Algeria, Ghana Advance to Knockout Round

Posted January 27th, 2015 at 5:00 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

Mandla Masango of South Africa challenges Ghana’s Afriyie Acquah (L) during their 2015 African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match in Mongomo.

Algeria and Ghana advanced to the knockout round of the Africa Cup of Nations Tuesday, with the Desert Foxes winning a decisive 2-0 victory over Senegal Tuesday and the Black Stars beating South Africa 2-1.

Ghana ended the group stage atop Group C on goal differentials, even though Algeria is currently the top rated African side in the world FIFA rankings.

Algeria went ahead early, with a free kick in the 11th minute by Madjid Bougherra that went to an unmarked Riyad Mahrez who deftly sent a right-footed shot into the bottom right corner. Nabil Bentaleb added a second at the 82nd minute with a left-footed shot.

Ghana, meanwhile,came came from behind to send the South Africans packing. South Africa struck first, with Mandla Masango putting the Bafana Bafana ahead at the 17th minute with a 25-yard volley and spooking the Black Stars.

But John Boye gave hope to Ghana with a goal at minute 72, and an assist Marseille winger Andre Ayew, who then went on to score the decisive goal with a header at the 83rd minute on a cross from Baba Rahman.

Algeria and Ghana will take on the winner and runner-up of Group D on Sunday.

 

 

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.

AFCON’s Group Of Death Reaches Climax

Posted January 27th, 2015 at 2:43 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

BATA, Equatorial Guinea _ Billed as the toughest section at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations when the draw was made, Group C reaches its denouement on Tuesday evening.

Everything is still up for grabs as group leaders Senegal take on pre-tournament favorites Algeria in Malabo while Ghana and South Africa clash in Mongomo.

There are myriad different scenarios as all four sides bid to advance to the knockout stages, although Alain Giresse’s Senegal know that a draw against Algeria will take them through, while a win will ensure that they go through to the last eight as group winners.

The Lions of Teranga are looking to qualify for the tournament knockout stage for the first time since 2006, when they reached the semi-finals in Egypt.

Algeria, who won 2-1 in the 1990 semi-finals in the only previous meeting of the sides at the competition, know a win will take them into the last eight.

However, Christian Gourcuff’s side, Africa’s top-ranked team, will also progress with a draw if South Africa beat Ghana in the other match.

Meanwhile, in Mongomo, Ghana will go through with a win, while a draw will suffice provided Algeria don’t beat Senegal.

South Africa must win and hope Senegal beat Algeria, although they would also go through in the case of an Algeria win provided they can overturn their goal difference deficit to Senegal.

Sonny Side of AFCON

Posted January 26th, 2015 at 5:55 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

A Sonny Side of Sports insight and analysis into Africa’s premier football tournament:

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.

Rain Dampens Zambia-Cape Verde Match… And Neither Side Advances

Posted January 26th, 2015 at 4:53 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

Zambia and Cape Verde battled to a rain-soaked goal-less draw Monday, sending Zambia, the 2012 champions, homeward.

The tie resulted in both teams at the bottom of Group B, meaning Cape Verde also failed to advance.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Jeremy Bokila scores a goal against Tunisia during their Group B soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Bata. (REUTERS)

In the other Group B match-up, however, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tunisia drew at 1 apiece, giving both sides a point, top placement at the head of the group and advancement to the knockout round.

Tunisia’s Ahmed Akaichi scored first, with a 31st minute header from the box to the bottom right corner.

Congo’s Jeremy Bokila responded with a left-footed howler from the center of the box in the 66th minute, off a headed pass from Dieumerci Mbokani.

Tunisia will take on host Equatorial Guinea in their first knockout round match on Saturday, while DR Congo takes on Congo.

 

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.

Oh My…

Posted January 26th, 2015 at 1:19 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

Manchester City’s new signing Wilfried Bony pulled an amazing bit of skill over the weekend at AFCON 2015.

The move, called an “elastico” because it involves a quick snappy change of direction, was popularized by Brazilian legend Ronaldinho during his mesmerizing career.

To add insult to injury, Bony’s “elastico” nutmegged Malian defender Molla Wagué, the latter scrambling to cover the ball to safety as it went in between his legs.

No one will know why Wagué impeding Bony’s run wasn’t called a penalty, but we sense that the referee must have thought Bony’s skill was punishment enough.

To be fair to Wagué, he isn’t the first defender to fall victim to Bony’s bag of tricks.

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.

Equatorial Guinea Reaches Knockout Round with Win Over Gabon

Posted January 26th, 2015 at 11:19 am (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

Equatorial Guinea’s Vazquez Evuy challenges Gabon’s Madinda during their Group A soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Bata. (REUTERS)

Equatorial Guinea sent hometown fans into exultation Sunday, with a 2-0 win over Gabon that sent the Africa Cup of Nations host advancing to the knockout round.

A 55th minute foul by Lloyd Palun against striker Javier Balboa led to a penalty and a goal by Balboa.

Gabon, led by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, struggled to match the goal, but Equatorial Guinea sealed victory in the 86th minute when Ibán slotted home a left footed howler from the center of the box.

Also Sunday, Congo emerged atop Group A standings, advancing to the knockout round with a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso. Fabrice N’Guessi and Thievy Bifouma led the scoring for Congo, who will appear in the quarterfinals for the first time since 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.

Mali Frustrates Cote D’Ivoire; Cameroon, Guinea Tie

Posted January 25th, 2015 at 4:24 pm (UTC-4)
1 comment

Les Elephants continued to show middling results in Africa Cup of Nations 2015, as a dogged Malian side scored early and then held off repeated attacks until a late goal from Max Gradel.

Fans of Equatorial Guinea cheer before their Group A soccer match against Gabon at the African Cup of Nations in Bata. (REUTERS)

Saturday’s 1-1 draw put Mali and Cote D’Ivoire tied at the top of Group D, along with the other teams in the group, Cameroon and Guinea, who themselves drew.

Mali’s Bakary Sako, who plays for the Premier League’s Wolves, exploded early, in the 7th minute, with a half-volley that rocketed past the Cote D’Ivorian keeper.

Cote D’Ivoire repeatedly either flubbed good chances, or met a stiff Malian defense, until Serge Aurier sent a sharp pass to the substituted Gradel and he hit a low shot beyond Germain Berthe.

Cameroon took an early lead with a long range goal from Benjamin Moukandjo in the 13th minute. Ibrahima Traoré responded for Guinea in the 42nd minute

The final game of Group D is set for Wednesday, with Cameroon facing Ivory Coast, and Guinea playing Mali. A win by any would send them through to knockout.

Cameroon has lifted the AFCON trophy four times but not since 2002.

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.

Ghana Stuns Algeria; South Africa, Senegal Draw

Posted January 23rd, 2015 at 5:38 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

When Ghana announced that Asamoah Gyan had contracted malaria on the eve of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, fans of the Black Stars were understandably discouraged.

The striker who plays in the UAE Pro League was forced to watch his side’s opening 2-1 loss to Senegal from the sidelines.

Algeria’s Carl Medjani (R) looks on as Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan (C) scores the winning goal during their 2015 African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match in Mongomo. (REUTERS)

But the Ghanian captain silenced his doubters and elated fans Friday, scoring a scorcher of a goal against Algeria, keeping Ghana’s hopes for advancing alive.

The win stunned Algeria, who are the top ranked Africa team in the FIFA rankings, and the team mainly believe will ultimately raise the AFCON 2015 trophy.

The match was scoreless into extra time, with many expecting yet another tie that would give Algeria the advantage going into a final match against Senegal.

But in the 91st minute, Gyan collected a pass on the right corner of the Algerian box from Mubarak Wakaso, and sent it shooting into the bottom left corner.

Avram Grant, the former Chelsea, West Ham and Portsmouth coach, who now runs the Black Stars, had only superlatives for Gyan, according to the BBC:

“Asamoah Gyan was not fit – he didn’t train like he needed to – but he’s Asamoah Gyan, if you look at the stats and his behaviour in the dressing room.

“You know I have been coach of some of the great players – he’s one of the greatest. First – he always scores when you need him. Second – he’s good for the spirit of the team – he’s a very good captain.”

In other Group C action, South Africa scored early in the second half, but couldn’t hold off Senegal, as the rivals tied at 1, putting Senegal at the top of the group table.

 

 

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.

So You Think You Can Dance?

Posted January 23rd, 2015 at 3:51 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

Celebrating a goal in football is an art in itself. From intricately choreographed team celebrations, to individual acrobatics that would be the envy of any gymnast, there’s no doubt that the AFCON surely offers the best of the lot when it comes to continental tournaments. So who is stealing the show at AFCON 2015?

Zambian players seem to have brought not only their cleats but their dancing shoes as well to Equatorial Guinea. You don’t have to believe our words, just check out some of their moves below.

Emmanuel Mayuka might or might not have hurt himself with this celebration (he is 50% likely to play in Zambia’s last game)

judges-score

 

Zambia currently sits at the bottom of their group having drawn one game with Cape Verde and having lost another to Tunisia. Some of us here hope Zambia can pull a miraculous win to advance from the group stages, because no team that celebrates so well should be eliminated so quickly.

Honorable mention: Gabon National Team

Borussia Dortmund’s Aubameyang and his teammates had a few moves of their own during their opening match:

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.

The White Witch Speaks: “This is a Very Nice AFCON!”

Posted January 23rd, 2015 at 2:24 pm (UTC-4)
Leave a comment

Congo has already seen historic success in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, its first appearance in the tournament since 2000.

Under the experienced eyes of Frenchman Claude Leroy, the Red Devils opened their bid for trophy with a 1-1 tie against Equatorial Guinea, but then notched a 1-0 victory against Gabon.

Leroy, who’s known affectionately as the “White Witch,” told VOA’s Nicolas Pinault this week that he’s expecting a difficult last game against Burkina Faso on Sunday.

Leroy

VOA: How did you celebrate this first victory of Congo in the African Cup of Nations since 1974?

LEROY: Last night at the common meal, we enjoyed this first victory for Congo in 41 years in the finals. Indeed, it called for a celebration. We return[ed] to training on Thursday.  The work has resumed.

VOA: What makes the playoffs magic still operating during this final phase?

LEROY: It’s been a year that it’s been working, gradually building a core team. There are quality players but, above all, a great state of mind. We know that there is no margin [of error]. We know that if we don’t do the maximum, we are going to meet with cruel disappointment. It will hurt everyone. Whatever happens this adventure is already great!

VOA: What do you think of your next opponent, Burkina Faso? Are they on the brink (of elimination)?

LEROY: They are not on the brink. They are a strong team even if they have not scored in two games. Burkina is still solid and punchy with Pitroipa and the Traore brothers, Bancé.  [Behind], they are muscular and go high into the air. We will play as we know how, without taking things too seriously. If you ask me to play a qualifier draw, you can immediately dismiss me because I do not know how. Players must have some fun, seriously.

VOA: Have you accommodation conditions improved?

LEROY: It is much better. People are dedicated to helping us. It was mostly very complicated in the three days before our match against Equatorial Guinea. Since that game is over, everything is much simpler… .

VOA: How do you feel Equatorial Guinea has organized this AFCON, at the last minute?

LEROY: “It’s amazing. It’s a very nice AFCON. I’m not saying this because we have good results. We see people in stadiums. The turf is good. People don’t talk about it, but there is a very good refereeing. In the first 10 matches, the referees were quality. This African Cup of Nations is impressive! Good matches; tight, young talent. It is a beautiful competition. ”

Listen to the original interview in French (and read it here)

 

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.

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

» Listen to the latest show

Facebook

Latest Videos

Contact

E-mail
sonny@voanews.com

Telephone
+1.202.205.9942
When you hear the VOA identification press 60

Postal Mail
Voice of America
Room 1613
330 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20237
USA

Archives