by Joshua Ansah
No goals, some goals, late goals, so many draws and so few wins: the story of AFCON 2013 so far and how it compares to AFCON 2012 at this stage
Group A: NO GOALS
Football without goals is a scary thought and this AFCON almost scared us silly as it decided to do just what we dreaded: starve us of goals. 2012 had shown such great promise as the tournament refused to cough up a single goalless draw throughout the group stages, holding that feat until the final game of the tournament where it finally acquiesced. However it seems this time round, the god of goals in Africa was probably still asleep or awaiting his invitation to the showpiece when it kicked off, as we were subjected to 180 minutes of goalless football at the start of the tournament with two consecutive goalless draws as South Africa vs. Cape Verde and Angola vs. Morocco failed to produce any goals. No goals? This had better get better, 2012 gave us 4 on the first day and at least one in all but one of the 32 games.
GROUP B: SOME GOALS AND FINALLY A WIN
The god of goals finally did wake from his slumber, or get his invitation card, whichever you prefer, as we finally got some goals on day two with Ghana and DR Congo treating us to an entertaining two-all draw. Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu broke the tournament’s deadlock, and as if to make up for his earlier absence, the god of goals treated us to a number of sublime goals as we saw some very well worked goals for both teams opening efforts. Ghana’s second goal was also commendable for the delivery – well, when you have no goals any goal looks pretty. Now that we finally had goals another issue raised its head, all the games that had been played had ended in draws, where are all the wins? Should we be searching for a god of wins? Is there even any such thing? Throughout the group stages of the last tournament we had just three draws and Ghana vs. DRC had just brought this tournament level with that tally and now all fell to Mali vs. Niger to produce a winner for the first time this tournament. Thankfully, veteran Seidu Keita delivered the tournament’s first winning goal as the Eagles run out 1-0 winners, phew! The search for the god of wins will have to be shelved after all…
GROUP C: A COUPLE MORE DRAWS AND A LAST GASP EQUALISER
Group C promised a lot, and when minnows Ethiopia, who faced defending champions Zambia, went a man down and then a goal down to Collins Mbesuma’s strike the search for the god of wins was well and truly over and all was well with the AFCON again. But then the unthinkable happened, the minnows actually went and equalized through Adane Girma, managing to claim a morale-boosting point despite being a man down and the 2012 draw mark had been surpassed. Nigeria looked to have put away all fears of having to recall the abandoned search as Emenike’s strike looked certain to be only the tournament’s second winning goal, but Alain Traore proved himself a true lover of a search as he scored with the last kick of the game to level matters and deliver draw number five. It was the second time a goal had been scored in the last 10 minutes of the game, an underwhelming figure considering we had 12 such goals in the group stages in 2012 not so much a novelty then, eh?
GROUP D: FINALLY MORE WINS AND A COUPLE MORE LATE GOALS
With the search for the god of wins re-ignited by Alain Traore, many of the search team members, including me, were hoping for at least one more win in the group D fixtures and the group of death did not disappoint. Expected by many to be the tightest group in the competition a couple more draws will not have been surprising yet both matches managed to produce winners and late ones too, despite both being tight. It took an 88th minute strike from Gervinho to settle the score after Ayite cancelled out Yaya Toure’s strike as Ivory Xoast took on Togo, while a beautiful Msakni strike gave the Carthage Eagles a hard fought win over Algeria as the first round came to an end just two goals shy of 2012’s haul at this stage.