Orlando Pirates seek Zen in Uyo


“The Orlando Pirates who won the Africa Cup of Champions Clubs in 1995 did not really need a coach. Why would they? They had hellraisers. Irascible characters such as Mark Fish and the late Marc Batchelor. With a ball at his feet, the spectacularly destructive Jerry Sikhosana. Ball thieves Phiri Tsotetsi and Brandon Silent, and the barnstorming wing Helman Mkhalele. They were a side of hard men. Innocent Mncwango, Gavin Lane, Bernard ‘Shoes’ Lushozi, Marks Maponyane, John Moeti and Fish never shied from a challenge. They had style merchants. …”
New Frame
W – Fadlu Davids

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World Cup 2022: Algeria avenge Nations Cup failure in Cameroon


Islam Slimani celebrates his crucial goal in Douala where Algeria took a 1-0 first-leg lead
“Algeria inflicted a rare home defeat on Cameroon as the 2019 African champions took a crucial 1-0 lead from the first leg of their 2022 World Cup play-off. Playing in Douala, where Cameroon have been unbeaten since losing a Nations Cup qualifier in 2000, veteran Islam Slimani’s winner handed Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi the perfect 46th birthday present. Five minutes before the break, the former Leicester City striker rose to meet Youcef Belaili’s free-kick and power a header past Ajax goalkeeper Andrè Onana….”
BBC

Why Algeria imploded at the Afcon


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. …”
New Frame

The road to Arsenal runs through the community


“Even in his wildest dreams Nico Manduzio couldn’t have imagined how great things would pan out for him when, ambitiously, he began sending his CV around the world in 2020. The then fitness coach of Hout Bay United in South Africa was on the hunt for a new job during tough economic times. He endured several rejections before English giants Arsenal came with the offer of a role as one of their community coaches. …”
New Frame

Africa Cup of Nations review: sorrow, anger and Mané’s redemption


“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. …”
Guardian
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.

Is that a “juju” man on Malawi’s bench?


“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. …”
New Frame

Africa Cup of Nations: A football celebration overshadowed by tragedy Published


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. …”
BBC (Video)

Comoros, Cameroon and the curious tale of no goalkeepers


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. …”
Guardian

The Most Exciting Sporting Event in the World Is Happening Right Now


“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. …”
NY Times

Africa Cup of Nations: Pépé caps Ivory Coast win to send dismal Algeria home


“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
Guardian: Africa Cup of Nations Group A,B,C,D,E,F

AFCON 2021: The Stats So Far No.2


“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? …”
The Analyst

AFCON is decolonization


“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)

Africa Cup of Nations: Which Premier League players are going?


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. …”
BBC

Aubameyang to Zaha: how Africa Cup of Nations will hit Premier League


“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. …”
Guardian
W – 2022 African Nations Championship
YouTube: AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS 2022 DRAW RESULT

World Cup roundup: Denmark thrash Moldova to keep up perfect record


Denmark thrash Moldova
Denmark maintained their 100% record in Group F, with a 4-0 win in Moldova. Andreas Skov Olsen opened the scoring before Simon Kjær added a penalty. Christian Norgaard and Joakim Mæhle were also on target. Austria won 2-0 in the Faroe Islands to keep up their slim hopes of overtaking Scotland, who beat Israel 3-2 in a Hampden Park thriller. First-half goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk gave Ukraine a 2-1 win over Finland in Group D. The West Ham forward Yarmolenko put the visitors ahead less than five minutes after kick-off when he drove home from 20 yards past the Finnish goalkeeper. Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki levelled for Finland in the 29th minute but Ukraine regained the lead minutes later with a goal from Yaremchuk. …”
Guardian

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Three Coaches: Are You Not Entertained?


“The departure of Pitso Mosimane from Mamelodi Sundowns dominated the build-up to the 2020/21 DSTV Premiership, as the reigning champions had to prepare for life without the stewardship of arguably the greatest manager in the club’s history.  Forward came co-head coaches Manqoba Mnqithi, Rulani Mokwena and senior coach Steve Komphela; the trio took over in an attempt to perpetuate the team’s dominance of South Africa’s top-flight football. From the start, the coaches rapidly uncovered their go-to formation (4-3-3) at the club, and to date, the results have been fruitful, winning the league at their first attempt. The 4-3-3 presents a different configuration in build-up and attack. The below illustration shows a staggered 2-1-4-3 or 2-5-3, not much of a surprise with more teams that play a possession-conservative style of football in this configuration. It offers multiple passing lines vertically, diagonally and horizontally. …”
Breaking the Lines

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

“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


“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


“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

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

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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

History of the BBC African Footballer of the Year award

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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

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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

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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.

Prejudice and curiosity: Football’s first black African touring party

“In early September 1899, 111 years before South Africa’s World Cup and with the Boers and Britain manoeuvring back towards war, 16 black footballers – captained by a grocer and accompanied by four officials from the whites-only Orange Free State FA – arrived by steamship at Southampton for the start of a 49-game continental tour. Just two years after the Corinthians had won 21 and drawn two of 23 fixtures against the likes of Cape Town Civilians, Military and the Orange Free State, the inaugural South African squad to play in Europe were greeted with open ridicule, prejudice and unabashed racial stereotyping.” Football Pink

The Navigator Finds His Way

“There are times when interviewing footballers feels like trying to squeeze blood out of a stone. They bombard you with meaningless clichés about taking things one game at a time – as if it’s possible to take it two games at a time. A Mamelodi Sundowns player, caught up in this robotic speak, once declared he was happy that his team got the three points they were looking for after they had won a cup game. That player wasn’t Teko Modise. In fact, the two-time PSL footballer of the year is a pleasure to interview with his candid nature, insight and engaging personality. It’s a skill the 31-year-old honed at a young age.” The Con

Mr Big Bucks and the Mamelodi Sundowns

sundowns-flag
“On December 5th of last year, South Africans bade farewell to Nelson Mandela. In general the new republic’s founding father was remembered as a principled, but pragmatic political leader. Some media coverage, however, reduced him to a one-dimensional figure, at odds with the larger South African struggle. That Mandela advocated armed struggle and formed alliances with communists was conveniently downplayed by all sorts of political causes and personalities whose politics Mandela would have opposed while he was alive, but who now claimed him as one of their own. Mandela was also favorably compared to his former wife Winnie Madikizela. His time in prison, presented as character-building, was contrasted with her increasing radicalism and criminal actions in the 1980s. Most black South Africans, however, were not scandalized by Mandela’s one-time celebration of violent struggle or his communist leanings, or by Winnie’s complicated, but flawed, legacy, which was formed in a more compromising, violent outside.” Roads and Kingdoms

After the World Cup is gone

“Do we need a book on the 2010 World Cup already? That’s the first question I asked Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann, editors of the brand new volume, Africa’s World Cup (University of Michigan Press, 2013). … That’s a good enough reason, and Peter and Chris are uniquely qualified to edit the book. Peter teaches history at Michigan State University and has written two books about African football (here and here). He also runs a football blog and shoots videos of himself walking from his home to his office playing keepy uppy. Chris, a former club footballer in South Africa’s capital Pretoria, is a sociologist based in the UK. He has written a number of academic articles about football, including on the cultural significance of Mark Fish, one of a few white players to represent South Africa after Apartheid and who played for Lazio in Serie A (he’s one of a few South Africans who played in Serie A).” Africas A Country

African Cup of Nations: Quarter final preview

“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

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

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

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

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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

“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?

“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 2013 Preview: Group A

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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

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

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

Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary, June 20, Warsaw

“The longer England stay in this tournament, the luckier they get. Last night’s win over Ukraine – the first time England have beaten the hosts at a tournament – included a huge dose of luck, with the match officials refusing to award Ukraine a goal after Marko Devic’s shot was cleared from behind the line by John Terry. However, England demonstrated a spirit and sense of togetherness that was lacking in South Africa.” World Soccer

The Team of Choice In the Windy City


“Across the road from Alexandra High School, where I spent five years of my childhood, is the Harry Gwala Stadium. Named after an African National Congress icon, it is the home of South African top flight club Maritzburg United. Not much more than a pitch, some stands, and some floodlights, it is an unprepossessing venue. Yet it has become something of a fortress in recent years, in keeping with Mr Gwala’s combative spirit. Had United played all their games at home last season, they would have ended snugly in the top half of the PSL log. By contrast, they were second from bottom in the ‘away table.’ The team’s home record owes much to passionate local supporters, who, unusually for South Africa, are drawn from all racial groups.” In Bed With Maradona

Africans in European football: the best of 2010-2011?

“It’s been another momentous year for African footballers, with players from the continent involved in title-winning sides in Spain, Italy, France and Germany. Others have won a domestic cup, although the biggest trophy on offer ended up in the hands of Mali’s Seydou Keita after his Barcelona side destroyed Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday.” BBC

The Ball Day 29 – Soccer + Breakdancing in Morocco

“The Ball continues to spread it’s message of participation, no boundaries, and unity and today they visit a Casablanca children’s dance group to play soccer and find out how breakdancing and soccer go hand in hand. This EP has music again from the great Jali Bakary with ‘Combination’ a nice tune from his new album.” The Ball

AFRICA10: feature documentary finishing funds

“AFRICA10 is a character-based feature documentary about the incredible spirit of soccer in Africa. We feature five inspiring stories from across the continent, intercut with commentary from famous Africans including Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu and players such as Michael Essien, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roger Miller. AFRICA10 illustrates, in a dramatic and visual way, how soccer is helping Africans lift themselves up.” KickStarter

USA-South Africa Final Thoughts and Player Ratings

“As usual, though a bit late, here are three quick thoughts and player ratings from Wednesday’s 1-0 United States Men’s National Team victory over South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Cup. I promise to litter a bit of optimism in my piece without discounting Dr. Crowley’s egg-nog sized glass of pessimism. I found a few things in the Yanks Cape Town performance particularly worthy of optimism, and since we’re nearing the holidays and that’s the season of perpetual hope, I’ll begin there.” (Yanks are coming)

United States 1, South Africa 0: Some Negative In A Good Result

“Just before kickoff Neil sent an email to the TYAC staff that said ‘BORNSTEIN is your captain gentlemen. Try not to kill yourselves.’ I wrote back ‘I hate to tell you I told you so…..’ because Neil and I had a talk about this last weekend and I was convinced that this was going to happen. Levy countered with a couple jokes about his tribe. I thought the TYAC e-mail string would end there, but it was not to be. Apparently, today was the day where collectively as a unit, all major players at TYAC decided, at least for a little while, that we were going to e-mail bomb one another for the day in celebration of the last USMNT game of the year.” (Yanks are coming)

South Africa 0-1 USA – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Friendly
(The 90th Minute)

FIFA SOCCER 11: “We Are 11″ Series, Episode 1 – “Vuvuzela Saddam”

“Let us present to you ‘We Are 11.’ It’s being produced by VBS in conjunction with the release of EA Sports’ FIFA Soccer 11. The first installment of the series profiles the Flavor Flav of the soccer world, a man that transcends employment. Meet the man they call Vuvuzela Saddam.” (The Original Winger)

The Ball Day 51 – Visiting the Dogon Country pt. 2

“Here is part 2 in Phil and Andrew’s trip visiting the Dogon Country in Mali. Catch them stumbling across a village funeral procession before heading out to the hills for some sunset soccer action. Music in this EP from a The Ball favorite Iba Diabaté with ‘Wala Yalala’ which you could download from here. Then we round out the EP with a track from Konteh Kunda and the great track ‘Jaraby’ that you can download from here or from iTunes. Both artists from the ever expanding Akwaaba Music stable, real African music direct from the source.” (Blip)

Football’s not the place for choreographed chanting

“One of the main complaints about the vuvuzela was that its ongoing monotone bleat failed to reflect the changes in the patterns of play. Perfect through pass – parp! Contortionist reflex save – parp! Studs-up attack on an opponent’s shin in the centre-circle – parp! The same could be said for choreographed chanting, which in many modern stadiums has become the preferred method of creating a decent atmosphere. But while it’s impressively co-ordinated and far more pleasing to the ear than the plastic horn of hell, this Germanic phenomenon lacks an ingredient crucial to football – spontaneity.” (WSC)

The Ball Day 50 – Visiting the Dogon Country pt. 1

“Here is part 1 of a 2 part piece following The Ball as it journeys in the back country of Mali to the Dogon area searching for some off the beaten track football action. Music in this EP is from Akwaaba Music artists Baba Salah from Mali with ‘Borey,’ Alou Sangare with ‘Dugu Djeto,’ find the song here and check out the music video here. Then we have another spin for Mic’Mo Lion with ‘Niengo’ and finally a track from the awesomely named Peace Singers of Adabraka Official Town with ‘Take Four’.” (The Ball 2010)

The Ball Day 49 – Mali, The world’s largest Mud Mosque

“Yes you read it right, The Ball visits a beautiful mud mosque in Djenne, Mali, one of the largest of its kind in the world. You can find out more about this amazing building right here. Music in this EP is from Ghanaian Quabena Philip with ‘Wadaada Me,’ find the track from Akwaaba Music right here on Fairtizler. Also in this EP the second track you hear is from a favorite artist of us here, Iba Diabate with ‘N’nah.’ Find his latest album and the track featured right here at Bandcamp.” (The Ball 2010)

World Cup 2010: Tests ahead as focus turns to Brazil

“Since the start of the tournament, delegations from the South American country’s federal and local governments, plus several other different institutions, have been in South Africa trying to learn lessons about staging the world’s biggest sporting event. That’s because, in four years, it will be Brazil’s turn to play host.” (BBC)

The dark arts of sticker collecting

“Never mind Mesut Ozil. Forget Thomas Mueller. And as for Keisuke Honda … pah! The discovery of the World Cup was Danny Shittu. Maybe not in South Africa, but certainly in Spain. He might not have made much of an impact on the football field but, boy, has he made an impact off it. Even if he doesn’t realize it himself. Nothing can match the joy of laying your eyes on the Nigeria defender. Danny Shittu / Lagos, 2-9-1980 / 1,88m / 81 kg / Bolton Wanderers (ENG) … No. 133 in the Panini sticker album for the 2010 World Cup. It’s confession time: I am over 30 and I am collecting soccer stickers.” (SI)

The Ball


“Alive & Kicking balls are hand stitched out of local leather. They are tougher than imported synthetic balls, last far longer on rough ground and therefore give children in Africa lasting fun. Every ball carries a message about HIV/AIDS and malaria which can be used by teachers and sports coaches to broach discussions with children on deadly disease.” (Alive and Kicking)

The Ball Day 45 – Mali backtracking, hair braiding & football

“Bus rides, hair braiding, and the spirit of football go hand in hand. The Ball continues its journey through Mali this time heading out on some backtracking through more remotes parts of Mali away from Bamako.Today’s EP features music from Akwaaba Music artist Iba Diabate with ‘Dakan Tessa’ listen and download the track at Bandcamp. The second track is from Mamou Sidibe with ‘Tounge’ and you can find it on iTunes right here.” (The Ball 2010)

Brazilian league lacks bite

“Spain or Barcelona? No contest. Week in, week out, Barcelona combine the midfield interplay of Xavi and Iniesta with the cutting edge of Lionel Messi, Daniel Alves and co. The comparison serves to confirm the impression that these days club football is of a much higher standard than international – as long as we restrict the debate to the major European leagues. The big clubs in Spain, England, Italy and Germany are in front of the national teams because of the time their players spend together and because they count on the best talent from all over the planet. When the World Cup stops and domestic football returns, the level of play goes up.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Feel It: Reflections on South Africa 2010 and the Contradictions of Fandom

“Though a round-about series of unplanned events, a few weeks ago I ended up watching South Africa play France in an immense and busy fan park in a dusty working class outskirt of Pretoria/Tshwane. In the fan park, while stumbling around looking for an angle on one of the big-screens, a couple South African fans glommed onto my American friend and me with curiosity: other than some staff running the show, we seemed to be two of the few white people in the place and we obviously didn’t quite know what we were doing. So, as always seemed to happen during World Cup 2010, the locals took it upon themselves to look out for us.” (Pitch Invasion)

This time for South Africa?


“As the sound of the Vuvzelas dies away – at least until the start of South Africa’s domestic league season – many South Africans begin to get on with their normal lives. But did the tournament, which was hailed as an unprecedented success, really make things better for South Africans like the papers are saying it has? I decided to ask them.” (Not on the Wires)

Not For Glory Alone

“Two billion souls: One must begin with that. That’s how many people, or nearly so, sat or stood in view of television screens to watch twenty-two men kick a white ball around a green field on a warm July night in Berlin four years ago. The twenty-two men comprised the men’s national soccer teams of Italy and France. The occasion was the final game of the 2006 World Cup. The cagey match, as the world now knows, turned on an extraordinary event near its end when France’s captain and star, Zinedine Zidane, strode toward the Italian defender Marco Materazzi and, for reasons unknown, drove his bald pate into the taller man’s chest. The motion mimicked one he’d used a few minutes earlier to head a flighted ball inches over the Italians’ goal, coming ago nizingly close to winning the day for France. Now Zidane was expelled, his team was rattled, and a player in blue whose name few outside Umbria and Trieste recall darted inside a player in white and curled the ball inside the French goal with his left foot, cueing images, on countless flickering screens around the planet, of his countrymen celebrating Italy’s triumph in the floodlit waters of the Trevi fountain in Rome.” (Laphams Quarterly)