Congo Defeats Gabon; Equatorial Guinea and Burkina Faso Draw

Posted January 21st, 2015 at 5:53 pm (UTC-4)
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Hosts Equatorial Guinea held Burkina Faso to a goal-less draw Wednesday in the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 tournament, putting the 2013 runners-up in trouble going into their final game of the group qualifying round.

Thievy Bifouma of Congo is challenged by Gabon's Johann Obiang during their Group A soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Bata

Thievy Bifouma of Congo is challenged by Gabon’s Johann Obiang during their Group A soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Bata. (REUTERS)

Les Étalons saw a surprise first-round loss to Group A rivals Gabon earlier, which means they must eke out a strong win against Congo on Sunday in order to stay in contention to advance to the knockout round.

Alain Traore came closest to putting Burkina on the score sheet, hitting the posts twice in the first half, with a curled free-kick at 19th minute, and volley that was tipped by Equatorial Guinea keeper Didier Ovono at the 39th minute.

In the other Group A match Wednesday, Congo defeated Gabon 1-0, on a goal from Prince Oniangue, collected off a corner kick in the 48th minute.

The win, which put Congo atop the Group A standings, was Congo’s first in AFCON competition in 41 years, according to the BBC.

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.

Hugs and High Fives for Ghoulam’s Goal

Posted January 21st, 2015 at 3:56 pm (UTC-4)
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It’s National Hugging Day in the USA.

So how about some hugs and high fives for Algerian defender Faouzi Ghoulam, who may have the finest goal to date in the Nations Cup?

The 23-year-old Ghoulam, who plays for Napoli in Italy’s Serie A, fired in a left-footed howler in the 72nd minute of Algeria’s 3-1 victory over South Africa in Mongomo on Monday.

As you can see from the photo, Ghoulam’s teammates thought he deserved a few hugs after that blistering strike.

Ghoulam and “The Desert Foxes” of Algeria entered the Nations Cup as Africa’s highest-ranked team, according to FIFA, world football’s governing body. You might say “The Desert Foxes” are thirsting for Nations Cup success. Their one and only title came in 1990 when they hosted the tournament.

Algeria will be back on the pitch Friday when it plays Ghana in Mongomo. Ghana is coming off a 2-1 loss to Senegal in its opening Nations Cup match.

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.

Reporting From Malabo

Posted January 21st, 2015 at 8:06 am (UTC-4)
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The Africa Cup of Nations is underway after a controversial build-up to the 30th edition, which included a hasty late switch of hosts to Equatorial Guinea, in the wake of concerns over the Ebola virus. Sixteen nations again line up for the biennial continental championship, seeking Africa’s top football prize at the tournament which finishes on Feb. 8th.

For more, VOA’s Vincent Makori is joined via Skype by VOA’s Abdushakur Aboud, from Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.

 

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.

Mashaba Wants to Shake Things Up For South Africa

Posted January 20th, 2015 at 10:24 pm (UTC-4)
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South Africa's coach Shakes Mashaba reacts during their Group C soccer match against Algeria at the 2015 African Cup of Nations in MongomoSouth Africa’s head coach, Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, is still confident his team can still shake things up at the Nations Cup and bounce back after a 3-1 loss to Algeria in its opening match Monday in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea.

The South Africans took a 1-0 lead early in the second half on a goal by Thuso Phala. But Algeria, Africa’s highest-ranked team, then stormed back with three goals in the span of 16 minutes.

Mashaba said his team let its guard down after Phala’s goal:

 

 

South Africa will play Senegal January 23 and Ghana January 27 in its final two group matches. Both games are in Mongomo.

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.

Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea Draw 1-1; Mali, Cameroon Also Tie at 1

Posted January 20th, 2015 at 5:51 pm (UTC-4)
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A 10-man Cote D’Ivoire squad eked out a tie against Guinea Tuesday, hamstrung by a red card for Gervinho whose booking will leave him out of the next match.

Equatorial Guinea African Cup Soccer

Ivory Coast’s Serge Aurier, left, Wilfried Bony, centre, watch as Guinea’s Kevin Constant’ heads the ball during their African Cup of Nations Group D match Tuesday Jan. 20, 2015. (AP)

Les Elephants are consistently ranked one of Africa’s top squads, and many fans were hoping theAfrica Cup redemption after last summer’s disastrous World Cup outing.

Guinea scored first, however, with Mohamed Yattara knocking a left-footed shot to the top-left corner in the 36th minute.

The AS Roma forward got into trouble in the 58th minute during a scrap in the Guinean box with Naby Keita. It wasn’t clear what set Gervinho off, but frustrations were clearly building for Les Elephants.

Fortunately for Les Elephants, Seydou Doumbia took a deft assist from Wilfried Bony in the 72nd minute, and hit a right-footed shot to the bottom left corner to tie the match.

In the other Group D match, Mali and Cameroon battled to a draw, with Ambroise Oyongo hitting a goal in the 84th minute for the Indomitable Lions.

Malian forward Sambou Yatabaré put his side ahead early on, after collecting a headed pass from Molla Wague and hitting center netting from a low angle.

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.

Gervinho Gets Booked

Posted January 20th, 2015 at 4:13 pm (UTC-4)
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It’s only taken four days, but we finally have the first red card of the Africa Cup 2015, courtesy of Cote D’Ivoire’s Gervinho.

The AS Roma forward got into trouble in the 58th minute during a scrap in the Guinean box with Naby Keita. It wasn’t clear what set Gervinho off, but frustrations were clearly building for Les Elephants.

Mohamed Yattara put Guinea ahead in the 36th minute with left-footed shot to the top-left corner. Cote D’Ivoire scrambled to recover into the second half, only to be deflated by Gervinho’s booking.

Fortunately for the Les Elephants, Seydou Doumbia took a deft assist from Wilfried Bony in the 72nd minute, and hit a right-footed shot to the bottom left corner to tie the match.

The card means Gervinho misses Cote D’Ivoire’s next match against Mali on Saturday
.

 

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.

Ebola? What Ebola? Guinea’s Coach Says No Worries

Posted January 20th, 2015 at 1:42 pm (UTC-4)
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The specter of Ebola is swirling around the first few days of the Nations Cup tournament.

Angola African Cup Soccer

Guinean Coach Michel Dussuyer (AP)

Equatorial Guinea stepped in as last minute host only nine weeks before the tournament kicked off. Morocco, which was scheduled to host the event, wanted the competition postponed because of Ebola fears.

Guinea has been one of the countries hardest hit by Ebola, with more than 1,800 deaths reported. Before his team’s opening match against Ivory Coast, Guinea’s coach, Michel Dussuyer, told reporters that he wasn’t that worried about it.

Listen below:

 

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.

Africa Cup of Days Past

Posted January 19th, 2015 at 9:22 pm (UTC-4)
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Nelson Mandela joins South African captain Neil Tovey in lifting the AFCON trophy in 1996. (AP)

The tournament has only begun in Equatorial Guinea but football drama is already in the air.

With Senegal recording the most memorable win so far, coming back from a goal down to beat Ghana 2-1 with the last kick of the game, VOA decided to look back at some of the most unforgettable moments in AFCON history.

 

5. South Africa lift first ever trophy

South Africa hosted the tournament in 1996, making their first ever appearance after a decades long ban because of apartheid in the country, and boy did they announce their return in grand style. Having beaten the likes of Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana, South Africa reached the final where they faced Tunisia. Playing in front of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, a multi-colored Bafana Bafana scored two late goals to beat Tunisia and lift their first title.


4. Mali hold back Angola after an improbable comeback

Perhaps one of the best opening matches the tournament will ever see, the match between Angola and Mali churned out a whopping 8 goals. Angola, playing host to the biannual tournament, had all but wrapped up the game, leading Mali by four goals to nil after the 75th minute. But football knows no formalities and with the clock winding down, a Kanoute and Keita inspired Malian national team kept piling up the pressure and the goals, scoring the equalizing goal with 10 seconds left on the clock.

 

3. Cameroon don new jerseys, forget sleeves, then shorts

When it comes to experimental team uniforms, Puma and Cameroon have a very long history of trying out the good, the bad, and the ugly together. Cameroon’s entry into uniform folklore started in 2002, where the then defending champions went to Mali wearing sleeveless shirts. The Cameroonians wore their eccentric, and seemingly lucky, shirts all the way to the final where they would beat Senegal on penalties to claim their second title in a row. The ill-fated jerseys would soon be banned by FIFA though, taking Cameroon’s chances of qualifying from the 2002 World Cup group stages with them.

2002_camerron-sleeveless-lineup492607Optimised_091221210657

FIFA and Cameroon faced off again in 2004, when Puma and Cameroon decided to partner on a swimsuit styled one piece jersey, leading many to wonder…

Who comes up with these ideas anyway?

2. The goal that wasn’t…

Goal line technology will eventually be the norm in refereeing but if you are a fan of the Nigerian national team, you’d wish it would have come a lot sooner, 15 years sooner to be exact. Rewind  to the final of AFCON 2000. With two golden generations of footballers taking on the field, Nigeria and Cameroon are headed to penalties, having drawn 2-2 after extra time.

And then, the goal that wasn’t.

After future Nigerian legend Kanu misses his team’s 3rd penalty, Victor Ikpeba takes Nigeria’s 4th. As his shot ricochets off the top crossbar and hits the ground, Ikpeba walks away in disgust, believing to have missed his penalty.  But to the local fans’ dismay, the replay shows that the ball had crossed the line as it bounced behind the goalkeeper.  This “miss” ends up being the decisive factor as Cameroon miss one penalty, but score the last one to wrap up the trophy.

(watch at the 7:35 mark to see the goal that never happened)

 

 

And finally…

A list inspired by the first comeback win of AFCON 2015 must finish with a comeback story, and number one on our list is arguably one of the most incredible finishes to a football match, courtesy of

1.     DRC’s comeback for the ages

Down 4-1 to Mali after 86 minutes in a match for a third place finish at AFCON 1998, DRC delivers an inspired performance to score 3 goals in 4 minutes! This sends the game into extra time where DRC would eventually secure third place on penalties.

Football, you just can’t predict the beautiful game.

 

– Teff Teffera

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.

Algeria Battles From Behind To Down South Africa; Senegal Beats Ghana

Posted January 19th, 2015 at 9:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Algeria pulled off a scrappy win-from-behind Monday, recovering from one goal down to beat Group C rival South Africa 3-1 in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

South Africa's Tokelo Rantie challenges Algeria's goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi during their Group C soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Mongomo

South Africa’s Tokelo Rantie challenges Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi during their Group C soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations. (REUTERS)

The Desert Foxes were stunned initially, in the 51st minute when Thuso Phala netted home a goal. But an own goal from Thulani Hlatshwayo tied the game in the 67th minute then started to shift the momentum toward Algeria.

Two more goals by Faouzi Ghoulam and Islam Slimani then wrapped up the win, putting Algeria atop Group C with 3 points.

In other group action, Senegal upset favorites Ghana 2-1, behind an added time goal from Moussa Sow. The match was tied at 1 up until the stoppage time, with Ghana’s André Ayew scoring first on a penalty in the 14th minute and Senegal’s Mame Biram Diouf heading home a close goal in the 58th minute.

The game appeared headed for yet another draw for the 2015 tournament, until Sow hit the left-side of the netting from the middle of the box at the 93rd minute.

 

 

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.

Who Are The Players to Watch?

Posted January 19th, 2015 at 4:37 pm (UTC-4)
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That African teams are a consistent source for some of the football world’s best talent is no surprise to anyone who’s paying attention. Think Didier Drogba, George Weah and Samuel Eto’o.

Unfortunately for fans of African football, neither Drogba nor Eto’o will be appearing in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations for their respective sides, Cote D’Ivoire and Cameroon.

Still there will be plenty of shimmering skill and speed to watch in the continent’s premier football competition.

Here’s an unscientific listing of some of the best players taking to the pitches in Equatorial Guinea. It is by no means comprehensive so if you think we’ve missed someone, let us know!

 

Gabon’s Aubameyang celebrates after scoring against Burkina Faso during their soccer match at the African Cup of Nations on Jan. 17, 2015. (REUTERS)

Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Country: Gabon

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Position: Forward

Aubameyang has already started out the tournamentstrong, scoring once to help lead Gabon to a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso.  His professional career includes stints with A.C. Milan, St.-Etienne and some smaller clubs, before ending up in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in 2013, where he scored 13 goals in his first season. This season, he’s netted five so far for the German side, and another six in German Cup and Champions League action.

 

Yaya Toure, of Manchester City, fights for the ball with Sheffield Liam Palmer during their FA Cup third round soccer match at the Etihad stadium in Manchester Jan. 4, 2015. (REUTERS)

Player: Yaya Toure

Country: Cote D’Ivoire

ClubManchester City

Position: Midfielder

Toure has long attracted plaudits for his play, and he’s been voted CAF’s Africa Player of the Year for four years straight. With Manchester City, he helped the English club to bring home the Premier League title last summer, and he scored 11 goals and had eight assists in the second half of the season. At last year’s World Cup, however, his performance, and that of his entire team, was widely considered underwhelming, where Les Elephants failed to advance beyond the group stage for the third time in as many World Cup appearances.

 

AC Milan’s Zapata tackles AS Roma’s Gervinho during their Italian Serie A soccer match in Rome. (REUTERS)

Player: Gervinho

Country: Cote D’Ivoire

Club: A.S. Roma

Position: Forward

Formally known as Gervais Yao Kouassi, Gervinho played well at Arsenal, and Lille before that, but then suffered a slowdown in the 2012-2013, and was transferred to Roma in Serie A, where he scored 12 goals, including  nine league goals. This year, he’s already netted five for Roma. He also put in a strong performance during the World Cup, where he scored twice, including a widely praised effort against Colombia.

 

Wilfried Bony, of Swansea City, celebrates scoring a goal, that was later disallowed, during a recent English Premier League soccer match at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. (REUTERS)

Player: Wilfried Bony

Country: Cote D’ Ivoire

Club: Manchester City

Position: Striker

After five seasons with smaller European clubs, Bony ended up in the Premier League in 2013, with Swansea City, where he netted FA Cup goals over Manchester United and Birmingham City and then a strong five goals in his last four league matches of the season.  On Jan. 14, just days before the 2015 Africa Cup tournament kicked off, Manchester City announced Bony would be joining his countryman Toure on the team, for an eye-popping $51 million. Bony also netted two goals in the World Cup – one against Japan, the other against Greece.

 

Porto’s Brahimi fights for the ball with Benfica’s Pereira during a recent Portuguese Premier League soccer match at Dragao stadium in Porto. (REUTERS)

Player: Yacine Nasr Eddine Brahimi

Country: Algeria

Club: FC Porto

Position: Midfielder

Last year, Brahimi joined FC Porto, in  Portugal’s Primeira Liga, after several years of middling performance with Granada CF in La Liga. With Porto, Brahimi scored six goals in 15 appearances and netted a hat trick in the club’s first Champions League group match. A goal and assist in the Nov. 5 match-up against Atletico helped lead Porto to the knockout round for the Champions League. He also netted a beautiful goal for Algeria against South Korea in last summer World Cup group stage. BBC readers last year voted  Brahimi as the African Footballer of the Year for 2014.

 

Ghana's Gyan heads to score against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia

Ghana’s Gyan heads to score against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Brasilia national stadiu. (REUTERS)

Player: Asamoah Gyan

Country: Ghana

Club: Al Ain of the UAE Pro-League

Position: Striker

Gyan’s move from the Premier League’s Sunderland in 2011 to the United Arab Emirates raised eyebrows but his two World Cup goals last year against Portugal and Germany garnered plaudits, and made him the Africa’s all-time leading scorer at the World Cup. Gyan’s superlative performance however, was eclipsed by Ghana’s poor record, where the Black Stars failed to exit the group stage. He was the top scorer in the Asian Champions League last year, with 44 goals in 40 games. Gyan has already made headlines in Equatorial Guinea for contracting malaria on the eve 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.

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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