The 2010 Cup of African Nations couldn’t have asked for a better start; about a week to hostilities actually kicking-off. Speaking of, the Togo national team got shot at recklessly by rebels (perhaps a “welcome to Angola” misinterpreted), forcing the Hawks to withdraw participation on the insistence of the Government from back home…our hearts go out to the lives lost and thanks to God (or whatever name you give the Higher being you believe in) for the lives spared, Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor included.
The first match of the tourney however brought the focus back on football and kudos to the striking feet of the Angolan and Malian players (Keita’s goal….classic!) and thumps not-up to both defenses…a 4-4 draw you gotta admit though, really helped the cause of the tournament.
But boy were we in for even more. Nigeria imploding in the second half against Egypt, Cameroun barely qualifying after losing to Gabon in the first game. Gabon and Tunisia dramatically not qualifying, Algeria qualifying after losing her first match 3-0 to Malawi (who????), overwhelming favourites Cote D’Ivoire falling short once again in a dramatic five-goal thriller against Algeria and Ghana making the semi-finals despite a depleted squad and a woeful outing against Cote D’Ivoire in her opening match.
It certainly has been a Cup full of twists and as Egypt face Cameroun with Nigeria up against Zambia in the remaining quarterfinal matches, a pundit like myself can only hope there’s one or two more cats in the bag…perhaps a Zambian victory at the end? (nah, not really in my view).
So who do I think will lift the Cup? Egypt are overwhelming favourites, Algeria and Zambia have been surprising, Nigeria and Ghana have issues to sort out…..it’s a very open Cup this one and a good advertisement for African football especially in lieu of a maiden World Cup on African soil just months away (South Africa stand up…soon!).
In all, it’s sad Michael Essien’s out for six weeks because of his attempted tackle on Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba…a situation that leaves me with mixed feelings; being an Arsenal fan *early February Premier League fixtures should explain my point better but in a nutshell, Chelsea vs. Arsenal*
So here’s to Africa and it’s talent. A continent where you give a man half a chance, and he’ll take it…and amaze you with what he can do!