African Nations Cup: The Final is Set! Egypt vs. Cameroon.

And believe it or not, it’s a surprise to many. That’s odd considering it is the defending champions – Egypt – vs. Cameroon, a common participant in the African Cup of Nations final.

Think about the strength and consistency of both Ivory Coast and Ghana this tournament. Ghana had the host nation effect working for it, while Ivory Coast seemed to pick apart each defense it went up against with a blend of established attacking defenders in Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, a big target man in Didier Drogba, defensive strength in the midfield – Yaya Toure and Dider Zokora, and a creative force in the middle – Salomon Kalou. A 4-1 loss to Egypt is not what people expected…

EGYPT 4, IVORY COAST 1 – ANC Semifinal

The Pharaohs took advantage of a 12th minute strike from Ahmed Fathi to effectively cancel out any momentum the Ivory Coast might have had coming into this game. It looked to anger Drogba and his teammates as they started pouring on the pressure, but Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadari kept the game 1-0 by stopping Drogba on three separate occasions. Egypt then took control after half-time – playing a frustrating perimeter game – which would allow the wing midfielders to crack shots from the outside testing sub goalkeeper Stephan Loboue who came on for injured starting keeper Boubacar Barry before halftime. El Hadari continued to hold Drogba and company at bay, until Egypt – led by Amr Zaki – finally broke through. Zaki put one in off the crossbar after yet another poorly defender corner kick. Lyon’s Kader Keita pulled one back less than a minute later to briefly surprise the Egyptian defense. But Zaki stood tall and this time finished an individual effort off yet another post to give Egypt that 2 goal lead again and in the process frustrate Ivory Coast’s attempts to get back in the game. The game was clinched when Mohamed Zidan – otherwise quiet all game – broke free and found Mohamed Aboutriaka wide open enough to put the ball in the back of the net and put Egypt back in the finals.

Advertisements

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…