We have our first video up! This video is to highlight the best moments in the African Cup of Nations Group Stage. It has everything from net-breaking free kicks, red cards and even the emotional Sudan goal. While you’re watching it: like, comment and subscribe to our channel (and we will subscribe back). Another video for the knock-out stages will be up soon hopefully, as well our writers’ Top 10 goals of the tournament!
Archive for the ‘African Cup of Nations 2012’ Category
Tags: AFCON, Africa Cup of Nations, African Cup of Nations, Compilation, Goals, Red Card, Sudan
Tags: Alain Giresse, Bakaye Traore, Fredi Kanoute, Gabon, Mahamadou Diarra, Mali, Seydou Keita
In every tournament there’s that one annoyingly plucky side that no one likes – apart from the people from said country – that reach the latter stages. They’re insistent on spoiling the party, don’t particularly play a likeable brand of football and they often have little flair to entertain the neutrals. At the Africa Cup of Nations that team has been Mali. In a tournament of open football, Mali have been cautious, reminiscent of the way the favourites, Ghana and Ivory Coast, have played, but perhaps even more cautious.
The Eagles took an early lead in the opening game against Guinea, only to be content to sit back on the lead for the rest of the game and on the balance of play Guinea deserved at least a point by the end of the game. They lost 2-0 to Ghana in their second game and were widely criticised for their negative approach even after they went a goal down. After being 1-0 down to Botswana they completed a turnaround to win the final group game and seal their qualification into the knockout stages.
Subsequently, then, few fancied them against the co-hosts Gabon in the quarter-finals, yet they exceeded expectations rallying when they were a goal behind and then consummately dispatching all their penalties as they danced their way to the semi-finals to meet Côte d’Ivoire.
Where does this composure in the face of adversity stem from? Much of it comes from coach Alain Giresse – a terrific, dynamic midfielder in his playing days, part of the legendary, magical diamond of France in the 1980s – who has assembled a young team (the third youngest squad at the tournament) with no stars, bar Seydou Keita, but which possesses the much-admired grit, that the Frenchman himself showed as a player, when the going gets tough.
Tags: Adam Kwarasey, Aymen Abdennour, Daniel Agyei, Ghana, Isaac Vorsah, John Mensah, Karim Haggui, Napoli, Niger, Tunisia, Youssef Msakni
Tunisia versus Ghana promises to be the most fascinating quarter-final, tactically. Don’t hold your breath, however, for promises are often broken. This promises to be a fascinating encounter because both of these sides are predominantly counter-attacking sides.
Will Ghana come out?
Being the favourites, the onus will be on Ghana to take the game to Tunisia. However, taking the game to the opposition is the exact problem the Black Stars have been facing since the 2010 World Cup. Since the success of the counter-attacking strategies at the 2010 Cup of Nations, where they reached the final, and the2010 World-Cup, where they were a Luis Suarez handball and Asamoah Gyan missed penalty away from reaching the semi-final, they have been unable to change from counter-attacking team to a more dominant team.
Why should they change what’s been working? Well, the disadvantage of being counter-attacking is the short-termism of it all –it only works if you’re the underdog. After a short while, opponents begin to figure you out; they’re happy to sit deep and let you attack them.
(A current example is Napoli in Serie A who were relatively successful with their countter-attacking 3-4-3 formation for large parts of last season but began to struggle towards the end the season when teams were happy to sit back, maintain their shape and let them do the attacking. Consequently, this season they’ve been unable to replicate the form of last season. Despite that – and more tellingly, perhaps – Napoli have been successful enough to make it into the knockout stages of the Champions League where in a ‘Group of Death’ they were perhaps the ‘underdog’.)
Back to Ghana, the Black Stars are no longer underdogs and since the World Cup they’ve at times looked short of ideas and struggled to impose themselves in games due to the lack of a true playmaker in the team. Even if they go on to win the whole tournament with these tactics, it remains a problem that could cost them in the long run.
Tags: Chris Katongo, Gabon, Isaac Chansa, Morocco, Rainford Kalaba, Senegal, Tunisia, Youssef Msakni, Zambia
Anyone who has been watching the Cup of Nations will know this is one of the greatest tournaments of modern times, if not ever. We know what a good tournament needs; attacking football, outbursts of flair, shocks that shake the world, late goals, comebacks, drama and the hosts punching well above their weight. The evidence that this is already one of the greatest tournament ever? Well, allow me to wear the sandals of guidance to show you the fruits of the 2012 Cup of Nation, rafiki yangu [my friend in Swahili].
Let’s face it, major tournaments aren’t fun anymore; they’re often rife with pragmatism. That’s not the fault of the teams or their coaches, but more the fault of the fans and football associations who often have unrealistic expectations. Too much is at stake for the coaches; the ‘big’ teams play a game of patience and are under pressure to steamroll through ‘minnows’, whilst the ‘minnows’ don’t want to be embarrassed and park the proverbial bus. We usually see it less in continental competitions but it is becoming more common.
Not at this Cup of Nations so far, though, which has been a tournament of the highest order. No side has gone into any match with the intention of sitting back and playing for the draw or keeping the score down when behind. So far we’ve had 61 goals scored, just 3 draws and no goalless matches.
Tags: Chris Katongo, Emmanuel Mayuka, Herve Renard, Isaac Chansa, Kalusha Bwalya, Rainford Kalaba, Zambia
Judge Zambia by the names on their squad list and you might be rather underwhelmed, but many of those who have watched them have been impressed by the gloriously-named Chipolopolo (the Copper-headed Bullets) – not only at this year Cup of Nations but also in the previous edition, where they exited on penalties to Nigeria. “They are a very good team,” said Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama after their exit in 2010, “believe me, they have a great future.”
We should start believing him. Led by Frenchman Hervé Renard – a touchline-enticing, cavorting, bottle-throwing, white-shirt-wearing Superman – Zambia are a throwback to the non-Northern African sides of yesteryear that didn’t rely on Papa Bouba Diop-esque European-spectacled model of a player based on bison-like strength. Indeed, this Zambia team possesses a core group of technically-gifted, protean footballers dancing to the same vuvuzuela beat who deviate from the norm; the attacking quartet of Emmanuel Mayuka, Chris Katongo, Rainford Kalaba and Isaac Chansa are all below 5’10. Naturally, then, the onus is based on keeping the ball on the ground. “Bola Panshi [Ball on the floor]!” Renard berates his players whenever the ball leaves the ground needlessly. When his team couldn’t play the ball on the floor in the wet, soggy pitch in the 2-2 draw against Libya he lamented: “It’s unbelievable to play on a pitch like this. It was kick and rush this afternoon, not football.”