If Ghana wins, this will be their fifth trophy, and they will be the second most titled winner of the CAN, after Egypt; right now, they are tied with Cameroon having won the trophy 4 times since its creation. If Côte d’Ivoire wins, this will be their second win in the history of the cup. Will Sunday’s final be a remake of 1992? Or will the Black Stars of Asamoah Gyan and the two Ayew brothers claim victory over the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire?
Tomorrow, the world will vibrate to the rhythm of samba, carnivals, and Copacabana… Yes tomorrow, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will start in Brazil, and 32 of the best soccer nations will compete at this great planetary event. This will one month of soccer, pure joy, fun, and above all talent; Talent expressed by players from around the globe. Legends will be made, new faces discovered, and dreams will take off.
Five African teams will grace the tournament: Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.
We do hope that at least one African team will advance into the round of 16, and beyond. Here are some of the African stars to watch out for.
Samuel Eto’o Fils, captain of Cameroon’s Indomitaple Lions, is incontestably one of the best forwards on the planet, and one of the greatest strikers of his generation. This might be his last world cup, and Cameroon’s first in 8 years. The Pichichi, and winner of several honors including African Ballon d’Or, will have to be ready to affront Brazil, the host country, Mexico, and Croatia in group A.
Didier Drogba, captain of Cote d’Ivoire’s Elephants, like Eto’o is also one of the best on the planet. After playing for Chelsea and winning countless trophies, he is now in Turkey with Galatasaray FC. This will probably be his last world cup. We wish him, and the Ivorian team the very best. They qualified with gusto to this competition. They have a relatively easy group with Colombia, Japan, and Greece. I will put my money on them moving to the next round in the tournament.
The Black Stars of Ghana were fancied to repeat, or even improve on, their run to the quarter-finals in 2010 in South Africa. That was until the draw was made and they were pitted with the world’s second and third-ranked sides. Asamoah Gyan and his teammates will play against Germany, Portugal, and the United States. This is the “group of death”. Ghana is a very good team; if they manage to make it to the round of 16, then they will quite far at the World Cup. We wish them the very best in the competition.
Throughout the years, I have placed high hopes on African teams and have always been disappointed. I might once again be disappointed. However, this is planetary tournament, and the fun of it makes one root for any good team. For the world cup winner, I believe Brazil, the host country has home court advantage, as well as a pool of great talents. Let us hope that will be enough to make them winners. I also think Argentina of Lionel Messi will be a really great contender, as well as Spain, the last world cup winners. Overall, let the world cup start, with all the fun, and may the best team win!!!
My prediction for the first day of the quarter finals of the African Cup of Nations was right on: Ghana did beat Cape-Verde by a 2-0, and Mali edged out the host country South Africa 1-1 by penalty shoot out (3-1), and advanced to the semi-finals.
However, on the 2nd day, all went wrong. The cup’s big favorite, Côte d’Ivoire, were edged out by valiant Nigeria by 2-1. The Super Eagles of Stephen Keshi maintained the pressure on the Elephants throughout the game, and came out the stronger side. All hails to Stephen Keshi who managed to line up a strong offense, and defense, to take down the mighty favorites Côte d’Ivoire of Didier Drogba. Unfortunately, this ends up the dream of the ‘greatest generation’ (as Didier Drogba, Bonaventure Kalou, Kolo Touré, Yaya Touré, Boubacar Barry, etc are known) of Côte d’Ivoire to ever lift up the African Cup of Nations. Although I am sad for Didier Drogba who has been one of Africa’s greatest players of the past decade (and one of the world’s best forwards), I salute Nigeria’s hard work which got them through to the semi-finals. After lifting cups in Europe, Didier never got a chance to lift an African trophy… quite sad…
Lastly, Burkina Faso beat Togo 1-0 to find themselves in their first ever semi-final.
The line-up for Wednesday will be fun to watch: Ghana vs. Burkina Faso (you have guessed who will be my favorite to win that game: Ghana), and Nigeria vs. Mali promises to bring the heat up (Nigeria of Stephen Keshi being my favorite).
Who do you think will end up in the final of the 2013 African Cup of Nations? What do you think the scores for the semi-finals will be?
Tomorrow, Saturday will mark the beginning of the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations. I have to admit that just like last year, my two favorites are Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The Chipolopolo showed a very poor display of their skills this year, and the champions never advanced to the quarter-finals, the first time in 20 years that a champion (since Algeria) doesn’t make it through the first stage.
The game to watch (i.e. the clash of titans) in the quarter-finals, will be Cote d’Ivoire vs. Nigeria. Personally, after Nigeria so-so display, I rest fully on the elephants to send the Super Eagles packing.
The other game will be Mali vs. South Africa. The Bafana Bafana of South Africa have not been a strong team since 1996, and so my hope is the greatest for them. However, they have the home court advantage as the cup is taking place in South Africa. Mali, with Seydou Keita, looks a lot stronger.
Burkina Faso vs. Togo is a so-so game… Anybody’s guess on who will be the winner is good; I give the slight upper edge to Togo.
Lastly, Ghana vs. Cape-Verde will be a nice game to watch. First because this is Cape Verde’s first ever participation at the African Cup of Nations, and also because they have truly earned their place at the CAN, and have so far pleased by their work. The Blue Sharks also happens to have a singing coach who brings joy to the players. This said, I believe Ghana to be the favorite and the strongest side, and I think Asamoah Gyan‘s teammates will be eager to clear last year’s defeat and finally lift the trophy.
I can’t wait to watch a Côte d’Ivoire vs. Ghana final… Elephants vs. Black Stars …the ‘great generation’ as Drogba‘s teammates are known, vs. Ghana’s greats…that promises (if it happens) to be a hot game! I can already see fire on the mountain.
The quarter-finals to the African Cup of Nations (Coupe d’Afrique des Nations) tournament took place yesterday. The African Cup of Nations is a highly followed soccer tournament to which all African nations participate. In essence, all African nations play qualifiers which ensures that about 16 nations on the continent will get a chance to play at the African Cup of Nations. Since 1968, the tournament has taken place every two years, and every even year during the month of January and ends around mid-February: one month of intense fun. If you are an avid soccer fan, as I am, you would love watching some of the greatest African teams and stars at their best (sometimes, at their worst too). Recently, the pressure of big money FIFA has forced a change into the schedule of the CAN, forcing the tournament to now take place every odd years, so as ‘not to clash with the soccer world cup‘ (this change was forced by European big clubs/leagues to whom many African players belong).
The African Cup of Nations (CAN) tournament was first held in 1957 in Sudan, and only three countries participated: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Egypt has won the cup seven times, making it the record holder. In recent years, Egypt won the cup three consecutive times. Cameroon and Ghana follow behind Egypt and have both won the tournament four times. Cameroon and Egypt are not participating at this year’s African Cup of Nations, but Ghana is… and there is a strong chance that they might win the cup this year. This year’s tournament, the 2012 CAN, is held in two countries: Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. I believe that the final this year will be between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire: the Black Stars vs the Elephants. Although my heart is with the Elephants of Didier Drogba, I have slight edge towards Ghana of Michael Essien.
My dream is to see an African cup of Nations where all the coaches of African teams would be African… I might have to wait a long time to see this, but in the meantime enjoy! Mali just knocked out Gabon in penalty kicks and will be facing Côte d’Ivoire in semi-finals (this promises to be a good game). The face-off to the other semi-final will be Ghana-Zambia, as Ghana defeated Tunisia 2-1. Let’s wait and see!