ANC: Another former MLS player outshines Junior Agogo to give Cameroon win

Alain Nkong has been journeyman his whole career (a still young one at that, only 28 years old). He was in his native Cameroon for a while, then Portugal, Spain, Portugal again, then Uruguay, and then the Colorado Rapids. While with the Rapids, he played well enough to be kept around for a couple years (5 goals in 33 appearances) but the tall attacking midfielder was finally waived heading into the 2007 season. From there he linked up with Atlante (MEX), where he helped them to the 2007 Apertura Title. And what many people forget is that Nkong is the unsung hero of the Cameroonian national team. He has struck for 9 goals in 21 games before today…

CAMEROON 1, GHANA 0 – ANC SEMIFINAL

The Indomitable Lions didn’t need Samuel Eto’o to pull them through this time as Alain Nkong did his best, striking late in the game (71st minute) after coming in the 62nd to provide Cameroon with their first shot at a African Cup of Nations championship since 2002. In doing so, the former Rapid knocked out a Ghanaian host squad that many thought were locked favorites at least for the final. As I say often, you can’t argue with Essien and Muntari in the middle, but Ghana was lacking a true target man today (yes, even Junior Agogo couldn’t pull off continued heroics). Unfortunately, the Lions – despite the victory – will be missing Reading centreback Andre Bikey after he was sent off in the 90th minute for – and listen to this – pushing over a FIRST-AID ASSISTANT while he/she was attending to his own teammate. He can’t be that dumb – please tell me it was accidental and the ref just jumped the gun????

Now we await the score of Egypt vs. Ivory Coast, which is set to kick off at 3:30 EST.

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Can’t watch the game? African Nations Cup Semi-Finals Reading Material

GHANA vs. CAMEROON (Feb 7 2008)

Host nation led by Essien against the ANC’s all-time goal scoring champion Samuel Eto’o and the Indomitable Lions.

FIFA.com’s “fans in a frenzy”

BBC Sport – Home Advantage?

“Goal”/New York Times – In Africa, the Goal is the Thing (Greg Lalas)

Cameroon manager Otto Pfister locked out – ESPN SoccerNet

Goal.com- LeRoy Promises Warrior-Like Performance

A Tale of Two Coaches – ModernGhana.com

SkySports – Interest Grows in hot Agogo

IVORY COAST vs. EGYPT (Feb 7 2008)

Didier Drogba, Solomon Kalou, and Kolo Toure against the defending champions. It is a rematch of the 2006 African Nations Cup final (Egypt won on penalties).

Eurosport – Revenge for Ivory Coast?

Drogba, Eto’o – Why African Dictators Fear Football (Charles Onyango Obbo)

Drogba Saga Just Another Example of CAF Bungling (Johannesburg Business Day)

Final Four Promise Exciting Contests – International Herald Tribune (Greg Lalas)

African Cup of Nations: Agogo strikes again, puts Ghana in the semis

Today’s games: Egypt vs. Angola, Tunisia vs. Cameroon 

Ghana 2, Nigeria 1

Yakubu put the Nigerians up after a harsh Eric Addo tackle at the 35 minute mark. The starpower of Ghana took over after that – starting with Michael Essien’s equalizer at the stroke of half-time. Then in the 60th minute, Ghana’s captain John Mensah gave Nigeria exactly what they needed, a stroke of good fortune. The big Rennes defender was ejected after a last-man foul on Peter Odemwingie. The fortune wasn’t about to last as former MLS player Junior Agogo took over, tapping in a Sulley Muntari effort to push Ghana through to the semis.

Ivory Coast 5, Guinea 0

It was a reality check for the Guineans as Didier Drogba, Kader Keita, and Solomon Kalou took turns knifing through the Guinean defense. All three combined for 4 of the 5 goals. Bakary Kone added the fifth. It was clearly a disappointing end to a decent tournament for the Guineans but ultimately Ivory Coast proved they deserve the finals.

African Cup of Nations: Second Round of Games done with Ghana and the Ivory Coast moving on

Today’s Matches (first batch of Round Three match-ups):

Ghana 2, Morocco 0

Starpower took over as both Michael Essien and Sulley Ali Muntari scored to dispatch of Morocco, who will be kicking themselves for the loss to Guinea. Both goals were scored in the first half and booked the host nation in the second round with a perfect 3-0-0 record. In no way was it dominant round-robin performance, but Ghana is certainly a heavy favorite.

Guinea 1, Namibia 1

After their showings against Morocco and Ghana, one would almost expect against Namibia but one point was enough to get the Guineans through. For those seeing Guinea as a complete dark horse, they have made the quarterfinals of the ANC for the third consecutive time. Souleymane Youla scored Guinea’s goal in the 61st minute, while Brian Brendell came back 20 minutes later to tie it up.

FULL STANDINGS

Quick Round Up of Game Twos

GROUP D 

Angola 3, Senegal 1

One word: Manucho. Angola’s striker has made it three in two games and really warranted a big European transfer. There is still a lot of tournament to go, however, and Angola is in no way safe. Their cause was helped by Manucho’s brace…

Tunisia 3, South Africa 1

Pretty embarassing defeat for the Bafana Bafana. Then again, they’re playing with a very young team…and playing against an established striker like Santos of Ligue 1’s Toulouse. The Tunisian scored two of his nation’s three goals and put the North African squad tied at the top with Angola.

GROUP C

Cameroon 5, Zambia 1

Samuel Eto’o equaled the record for most goals scored overall in the African Nation’s Cup, but the Barca striker was overshadowed by his teammates who put on a show for the crowd. Joseph Job scored a brace while Newcastle fullback Geremi found the net as well. Toulouse’s Achille Emana added one as well, putting Cameroon back in the mix for qualification.

Egypt 3, Sudan 0

Mohamed Zidan was dangerous yet again and with the attention he was getting, his teammates found the openings they needed to put one the Pharoahs’ feet into the next round. Mohamed Aboutraika struck for two and Hosni Abd Rabou converted the first of the night (his third of the tournament).

GROUP B

Ivory Coast 4, Benin 1

The only outright quarterfinal qualifier came on the backs of Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Kader Keita, and Aruna Dindane. All four scored to put the Ivory Coast through in authoritative fashion. The win puts them as my favorites to win.

Nigeria 0, Mali 0

In a hard-fought deadlock, Nigeria will be wondering why their star-studed strike force is sputtering at the moment. Obafemi Martins and John Utaka haven’t been able to find one goal as of yet and Nigeria sits in third with only 1 point out of two games. Mali sits in second with 4 and looks the favorite to go through as Benin is their last opponent.

GROUP A

See earlier post…

African Cup of Nations: THE Junior Agogo wins one for Ghana

Today’s Games: Nigeria vs. Mali, Ivory Coast vs. Benin

Ghana 1, Namibia 0

It was a hard fought game for the Ghanaians, but they were rescued from disappointment by former Colorado and San Jose striker Junior Agogo. Agogo is now plying his trade with League One side Nottingham Forest after capitalizing on a decent couple seasons with League Two side (and recent Fulham destroyer) Bristol Rovers. More importantly, Agogo saved fellow teammate Asamoah Gyan from a very disappointing night after Gyan missed a wide open chance to put the Ghanaians in front. Agogo did it with class, backheeling a Sulley Muntari free kick into the side netting and demoralizing the tough Namibian defense.

Guinea 3, Morocco 2

The Guineans continue to surprise the hell out of every pundit, coach, and player at the tournament. What many don’t understand is that their underdog status is a bit questionable with the likes of Ismael Bangoura (Dynamo Kiev), Pascal Feinduono (Saint Etienne), Souleymane Youla (Lille), and Bobo Balde (Celtic – soon to be somewhere else) on their squad. Feinduono started the show with a left footed blast in the 11th minute putting Morocco on the back pedal. That result stuck until 10 minutes after the break when Guinea’s other star Bangoura knocked one home, leaving the Moroccans at a crossroads. Morocco fought back, however, less than 60 seconds later – making it 2-1, but Feinduono countered the goal with one of his own, 3-1 Guinea. Then, the Saint Etienne star made the biggest mistake of the young tournament – lashing out at Elamin Erbate with a kick and getting a straight red. It will be interesting to see what Guinea can do against Ghana without him, but my guess is that it’ll be an uphill climb.

Standings