AFCON - UPDATE #2 🏆
One of the wonderful things about AFCON are the tidbits of knowledge viewers learn about Africa. For example: Algeria is the continent’s biggest country. This makes it all the more strange then, that no one from the nation seems to be able to defend properly. A shock 1- 0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea on Sunday left the reigning champions a serious doubt to progress from the group stages. A 3-1 defeat to the Ivory Coast on Thursday ensured the reigning champ’s miserable title defence was over. A nation’s loss is a cities gain as Riyad Mahrez will be free to return to a Manchester City side desperately struggling in his absence.
One of the day’s other fixtures, a 2-2 between Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, was a quality laden affair with brilliant finishes from Musa Kamara and Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe the highlights. With that said: for all the elegance of Pepe’s fountain pen like stroke into the bottom corner and Kamara’s fancy footwork to tee himself up for his goal, the match would end in Osita Iheme like comedy fashion. Ivory Coast keeper Badra Ali Sangare (due to what I’m going to generously blame on poor pitch conditions) spilled what ought to have been a routine catch. Alhadji Kamara’s pounced to equalise. After bringing the game to 2-2 he re-enacted the iconic Bafétimbi Gomis lion celebration setting the tone for a chaotic week of AFCON. Tunisia closed out the day with a 4-0 thrashing of Mauritania.
Whilst Cameroon’s 1-1 with Cape Verde wasn’t a game objectively worthy of mentioning, I’m Cameroonian and it’s my roundup so here we are. Vincent Aboubakar hit his 5th of the tournament putting him alongside the legendary Samuel Eto’o as the only Cameroonians to score in three consecutive AFCON matches. One more to be the nation’s top scorer at a tournament. You’d have to fancy him. Legacy in the making.
Living up to legacy is not for everyone. Four time winners Ghana’s Black stars succumbed to a shocking 3-2 defeat at the hands of Comoros, who before the match had never even scored an AFCON goal. After Ben Nabouhane’s 4th minute strike they clearly developed a taste for it. An absurdly unjust red card for Ghana’s captain Andre Ayew did dampen the game’s spirit but no one can deny Comoros the jubilation that erupted at the final whistle. Despite the videos of Ghana players jubilantly doing Shaku Shaku before the game, it is Comoros who’s fans were dancing into the night. The island nation with a population of less than one million is firmly on the map.
From islander upsets to the African giant. Nigeria’s population of over two hundred million people have had a remarkable cultural impact across the diaspora, particularly in recent years. With their 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau on Wednesday they became the only team at the AFCON to progress from the group stages with a perfect record. An assist from Seniorman Kelz and a monster class in midfield from Wilfried Ndidi sees the eagles flying high as a tournament favourite. Naija no dey carry last. Perhaps most importantly, my loose Nigerian heritage through my Nana allows me to take credit for their victories as well as Cameroon. With bragging rights covered on all bases, we look forward to the next round.
Written by Martyn Ewoma. @_martynewoma