by Tejiri Jeroh
GABON VS NIGER: Gabon earn easy 2-0 win
MOROCCO VS TUNISIA – Match of the day saw Tunisia beat Morocco 2-1
Match Day 2 Round Up….Preview of Group C
The Group B matches of the Orange African Cup of Nations (AFCON) was just as expected, the favourites won in both games, clinching victory respectively.
COTE D’ IVORIE VS SUDAN
Tournament favourite, Cote d’Ivorie was expected to start their 2012 campaign in grand style due to the vast array of talents on the team, this included – Didier Drogba, Cheick Tiote, Yao Kouassi Gervais aka Gervinho, the Toure brothers; Yaya and Kolo who were available to their Head coach.
The game was predictable, starting off with a fluid attack approach by Drogba and co. The first attempt to score a goal was a free kick from Captain Drogba but it was easily dealt with by the Sudanese defence. Gervinho, Drogba and Jean-Jacques Gosso consequently made individual efforts to score but it all flew wide.
Finally, the deadlock was broken at the 39th minute when Kalou, another Chelsea star, ran wide to the left deep in the Sudanese half and played a perfect cross to the middle which Drogba converted with ease. To credit the Sudanese, they did not hang back after conceding the first and only goal of the game but pushed forward in desperate attempts to salvage their game.
As the match drew to a close, the cloak of invincibility surrounding the tournament favourites was I guess, shredded a little by the doggedness of the Sudanese.
It is fair to say that coaches from other opposing teams can now prepare their players to face Cote d’Ivoire with little or no fear in future games.
Man of the match: Didier Drogba.
BURKINA FASO VS ANGOLA.
57’ Alain Traore 47’ Maetus 68’ Manucho
It was always going to be an uphill task for Stallions of Burkina Faso against the Palancras Negras of Angola.
The game kicked off at 7pm at the Estadio de Malabo Stadium with both sides taking a lot of time to stamp their authority in the game. The first half witnessed a series of missed opportunities from both team with the Stallions coming close by a blocked effort from Jonathan Piropia.
By the 41st minute both sides had begun to tire-out and where in need of the half time break and words of motivation from their respective head coach.
The second half which was more memorable than the first began with a piece of individual brilliance from Maetus Galiano , he received the ball from the right wing deep in the Stallions territory dribbled past Koulibaly and unleashed a “wicked” shot which beat the Diakite and put the Angolans in the lead.
Their joy was short-lived though as Alaine Traore replied in 57th minute with a stunning free kick which left Carlos Fernandez the Angolan keeper, rooted to the spot.
The stallions struggled to keep The Palancras Negra at bay for the next eleven minutes but due to sloppy passes at the back, they lost possession to former Manchester United striker, Manucho, who won the ball, shook off his marker and hit an explosive shot from outside the box into the left corner of the goal in the 68th minute.
The stallions kept on pushing forward in search of an equalizer but this wasn’t their night as they lost to Angola.
Both teams however, gave the best footballing display so far since the kick-off of the Nations cup.
These results mean that Angola stay top of Group B with The Ivory Coast sharp at their heels in second place.
Man of the Match: Maetus Galiano.
PREVIEW OF GROUP C
Group C features Niger, Gabon, Tunisia and Morocco. These countries in Group C have notoriously been given the “group of death” tag.
The football pundit’s favourites to qualify from this group are Tunisia and Morocco due to their obvious pedigree and history in the tournament.
Tunisia has been crowned ‘African champions’ once in 2004 when they hosted the games and have performed strongly in the last two editions of the Cup of Nations. Their pedigree and flair should be more than a match for other group contenders making them my favourite to win from the group.
The Moroccans who are ranked 61st in the world, also picked the trophy in 1976. Their current team boasts of a wide array of talents with the likes of Arsenal’s Chamakh in attack, QPR’s Taraabat in midfield and Udinese’s defender Benatia in defence. If they can get their act right as early as possible, they will not only qualify from Group C but will also prove themselves a difficult team to beat in the later parts of the competition.
Gabon who are the tournaments co-host, also have a fighting chance of qualifying due to the familiarity the players have with their home turf and the massive support of the fans behind them. History has also shown that AFCON hosts always progress to the latter stages of the tournament and coupled with a few stars plying their trade in the French Ligue 1, they might just be the underdogs of the tournament.