White tracksuit-sporting, Herve Renard-impersonating coach Patrice Carteron has ignited controversy after signing a contract with African superclub TP Mazembe despite being under contract with the Mali national team. Carteron, who has a contract with Mali that runs to August 2014, has been reported to FIFA for breach of contract by the Mali FA. Carteron has pleaded that he was not a mercenary considering the tumultuous conditions he was working in with Mali and that he had accumulated enough money as a player not to for money to be an irrelevant factor. Carteron plans to leave Mali after taking charge of next month’s qualifiers but with Les Aigles seeking sanctions against him, you can’t help but feel an impasse is due. Still, he has been allowed to name a squad for thequalifiers which has assembled in Nantes for a training camp, calling up Aston Villa’s Yacouba Sylla for the first time and recalling French Ligue 2 goal machine Mustapha Yatabare and Academica’s Alphousseyni Keita.
Posts Tagged ‘Zambia’
Tags: Didier Drogba, Herve Renard, Mali, Mrisho Ngassa, Patrice Carteron, Serge Aurier, Volker Finke, Zambia
Tags: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia
The SFG team continues its post-mortem of Afcon 2013 with a look at Group C, perhaps an understated group pre-tournament, which eventually involved the two finalists.
So much was so good for Burkina Faso. From Alain Traore’s outrageous goals, to Jonathan Pitroipas’s silky dribbling. From Aristide Bance’s semi-final performance, to the Stallions finishing with the best defense in the Cup of Nations.
But when pressed to select the single most impressive aspect of their performance, it has to be the team’s mental strength. Burkina Faso had been labeled ‘Dark Horses’ of previous tournaments, but never managed to muster up the psychology to get over the stumbling block that is the group stage.
Credit must be accorded to Coach Paul Put for his stratagem. Put shored up a leaky defense and played to his team’s strengths. Reporters noticed that a fair chunk of training had been set aside for physical recovery.
It was unlucky, but Alain Traore’s injury hamstrung the Burkinabe attack. Put was forced to unleash both Djakaridja Kone and Florent Rouamba, who are both physically monstrous, but creatively limited.
Tags: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Victor Moses, Zambia
by James Eugene and Joe Kennedy
NIGERIA 2-0 ETHIOPIA
The situation for both teams was simple: they both needed a win. But two teams who face off against each other cannot both win, so something had to give way. Nigeria’s performance has earned them a place in the knockout stages, conceiving a tasty clash against Ivory Coast
The balance of play seemed to tilt both ways at the very beginning. Ethiopia pushed well early on in the game, only to be met by an equal force from Nigeria,who found a lot of creativity through Chelsea star Victor Moses. The pace began to die down a little bit, as if both teams were content with a draw. This attitude changed later on in the game
Wasted Set Pieces
From corners to free kicks, both teams seemed to have wasted a lot of these valuable opportunities, with Ethiopia being the biggest culprits. Corner kicks that flew over everyone in the box and free kicks that could barely beat the first man seemed to be the two common problems experienced by Ethiopia. Barely any of their chances were even on target in the first half. For Nigeria, Victor Moses seemed to be the player who took all of the set pieces, assuming the responsibility of delivering both free kicks and corners. Nigeria were more efficient with their set pieces (that is, they actually got on the end of a cross) but seemed to find it difficult to covert anything into goals.
Bookings Were A Healthy Incentive
I won’t bore you with all the technical details, but with the score still jammed in a 0-0 stalemate, the only thing that differentiated Nigeria and Zambia to who will receive the 2nd place spot was the number of bookings. Zambia having less bookings than Nigeria meant that Nigeria were in 3rd place, almost providing full justification for a win against Ethiopia. Bookings against Ethiopia came in handy as well, as their goalkeeper Sisay had picked up two yellow cards, leading to him being sent off and relaced by another outfield player because the team had already exhausted all of their substitutes.
Converted Set Pieces
After the farcical events that transpired in the previous game for Nigeria when it came to penalties, Victor Moses, who decided to step up for both penalties, netting both of the in the process. The first one came from Moses himself being tripped up in the box, while the second was a result of Sisay committing a cardinal error, which subsequently led to his sending off. Composure is key when taking penalties and Moses radiated this as he slotted both of them away.
Ethiopia’s Final Push
Despite having 10 men on the field with a makeshift goalkeeper in between the sticks, Ethiopia continued to push in order to regain any pride that they felt they had lost during the game. Saladin Said had two chances to pull something back, but failed to do so on both occasions, complementary to the theme of Ethiopia’s entire evening.
SFG Man of the Match: Victor Moses
With John Obi Mikel missing his spot-kick against Zambia, it was crucial someone more clinical stepped up. Moses showed great cojones to pick up the ball on the 80th minute when he was fouled by Alula Girma, then showed the calmness to convert what was arguably a job-saving penalty for coach Stephen Keshi. He repeated the routine 10 minutes later to confirm Nigeria’s clash with the Ivory Coast.
BURKINA FASO 0-0 ZAMBIA
Just a year ago, the Chipolopolo captured the hearts of football fans from around the globe, their thrilling style and underdog story lit up the much-maligned international stage. Today saw them meagrely fail to retain their title, as they dropped out of group C in a miserable bore-draw with group winners, Burkina Faso.
Life’s a beach
The final day showdown of Group B got off to a flying start; both games saw goals flying in from the get-go, Group C was rather the opposite. Whilst commentators mused over the possible permutations and different rules regarding fair-play, there were two very notable features about the match being played out in their presence. The first – and most apparent – was the abysmal state of the pitch; with a virus affecting the grass, the field had been completely covered in sand. This didn’t just have the effect of slowing the ball down but ruined either side’s chances of sustaining fluidity in their play; the ball bobbled unpredictably for even the shortest of passes.
The second feature was the lack of such short passes. In a show of incredible tentativeness from both sides, the opening minutes saw the ball change hands with incredible frequency. Lumped long ball after long ball dominated the game, neither defence feeling comfortable enough in possession to bring the ball forward and attempt to build from the back. Perhaps fearful of being caught out by such a long ball, the teams’ positioning was equally stifling to the fluency of the game; neither side pushing up at the back and the fullbacks remaining rooted to their defensive positions, not daring to roam forward.
If Burkina Faso were nervous coming into the game, the sight of star man and tournament top-scorer, Alain Traore, being stretchered off the field after just 10 minutes will have done nothing to settle them. Burkinabe injury woes were matched by the Zambians just minutes later though, as Nkausu was replaced by Musonda, having failed to shake off an ankle injury inflicted by Charles Kabore.
In a game where chances are few and far between, the importance of those that present themselves is always heightened. Twice in the first half, the Chipolopolo were gifted opportunities due to a lack of diligence from Panandetiguir. The first time, the Burkinabe left back came wandering out of defence only to be caught in possession, Mayuka’s clever dummy opened space on the edge of the area for Collins Mbesuma, but the striker’s effort was straight at keeper Diakite. The second opportunity was the result of poor marking freeing up Rainford Kalaba; the winger was well placed to head home a cross from the left side, but his tame effort wasn’t enough.
As the game drew on, the same tentative football prevailed from both sides. With Nigeria still failing to break down Ethiopia, it seemed a draw would be enough to see Zambia through, so it was only with 10 minutes left – as news filtered through that the Nigerians had taken the lead – that Zambia started to seize the initiative. As they pushed more bodies forward, Burkina Faso brought more back; content to protect their clean sheet and unwilling to risk defeat for the sake of an unlikely winner. The closing moments saw a handful of half chances fail to threaten Diakite’s goal and tears roll down the faces of Chipolopolo fans in the stands, their tournament was over.
Stallions stumble through
Amid the celebrations at fulltime, there’s little doubt most Burkinabe fans will have struggled to forget the Alain Traore shaped hole set to remain in their side. In a team that seems to lack any forward presence without him, his importance cannot be understated and having soldiered through to this stage with an injury, the damage today appeared to signal an end to his tournament. So, whilst the Stallions’ group-topping antics may have enabled them to side-step Cote D’Ivoire, they shouldn’t be getting ahead of themselves just yet. Their quarter final will see them pitted against the Group of death’s runners up, whether that’s Togo or Tunisia they’ll have a tough task in store and it’s hard to see them going much further.
Tags: Alain Traore, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kennedy Mweene, Nigeria, Zambia
by James Bennett and Maher Mezahi
ZAMBIA 1-1 NIGERIA
Changes in Tactics, Personnel
Herve Renard felt compelled to make changes following Zambia’s deflating draw with the Walyas of Ethiopia. Renard opted to drop Hichani Himoonde who struggled to contain the likes of Said and Girma and deployed a 3-5-2.
Keshi also instituted a few changes to his squad. Victor Moses got his first taste of a Cup of Nations encounter, as he started on the Super Eagles’ left-wing. The suspended Joseph Yobo was relegated to the tribunes which forced Oboabona to pinch in and Onazi to assume a secondary position as fullback.
Zambia’s 3-5-2 facilitated the clever interplay we expected from the Chipolopolo in midfield. Especially suited to the novel shape was one Emmanuel Mayuka, who explored the vacated space, fashioned by wingers Lungu and Mbola. The former was markedly lively in the first half as he stretched Elderson, then cut in to poke incisive passes through the lines.
Though Renard’s change brought success in midfield and attack, the 3-5-2 had unforeseen defensive consequences. The imperious Stoppila Sunzu marshalled matters in the middle of defense, but he was flanked by the smaller Joseph Musonda and Davies Nkausu. The latter two particularly struggled against the bullish Emenike who used his strength to manoeuvre himself into dangerous positions.
Nigeria’s only first half threat came via Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses who, not unlike Mayuka, roamed in the gaps behind Lungu and Mbola. In the 25th minute, Musa latched onto a splitting pass and turned Nkausu, who caught the CSKA frontman with a trailing leg. A clear penalty. Including today’s Zambia had conceded 4 penalties in their last 4 matches in the Cup of Nations. Asamoah Gyan, Didier Drogba, Saladin Said and now John Obi Mikel assumed responsibility for those penalty kicks. But each of those talents missed with Kennedy Mweene as their opposite.
Following Mweene’s save, the match petered into half-time as yet another draw in this tight Cup of Nations. But Nigeria emerged a different squad.
Second half, better Emenike
Emmanuel Emenike in particular embodied the spirit of a young Yakubu as he bullied Nkausu and Musonda time after time. The breakthrough came in the 57th minute as Obi Mikel atoned for his penalty mishap by dispossessing the hitherto excellent Lungu and slipping in Emenike. Nigeria’s number 9 only needed a few touches before blasting it passed Mweene. 1-0 Nigeria.
Emenike continued his domination of Zambia’s peripheral fullbacks as the Copper Bullets couldn’t seem to shake out of their slumber. With 10 minutes remaining, Zambia benefitted from a wide stroke of luck. Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha awarded a dubious penalty to Emmanuel Mayuka who had tangled arms with Onazi. It took Zambian keeper Kennedy Mweene 30 seconds to trudge across the pitch, 15 seconds to shoot opposing goalkeeper a death stare, but just a second of a wondrous strike to bring Zambia back into the fold.
The bereaved Nigerians moaned about the decision, and justifiably so. Emenike was booked for dissent after seeing all of his hard work undone by a short toot of the whistle.
Both teams pushed for a winner in what remained of the match. Keshi brought on Ike Uche and Ideye Brown, Renard introduced Mbesuma and M. Mulenga. Both sets of substitutions were in vain as the African Cup of Nations awarded us yet another draw.
Man of the Match: Kennedy Mweene
The unyielding shot-stopper is surely among Africa’s elite? Penalty takers face an automatic psychological disadvantage when the intimidating, cornrowed keeper faces them. Encapsulated the spirit of a certain Jose Luis Chilavert as his sang-froid easily dispatched a perfect kick at such an important junction of the match.
BURKINA FASO 4-0 ETHIOPIA
Burkina Faso may be emerging as one of the dark horses for this tournament after this one. After showing great character to beat the Central African Republic in the play-offs and to earn a point against Nigeria in their first match of the tournament, a competitive Ethiopian side was brushed aside here, even after being reduced to 10 men. Granted, Ethiopia lost two key players in injury in the first half, but the Stallions gave one of the best team performances of this year’s Cup of Nations so far, and Alain Traore gave arguably the best individual performance of the tournament.
One way traffic after Girma leaves the fray
Burkina Faso certainly benefited from the return of two key players. Traore, who was influential after coming on as a substitute against Nigeria, returned to the starting line-up in place of Moumouni Dagano, while Marseille’s Charles Kabore also came in after serving his suspension. Ethiopia, meanwhile, introduced Addis Hintsa who had impressed after coming on in the second half against Zambia, and captain Degu Debebe returned in defence.
Ethiopia will regret not taking their big chance, which could have seen them take a game-changing early lead. Saladin Said, again leading the attack, set up Asrat Megersa, but the midfielder could only sweep the ball onto the post. They will regret it not only because it could have put them in the lead, but particularly because it would have put them in the lead before the withdrawal of Adane Girma, who scored the team’s only goal against Zambia. The playmaker trudged off after just 8 minutes, tears in his eyes – this may be the last we see of him at this tournament.
After that, Burkinabe dominance – Ethiopia just couldn’t stem the tide until the final whistle. Wilfried Sanou, in for Hugues-Wilfried Dah in a fluid front 4, had a goal correctly disallowed for offside as Tadele spilled a shot in front of him, while moments later Ethiopian centre-back Hailu had to clear a dangerous cross from the right. Traore and Aristide Bance in particular were causing real problems, while Kabore was running the show deeper in midfield.
Eventually they got the goal they deserved. A cross from the left was cleared off the line, but only as far as Traore just outside the box, and he wasted no time in thumping the ball into the net.
The final 10 minutes of the half only added to Ethiopian misery as Megersa departed injured, replaced by Yared Zenabu. They had looked good initially, but after the loss of Girma, they lost control of the game. Burkina Faso looked on target for their first Afcon win on foreign soil.
Traore and Pitroipa run riot despite Soulama’s howler
The second half started better for Ethiopia. First, they won an early free kick, which Said at least got on target, if not past keeper Abdoulaye Soulama. But worse was to come for the Burkinabe keeper. First, while controlling with his feet, he tried to dummy Bekele, and nearly failed. Then, an even more catastrophic mistake – he reached out to catch the ball while stood on the edge of the area. After Ghana’s Dauda got away with handling outside the area yesterday, this time the referee did not give him a second chance, and sent him off – a third red card in 4 matches in Group C. But the resulting free kick went straight into the hands of new keeper Daouda Diakite.
Burkina Faso sacrificed two attackers after the red card, taking off Sanou and Bance, with Florent Rouamba coming into the midfield at the same time as Diakite. But any thoughts that they were going to allow Ethiopia back into this one after the red card were extinguished 10 minutes later. After a scrappy period in the game, a classy backheel by Jonathan Pitroipa gave Traore the ball 30 yards out, and with the outside of his left foot, he blasted a swerving shot past the diving Tadele. With that, arguably the best goal of the tournament so far, this 24 year old has announced himself on the big stage – it’s going to be difficult to ignore his presence from now on.
Within 5 minutes, it was game over, as Djakaridja Kone was played in by Pitroipa and slid the ball under Tadele. It was all too easy, and this being a team with only 10 men. Ethiopia, having impressed with their resolve after going down to 10 against Zambia, were now falling apart, their confidence having gone the same way as Girma and Megersa. Pitroipa, having set up two goals, eventually got his own deep into stoppage time – a high defensive line allowed the winger in, supplied by a sublime ball from substitute Benjamin Balima.
A 4-0 thumping is harsh on Ethiopia from an effort perspective, but the Burkinabe fans will be delighted – after waiting so long for an Afcon win, it has arrived at last in the best possible way. With Zambia out of form, they have every chance of clinching the point they need to potentially knock the holders out of the Cup of Nations.
Man of the Match: Alain Traore
Despite impressive performances from Kabore, Djakaridja Kone and Pitroipa, only one name is going to be on everyone’s lips after this one. After 2 more goals here, taking his running total to 4 in his last 3 competitive appearances, Traore is quickly emerging as the star of the group stage so far. While Burkina Faso have one match to go before potential progression to the quarter-finals for the first time since they made the semi-finals on home soil in 1998, he has at least put the Stallions back into the discussion circles of football fans. Maybe I’m exaggerating and he only looks good because everyone else has lacked attacking initiative, but I like what I’ve seen, and at only 24, some of Europe’s top clubs may be casting a keen eye over his performances in the rest of the tournament.
Tags: Herve Renard, Rainford Kalaba, Stoppila Sunzu, Zambia
Zambia injected raison d’etre into a sorry world that views international football with increasing apathy when they won the Cup of Nations last year, and they’re now back to defend their title.
Part of the joy for Zambians is that their photo-finish triumph didn’t come out of the blue. The Chipolopolo (the Copper-headed Bullets) had been running the marathon for six years thanks to the vision of the eminent Kalusha Bwalya; persisting with a studious group of players since the 2006 Cup of Nations, steadily improving tournament-by-tournament, and reaping the rewards for their prudent team-building when and where it mattered most – in Libreville, just miles away from where a plane full of the Zambian national team crashed into the sea in 1993, killing all aboard. Not even a revisionist could deny their happy ending.
And their rewards haven’t ceased there. Such is the experience omnipresent in the squad – the studious core are set to play in their fifth consecutive Cup of Nations, and only two of them are over 30 – that it’s difficult to completely dismiss them as one-hit wonders. For many of their players, playing at these tournaments is second nature. Even the youngest player in the squad, Porto’s 19-year-old left-back Emmanuel Mbola, who was in the 2010 Cup of Nations squad, is playing in his second tournament. Zambia aren’t prepared to slip away like a pop single on the radio just yet.
Eighteen of the twenty-three that were part of the AFCON-winning squad return, and coach Herve Renard still deploys the same starting XI that started in last year’s AFCON final in a 4-4-2 formation, morphing into a 4-2-4 when they spring into attack. As with last time around, it’s the protean quality in the starting XI that makes the Chipolopolo vehemently venomous. The flexibility of the Zambian players allows Renard to utilise myriad systems, coping with the different questions the opposition poses.