time, and there were also no goals in extra time, with few clear-cut chances for either team. Ivory Coast had the game’s only shot on target on 12 minutes, when Yaya Touré cleared the Ghanaian wall with a free kick, but his shot went straight to Ghanaian goalkeeper Brimah Razak. …”
YouTube: Cote d’Ivoire vs Ghana Penalty Shootout HD 08/02/2015 African Cup of Nation 2015 Final
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
“… 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
“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
“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
“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.
“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
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
“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)
“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
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
“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
“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
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
“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
“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)
“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
“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
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
“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.”