Group B Sees Draws For Cape Verde, Tunisia, Zambia and DR Congo

Posted January 18th, 2015 at 9:57 pm (UTC-4)
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91C134E0-1214-4EE5-BF7A-0FC8D5CF8002_cx0_cy31_cw0_mw1024_s_n_r1A Congolese supporter grimaces before his side’s matchup against Zambia, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015 in Ebebiyin, Equatorial Guinea (AP) 

 

Africa Cup of Nations Group B rivals Tunisia and Cape Verde battled to a 1-1 draw Sunday as Heldon netted a penalty late in the 2nd half.

At the 70th minute, Mohamed Ali Moncer netted home a strong right-footed shot giving the Tunisian side optimism they would come out on top. But Heldon, who plays for Sporting Lisbon, led the charge to bring Cape Verde from behind with his penalty goal in the 77th minute.

In the other Group B matchup on Day Two of Africa’s premier football tournament, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo drew at 1 each.

Zambia’s Given Singuluma scored quickly against the DR Congo, just 1 minute into the match. But Yannick Bolasie tied the game in the 66th minute with a powerful shot from inside the box.

With  Equatorial Guinea stepping in just nine weeks ago and agreeing to host the event, there’s been concern about how well organized the games will be.

The Zambia-Congo DR match saw some confusion, according to media reports, as thousands of people were either prevented from entering the stadium in the remote town of Ebebeyin, or were forced to be screened by Ebola.

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 tournament, but was stripped of that right after the kingdom, fearing the spread of Ebola, had asked for a delay of several months.

 

 

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.

Mascots of Years Past- Take Two

Posted January 18th, 2015 at 10:01 am (UTC-4)
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Any idea what the mascot of the 1992 Africa Cup hosted by Senegal was?

VOA’s Teffera Teffera knows!

Check it out:

 

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.

Gabon Tops Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea and Congo Draw

Posted January 17th, 2015 at 10:23 pm (UTC-4)
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Gabon’s Kabore challenges Burkina Faso’s Kone during their opening group-stage match at the African Cup of Nations. (REUTERS)

Gabon overpowered Burkina Faso 2-0 to jump to the top of Group A standings, as the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament got underway on Saturday.

Host Equatorial Guinea and Congo battled to a 1-1 draw, meanwhile, in the other opening match of the tournament.

Led by goals from Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, a striker for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund,  and a header from 72nd minute Malick Evouna, Gabon claimed bragging rights, at least for the moment, as the leader of Group A, and the tournament. Burkina Faso had come into the match with high expectations with a run into the finals in 2013 before defeat by Nigeria.

Nigeria, much to many observers’ surprise, didn’t even qualify for this year’s tournament.

Congo disappointed a home turf crowd, when Thievy Bifouma netted a  late goal to tie Equatorial Guinea. Emilio Nsue Lopez scored early, in the 16th minute, to the delight of the host nations.

 

 

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.

The Sonny Side of AFCON

Posted January 17th, 2015 at 10:24 am (UTC-4)
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VOA’s Sonny Young previews the tournament, which kicks off today with matches between host Equatorial Guinea and Congo and Burkina Faso v. 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.

Beware of the Chuku Chuku!

Posted January 17th, 2015 at 8:44 am (UTC-4)
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A worker walks in front of "Chuku Chuku", the official mascot of the African Nations Cup at the Estadio de Bata, in BataAn Equatorial Guinea fan cheers before the start of their African Nations Cup soccer match again Zambia in MalaboEquatorial Guinea Soccer African Cup

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.

Lions and Tigers and Hippos…. Oh My!

Posted January 16th, 2015 at 9:43 pm (UTC-4)
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From hippos and eagles, to lions and antelopes, the African Cup of Nations (or AFCON as it is known) has seen some colorful mascots over the years.

VOA’s Teffera Teffera searched through the jungle that is the internet to find some of these wild mascots, and was not disappointed.

Check them out in part 1 of VOA’s “Mascots of the Past”!

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.

On Tournament’s Eve, A Lack of Hotel Rooms?

Posted January 16th, 2015 at 6:15 pm (UTC-4)
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The 16-country Africa Cup of Nations is small potatoes compared with the FIFA World Cup, or the Olympic Games. But it’s capital “H” Huge in Africa.

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 tournament, but with rampant fears of Ebola, the kingdom ask to delay the event for a few months. That prompted the regional soccer governing body, the Confederation of African Football, to strip Morocco of its right to host in November. (And even barred it from even participating).

Enter Equatorial Guinea, a small, West African country that is home to lots of oil and a regime that is widely considered to be spectacularly corrupt and repressive, which was then chosen as the alternative host.

With just nine week to organize and an estimated $40 million price, putting on the tournament was never going to be easy. Organizers had to build a lot of the infrastructure from scratch: stadiums in the middle of jungles and forest; replace dirt roads with multi-lane highways and so on.

Hotels, it would seem, have been given short shrift.

So much so that Congo’s coach Claude Le Roy complained to the BBC this week that the hotel his team has been put up is, shall we say, lacking.

“There are not enough places for my staff and it’s even difficult to find rooms for the players,” Le Roy said.

“The electricity is terrible, everything is exposed. I wanted to wash my hands. There was no water.

“I don’t want a big five-star hotel. I just want something very clean.”

Stay tuned.

A man walks in front of the Estadio de Bata in Bata (Reuters)

A man walks in front of the Estadio de Bata in Bata (Reuters)

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.

New Champion to be Crowned at Equatorial Guinea 2015

Posted January 7th, 2015 at 4:01 pm (UTC-4)
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Equatorial Guinea 2015Equatorial Guinea 2015 is shaping up as one of the most competitive Africa Cup of Nations football tournaments in recent years.

The 16-team tournament, which kicks off January 17th, features nine former champions, but not the reigning titleholder, Nigeria, which failed to qualify.

Longtime African football analyst David Legge, soccer writer for Agence France-Presse, says he counts seven teams that could possibly lift the trophy on February 8th in the seaport city of Bata.

They are, in alphabetical order, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli and the Desert Foxes of Algeria are bidding for their first Nations Cup title in 25 years. Photo: Reuters

Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli and the Desert Foxes of Algeria are bidding for their first Nations Cup title in 25 years. Photo: Reuters

The Desert Foxes of Algeria kicked sand in the faces of many World Cup experts by reaching the Round of 16 for the first time in the country’s history at last year’s football showpiece in Brazil.

However, the Algerians haven’t won the Nations Cup since 1990 when they hosted the African championship and captured their only crown.

Of the seven teams that Legge mentioned, Ghana and Cameroon have the proudest Nations Cup pedigrees. Each has won the Cup four times.

The Black Stars of Ghana, like the Desert Foxes, have gone through a long dry spell at the Nations Cup. Their last African title was in 1982.

Cameroon’s last championship was in 2002, when it beat Senegal, 3-2 on penalty kicks, in Mali. That was Senegal’s best ever Nations Cup showing.

French coach Claude Le Roy will be giving instructions to Congo-Brazzaville's players during the 2015 Nations Cup. Photo: AP

French coach Claude Le Roy will be giving instructions to Congo-Brazzaville’s players during the 2015 Nations Cup. Photo: AP

Legge’s dark horse picks for the 30th edition of African football’s premier event are Gabon, Cape Verde and Congo-Brazzaville, which plays Equatorial Guinea in the tournament’s opening match in Bata.

He says “the sly French fox” Claude Le Roy, the head coach of Congo-Brazzaville, makes the Congolese a threat to go far in Equatorial Guinea.

The 66-year-old Le Roy has had successful coaching stints in the past with Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Legge’s words, “has a magical effect” on the teams he guides.

Equatorial Guinea, which co-hosted the 2012 Nations Cup with Gabon, has had only about nine weeks to get ready for staging the tournament at a cost estimated at $40 million.

Morocco, the original host, wanted the competition postponed because of Ebola fears and Equatorial Guinea stepped in as a last minute replacement.

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.

The Humble Apostle and Sporty Holiday Reflections

Posted December 15th, 2014 at 5:16 pm (UTC-4)
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The Humble Apostle's Christmas card.

The Humble Apostle’s Christmas card

My first Christmas card this holiday season came from Magnus Chisom Onwudiwe, a dedicated disciple of the show whose loyal listening over the years has cemented his nickname of The Humble Apostle of the Sonny Side of Sports.

Magnus Chisom Onwudiwe

Magnus Chisom Onwudiwe

Magnus writes, “Season’s Greetings from Owerri in Imo State, Nigeria. It is with a heart full of love that I send greetings to you and your family, as well as everyone at the Voice of America. Sonny, I really missed you during your visit to Nigeria.”

My visit to Nigeria in October was one of the most memorable trips of my VOA career.

Ferdinand and Sonny at Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM in Abuja

Ferdinand and Sonny at Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM in Abuja

During stops in Lagos and Abuja, I met Nigerian friends who, like Magnus, told me they had grown up listening to the Sonny Side of Sports.

Ferdinand Nwachukwu, Station Manager at VOA partner Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM in Abuja, gave me an official pardon after saying he had written me some letters several years ago without getting any response.

With a forgiving heart, Ferdinand hosted me on his lively sports call-in show and also introduced me to his staff in Abuja.

Sonny_Dr. Larry_BridgetSSOS fans_LagosOct14

Sonny with Dr. Larry Izamoje, his wife, Bridget, and fans at Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM in Lagos

Earlier, in Lagos, I received a rousing welcome from Dr. Larry Izamoje, the CEO of Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM, his wife, Bridget, and fans of my program.

Dr. Larry and Bridget presented me with some beautiful gifts, including traditional Nigerian attire fit for a chief.

Sonny, Samuel Inkoom and longtime VOA colleague Roquia Haider

Sonny, Samuel Inkoom and longtime VOA colleague Roquia Haider

Looking back on 2014, I was delighted that VOA’s longtime Bangla sportswoman, Roquia Haider, could join me and Ghanaian football player Samuel Inkoom on my 30-minute radio show.

Roquia, now the chief of VOA’s Bangla Service, was one of the first people I met after being hired by the Voice of America in 1988. She asked Inkoom about his development as a player in Ghana as well as his impressions of Major League Soccer (MLS).

The 25-year-old Inkoom played only a few matches for D.C. United, the MLS club based here in Washington, before being traded to the Houston Dynamo last week.

Sonny and Georgetown University men's soccer player Joshua Yaro

Sonny and Georgetown University men’s soccer player Joshua Yaro

Early in the year, another young Ghanaian football player, Joshua Yaro, also visited our VOA studios here in Washington.

Joshua says he’s focused on his education at Georgetown University, but he also hasn’t ruled out a professional football career.

Last week, Joshua earned All-American honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, and he’s being touted as a possible #1 overall pick in next month’s MLS Draft.

Yaro and Inkoom both got their kicks in 2014, and I look forward to getting a few more too in 2015.

 

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.

Ugandan Lion Bogere Roars in 2014

Posted November 4th, 2014 at 1:57 pm (UTC-4)
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It’s been a very good year for Ugandan boxer Sharif “The Lion” Bogere, and his three victories over Mexican opponents have put him in good position for another world title shot in 2015.

The most recent win for Bogere (26-1, 18 KO’s) came October 30th when he knocked out Fernando Garcia in the 5th round in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Bogere dominated the bout with his speed and power and he put Garcia down for the count with a one-two combination, finishing off the Mexican with a straight right.

This marked the first time the 26-year-old Bogere has fought in Plymouth, the historic Massachusetts town founded by the Pilgrims in 1620.

Plymouth Rock, inscribed with 1620, the year the Pilgrims landed in The Mayflower

Plymouth Rock, inscribed with 1620, the year the Pilgrims landed in The Mayflower

Plymouth also holds a special place in the heart of this sporty blogger. My parents are proud graduates of Plymouth High School’s Class of 1947.

Sharif “The Lion” Bogere, meanwhile, is a proud graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. He learned to fight as a little boy on the streets of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

Sharif "The Lion" Bogere Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

Sharif “The Lion” Bogere
Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

Bogere says at a young age, he dreamed of moving to the United States, fighting professionally and becoming a world champion.

Now based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bogere got his first shot at a major world title last year in Vegas where he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Cuba’s Richar Abril for the vacant WBA lightweight title.

Bogere’s movement in the ring was limited against Abril, though, after he hurt his Achilles tendon in one of the middle rounds.

The Ugandan Lion underwent successful surgery on the Achilles, and now, after a successful 2014, Bogere is moving towards another world championship fight in 2015.

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.

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.

Brighten your day by tuning in the Sonny Side of Sports!

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