Nothing But Nets, Stephen Curry!

Posted February 27th, 2015 at 7:18 pm (UTC-4)
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President Obama and Stephen Curry at the White House. Photo: Courtesy of Nothing But Nets

President Obama and Stephen Curry at the White House. Photo: Courtesy of Nothing But Nets

Golden State Warriors basketball star Stephen Curry met this week with President Obama at the White House here in Washington, where they discussed the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign.

President Obama, who is a big basketball fan, has described the 26-year-old Curry as the best shooter he’s ever seen, and the Golden State guard is using those skills to help support the fight against malaria in Africa.

For the past three National Basketball Association seasons, Curry has donated three insecticide-treated mosquito nets for every three-point shot he makes during games.

Two years ago, Curry set the NBA record for three-point shots made with 272.

He met with President Obama one day after making five three-point shots, and scoring a game-high 32 points, in Golden State’s 114-107 victory over the host Washington Wizards. Curry talks about his role in preventing malaria in this video.

Stephen Curry is the son of Dell Curry, who also was an excellent shooter and who played in the NBA from 1986 to 2002.

The younger Curry has been active with malaria issues since attending Davidson College in North Carolina.

Stephen Curry celebrates another basket. Photo: AP

Stephen Curry celebrates another basket. Photo: AP

In 2013, he traveled to Tanzania as part of the United Nations Foundation’s campaign and helped distribute 38,000 mosquito nets.

Stephen Curry has captured the attention of many basketball fans in his sixth NBA season.

He was the overall leading vote-getter for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, and he set a record in winning the All-Star weekend’s Three-Point Shooting Contest.

Yes, once again, Curry hit nothing but net.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

AFCON 2015: By The Numbers

Posted February 10th, 2015 at 12:36 pm (UTC-4)
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As far as AFCON tournaments went, this one was as good as any.

Despite instances of fan violence, costly refereeing mistakes and a finale that almost fell short of its promise, this year’s Africa Cup delivered fantastic goals, a colorful audience and most importantly, underdogs.

That fact was reaffirmed by the redemption of a 35-year-old outcast goalkeeper turned national hero, Boubacar Barry, who led the Les Elephants to victory and an end to their drought on the continental stage.

After 3 weeks of uninterrupted action with the finest football in Africa, we look back at some numbers that defined this year’s competition.

$40,000,000

That’s the total cost of hosting the tournament, according to some sources. Equatorial Guinea took on the costs of hosting and organizing following Morocco’s refusal last year to host the tournament citing fears of Ebola. The nation that co-hosted the tournament two years ago with Gabon stepped in and delivered a decent event with only two months’ worth of preparations. Of course, there were some issues…

$150,000

That’s the amount in fines that was imposed on two federations: Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia. Equatorial Guinea got hit with most of that amount, for its inability to control fans in the semifinal game against Ghana. Tunisia got slapped with a $50,000 fine after players went on a rampage following their quarterfinal loss to Equatorial Guinea. The Tunisians were irate about a controversial, late-game penalty that resulted in Equatorial Guinea tying the match in extra time, before going onto win it all. The Tunisian team damaged their stadium locker room.

68 

That’s the total number of goals scored in the tournament, which works out to 2.13 per match. That falls well short of the record 99 goals scored in 2008 when Ghana hosted the tournament, but if spectacular goals get any extra credit then this tournament has surely delivered. Christian Atsu’s wonder strike and South Africa’s Mandla Masango’s looping volley against eventual finalist Ghana take our awards for best tournament goals #1 and #2 respectively.

35

The age of Boubacar “Copa” Barry. The substitute who only came on because the first choice goalkeeper was injured saved two penalties and converted the winning one to become an instant national hero. In a team surrounded by proven goalscorers such as Wilfried Bony, Yaya Toure, and Gervinho, no one expected the sidelined keeper to singlehandedly earn Les Elephants a trophy they’ve desperately sought out for over two decades. (Whether Bony, Toure and Gervinho played up to their full potential is another discusiion altogether of course.)

Here’s how Didier Drogba, one of the finest Cote D’Ivoirian players of his generation, reacted upon Barry’s winning goal:

23

The age of the player voted to be Man of the Tournament: Christian Atsu. The Chelsea winger scored two goals, including the goal of the tournament, to lead Ghana to the finals. If his presence on the national team is any indication, Ghana will definitely get more chances to take the continental cup in the future, if not other trophies. For now, Atsu’s future lies with Everton, for whom he’s playing on loan. Judging by the current performance in the Premiership, they’re probably desperate for his return.

22

The number of penalties taken in the final game. That’s only two short of the record 24 penalties taken in Senegal in 1992 to decide the winner between…you guessed it, Ivory Coast and Ghana. Les Elephants won the shootout 11-10.

4

The number of countries currently in contention to host the 2017 tournament. Libya had been scheduled to host, but that country’s continuing instability has CAF organizers casting around for an alternate host: in the running are Algeria, Egypt, Gabon and Ghana.

We hope you enjoyed our light-sided coverage of AFCON 2015. Thanks to Sonny Young for letting us crash his Sonny Side of Sports blog for a few weeks.

If you have complaints or questions about VOA’s coverage, or if there other sporting events you’d like to see us cover– in Africa or elsewhere– leave a comment and let us know!

Until next time!

Equatorial Guinea African Cup Soccer

Guillaume Soro, the speaker of Ivory Coast’s National Assembly lifts a trophy with team players after winning the African Cup of Nations final match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. (AP)

Teff Teff
Raised in Ethiopia, Teff Teff has played the game for as long as he remembers. He is a huge Manchester United supporter who tries to emulate his heroes the best way he can, on FIFA or at the local park. He is a multimedia producer for the Africa Division at VOA, where he spreads the football gospel to anyone who listens.

Les Elephants Raises AFCON Trophy after Epic Penalty Shootout

Posted February 8th, 2015 at 6:34 pm (UTC-4)
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Ivory Coast’s Max Gradel challenges Ghana’s Harrison Afful during the African Nations Cup final match in Bata. (REUTERS)

In the end, it came down to the giants: The Giants of African Football.

Black Stars and Elephants.

Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.

And in the end, it was goalkeeper Boubacar Barry and the Orange Men of West Africa who outlasted Ghana through 120 minutes to claim triumph on penalties in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Sunday, 9-8.

After a tournament that had been tarnished by last minute disorganization, fan violence and accusations of referee malfeasance, Cote D’Ivoire coach Herve Renard led his team to glory and, in a sense, redemption after an embarrassing World Cup showing last summer.

Ivory Coast’s Aurier goes for the ball during the African Nations Cup (AFCON 2015) final match against Ghana in Bata. (REUTERS)

Despite the talents of Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony, Ivory Coast was held goalless through 120 minutes, which led to the nail-biting grind of penalties. After eight equal penalty goals, Barry then stepped up to score the winning penalty kick, just moments after making a save against Ghana goalkeeper Razak Braimah.

Ghana’s Christian Atsu and Asamoah Gyan topped the Black Stars performance for most of the match, but in the end, failed to find victory.

The last time Les Elephants won the Cup was in 1992.

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Tunisian Football Chief Suspended for AFCON Remarks

Posted February 7th, 2015 at 2:17 pm (UTC-4)
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BATA, Equatorial Guinea _ Tunisian football chief Wade Jary was suspended from all African football events until further notice Friday for his criticism over the refereeing during Tunisia’s quarterfinal loss to Equatorial Guinea.

The Confederation of African Football tournament organizers Jary would be suspended until he submitted a letter of apology, or a letter “with irrefutable, tangible evidence to substantiate claims of CAF’s bias against the Tunisian team.”

Referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn surrounded by security as Tunisia’s players confront him after losing quarterfinal match of 2015 African Cup of Nations against Equatorial Guinea in Bata (REUTERS)

Tunisia was outraged by what it said was poor refereeing during Saturday’s match. Referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn  awarded a penalty at the 90th minute that gave Equatorial Guinea the tying goal the match. Equatorial Guinea eventually scored another goal to bring a 2-1 victory.

After the match, Jary said his team “suffered scandalous injustice from referees.” Tunisian players also damaged some of the stadium locker room, resulting in a $50,000 fine.

CAF had ordered Jary to apologize for his remarks, giving him a deadline of Thursday, but Jary submitted nothing.

CAF organizers also gave the Tunisian Football Federation until March 31 to comply with all the recommendation, or face disqualification from the 2017 Africa Cup.

Meanwhile, tournament organizers also levied a massive $1 million against Morocco for its refusal to host this year’s tournament, and suspended its national team of Morocco from the 2017 and 2019 tournaments.

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 tournament, but asked for a delay, fearing spreading Ebola. CAF organizers refused the request, stripped Morocco of its hosting and gave the tournament to Equatorial Guinea.

The Sonny Side of AFCON – II

Posted February 6th, 2015 at 5:57 pm (UTC-4)
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A Sonny Side of Sports look-back at the violence-filled Ghana-Equatorial Guinea match, and the upcoming final between Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana:

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Hosts Equatorial Guinea Fined for Semifinal Match Violence

Posted February 6th, 2015 at 4:48 pm (UTC-4)
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Equatorial Guinea fans react as a police helicopter hovers above the stand during the African Cup semi-final match against Ghana in Malabo. (REUTERS)

Africa Cup organizers hit hosts Equatorial Guinea with a $100,000 fine Friday for not doing more to control the fan violence that erupted during Ghana’s semifinal trouncing of Equatorial Guinea.

With Ghana leading 2-0 at the half during the match Thursday, home field fans began to get unruly, pelting Ghanian players with bottles and other debris as they left the pitch at halftime.

After Andre Ayew nailed home the Black Stars third goal at the 76th minute, Equatorial Guinea fans began accosting Ghanian fans in the stands, forcing them to take refuge in the section behind one of the goals. The game was delayed for about 30 minutes.

At least 36 people were injured in the fighting, and 14 were hospitalized, one seriously, tournament organizers said. It was the worst violence of the 2015 tournament.

On Friday, the disciplinary committee of the Confederation of African Football announced the $100,000 fine ” for aggressive behavior and being repeat offenders.”

The panel also ordered Equatorial Guinea to play its next match behind closed doors, which would have meant no spectators for the third place tournament match, scheduled for Saturday. But the panel said it would suspend that order “to promote a spirit of fair play and brotherhood.”

Equatorial Guinea had already been once before during the tournament for not controlling unruly fans, during the Jan. 26 match against Gabon.

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Redemption Song for Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana?

Posted February 5th, 2015 at 8:25 pm (UTC-4)
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It was to the dismay of African football fans that Ivory Coast and Ghana were sent packing from Brazil at the earliest of stages last summer.

Only one African team, Algeria, was left standing after the group stages, becoming Africa’s highest internationally ranked team since.

That is very likely to change soon though, if FIFA’s dubious rankings panel has been following the AFCON 2015.

Ghana’s Appiah challenges Equatorial Guinea’s Belima during their 2015 African Cup of Nations semifinal match in Malabo. (REUTERS)

The Wake Up Call

Ivory Coast started the tournament with a continuation of their tamed World Cup display. Gervinho, a player considered to be in resurgence after his move to AS Roma from Arsenal, was sent off after only 58 minutes in the opening game as his frustrated team trailed unlikely Guinea.

Having saved face and earned a point with a late equalizer, Ivory Coast played Mali in their second group match. The result was another uneventful 1-1 draw which put their AFCON title ambitions in doubt. They would have to win against the group’s strongest team in Cameroon to make it to the next round.

Luckily for them, Gradel’s 36th minute goal would be enough to win that game, and after another unconvincing display Ivory Coast were through.

Ghana’s start was no different.

Having led 1-0 against Senegal through a penalty, Ghana would crumble in the second half, conceding two (including an extra time goal) to lose their opening match. Playing tournament favorite Algeria in their second game, they could only muster half chances until talismanic striker Asamoah Guyan produced a moment of individual brilliance to earn them an extra time winner of their own.

It wasn’t their strongest performance by far, but it signified a will to fight it out until the last minute, a factor reminiscent of their 2010 World Cup campaign.

Coincidentally, the Black Stars’ final opponent in the group stages was South Africa, and had it not been for the latter’s ability to self-destruct in the grandest of fashions (Exhibit A: dropping a one goal lead to lose 3-1 to Algeria; Exhibit B: taking another lead against Senegal only to concede in the second half and drop points; Exhibit C: leading against Ghana and then conceding 2 goals in 10 minutes to bow out) the Black Stars would currently be watching the games from the comfort of their couches.

The Awakening

If Les Elephants and the Black Stars had miserable starts to their tournaments, the knockout rounds have been anything but. Both teams have been cruising, dismantling the opposition and scoring freely. Ghana’s trajectory has been aided by easier opponents such as Guinea and host Equatorial Guinea (they beat both 3-0 and 3-0 respectively). Ivory Coast’s form, meanwhile, has coincided with Gervinho’s return, who has scored 2 goals in 2 matches to help his team convincingly beat the tournament favorites Algeria, and the wildcard that was Congo to get to the final.

 

Only they stand in each other’s path now, and come Sunday, both will have to forget their World Cup nightmares to lay their hands on the continental title.

But whatever the outcome, one thing’s for sure: fans of African football will stay wide awake for this dream matchup.

Teff Teff
Raised in Ethiopia, Teff Teff has played the game for as long as he remembers. He is a huge Manchester United supporter who tries to emulate his heroes the best way he can, on FIFA or at the local park. He is a multimedia producer for the Africa Division at VOA, where he spreads the football gospel to anyone who listens.

Ghana Heads to Finals After Downing Equatorial Guinea 3-0

Posted February 5th, 2015 at 6:33 pm (UTC-4)
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Last summer, Ghana’s high hopes for World Cup glory were quashed during a decidedly unimpressive group stage performance, when they were outplayed not only by the eventual winners, Germany, but by the perennial upstarts, the United States.

Now, they are on the verge of replacing that memory with a new one, as a decisive 3-0 win Thursday over Equatorial Guinea sent them into the final match of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ghana’s Harrison Afful challenges Equatorial Guinea’s Ivan Salvador during their semi-final match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations. (REUTERS)

Jordan Ayew, André Ayew and Mubarak Wakaso all scored for the Black Stars.

Unfortunately for the history books, Ghana’s win was tarnished after what appeared to be mainly Equatorial Guinea fans began hurling bottles and other objects at Ghanian fans late in the 2nd half. The fans ended up huddling behind a goal seeking refuge from the missiles thrown at them.

With a helicopter hovered over the stadium in Malabo, riot police ultimately retook control after about a 30 minute interruption of the game, and Ghana went on to victory.

Jordan Ayew opened the scoring for Ghana in the 42nd minute when he converted a penalty awarded for a Equatorial Guinea foul from Felipe Ovono.

Wakaso got the Black Stars’ second after Christian Atsu broke fast and assisted to Wakaso who nailed home a left-footed shot from the center of the box.

André Ayew made it three at the 75th minutes, with left-footed shot from the box center, off an assist from Kwesi Appiah.

It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the outburst of violence. No injuries were immediately reported, or arrests.

Ghana will face Cote D’Ivoire on Sunday for the final match of the tournament.

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Les Elephants Trample DRC 3-1

Posted February 4th, 2015 at 7:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Ivory Coast's Die Serey celebrates with fans after winning their semi-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Democratic Republic of Congo in BataBATA, Equatorial Guinea _ Yaya Toure saved the Elephants, as the Manchester City midfielder stepped up his game to defeat the Leopards of the DRC 3-1 to advance to the finals of the Africa Coup of Nations. .

Toure, who had been unimpressive during much of the tournament, scored the first goal 20 minutes in from the penalty area with control, firing the ball past DR Congo goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba.

“I didn’t like the game, we did not do all the things we were supposed to do,” Cote D’Ivoire coach Herve Renard told reporters after the game.

He also praised his opponent, DRC coach Florent Ibenge, saying “he one of the competent African coach you have.”

Ibenge disputed the fact that his squad was tired:

“I didn’t see tired players, they were running with full energy and wanting to move forward,” he said. I think it was lack of maturity and making a number of mistakes and not take  advantage of the opportunities they got.”

Ivory Coast's fans celebrate after winning their semi-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Democratic Republic of Congo in BataIvory Coast moves to the final Sunday, to take on the winner of the Ghana and Equatorial Guinea match, to be played Thursday.

AFCON Organizers Demote Referee, Fine Tunisia $50,000

Posted February 4th, 2015 at 4:48 pm (UTC-4)
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BATA, Equatorial Guinea _ Tunisians players upset at a disputed penalty during their quarterfinal loss to Equatorial Guinea badly damaged a locker room at a stadium, Africa Cup tournament organizers said, as they fined the Tunisian football federation $50,000.

Referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn is surrounded by security as players of Tunisia confront him after losing their quarter-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Equatorial Guinea in Bata. (REUTERS)

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Confederation of African Football also said they had demoted the referee at the center of the furiously disputed match on Saturday, which advanced Equatorial Guinea to the semifinals.

During the match, Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn awarded a late penalty to Equatorial Guinea that tied the score against Tunisia. Javier Balboa then sealed victory for the home team in the 102nd minute.

At the final minute, as local fans erupted in celebrations, ugly scenes erupted on the pitch, as Tunisian players accosted tournament officials, and then tried to attack the referee.

The confederation said it was fining Tunisia $50,000 for “insolent, aggressive and unacceptable behavior” of the players and officials during Saturday’s game.

The confederation also said it was suspending Seechurn for six months for “poor performance” and removed from confederation’s “A” list of referees.

The confederation’s referee committee expressed regret for the “the poor performance of the referee during the match, including an unacceptable failure to maintain calm and ensure proper control of the players during the match.”

Seechurn could not be located to comment on the penalty. The Tunisian Football Federation did not make an immediate comment on the announcement.

The end of the quarterfinal match saw the ugliest scenes to date at the 2015 tournament, which for the most part has been conducted without major incident.

Tournament organizers also fined Equatorial Guinea $5,000, for not doing more to prevent fans from running into the pitch, like what happened during Saturday’s match.

 

About

Sonny Side of Sports is an energetic and action-packed look at both world and African sports, broadcast on radio, TV and the Internet. Since the show’s creation in 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

The Sonny Side of Sports is broadcast Monday through Friday at 1630 and 1830 UTC/GMT. And on Fridays at 1730 UTC/GMT, Sonny has an expanded 30-minute sports show.

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