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Archive for the ‘Africa (CAF)’ Category

I wish I was writing about Egypt’s African Cup title, however it pales in importance to another African Cup story.

On January 30, 2010 Togo was suspended by the Confederation of African Football for the 2012 and 2014 African Nations’ Cups. The official explanation cited Article 78 of the Cup of Nations regulations, which states that a $50,000 fine and a 4 year ban from cup play is the mandatory penalty for a last-minute forfeit. Togo failed to appear for its opening round game against Ghana after the players were told to stay home by their government following an ambush on the team bus by Cabinda province independence rebels.

The CAF claims they are only suspending the Togolese team to punish Togo’s government for interfering with the players’ request to return and play in the tournament. This clever phrasing evokes the image of the Togolese team penned up, forcibly prevented from making their triumphant return to Angola for their first cup game, which was scheduled three days after the attack and, according to CAF, could not be moved. The decision was the latest in a series of shocking announcements from the CAF, which has persistently expressed their concern for the Togolese team’s welfare while simultaneously criticizing the team, the Togo Football Association, and Togo’s government for the deadly attack.

The careful wording of the CAF’s announcement was very much for international media consumption. It implies that the CAF’s ruling supported a hostage team, restricted from playing football by an autocratic government.

To call this detestable is not enough. The CAF is trying to buttress itself from blame for three permanently lost lives by sowing division between the Togolese team and its government. (more…)

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In a semifinal featuring an intense regional rivalry — as is the case with yesterday’s other semi between Algeria and Egypt, which promised to be full of vitriol and ended up a blowout — both squads were sadly depleted, with the result being a match of far lesser quality than what one would expect of a derby featuring two World Cup contenders.

The Black Stars seemed lost throughout the match without the injured Essien (possible MCL tear) to lend his rock-solid composure at mid.  And with Stephen Appiah missing from mid as well, many a through ball went awry as Ghana either failed to move through central effectively or to connect in the final third and put any consistent pressure on Enyeama.   (more…)

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Ghana star Michael Essien

PSP will have a lot of coverage of the Union’s draft today, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the rest of the world. The Union may be our Lois Lane, but we always make sure the rest of the world is accounted for before we fly off at the speed of light to fawn over our one true love.

The biggest game of the opening rounds takes place today with Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire facing off in Cabinda Province. Ghana star (and the best midfielder in the world not named Gerrard) Michael Essien is doubtful for the match. Burkina Faso gets the day off since Togo was disqualified for observing three days of mourning after their team bus was brutally attacked by separatist rebels. I’ve already said my piece about the handling of this incident, so I’ll spare you my ramblings (this time) and instead bring you a brilliant excerpt from a rant by a more talented writer than I:

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The surprises just keep on coming in the first round of the ACN. Yesterday Gabon dispatched highly-rated Cameroon 1-0 behind a Daniel Cousin goal in the 17th minute.

In the other Group D matchup, Zambia and Tunisia split the points with a 1-1 draw. A fair result by all accounts with both goals coming in the first half.

Group A play resumes this afternoon with Mali facing Algeria followed by Malawi and Angola. Malawi leads the group after trouncing Algeria 3-0 in the opening game of the tournament.

While it sounds as though the Cameroon/Gabon game was filled with terrible terrible soccer by any standard, but it did produce some very entertaining match reports.

From Reda Maher on Yahoo UK:

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Two games yesterday in Angola saw all of Group C in action. Group D takes center stage today with an exciting Cameroon squad taking on Gabon before Zambia and Tunisia take the field.

Mozambique and Benin tied 2-2 with most of the action occurring in the first half hour. Egypt gifted Nigeria a goal before pulling three back and grabbing an important win. Nigeria suffered an additional blow as star striker Obafemi Martins had to be flown to Europe with a shin injury.

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On January 8, 2010 rebels belonging to the FLEC (Liberation Front of the Enclave of Cabinda) fired machine guns into the Togolese national soccer team’s buses as they passed through a checkpoint to enter the tiny Angolan province. When the half-hour barrage of bullets ended, the bus driver – an Angolan man – was dead. Hours later, an assistant coach and the team’s press secretary would also die. Goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale was flown to South Africa and placed in intensive care.

On January 11, 2010 Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso played to a goalless draw in the second game of the African Nations Cup. The match took place in Cabinda Province, a sliver of land separated from the rest of Angola by an minute piece of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While Burkina Faso’s defense stood tall against Cote d’Ivoire’s formidable offense, Ghana watched from the stands. They were scheduled to play Togo in Cabinda on Monday but the Togolese team was on a flight home.

Here is what CAF president Issa Heyafou said to the Togolese team following the deadly attack on their bus:

“It is left to you to decide to stay in a competition synonymous with fraternity, brotherhood, friendship and solidarity.”

On Monday, Togo was disqualified from the tournament.

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On Sunday the 2010 African Cup of Nations kicked off with hosts Angola blowing a 4 goal lead against Mali in the final 12 minutes. Two early headers coupled with a pair of penalty kicks gave Angola a 4 goal cushion in by the 73rd minute, but Keita and Kanoute (fantastic headed goal) struck late to make it a two goal game. Then Keita again in the 93rd and Yattabare in the 94th gave Mali a share of the points.

Monday’s matchups featured the first game played in Cabinda province, where the Togolese team was attack on Jan. 8. Heavily favored Cote d’Ivoire could not force their way through a stout Burkina Faso defense. After the game, Didier Drogba admitted that it was hard to concentrate on soccer given the events of the previous week.

The other Monday game was a stage for underdog Malawi to flatten Algeria 3-0. Two first half goals sent Algeria reeling before Banda finished the game off three minutes into the second half.

Today’s games feature Group C competitors Egypt and Nigeria followed by Mozambique and Benin.

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